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Ethnic Food Fair @ Balboa Park

This past Sunday was the annual Ethnic Food Fair in Balboa Park. It is held at the international cottages and it was my first time attending this event. Man…I wish I had attended it in the past, the smells that hit you are absolutely WONDERFUL! I just wished I could sample the whole world, seriously.

How it works is that you pay the cash handler for whatever you want to eat, he or she gives you a ticket, and you exchange the ticket for the delicious food that awaits you. I had a really hard time choosing (really, could YOU just choose ONE thing to eat in this smorgasbord?!). From what I saw, they basically divided the foods to: savory – outside the cottage area, and sweets – inside the cottages.

Let the feasting begin!

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Well…after looking at EVERY booth and cottage, and with the help of my little sister and Chef Ma, we decided for sweets:

From the Ireland cottage:

Sample plate – the brownie was my favorite. It was just the right amount of moistness and packed with chocolate! And the small sample I had was more than enough to satisfy.

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Scone – I’m not sure what kind it was (and the seller didn’t know either since the baker who made it wasn’t in the cottage at the time) but I think it was currant. It was too dry in my opinion.

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From the Scotland cottage:

Whiskey walnut bundt cake – oh my goodness….it was everything I want in a cake: moist, dense but not heavy, and full of walnut flavor (but no alcohol flavor at all, sadly).

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And for my savory dish: A falafel sandwich from the House of Israel.

I had my reservations before I made my decision because I’ve had my share of falafels and most being bad ones unfortunately. There has been 2 places where I found the falafels to be truly amazing (Mama’s Lebanese Bakery & Deli, and Aesop’s Table) because it was not made from a mix. You can tell when a falafel’s made from a mix or if it’s premade. Being that this was fair, everything is made and sits, waiting for people to buy them so it becomes stale, greasy, and just not good.

But as I watched the booth, I saw a lot of people buying the sandwich and I watched the cooks assemble them with lightening hands to meet demand. I asked a family who was devouring into their sandwich with great enthusiasm how it tasted. They told me it was “sooo good” and “it’s definitely worth it to try.” Then I finally saw what I needed as the final confirmation: a little old lady in the back of the tent, scooping out the falafel mixture from a HUGE bowl and frying them. If a little lady is making them, heck…it must be worth trying

And oh boy…am I glad I did! The falafel assembly man would take a pita, slather it with hummus, drop about 4 falafels in it, put a scoop of vegetable mixture, then drown it in tahini sauce. It was“sooooooo goooooooood” as the woman I had asked claimed. Had it been fresh out of the fryer, it might have been up to par with the falafel from Mama’s, but alas, it had been sitting for some time yet it was still slightly warm. After polishing off that, I was fully satisfied with my choice.

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Now I will have to attend this event again next year and note to self: come EXTREMELY hungry and come with a group that are just as daring and willing to try EVERYTHING and ANYTHING!

Later that night, my friend invited me over to her house where her family was having a pre-Memorial Day BBQ. She needed someone to help with the Sangria….and being the bff that I am, I came to the rescue!

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I love the color…like I said, colors make me feel really happy and warm inside (it wasn’t just the alcohol!). But the best part of this drink was actually the blueberries after their soaking in the wine. DE.LICIO.US!

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