1. Here’s one of the food secrets of LIB: The catering tent for the bands had some of best food of the entire fest. How good was it? When talking to members of Alabama Shakes, I asked them for any overall opinions of the festival. How did they think their set went? Was the crowd as active as they would have liked? Did they have fun? Their response: “Excited to see Beck, but dude, the catering is freakin’ awesome.” California-based Latitude 45 Catering lived up to it’s billing as “the music industry’s premier tour and location catering company.” Owner Chris Mitchell and crew put out top notch delicacies including parsnip and fennel soup and root vegetable and tempeh cobbler. The salads both days were highlights: curried cauliflower, Asian broccoli slaw, spinach-grape-bacon-blue cheese, and pomegranate-couscous-green bean. Next year these guys should have their own spot at the Culinary Village.
2. Easily the best thing I ate at the Culinary Village all weekend was Rick Moonen’s Moon’N Doggie, a riff on his Top Chef Masters seafood hot dog. Made of shrimp and pollock, this dog had Thai spices, a fresh slaw and potato chips and chipotle sauce on top. It hit on all cylinders.
3. Honey Salt put in a strong local showing. The Biloxi fried chicken sandwich, which also had a nice slaw plus Old Bay chips, made me wish I had gotten drunk the night before because this would have been a sweet hangover meal.
4. Over in the VIP and band tent area, two dudes were making homemade grilled cheeses on the spot. Thick bread, fresh tomato, crisp bacon and quality cheese. It pays to be in or with a band.
5. Props to Jolene Mannina, formerly of the Sloppi Jo’s food truck, for putting together such an excellent Culinary Village. The food was definitely one of the high points of the fest.