2017’s KAABOO Del Mar created a new standard for the festival experience with legendary musical artists, famous comedians, and elevated food and sips. In addition to a top-tier lineup of world class musicians such as Red Hot Chili Peppers, P!nk, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and Muse, guests were treated to live contemporary art installments in ARTWORK; Vegas style cabanas at BASK; culinary exhibits at PALATE; belly laughs at HUMOR ME; spa services at INDULGENCES; and late-night dance parties at CLUB ELEVATE.In only its third year, KAABOO Del Mar has shifted the festival paradigm and carved out its name among national and destination music festivals. Highlights from this weekend include an aerial performance from P!nk who debuted songs from her forthcoming album Beautiful Trauma; the first live performance of Kesha’s brand new single, “Praying”; a DJ set from basketball great Shaquille O’Neal (DJ Diesel); and a much anticipated Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker’s 40th anniversary set to close out the experience. Eat Drink Be SD was tasked with determining the Best Food at the Fest for the second year in a row and expanded the honor to also include Best Sips at the Fest this year! While all of the culinary offerings were all well above the standard festival fare, the top dishes and drinks were:Best at the Fest: SearsuckerSearsucker took home the gold for KAABOO’s Best Food at the Fest in 2017! They served up gourmet takes on fair food, including Mexican Corn on the Cobb, Watermelon Agua Fresca & Brisket Mole Frito Pie. Searsucker is a nationally recognized restaurant brand conceptualized by Top Chef alum Chef Brian Malarkey. Inspired by the simplicity, relaxed and feel-good vibe of the seersucker fabric, Searsucker presented upscale versions of the nostalgic fair food we all love for KAABOO, winning best food of the fest. Best VIP Eats: Bread and CheeseYou had to be a VIP to get some of the best food at the fest – San Diego’s gourmet grilled cheese food tent Bread and Cheese was only accessible to the Hang 10 and Hang 5 ticket holders. The secret to their epic grilled cheeses? They grill the sandwiches in aioli instead of butter or oil, locking in drool-worthy flavor and creating perfect crunch.Best for Vegans: BeamingBeaming’s fresh and flavorful coconut wrap is a winner for vegans and omnivores alike! The coconut seaweed wrap is filled with arugula, avocado, carrot, kimchi, and sesame cashew crumble, served with an almond butter dipping sauce. Beaming was founded with the intention of helping people realize the power of food as medicine and that what you eat and drink really matters. They source the freshest, organic fruits, vegetables and superfoods from the highest quality suppliers as well as from local farms whenever possible based on seasonal availability.Best Dessert: The Baked BearThe Baked Bear’s Funfetti Cake cookie served with vanilla ice cream and the M&M cookie served with Salted Carmel made for the best dessert at KAABOO! The cool, smooth ice cream was delightful on a hot KAABOO afternoon and the soft cookies a perfect compliment. Childhood friends, Rob Robbins and Shane Stanger, left their careers to follow their true passion: serving up inventive sweets to their hometown of San Diego. At The Baked Bear, they assemble monstrous ice cream sandwiches that have won the hearts of locals. Original-recipe ice cream sits at the heart of each one of Rob and Shane’s sandwiches, which are held together by fresh-baked cookies, brownies, or even donuts. The Baked Bear has over a dozen original-recipe cookies and ice cream flavors, giving guests a chance to mix and match to find their favorite combination. Before they’re served, the sandwiches can be rolled through toppings ranging from Fruity Pebbles to Oreo crumble, giving them an Instagram-worthy touch.Best Burger: STKSTK San Diego will be opening in San Diego in February, bringing a contemporary and dynamic steakhouse experience to the historic Gaslamp District. STK’s “Lil Brgs” is topped with caramelized onion, aged cheddar, and special sauce, served with truffle chips. We can’t wait to see what the steakhouse brings to the Andaz early next year!Most Instagram-Worthy: The Dirty CookieThe Dirty Cookie takes “milk and cookies” to a whole ‘nother level with individually handcrafted and delicately hand-coated cookie shots with premium Belgian Chocolate. We tried the vegan double chocolate cookie, lined with chocolate inside, filled with cold vanilla cream and topped with nonpareils. And the cookie that takes the cake was “The Split Decision” – half chocolate chip and half cookies and cream, filled with coconut cold brew and topped with s’mores.Best Lobster: Wicked Maine LobsterThe Lobster Mac n Cheese from Wicked Maine Lobster took center stage with fresh Maine lobster from the popular Liberty Station vendor. With the ocean and the Grandview stage in the background where Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pink, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and more epic artists performed, Wicked Maine Lobster brought East Coast flavor to a West Coast view. Best Poké: Sweetfin PokéSweetfin sources the highest quality and most sustainable raw fish they can find with a “pole to bowl” philosophy. You can taste the freshness in the light and delectable yuzu salmon poke bowl, served on top of a bed of bamboo rice, topped with wasabi peas and crispy garlic. Best Dumplings: bling bling dumplings Why choose? With bling blind dumpling’s flight, you don’t have to pick just one of their delicious dumplings to try! The handcrafted dumplings use local, organic ingredients. The dumpling literally means, “to touch your heart” and bling bling delivers the love.Best Chocolate: So Rich! ChocolatesSoRich! Chocolate offers artful truffles and treats, hand dipped using Fair Trade chocolate. Classic flavors such as caramels and toffees are made with real butter and whipping cream; while spices of Chipotle, The Ghost Chile and the Scorpion are combined to create a perfect contrast of sweet and spicy with hints of salt. Our top pick was the seasonal Pumpkin Truffle – a little taste of fall!Best Taco: Eat Your Heart OutEat Your Heart Out offers comfort food classics with a ton of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options! The food truck splits their menu into “Good” and “Evil” options and we opted for a little of both. The sweet potato tacos brought together fresh veggies and great flavor, and as one of the “Good” menu items, we knew it was healthy too!Best S’more: Mallow MallowMallow Mallow brought their s’more “A Game” to KAABOO with both their popular American bourbon bacon S’more and also a special recipe for the fest – KAABOO berry! The delicious, handmade treats take you back to those fond childhood memories of campfires – with a gourmet twist!Best Hangover Cure: Ralph & RichiesThe Polish Boy from food truck Ralph & Richies is a Polish Kielbasa with creamy coleslaw on a hoagie topped with French Fries and homemade BBQ sauce is a great hangover cure! Bringing “Cleveland Eats to These Cali Streets,” Cleveland style food is the hearty central European inspired cuisine that owner, Fortune Southern, grew up on. Best Japanese: Okamoto KitchenThe Japan Fried Chicken Plate at Okamoto Kitchen puts an Asian spin on an American classic.With special Japanese glaze, green onion, and sesame seeds, the chicken is served over rice with a fresh side salad. Great option for Japanese comfort food at KAABOO! Okamoto Kitchen is the brainchild of Chizuru and Gerald Abraham, whose mission is to introduce people to authentic, lesser known Japanese dishes such as Chicken Nanban, Cheese Mochi and Classic Style Japanese Curry.Crowd Favorite: STK Lamb LollipopsThe Lamb Lollipops from STK won “Crowd Favorite” at KAABOO, an artful dish prepared with chimichurri, picked herbs, and harissa crema. Proof that the KAABOO festival goers have more elevated taste than the traditional “fair food,” the Lamb Lollipops were one of the most gourmet offerings at KAABOO and as talked-about as Pink’s epic performance. Best Bourbon & Best Cocktail: FEW BourbonThe Third Door cocktail with FEW Bourbon, fresh grapefruit juice, raspberry simple syrup and topped with club soda, is our pick for both best bourbon and best cocktail at KAABOO! FEW Bourbon is a three-grain recipe that infuses generations of Southern tradition with the spiciness of northern rye and a touch of malt for smoothness. FEW is hand-crafted through a small-batch process in charred oak barrels to age its bourbon whiskey.Best Gin: Bluecoat GinThe Bluecoat Gin impressed with their Bees Knees cocktail, a refreshing blend of honey, lemon juice, and Bluecoat Gin. A soothing combination for our throat after singing along to our favorite artists at KAABOO! Bluecoat is a handcrafted American Dry Gin, small batch distilled in a copper pot using only organic botanicals resulting in a smooth and delicate artisanal spirit. Best Tequila: Arta TequilaSmooth Arta Tequila took home Best Tequila at the Fest and served up a peach margarita, uniting their Colorado heritage with our California style. The small-batch distiller makes Arta Tequila with 100% of their own Blue Weber agave grown on their single family-owned farm in Arenal, Mexico. Adding in fresh peaches to a zesty margarita, the Arta Tequila really shined!Best Wine: Nomadica Nomadica’s festival-friendly canned wine is top quality (yes, even though it comes in a can)! They work with respected winemakers and sommeliers from around the country to source high quality, small batch wine. Keeping with KAABOO’s tradition of surrounding us with art, Nomadica takes art off the walls and puts it in people’s hands; each wine features different art by a range of illustrators, painters, sculptors, and muralists. The 2016 Rose we sampled is a blend of Grenache (67%) and Cabernet Franc (33%), made by winemaker Joshua Klapper from Timbre Winery in Santa Maria, California.Best Cause: OneHopeThe OneHope Rose, with flavors of white rose petal, strawberry, and orange peel, helps to educate women on their risk and symptoms of ovarian cancer. To date, they have educated 322,192 women about ovarian cancer! Their vision is to build a community around a vineyard, estate and winery that makes the world a better place.Best Beer: Magic Hat Taken for Granite IPACrisp with a smooth malt backing, Magic Hat’s Taken For Granite (TFG) is a juicy IPA with hop notes of grapefruit, orange, peach and cherry that will mine your every taste bud. Using 2-row, Victory, Cara, and Oat Malts; Magnum, Nugget, Amarillo, Simcoe & Cascade Hops; and dry hopped with Nugget, Amarillo & Cascade hops. ABV: 6.60%Best Accessory: Cake & Punch Flower CrownCake & Punch Flower Crowns were the hit of KAABOO, the must-have accessory for the festival. Cake & Punch Flower Crowns create unique, trendy, and flattering designs using fresh cut florals and the highest quality materials. The simple, nymph-like crowns offered small blooms that accented any outfit. They also created showstopper flower crowns that incorporated larger flowers and even LED lights, fasted by a small, discreet battery pack attached to the crown.
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