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A Brief Guide to Artisanal LA This Weekend

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Artisanal LA is back in full force this weekend, with a new sea-side location on the Dining Deck of Santa Monica Place, and a mix of new and returning vendors to a fun recurring shopping, tasting, and learning event focused on local and sustainable eating, drinking, and growing. Thanks to a sneak peak last night at the venue, we've got a few picks for some must-sees and tries when you hit up the event today or tomorrow.

If you've got a sweet tooth, Artisanal is the best place to go to get tuned into who is making waves in the local baking and confection scene. Creme Caramel L.A. for their creme caramels and bread puddings, especially the Caramelized Bacon Bread Pudding, which you can take home and pop in the oven to have later all warm and gooey. I Heart Pies is there with their darling mini-pies featuring seasonal ingredients; look out for the very seasonal Peeps Marshmallow Pie, adorned with--of course--a Peep! While Crust, another pie-centric purveyor, has great pies, don't miss their other goodies, like the Cracker Brittle and the S'mores Shooters. Booze lovers and cake lovers, your needs are met all in one place thanks to the glory of Immaculate Confections, and moist, rich, bundt cake creations soaked in spirits like Guinness, rum, or Grand Marnier. Cookie monsters, head straight to Shortnin' Bread for four kinds of shortbread (try the Rosemary Lime or the Chocolate Sea Salt) and their adorable Mustache Shortbread cookies. Plus, Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies, hello!

Speaking of pork, the meat-y wonder not only shows up in sweet treats, but on its own in fine form thanks to the bacon and bacon-y goodies made by Cast Iron Gourmet, where you can get jars of Bacon Fat (for making bacon washed bourbon cocktails!), their tantalizing Couch Mix (what, eat that and hike on a trail, no way!), and their Bacon Chutney. Simone B. Catering is also showcasing pork, with a savory pulled pork cupcake.

While we didn't taste it all last night, there's so much more worth checking out a Artisanal, including jams, sauces, oils, teas, cafe items, cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages. And it's not all eating; there are apparel and gift vendors, and booths set up for great local groups like Slow Food L.A., Edible Westside, and GOOD, and the chance to help and meet the culinary students of Santee High School's Bistro Mundo, who will be there with samples of their cooking efforts and a seedling sale to raise funds for the garden they hope to build and maintain.

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Balance your roaming, shopping, and nibbling time with taking a break to check out some of the great panels and workshops, and if it's even possible you're still hungry when the day is done, you're on the Dining Deck, so there are several great options for spots to check out for a meal and some drinks.

Artisanal LA runs Saturday (11 a.m. to 8 p.m.) and Sunday (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.). Admission is $10 for a single day (in advance), $18 for a two-day pass, and can be bought online. Though they will take $15 cash admission at the door, organizers caution that admission without a pre-sale ticket is not guaranteed.