Culinary Experiences at Passport to Dry Creek Valley

Dry Creek Valley

Now in its 27th year, the Passport to Dry Creek Valley event this weekend promises to be a great time to visit and taste Pinots, Zinfandels and other Sonoma wines. If you fly to Sonoma (via Alaska Air), you’ll get to take home a case of wine free of charge. And if you wisely decide to take a bottle from a Dry Creek vineyard to dine at one of the participating charter restaurants, you’ll also get free corkage as a part of their culinary cooperative.

While I love wine, food and wine always taste better when together, so I’ve highlighted some culinary-focused opportunities at certain wineries to turn your attention to this weekend:

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What’s Cooking at The Taste This Weekend?

Michael Voltaggio & Co. Cooking Demo at The Taste of Beverly Hills, 2010

Hello, Labor Day Weekend!

So many events, so little time. So many events within events, as well. Such as with The Taste, which has been revamped since last year’s The Taste of Beverly Hills 3-day event ran concurrent with L.A. Times’ own cooking, food truck and tasting debut.

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, as they say. And so the 4-day, 3-location extravaganza, a collaboration between L.A. Times and Food & Wine, begins today. Through Monday, nine 3- and 4-hour events will span The Beverly Hills Hilton, Rodeo Drive, Hollywood’s Paramount Studios and a block of Downtown Los Angeles.

So, which The Taste sessions will I be attending? If I weren’t hampered by a LudoBites 7.0 reservation tonight and FYF Fest (to see friends OFF! and others) tomorrow, I would pick these:

Burgers & Beer (Tonight/Friday, 7 – 10 PM)

With quality restaurant participants like Rustic Canyon, Blue Palms Brewhouse, Osteria La Buca, The Spice Table, City Tavern, The Gorbals and Westside Tavern – it’s a lineup that easily coaxes me out of my burger-hype-averse funk. With The Beer Chicks curating the beer list at this event, it’s a definite shoe-in. Check the full participant list, which also includes breweries.

Secrets From The Kitchen & Cellar (Saturday, 11 AM – 3 PM)

This is the session with intriguing demos, sure-to-be entertaining panels and top-notch restaurants all bundled in one. Get the inside take on Ludo and Krissy Lefebvre’s LudoBites operation and the first season of Ludo Bites America. Listen to Jonathan Gold, Michael Voltaggio, Craig Thornton (Wolvesmouth) and Walter Manzke talk about the industry in the age of tweeting. Learn insider tips on farmers’ markets from Russ Parsons. The cooking demos by Celestino Drago and Scarpetta’s Scott Conant are sure to be educational and interesting.

…And, while you’re at it, sneak some bites and sips in from my personal favorites of the session: Black Market, Ray’s and Stark Bar, Chaya, Craft, Cafe del Rey, Locanda del Lago, Osteria La Buca, Scarpetta, Sotto and Wood & Vine.

Taco Tryst (Saturday, 7 – 10 PM)

Need I say more? Nouveau and O.G. tacos collide, here. Yes, the Kogi King, Roy Choi, will be host on this night. But the real tastes I’d look forward to are brought to you by Antojitos Carmen, Guelaguetza, Loteria Grill, Mariscos Chentes and Yamashiro.

Street Eats (Sunday, 4 – 8 PM)

The panel led by Betty Hallock will be the main event for this session as she leads Roy Choi, Sang Yoon (Father’s Office, Lukshon), Jet Tila (Wazuzu) and Mario Alberto (Chimu) through a discussion about Los Angeles as a (the best) food city.

While you’re there, don’t miss bites from Akasha, Cast Iron Gourmet, Coolhaus, Jitlada, Osteria La Buca, Pitfire, STREET, The Foundry on Melrose and The Grilled Cheese Truck.

Desserts After Dark (Sunday, 8 – 11 PM)

This is pretty self-explanatory, and though it may be after dark, I’m thinking that dessert on Sunday may also be my dinner. Look for sweet treats from the brand-new Fonuts by Waylynn Lucas, Craft, Farmshop, Oliverio, Pazzo Gelato, Simplethings and Sweet Rose Creamery.

***

I wish I had time to list all the wines and spirits that are also participating, but you’ll have to see the individual event pages for those. Don’t forget the 40% off code (WEB) when you buy your tickets. The all-inclusive price of $125 and $150 gets knocked down to $75 and $90.

Have fun this weekend, whatever you do. Enjoy the long one, and see you on the flipside.

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The Taste: Friday – Monday, September 2 – 5, 2011

Tickets

40% off code: WEB

9900 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90212

Rodeo Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90212

Paramount Pictures
5555 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Broadway Blvd.
Between 8th and 9th
Los Angeles, CA

Highlights of Plate By Plate, 2011

Hamachi Mole Pressed Sushi, Aji Amarillo Aioli - Haru Kishi for Chaya

Tasting events come and go, but Plate By Plate is one of those events that I’ve made sure to frequent every year. The proceeds of Project By Project’s annual benefit go towards a particular partner chosen for that year like this event’s Asian Youth Center. It also doesn’t hurt that the selection of participants is top-notch in comparison to many other events that I’ve attended over time.

Hamachi, Uni Russian Salad, Yuzu Kosho - Laurent Quenioux

Its focus on benefiting Asian non-profits flavor the event with entertainment such as modern dance and singing performances. Club beats pulse between the performances, perforating every bite. The Vibiana, with its high ceilings, is concurrently flooded with pink and white lights. And wherever Plate By Plate is, it’s always the site of the most successfully-executed-yet-unspoken dress code of the year. The chefs are the ones most expected to wear jeans, here.

The good news is that they all seem really amped to be at Plate By Plate. The answer to that age-old (in blogosphere time, anyway) question of “Why Are There So Many Asian Food Bloggers?” – if one were to ask it – lies in this event. The vibe is positive and the camaraderie, despite the pounding soundtrack, is warm.

Gavin Mills and wife Jessica (Wood & Vine)

And then there were many of my L.A. favorites – all in one room. My profile on Laurent Quenioux at Vertical Bistro had just run in the Pasadena Sun (yay! I’m in print!), and he brought his delicious sweetbreads and hamachi to serve up to Plate By Plate participants. Gavin Mills, who helms my neighborhood favorite, Wood & Vine, was there to present a wonderful charcuterie spread. I’d be hard-pressed to name one other Hollywood eatery which makes their own pates and rillettes in-house, and Wood & Vine’s are really good.

Picca Peru was on-hand to serve their ultra comforting Chicken Cau Cau. The Royce of Pasadena’s The Langham Hotel, under David Feau, plated pieces of Wagyu “Au Poivre” with a baby pearl onion. It’s pretty hard to argue with wagyu, but there was a certain elegant savoryness to this particular version.

Wagyu "Au Poivre" - David Feau of The Royce

The surprise of the night was The Gorbals’ Beef Tongue with Romesco. It was certainly the most tender – despite being thick - slice of tongue I’ve had. While I’m not a squeamish or picky eater, I can’t say that tongue has ever been a favorite “cut” of mine. But I was pretty shocked at how much I enjoyed this rendition. The delicious romesco sauce, of course, was no detail – so bravo.

Of course, the beautiful Bricia Lopez was in attendance to represent La Guelaguetza. They served up their famous Tamales Oaxaqueños with chicken and mole.

It’s always a festive time at Plate By Plate. The food and drink (complete this year with a mixology demo by Julian Cox) are always prime and the company in full garb is always colorful. If you are keen on taking a break between bites and sips, there are also really impressive silent auction items with low starting bids on the block. It’s pretty much the sleeper event of the year.

See you next time.

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Plate By Plate
at Vibiana
214 S. Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Savor Los Angeles Redux Presents “Pairings!” on June 2, 2011

Spicy Crab Cakes from Starry Kitchen

With their debut event occurring last year, Savor Los Angeles will return next week and instead of focusing on the sweet, the emphasis will be on pairings. “BFFs” for the acronymically inclined.

They’ll feature eateries and vendors trending in the Hollywood, Silver Lake and Downtown areas like The Oaks Gourmet, Mas/Malo Restaurants, Starry Kitchen, Reservoir, Bangers and Smashed and Cast Iron Gourmet. Of course, The Farm of Beverly Hills also deserves a mention as the west-most representative of this culinary extravaganza.

Tickets start at $55 plus tax for tastes of all vendors, pre-event cocktails, Veev event cocktails, Zhena’s Gypsy Tea and Duvel beer. VIP will run you $85 and will get you a VIP gift bag, open bar and a special entrance. Fancy.

Proceeds from Savor Los Angeles will benefit CoachArt, which teaches art and athletic classes to children and adolescents with chronic illness. All paper- and plasticware at this event will be reusable or rapid biodegradable.

So there you have it: A tasting event in a posh, intimate Hollywood studio setting. I’ll see you there!

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

7 – 10 PM

Tickets: $55 & $85 (VIP)

Savor Los Angeles
Siren Studios
1050 N. Orange Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Taste of the Eastside: May 15, 2011

Credit to Flickr 7500 on Flickr

Hi everyone! It’s been awhile here on the blog. Thanks for being patient while I took the time for a much-needed hiatus while I rested and regrouped my going out and blogging mojo. I’m going to continue to bring you some quality reviews and heads-up on worthy up-coming events on an on-again, regular basis – so let’s get this ball rolling again, shall we?

We’ve got a debuting, community-driven food event on our hands on Sunday at Barnsdall Art Park, featuring eateries that mostly populate, well, the east side of town. Seems as though it’s skewed towards Silver Lake and Eagle Rock in particular, but it can only mean an even wider selection on their sophomore effort, right?

At Taste of the Eastside, you’ll sample tastes from Intelligentsia, Eagle Rock Brewery, Silver Lake Wine, Xoia, Malo, Little Dom’s, Pazzo Gelato, Gingergrass and Reservoir – just to name a few. Sustain LA will be on-site to keep the event recyclable and compostable. Proceeds from ticket sales will be divided up and donated towards the Barnsdall park, SEE-LA, Rose Scharlin Cooperative Nursery School and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Also taking place at the event will be three separate book signings brought by Skylight Books (only one of my favorite book stores), including “From Seed to Skillet” by Jimmy Williams & Susan Heeger, “The Sriracha Cookbook” by Randy Clemens and “Los Angeles’s Best Dive Bars: Drinking and Diving in the City of Angels” by Lina Lecaro. Bring the family for Barnsdall Art Sunday’s art workshop from 2-4 PM. If you like to roll in style, VIPs will enjoy a special cocktail tasting by Talmadge Lowe from 1-3 PM. Five percent of proceeds from the silent auction will be donated to Children’s Hospital LA.

Tickets are $25 and include 15 taste coupons. VIP will run you $65 but also get you 5 more (with 20 total) taste coupons and an additional, exclusive hour to the vendors before the event – as well as the cocktail tasting with Talmadge. You can purchase them at The Green Bean in and on Eagle Rock or via Brown Paper Tickets online.

Looks like a promising, inaugural event – especially if you’re local and looking to support your community at large. See you there!

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

(VIP: 12 PM) 1 – 5 PM

Tickets

Barnsdall Art Park
4800 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90027

The Highlights of Great Chefs of LA

Riso al Salto con Midollo | Saffron Risotto Cake, Braised Beef Marrow, Mustard Greens

We got there kind of late, but there were great hits to be had at Great Chefs of LA. It was overcast and we had just come from another culinary extravaganza – still determined to conquer. The range of bite options varied more than ever – right on down to those Sushi Popper People – but those that showed up at the top of the available selection did a really good job doing so.

Burrata, Housemade Pink Lady Apple Gelato and Parma Prosciutto

What the heavyweights brought to the event often came in pairs. Like Lago’s Bone Marrow and a Burrata dish paired with Housemade Pink Lady Apple Gelato and Parma Prosciutto. I have a hard time arguing with either bone marrow or burrata, but the application of especially the burrata made for a refreshing, mildly-sweet take on the fresh, wet cheese. Autumn savory notes were alive and well in Studio City.

I was also happy to see Michael Shearin and Ian Gresik of Drago Centro there. They presented Michael’s Smitten With Britain – with Tanqueray gin, chives, limes and fever tree tonic – and Ian’s Celery Root Panna Cotta, Pancetta with Basil Crouton. It wasn’t coincidence that they went together so well. I grabbed another Smitten With Britain to wash the rest of my panna cotta down.

Sashimi Plate

Another “solid” was the super generous sashimi plate from Sushi House Unico from the (yes, Italian) Giacomino Drago group. I opted for no rice, though you could have ordered sushi as well. The fish was fresh and though I was full from another food event, I just couldn’t leave the pieces down on the plate.

La Grande Orange was on hand to showcase pizzas (including a truffle topped variety) from their newly-opened The Luggage Room in Pasadena. The Border Grill truck returned this year for another stop. Stefan Richter’s L.A. Farm had hand-dipped liquid nitrogen orange ice cream popsicles.

The Beer Chicks curated the mini beer garden, and invited the individual brewers to Great Chefs, which made it one of the best places to consume beer that weekend. The Bruery, Deschutes, TAPS (Pumpkin Ale!), Duvel and Ommegang were all there to represent – and boy was I happy.

There were tons of food event options this particular day (forget about the weekend, period) – but Great Chefs again proved that they were a contender for your time, money and appetite.

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Held last Sunday, November 7, 2010

12 – 3:30 PM

CBS Studio Center
4024 Radford Dr.
Studio City, CA 91604

LA Loves Alex’s Lemonade Ushers In Fall Flavors

LA Loves Alex

There were a lot of events going on over the weekend, but the inaugural LA Loves Alex’s Lemonade at Culver Studios was a culinary extravaganza to hit it out of the park. The backdrop? The famous Gone With the Wind mansion on a beautiful autumn day. Our hosts were Chefs Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne (Lucques, AOC, Tavern) along with Chef David Lentz (Hungry Cat) – and there was a solid showing of chefs from across the country who all offered their live talents to an event whose goal was to fight childhood cancer.

Seasonal Antipasto | Chris Bianco

The standouts? Chris Bianco’s Antipasto dish, featuring beautifully seasoned fall vegetables and almost making us forget that it was his pizza we were looking forward to. Celebrity chef Giada of The Food Network was personally on-hand to serve up her Pasta Ponza, topped with a fried prosciutto. Paul Kahan, of The Publican in Chicago, brought forth a delicious house-made chorizo coupled with cured ham and dressed with arugula and apples. Hailing from New Orleans was a dish from Susan Spicer’s Bayona – a delicious grilled rosemary shrimp with artichoke bread pudding. Local Neal Fraser (Grace) had pig on the brain, or “Pig in a Box,” as he called it. We caught him reloading charcoal into his smoking apparatus and appreciated the pork he prepared, dressed with a side of mustard potatoes and brussel sprouts.

Caramel Chocolate Macarons | Tavern

With all the dishes at the event making it ever apparent that it was autumn in Los Angeles, the cocktails and beer did not pale in comparison. VIP had access to Craftsman Beer, offering up their Triple Sage, Lavender Sour, Poppy Fields and Firestone brews. Hungry Cat cocktails were also in VIP and out in the common area and were delicious as ever. Of course, we can’t forget the epic dessert table from Tavern and Lucques. S’mores, caramel chocolate macarons, carrot cake – I didn’t even have room for a bite of everything on the table, though I wanted to. Fortunately, I was able to stuff in almost a half-scoop of Mozza’s Meyer Lemon Gelato. Its lemon zest packed punch in the midst of a goat cheese-like flavor and consistency.

If Caroline on Crack, Lindsay of LAist and I didn’t have somewhere else to be later that day, we would have surely enjoyed basking in the Culver City sun with our perfect cocktails, food, beer and desserts the rest of the afternoon. Overall, it was such a stand-out showing that I do hope the event moves from inaugural to annual.

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Held last Sunday, November 7, 2010

12 – 4 PM

Culver Studios
9336 Washington Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232-2600

Taste of Beverly Hills On September 2-5, 2010: Tickets On Sale Today

Overview of Beverly Hills

Looks like Beverly Hills wants officially mark themselves on the map as a culinary event destination in Los Angeles – as the first annual Taste of Beverly Hills will take place on September 2 – 5, 2010. With no event legacy, the first thing I’m drawn to is that it spans over 4 days – and over Labor Day Weekend, at that! The second? The price.

Of course, it wouldn’t be L.A., much less Beverly Hills, without all the hot names on the ticket. Names like (Top Chef Season Six winner) Michael Voltaggio, Walter Mazke (formerly of Church & State), Ludo Lefebvre (LudoBites), John Shook and Vinny Dotolo (Animal) all showcasing their work for visitors to the event.

The weekend will commence on Thursday with an ever appropriately named picnic matched to its date, “9.02.10 City of Beverly Hills Celebration.” You’ll sit under the stars with guests such as Larry King and others while enjoying live musical performances. Remember: This event is separately ticketed and not included in the all-inclusive price.

Enjoy food from over 50 chefs and restauranteurs, beer, wine, cocktail tastings, and chef demos within the Grand Tasting area throughout the weekend. The schedule is curated by KCRW’s “Good Food” Host and Chef Evan Kleiman while the tunes are directed by Jason Bentley, KCRW music director and host of “Morning Becomes Eclectic.” The schedule that’s planned in the Grand Tasting area:

  • “The Art of Mixing” (Friday evening)—the city’s top mixologists and DJs “mix” their talents. Ooh, la la!
  • “Secrets From the Kitchen and Cellar” (Saturday afternoon)—chefs and master sommeliers showcase the tricks of their trades.
  • “Taste of Something Better” Cooking Competition (Saturday afternoon)—three finalists will vie for the crown of “America’s Top Amateur Chef” and compete to represent the United States in the 2010 LG “Life Tastes Good” global cooking competition in Seoul, South Korea, this fall.
  • “Date Night” (Saturday evening)—an evening of good food, wine, music, and one-on-one time with master sommeliers and vintners.
  • “The Art of Brunch” (Sunday afternoon)—free-flowing brunch cocktails, live gospel and jazz performances, a 50-foot grand table featuring the city’s finest pastries and breads, along with KCRW’s annual pie contest hosted by “Good Food” Host Evan Kleiman.

Okay, Beverly Hills! Show us what you got. Tickets are available today for $125 per person for a day session pass, $150 for an evening session pass and $500 per person for an all-access weekend package. Again, the “90210 City of Beverly Hills Celebration” on Thursday is an individually ticketed event for $150.

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Thursday, September 2 – Sunday, September 5, 2010

Tickets: $125, $150 or $500

The Taste of Beverly Hills, Presented by Food & Wine
Adjacent to:
Beverly Hilton
9900 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
877.434.TOBH (8624)