L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade Raises Over $700,000 For Childhood Cancer Research

Alex’s Lemonade at Royce Quad

Food events come and go, but when the clout behind a particular function brings out some of the best chefs from inside and outside of Los Angeles, you’ll have a standout. Especially when the resulting total raised amounts to more than $700,00 towards childhood cancer research and patients’ lives and care.

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Giveaway: Two Tickets to Le Grand Fooding Pre-Event Dinner on April 25, 2013

Wolvesmouth and Miles Thompson of Allumette at Le Grand Fooding Pre-Event Dinner (Credit: Wolvesmouth, Le Grand Fooding)

You have probably already heard about Le Grand Fooding: Crush, the posse’s upcoming inaugural event in Los Angeles on April 26-27. In fact, tickets went on sale a month ago, and a glance at the event website’s signage would indicate they’ve already sold out the duo of dates.

Therefore, it would be cruel of me to rehash that participants include Nancy Silverton (Mozza), Ludo Lefebvre (Trois Mec), Josef Centeno (Bäco Mercat, Bar Ama), Roy Choi (Kogi BBQ, Chego, A-Frame, Sunny Spot), Jordan Kahn (Red Medicine) and Carolynn Spence (Chateau Marmont) as well as Parisian chefs such as Inaki Aizpitarte (Le Chateaubriand), Gregory Marchand (Frenchie), Jean-François Piège (Restaurant Jean-François Piège) and for VIPs, Sven Chartier (Saturne). …And yet!

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Noodle Bowl Fest Rings In Lunar New Year at Viceroy

Tsujita Tsukemen

Noodles are a perfect way to ring in the Lunar New Year. Representative in Asian cultures of long life, noodles are also one of the most comforting foods that I turn to – perfect in our “chilly” Los Angeles February. So when I heard that the first ever Noodle Bowl Fest would be held at The Viceroy, you could color me skeptical about the representations that would be served – until I actually looked at the participants.

They’re the noodle heavyweights of Arcadia, Thai Town and Little Osaka, but also the culinary heavyweights of Highland Park, Manhattan Beach, the food truck movement and Santa Monica. A $45 ticket (bought before January 31st, $55 after) will get you tastings of the following:

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Paso Robles, CA: Inaugural Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival Knocks It Out of Mid-State Park

Pizza Port Representing Solana Beach at Firestone Walker Invitational

There’s a lot to be said about inaugural events and beer festivals – we’ve all had our fair share of either trying to outstretch the growing pains involved. But the Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival was a special example of both, and it really is by luck and privilege that I was able to attend the June event in Paso Robles.

3 Floyds Dark Lord: An Extremely Rare Russian Imperial Stout

First of all, breweries could not send representatives as with a slew of other beer festivals where that would be protocol. Instead, Firestone Walker required each brewery to send two of its actual brewers. Given not only the rise of the craft beer scene in California and across America but also the underground geekery that buttresses the craze, maybe it was only inevitable that the event was sold out after only one month after they even went on sale – in February. Not bad for the first time, and with 2,500 tickets to unload, at that.

The set-up of the event was, in short, impressive. We media folks were lucky to get an extra hour before the others to score some pours, but when the event started at 1 PM, we heard the cheers of queued-up beer drinkers on-the-dot. As they stampeded the Mid-State Fair Grounds, the lines to the rarer beers were to be expected, but overall, it really seemed like there was a perfect balance in the quantity and quality of beer to attendees where everyone got to try the ones they wanted. Each brewery in attendance generally brought a session beer along with a rare beer – with Firestone Walker of course hosting with a larger portion of their repertoire. Well done.

#FWIBF at Midstate Fair Grounds

While I love California and West Coast beer, the real treat was getting to try a few of the Midwest breweries that came all the way to Paso Robles to educate and pour a few for us festival attendees. Among them were Bell’s Brewery (Kalamazoo, MI), Founders (Grand Rapids, MI), Boulevard Brewing Company (Kansas City, MO), Revolution (Chicago, IL), Sun King (Indianapolis, IN) and Three Floyds Brewing Company (Munster, IN).

After fellow attendee Caroline and I got the scoop on the rare beers to try, we swooped on in to try Three Floyds’ Dark Lord with Vanilla Bean, a crazy delicious (and super rare) 15% ABV Russian Imperial Stout that was surprisingly and beautifully balanced. The Curmudgeon Old Ale from Founders was a dark, malty beast, since it was brewed with molasses before being oak-aged. Also delicious.

Caroline and I at #FWIBF

Boneyard Brewing and Full Sail represented the Oregon set, and after awhile I was craving a sour to shake things up on my palate. Boneyard’s Femme Fatale, a raspberry tart brown ale brewed with 14 lbs of raspberries per barrel. Full Sail brought their 2010 Top Sail Bourbon Barrel Aged Porter, which, for all intents and purposes singlehandedly debunked the process of my having had it with over-the-top, high ABV beers. Though there were hints of chocolate, vanilla and oak, I especially loved the figs. It was dark in color yet surprisingly and refreshingly drinkable.

Russian River brought their Supplication, which was another helpful thirst quencher for my sour appetite. Also representing Northern California was FiftyFifty Brewing, with their rare beer being the 9.5% ABV Eclipse Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout being made even more awesome by being aged for 200 days in Elijah Craig 12 Year barrels. So. Delicious. I also think I found my new favorite sour beer in Tiny Bubbles by Hollister Brewing. It’s such a great introductory citrus sour. It’s refreshingly light yet fizzy enough to keep things interesting. Bear Republic Brewery brought their Altered Beast, an Imperial IPA made with two rounds of dry hopping then finished with American oak.The Lost Abbey brought their A-game with 4 beers, not the least being the Lost & Found, a spiced saison style ale, nor the 12% ABV Angel’s Share Bourbon. After all, bourbon aged barleywine in Paso Robles is as quintessential beer-festival-in-wine-country as you can get.

The Golden Road Brewing Crew Representing LA in Behind the Beer Panel

But I’d be remiss not to mention how the Invitational had international representatives. Yo-Ho Brewing flew all the way in from Karuizawa, Japan while the Danish Mikkeller, known as the “gypsy brewer,” travels to different breweries just to brew his 100% collaborative beer selection. I was super excited to try his beers after I learned about him, since he doesn’t even have a brewery that he calls home. His Big Worse, Red Wine Barrel Edition, was a super huge barley wine that was as big as it was delicious. Like crack. (Just don’t ask Mikkel for a business card, as gypsy brewers don’t typically carry, much less make, them. Because then they wouldn’t be gypsy brewers. Duh. Now that you mention it, don’t even try getting in touch with him again at all.)

AleSmith, Ballast Point, Beachwood BBQ, The Bruery, Golden Road, Green Flash, Pizza Port, Stone Brewing and TAPS all represented Southern California in a strong way. It was great to survey the selection of attendees and brewers and realize that there were some hardcore beer mindsets in our midst while maintaining an open exchange of ideas.

Tortelloni alla Piemontese from Buona Tavola

The food issue was also handled well, as everyone was provided with a meal ticket good for a bratwurst or steak sandwich. Additionally, local Paso Robles restaurants were on-hand to distribute bites from their menu. Not only were our stomachs properly lined for the brews, there were some positively delicious bites. It was also great to learn that the festival was also beneficial to Paso Robles as a community, since festival-goers booked reservations in town to follow the festival. Bravo!

If this was the inaugural event, I can only imagine the level at which next year’s Invitational will be at. It was a great representation of what the multi-award-winning, mid-sized Firestone Walker Brewery set out to achieve on their home turf: Folks of like mind and spirit sharing a passion for making craft beer by drinking beers brewed by the leaders in the revolution.

And with that, you’re officially on alert for FWIBF, 2012. If you love beer, you might as well follow @FirestoneWalker right now.

Festival admission thanks to media pass courtesy of Firestone Walker.

Next year: TBD


Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival
Mid-state Fair Grounds
2198 Riverside Avenue
Paso Robles, CA 93446

3rd Annual LA Beer Week Festival at Union Station

LA Beer Week Festival | Photo credit to Atwater Village Newbie on Flickr

There’s quite a lot going on this weekend – or more specifically, this Sunday, in Los Angeles. It’s almost too much to bear. I’d love to go fishing with chefs, taste all of Abbot Kinney (I’ll be there at the tail end) and visit Malibu for Los Angeles Magazine’s The Food Event – but it just can’t be done. They’re all not only on the same day but during the same time blocks and in the far reaches of the city.

Instead, I’ll be toasting the finale of the 3rd and best LA Beer Week to ever have existed. Technically, it should be called “LA Beer Weeks” since it now spans over 14 days, but I guess that might sound funny.

At Union Station from noon til 4 on Sunday, 70 breweries will be on hand to pour 4 ounces in your little LA Beer Week Festival mugs. The pours are unlimited – and that’s all you need to know. Be sure to visit your favorite breweries first before those babies are gone. There will be rare, festival-only beers offered so be vigilant. And like last year, this festival will likely be sold out, and very soon. No tickets will be available at the door, so reserve your $45 ticket before you miss out!

Go Metro!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

12 – 4 PM

LA Beer Week Festival
Union Station
800 N Alameda St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Taste of Abbot Kinney With VIP Ticket Giveaway + Abbot Kinney Cocktail Clash: October 23, 2011

Tasting Kitchen Interior

That young, Venice-representative food festival called The Taste of Abbot Kinney is back. And this, the third time around, they’ve got a new model to present. As a result of last year’s Taste souring due to food shortages and taste ticket overages, the board had decided to completely revamp the event. To start, they brought one of Abbot Kinney’s most important and veteran proprietors on-board as event chairman: Joe Miller.

The event returns with two ticket levels but with a centralized reception space in the former studio of Charles & Ray Eames. VIPs get early access at 3 PM with a reception hosted by The Food Network’s Adam Gertler; chef demos by Joe Miller himself and Yoshi Shima; appetizers by Primitivo, Joe’s and Gjelina; Calstar Cellar wines poured by Primitivo; Bloody Marys by Tasting Kitchen;  desserts by Crema and even a VIP gift bag.

At 4:30 PM, regular Tasting Tour takers join in with included access to the DJ’ed reception, where they also get to participate in the drawing, which includes hotel and restaurant packages from such destinations as: Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, Hotel Wilshire, Hotel Erwin and Terranea Resort and original art by Ellie Riley. Participating restaurants in the Taste of Abbot Kinney also include Hal’s Restaurant & Bar, Lilly’s French Café & Bar, Casa Linda, Lemonade, Otheroom, 3 Square Cafe & Bakery, The General Store/Pop Up Gallery and Abbot’s Habit.

See below to see how you can win one of two pairs of tickets to the VIP reception

And of course, the day of tasting doesn’t just end at 6 PM. Full disclosure: I’m judging this subsequent cocktail competition!

The inaugural Abbot Kinney Cocktail Clash held at Joe’s Restaurant will be held at 7 PM for all who want to attend (free), where Ryan Wainwright of Tasting Kitchen, Dennis Kahn of Hal’s Bar and Grill and Jennifer Zerboni from Joe’s Restaurant will go head-to-head in a cocktail competition.

First round: Each mixologist will be presented with a mystery box of five ingredients that they must use in their cocktail, and will have 10 minutes to create. Potential ingredients include: Portuguese peppers, Persian cucumbers, bacon, lemon verbena, arugula, tomato, passion fruit, cardamom, star anise and huckleberry.

Second round: Each bartender will have 7 minutes to create their own, pre-planned signature cocktail. Wainwright will be making his Navy Sour, Kahn his Sapphire Sunset and Zebroni will be creating her Fisco Pig. Each cocktail will be judged on: best presentation, most original and best overall taste.

Daniel Djang of Thirsty in LA and I will be judges and guests will be able to purchase food from the bar or dinner menu at Joe’s Restaurant.

And now the giveaway…



To enter to win one of two pairs of tickets to the VIP Reception + Tasting Tour of Abbot Kinney, do both of the following:

  1. Tweet: “I want to win VIP tix to @TasteofAK, @estarLA! http://estar.la/e/c1”
  2. Like e*starLA” on Facebook
  3. Leave a comment below (with your email address, which won’t be shared, so I can contact you) on what you’re most looking forward to at TofAK.

Contest closes Thursday at 5PM! I’ll contact the two winners by 7PM. If I don’t hear back by the end of the day, I’ll pick another winner (or two) on Friday morning. Be on standby at your Inboxes.

See you at Taste of Abbot Kinney!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

VIP Tasting Package: $100

3 – 6:30 PM

Tasting Tour Package: $60

4:30 – 6:30 PM

Taste of Abbot Kinney
901 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291

Giveaway: Port of Los Angeles Lobster Festival – September 16-18, 2011

Photo credit to lizfairhurst on Flickr

Who loves seafood? Or more specifically, lobster?

Time to celebrate that lobster love at the 13th annual Port of Los Angeles Lobster Festival happening next Friday through Sunday, September 16 – 18th, 2011. And while festivals come and go, this particular event takes the crustacean as it currently holds the Guiness Book World Record for most seafood served at an outdoor event. Impressive.

So, what’s the deal before and when you get there? You can buy a First Class (VIP) ticket in advance for $41 per person, whereby you secure your lobster feast, one beverage, a poster by artists in The Uprising Creative and priority in the food and bar lines. There’s even a special dining area for First Class ticket-holders and 1/3rd of these ticket proceeds benefit the Harbor Interfaith Services.

Feeling more like a pay-as-you-go program? Admission to the festival is $10 (be sure to print out the $2 off coupon) and Maine lobster meals are $19 each. Thinking you’ll want more than one lobster? You can “double up” and add an extra lobster to your plate for a total 2.50 lbs for $33. Every meal comes with cole slaw, potatoes, sweet bread, lemon wedges and a buttery dipping sauce.

If you’re vegetarian, the Lobster Festival has a great deal going on with the adjacent Ports O’ Call Restaurant, where you can dine on their 50 item salad bar. Take your receipt to the front desk for free admission to the festival.

And, while you’re there, you might as well stay for the fun. There will be bands (flashback to the ’80s, anyone? Berlin!) and even Taiko drummers to keep you entertained once you’ve devoured your lobster dinner. And as the L.A. festival tradition goes, there will also be food trucks there like The Lobstatruck (of course), Rajun Cajun, Coolhaus and Barbie’s Q.


And if you’d like to enjoy lobster for free and think you’ve got good luck, I’ve got a giveaway for tickets to the Lobsterfest. On the giveaway block are one pair of First Class (VIP) tickets and one pair of General Admission tickets. The winner and runner-up must have a mailing address to give me in order to receive your tickets. To enter, you must do all of the following:

  1. “Like” e*starLA on Facebook (yes, friends, I’ve given in to the beast)
  2. Leave a comment below (with email address field complete; this will not be shared with anyone) detailing your favorite lobster dish in memory. Make me salivate. Include your Twitter handle if you’d like to be announced as the winner on Twitter (and can be notified in a timely manner).
  3. Tweet this: “I want to win tickets to @PoLALobsterfest, @estarLA! http://estar.la/e/br”
  4. Be ready to give me your mailing address when I announce the winner at noon on Monday, September 12th and email you. If you don’t respond by 2:30 PM I will be forced to choose another winner and/or runner-up!

I’ll be checking all entries to make sure you’ve done #1, #2 and #3 before I put you in the drawing bucket, so make sure you’re thorough. 😉 Good luck, everyone! And see you next weekend at the Lobsterfest!!

Friday – Sunday, September 16 – 18, 2011

Friday: 5 – 11 PM
Saturday: 11 AM – 11 PM
Sunday: 11 AM – 7 PM

Free Parking – Cruise Ship Parking Lot

Cash only at the event

Lobsterfest at
The Ports O’ Call Village
1100 Berth
San Pedro, CA 90731
(Harbor Blvd. exit off 110 Fwy)

Las Vegas, NV: Pigging Out At Cochon 555 All-Stars

Erika and Amelia of Lindy Grundy - Los Angeles, CA

Every food enthusiast knows (here in Los Angeles, anyway): Culinary events come and go, each offering its own celebration of chefs, food and wine. But nothing was about to prepare me for the best of that pig fest, Cochon 555. So named because each city it visits brings together five local chefs, five heritage pigs and five winemakers, Cochon 555 held an “all-star” edition with favorites (that is, 10 chefs, 14 pigs and 4 butchers) hailing from cities all over to Vegas, baby, Vegas.

Charcuterie from Fruition - Denver, CO

Representing Los Angeles? No chefs, alas (are we snubbed, much?). But a social media-savvy pair of talented butchers with a shop on Fairfax called Lindy & Grundy were there to perform a live butcher demonstration – with projector screen and microphone on the ready – alongside Michael Sullivan of Blackberry Farms.

Favorite bites included an impressive array of charcuterie from Fruition in Denver. With this being my first booth visit, it was good indication that I’d have a very hard time avoiding literally rolling out of the posh, velvety Cosmopolitan convention room by the end of the event.

Swiss Army Pig from The French Laundry - Napa, CA

Another standout was the Swiss Army Pig as presented by Napa’s The French Laundry – with every part of the pig included with the bite prepared with sour morello cherry, red walnuts, Dijon and thyme with a dusting of chicharron. Delicious.

Probably the most impressive presentation at Cochon All-Stars was the Prosciutto cotto tremazzini from New York City’s Del Posto, by which you wrapped a sandwich with a massive sheet of charcuterie. There were a ton of textures delivering unmatched decadence only cut by the two tiny pieces of bread.

Tarte Tartin, Chicarron Ice Cream Sandwich from Lark - Seattle, WA

My favorite Asian homage at Cochon All-Stars was the Open-faced Banh Mi from Chicago’s Stephanie Izard of Girl and the Goat. All the right Vietnamese flavors were there as was the deliciously crispy pork texture.

And if you ever doubted the concept of pork dessert, John Sundstrom (Lark – Seattle, WA) would prove you wrong. His Tarte Tartin with pork belly, pineapple and soy caramel was perfect. Also served at this booth was a decadent pork-flavored ice cream sandwich made with maracon-ish cookies on the outside. These two made up for the fact that I missed the bacon-caramel milkshake that others had been raving about, but which I forgot to check off the seemingly never-ending list of bites.

Masubi Cocktail

In-house (Cosmopolitan) restaurants were also given their due without the requisite of serving up pork. Scarpetta dished out their Short Rib Agnolotti and Blue Ribbon made hand rolls of spicy tuna and uni. Of course, I could always make room for sushi.

Cocktails were presented by Domaine de Canton, Maker’s Mark and No. 3 London Dry Gin. My favorite cocktail had to be the Domaine de Canton’s Masubi – much like a ginger pina colada. Of course, the pineapple-wrapped fried pork with rice had to be the most theme-appropriate garnish in the place.

I’ve been to many a food fest in my day, but Cochon 555 All-Stars definitely takes the cake as one of the most well run with plenty a bite left over. There were no lines and I didn’t see one booth run out of food. Admittedly, this had more to do with the fact that I had to leave 15 – 20 minutes before the end of the event or face total gastro-destruction. Thank goodness my hotel room was just a 14 floors and a tower away so I could sleep away the lethargy.

Just in time for the VIP afterparty. There were more pig bites there, too, but the party was outdoors at Overlook Bar & Grill in 105 degree Las Vegas heat. Ugh. I opted for the mojito and tequila sunrise push-up pops, instead.

VIP Ticket to Cochon 555 All-Stars and Cosmopolitan Hotel accommodations were hosted.

Cochon 555 All-Stars at The Cosmopolitan
3708 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109

What Carmageddon? Head To L.A. Street Food Fest on Saturday, July 16

Carmageddon - Credit to ml_kap on Flickr

We’ve been notified about this weekend for months, folks. And here it is: The 405 Freeway, on the stretch between the 10 and 101, will be closed Friday night (on-ramps begin closing at 7 PM, lanes at 10 PM) through Monday morning at 5 AM. What does that mean? Stay home if you can! Or find some alternative route (it’s hit the fan: even JetBlue is offering $4 flights from Long Beach to Burbank).

Or, you can make the most of it and, like me, Metro it on over to the other side of the 405. Pasadena, that is. I plan on taking the Red Line to the Gold Line since L.A. Street Food Fest will be providing shuttles from Memorial Park Station on the Gold Line to the Rose Bowl every 30 minutes. Plan on making it a Staycation? LASFF has also secured a special rate at the nearby Courtyard Marriott.

There are plenty of reasons to trek it on over to the Rose Bowl. Try these bites:

  • Chef Christian Page / Tione’s Quality Meats
    Sonoma Lamb Shoulder w/ Mediterranean Salsa
  • Chef Dan Moody / Relate
    Banana Bread Pudding a la Pecan Pie
  • Chef Ricardo Zarate / Mo-Chica + Picca
    Assorted Causas & Anticucho
  • Chef Javier Plascencia / Mision 19
    Grilled Oysters w/ Chicharron Short Rib,
    Serrano Chili, Ponzu Butter, Lemongrass Foam
  • Starry Kitchen
    Mystery Balls
  • Mariscos de Jalisco
    Tacos Dorado de Camaron
  • Sabina Bandera
    Uni Tostadas
  • Samosa from Naan Stop Truck
  • Naan Stop
  • Antojitos Carmen
    Alambre Taco + Mini Pambaso + Mini Squash Blossom Quesadilla
  • Guelaguetza
    Mole Tamales
  • Guisados
  • Ramen JINYA + Robata JINYA
    Shoyu Tonkotsu Ramen
  • Luxe Lounge Mixologist
    Julian Cox

And if that’s not enough, head on over to Bill of Street Gourmet LA’s post on the LASFF, whereby he details the vendors he brought up from Mexico to specially attend this event with their delicious bites. Also try on the entire vendor list for size if you really want to know who’s going to be there. This event has surely moved on from a representation of the nouveau food truck oversaturation we’ve seen in these parts. Get ready for some O.G. tastes!

Steak Tartar by Ricardo Zarate

If you want to live it up and try on the Luxe Lounge for size, mixologist Julian Cox and his specialty cocktails would be the perfect reason to push you over the edge. It’s $15 more and now, only the afternoon tickets are available so be sure to jump on it ASAP. But wait, I’ve got a link for $10 off (courtesy of the famed Test Kitchen) tickets. Just look below.

And in case you were worried about the lack of culinary (and political) star power at the event, never fear: Michael Voltaggio, Mayor Villaraigosa, Jonathan Gold, Lesley Bargar Suter, Walter Manzke and Marcela Velladoid will be on-hand to judge the bites at the fest. It’ll be exciting to see just who wins in their respective categories.

So, I will see you there – with multiple bites in-hand. Don’t forget: It’s presale only and there are only a few hours left to buy so don’t sleep on this one.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

2 – 5 PM
6 – 9 PM

Presale only:
Discounted Tickets ($10 off) through Test Kitchen
Regular Presale

LASFF at The Rose Bowl
360 N. Arroyo Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91106

Taste of Abbot Kinney – A Taste of Venice: Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tasting Kitchen: Taste of Abbot Kinney 2009

Seems like there’s quite a lot going on this weekend – and Taste of Abbot Kinney doesn’t really make the selection any easier. This event is for those looking to experience the overall vibe of Venice, since Taste of Abbot Kinney has changed a bit from last year, its inaugural event. One of the differences is that Intelligentsia and Lemonade aren’t participating, but there are plenty other outposts of their product. What you can expect is a unique Venice experience on a Sunday afternoon tailored specifically to you.

The biggest difference this year, however, is there are “tasting tickets” that you’ll exchange at each venue for food, drink or experience. The day, which benefits Inside Out Community Arts, will have options other than food available. Floyd’s will have a mobile haircutting booth, Nite Spa will provide mini massages and everyone is entered to win a 52″ Sony LCD TV, a night’s stay at The Standard Hollywood and more.

The brick and mortar bites I’m most looking forward to have to be Tasting Kitchen, Lilly’s, Primitivo and Jin Patisserie. Of course, there will be food trucks – because no L.A. food event is complete without them. The highlight will certainly be the Ludo Truck. Dogtown Dogs will be on hand to offer their specialty hotdogs.

So, what are you up to on Sunday?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

3 – 7 PM

Tasting Tickets (go up after October 22):
15 tickets – $25 ($30)
30 tickets – $50 ($60)
45 tickets – $75 ($90)
60 tickets – $100 ($120)

Taste of Abbot Kinney
Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Main Street – Boccaccio Avenue