Now that it’s summer in Los Angeles, there’s a ton going on all over town. And when it comes to food events, it’s enough to make your head spin. But you want to play it smart with your time and funds, because no one’s got patience for fluff.
Fortunately, I’ve narrowed it down to the best four events you’ll want to attend this month. They’re all on the weekend, so you’ll have enough time to make your trek. Whether it’s raising money to combat childhood hunger, celebrating Fatherhood the best way possible, eating the best tacos in the city or carousing the famous Rose Bowl for the best bites in Los Angeles, June is shaping up to be an exciting time to be in L.A. Let’s get started. Continue reading →
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;Â desserts by Crema and even a VIP gift bag.
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:
Tweet: “I want to win VIP tix to @TasteofAK, @estarLA! http://estar.la/e/c1”
Momed, a new Eastern Mediterranean place on the south-of-Wilshire stretch of Beverly Drive, has all the makings to be a neighborhood hotspot. A contemporary interior is where you’ll enjoy an equally modern rendition of Mediterranean cuisine with beautiful wines to match. Specific cuisines that bring inspiration and are highlighted include those from Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and Morocco.
The place, with its white and just-short-of-sterile decor, is equal parts eatery, wine bar, coffee and tea house. The aim was to create a neutral visual platform on which the vibrant spices and flavors of the cuisine would shine.
Enjoy tasty treats like their Pide topped with Ohanyan spicy sausage and sweet red onions. Or go for a more unusual, adventurous topping likeÂ Chicken â€˜lahmajounâ€™ – minced chicken, pistachios and oven-roasted peaches. It may be wood-fired (the oven is the only thing from the previous tenants they kept) but don’t call it pizza. It’s Turkish flatbread, and it’s delicious with the right topping (the spicy sausage was my favorite).
Want to dial it down a little? Momed offers a great selection of salads and dips with which to eat with your pita. I thought their tzatziki yogurt dip was especially flavorful and done well. The vast varieties of hummus, baba ganoush and other mezze (appetizers) were also palatable in large thanks to the warm, moist pitas served. The long display of spices like cardamom, sumac and cumin is evidence of Momed’s commitment to making everything from scratch with freshness being a priority.
And don’t forget selections that come already prepared with their fantastic pitas, likeÂ one filled with warm duck “shawarma” and fig confitÂ – my personal hand-rolled pita favorite. If you’re looking for a warm side, no look further than the Baleela (chickpeas with toasted pine nuts, preserved lemon and perfectly flash-fried with brown butter) – absolutely divine!
Intelligentsia coffee, traditional Turkish coffee, a rare selection of fine teas including Du Hammam, Moroccan mint, Eveâ€™s rose petal and white pomegranate, as well as six different hot chocolate options from The Chocolate Box are offered. In the back, behind the wood-fired oven, is where you can get your coffee or Turkish Spa tea fix.
Momed is a great place to approach quality Eastern Mediterranean – whether it may have been intimidating before or always been a favorite. And while you’re there, try to pair your meal with one of their wines. You won’t find a French, Italian or Californian bottle of vino but rather a Greek, Israeli, Moroccan or even Lebanese. When I had the opportunity to visit I had the pleasure of tasting a beautiful Israeli ’09 Muscat Rose as well as an Israeli ’07 Golan Heights Chardonnay…delicious. No matter what, you’re in for a unique treat each time you dine at Momed.
All food and wine were hosted.
Momed Market Cafe 233 S. Beverly Drive Beverly Hills, CA 90212-3886 310.270.4444
It’s safe to say that the first ever Taste of Abbot Kinney can be logged in the books as a success. I had a great time going from restaurant to restaurant (especially in the company of Caroline on Crack, H.C. of LA-OC-Foodventures, Sam of LAist – while running into The Delicious Life and Choisauce), having bites of everything each storefront offered to entice us back on a later date. For the most part, the Abbot Kinney restos put in good effort in making sure each guest got to enjoy a decent-sized portion rather than token smidgens. My main qualm was that there could have been more wine and cocktails served for the pairing. After all, regular price admission was $60 per person (or if you were savvy enough to catch the discount on Goldstar, $41 with ticket fee).
But there were pleasant surprises. It was my first time at most stops – with mental notes made to revisit Lemonade, Intelligentsia andÂ Tasting Kitchen. Avoid: The Brig – an Abbot Kinney “dive” bar undergoing an eastsideÂ identity crisis, who served up a Brazilian Lemon Drop. It was Brazilian in the sense that it was made with rum, not vodka – but rum is sweet and lemon drops are sour, so the point escaped me. Stick to the 1:2 pours here, as the point of this bar is to knock ’em back rather than to actually taste. The rib from Beechwood served at The Brig, while an unfair gauge on the establishment’s food as a whole, was sweet, average and unremarkable.
Back to Lemonade (yes, it’s a chain)Â – who gave us a generous portion of their delicious cucumber mint lemonade and a sampling of three salads (above): Sesame vinaigrette atop snap peas andÂ edamame, Hazelnut vinaigrette atop roast beets and pickled red onions, and roast cauliflower, golden raisins and almonds in a light curry sauce. Three salads, three words: Bursts of flavor. Super fresh ingredients. Perfectly, lightly seasoned. Must try it.