Eating Your Way Through the 5th Annual Taste of Italy on October 12, 2013

Taste of Italy

The food events haven’t stopped, but The Taste of Italy looks to not only present a stellar line-up of food but an authentically Italian atmosphere. Just as a fundraiser for the Italian American Museum, slated to open in early 2014, should be. Luckily, I also have a special discount code for my readers to share that will score you $5 off, so stay tuned til after the jump.

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The 2011 L.A. Easter Brunch Round-Up

Quail Eggs at Kaohsiung Night Market | Photo: hk_traveller on Flickr

I don’t remember ever having given up anything for Lent. But I always have celebrated Easter in non-ritualistic fashion – just as I eat and celebrate life. Every day is a rebirth, right?

Did I mention that I love eggs?

I compiled a bunch of Easter Brunch specials around town. There are plenty of restaurants offering up 3-course prix fixe menus for Sunday morning, but a lot of them have some pretty solid choices.

Go ahead…you can scan this post for the bottomless champagne or mimosa spots. I totally understand.

(By the way, I can’t believe how Westward this list skews… Do Eastsiders not celebrate Easter?) 😉

Happy Easter!!

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Eva (Beverly/Hancock Park): 12 -  8 PM

$39 per person.
Bottomless wine. 5-course prix fixe.

I know I said “brunch,” and I know Mark Gold calls this the “Eva Dinner Party,” but the noon start time has to count for something, doesn’t it? You get all of the following: Deviled Eggs, Nicoise Salad with Olive Relish and Roast Peppers, Chicken “Pallard” with Arugula and Mustard, Warm Potato Salad, Prime Skirt Steak, Grilled Asparagus and Strawberry Shortcake with Whipped Creme Fraiche. I know. Amazing. This is where I’ll be…sometime during Easter Day.

7458 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036, 323.634.0700

Chaya Brasserie (Downtown, Beverly Hills, Venice): 11 AM – 3 PM

$37 per person, $15 per young adult.
Bottomless champagne. 3-course prix fixe.

You get a couple choices for your 3-course prix fixe, all menus of which vary according to location! Be sure to peep the right Chaya outpost for your menu.

A few highlights from what I can see on all three menus include French Toast with Granola Crust, Kabocha Squash Ricotta Cheese Gnocchi, Grilled New York Steak and Fries with Poached Egg, Pancetta-wrapped Gulf Shrimp with Provencal Grits, Meyer Lemon Mascarpone Cheese Tart. I think the Downtown location is where to be!

525 South Flower, Los Angeles, CA 90017, 213.236.9577

8741 Alden Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90048, 213.859.8833

110 Navy Street, Venice, CA 90291, 310.396.1179

Obika (Century City): 10 AM – 4 PM

$25 per adult, $15 per child under 12.
Comes with one mimosa or glass of Prosecco. Buffet-style plus one family-style pasta.

Not feeling the prix fixe but don’t want any hassle? Obika’s doing it up buffet style – at the mall. Mozzarella di Bufala along with a selection of Smoked Wild Alaskan Salmon, Assorted, Salumi, Caponata with Pan Carsau, Artichoke Ricotta Quiche with Thyme and Mint, Ricotta Mousse and four (yes, four) flavors of Tirimisu will all be available. In addition, your table will get to pick one choice of pasta served family style, including Handmade Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli with Brown Butter and Sage, Lasagnetta with Peas and Tagliolini with Artichoke and Mint.

10250 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90067, 310.556.2452

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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.

Held last Sunday, November 7, 2010

12 – 3:30 PM

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

Authentic Tastes of Italy in Los Angeles: June 5 – 20, 2010

Filetto D’Agnello Farcito (Filet of lamb rolled with spinach, baked tomatoes & olives, pan roasted - served with alfalfa sprouts, potato cake and rapini) - Il Moro

This week, I had the privilege of joining other food writers at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills for a very special lunch presentation, courtesy of the Italian Trade Commission in Los Angeles and Italy-America Chamber of Commerce West. That very day was National Italian Day, when the ambassadors of Italian culture presented to us the fruits of their research and labor, hoping to spread love for Italian culture by a critical element: The food, of course. They have taken the task of representing Italian cuisine in major American cities, hand-picking the best Italian restaurants in the area based on authenticity and quality of ingredients.

Pannacotta alle Fave con Insalata di Granchio, Fave, Piselli ed Asparagi (Fava pannacotta, Dungeness Crab, English peas, favas and Sacramento Delta asparagus) - Il Grano

At the lunch, we were honored with the chefs’ presence who were all hard at work in the kitchen while we sampled the dishes – but who also prefaced each dish with an explanation of the heart of what we were about to eat. One dish each from the six chosen premier restaurants were presented and washed down with wine pairings, and the results were simply stunning. Sal Marino from Il Grano served a Fava Panna Cotta topped with Dungeness Crab and English peas. It was refreshing and delicious, had a fun consistency and effectively opened up our palate for the plates to come. The Cecaluccoli (rolled with three fingers, not just two) from Celestino Drago had a tomato sauce that absolutely popped, complimented by dried strips of eggplant and a triangular sliver of delicious, tacky Pecorino.

Risotto al Gorgonzola “Dolce Latte” con Barbabietole Rosse e Gialle (Gorgonzola “Dolce Latte” Risotto with Market Red and Gold Beets) - Locanda Del Lago

A standout was a bright red, and extremely rich, risotto from Locanda Del Lago’s Roberto Maggioni. The flavors in the risotto also had a great vibrancy from the beets which shone through the Gorgonzola’s weight, while the risotto itself had great bite. But the Secondi from Il Moro – the perfectly prepared filet of lamb which had spinach, tomatoes and olives rolled into it – was probably the best lamb I have had in recent memory. It kept its characteristic taste while uncharacteristically avoiding the gamey aftertaste thanks to its freshness. It was tender to the fork, juicy and all the more made perfect by being plated with potatoes and rapini, topped with alfalfa.

Cecaluccoli con Pomodorini di Salina, Melanzane e Pecorino (Homemade pasta, cherry tomatoes, eggplant and Pecorino cheese) - Drago

Valentino’s dessert was also a standout, putting a spin on the archetypical Italian gelato. The Cassata (sponge cake) deliciously lay inside and at the bottom of a ricotta cream with the prickly pear gelato framing the dome. It was plated with pistachio crumbs, chopped strawberries and an additional scoop of raspberry gelato as a counter. Delicious!!

If you have a chance, go to one of these hand-picked restaurants for one of their prix fixe menus, each of which features a dish that was presented at this lunch. Caffé Roma will be serving their Polipo e potato (Grilled octopus with fingerling potatoes) in their prix fixe. But they are all extremely delicious dishes made with top-notch ingredients and are available starting tomorrow (June 5) through June 20. If you’d like to indulge, get the wine pairings. Note all the restaurants’ locations, as well. It looks like the Westside wins this one.

All food and wine were hosted.

Saturday, June 5 – Sunday, June 20, 2010

Lunch and Dinner (see menus)

Caffé RomaMenu
350 N. Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
310.274.7834

DragoMenu
2628 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90403
310.828.1585

Il GranoMenu
11359 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
310.477.7886

Il MoroMenu
11400 W. Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064
310.575.3530

Locanda del LagoMenu
231 Arizona Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90401
310.451.3525
@lagosantamonica

ValentinoMenu
3115 Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90405
310.829.4313

The stars of Italian food in Los Angeles