Lexus Culinary Classic: Q&A With Master Sommelier Carlton McCoy

Youngest Master Sommelier Carlton McCoy

A couple months back, I was able to spend a weekend in Sausalito at the phenomenal Cavallo Point while attending the inaugural Lexus Culinary Classic. To say there was some of the best food prepared by some of the best chefs in the country being served in view of the Golden Gate Bridge would be mostly accurate – and I’m so honored I got to be a part.

Continue reading

Giveaway: Tickets to Screening of “Viva Mezcal” with Free-Flowing Mezcal and Oaxacan Antijitos

Viva Mezcal Documentary

What’s better than a documentary about Mezcal accompanied by free-flowing Mezcal and Oaxacan antijitos (street food dishes, if you will)? Probably the setting – which will be the iconic La Guelaguetza in Koreatown.

Viva Mezcal, a film directed by Pedro Jiménez, addresses the current state of the Mezcal industry, complete with interviews from biologoists, agronomes, ‘maestros mezcaleros,” researchers, distributors, bartenders and experts. Following the film, tasty treats by Chef Rodolfo Castellanos will accompany a Mezcal tasting.

Continue reading

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…

***

CONTEST

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

What Will They Be Eating at The 63rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards?

Table at The Emmy Press Conference

I don’t cover a lot of entertainment news on this blog, but when it comes to Los Angeles and the entertainment industry, the latter is an undeniable part of our culture as…well, television.

Windrose Farm Heirloom Tomato Salad

Tomorrow, our TV stars will be gathering at the L.A. Convention Center for the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards Governors Ball, and Patina will be catering the star-studded, “mod illusions”-styled event for only the 16th time.

The Governors Ball will be painted in black and white and everything nice. Awhile back, I got a chance to get a glimpse of the motif as well as taste miniature versions of the courses guests will be enjoying tomorrow.

…Such as this Windrose Farms heirloom tomato salad with rosemary and cherry wood-grilled asparagus. Fried gold potatoes and fried crisps decorate the top of the dish. This is a great first course to close out the summer.

Filet Mignon, Gratin of Macaroni w/Vermont White Cheddar

The entree course tomorrow will be Filet Mignon with an oxtail bordelaise. Gratin of macaroni (that is, a cylindrically-cut tower of horizontally-layered tube pasta with Vermont white Cheddar) and rainbow baby carrots line the plate as do a cipollini onion and caramelized broccoli emulsion.

Unless you’re vegetarian, it’s pretty hard to argue with a Filet. It’s also hard to argue with macaroni and carrots. With a 3-course menu this simple, it’s clear that Patina is going with ingredients that will provide the least fuss for a – let’s face it – potentially fussy bunch of diners.

Duncan Hines Milk Chocolate Brownie, Chocolate Blackberry Cream, Blackberry Macaron, Chocolate Rice Crisp, Honey Sauce

I’m still curious as to what they’ll feed to the vegetarians and vegans. This is L.A., right? Patina will be on-hand to take care of all the needs of all 3600 sat-down guests. They’re well-equipped in the front and back of the house to tend to all dietary preferences and restrictions.

The dessert course, in all its glitz and glamour (and glitz), would be a vegan-banned course as well. The Duncan Hines milk chocolate brownie is ensconced in chocolate blackberry cream and chocolate rice crisp. Blackberries line the plate and flavor of the lone macaron on the side.

And all three of these courses will be served in a setting that is designed to trick the eye, complete with a 60-foot, centralized and elevated, circular dance floor and orchestra platform.

As for cocktails by Grey Goose, I sipped on a delicious almost-grapefruit-tasting cocktail that they’ll be serving to guests tomorrow. It was surprisingly not too sweet and as far as vodka cocktails go, this is one of the ones I’ve liked in recent memory (in no small part due to the fact that I barely drink them, period):

The Emmy®

The Emmy® Cocktail
1 1/2 part Grey Goose® L’Orange Flavored Vodka
1 part Bénédictine® Liqueur
1/2 part Agave Syrup
1/2 part Ginger Ale
1 Orange Wheel

Combine Grey Goose L’Orange flavored vodka, Bénédictine, grapefruit juice and agave syrup in a shaker and shake vigorously. Pour all contents into collins glass filled with ice. Top with ginger ale. Garnish with orange wheel (optional).

It may be September, but it sure still feels a little like summer in Los Angeles. Enjoy what’s left of it…and enjoy the weekend!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

PST broadcast: 5 PM on FOX

The 63rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards
1201 South Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015

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.

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.

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

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

Face to Face Wine Tasting at K&L Wines

Wine Cellar, Maipú | Credit to Travel Aficionado on Flickr

While there’s been an influx of Argentinan wines in our market, lately, sometimes it’s hard to know just what’s what. Factor in the price point and that only makes things more confusing. Fortunately, Face to Face wine importers make it their goal to dispel the myths. They’ll be doing a tasting on Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 5:30 – 7 PM at K&L on Vine Street – my new neighborhood spot. It will run you a mere $5.

If you visit Argentina, it doesn’t take long to experience the thoughtfulness and care put into the winemaking. Our goal as importers is to echo this tradition through unmatched quality and value in the wines we bring back. We make sure that every wine is hand-picked with this in mind. The idea that good wine has to be fussy has never translated for the Argentine people, and for us as well.

– Lloyd A. Kasman and Jolly Sood of Face to Face Wine

See you there!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

5:30 – 7 PM

RSVP

K & L Wine Merchants
1400 Vine Street
Hollywood, California 90028
323.464.9463

Michael Voltaggio Hosts Product Demo at Williams-Sonoma Beverly Hills

Michael Voltaggio at Star Chefs (March 18, 2010)

As a part of the Voltaggio brothers’ new partnership with Something’s in the works with the Voltaggio brothers and Williams-Sonoma, and we’ll get a peak into that as Top Chef Season 6 winner Michael Voltaggio will be hosting a small, private tasting demo at the Williams-Sonoma store in Beverly Hills on Wednesday, September 1st. Be sure to RSVP ASAP, as there are limited spots which will be sure to fill up fast. There will be appetizers and wine for you to enjoy. Additionally, Williams-Sonoma will be offering a rare 10% shopping discount for the event.

Clarification and update (8/23): This will be not be a sampling of Michael Voltaggio’s signature food; rather he will be performing some cooking demonstrations – such as sous vide-ing meat – that will render some tastes, but passed apps won’t be part of the event.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

6:30 – 8:30 PM

RSVP: rsvp [at] peridot-consulting.com

Willaims-Sonoma Beverly Hills
339 N. Beverly Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
310.274.9127

French Women Don’t Get Fat. They Eat At Petrossian.

Petrossian Caviar, Fingerling Potato

In a collaborative effort that is decidedly Francophile, Mireille Guiliano – former CEO of Clicquot and author of New York Times Best Seller, French Women Don’t Get Fat - will be hosting a special caviar tasting dinner at Petrossian on Robertson Blvd. Diners will be celebrating Guiliano’s follow-up book, Women, Work and The Art of Savoir Faire as well as partaking in the fruits of James Beard Rising Star Chef semi-finalist Chef Ben Bailly’s culinary talents.

A caviar presentation will kick off your night. And when the courses start rolling out, brace yourself for delicious menu tems like Caviar Surprise with King crab, Apple Jelly and Caviar; or Green Bean Salad with Burrata and Caviar. Wash those down with a glass of Champagne alongside Mireille herself, and it’ll be a night to remember. You’ll go home with a signed copy of her new book for a keepsake. Call Petrossian to reserve your spot.

Monday, May 3, 2010

7:30 PM

$125
Includes 3 course dinner, caviar presentation, glass of champagne & signed copy of Women, Work and The Art of Savoir Faire

Petrossian West Hollywood
321 N. Robertson Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90048
310.271.6300