L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade, for my third year in attendance, remains one of my favorite food events. The original idea of Alex’s Lemonade arose out of a courageous four-year-old’s battle with neuroblastoma and her desire to donate the proceeds of her lemonade stand to doctors who have helped her. Childhood cancer strikes a chord personally, as my first born nephew was diagnosed with Acute lymphocytic leukemia at the age of 1 1/2. Thanks to treatment and some faith, he’s now entering his teen years as a survivor. Of course, more research needs to be done.
It was a special night in overcast Santa Monica, when the rising star chefs (and mixologists) of Los Angeles came out to dance. Their individual tablesÂ showcased a dish of their choosing, with propped-up lamps shining into the coastal darkness. The Fairmont Miramar was the setting, with FIG hosting the bungalow-side VIP receptionÂ to precede the walk-around gala held on the hotel’s turnaround.
FIG,Â headed up byÂ Chef Ray Garcia,Â was up for the sustainability award. Representing their fresh and inventive menu were spoonfuls of apricot tortellini – subtly sweet but tangy and way more complex than I could have imagined a sweet bite of pastaÂ could be. Also generously passed around were fingerling potatoes and chips topped with creme fraiche and Petrossian caviar. The generous part was undoubtedly the option to add a spoonful more of caviar atop each potato – a point Petrossian chef and James Beard Rising StarÂ Chef semi-finalistÂ Ben Bailly agreed with. RosÃ© champagne complimented each of our beginning bites, but nothing prepared me for what was to come during the main program of the night.
The main sponsor of the night was Highland Park, and what a fortunate arrangement that turned out to be. Highland Park 18 was being served neat or on a big NÃ©ve ice rock. On the other end, Eric Alperin of the Downtown Los Angeles bar The Varnish served up The Highlander, a simple yet beautiful treatment to Highland Park 12 which the likes of Thomas Keller was also spotted sipping.
“The Highlander” by Eric Alperin of The Varnish
1/2 oz cherry Heering Liqueur
2 oz Scotch Whisky (Highland Park 12)
Stir in a whisky glass over a big rock of ice.