Angeleno Magazine lived up to its trademark motif of “Modern Luxury” at the 12th annual Live & Dine L.A. Event this week at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows Resort facing the ocean in Santa Monica. The plates were paper and the cutlery was plastic but the booth signs reading, “masterfully prepared by…” rang true.
The glossy, thick Angeleno Magazine Restaurant Issue, currently on the stands, previews the event and whets the appetite. Several of the chefs created the dishes that earned them one of 50 places of honor as “L.A’s finest buzzing new resto, award-winning chef or dishes to savor.”
This annual Angeleno Magazine party is the perfect way to experience high end restaurants for the price of one meal. It’s also a priceless, behind-the-scenes, experience with the chefs and their crews. Best of all, the event benefits Share Our Strength, dedicating to ending food deprivation among children in the U.S.
Honoring the locale and theme, chefs offered exquisite fish and seafood dishes. Billed as “bites,” each was more of a light appetizer course. Preparing the refined, complex dishes on site, the chefs looked as though they were competing in Iron Chef— while greeting guests and being photographed at the same time.
FIG Executive Chef Ray Garcia of the hosting hotel, thankfully prepared his signature succulent, whole pork on a grill. His crew deftly turned them into tacos and served up portions, including the crackling skin, to purists (me).
Town and Country Party Rentals transformed the resort’s long u-shaped side garden driveway into the party venue. So there was lots of sun and humidity and teasing shadows– and only a slight ocean breeze -- but the participating chefs' and mixologists' sheer delight at being honored by the event, guests gathering around each station without long lines, turned it into a spiffy, happy gathering from beginning to end. With everyone fed the first two hours, a lot of the crowd stayed to mingle in the cool evening air at the end. No one even seemed to mind the long valet lines at the front door.
The culinary line-up featured new and veteran restaurants with a twist, plus restaurants rare to the event circuit. Angeleno honorees that fill all three categories were our friends, bigger-than-life, Chef Anthony Mure, and partner-maitre, Paolo Cesaro. They showcased their new Adoteca in Brentwood (www.adotecabrentwood.com) -- former site of Latini Osteria, previously owned by the chef that Tony recently beat on “Chopped!”
Chef Tony prepared the dish that earned him the magazine's accolades as one of the 10 Dishes to Savor: Sea Scallop Crudo. Described as, “Much more than crudo or Italian-style sashimi, in this sexy dish, plump sea scallops are topped with American caviar, a mound of shrimp tartare, burrate, olive oil and volcanic sea salt." The Adoteca table drew the biggest crowds and Tony was still laughing as the last chef serving. The pair already proved their staying power with their crazy, popular Ado (www.adovenice.com) and CasaAdo www.casaado.com) in Venice.
Another culinary scene veteran with a new restaurant was charismatic, talented Chef David LeFevre (Manhattan Beach Post) showcasing his new hit, Fishing with Dynamite. (http://www.eatfwd.com). This versatile chef was even the hit of last year’s Thai Festival
Hans Rockenwagner’s Rockenwagner Café (Wilshire at Barrington) may have been represented with lemon custard filled mini-doughnuts, but more thrilling is Han’s newest restaurant with a lunch and dinner menus featuring his bold, American flavors enhanced by his French technique, the first since he closed his Venice restaurant to open his bakery.
Making one of their rare event appearances, and always with a fascinating dish, Chefs Yoya Takahashi and Wonny Lee of the classic, Hamasaku, used the rare yuzu in their marmalade on their Ankimo Pate. (www.hamasakula.com).
New restaurants from all over town included Raos, serving snappy marinated peppers (raosla.com) and Stephane Bombet’s Faith & Flower, along with Craig’s Restaurant (George Clooney partner), Fifty Seven, Fundamental LA, Hakkasan, Justice, Malibu Pier Restaurant & Bar and the stunning, organic Nobu Malibu. Chef Gregario promised us the best table overlooking the ocean next time!
Veterans rarely seen at events included Caffe Roma, CAST at Viceroy Santa Monica, The Church Key (downtown), Cliff’s Edge, Culina Modern Italian at the Los Angeles Four SeasonsThe Polo Lounge, RivaBella, SAAM at the Bazaar, Scarpetta, The Wallace and West.
Chef de Cuisine John Lechleidner at Next at WP/24 featured the visual and original Kalamansi Creamsicles – citrusy kalamansi sorbet with vanilla ice cream, beautifully displayed on dry-iced banana leaves that gave it the little guys an ethereal quality. Kalamansi is esoteric in L.A. these days so we hope it makes mainstream - it's even got a catchy name already. It paired perfectly with his Hamachi Sashimi with pickled vegetables, yuzu (another rare to these parts citrus fruit) miso vinaigrette and forbidden rice.
At the door, with appetizer to start and authentic panna cotta for dessert, was exuberant, and oh-so-Italian handsome he gives Paolo Cesaro a run for his money, Northern Italian Chef Giacomo Pettinari, head of the kitchen at the new Al Mare (http://ristorantealmare.com) on the Santa Monica Pier. The restaurant space is the former merry-go-round and ride room, quite a feat even from the partners who created the high-ceiling, Trastevere with its true Roman feel.
Gracias Madre, the gorgeous new (full-lot patio) new vegan Mexican restaurant added a finishing light touch with a healthy celery drink that totally fooled the taste buds by not tasting savory (graciasmadreweho.com). Artisanal cocktails crafted by Acabar bar directors Julian Cox and Josh Goldman crafted artisanal cocktails. And Matthew Biancaniello, formerly of The Roosevelt Hotel's Library Bar shook up his signature cocktails. Wine Media Connect offered glasses of reds and champagne flutes.
The food stations lined up around the driveway with few drink books in between. Yet on this late afternoon, that was all it took.