Despite the overpowering heat, crowds of guests surged forward through the gates of Paramount studio as it welcomed the annual Taste of L.A. Best bites and beverages from across the city were present to provide samples for the participants in the five separate events which covered the three days. Thanks goodness for Icelandic waters which offered refreshing liquid at various stops along the eatery route.
On Friday, opening night, the Times' Food team came together with many of the weekend's chefs and bartenders for a special soiree with a focused collection of tastings, distinctive cocktail and wine offerings and live entertainment Britain's Finest, an authentic Beatles tribute band. Some of the specialists, chefs and mixologists included Matthew Biancaniello, Noelle Carter, Micahel Cimarusti, Jessica Gelt, Jonathan Gold, Betty Hallock, Russ Parsons, Nancy Silverston and Sang Yoon.
Saturday morning's Field to Fork, started bright and early at 11 am. A day made for home cooks and true foodies, Russ Parsons - The Times' Food Editor - hosted the event inspired by fresh local ingredients and seasonal dishes. It was co-hosted by Michael Cimarusti - chef/owner of Providence and chef/partner of Connie and Ted's. We enjoyed a wine tasting demonstration by Gillian Balance and presented by SWS.
Next Ari Taymor of Alma taught us how to cook roast duck with blackberry sauce and Sherry Yard of Helms Bakery, a top pastry chef, followed with other delicate taste bud delights.
Russ Parsons moderated the discussion with Sheila Bowman (Monterey Bay Aquarium), Lisa Hogan (Santa Monica Seafood), and Michael Cimarusti on Fish or Famine: Sustainability and the Seafood on Your Plate.
Ray Garcia of Fig enlightened us with another fun demonstration as did Michael Cimarusti and the morning was topped off with White Wines of Italy: Beyond Pinot Grigo with Diane De Luca, CSW and Ira Norof, CWE doing a wine tasting.
Restaurants which assisted with the morning's success included Loteria Grill, Momed, Tender Greens, The Blvd at Beverly Wilshire Hotel, a/k/a American Bistro, Bagatelle, Bistro 45, Canele, Chipotle, City Tavern, CravOn Fries, Fanciful Fine Foods, Farmshop, good girl dinette, Hamasaku, Hudson House, le comptoir, Mayura, Melissa's Produce Company, Michael's on Naples, Mr.Chow, Muddy Leek, Pinches Tacos, Pizza Antica, Rivabella, STK, SunCafe Organic, Sweets For the Soul, The Cake Mamas, The Curious Palate, and The Tripel. They were joined by a variety of wine, beer and spirit companies which included 14 Hands, Accolade Wines, Banfi, Brenardus Winery, Bowmore, Canoe Ridge Vineyard, Canorunn, Chopin Vodka, Concha Y Toro, Crop Organic Cucumber Vodka, Crop Organic Meyer Lemon Vodka, Cupcake Vineyards, Dorda Double Chocolate Liqueur, Farmer's Organic Gin, Ferrari-Carano, Francis Ford Coppala Winery, Freixenet USA, Gamble Family Vineyards, Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat, Goose Island Honkers Ale, Goose Island IPA, Gosling's Rum, Herzog Wine Cellars, Hornitos, Josh Cellars, Karma Tequila, Ketel One, Kooksoondang Brewery Bekseju USA,Inc, Laetitia Vineyard and Winery, Matua Valley, Mionetto, Mosca Mango, O Wines, Palm Bay International, Pinnacle Vodka, Rodney Strong, Shock Top Apple Wheat, Shock Top Belgian White, Simply Naked, Stack Wines, Ty Ku Sake and Spirits, VeeV Spirits, and Villa Massa Limoncello. Other places, besides the sponsors, included Blue Print Cleanse, Califia Farms, McConnell's Fine Ice Creams, Medona Bakeru, Paleta, Sheila G's Original Brownie Brittle, and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.
The Saturday night event was aptly named Flavors of L.A. Hosted by Times restaurant critic, Jonathan Gold and co-hosted with Sang Yoon, chef/owner of Father's Office and Lukshon, an array of authentic dishes from around the world were prepared and sampled by guests.
Tricia Alley demonstrated mixology in Found Ingredients: How to Mine The Kitchen For Cocktail Inspiration. She was quickly followed by Brooke Williamson of Hudson House and The Tripel. The Power of Pop Ups featured Gary Menes of le comptoir, Craig Thornton from Wolvesmouth and Nguyen Tran of Starry Kitchen with Jonathan Gold, moderating entertained us next, followed by Sang Yoon's and Bryant Ng cooking demonstrations. Robin Chopra taught us how to mix drinks while Josef Centeno of Baco Mercat and Bar Ama ended the night with another cooking demonstration.
The evening's restaurants included notables as 9021PHO, Rock Sugar Pan Asian Kitchen, The Counter, 800 Degrees, Allumette, Ayara Thai, Blvd 16, Border Grill, Chakra Indian Cuisine, Crème Caramel LA, DOMA, Esterel Restaurant at Sofitel Hotel, Fluff Ice, Fred 62, Gottsui, Inn of the Seventh Ray, Jinya Ramen Bar, Juan's Restaurants, Kobawood House, Lukshon, Meals by Genet, Mohawk Bend, NineThirty at W Hotel, State Social House, Superba Snackbar, Sushi Roku, The Grilled Cheese Truck, Waterloo +City, and Wood +Vine. New wine offerings included Adult Chocolate Milk, Banfi, Becherovka, Bernardus Winery, Bowmore, Citadelle, Clyde May's Whiskey, Columbia Crest, Flirt, Pavan Liqueur, Pinnacle Vodka, Ropsemount Estate, Scharffenberger Cellars, Shaw Ross International, Stag's Leap, Tequila Semental, and Zing Vodka.
The Labor Day Block Party dawned as hot and humid as the day before but again, Icelandic waters came to the rescue by keeping us hydrated. Today's family style celebration's host Noelle Carter, the Times' Test Kitchen director, features one of the summer's favorite pasttimes - barbecue. Nancy Silverton, chef/co-owner of Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza as well as founder of the La Brea Bakery, co hosted.
Diego Del Pino discussed Champagne or Prosecco? Bubbles for Every Occasion. He was quickly followed by Evan Kleiman of KCRW's Good Food who showed us how to make a tomato pie. Nancy Silverton of Chi Spacca lectured us and led us into the Going Whole Hog: Tales From Masters of Competition BBQ with Noelle Carter, Ryan Chester of The Rub Co., Sylvie Curry of Lady of Q, and Neil Strawder from Bigosta's Barbecue. The delightful and funny Fred Eric of Fred 62 did his demonstration in mine as he made handmade rolls and pastrami sandwiches. The Firehouse Cookoff was conducted by Steve Lopez while Stewart Prato, a certified sommelier, presented Diversity of Terroir: France Explored sponsored again by Southern Wine and Spirits.
The LA Fire Department was there collecting for wounded firefighters and the Public Health department was there urging people to eat healthy foods.
New restaurants offering tasty tidbits included Bibigo, BOA Steakhouse, Brite Spot, Chichen Itza Restaurant, Coni Seafood, Dog Haus, Freddy Smalls: Bar +Kitchen, Got Kosher?, Haven Gastropub, Horse Thief BBQ, L & E Oyster Bar, Manhattan Beach Creamery, Mexikosher, Pizzeria il Fico, Rosebud Cakes, Sportsmen's Lodge, Tsuijita L.A. Artisan Noodle Annex, Uncle Lou's Island BBQ, and Waffles de Liege. Additional wine and spirits were offered by Anew, Bernardus Winery, De Bortoli Wines, Eppa Sangria, Gozio Amaretto, Jacob's Creek Winery, Licor 43, Pallini Limoncelle, Seven Daughters, Tenuta Polvaro, Villa San-Juliette Winery, and Vranken Pommery. Other additions including Choose Health, Cookie Chips, Follow Your Heart, and Taiwan Tourism Bureau.
The closing party, Cocktail Confidential, let the bartenders take center stage as Jessica Gelt, The Times' food and night life writer, hosted along with Betty Hallock, The Times' deputy food editor. The evening was dedicated to culinary creations and libations that typify the cocktail culture. Also hosting was Matthew Biancaniello, Los Angeles premier mixologist.
Tricia Alley started the evening off with Serving the Customer or Serving the Ego followed by Acabar's Octavio Becerra gave us a cooking demonstration while Jon Sedlar and Julian Cox of Rivera did a joint cooking and mixology show. Matthew Biancanello hosted with Serena Herrick of Allumette, Brady Weise from 1886, and Christiaan Rollich of Lucques/ A.O.C./ Tavern discussed Wild and Fresh: Craft Cocktail. From Hinoki and The Bird, Kuniko Yagi and Brandyn Tepper did another dual event as did Michael Voltaggio and Gabriella Miynarczyk of ink.
The evening added such restaurants as Jitlada, Buenois Aires Grill, Bulgarini Gelato, Chi Lin, Cliff's Edge, Feed Body &Soul, Sirena, supperclub the restaurant, Takami Sushi and Robbata, The Corner Door, The Glendon, The Park Restaurant, Worldwide Tacos, and Zengo. New beer and wines shown up as Abreojos Tequila, Ascendant Spirits, Altantico Rum, Becherovka, Blackstone, Bulleit Bourbon, Cap Rock, Deutsch Family Wines & Spirits, Distrillery no 209, Double Cross Vodka, Fizz 56, Flor de Cana, Jefferson's Burbon, Luksusowa Vodka, Mell Vodka, Plantation Rum, Russell's Reserve Bourbon, Sake Cocktails, Sake Tea, and Wente Family Vineyards with a last addition being Lounge Attire Premium Cocktail Cranberries.
The three day event sponsored by the L.A. Times, Cadillac, Don Julio Tequila, Sysco, Icelandic waters, Stella Artois Beers, Svedka Vodka, Acacia, Baileys, Blackberry, Blackstone Winemaker's Select, Caorunn, Chipotle, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Cupcake Vineyards, Haute Cusine - the movie, Horintos, Johnny Walker, Ketel One, Logix Bank, Mionetto, Robert Mondavi, Simply Naked, Sterling Vineyards, The OneGroup, Toasted Head, LA Opera, LA Phil, Center Theatre Group, Welcome to America, Elephant Parade, Los Angeles Craft Beer Crawl, and Bulleit Whiskey. Media sponsors were KTLA 5, PBS SoCal, KCRW, Walt Disney Concert Hall, and KOST. Southern Wine and Spirits of California (SWS) was an exclusive wine and spirits provider. The Flavor Gallery provided the merchandise for the official store while the LA Times Family Fund and Cal Poly Pomona were the reigning charities. The event production was by Best.
Cost for the two days was $175 in advance or you could buy individual tickets for $65 -85 per event. Friday evening was $125. Hosted by Ira Norof, a secret cellar upgrade was available for a limited number of wine aficionados where they could sample wines from around the world. Seats sold out quickly so be sure to keep an eye out and join us for next year's celebration. Cheers.
For more information go to www.latimes.com/taste