The second annual Los Angeles Times The Taste wrapped up the heated long weekend, leaving our bellies full, and exceedingly satisfied. Unlike last year, where guests attended multiple locations, this year was kept simple, all taking place on the Paramount lot. Five themed events over the course of three days! It was a who’s who of LA food and beverage. How could you pick from a daily selection of must-try participants? Really. Check out their lists, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Field to Fork - Saturday Afternoon ($65 per ticket)
Inspired fresh, local ingredients prepared in seasonal dishes was the theme of the day. For the knowledge seekers, there were wine tasting lessons, cooking demos, and food panel discussions. Yes, because who gets tired of talking about food??
Ray's and Stark Bar"s lively executive chef Kris Morningstar was plating up lightly crisped pork belly with a special black vinegar (Kris infuses himself adding aromatic seasonings such as cardamom), persian mint, pickled golden watermelon, and opal basil. Wow! Sommelier Paul Sanguinetti let us wash it down with a Golden Shower cocktail comprised of golden watermelon, home-made elderflower gin (Paul was up ‘til 2am infusing dried elderflower into Plymouth dry gin), fino cherry (for newbies, this is a fortified wined from the South of Spain), fresh lemon juice, and sea salt of all things. A summer sensational!
At Pasadena’s Bistro 45, tender za'atar seasoned duck breast, honey fig, and goat cheese on scented polenta from chef Steve Lona was their stand out of the day.
I am very happy to see more organic alcoholic beverages becoming available. A big winner was Prévu Sparkling Liquor from gracious owner Simon Tikhman. It was my first time sampling this wonderful cognac vodka blend. Very drinkable on it’s own, but then kicked up a notch with cocktails such as the superb Chinoistini combining Prévu, grapefruit, organic elderflower, fresh lychee juice, and lime garnish.
Over at International Beverage Group’s booth, Daniel Kelley was featuring a Scottish London-style dry gin, Caorunn (pronounced ka-roon). This clean, crisp, botanically infused gin was presented in Midsummer’s Night Dream - Caorunn, fresh squeezed lime juice, a simple syrup infused with red apple skins, and fresh honeydew melon. It converted me into a gin fan!
Cocktail Confidential - Saturday Evening ($65 per ticket)
A fête honouring the world of fine cocktails, speciality elixirs, and their bite worthy companions. Ohh, I’m ready to confide!
It’s a beauty of bevvies tonight. I’m inspired to create my own concoctions at home, learning some great tips from the mixed drinks demos. In the mixology mix-off competition Marcos Tello (Feed) was crowned champion with his watermelon, fennel, and cinnamon creation.
The warm evening’s atmosphere is not much different than a night out on the town, the crowd is mixing and mingling, the DJ is spinning music, lights are twinkling, and the full moon is out. It’s definitely busier than the afternoon. But then again, being out of the sun has its draws too.
What happens when you take Peroni Beer, lace it with olive oil, and spice it up with jalepeno peppers steeped overnight? A pleasant surprise. A very savoury brew that should be enjoyed with a meal.
Now the Glendon Bar & Kitchen kept me busy! My #1 dish seemingly simple, but finger lickin' good, had me sending over attendees, and other fest participants to try this fantastic (and I do mean fantastic) bbq'd Jack Daniel’s (because who couldn’t use more booze) chicken wings with some nice kick.
Daniel Kelley was back, captivating as usual, adding anCnoc (a 12 year aged Highland single malt scotch) to the evening spotlight. He was shaking things up with a Blackhill Breakfast. Ancnoc, orange marmalade, grapefruit juice, and a garnished grapefruit rind. What a combo that worked!
Industriel/Green Street Tavern was kickin’ it out. Farmers market orange supremes, lebna (a Lebanese strained yogurt that has a custard-like texture), tarragon, and a citrus vinaigrette on toasted ciabatta. But then I had to sample the salted cod bisque with chorizo, gruyère, roille (a Provençal sauce - think of it as a red pepper jus), topped with garlic crostini. Beautiful, seasonally balanced, and not at all over salted.
I almost missed Forbidden Secret American Cream, and its sexy red bottle. At first, I was skeptical on whether it would taste good, but it did. A rich mocha liqueur combining dark chocolate, espresso, and American dairy cream blended with Jailers Premium Tennessee Whiskey.
One minor gripe would be on the evening's shortcomings of food and desserts, causing longer lines at the booths that had them. A number of the participating restaurants, due to the event theme, only offered cocktails to promote their beverages and/or bar. Easily correctable for next year.
It's late. Finally, my time to recoup. It begins again in the morning...
To continue reading, please check out Day 2.