Labor Day Picnic - Monday afternoon ($65 per ticket)
A perfect theme to end the long weekend. An afternoon dedicated to the sandwich in all of its versatile variations. We’re talkin’ burgers, tacos, banh mi, don’t forget ice cream sandwiches, and more. Wait!... The last of the cooking demos, competitions, discussions, and even a panel just about wine names (again, because who doesn’t like to talk about food and alcohol), plus a one on one with Thomas Keller (Bouchon, French Laundry, Per Se).
The day was oriented toward families and kids, in particular. There were ample dessert options. Perhaps a little too much as the number of food selections fell, just a tad, to the wayside. Good thing there were a few burger joints to help curb the hunger for some. A better balance would be in order. Again, easily correctable for next year.
I craved a heaping plate of Chef/Owner Josh Siegel’s (The Park Restaurant in Echo Park) asian dish. A coconut noodle cake nest with thai shrimp ceviche. Complimented by a side of szechuan fried calamari marinated in soy syrup, sesame oil, chili peppers, fermented black beans, ginger scallions, and garlic. It was full of flavour, and very deelish! No surprise it ran out early.
My good fortune (yes, I went there) brought me to ultra premium Karma Tequila, produced from 100% blue agave, presented in a stylish glass bottle. Their charming marketing director, Robert Grant, and his friendly team took their time to walk us through the three varieties of this very special tequila. Karma Silver, I particularly enjoyed for it’s lighter, and sweeter characteristics. Whiskey enthusiasts will want to try Karma Reposado.
Newcomer Haven Gastropub in Pasadena couldn’t keep up with the masses. It’s no wonder. Chef/Partner Greg Daniels, and staff were assembling the best burger of the event. Sonoma free range lamb, covered with a sweet caramelization of onion, leeks, brown sugar, and sherry jam, topped with fresh onion sprouts, and served on rosemary brioche with an in-house tzaziki spread. Just thinking about it makes me want another...
I think Bouchon Bakery transported their entire shop over to The Taste. Ok, not quite, but just about. Plus Pastry Chef Alen Ramos, and Chef de Cuisine Rory Hermann were in the house... well, tent. Lots of pleasurable bites to choose from.
Those who are looking for wine that’s not too fancy, you can turn to Blackstone Winery. On hand was their ever popular Sonoma County Merlot 2009 Reserve - full-bodied, dry, fruit and oak notes, and soft tannins. Constellation Brands' Sales Director, Ron Maden then introduced me to a recent addition, Malbec Mendoza 2011, a dry red wine, medium-bodied with fruit notes, and a spicy finish. Both are fines wines for their budget sensitive prices.
Cupcake Vodka evoked fun and whimsy by its name, selections, and bottling design. Drink concoctions were equally entertaining as their were satisfying, like the Lemon Cooler. Cupcake Chiffon Vodka mixed with lemonade, cranberry juice, and a splash of lime juice.
My goodness this was a packed fest, and overall, a very worthwhile one. It seemed to have it all, including bites for the adventure seekers, from fried grasshoppers, cow tongue to rattlesnake. Any of the events offered fantastic value for the price, and I highly recommend adding The Los Angeles Times The Taste to your tasty list.
I just love the long weekend. Care to join me next year?...
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