The Lexus Grand Tasting at Los Angeles Food & Wine, held last Saturday atop LA Live’s transformed parking garage, was a spectacular feast with wine pairings galore.
When the doors opened at noon, the tent filled with hungry and thirsty foodies. The wine glass necklace with holder provided by Delta Airlines was a brilliant addition to enjoying the fest as hands were free to sample. Over 300 wines from 200 of the world’s most prestigious wineries were being poured at Saturday’s Lexus Grand Tasting. The wine country most represented at the festival was Napa but one of my new favorite discoveries was a San Diego wine importer, Truly Fine Wine, with several dozen unique varietals from Germany. Another favorite winery I discovered, Au Bon Climat, hailed from Santa Barbara, CA.
As far as cuisine, name a celebrity chef, and they were probably there, feverishly preparing small but delicious bites for the famished crowds. Kerry Simon, Sofitel’s chef of Simon LA restaurant, was on hand, displaying a beautiful array of pickled vegetables. Owners and chefs of Border Grill, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, were all smiles as they handed out mini tostadas topped with bacon, cilantro aioli and fresh guacamole.
Chef Gabriel Ask of the Montage Laguna Beach offered sweet corn custard with uni, basil and a bacon “dorito”. Seafood, from lobster to scallops to crab, was a dominant theme throughout. Chef Rick Tramonto, from Restaurant R’evolution in New Orleans, plated his prawn, grits and gravy dish and Chef Stephan Pyles of Dallas, Texas served fresh scallops, corn, huitlacoche foam and a BBQ-spiced chicharron. Joe’s Crab Shack was a popular stop, not so much for their crab, but for their crazy cocktails in red balloons filled with mojito infused air.
Throughout the three-hour event, cooking demos from some of LA’s finest, like Melisse’s Chef Josiah Citrin, were taking place. So if you weren’t eating food at Los Angeles Food & Wine, you were watching it be prepared.
Other highlights on Saturday included an early morning homage to cheese from San Fransiscan author and cheese expert Laura Werlin. Werlin compared a variety of cheeses before and after being incorporated in mac n’ cheese and grilled sandwiches and paired wines to complement them. Werlin gave the audience a world-wind and wide tour of fabulous fromage. The cooking demo was sold out due to Werlin’s world-renowned expertise and best-selling cookbooks on all things cheese. She won the prestigious James Beard award for her The All American Cheese and Wine Book (2003), which was the first book of its kind focusing entirely on American cheese and wine pairings. Her sixth book, Mac & Cheese, Please! is coming out Fall 2012.
And the finale of my day feasting at the second annual Los Angeles Food & Wine fest ended with a cooking demo by the affable Andrew Zimmern, host of Travel Channel’s Bizarre Food. It was expected he’d be showing the crowd how to cook some strange food like monkey’s brains or geoduck, but no, he made one of his favorite Thai soups and offered a boy in the audience to sample.
The boy’s response? “It’s ok”, said the boy, much to Zimmern’s surprise. When a fan asked him what his favorite food was, he answered, “Whatever my wife is cooking for dinner.” Smart husband, indeed. Zimmern is coming out with a book for young adults in October 2012 titled, Andrew Zimmern’s Field Guide to Exceptionally Weird, Wild, and Wonderful Foods: An Intrepid Eater’s Digest.
Having been to most of the Los Angeles food fest over the past few years, the Los Angeles Food & Wine is one of the best, with excellent organization, quality eats served on real china and celebrity-chef studded line up with events throughout the city over four days.
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Written by Lanee Neil