In the last few lingering days of summer what could be more tantalizing then finally taking a break from your Summer beach body diets and indulging. The Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival gives Los Angeles locals and foodie fanatics from all over the ultimate chance to do just that! The festival takes place over four days in L.A. hosting around twenty-four events. This year it took place the last weekend of August and included spotlights dinners and lunches with famed local Chefs including Josh Graves of Faith and Flower, Nancy Silverton of Osteria Mozza, Freddy Vargas of Scarpetta, and fan favorite Zach Pollack of Alimento. In addition the festival spotlighted many national celebrities such as Curtis Stone, Tyler Florence, and Michael Chiarello.
Each of the three nights featured a grand tasting in downtown Los Angeles which which was hosted on Grand St. and was sponsored by Lexus. Editor & Chief Setorii Pond and I were invited to attend the Friday grand tasting entitled: “The Friday Night Market” that featured 30 Chefs and various spirits, beers, and wines. It was hosted by Celebrity Chef Tyler Florence and was a homage to the flavors of traditional night markets found in places like Taipei, Kuala Lumpur, as well as to the flavors native to our very own Grand Avenue in Downtown L.A.! The theme was to create an interpretation of street grub and participants present ranged from established restaurants to local small mom-and-pop vendors.
Our first stop in the festival was bubbly where we found a favorite champagne this Philippe Gonet Signature Brut. Crafted from the Chardonnays of the Côte des Blancs and Montgueux, this wine was characterized by its bright freshness and buttery aromas due to the Chardonnay fruit. It was a delightful and lively Blanc de Blancs wine.
Chaya featured their Tai Snapper Carpaccio with Ume Dashi Pureee & Yuzu Koshu Jelly. It was refreshing, balanced, and just what the hot summer day called for.
We searched for a beautiful red as we got ready to sample a pork dish. This one caught our eye the Piazza Del Dotto 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. Dark colored with ripe aromas of plum and spice and hints of oak and forest forage. The wine presented with a long finish, and beautiful silky tannins.
Chef Isaac Gamboa from One Pico in Santa Monica tantalized us with his Slow Cooked Pork Belly and Smoked Pork Tenderloin accompanied by Napa Cabbage-Apple Slaw & Chipotle BBQ Sauce
Next we were treated to a 16 year aged Single Malt by Alexander Murray & Co. Made at the Dailuaine Distillery in the heart of the Speyside Region near Aberlour. Only 2% of Dailuaine Distillery whisky production ends up as a Single Malt. This was a Rare Bottling of Dailuaine Single Malt Distilled in 1997. It was matured in Oak Casks for 16 years and presented with sweet aromas of vanilla and a long spiced finish.
In an effort to salvage our taste buds after the scotch we turned to a new sweet trend emerging on the food scene. It was a twist on Taiwanese shave ice called “Fluff Ice“. Flavors were infused into cylindrical blocks of ice using a proprietary process that takes 8 hours creating a delicate texture and a decadent taste that was light and airy yet amazingly flavorful. Pictured above is the “Mango Fluff” with Li Hing Mui (salted plum) Powder. It was surprisingly low in calories and incredibly satisfying!
It was time to find a refreshing white and head towards the seafood dishes. We found what we were looking for in the Qupe 2011 100% Roussane. This wine from a 5 acre hillside block in Bien Nacido was ripe and rich with honeysuckle flavors and citrus. The perfect transition to our next dish!
Patina surprised us with this tasty bite! Definitely a fan favorite of the night by Executive Chef Paul Lee. Dungeness Crab: Crab, Cardamom, Nuoc Mam, and Green Mango Sorbet.
One of our personal favorite dishes was by Chef Ryan Ososky of The Churchkey. Fresh Tuna over coconut rice, Nuoc Cham, passion fruit curd, crispy rice, and fresh micro herbs.
The Lexus Center Stage boasted Fresh Oysters and some of Summer’s last Rose. Le Grand Courtage provided their Grande Cuvee Brut Rose. While the Chardonnay base provided structure to the wine, it was blended with crisp Ugni Blanc and fruit filled Gamay which sent this sparkling joy singing with the floral notes of the countryside and the tang of wild berries.
Neal Maloney of Morrow Bay Oyster Company shucked Pacific Gold Oysters on the Lexus Center Stage from Morrow Bay with the help of his jolly crew. In search of more info on their unique briny delicious flavor we stumbled upon their website where they attribute the oysters flavor with the natural elements of the location.
Their home is a unique bay found on the central coast of California where the strong wind and waves meet the peaceful streams that flow from age old volcanic aquifers. This convergence of elements brings with it constant changes in salinity, temperature, nutrients, and tides. The Pacific Gold Oyster adapts to these changes over the course of its life and develops a robust flavor” filled with salty sea brine. Absolutely to die for!
With very little room left in our stomachs, we ventured on to one final red to pair with our last meat dish. We found a standout! Made from a blend of classic Bordeaux varieties from Chile, Almaviva presented as an exceptionally elegant and complex wine. This wine has scored upwards of 90pts with both Robert Parker and Wine Spectator and retails for $150 a bottle. The 2011 Almaviva was a Franco- Chilean collaboration by Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Vina Concha y Toro. The wine was deep with red fruit aromas and full of flavors from the territory.
Our final savory bite was the highly sought after infamous Okonomi Dog by Chef Jeffery Lunak. He serves on the Executive Board of Madison Holdings the group behind Blue C Sushi helping them curate and create amazing menu’s in their various new venues. He also was a contestant on the last two seasons of Iron Chef America. Word of his Okonomi Dog had spread to all the Chefs who came searching for his stand to try the Bahn Mi dressed Hot Dog with its special ingredient: Okonomi Sauce. Okonomi Sauce is a barbecue-esque sauce combining a myriad of ingredients, like ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, Mirin, and sake.
Finally…dessert. There were many to pick from! There was a mystery treat from Chef Carlos Enrique of Superba also seen on Bravo’s Top Chef: Just Desserts 2 that melted on our tongues as it made us blow dry ice smoke.
We ended our evening at Master Chef Daniel Joly’s station. Chef Joly is the owner of the famed Mirabelle Restaurant in Beaver Creek, Colorado, and a brand ambassador for Stella Artois. Next to his perfect sandwich presentation was a plate full of decadent homemade brownies and macaroons made specially to pair with Stella Artois soft and subtle Leffe Blonde Lager and the sharp and full bodied roasted malt Leffe Brown. The perfect ending to a beautiful evening.