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Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival-Part 1

Today we are not having Meatless Monday…I am going to finally tell you about the this year’s Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival in downtown Los Angeles.  This is the main gist of the Festival, you drink a lot of wine and champagne from amazing wineries and you eat a lot of delicious food from world-class chefs.  A pretty perfect afternoon if you ask me!  I am dividing the experience into 3 parts; main dishes, desserts, and a Q&A with Delta wine sommelier Andrea Robinson.

The wineries represented were from some of the best in Napa Valley, Sonoma, Mendocino County, Santa Barbara, and more.  Chefs were from the most exclusive Los Angeles restaurants, sought-after resorts, and included many Bravo Top Chefs.  Below are images of my mouth-watering menu and descriptions, with a few of my favorites starred.

When you walk into the Festival, the first thing that you grab is an empty wine glass, then you are thrown into a huge tent with hundreds of vendors.  My plan was to survey the vendors and pick which ones I wanted to try, but advice from people who attended the event last year, said to dive into it without thinking!  Eat and eat often was their motto.  So, after filling my glass with rose, I moved onto Brian Malarkey‘s booth.

Lobster Roll and Rose to begin the day!

Brian (Searsucker, Burlap, Gingham, Gabardine and Herringbone in San Diego) served a lobster roll with roe.  I am an East Coast girl and absolutely loved when my parents lived in Boston for a year because I could feast on lobster rolls numerous times per week!  This was a perfect start (I would have gone back for seconds if I didn’t look at the long line-up of restaurants lining both sides and the middle of the tent) to the very long day of eating and drinking!

After trying to do more than scarf down the lobster roll, I moved onto Celestino Drago’s booth for his Drago restaurant.  He served a wild mushroom pasta with shaved truffle.

A bowl full of truffles!

Drago Shaving Truffles on Pasta

Drago’s Wild Mushroom Pasta with Shaved Truffle

Put Drago on the list of restaurants to try in LA!

Next up was John Rivera Sedlar’s booth for his Modern Latin restaurant, Rivera.  He served three options, a cornet of black beans with jicama and cilantro vinagreta, a cornet of smoked salmon with cucumber, guajillo yogurt, red chile, and toasted sesame seeds, and a cornet of cielo verde salad with avocado and chipotle crema.  I decided to go with the smoked salmon (which I realized I have never tried before).

Rivera’s Cornet off Smoked Salmon

While this was delicious, I decided I’m not a fan of smoked salmon (especially in the form of a mousse).  I guess, on to the next one.

The next booth was a lighter and more refreshing bite than the previous three.  It was served by William Bloxsom-Carter, the executive chef of the Playboy Mansion.  Carter served a watermelon square with balsamic gastrique, feta, mint, and rock salt.  It was simple, but beyond delicious.  Besides the gastrique, I am definitely going to be making this refreshing bit as an appetizer!

William Bloxsom-Carter in the Playboy Booth

William Bloxsom-Carter serving

Watermelon square with balsamic gastrique, feta, mint, and rock salt

(I loved the texture of the rock salt…it added a great crunch)

After doing a few laps around in the tent to digest, I landed at a restaurant that has been on my to-go list since I landed in LA, STK…a steakhouse and  too close to my office for me not to have dined yet.  I went to the steakhouse booth and got seafood; spiced pickled prawns with picked peppers and avocado lime.  YUM!  Next time I go to a steakhouse, I will seriously consider ordering seafood!

Spiced Pickled Prawns

Up to this point, I had not dined at any of the restaurants represented in the booths, but I found Cleo, which I dined at with a friend and loved it!  I was so excited to try a dish that I didn’t have the chance to try.  Executive Chef Danny Elmaleh served a BBQ Lamb Sandwich with ginger nectarine slaw, curried cashews, and Lebanese Garlic Sauce, and at the Mercato di Vetro booth (Chef Elmaleh is also executive chef at this restaurant), I dined on an Tomato Heirloom Passata with Tomato-Ricotta Crostini.

Cleo’s Booth

BBQ Lamb Sandwich

Tomato Crostini

And the last main dish was a Free Range Jidori Chicken with sweet corn ravioli and shaved black truffles (forgot to write down where this was from!)

Jidori Chicken

I am getting full just remembering all of these fabulous dishes!  Come back later this week when I tell you about the desserts at the Food and Wine Festival!

As always, stay hungry!


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