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Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival

On Thursday and Saturday, I had the privilege of attending the 3rd Annual Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival in Downtown LA.  I had such a great experience at last year’s event, I was beyond excited for this year.  I was looking forward to seeing the growth of the festival and taste food from chefs I had never before tasted.

Thursday was opening night “Festa Italiana” hosted by Giada De Laurentiis, and Saturday, Curtis Stone played host to the ‘LEXUS Live on Grand’ and Gavin Degraw serenaded the crowd for about an hour.  Just a few chefs who were in attendance included Jonathan Grahm (Compartes Chocolatier), Fabio Viviani (Firenze Osteria and Cafe Firenze), Bart Vandaele (Belga Cafe and B Too), Steve Samson (Sotto Restaurant), Antonia Lofaso (Black Market Liquor Bar), Scott Conant (Scarpetta), Thomas Keller (The French Laundry, Per Se, and Bouchon), and Duff Goldman (Charm City Cakes).  Also in attendance were Waylynn Lucas, Brenda Urban, Kat Odell, and Jessica Miller from the new Bravo TV show, Eat Drink Love.

The celebs who were in attendance were Rachelle Lefevre (Twilight and Under the Dome), Henry Czerny (Revenge), Josh Henderson (Dallas), Neil Patrick Harris and partner David Burtka, Ali Larter and husband Hayes MacArthur, and Los Angeles Kings players Matt Greene, Brad Richardson, and Jarret Stoll (good to see him up after a seizure scare!)

Giada de Laurentiis and myself

Giada de Laurentiis and myself

Curtis Stone and myself

Curtis Stone and myself

Gavin Degraw onstage

Gavin Degraw onstage

Now, let’s get to the food!  Here are the highlights from the 3rd Annual LA Food and Wine Festival!

Braised Meatball Stracciatella, tiny Tomatoes, Basil, and Chili from Black Market Liquor Bar

Braised Meatball Stracciatella, tiny Tomatoes, Basil, and Chili from Antonia Lofaso’s Black Market Liquor Bar

Italian Chicken and Duplings and Watermelon-Basil Gazpacho from Giada de Laurentiis

Italian Chicken and Dumplings and Watermelon-Basil Gazpacho from Giada de Laurentiis

Salted Caramel Custard from Stella Barra Pizzeria

Salted Caramel Custard from Stella Barra Pizzeria

I was getting ready to leave and passed this custard and came to a standstill.  I love salted caramel (remember my Salted Caramel Chocolate Shortbread Bars?!)  This dessert was so good…I would definitely go to Stella Barra Pizzeria just for this!

Sweet Corn Tortellini with Crispy Smoked Lobster Mushrooms and Sherry Cream from Crossroads

Sweet Corn Tortellini with Crispy Smoked Lobster Mushrooms and Sherry Cream from Crossroads

I was excited to try this tortellini because it was from the new LA hot-spot vegan restaurant, Crossroads.  Tal Ronnen, the mastermind behind this restaurant, catered Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi’s wedding and cooked Oprah Winfrey a 21-day cleanse.  Since the day it opened, Crossroads has been on my must-dine list, but now it has jumped up a few spots.

Seared Pork Belly with Asian Tomato Broth from Redd Restaurant

Seared Pork Belly with Asian Tomato Broth from Redd Restaurant

Tuna Ceviche with Chili, Pepper, Lime and Soy from Curtis Stone

Tuna Ceviche with Chili, Pepper, Lime and Soy from Curtis Stone

Tuna ceviche is another one of my favorite foods and and Chef Stone’s did not disappoint!

Poached Egg with Truffle Butter from Restaurant 1833

Poached Egg with Truffle Butter from Restaurant 1833

The mixture of the gooey, runny poached egg and the rich truffle butter made this another favorite meal of the festival!

Chocolate Truffles from Compartes

Chocolate Truffles from Compartes

This little bite of chocolate from Compartes was probably the best thing I ate on Thursday night!

Bouchon's Ice Seafood Bar

Bouchon’s Ice Seafood Bar

Fruits de Mer at Bouchon

Fruits de Mer from Bouchon

I am not a big oyster fan, and when I eat them someone has to prepare them for me.  But, I embraced LA Food and Wine and took this opportunity to try Bouchon’s oysters and prepare them myself.  One of my favorite foods is shrimp, and Bouchon’s oysters rivaled the shrimp!  Bouchon has definitely jumped to the top of my must-dine list!

Both of the hosts from LA Food and Wine, Giada de Laurentiis and Curtis Stone, are set to open restaurants soon!  Giada’s restaurant will be opening in early 2014 at the upcoming and all-new luxury lifestyle resort Gansevoort Las Vegas.  While Giada lives in Los Angeles and also spends a lot of time in NYC, I asked her why Las Vegas…why not LA or NYC, both places she considers homes?  Giada told me that the space in Las Vegas has an unparalleled view and it was just something she could not pass up.

Chef Curtis Stone’s restaurant is going to be opening in Beverly Hills in the former Pici Enoteca spot on Beverly Boulevard.

With these two successful culinary moguls behind the restaurants, they are sure-stop spots for me!

Stay hungry…

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