Summers in Los Angeles are definitely the best. Sunshine, music, events, beach time and FOOD are just a few of the things that come to mind as I think about my “Summers in the city”. While Labor Day is the last hurrah of the light nights and fun, The LA Times has been ensuring that each year closes with a bang….and, maybe a food coma, with their annual The TASTE of LA.
I was thrilled to be covering The TASTE for my very first time, and, to be honest, did not really know what to expect. I knew there would be food, free-flowing wine and spirits, but I left also pleased to have been on the Paramount Pictures studio lot where some of my favorite films were created, and to have even connected with some of The Times’ royalty from the Food section.
Entering the studio lot for Saturday night’s “Dinner with a Twist”, brought to mind when Pee Wee Herman crashes the Hollywood sets in search of his lost bike in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (Yes, this is one of my favorite films). The array of countless LA restaurants representing the TASTE filled the streets and movie buildings taking me everywhere from New York to Paris.
I began my night with a sake tasting courtesy of the Japan National Tourism Organization. It was a blind tasting, and, I learned I don’t know my sake as well as I thought! I got 1 out of 3 correct…but, enjoyed all 3 😉 Sake connoisseurs were even on hand from Japan to answer any questions about the libation.
With seafood dishes aplenty, I gravitated towards stepping out of my comfort zone with some of my usual faves. (Usually sushi, salmon) I found 2 vendors offering up octopus. Cafe Del Rey, a gorgeous eatery in Marina Del Rey, was sampling the often overlooked dish topped with scallops. I already cannot wait to pay a visit to Cafe Del Rey. I felt transported to the ocean, just by one delicious bite.
Somewhere I was anxious to check out was the “Coffee Talks” being held within a coffeehouse set on the lot. Dubbed Cafe LA Times, barista’s were on hand making artisan espresso drinks while you could hang out and meet LA Times Restaurant Critic, Jonathan Gold. Practically royalty to the newspaper, Gold stopped in for photo op’s with attendee’s in the most creative, rather bizarre, setting. Bright lights and walls covered in paper scraps of the LA Times, and, before I even got in queue for my turn, I was somewhat in awe at the scenarios people were dreaming up to pose with Gold!
I was a bit dull myself….
While all of my experiences with food and wine weekends, one thing is for sure: I end up over eating. It’s too irresistible. With The Taste, they have taken a ‘food fair’ atmosphere a step further and along with the restaurants to sample, each event had several culinary experts and stars hosting demo’s and panels on food. In between your noshing, you could experience on stage Cooking and Mixology Demonstrations with several of LA’s award-winning chefs, including Kris Morningstar and Ray Garcia
Despite some frustration when I arrived from The Taste crew, I finally found my way thanks to the dedicated parking team and the guards from Paramount. The entrance line was intimidating, but, ended up being extremely fast and kept moving. All the restaurants and wineries I connected with were lovely and eager to share their stores with me!
While The Taste may be in the record books until 2017, you can keep a piece of it with you via their Spotify play list. These tracks are what the DJ was spinning throughout the weekend. Perfect for your next soiree! xo