Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Opening Night at The Taste 2013 @ Paramount Studios

The Taste 1
On Labor Day weekend, I was invited to check out The Taste, LA Times' annual multi-day food & wine event taking place at Paramount Studios. I was only able to make it to its Opening Night event, but had a blast hanging out with friends, mingling with industry folks and - obviously - sampling various fare from some of L.A.'s finest restaurants.

Untitled While about signficantly pricier than the other Taste events, I would recommend Opening Night if you're not into waiting long lines (none of the queues that night took more than a few minutes) or if you want to chat up with head chefs (who had a night off and were free to roam, taste, chat and sign - though some couldn't resist getting behind their respective eateries' boothes to prep and serve up food from time to time.)

Also wonderful is that all five of The Taste hosts from the L.A. Times are present too to mix and mingle, so you can get some lowdown on hot nightlife spots from Jessica Gelt & Betty Hallock, cooking advice from Noelle Carter & Russ Parsons, and of course, to dine out tips from Jonathan Gold.

But the star of the show is definitely the food, and I sampled lots that night from hot & new restaurants around town, along with ever-popular "classics," here are some of my favorite bites of that evening:
  • Mexicali's Ghost Pepper Rib Eye Taco - love the flash of spice the quickly gives to juicy beefiness.
  • Drago Centro's Corn Agnolotti with Freshly Shaved Truffle - wonderfully aromatic with a luxurious creamy filling to boot.
  • Osawa's Saga Wagyu Beef Shabu Shabu - I know it's clich├ęd to say this, but it really does melt in your mouth, and nicely balanced by the slightly acidic ponzu-ish sauce.
  • Coco Laurent's Shrimp with White Bean Puree - a fun, modern take on shrimp & grits
  • Oliverio's Braised Short Rib with Gorgonzola Fondue - admittedly, this dish feels more appropriate for cold weather, but I love the robust, meaty comfort of tender short ribs against the creamy tang of the blue cheese sauce.
  • Pizzeria Mozza's Mini Butterscotch Budino w Salted Caramel Sauce & Rosemary Cookies - I think this one is obvious...
The only bummer was the lack of craft beer representation this time around; all the beer offerings were by Stella Artois. While I don't mind Stella beers (and keeping the goblet after,) I did very much enjoy sampling local brews from last year's Taste from Ladyface, Monkish and The Bruery, just to name a few. Here's hoping they will make a comeback for next year...

Needless to say, I can't wait to check out some of these restaurants to try more from their menu (or revisit some of my longtime favorites.) And equally excited to see what next year's festival will bring.

More recaps for The Taste from:

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