Sunday, June 13, 2010

Taste of The Nation, every foodie's dream event

Taste of The Nation is a culinary event held around the country, where local chefs from over 40 restaurants prepare their signature dishes, with proceeds from the event going towards Share Our Strength which focuses on fighting child hunger. 1 in every 4 children in the States are at risk of hunger and every $1 of donation generates $5 worth of food, so every penny counts.

The Los Angeles event was held on June 6, 2010 at Media Park in Culver City. Tickets were $100, and $150 for VIP. We decided to go for the VIP tickets. It's an all you can eat and drink event, which is a great deal because just about every notable LA restaurant was represented at the event.

VIP, IMO, is totally worth it. It gets you lots of additional perks.
1) A shaded tent with tables and chairs, and volunteers who efficiently came by to clear your plate! There was also a meet and greet with Top Chef winner Michael Voltaggio.

2) Prosecco, all you can drink.

I love bubbly so I'm glad we had this all day.

3) Access to SLS Hotel's The Bazaar stand. This was located in the tent so you would need your VIP badge to get in.

Bazaar/The Sls Hotel, Jose Andres/Jorge Chicas

Liquid Nitro Margarita

Liquid Olives

Watermelon Gazpacho Shots
The Bazzar is known for their innovative, unique dishes that utilize molecular gastronomy.

4) VIP valet
Fighting for parking and traffic gives me a stomach ulcer so I'm glad we were able to roll up to valet and get to the event without any hassle.

5) Gift bag

Outside the VIP tent, booths were set up for each restaurant. The event was very well organized and it never got crowded or claustrophobic at any time. They were definitely great at managing the number of ticket holders by choosing a large event space. The lines to get in were also very efficient and not at all painful. Also there was a lot of shade which made the afternoon outside very manageable.

Some of my favorites of the day were:

Bistro LQ, Laurent Quenioux

Macedoine Salad, Uni Dressing, Maine Lobster
Chilled Porcini Soup with tapioca, Mirabelle Coulis, Foie Gras Chantilly/Espuma
White Chocolate Ice Cream, American Caviar

Been wanting to visit Bistro LQ and after this wonderful, elegant trio, I need to get on making that reservation.

Bottega Louie, Sam Marvin

Torchon Foie Gras With Organic Apple Gastrique & Marcona Almond Brittle
This was probably my favorite dish of the day. I was surprised to see foie on their menu instead of pizza, because Bottega Louie is known for their pizzas and Italian fare. This was the perfect little bite. The foie gras was velvety and worked well with the crunchy, sweet brittle.

Nobu, Nobu Matsuhisa

Miso Marinated Black Cod With Butter Lettuce
Miso cod is Nobu's classic dish. Sweet miso and buttery cod. I love it and I never get sick of it. You can attempt to make it at home or order it at a Japanese izakaya but trust me, it'd never be as good.

Mercantile/District, Kris Morningstar

Braised Octopus with potato salad

Pork belly and grits
Both good dishes and well flavored. Mercantile is also on my list and after these tastes, I know I'll have to visit it the following week.

Home Made “Better Than Oreos

Napa Valley Grille, Joseph Gillard

Tomato gelee and cucumber, and corn agnolotti with La Quercia Pancetta
I was about to skip this booth because Napa Valley Grille was my late night happy hour in grad school and I've also had a unmemorable dinner there before. But I'm glad I gave it another shot. I really enjoyed the corn agnolotti. The sauce was buttery and I wanted to lick every last drop of it. The pancetta was crispy and salty, which was a nice contrast to the sweet corn.

Xiv, Michael Mina / Steven Fretz

Braised And Grilled Piedmontese Beef Cheeks, Lime Hoisin Glaze, Summer Corn Foam, Micro Cilantro
Absolutely mouth watering. The beef cheeks were falling apart and had a sweet flavoring from the hoisin sauce. The creamy bed of foam was lovely.

Hamachi Tartare, Nuoc Cham Gelee, Caramelized Lapxuoug, Peanut Carmel Powder, Compressed Cucumber
Fresh hamachi and crunchy peanut with asian flavors.

Blt Steak, Laurent Tourndel/Brian Moyers

Shortrib TortelliCaramelles,” Sweet Corn, Chantrelles, Summer Truffle
I am so into the corn and pasta combo, I think it makes a great summer dish.

Eva, Mark Gold

Charred Beef, Grated Radish
Just a simple dish but the beef was cooked perfectly.

Westside Tavern, Warren Schwartz

Short rib with caramelized onions, horseradish creme fraiche
There were lots of heavy meats at the event but I was impressed by how well they were cooked despite having to cook in large quantities in a make-shift kitchen. The short ribs were tender, the onions were sweet and soft. I don't like horseradish but this was mild enough.

Other samplings included:

Comme Ca, David Meyers

Tomato Gazpacho with foie gras

Cache, Josiah Citrin

Chamomile tartlet rhubarb compote, lemon balm
Flatbread with squash blossoms, Tallegio fondue, meyer lemon zest

Public/25 Degrees At The Roosevelt Hotel, Tim Goodell/Jeremy Strubel

Duck and fennel sausage with foie gras, pink muscat grape and apple slaw

Mini burger with chile

Joe’s Restaurant / Bar Pintxo, Joe Miller

Braised Artichoke With Buratta Cheese And Jamon Iberico

Locando De Lago, Roberto Maggioni

Lingua In Salsa Verde (Braised Beef Tongue With Fresh Parsley Pesto)

The Foundry On Melrose, Eric Greenspan

Tallegio grilled cheese
Eric Greenspan was such a vibrant friendly chef, you just wanna like his food.

Mar’Sel, Michael Fiorelli

Barbequed Beef Bahn Mi With House Pickled Vegetables And Chili Aioli
California Avocado Salad Fresh Hearts Of Palm, Persian Cucumber, Yogurt, Lemon And Dill

Akasha, Akasha Richmond

Pulled Niman Pork On Pretzel Rolls With Slaw & Pickles
The slider bun good but a little too big and overwhelmed the pork. I didn't care for overly-sweet pork.

Loteria Grill, Jimmy Shaw

Papa Con Rajas (Potato With Roasted Poblano Peppers)
Mole Poblano Con Pollo (Chicken Mole Poblano)
Carne Deshebrada (Shredded Beef With Fresh Guacamole And Chipotle Sauce)

Bar210, Marcel Vigneron

Chef at work with liquid nitrogen.

Pom spherification
Burst in your mouth. It's fun and playful.

There were desserts and drinks too.

Red velvet lollipops, distributed in the VIP tent.

Sprinkles, Candace Nelson

Red velvet cupcakes

Californian wineries were on hand to offer up wine selections and Stella Artois was the beer choice of the event.

St. Germain made an amazing cocktail of champagne, St. Germain and soda. It was a good refreshing drink.

Apart from food, since this event was for charity, there were auctions to raise money for the cause. You could bid for dream vacations or kitchen supplies. They also had a live auction. The 1st up was for Top Chef winner Michael Voltaggio who would come to your home and cook dinner for a party of 6 of your friends. Besides winning the Top Chef title, Voltaggio's restaurant at The Dining Room at Langham Pasadena cooks up some spectacular food. Voltaggio upped the ante when he invited Marcel Vigneron (Top Chef finalist, Bar210) who he used to work with at SLS Hotel's The Bazaar, up on stage and said that both of them would be preparing the winning dinner.

Two for the price of one? My friend and I looked at each other... Should we bid?!?! It's for charity. This was to help fight child hunger. We ended up bidding $2,500 which BTW is the most frightening thing when you 1st raise your hand and realize that in that second, $2,500 might immediately leave your bank account. That would be my trip to Bali+Southeast Asia, that could be 5 epic meals at Joel Robuchon, that would be my mortgage payment. Even before we got a chance to exhale, someone else overbid us, and the bids began to escalate to $4,000. To this day, we are still talking about our loss, and contemplating if we should have upped our bid...

Next up was an auction for Ludo Lefebvre and his famed fried chicken truck to cater up to 30 of your friends at a private party.
Susan Feniger came on stage to rile up bidders. She and her business partner Mary Sue Milliken also auctioned off their services and their Border Grill Truck for a party.

Taste of the Nation was an excellent, well-run event. The restaurant represented were top notch, high quality, award wining restaurants. Practically all the famed chefs were there cooking at their stands and chatting up with attendees. It was just a lively, happy, positive environment. The venue was perfectly chosen with ample grassy area to camp on and lots of shade to hide under for sun-o-phobic people like myself. If you love food, if you love drinks, if you wanna scope our celebrity chefs, if you want to support an amazing charity, Taste of the Nation will accomplish all that and more.


Diana said...

Yeah, definitely shouldn't have read this post.

Jealous jealous jealous!

Ravenous Couple said...

Thanks for the tip! Maybe we'll see you there next year!

stuffycheaks said...

Diana - you dont have to be jealous, you just have to go!
Ravenous Couple - for sure next year :) It was by far the BEST food event I've been to to-date.