Monday, July 19, 2010

The Saban Free Clinic's Extravaganza: Where food and wine flowed freely

This weekend, The Saban Free Clinic held its annual fundraiser Extravaganza for the Senses, a Food and Wine event benefiting the clinic and its cause of providing free health care to those in need. The event was held at the Sunset Gower Studio with the Hollywood Sign as a gorgeous backdrop. The event was really well planned and featured unlimited samples from 40 LA restaurants and over 100 wineries. Thanks to the ladies at The Saban Free Clinic (Angela and Sayra), we received VIP Media Passes that allowed us an extra hour before the event was opened up to regular ticket holders. I invited my sister along who was here on holiday because I thought it'd be fun for her to enjoy the night out without screaming kids.

I love these plate-and-wine holders that they handed out at the entrance. This is crucial so you'll only have to use one hand to hold on to your plate and wine. Your other hand is free to snap photos of the event.

Food and wine stands lined the streets of the studio lot. They have high tables set up in the center where you could rest your plate on from time to time, and mingle with other guests.

The VIP lounge was a great place to take refuge from the sun and to rest your legs in the seated area. They also offered free massages from Bliss Spa.

As usual, I was always on the lookout for bubbly. Laetitia Winery located in the Arroyo Grande Valley in San Luis Obispo County had a nice sparkling wine and chardonnay.

You can never go wrong with the real thing - Piper Heidsieck Champagne.

Schramsberg is a winery located in Napa Valley and they offered a Blanc de Blanc. A bit sweet.

A dry Brut from Marc Hebrart.

After I exhausted all the bubbly, I went on to try some wine including some reds.

My sister really enjoyed this Rioja, and that's a lot coming from someone who used to live in Barcelona.

Absolut was there, offering cocktails including this refreshing Absolut Berri Acai Fizz (2 parts Absolut Berri Aacai and 4 parts lemon-lime soda).

Angelini Osteria - Spinach lasagna with meat ragu
One of my favorites of the night. Jay Weston (The Huffington Post) shared my table for a split second. I was star struck and was too nervous to introduce myself. So instead I asked him what his favorites were and he mentioned the lasagna. I haven't had lasagna in over 5 years (bad cheese experience left me hating cheese) so I was nervous to try this. But hey, if Jay Weston recommends, you eat. I really enjoyed the lasagna because it was just good ole Italian home cooking, just like what you would find at the restaurant. It's simple but yet left you wanting more. The meat ragu was rich but thankfully the bechamel and cheese topping was light.

Reservoir - Panko crusted shrimp tempura
This stand was only offered in the VIP Lounge. I had never heard of Reservoir until that day. The restaurant is located in Silverlake. The tempura was delicious. It wasn't greasy and the panko was still crunchy. The crunchy salad was lightly dressed and topped with a spicy jalapeno. It was a good thing I didn't hang out too long in the lounge as I would have kept going back for more tempura.

There was no shortage of heavy, braised meats.

Momed- Duck schwarma and corn cous cous with mint
I was excited to see Momed at the event because I've been meaning to check out the new restaurant. The duck was tender and the mint added a freshness to the heavy meat. I liked that they used a nice soft pita to hold the duck which made it a great finger food.

Delphine - Braised lamb shoulder with creamy polenta with roasted peppers and olives
The flavors were good and the lamb was tender. I liked the polenta which was creamy and took on the flavor of the lamb jus.

Brats Brothers - Rocky Mountain Elk and Black Forest Smoked Pork sausages and pretzel bread
Brats Brothers serves gourmet sausages in Sherman Oaks. I enjoyed both sausages that I selected (there were about 7-8 offered) as they were juicy, tasted lean and were flavorful. Unfortunately, they didn't poke the sausages before grilling so when my sister bit into one, juices projectile-squirted onto some guy's white shirt and bald head. He wasn't too happy about it and his girlfriend was definitely not happy about it. Oops. This can be kindda dangerous, not only for your wardrobe but the juices can scald your tongue too if it's not slowly released from the brat. Apart from the soiled shirt, the brats were a winner. Unfortunately the pretzel bread was a bit stale.

Boa - Pulled pork sliders
There was a lot of sauce going on, perhaps a bit too much. The gentleman beside us managed to get it all over his shirt. But I did appreciate the tenderness of the meat and the brioche that soaked in the sauce.

Bombay Cafe- Vegetarian Samosa with tamarind chutney and chicken tikka marinated with ginger, cilantro, garlic and green chile
I liked the samosa which they fried on the spot so it was hot when served. Bombay Cafe used to be my local dinner spot (they are located at Pico and Bundy in West LA). I've always enjoyed my meals there but somehow haven't been back in a long time. They gave us a coupon which I guess will give me good reason to visit.

There were many little bite-sized portions offered that made it easy to sample food without having to use two hands.

Rush Street - Devil's Gulch Duroc Pork Spread, green tomato jam, sweet Vidalia slaw, pickled Jalapenos

Rush Street - Sweet red pepper and walnut dip with crispy pita chips and pomegranate molasses

Takami Sushi & Robata - Ahi tuna on a fried won ton crisp

The Sky Room - Ahi tuna on yellow watermelon with citrus soy vinaigrette and jalapeno

Stage Cafe - Prosciutto, melon and walnut balsamic glaze
The components worked well together. The walnut lent a nice crunch, and the balsamic and melon sweetened the salty prosciutto.

Cafe Was - Roasted Menjool Date, blue cheese tempura, apple wood smoked pork lardons and 18-year balsamic, and Vintage Natural BBQ skirt steak with summer salad and Banyuls vinaigrette
This was my sister's favorite. She enjoyed the combination of the date and the blue cheese which was mild.

Sushi Roku - Spicy tuna and crab hand roll
It was amazing how long the line was for Sushi Roku. It was long no matter what time it was and it never subsided. It's interesting because even though the hand rolls were tasty, they weren't anything different or exciting.

Jar - Chicken salad with fennel and olives
The chicken was cooked tender. Somehow I wasn't expecting Jar to serve a chicken salad since I've always been a fan of their heavier meat dishes. It would have been nice if they topped their signature pot roast on a crostini. Wishful thinking..

Street- Burmese Melon Salad with fresh seasonal melons, toasted coconut, peanuts, fried onions
and sesame ginger dressing
I liked the toasted coconut and the crunch from the peanuts and fried onions, but I thought there was a lot going on in the salad. But in their defense, it was a refreshing summer salad.

I was delighted when I noticed the Breadbar stand.

They had samples of my favorite financiers (I still have a bag that I bought from Breadbar three days earlier). These things are addictive!

Desserts were abundant at the event.

Valerie Confections - Rose Petal Petits Fours and Champagne Truffles
So pretty that it was painful to eat them. Unfortunately the truffles were slowly melting in the heat.

Milk - Strawberry Shortcake on a stick
You can't go wrong with the combo of ice cream and strawberry shortcakes. Even though it was a relatively warm night, the ice cream held well.

Dr. Bob's - Tahitian Vanilla hand crafted ice cream
Dr. Bob's is only offered at specialty stores and markets (Surfas, Vicente Foods, The Wine House, select Gelson's). I like ordering just a simple vanilla flavor as that you can really tell how good the quality of an ice cream is. I enjoyed the Tahitian Vanilla flavor which was so rich and creamy that I couldn't even get through a scoop.

Chocolate from Mickey Fine Pharmacy & Grill. My sister pocketed some for her son.

The event wasn't just all about food and booze. There were auctions to raise funds for the clinic.

There was also a Mystic section that offered Henna tatoos, tarot card readings and fortune telling. I know it's all in the name of fun but I'm not really into these things. My sister got a tarot card reading while I stood a couple feet away.

Extravaganza for the Senses was a great night of food, wine, fun and charity. The event was very well organized and it never felt crowded at any point. You didn't have to wait in line for food (except for Sushi Roku, which is still a mystery to me) and wine. The crowd was dressed to impress and everyone was there to have a good time, and to celebrate a good cause. I'm glad that in addition to some well known restaurants (Jar, Street, Angelini Osteria), there was representation from smaller, local businesses (Brats Brothers, Valerie Confections) which gave them some visibility and exposure. For example, if I want to squirt brat juice on some dude, I'll know exactly where to go...

The Saban Free Clinic's Extravaganza for the Senses
Sunset Gower Studios
1438 N. Gower St.,
Hollywood, CA 90028


Anonymous said...

FAAAARK. you're too fast stuffy, too fast for me.

Anonymous said...

looks and sounds like a great event! strawberry shortcake on a stick looks divine! never a shortage of things to do in LA.

Anonymous said...

PS: your sis has GREAT taste, cuz Cafe Was' fried lardon was my fave too.

weezermonkey said...

What a neat event!

Food, she thought. said...

Tasting events aren't my favorite, but gosh so much there looks good. The bleh cheese & medjool date looks delicious. I am surprised because the chef at Cafe Was looks so hapless on Top Chef this season. Get into Reservoir... Their food's delicious!!!

Diana said...

Fun seeing you (very briefly) there! Wish we could have chatted more, but it was a great event! The lasagna was actually a bit cold when I tried it so it was actually one of the more disappointing dishes for me! I'd like to try it when it's piping hot at the restaurant.

bagnatic said...

haha, i like how your sister soiled some bald guy's head with wiener juice.

stuffycheaks said...

sinosoul - glad to bump into ya.

catchacubinitsden - yeah that
strawberry shortcake was one of my favorites. Perfect for a summer day.

weezermonkey - you shoulda gone!

foodshethought - Reservoir is on my list! Need to try sampling more restos in the eastside.

Diana - good seeing u! bummer about the lasagne. cold cheese & bechamel no good!

bagnatic - haha that was the highlight of the day, and the stinkeye that the gf gave us...

alicia in exile said...

addendum: screaming kid! as thing 2 is an angel. thanks for the night out. had a great laugh what with the spurting sausage and psychic.