‘The Taste’ of things to come…

Labor Day Weekend -the unofficial end to summer- has come and gone. Children are heading back to school, parents heading back to work and many are recuperating after a long weekend of binge drinking and eating. Summer isn’t exactly over yet, and nothing reminded us more than to see the billowing smoke rising up from the San Gabriel Mountains on Sunday afternoon. The heat is still here and that means plenty of cold cocktails will be served all around Los Angeles for several more weeks to come. The Taste offered several options of where to find those libations everyone of us yearns for.

With an endless array of options to choose from this Labor Day Weekend, The Taste stood out as the premiere event throughout Los Angeles. Many elements between this year and last year’s event were different but each event was conveying the same message – that the overwhelming diversity in the Los Angeles dining scene is alive and well. A message echoed by Jonathon Gold during his seminar with Evan Kleiman. Every seminar, whether it was focused on Mixology, Food or Wine was engaging, lively and entertaining.

Field to Fork celebrated the marriage between farmers and chefs with plenty of restaurants offering dishes with locally sourced ingredients. The weather cooperated the entire weekend which really brought Paramount Studios to life. The highlight for me was the fabulous heirloom tomatoes and goat cheese from Soledad Farms. Their goat cheese ball, marinating in olive oil, completely melted when it was bit into. We have always wanted to take a trip to Soledad and this event totally solidified that feeling. Wood and Vine offered a wonderful array of charcuterie like chicken liver, foie gras mousse and head cheese which was an absolute treat. After scouring from tent to tent, I attempted to score some more charcuterie but much to my dismay, they already were wiped out. It seemed like Field to Fork had the smallest crowd of the event which is a real shame because I feel that particular event offered some of the best food throughout the weekend.

Later that evening, Mixologists had their turn to showcase their talent at Cocktail Confidential. Cucumber played a substantial role in many of the drinks throughout the entire day which brought a cooling effect amidst the hot weather. As the sun went down in Paramount Studios, it got a bit cooler but the drinks got much hotter. The presence of spicy cocktails surfaced and were seen in plenty of peoples hands. Even the LivingSocial tent were tossing around spice in one of their drinks but it didn’t translate well because the heat was non existent. I don’t drink hard alcohol very often, hardly ever in fact, so this event was way out of my element. Guelaguetza was pouring a margherita with a spicy rim which was great for me because it sort of masked the taste of tequila which i think is wretched. The mixology contest closed out the night for us on a very amusing note. Julian Cox, Jonathon Gold and Jessica Gelt judged a food and drink pairing contest which somehow turned into a conversation about old school metal bands with Kris Yenbamroong (chef at NIGHT + MARKET). This was a great event, especially for those who love to imbibe in the sweet nectar of spirits.

Flavors of L.A. was definitely true to it’s name. Cuisine was represented from all over the globe which really embodies what Los Angeles is all about. Mexican flavors were well represented throughout the entire event, as was Thai, Peruvian, Middle Eastern and Japanese. Gottsui‘s delicious Japanese pancakes and Ayara Thai’s Spicy Thai Ceviche were some highlights of Asian cuisine. Cooking demonstrations throughout the day were held by Susan Feniger, Ludo Lefebvre, Ricardo Zarate and Kris Yenbamroong. Our day was rounded out by a great wine seminar headed by Ira Norof and Charlie Cline(of Cline Cellars).

Sunday night was capped off by Dinner and Drinks which brought together some great food and even better beer. Hosted by Betty Hallock and The Beer Chicks, Christina Perozzi and Hallie Beaune, this event became more of a city block-party. Craft Beer vendors were lined up side by side offering some unique brews from all over Los Angeles and Orange County. Food options for the evening tended to be on the meatier side with the likes of BOA Steakhouse, Haven Gastropub, The Counter Burger, etc. Most of these dishes went really well with some of the IPA’s being poured but nothing better than Oliverio’s braised veal cheeks with a gorgonzola fondue sauce. The Beer Chicks managed to devour a huge crowd of on-lookers with their larger-than-life personalities and a dazzling performance of beer cocktail recipes.

Last but not least, The Labor Day Picnic picked up where it ended last year with Target as the sponsor and plenty of things for kids to have fun with. We all know what kids love to eat and that was definitely shown during the whole day. Sweet treats were a big part of the day and even made their way into some adult cocktails. I did not see a single child walk by me without holding cotton candy at some point. A few food trucks made their presence this year and the ever popular Grilled Cheese Truck were dishing out plates of the American classic to a never ending line of people.

Between the very popular chalk board that was present and the loud but entertaining Mariachi Band, The Taste managed to create a weekend experience like no other. Artisanal drinks are definitely on the rise here in Los Angeles and that was definitely brought to everyone’s attention. It was hard to walk ten feet without seeing someone pouring a cocktail. The food scene is expanding rapidly and it was good to see the new and old being represented. If The Taste is a representation of things to come in Los Angeles than I think we are all in for something great, we just have to keep our eyes peeled.

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