Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Six Best Things I Ate at The Taste 2012's Flavors of L.A.

Like Disneyland for foodies, LA food festivals offer a dizzying sampling array of some of LA's top eats and a bounty of alcoholic options to wash it all down. This past weekend's Los Angeles Times The Taste fest was no different. Three days of endless eating and imbibing, with some star chef appearances (some dude named Thomas Keller?) thrown into the mix, and you can safely say the 2012 Labor Day Weekend event lived up to the hype.

But, like with most greats, there was a best-est of the best. In fact, in a day of endless face stuffing, six favorite foodstuffs from Sunday's "Flavors of L.A." event co-hosted by Jonathan Gold and Evan Kleiman rised above the rest...

Blum's Coffee Crunch Cake (Valerie Confections) - Valerie Confections may have grabbed a lot of attention at the event for their reincarnation of The Brown Derby's Grapefruit Cake, but in my mind it was their take on another restaurant of yore's dessert that really shone. Approached last year by the LA Times to recreate the famous cake from the former Northern and Southern California stalwart restaurant, Valerie nailed it with a wonderful sponge cake layered with a light coffee whipped cream frosting and topped with "bits of crunch." Makes me want to try all the Silverlake bakery's classic cakes

Unagi Causa Roll (Mo-Chica) - It comes as absolutely no surprise whatsoever that Chef Ricardo Zarate's eel and mashed potato roll was one of my favorites. You would be hard pressed to find anything the chef puts out at either of his restaurants that Los Angelenos do not absolutely adore - and this apparently extends into his food fest appearances.

Smoky Fried Chicken (Plan Check) - I have yet to make it to Sawtelle to sample Plan Check's fare, so I was pleasantly surprised to find them featured at Flavors of L.A. I found myself even more pleased when I bit into this delicious fried chicken - fried Jidori chicken, smoked milk gravy, yam preserves and a spicy pickled okra. Really as solid of a fried chicken plate as I've had in a long while - and even more impressive when served in bulk at a major event like this.

Al Pastor Taco (Border Grill Truck) - As a frequent customer at the Border Grill Truck in Venice, recently I've been concerned with a slow, yet steady decline in quality. Nothing alarming, just a subtle difference in taste amongst the tacos and quesadillas. Not so at Flavors of L.A. With the Border Girls on hand (Mary Sue truck-side chatting up festival goers, Susan doing a nearby cooking demo), the Al Pastor Taco was incredibly delicious, packed with flavor. Here's to hoping the roasted pork and chicken, pineapple salsa and pickled red onion tacos find their way to The Brig parking lot soon.

Millie Vanillie Bean Bread Pudding (Schulzie's Bread Pudding) - I freaking love bread pudding. I'd honestly kill my first-born if he somehow got in the way of my bread pudding consumption. Schulzie's Venice shop offers a crazy 108 varieties! A dozen or so of them were available on Sunday and of all the flavors I tried, the vanilla bean (with a little caramel sauce atop) was the best and will certainly get me to take a walk down to the Venice strand to try again very, very soon.

Fresh Artichoke Souffle (Sam's By The Beach) - Sam's was one of the more finer dining options at the fest and their Artichoke Souffle with a Roquefort cheese and chive sauce was incredibly indulgent. Although probably a bit too rich for an outdoor food festival (85 degrees plus), the souffle was simply too good not to point out. 

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