LA Food & Wine: Lexus Grand Tasting (Los Angeles, CA)

Lexus Grand Tasting: Saturday
Los Angeles Food & Wine

LA Live
800 W. Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Dining date: 10/15/11

Los Angeles Food & Wine, in its first year, has become the biggest food event in the city. Spanning 4 days and around 50 events, it brought together a top-notch lineup of chefs/restaurants for a whirlwind of events priced between $50 and $2,000. Like the now-defunct American Wine & Food Festival, restaurants across the country were represented, not just LA – something that was a unique draw.

Most of the events featured just a handful of chefs, but there were a few tasting events offering access to a whole bunch. One was the Lexus Grand Tasting, held Saturday and Sunday, with an advertised 30 chefs/restaurants and 200 wineries (though, I’m pretty sure there were less of both in actuality) for an all-you-can-eat, all-you-can-drink affair at $195. I received a media pass to come taste and sip my way through the Saturday tasting.

The event took place at downtown’s LA Live. A very large tent was set up for some much-needed shade, while food and wine stands were disbursed throughout.

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Lexus presented a “tasting lab” featuring a bunch of small bites and mixology demos throughout the afternoon.

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On to the food:

Ricardo Zarate (Picca, Mo-Chica) alpaca & chorizo crostini; diver scallop anticucho

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Michel Richard (Citronelle) fried chicken with dijon mustard sauce

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Kenny Callaghan (Blue Smoke) peanut butter and pork (belly)

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Graham Elliot (Graham Elliot) pumpkin bisque

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Taylor Boudreaux (WP Bistro) rosemary rotisserie chicken with garlic mashed potatoes

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Jared Van Camp (Old Town Social) fennel-scented salami

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Chris Pandel (The Bristol) chilled crab, mussels and scallops in brown butter miso

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Bradley Ogden (Root 246) duroc pork tenderloin, corn pudding, gremolata of bacon & corn, blackberry cipollini

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Sam Christopher (Rosa Mexicano) duck confit taco

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Joe Miller (Joe’s, Bar Pintxo) suckling pig sandwich; paella

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Rick Tramonto (Restaurant R’evolution) truffled short rib debris po’ boy

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Jason Harley (Pici Enoteca) lobster ravioli

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David LeFevre (MB Post) veal and pork albondigas

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Roger Stettler (Four Seasons Maui) salmon tartare cone; lobster risotto

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Bill Starbuck (Lucky Strike Lanes) short rib, garlic spinach, bread pudding

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Michael Mina (Michael Mina) smoked squab shabu shabu

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Tyler Florence (Wayfare Tavern) cauliflower panna cotta, hamachi tartare

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Todd English (Olives) skirt steak, beet risotto, blue cheese, roasted beets

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Mark Peel (Campanile) mussels

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Kent Torrey (The Cheese Shop Carmel)

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Hasty Torres (Madame Chocolat)

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While it was reasonably possible to try all of the food, it was virtually impossible to make more than a small dent into the wine offerings.

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My favorite pour was from the Beaulieu Vineyard and their 2008 Georges de Latour Cabernet.

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Overall, I thought the food was good, but not great. I was expecting some more interesting dishes, especially from the chefs who flew across the country to do this. Still, there were a number of highlights including Michael Mina’s smoked squab shabu shabu. I love squab, and his dashi-based broth screamed umami. This was also the first time I’ve had alpaca; Ricaro Zarate combined the meat with smoky chorizo on top of crispy crostini. Jason Harley of Pici Enoteca churned out a really nice lobster ravioli – flavors and textures were spot on delicious. Joe Miller’s paella was just as good as the one I tried at Taste of the Nation, while Rosa Mexicano served up a succulent duck confit taco. Some of the misses included Tyler Florence’s panna cotta and Todd English’s overcooked skirt steak.

The event was well-run, and lines weren’t too bad at all. Todd English and Tyler Florence seemed to consistently have the longest lines, and those were probably in the 5-10 minute range. Given it’s just in its first year, I thought the Grand Tasting showed a lot of promise. I just hope the chefs kick it up a notch or two next year. 

Disclosure: This event was hosted.


Comments

LA Food & Wine: Lexus Grand Tasting (Los Angeles, CA) — 6 Comments

  1. OMG i did not do that event justice. I was just so stuffed & exhausted from the day before. I’m really sad that I missed Rick Tramonto’s sandwich that looks insanely delicious, but on your rec, def checked out the Lobster Ravioli from Pici. Yum!

    Did you go to any of the other events?

    • Hi Louise – there are a lot of PR companies that reach out about some of these events, and sometimes I reach out directly to the events themselves (usually their PR person). Probably not very helpful but that’s pretty much it!

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