Gold Standard 2012 (Los Angeles, CA)

Gold Standard 2012
Petersen Auto Museum
6060 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Dining date: 3/4/12

This was the fourth Gold Standard event, Jonathan Gold and LA Weekly’s annual food festival. Given Gold’s impending move to the LA Times, this is presumably the last one. It’s a little sad since the Gold Standard has been one of the better food events in the city in my opinion. The lineup of restaurants has consistently been pretty good; the venue is pretty large and the lines have typically been reasonable.

venue2

venue1

In previous years, General Admission tickets were $60 – a great value for the all-you-can-eat and all-you-can-drink event. The price was hiked up this year to $75, no longer a steal but still one of the better food festivals in terms of bang for the buck, given these events tend to easily reach into the triple-digits. This year though, I obtained a media pass for entrance.

This year’s venue was the same as the previous two years at the Petersen Auto Museum. It was a pretty hot day and a large tent provided a lot of shade, but the sheer crowds made for a rather muggy atmosphere – like a New York subway in the summer. Anything cold seemed to have a long line whether it be beer, gelato or cocktails.

Approximately 50 restaurants set up a booth for the afternoon, along with a few coffee roasters and plenty of beer and wine. This seemed to be the biggest Gold Standard yet, and there was no way I could try it all. However, I think I was able to try just about everything I wanted to.

Animal foie gras mousse, satsuma marmalade, toast

animal

A-Frame charred octopus ceviche

aframe

Baco Mercat braised pork shoulder baco

baco

Bludso’s BBQ bbq brisket and chicken

bludso2

bludso

Bulgarini Gelato assorted flavors

bulgarini

Campanile 28-day aged prime rib, horseradish on crostini

campanile

Chego house kimchi

chego

Drago Centro mushroom agnolotti with shaved black truffle

drago centro2

drago centro

Huckleberry assorted cakes/sweets

huckleberry

ink. beef tongue and tendon taco, horseradish snow

ink

LaOn short rib, kimchi pancake

laon

Le Comptoir quail egg and herb flowers, lemon pound cake with lemon confit

le comptoir

le comptoir2

Little Dom’s bbq oyster

little doms

Lukshon cured hawaiian butterfish (nahm jim, rau ram, watermelon radish), rib eye bao (spicy cucumber pickle, black bean ghee)

lukshon

lukshon2

MB Post pomegranate cous cous, feta, almonds

mb post

Mezze beef brisket shawarma

mezze

Mozza butterscotch budino

mozza

Night + Market startled pig (grilled pork, basil, lemongrass, fish sauce, lime, garlic, bird eye chili), catfish tamale (catfish baked in banana leaf with chili and herbs)

night market

night market2

Picca/Mo-Chica pork belly with sundried potato, grilled black tiger shrimp

picca2

picca

Playa yellowtail ceviche

playa

Providence pistachio, white chocolate, rose water, meyer lemon

providence

Ramen Jinya ramen

jinya

Short Cake assorted cakes/sweets

short cake

Short Order sausage

short order

Smoke City Market bbq brisket, pastrami, potatoes

smoke city

Sotto porchetto, mustard greens

sotto2

sotto

Spice Table pig tail, mint, red perilla, gem lettuce, fish sauce

spice table

Starry Kitchen salted plum chicken wings, lychee panna cotta

starry2

starry

Street mung bean pancake, miso mustard, dark soy

street

Tsujita nigiri

tsujita

A few beers (Singha, Stella Artois, Hoegaarden) were available and dozens of wineries were represented. The beer lines were rather lengthy throughout the afternoon; for me, the wines were more interesting and I repeatedly came back to the Silver Oak table. I think I had about 8 pours of the Alexander Valley Cab. Literally.

wine2wine3wine1wine4

A very strong lineup of coffees were available. I’m not sure how popular hot coffees were this afternoon, but Single Origin was pouring a wonderfully refreshing Verve cold brew. Battle food coma while cooling off? Two birds, one stone.

LAMILL

la mill

Single Origin

single origin

single origin2

Handsome Coffee

handsome

handsome2

This event was a ton of fun; I left full and satisfied. The food overall was fairly strong, and I found myself coming back to a few favorites. My favorite dish had to be Drago Centro’s mushroom agnolotti with shaved black truffle (I came back three times!). Just like at the restaurant, the execution of the pasta was spot on – a creamy filling, chewy pasta and tender mushrooms were topped by a generous shaving of black truffle. Other highlights for me included Sotto’s porchetto, the basis of their popular porchetto sandwich. The pork flavor was expectantly upfront, and the textures were wonderful between the crispy skin, tender meat and soft, gelatinous fat. The sweet mostarda and bitter, acidic mustard greens were nice accompaniments. Picca had two solid dishes; I found the jumbo grilled tiger prawns to be perfectly cooked with a smoky perfume from the grill. Lukshon’s cured Hawaiian butterfish was light and refreshing (perfect for the hot day) with nice textures and Asian accents. I also liked the Spice Table’s pig tail taco, with the greens balancing out the richness of the tail nicely. For dessert, Mozza’s always-reliable butterscotch budino was a highlight, as well as Starry Kitchen’s lychee panna cotta which provided a light and cool treat that worked well in the heat.

I’m sad to see the Gold Standard go. I hope Gold and the LA Times come up with something else to fill the void.

Previous Gold Standards: 2010 & 2011

Note: This event was sponsored.

Gold Standard 2011

Gold Standard 2011
Petersen Auto Museum
6060 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Dining date: 3/6/11

I came. I saw. I left full. That pretty much sums up my experience from this year’s Gold Standard, the third annual event presented by LA Weekly and LA food critic Jonathan Gold. Last year was my first time attending, and it was one of the best food events I went to. I bought my ticket early this year, getting an early-bird discount of $10 off the regular ticket price ($60 GA, $80 VIP). The VIP ticket gets you in an hour earlier, but I didn’t think it was necessary – thus, I went with General Admission.

The event featured over 40 of Jonathan Gold’s favorite restaurants, as well as an impressive number of wineries represented. The restaurants represented cuisines of all kinds, casual restaurants to high-end, and locations all over the city – it was an interesting picture of the LA dining scene.

The first thing I saw was the line to get in, which was long. However, once we hit 1pm, the line moved pretty quickly in.

A long row, with tables on both sides, served as the “wine bars.”

Providence
Scallop Tartare


Compressed pineapple and curry petit four


Our gameplan was to hit some of our “musts” early – this was one of them. The scallop tartare was a highlight, wrapped in a leaf and topped with popped rice. The fish was tender and tasty, while the popped rice added a nice crunch. In a bite, this dish represented the restaurant’s clean flavors, emphasis on seafood and Japanese influences. The pineapple and curry petit four came out later in the afternoon – I liked the interplay of the sweet pineapple with the curry.

LudoBites
Whipped brie, honey balsamic frisee


This was another of the “musts,” and one of the most crowded booths…for obvious reasons. This dish was reminiscent of one I had at LudoBites 4.0, with a very creamy brie chantilly paired with crostini. I’m not really a big cheese person so this wasn’t my favorite dish. However, I appreciated the acidity from the balsamic and the sweetness from the honey in tandem with the rich, creamy brie.

Maison Giraud
Ham & cheese croissant


Almond & vanilla blanc – manger, blood orange gelee


Alain Giraud was serving up a couple of choices here. Since it was early on, I passed on the croissant, thinking it was too heavy at this point. I was hoping to take one home later, but they ran out quickly. The dessert was really good though, with almond, vanilla and citrus flavors melding well together in the custard.

Jar
Char siu buns


I’ve always seen Jar serve their signature pot roast at food festivals such as this one, but they opted to serve another regular on their menu, the char siu buns. The buns had a flaky exterior, but I found the barbecued pork interior to be a little dry.

Jinya
Tonkotsu ramen


I was impressed with the ramen here. I was afraid I might find lukewarm broth or soggy noodles – not the case, the execution was spot on. The noodles had a great al dente chew, complemented by a savory, milky broth. Really good. I visited this booth at least 5 times throughout the afternoon…sounds like I will have to pay a visit to their restaurant soon.

Cut
Kobe short rib


Cut is my favorite steakhouse in LA. Here was a really delicious preparation of short rib – tender, moist, beefy. It was served with a sort of tortilla, which made this easier to pick up and eat; however, I found it a bit chewy.

A-Frame
Furikake kettle corn


Rum, hibiscus, lime, orange bitters


I haven’t had a chance to try A-Frame yet, but I’ve wanted to. I wished they presented something more savory, but this kettle corn was some of the best I’ve had. Sweet, spicy and full of flavor, these were a definite hit. They also served a refreshing cocktail, which was quite nice as it became warmer and warmer in the tent.

My friend brilliantly recycled his glass from the Singha Beer table.

AOC
Pork rillete, pickled red onion, frisee


I didn’t think there was too much going on here. The pork rillete was good, but not something that stood out.

Waterloo & City
Chicken liver & foie gras mousse


I found this mousse to be really good, with flavors of the chicken liver and foie gras both present. I would’ve preferred the bread to be toasted, but I’m just being picky.

Park’s BBQ
Bulgogi, kimchi rice


Park’s dish was comfortable, homey. I thought the bulgogi was a little salty, but had good flavor.

Manila Machine
Pork belly & pineapple adobo, lumpia shanghai


Manila Machine is one of the better food trucks I’ve tasted, and I’m glad they were able to showcase some of their food here. The pork belly was really tender and flavorful…well done. The lumpia were pretty good too.

The Foundry
Grilled cheese sandwich


Chef Eric Greenspan was proclaiming to everyone that this would be the best sandwich they ever ate. I’m not sure how many agreed with that statement, but it’s a very good sandwich as far as grilled cheeses go. I really enjoyed the peppery arugula in the sandwich, helping to contrast the rich Taleggio cheese.

The Gorbals
Chicken gizzards, romesco sauce


I was excited to see Ilan Hall serving some gizzards here. I like them, but I never see it in restaurants. They were very tender, so I think they were perhaps braised. The romesco sauce did a nice job of adding some extra flavor to the dish.

Tacos Baja Ensenada
Shrimp taco


I thought the shrimp was nicely fried, leaving a moist interior. However, the tortilla was really greasy.

Bludso’s BBQ
Pulled pork, beef brisket


I’m always down for some good barbecue. Here, Bludso’s prepared a duo of meats, slathered in a sweet, savory barbecue sauce. Both of the meats were really tender, with a smokiness that was complemented by the sauce.

Drago Centro
Foie gras panna cotta


Drago Centro served this light, creamy panna cotta with a good foie gras flavor.

Mo Chica
Peruvian-spiced chicken skewers


There were some oysters here as well, but I just missed them. Still, I was able to get one of these skewers, which exhibited a nice char fresh of the grill. I’ve had some of Chef Zarate’s anticucho before and really enjoyed them. No different here, with a mildly spicy rub adding a lot of flavor to the chicken.

Father’s Office
Stout braised pork ribs, spicy orange blossom honey glaze


I was really curious about what FO would serve. Would they make slider versions of their famed burger? Not quite – the restaurant opted to showcase some of their other dishes with these ribs. These were very tender and had a nice sweetness, presumably from the stout braise and the honey glaze. I didn’t think the glaze was spicy as advertised, but I wasn’t complaining.

Susan Feniger’s Street
Vietnamese crepes


I thought this crepe was okay – I just didn’t think there was much to this dish.

Bistro LQ
Hare terrine and stuffed duck neck, pickled huckleberries


I liked the terrine and duck – it was meaty and tender, and had a creamy polenta to go along with it. I also heard some good macarons were coming from this table, but I wasn’t able to get one.

Starry Kitchen
Malaysian chicken curry


I work downtown and Starry is in my regular rotation of restaurants. I had this curry a couple of weeks ago, and it’s a pretty good one with just enough spice to keep things interesting. Supposedly, a stash of their tofu balls was available somewhere.

The Slaw Dogs
Spring fling holly roller, spicy chipotle mayo


As it was getting later into the afternoon, I passed on taking a bite of this as it seemed pretty heavy.

Chichen Itza
Banana leaf braised pork


Red snapper ceviche


I enjoyed the ceviche here. It was a generous portion of tender fish, sitting in a citrus-y marinade. The tortilla chip was key, as well, for texture and as a scooping mechanism.

Loteria Grill
Corn esquites


I found the corn here to be deliciously sweet, with a hint of tart lime juice and a little creaminess from mayonnaise.

Cole’s
Old Fashioned


This was a long line throughout the afternoon. No french dips here – just an old fashioned cocktail. It was a good one too, though I wish the serving size was larger given the lengthy wait and size of the glass (this picture was before any of it was consumed).

Good Girl Dinette
Curry cauliflower pot pie


I tried these pot pies last year and found them pretty good. This one was the vegetarian version, which exhibited a comfortable curry flavor with chunks of vegetables and a flaky crust.

Jitlada
Chicken curry, spicy beef


I opted to stay away from the beef here, saving my tastebuds. It kicked my ass last year.

Palate Food & Wine
Pig ear banh mi


Palate often serves banh mi at these festivals, and this was a more creative one. I liked the flavors, but I’m not a fan of the cartilage in pig ears in general. Personal preference.

I was able to try almost everything I wanted to; Mozza was one that I missed. I thought this was another really successful Gold Standard. For $50 I had an all-you-can-eat-and-drink ticket to some really good food and drinks. Heck, I’ve spent more on a meal at Cheesecake Factory. One of the biggest issues with similar events are the lines, and somehow this event has largely avoided that problem. There were a few tables that had some good lines throughout the afternoon, but for the most part, I think people were able to get what they wanted in a timely manner. There were some tables that ran out of food relatively quickly, though.

I’m already looking forward to next year!

Gold Standard – 2/28/10

Gold Standard 2010
Petersen Auto Museum
6060 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036

The second annual Gold Standard, hosted by LA Weekly’s own Jonathan Gold, is a sampling is some of Jonathan Gold’s picks for the best tastes in Los Angeles. A number of restaurants and wineries converged on the Petersen Auto Museum to offer their signature bites and pours. One of the biggest criticisms of the year was the cramped space and long lines. I was worried about that this time around, but the Petersen Auto Museum was supposed to be a bigger space that resolved these issues.

On the way to the festival, we saw a couple of trucks parked, which would be a sign to come. Below, the Kogi truck – finding it without a line of people is a rare sight.

Urth Caffe would be serving up a selection of coffees and teas throughout the afternoon.
The first thing we approached as we entered was the line to get in.  Holy crap. This reminded me immediately of the LA Street Food Fest a couple of weeks prior, which was a huge concern.


However, the only thing we could do was wait, and in about 30 minutes we were into the event. While waiting, we strategized the priority restaurants at the event within the program. I was surprised by the number of wineries (about 55) that were present, as they were not advertised initially at all. Click on the below image for a larger picture.

Once inside, we were greeted with a whole lineup of restaurants and wineries, with lines that were much less than expected.

The ever-popular Mozza, headed by Nancy Silverton (below, middle), served a Ricotta Crostone with Peperonata.

Mozza always tends to serve dishes that showcases their cheeses at festivals, and this was no exception. The ricotta was light and flavorful, and the pepperonata lended a nice sweetness to the dish.

Sona offered a dish  of salmon sashimi over a rice cracker. Very good quality fish here, and the mixture of textures with the cracker played out well.

Next up, LudoBites. No fried chicken this time, and no 3.5 hour waits. Ludo served up a cold chorizo veloute with a cornichon sorbet. Definitely one of the more refined dishes of the night, it was a success as well. A good, but not overpowering chorizo flavor in the soup paired well with the sorbet. When talking to Ludo about the next LudoBites, he said it would be downtown in April – can’t wait!

Next up, Pollo a la Brasa, known for their Peruvian rotisserie chicken. I was really looking forward to this dish, as I had been hearing a lot about it. Unfortunately, I found the meat dry. I had two servings, one of the breast and one of the drumstick, and they were both a bit overcooked. I’ll attribute this to the fact that they have to cook their chicken ahead of the festival, and keep it warm until serving. The chicken had a really nice, strong smokey flavor to it.

BistroLQ was one of the most popular tables throughout the night. Unfortunately, I don’t remember exactly what they served, but there was oxtail and a slider, as well as tapioca below.

Lotteria grill was offering up a selection of tacos, including this lengua with avocado. Quite good.

Babita was another restaurant offering up tacos, this one with carnitas and onions. Good as well. It looks like the chef is pleased with how his tacos came out.

The now well-known Kogi truck was in attendance at the festival. I was eager to get a chance to sample something unique without having to wait in the line. Well, I got a little more than I bargained for.

Kogi offered up vegan tacos, with lettuce as the wrapper and tofu as the filling. While I definitely would have prefered a meat dish here, this one wasn’t too bad. If I had to eat something vegan, this wouldn’t disappoint.

Mo-Chica has sort of been an ‘underground hit’ this year, as it’s definitely not on the beaten path. Located in the food court of a Mexican market in the USC area, it’s not exactly something many will stumble upon. However, lots of reviews and word-of-mouth have really drawn attention to this establishment. On this night, they were serving an albacore ceviche with sweet white corn. A really fresh fish here, it was one of my favorite dishes of the night.

Palate food & wine was offering up pork belly and pig ears banh mi with kumquat, pistachio and lardon. Another of the more popular dishes of the afternoon; however, I thought the bread was a bit too crunchy/chewy, leaving the filling to squish out.

Upstairs cafe offered braised kurobuta pork with crispy leeks and a beet risotto cake.  I found the pork, which I believed to be shoulder cut, to be surprisingly dry.

Jar served a couple of their signature items, which I thought was great. Chocolate pudding was offered, as well as butterscotch.

The pot roast was offered as well, topped with some sour cream. Very tender, and a generous portion. I’m pretty sure they used a brisket here, while the restaurant’s pot roast is of a short rib. Weird.

Jitlada, a Thai restaurant located in Thai town, is best known for having the spiciest dish in LA, according to Jonathan Gold, as well as having solid Thai cuisine. I had been before, and thought I could handle the beef dish they offered. Not true. Dammit, that dish was hot as well. I needed a warning sign before it seared off my tastebuds. The beef had a really weird texture too, being too tender/mushy.

The Hungry Cat was probably the most disorganized restaurant of the night, from what I saw. On the first visit to the table, there was one, sometimes two, people, trying to put something together in the back, and nothing came up to be served, The second time I came around, they were still working in the back, and finally served up this smoked salmon dish. The wait was not worthwhile as it was unimpressive.

Good Girl Dinette’s premise is ‘American diner meets Vietnamese comfort food.’ Hm. Interesting, but I was skeptical. Yelp raves about the cauliflower curry pot pie, and this afternoon they were offering mini chicken curry pot pies. Being a big pot pie fan, I tried one, and I thought it quite delicious. The chicken was in a nice curry gravy with a flaky crust.

Beacon featured the husband-wife duo of Kazuto Matsusaka and Vicki Fan, offering a five spice chicken salad and a pulled pork tostada. Unfortunately, I was not able to try these.

Wurstkuche offered up some of their well-known sausages.’ The three offered were the duck and bacon with spicy peppers, mango jalapeno with caramelized onions,  and the rattlesnake and rabbit topped with sweet peppers. These aren’t as good as in person at the restaurant, as some of the juices are lost when they cut the sausages, and the untoasted baguette used here can’t replace the toasted bun.

Kyochon served up some of their fried chicken wings, spicy and mild. This is Jonathan Gold’s favorite fried chicken in LA. They’re not mine, however.

Little Dom’s offered these fried oyster sliders. A little bit unique, which I liked. And good, too, with a nice juicy oyster.

Let’s be Frank was in attendance. Having tried it before, and knowing that I could try this hot dog anytime at their truck, I decided to save some room and pass on it.

The Ciudad/Border Grill tent served up “California-style tacos,” which were actually vegetarian tacos (featuring breaded and fried avocado). Mary Sue Milliken was serving them up herself!

There were a number of places serving up desserts, including Tiara Cafe. Here were mini black velvet cupcakes.

Saffron spot offered up four different flavors of ice cream. I tried the Saffron Silk and Guava – both good.

Nickel Diner had a bunch of large doughnut holes. I tried the maple bacon doughnut (bottom and right). Interesting, though I don’t think I really like bacon in my sweets.

Some teas were offered here, and you could take teabags. This company specializes in Pu-erh teas.

Huckleberry cafe offered a number of sweets and I tried the maple bacon biscuit. It was a little harder than expected, but not bad.

Bulgarini Gelato had a pretty long line, serving flavors such as goat’s milk with cocoa nibs, pistachio, chocolate-orange and raspberry.

I tried the chocolate-orange and pistachio – both were good.

As I mentioned earlier, and as shown in the lineup program, there were 50+ wineries offering wines to taste, sponsored by the Wine House. I was able to try about ten of them.

A number of beers, including Stella Artois, Singha, Kirin, and beers from New Belgium Brewing Co. were served. Also, whiskey.

It was a great event that exceeded expectations. The lines and crowds weren’t really a problem at all, and we were able to try everything we wanted. Man, that was a ton of food. The number of wines was also a plus. For the $60 price of a general admission entrance, I think it was really a good deal. I’ll be back next year.