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.

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