Three-Day Culinary Festival Serves Up Tastes from LA’s Most Delectable Restaurants, Food Trucks and Food & Drink Venues
The TASTE offered adventurous palettes plenty to chew on this weekend as thousands of foodies got their gourmet on at Paramount Pictures Studios. The three-day extravaganza, consisting of five different themed events, featured unlimited samplings from a plethora of local restaurants as well as demonstrations, seminars and entertainment.
Drinks, Drinks, Everywhere
Except for the Labor Day picnic, all events were for drinking-age attendees, and as I strolled the aisles of Paramount’s back lot, designed to look like New York City, I appreciated why: The streets were lined with liquor. At every turn there was a different spirits distributor coaxing me in for a sip of something. While I am not a big drinker, I did enjoy a wondrous limoncello by Almor and a unique Volere pinot noir poured from a couture faux handbag, and lastly several pints of Belgium brew – the crisp Stella Artois, creamy Leffe Blonde and spicy Hoegaarden, each served in its own souvenir glass.
While I did love to imbibe a few adults drinks, when I brought my five-year-old to the family friendly picnic, I noticed there were too few suitable beverages for children, though Icelandic was generous with their bottled glacial water. As the sun beat down and the air stood still between the facades of skyscrapers we really did feel in the midst of a steamy NYC summer, I resorted to letting my son nip Canada Dry ginger ale and Izzy sparkling blackberry – usually carbonated no-nos, and caffeinated tea by Snapple. It was darn hot after all.
All You Can Fete
Enough about the drinks; onto the main event — the food. Some standouts for me included Ombra’s rich veal in tuna sauce, delicious sausage from Wurstkuche, house-cured salmon and grebicvhe slaw from Public School 612, pate to die for from Salt’s Cure and an excellent oniony guac from Juan’s Restaurante. Being an LA food event, there were plenty of Mexican restaurants represented, and a large presence by the Taste of Mexico Association, that will host their own event in downtown LA on November 30.
For a sweet tooth like myself, the event was a sugary heaven. As a lover of bread pudding, I was delighted to sample a variety of my fave dessert from Schultzies Bread Pudding and Crème Caramel. Cupcakes overfloweth, such as delectable lemon drop and peanut-butter-and jelly one-bite cakes from Cake Mamas.
Perfect for the sweltering weather, IceIceShavie offered Boys to Mint and Hammer Thyme grown-up snow cones which despite their sophisticated flavorings, including jalapeno, cilantro, cucumber, ginger and lime, were a huge hit with my five-year-old. Good old Carvel was also there with vanilla ice cream in cake and sugar cones dipped in your choice of peanut, caramel and even cotton-candy flavored sauces; and Coolhaus was the place to be for hipster ice cream aficionados to indulge in the popular maple and bacon flavored ice cream sandwiches of gourmet cookies.
The Target-sponsored Labor Day picnic was a blast for kids, if your kids love different kinds of foods, as mine does. There were mini hamburgers from Burger Lounge, artesian pizzas from Pizza Antica and a cute kitschy Dolly’s Sweet Dreams cotton candy cart, but as you’d expect at a chefs showcase event, most foods were more epicurean than the mac-and-cheese. But for my budding foodie, a Thai shrimp ceviche served on a coconut noddle cake accompanied by Szechwan friend calamari from The Park were absolutely yummy enough for seconds. Besides food, the picnic featured the obligatory bounce houses – always kid pleasers, as well as balloon animal artists and face painters, — the latter I must say were the slowest ever, spending nearly an hour painting elaborate glittery designs on three teenaged girls while a line of grumbling, hot toddlers and frustrated parents waited impatiently.
There were stages and exhibits, food trucks, carts and kiosks. Every kind of food venue was represented, along with a few vendors like Barnes& Noble, selling a variety of cookbooks and food-related books with authors on hand to sign them. Terranea Resort made an impressive appearance with a full contingency of their chef staff who served up a variety of grilled delights, such as sausage and slaw on buns, before a panoramic backdrop of their gorgeous setting on the cliffs of Rancho Palos Verdes.
Another terrific feature of the event was getting to meet and greet some of the proprietors of the establishments, some of them who are culinary celebrities of prime-time cooking shows.
Indeed, it was a full-on foodie festival with something for everyone, aptly named The TASTE. Too bad it hit on such a hot weekend, with temps in the 80s, as the heat likely kept some folks away, which meant shorter lines and more for us who did attend. A few of the booths ran out of food in the last hours – reportedly because at least one event was oversold by more than 1000; but in reality there were too many booths to possibly taste everything that was offered, so one thing is certain — nobody left hungry.