The backlot of Paramount Pictures—including its famed New York Street—is a popular location for charity and fashion events, but it may never have seen as much concentrated revelry as it did for the three-day Taste food festival, sponsored by the Los Angeles Times over Labor Day weekend.
The culinary extravaganza encompassed five separate events: Field to Ford, Cocktail Confidential, Flavors of L.A., Dinner & Drinks and the grand finale Labor Day Picnic, held under a scorching midday sun.
Each featured demonstrations and discussions with a noted Times food or restaurant writer and a top chef, experts like Russ Parsons and Ray Garcia, Jessica Gelt and Julian Cox, Jonathan Gold and Evan Kleiman, Betty Hallock and The Beer Chicks (aka Christina Perozzi and Hallie Beaune) and Noelle Carter and Zoe Nathan.
The festival attracted thousands of guests, avid food and drink enthusiasts who got the chance to sampleSouthern California’s diverse epicurean offerings with unlimited tastings from standout restaurants like Simon LA, Boa and Supperclub and a selection of food trucks. Sure, there were long lines, but they moved quickly and complaints were scarce.
The range of beer, wine, spirits and creative cocktails being shaken and stirred was off the charts. Just the vodkas alone ranged from the new Double Cross vodka from Slovakia in a killer rectangular bottle to Absolut, Akvinta, Cupcake, Chopin, Pearl, Svedka and Karlsson’s Gold.
So many delicious dishes, so little room left in the tummy to try to squeeze them all in. Some of our faves: ahi tuna on watermelon from Simon LA, and served up by chef Kerry Simon, the made to order burgers from The Counter, worth the wait, the lobster tostadas from Cast Iron Gourmet and the crab salad from Supperclub. The quality of the seafood and the perfection of the aspic was a combination that sent us back for more.
For dessert, hands down it was the out of this world small batch gourmet ice creams from Sweet Rose Creamery. We got to their stand after they ran out of ice cream sliders, but when they still had plenty of creamy deliciousness to serve up on its own. We fell head over heels for the cinnamon with a slice of Niman Ranch bacon on top, the salted caramel and the sweet corn flavor, the color of which reminded us of butter, the perfect accompaniment to corn. We’re still having foodie reveries about these unique flavors, and will be visiting their location at the Brentwood Country Mart in the very near future.
One of the greatest elements of a food festival are discoveries like this, of trying interesting dishes, sampling new restaurants and tasting a vast array of beverages. Old favorites are also enjoyed. Who doesn’t like a nice cold glass of Stella Artois on a hot summer’s night? Or a new flavor of Snapple to cool down during the day?
And while we preferred the venue variety of last year’s Taste–in addition to Paramount, there were events downtown and in Beverly Hills–we walked away from the lot in a state of culinary contentment.