It was my lucky day.
Brad A. Johnson, critically acclaimed food critic of Angeleno Magazine, was giving out a free pair of tickets to the Chef's Night Out event via his twitter. I re-tweeted and I won. Simple as that! I rarely ever win anything, so when I found out I won I was literally jumping up with joy.
I closed my office door and jumped up and down like a lunatic. Good thing the window washers weren't working that day.
Basically, this event was to celebrate Brad A. Johnson and the winners of Angeleno Magazine's 2010 Restaurant awards and I was lucky enough to score two free tickets to this awesome event. I knew the line-up included all of the restaurant award winners like Hatfield's, Bistro LQ and Michael Voltaggio, so I was more than psyched.
With J by my side working as my assistant ("Can you hold this? Can you hold that?"), I made my way through the crowd to sample all the dishes at every booth, one by one.
Hatfield's: braised pork belly with barley, corn and carrots in vadouvan sauce
Petrossian: cauliflower panna cotta with transmontanus caviar
Not surprisingly, one of my favorites was Chef Ben Bailly's cauliflower panna cotta with caviar. Taking me back to my last dinner at Petrossian, I was lost in the wonderful interplay between the creaminess of the panna cotta and the salty caviar.
Craft: octopus carpaccio white wine braised Spanish octopus with lemon, mint and potato vinaigrette.
Comme Ca: heirloom tomato & watermelon terrine, red onion granita, pickled watermelon rind, whipped ricotta, candied mustard seed
Another favorite of mine was Comme Ca's tomato and watermelon terrine. It was beautiful to look at and refreshing to eat - a nice blend of bright flavors.
Street by Susan Feniger: Burmese melon salad with fresh seasonal melons, toasted coconut, peanuts, fried onions and sesame ginger dressing
J really enjoyed this melon salad dish by Susan Feniger. His love for crunchy food and Asian flavors was key in making this dish own of his favorites of the night. I also liked the texture and flavor combination in this dish.
Jar: pork croissant
Bistro LQ: rabbit loin stuffed with veal sweetbreads, vanilla dressing and uni tapioca pudding
Bistro LQ: white chocolate ice cream topped with caviar
I always look forward to Chef Laurent's food whenever I come to these events. As a die-hard uni lover, his uni tapioca pudding is one of my favorite things to eat. I really enjoyed his dessert of white chocolate ice cream topped with caviar. It was a great mix of salty and sweet.
Joe's: wild mushroom and gruyere cheese quiche
Melisse: loup de mer "en écaillés" with heirloom tomatoes and cucumber-basil
Ludobites: heirloom tomato smoothie, squid ink jelly, seaweed tartar
J and I both really loved Chef Ludo's tomato smoothie. There was so much flavor in the smoothie itself and I adored the texture of the squid ink jelly and seaweed tartar.
Wilshire: charred octopus with summer beans and upside down peach cobbler
Michael Voltaggio's market peach and burrata
Another favorite of ours was Voltaggio's version of dippin dots. The sweet and tart peach flavor went well with the creamy burrata. I thought J wouldn't like this due to his usual apprenhension with cheese, but to my surprise it was one of his top favorites of the night.
WP24: slow braised pork belly bao buns
Angelini Osteria: baby artichokes in casseruola and beef tartare crostino with guanciale zabaglione and shaved black summer truffle
Look at the wonderful shaved pieces of black summer truffles on top of the beef tartare. Doesn't that just make your mouth water? It should. Due to the recent tightening of my braces, I couldn't go to town with this dish. The bread was too hard for me to bite into. Instead, I just used the bread as a spoon and ate the tartare and truffles only - delicious.
Culina: capesante day boat scallops with farro, summer corn, heirloom tomatoes, scallions, English peas and citronette
Saam at the The Bazaar by Jose Andres: linguini with clams and tuna handroll
FIG: crostino with pesto, burrata and heirloom tomato
FIG: corn tortellini with braised rabbit, carrot and English peas
Nine Thirty: Indian spiced fried chicken with fennel seed waffles and cardamom syrup
Nine Thirty's fried chicken and waffles definitely seemed like the most popular dish at the event. Nine thirty had the longest line out of any restaurant participant, even towards the end of the event! I was lucky to have grabbed one of the last batches of the food. The chicken was was incredible. The skin was extremely crispy with the perfect amount of batter and the inside was so moist and full of flavor. The waffles were also delicious - sweet and crunchy. I wish I had an entire plate of this!
123 Tequila and Chocolate Tasting
J and I ended our evening with some tequila shots and chocolate. I was quite surprised how well the tequila went with the chocolate. What a great idea! I'll have to keep them in mind for future events...
Chef Laurent Quenioux and Sous Chef Daniel of Bistro LQ
Chef Ludo Lefebvre (Ludobites) and Chef Quinn Hatfield (Hatfield's)
Me and Joy Limanon (Taste of the Nation Los Angeles Events Chair)
Of course, I couldn't leave without snapping a few photos with some of my favorites. I felt like I was taking pictures of all the food, but not enough of the people. Oh well... This event whizzed on by fairly quickly for me, probably because I was having too much fun. I wanted to stay til the absolute end, but my feet were killing me and well, I was drunk. Not too drunk where I couldn't feel the pain in my feet, but just drunk enough where I wanted to lay down and take a nap. The happy, lazy, smiley drunk.
I had a wonderful time and am so grateful that I scored free tickets. The food was amazing, as expected, and it was great to see so many familiar faces. I adore the Fairmont, a perfect setting for such an event, intimate and beautiful. I can't wait for next year's! (Maybe I'll win tickets again?)
Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows
101 Wilshire Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90401(310) 576-7777