Taste of the Nation Recap

Yesterday, I attended my first Taste of the Nation event. I had no idea what to really expect. I knew there were over 40 chefs from celebrated LA restaurants and that it was for a good cause. I tried to peruse some blogs from last year but decided the food porn was too tempting.

I wanted it now. I wanted it all. And I was off to see how that could be accomplished.

I arrived a little later than I had wanted. Parking in Downtown Culver seemed like a good plan until I encountered zero parking at the first parking structure I tried. I eventually made it Media Park where TOTNLA 30 minutes after it opened. It was from 1-4 p.m. and I probably shouldn’t have eaten anything in the morning to try to squeeze in a bite from each booth.

But I’m a veteran food crawler and tried to pace myself. I started with some protein. I got skirt steak from Simon LA, shortrib tortelli from BLT Steak, had a nice Burmese melon salad from Street and cochinita pibil tostaditas from Border Grill/ Ciudad. I was so busy eating, texting and trying to find friends I didn’t take any pictures of these items. I figured I can come back and do that.

Once I met up with friends, I did take some pics but they mostly were blurry (what’s up with my blurry food foreground but clear as a bell background?). Here are some faves though:

Cafe Was plating abalone

abalone from Cafe Was

This was a wonderfully fresh abalone salad from Cafe Was, a cafe I’ve been meaning to try in Hollywood.

I wish I had a better shot of these great slices of charred beef from Eva. The beautiful plating included tiny flowers.

blueberry cheesecake Hatfield's

shortrib from Hatfield's

I loved these two things from Hatfield’s. The shortrib was surprisingly very tender. I was impressed they were able to keep the quality up for this huge food festival.

green chicpea socca from Church & State

At the Church & State booth, I spotted huge branches of what turned out to be fresh garbanzo beans. You were welcome to take the pods as well as their two offerings; cervelle de canut and green chickpea socca with roasted eggplant. The first was a bit like a soft cracker with cheese and the second was quite tasty. But I actually really enjoyed discovering the fresh garbanzo beans.

I also tried the thai shrimp from Bar 210, burrata with peperonata from Culina, FIG dog from FIG, grilled pork slider from Grace/ BLD, braised artichoke with buratta from Joe’s/ Bar Pintxo, olive oil cake from Lucques/AOC/ Tavern, BBQ beef banh mi from Mar’sel, short ribs from Mercantile along with their homemade Oreo.

aucting the Ms off

I took quite a few beverage breaks focusing on the refreshing champagne cocktail from St. Germain, pounding water and quaffing Pom drinks. Then we caught some of the live auction. First up was a dinner for six personally cooked by Michael Voltaggio. He then later called his good buddy Marcel Vigneron up on stage. The winner eventually got the dinner for around $3500.

mousse cake from Patina

We headed back to the booths to see if some of the lines had cleared up. I tried the lamb burger from Ford’s Filling Station, miso black cod on butter lettuce from Nobu, sweet corn agnolotti from Napa Valley Grille, hamachi tartare from XIV and crispy chocolate hazelnut chocolate mousse cake from Patina.

But my absolute favorite of the day was the tomato strawberry soup with shaved foie gras from Comme Ca. I need to make reservations immediately because this soup made me a believer.

It seems I did miss quite a few booths. I heard wonderful things from Bistro LQ, Lago, Loteria Grill, Rivera and the famous grilled cheese from the Foundry.

server relay

But I was off to the races. The server races, that is. Servers from the various restaurants were racing around with wine bottles and glasses. It was a relay so then they passed off their trays to team mates. There were some spills and shattered glasses but it was all for fun.

Afterward, we were off to the chef after party. And then Carina and I created an after-after party at Ford’s Filling Station. Post coming soon!

I had the best time at this event. I got to try things from so many high-end restaurants I haven’t been to before. And all the money goes towards a very worthy cause, feeding children. No kid hungry!

For more pics from the event, check out my Flickr set.