Tuesday, August 14, 2012

L.A. Food and Wine Festival - Giada's Festa Italiana

Giada De Laurentiis

This past Thursday and Friday I was extremely fortunate to be invited by my dear friend Erica to the Second Annual Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival. Of course, as you all know I am a totally food geek, and Erica, is a legit food professional, though neither of us knew what to expect at this ultimate foodie Mecca. Located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles at Nokia Live, the Food and Wine Festival is rumored to be one of the largest food festivals in the nation, it benefits St. Vincent Meals on Wheels.
Thursday night, I found myself having the standard pre-event girl convo with Erica: "what are you wearing tonight?" I honestly had no idea, it was extremely hot, so I went with cool comfort which resulted in looking like I was headed to a work lunch. As Erica sat outside of my apartment, I received a text "I'm here, I look like I'm going to a meeting." Ah, the fresh sigh of relief we are on the same fashion page and with that, we can concour anything. We headed out to navigate downtown (never an easy feat) park (an even more of a  difficult task in L.A.) and meander our way to what looked like the correct direction. We soon approached a red carpet, tickets in hand, we enter an oasis of Los Angeles chic seriously bringing sexy back, greets 100 wineries and 40 chef creations. Have we died and gone to heaven? We immediately are handed a wine glass each and we stop to soak it all in. Feist's chill beats are playing, a cool LA summer breeze tickles my skin over the hot humid air, in every corner there awaits the most enticing of flavors accompanied by a feast for the eyes, gorgeous set ups, floral arrangements and the such. There were lounge areas found all around the event and with the help of The Cosmopolitan hotel, with their lounge area of a mock hotel room, this event oozed uber chic. I quickly realized, I was being engulfed by a large crowd, I look around, I am in the middle of a herd of freakishly gorgeous people, women in 6 inch Louboutins and men in perfectly tailored suits. Erica and I both wonder, how so many waifish, modelesque people are at a food festival? Is there ever "normal" in LA? I think not. We quickly headed to try some wines, then tackled the food. Below is a picture of every, single thing I tried. My absolute favorite was the oyster on a half shell with caviar from Chef John Cox from the Post Ranch Inn. The best idea I am going to recreate in my own kitchen was Giada's amazingly refreshing Israeli Couscous with chunks of sweet watermelon, feta and basil- simple, healthy, refreshing and delicious. The Spanish Mackerel on Crostini from Sotto was my most pleasantly surprising taste, I was expecting heavy fish flavor, this was mild, balanced, tender and delicious. Biggest necessity of the night was the Cosmopolitan Hotel's "Boozy Popsicles" that were serious, scrumptious lifesavers in the heat. I'll be posting all about day two tomorrow. Feast your eyes... 

Mozza Burrata creation 

Giada's Summer Watermelon and Couscous Salad and Penne with Short Rib Ragu

A delicious Burrata with sweet red grape from Stella Rose 
The Cosmopolitan - Boozy Popsicles - Makers Mark and Margarita with Pop Rocks  - Amazing

Super Chic The Cosmopolitan's Lounge Area 

Delta's Lounge area, I love this couple in all white 

Handmade Gnocchi from Chef Fabio Viviani of Cafe Firenze 

Sausage and Peppers "Monday Morning Style" black rice, farro, mani salami, homemade ricotta from Chef  Michael Fiorelli of Mar'sel  - amazing

Light and refreshing Goat Milk Panna Cotta- Summerhill Farm Milk, Bing Cherries Frizzante, Almond Dolcetta from Chef Mark Ainsworth of Pastry Smart   

Post Ranch Inn's gorgeous ice carved oyster bar

Chef John Cox's Oysters on Half Shell with Caviar 

From Chefs Zach Pollack and Steve Samson of Sotto, Spanish Mackerel Crostini with smoked eggplant , pine nuts and sultanas
To. Die. For. Nutella Banana Panini with bacon, toffee and espresso nibs from Chef Hedy Goldsmith of Michael's Genuine Food n Drink  

Chef Nina Clemente's Melon Sorbet with Prosciutto 

Berry Panna Cotta from Chef Antonia Lofaso of Black Market 

Squash Blossom from Black Market 

Chef Antonio Giordano 

Chef Antonio Giordano creation from Terroni

Porchetta Neiman Ranch pork, heirloom tomatoes, summer peaches, salsa verde and pork crackings, Chef Meredith Manee from Culina 

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