By Jenny Peters
There’s always something happening in the culinary scene in Los Angeles, from sublime fine dining to food truck fun. Southern California is a cornucopia of different cultures, which means carnitas one day and bulgogi the next.
July’s culinary adventures started for me with three very different events. First, on July 13, 2013, I headed up the beach to Santa Monica, where the 2nd Annual Taste of Summer was unfolding at the Annenberg Community Beach House. That’s the public beachfront spot that used to be a posh private beachfront estate, where William Randolph Hearst once frolicked with his mistress, actress Marion Davies. Nowadays it is a pretty spot where parties like the Taste of Summer are held.
The Taste was all about food, wine and giving back – it is a fundraiser for the Fulfillment Fund, that great organization that helps kids in need get a college education. Honorary Chair and Chef Eric Greenspan of the Foundry and the Roof on Wilshire fame joined some of his favorite food and drink purveyors, including Wolfgang Puck Catering, Whole Foods, Locanda Positano, Stella Artois and Silverado Vineyards for the celebration.
As the sun set over the Pacific, more than 500 guests roamed and grazed between two buildings, with the outdoor dessert section drawing a big crowd. And despite the chill brought on when night fell, everyone partied well into the night, bidding on silent auction items to help the fund keep up the good work.
On July 16, it was off to Hollywood for some “Serious Barbecue.” That’s grillmaster Adam Perry Lang’s (www.adamperrylang.com) just re-released cookbook all about the Q; he’s currently set up in the parking lot just behind Jimmy Kimmel Live’s studio on Hollywood Boulevard (enter through the alley between the boulevard and Hawthorn Avenue, off Orange), serving up lunch to those in-the-know all summer long.
Perry proudly stoked up the smoker and served us massive plates of tri tip and pulled pork (that’s the photo that opens this story), washed down with concoctions created with Dickel Tennessee Whisky. It felt like we had been transported into the Deep South all of a sudden! His tangy and spicy sauces added to the heat given off by the smoker, making it one summer night in Los Angeles where we really didn’t need a sweater.
Lang will be barbecuing and serving lunch in that spot every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. until September 5.
Grills were working overtime on July 19, at the 8th Annual East LA Meets Napa party at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, as Latino chefs and winemakers joined forces to raise funds for AltaMed, the group dedicated to helping “underserved communities” get decent health care in SoCal. As usual, it was the foodie lover’s party of the summer, with meltingly delicious dishes paired with top-notch wines and tequilas.
Lines formed early and lasted all night for El Cholo’s legendary green corn tamale, that sweet-spicy dollop of corn heaven, smothered in a mole that combines so many flavors it makes you woozy with delight. Chichen Itza’s fiery grilled camarones also caused a stir – especially among those who didn’t realize that habañeros are a key ingredient in the salsa that enrobes each perfectly made shrimp tidbit.
Rivera chef John Sedlar eschewed cooking for pouring tequila instead, offering up shots of a special house-made libation. Meanwhile, 30 Latin winemakers descended on the outdoor garden spaces at the station, everyone from acclaimed Napa winemaker Michael Trujillo of Sequoia Grove fame, who was pouring his newest creation, Trujillo Cellars Merlot to a group of Mexican producers from the Baja California’s Valle de Guadalupe, the rapidly rising district near Ensenada, who poured some surprisingly tasty reds.
Photos by Jenny Peters.