By Jenny Peters and Andy J. Gordon
The twelfth annual, highly successful East LA Meets Napa & La Rioja charity food and wine event benefiting AltaMed, took place on July 29, 2017. AltaMed Health Services is the largest independent Federally Qualified Community Health Center in the U.S. This year’s slogan was “Savor, Celebrate, Support AltaMed” and all proceeds from the event went to services that create access to health and dental care, senior and HIV services, teen mentoring programs and more to underserved families in Los Angeles and Orange counties.
The sold-out fund raiser drew about 2000 attendees to a new, large location – LA Live in Downtown Los Angeles. The site accommodated over 80 top LA restaurants and premium vintners, presented by world-renowned chefs and wine producers.
It was impossible to try the food from all the vendors, but there were definite highlights from among the ones sampled. Del Frisco’s Grill served creamy ahi tuna tacos. Chichen Itza and Holbox offered their tangy shrimp and octopus ceviche in a tomato based juice. The giant paella pan used by Don Chente Bar-Grill and Lounge was a crowd pleaser as they dished out the delicacy with gigantic prawns, clams and other seafood that melded into an outstanding blend of flavors.
TlayudaLA prepared crunchy tortillas loaded with delicious chorizo and a choice of several potent salsas. Rocio’s Mexican Kitchen prepared a complex cocoa mole that smothered tender chicken breast, plantains and grilled pineapple. Yuca’s tangy swai and tilapia ceviche was refreshingly delicious. Mariscos Seafood El Coraloense offered a flavorful sea bass soft taco with pickled onions, green and creamy white sauce. The flaky pastries and chocolate covered strawberries from Porto’s bakery as well as the mini cheesecakes from Mama Cheesecake satisfied everyone’s sweet tooth.
Members of the Mexican American Vintner Association (MAVA) in Napa were well represented. We enjoyed the tasty 2014 Chardonnay from Herencia del Valle, as well as a few selections from Ceja and Encanto. The 2013 Maldonado red blend was delicious. We were also among the crowd of guests enjoying the 2014 Opaque Zinfandel from our local L.A. favorite, the San Antonio Winery.
Throughout the evening, live entertainment, including flamenco, Latin soul, jazz and funk could be seen and heard from two stages. Los Angeles natives Ozomatli closed the action on one of the stages and their performance had the crowd energized.
The intoxicating melodies, delicious food, tasty wines and good vibes from supporting an important cause left everyone with a warm feeling. East LA Meets Napa lived up to its reputation as one of the event highlights of summer in Los Angeles.