By Laura Medina
The Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival has rise the amp on what it means to be a food festival, much less an upscale, gourmet food festival.
In the past two years covering it, this scribe first encountered hip-hop artist, Common, serenade a girl sous chef then last year, DJ Questlove rock the finale, then this past Saturday Grand Finale Night, De La Soul got the foodie crowd up on their feet, burning out that night's calories into a sweaty, dressy work-out.
This scribe and everybody else, wonder, how did LA Food & Wine get all this incredible, Grammy A-Listers to play the finale?
Being this is Hollywood, that's a given.
But when Chef Tyler Florence got on stage to introduce De La Soul, he let the cat out of the bag.
Once he got notified that he's gonna the celebrity chef hosting this year's festival, the festival asks him what band he wanted to play for the finale.
Deep thoughts. Tyler suggested then wish be granted, De La Soul.
With an open heart and an open mic, he said this South Carolina boy's culinary career really didn't get started until he made that big leap from Charleston's Magnolia to making the next career step, moving to Brooklyn.
It was in Brooklyn, he really got into De La Soul as he made his culinary mark. It was also when he got his feet wet with the then upstart Food Network. So, De La Soul represent that important transition in his life.
As a form of thanks, he invited De La Soul to play LA Food & Wine as this year's celebrity host chef.
There's more than meets the eye. There's a back story behind De La Soul playing the finale.
If you read last week's post on Scott Harris' Green Knead Charity at Grand Central Market, you were surprised that Chefs Bruce Kalman and Duff Goldman have a moonlighting rock band, Foie Grock.
Foie Grock is a perfect synergy of food meets rock. How they're not headlining the festival?
They told this scribe that De La Soul beat them to it.
Oh well, next time guys.
It's not just that LA Food & Wine Festival attracting A-List musicians to play the festival.
Neiman Marcus is getting into the fancy foodie fray.
During this past week, they honored the festival by putting store fronts of what to wear, honoring and recognizing the festival.
As the festival has grown, so has the style quota to where customers are specifically for stylish outfits that wouldn't get messy while dining, snacking, and slurping wine and cocktails.
The stylists were kind enough to think beyond the four-days/three-nights festival. The outfit suggestions transition pretty well into Fall and Winter.
The LA Food & Wine Festival is huge!
Huge enough to be split into daytime Grand Taste, around lunch time, and Grand Nights, date nights on steroids. The last night is the one with the concert.
Let's begin the journey with Lexus Grand Taste for lunch, at Santa Monica's Barker Hanger.
People ask me, who's still a fashionista, how do you stay relatively slim and how do you manage all that food?
If you been around the restaurant and party circuit, like this scribe, you'll learn what's low calorie, natural, and fresh...ceviche and sushi...and ice cream.
To those who are stuck in the East Coast and not acquainted with true Latin cuisine, ceviche is Latin take on sashimi and sushi.
Ceviche originated and still easy enough to be popular along the Mexican/Latin American coast line, where fishers yank seafood, fresh out of the ocean then immediately soak them in highly acidic citrus juices of local lemon or lime, and spiced with ají or chili peppers to soften and preserve them. Additional seasonings, such as chopped onions, salt, and cilantro, may also be added.
Great to eat fresh. Low on fat. High on flavor but have to eat now.
This is why this scribe first chow on ceviche, sashimi, and sushi...and don't forget the ice cream and frozen treats!
This scribe is always on the hunt for the most innovative, freshest, and most fun food trends at these food festivals.
Guess what, the classiest steward has the most trendiest dish. Chaya's Sea Urchin Ice Cream Monaka nestled in an Almond Cashew Cake Wafer Clam Shell. Yes, you heard right. Seafood Uni Ice Cream, savory ice cream on an hot August afternoon. Weird but daring fun to eat.
LA Food & Wine Festival welcomed the LA Rams and the NFL with "Customize Your Own Slider" Bar.
It offers both beef and soy burger sliders.
What's really cute, they even have sliders photo booths.
Even football player are enjoying the festival.
Even chefs are cheering on the NFL.
Foie Gras is also being celebrated there...
Hudson Valley even offered foie gras on toast, topped with slaw...
Remember, this is the day time lunch half of LA Food & Wine Festival...
Aaron Sanchez pleasantly showed to enjoy, just like Duff Goldman....
The tough and stern and ex-British Navy chef, Robert Irvine is a man after this scribe's heart.
Reminding this scribe as an English version of dear, grumpy, take-no-sh*t U.S. Navy chef dad, Robert Irvine was really that dear, ole dad made "made-from-scratch" pizza, twenty-leagues underneath the sea, in a nuclear submarine.
Out of respect, he called dad, a "bad ass."
Robert Irvine was equally dad raised a kick-ass woman.
Now, y'all what type of man raised this scribe and what this scribe is hunting for in a man. A bad ass who can cook. Robert Irvine is a "man's man chef."
He also came appreciate Southern cooking, offering his spin on the cuisine, by doling out Buttermilk Fried Chicken Nuggets and Deviled Eggs.
Alright, let's go straight to dessert!
Okay, it's LA. The place that started that added fuel to the cupcake trend because Angelenos are hungry for portion-controlled carbs.
Bree's Cakes, http://www.breescakes.com/, represents the glitz-ing and glamming of "Hollywood" pastries. She really does made her dream happen. After watching Food Networks shows and baking instructional shows, Bree is now the dessert lady to the stars, such as Ryan Seacreast.
She's giving Duff Goldman a ran for his money, making a variety of cute desserts:
Filled Cupcakes, Cake Pops, Mason Jar Desserts, Mini Donuts, Cheesecake-Stuffed Strawberries, Chocolate-coated Strawberries, and lo & behold, liquor-pipettes to flavor mini cupcakes at Lexus Grand Taste...
Another dessert trend, was spotted earlier at Lucky Rice LA, Fililpino ingredients incorporated into traditional French desserts, B. Sweet...
Bread puddings in S'Mores, Banana, and Ube.
B. Sweet even debut their new Nitro Frozen Coffee and Green Matcha Tea, fresh from tap and cans for sale at supermarkets.
Dessert doesn't have to be overly-sugared or complex to make.
Westside Tavern's Warm Peaches with gooey Burrata cheese is a fresh, seasonal treat. It may be bland but burrata can go either way, savory or sweet pairing.
You can't go wrong with McConnell's Eureka Lemon & Marionerries Ice Cream and Sea Salt Cream & Cookies Ice Cream...oooh simplicity.
LA Food & Wine's Lexus Grand Taste proved that healthy doesn't have to be bland, boring, or safe.
Soy protein meal-replacement drink, Soylent,https://www.soylent.com/, prove you can still have fun and relaxation with you mix it with Vanilla Vodka, almond liquor, tequila, and Crème de Cocoa, you got yourself a pretty healthy, creamy, soothing cocktail.
Another healthy drinks moonlighting as cocktail is Owl's Brew, http://www.theowlsbrew.com/.
This tea-brewed cocktail base makes alcoholic drinks refreshing but Owl's Brew makes for a delicious detoxifier for the morning-after hangover.
Let's hop on over to dinner, Lexus Grand Night, LA Food & Wine's Finale Night, with De La Soul.
Man of the night is Tyler Florence, a South Carolina boy-done-good.
Despite the celebrity and being this year's host, he is still a chef, slinging his new California Shrimp & Grits well into midnight to a looooooong line of fans and hungry.
He was also at the festival, advertising his new stage in life, the new mega-entrepreneur taking over San Francisco/Napa Valley with his Southern-meets-Northern Californian.
His San Francisco restaurant, Wayfare Tavern, http://wayfaretavern.com/ was being promoted at the festival. Not surprising, since Charleston, South Carolina is nicknamed, "The San Francisco of the South," and a many Charlestonians have found a new home in San Francisco.
Tyler may had used California Shrimp in his new-found California Shrimp & Grits but here's his earlier but classic Ultimate Shrimp and Grits recipe to use as the basic recipe...
- For the grits:
- 3 cups milk
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup stone-ground white cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- For the shrimp:
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium white onion, minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 pound andouille or spicy Italian spicy sausage, cut in chunks
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 to 3 bay leaves
- 2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on
- Pinch cayenne pepper, adjust to personal preference
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 4 green onions, sliced
DirectionsFor the grits:
- Place a 3-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add the milk and cream. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal. When the grits begin to bubble, turn the heat down to medium low and simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Allow to cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and thick. Remove from heat and stir in the butter, thin it out with a little extra cream. Season with salt and pepper.
- Place a deep skillet over medium heat and coat with the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic; saute for 2 minutes to soften. Add the sausage and cook, stirring, until there is a fair amount of fat in the pan and the sausage is brown. Sprinkle in the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to create a roux. Slowly pour in the chicken stock and continue to stir to avoid lumps. Toss in the bay leaves. When the liquid comes to a simmer, add the shrimp. Poach the shrimp in the stock for 2 to 3 minutes, until they are firm and pink and the gravy is smooth and thick. Add the cayenne pepper, Tabasco and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper; stir in the parsley and green onion. Spoon the grits into a serving bowl. Add the shrimp mixture and mix well. Serve immediately.
Recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence, 2007
Mom said, "Nothing beats Southern food as comfort food."
The prevailing theme is "Southern Food-meets-California Ingredients."
Barrel & Ashes sticks true to form with BBQ Pulled Pork Slider with a fresh slice of Watermelon.
After an long, intense week of exotic fare, on Finale Night with tons of hungry guests, the chefs fall back on well-done comfort food classics, which the explosion of BBQ sliders, reassuring guests.
The California Lamb Industry, from Northern California, took the Pulled BBQ technique than applied to lamb, raised and grown in Northern California, in the same pillowy slider buns.
If it wasn't Southern, it was straight-forward, elegant, and fast All-American beef.
Chef Robert of STK, doled out slices of filet mignon while fans lined up with love.
So simple that it's chic, Joe's Crabs served up slices of Steak Frites in a paper cone and a clever ziplock pouch of Gin & Juice with a sipping straw. Ingenious!
Since it's the Dog Days of Summer, it's no wonder LA Food & Wine thoughtfully included an upscale, adult ice cream parlor with adult-slanted flavored ice creams and alcoholic Root Beer and Ginger Ale when your sweet-tooth need to relax and ease at night.
The vegan Earl Grey Ice Cream has a smoky flavor.
This scribe discovered this hidden gem at Bed, Bath, & Beyond. With it's exquisite sweetness, spicy foam, and that sting of alcohol, this scribe assumed this will be an under-ground, alternative hit, never to emerge mainstream.
This scribe was glad to be proven wrong. So relieved to see Not Your Father's Root Beer presented, at a proper bar, at the LA Food & Wine Festival, happily slurping alcoholic root beer and ginger ale in vanilla ice cream floats...for big kids with big stress, who need adult sodas to take the edge off.
After Tyler Florence told people why he picked De La Soul, after LA Food & Wine asked him what musical act he wanted, De La Soul got everybody booty-shaking to burn off the calories.
Things are only getting better for the Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival.