Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The 4th Annual East LA Meets Napa:Alta Med raises LA's temperature with latin wine and flavor.

Salsa is the reason!

A couple of Latinas enjoying wine, East LA meets Napa realized!

On Friday July 10, 2009, Alta Med hosted its 4th annual East La Meets Napa.42 tasting booths featuring a variety of restaurants from East LA and throughout the City of Angels, and Latino-owned or operated wineries from Napa.Union Station was the perfect place for this event.

This was my first time and I was blown away. It was a party, sizzling with Latinos and non-Latinos alike. The beautiful crowd danced to a live salsa band, mixed and mingled, and indulged in the many tastes of East LA. From the legendary restaurants serving East LA Mexican like El Tepeyac,Teresita's, Birrieria Chalio, and La Parrilla; to authentic offerings from Guelaguetza, La Casita, and Moles La Tia;the local stylings of Cook's Tortas and Homegirl Cafe; to the Nuevo Latino kitchen's of Phlight, Seta, and Rivera, it was a truely definitive Los Angeles experience.

The earthy birria at Chalio.

At the premier for the event I heard Castulo de la Rocha, AltaMed president and CEO, speak of AltaMed's mission to help bring health care to the underpriviledged in Los Angeles. He spoke briefly, and then grabbed a glass of wine and toasted to our health. This event supports a worthy cause, but once you arrive, you can dance the night away, eat like a king,enjoy some excellent wines, and know that you've arrived to a celebration. You're in the door, you've supported the cause, now let's eat and drink!

Los Angeles knows how to party.

I can't think of an event in recent times that was so Latino centric, but felt purely Los Angeles. To not attend this shindig is to miss a part of LA. This is an annual event to keep in mind.

Congo Room brings spice to LA.

Alive with laughter and conversation, East LA style.

Vaya salsero!

Ramiro Arvizu and the crew at the La Casita booth from Bell, CA.

And, the food.There were so many good options that Javier and I had to really plan our rounds bite by bite. My memorable bites? The mini chiles en nogada at La Casita, the birria at Birrieria Chalio, Seta's shortribs in sage sauce, the profoundly flavored meats at Cook's Tortas, Guelaguetza's mini tamal, the strawberry mole at Moles La Tia, and the nice traditional stew at Teresita's. La Monarcha Bakery had a fine empanada, too.

It's also a great opportunity to say hello to your favorite chefs and learn about new wines. The wines? For me,the big surprise of the night was the Pinot Noir at Ceja. Again and again, I hit their booth for another taste, hell, I was drinking not tasting. J. Lohr, Sequoia Grove, Encanto, Karl Lawrence, and the San Antonio Winery also had nice wines.We were surrounded by abundance, a hot and spicy massage of the senses.

Chiles en nogada and flan, La Casita.

Three moles from the palate of Rocio Camacho of Moles La Tia.

Cook's Tortas choice fillings.

Ceja's pinot noir was a favorite that night.

Guelaguetza's oaxacan tamal paired with a pickled jalapeno and mexican cheese.

The salsa band was fantastic, featuring many friends of mine from my musician life. It was great seeing those guys. The crowd, with many a Latino present, wasn't afraid to get on the floor as soon as the band hit. The crowd was full of spice, laughter, and excitement. It was great to see such a young and vibrant crowd, too. Watching 20 something Latinas enjoy wines with friends while eating tacos de birria was a beautiful thing indeed.

Make your plans now for next year.Taste a bit of Los Angeles in the heart of downtown, and experience the Latino flavor that is part of the unique diversity we enjoy here in our special city.See you at the 5th annual East LA Meets Napa.Bring your dancing shoes.

John Sedlar of Rivera takes a break from the action at Union Station.

Family and friend at Ceja charm the crowd with friendly Napa wines.

A couple dances to the sounds, sights, and delicious home cooking of East LA.

Annual Fund Raiser for:

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