Thursday, August 27, 2015

5th Los Angeles Food and Wine, August 27-30 Brings Top Chefs, Wine and the Roots to Downtown LA

The 5th Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival begins this afternoon through Sunday with 2 dozen food events featuring the best chefs in town and some top chefs from around the country thrown in, plus plenty of seasonal wines to toast to the end of summer the start of the big event season. This year     has a few surprises in store to add a little funk and spice in the mix.

The Roots will be featured this year as the marquee musical act and I'm happy to report that we're going to see participation this year by a pair of Alta California chefs, Ray Garcia and Carlos Salgado, to properly represent L.A.'s top Latino chefs. The Night Market, a popular event at LA Food and Wine will showcase the who's who of our young Asian-American chef scene with chefs like Perry Cheung, Jet Tila, Alvin Cailan, Chris Oh and Tin Vuong.

It's the most star studded food event in Los Angeles and always a great time to get to know some of the restaurants you've not visited--Union, Alimento, Slapfish and Birch are on my short list--while sipping white wine in the heart of the city's restaurant scene--Downtown LA.

Los Angeles Food and Wine, Downtown LA, August 27-30, for tickets and event information

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Weekend Seafood Tower of Power at Vertical Wine Bistro

The ultimate seafood tower at Vertical Wine Bistro by chef Laurent Quenioux

There's no shortage these days in L.A. of fantastic raw bars and extravagant seafood towers; for me I'm more than content to stick with my go to neighborhood option: The Hungry Cat. What lured me to Pasadena was chef Laurent Quenioux's addition of a pair of my favorite Mexican clams, pata de mula (bloody clams) and chocolatas (chocolate clams) at his weekend raw bar menu at the Vertical Wine Bistro.

The products that Quenioux is plating for his seafood towers are impressive but there's so much more going on here--it simply is the bet seafood tower in town.

From quality oysters and whelks to abalone and crevette grise, all seafood items are as fresh as they can be, and thankfully delicacies like lobster and crab are cooked just right to preserve their delicate texture and flavor.

Spot prawns with fried heads

The spot prawns are served with deep fried shrimp heads to follow the cool soft flesh of Santa Barbara's finest catch with a savory crunch from the heads and antennae.  

Sea urchin from the raw bar at Vertical Wine Bistro

Of course we're adding on the sea urchin, and for dullards who think that sea urchin is too trendy, do shut up; sea urchin is a local seafood product and belongs on the menu of any self respecting chef.

Go all in with the Tier #3 for $150

As for the pata de mula and the chocolata clams, Quenioux leaves everyone in the dust on both sides of the border. Other high end seafood restaurants have served these prized products naturally with standard condiments, in Mexico they are fresh as can be but adhere to a limited number of preparations. I love having these clams any way I can but Quenioux does adds his own flavors that are the best compliments to these clams I've experienced, adding balance to the strong flavored pata de mula and teasing up the flavors of the chocolata and the abalone. I was too distracted with claw crackers, great wine, company and making sure I tried everything to ask about the preparation.

Get the top tier, order some uni, ask if there are any specials and bring some friends to get to work on L.A.'s best and most dynamic seafood tower.

Vertical Wine Bistro, 70 N Raymond Ave., Pasadena, (626) 795-3999, Seafood towers are only available Thursday thru Saturday,