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The Taste LA. – Labor Day Picnic

Yes dear friends and confidants, I attended the Labor Day Picnic of The Los Angeles Times “The Taste”.  And, I had the honor to be on the Backyard Burger Champs panel with Noelle Carter from the LA Times test kitchen. Thank you to whoever came over to hear our discussion!  Hope you learned a tip or two from the burger masters. Here is the link to go check out my BLT&E burger. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/dailydish/2012/06/battle-of-the-burgers-blt-e-burger.html. My homage to a real deal breakfast style burger.

But enough about me.  Let me tell you about the rest of the event.  If you have not been to The Taste before, it is an amazing weekend of food and drink. This year’s setting, the backlot of Paramount Studios, really made it seem like a picnic in Hollywood.

They planned the layout to really welcome you with some fantastic starters. One of the best and most important sponsors who were right at stand number one was Icelandic Glacial Water. It was a scorcher out there, and with all the alcohol to be tasted it made sense to stay hydrated. Also right at the beginning of the day’s ride was the Stella Artois Beer Garden. And not just the classic Stella was being poured, but they also had Leffe and Hoegaarden. All of which were poured in the appropriate glass, which you got to keep.  Just right there was WELL worth the price of admission!!

I was very glad I arrived at the very start, because you could power out a bunch of stands before the lines got insane.  Which took no time to happen.  It did make it hard to hit all the good stands upon first entering.  Especially with that dang Stella Beer Tent.  But, climbing the stairs to enter the backlot section of the party was more than well worth it.  Although there were some flops, fails and flounders.

The first and biggest was The Burger Lounge Food Truck.  Nothing better to start your afternoon off than an ice cold beer and a burger.  But they didn’t seem ready for the onslaught of people.  We waited a bit for some burgers, only to walk away with one medium rare and one rare, well actually, raw.  I don’t mind a bloody burger, but I draw the line at raw.  It didn’t matter though, because even the semi-cooked one was very bland.

But, our next stop made up for it… a strawberry sundae made with Auchentoshan Scotch. Stellar. Super. Sexy. Well that might be stretching it, but it was a definite home run.  Then we hit another flop, and made me question some of the choices, since we experienced two flops quickly. A quick cruise by Rosa’s Bella Cucina truck left me feeling underwhelmed again.  They had small servings of meatballs, that were just overall bland.  I guess I picked the wrong two starting points, since I’m Italian AND a burger master.

However, from this point forward, nothing but hits.  Well, some wines were just so-so, but it was too hot out anyways to even think about red wine.  Some nice Sparklings were to be had, and some terrific Sangria was also consumed.  The Sangria was from New Age Wines from Argentina.  It was the perfect drink for this hot, hot day.  We hit their stand more than once!  And since the pours were on the very small size for wines, having a full glass of a cold refreshing beverage was heaven. So from this point onward we tried to stick to the drinks that were offered on the Full Size.

The next favorite beverage we found, as far as refreshing-ness, taste and alcohol was VeeV Acaí Spirit.  Now I’ve heard all the health benefits of Acaí, so it seemed like a no brainer. Duh, alcohol AND health benefits. (these statements have not been approved by the FDA). A fresh clean flavor with good strong hints of fruit.  Then to top that off, we found the Chopin Vodka tent.  Beautiful women and tasty free Vodka.  There were shots to taste, and lemon drops to drink.  We payed a visit to them on more than one occasion.  Their wheat style vodka was quite delicious.

As far as food was concerned, there was the grilled cheese truck, which is always a winner.  Then there were the Lamb Burgers and craft beer being offered by Haven Gastropub. All I can say is Yum!! Another home run.

And just because it was there, I filled a large plate with tasty, tasty treats by Bouchon Bakery.  Pure GENUIS!!  If there is even a teeny tiny sweet tooth in your mouth, go to this bakery for a fantastic treat!  Finally, even after I was full, I had to try MexiKosher and their tacos.  Well worth it.  Terrific tacos.  Loved every bite.

As the day was winding down, we heard you had to go relax at the Terranea Resort area.  They had chairs, shade, artificial grass, a contest for a free stay, and a grill cranking out sausage sandwiches. Perfect cap for the day.

There were also appearances by the Über famous in the food world: Thomas Keller, Nancy Silverton, Russ Parsons, Jonathan Gold, Susan Feniger, Ludo Lefebvre and many, many more.  I was only able to hit a small portion of Monday’s sponsors and participants.  But, you do get up close and interact with those people, which was another hit for me. I got my Sous Vide book signed by the man himself, Thomas Keller.

I would highly, highly recommend this event to everyone, not just food and wine lovers. A truly epic event!!!

Here’s a little video that was made by Delicious Media  http://thedeliciousmedia.com/ about the weekend’s festivities!!

http://player.vimeo.com/video/49185625

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