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Friday, September 3, 2010

Taste of Beverly Hills: An Amazing Upscale Food Fest

Tonight I had the privilege of attending the opening of the Taste of Beverly Hills, presented by Food & Wine Magazine. This four day food festival kicked off with a star studded evening, some great music and even great people watching.  Since it's Beverly Hills, the people watching is pretty amazing with lots of designer clothing, Chanel handbags, Louis Vuitton and all manner of luxury cars from Bentley's to Rolls-Royces rolling into Beverly Hilton for this celebration of Epicurean delights.  But the real star of the night was, as it should be, the food and wine.  The event is held outdoors under the stars above the old Robinson-May department store parking lot across from the Beverly Hilton. The festival consists of individual booths with some of Los Angeles, and event the world's best restaurant's serving unlimited "tastes' of their best dishes.  I think even the judges from Top Chef would be in awe of the offerings.   I wondered around quite happily for several hours tasting different delights without even noticing the presence of the Kardashians or some of the other celebrities present.  Even the great musical performance by Grammy nominee, Natasha Bedingfield couldn't distract the crowd because everyone was focused on the delicious bites and wonderful wines.

The price to attend the festival is about $150.00 per ticket. But you can find discount codes on the event's Twitter feeds and Facebook Group to help defray the cost.  The best deal is the" 2 for 1" deals that you can find via the Twitter contests (follow @TasteofBH) and the Facebook group.  The" 2 for 1" deal brings you average ticket price down to about $75.00 which is a great bargain on the unlimited food and delicious wine offered.  This is what I used to purchase a ticket for myself and a friend. The codes work!

I only tried one thing that I really couldn't stomach and that was the foie grae on a crispy wafer.  It was way too salty. Avoid that dish.  Following are the dishes and wines that I recommend you try.

Pictured: Chicken Meatballs in Chantrelle Mushroom Cream Sauce from La Bottega Beverly Hills.  (photo: M. Hall)

  • 9021PHO   This reasonably priced Vietnamese restaurant is serving up Pho Bo spicy noodle soup with beef and their delicious spring rolls.  I had no idea that there was such great Vietnamese in Beverly Hills.  On their menu in the restaurant everything is under $20.00.
  • Cabbage Patch--I have never heard of Cabbage Patch but I was intrigued by the choice of serving a Turkey meatball with Slaw.  The Slaw is rather exotic with cilantro, peanuts and honey mustard dressing, but it is a winner, even along side the Italian flavored meatball.
  • Coupa CafĂ©--  This restaurant serves Venezuelan cuisine.  For the Taste of Beverly Hills they are serving  a trio of different appetizers including a spicy empanada. The trio is absolutely delicious.Be sure to try it!
  • Crustacean-- This celebrity haunt is serving their special Garlic Noodles. They are delicious as always, although maybe just a tad dryer than they are in the restaurant where they are served with some sauce on the side. 
  • Darioush-- This restaurant is only serving one dish, but it's an exquisite, and unusual Aubergine with Tomato Puree.  This is a must try.  Many diners thought it was a fig, but it was clearly listed on the menu as a Aubergine (Eggplant.)
  • Taste of Persia by Farhang Foundation-- This may be the most entertaining exhibit at the festival. Beyond delicious bits of Iranian cuisine like lamb on pita with cucumber yogurt dip there are exhibits of music, cookbooks, and dancers in beautiful costumes. 
  • Greenleaf Gourmet-- This Century City restaurant is serving up a delicious and very fresh green salad with pears, dried fruit and Gorgonzola cheese.  It's a great salad and warning, you will want seconds.
  • Il Cielo-- You must try this unusual taste sensation of rolled Pappardelle pasta drizzled with Truffle sauce.   To die for.   A must will want at least two. Il Cielo is probably the most romantic restaurant in Beverly Hills, and it is a bit pricey.  So it's wonderful to be able to nimble from their menu without paying major bucks. 
  • Il Pastaio-- This great Italian is serving Rollini di Melanzane. These are delicious Eggplant Rolls Filled with Goat Cheese with Fresh Tomato sauce. Yum!
  • La Bottega-- This family owned Italian is serving three different kinds of meatballs and they are all absolutely delicious.  Owners and brothers,  Mario and Salvatore Marino were working their booth and personally serving Chicken meatballs in Chanterelle Mushroom cream sauce, Veal meatballs in a cream sauce and traditional Beef meatballs in Marina (red sauce.)  If you go to the Taste of Beverly Hills, be sure to try these.  On Monday nights the restaurant offers specials on their meatballs with prices under $10.00.  That is a pricing feat for Beverly Hills.  And  the food is really, really good. 
  • Lawry’s - Lawry's on La Cienga is an LA institution serving fresh carved Roast Beef.  At the Taste  of Beverly Hills, Lawry's is serving their speciality carved  Roast Beef on a bun, served with  fresh creamed corn.  The serving is just as good as what they offer in the restaurant.
  • Luxe-- This restaurant offered tastes of delicious Ceviche and a special Trout Pate.  Be sure to try both.  I've never stopped into the Luxe Hotel for lunch or dinner, but now I realize that I have been missing out.  I will have to stop in.  This is the restaurant within the hotel on Rodeo, and the food is really good!
  • The Grill on the Alley-- The Grill was serving a show stopper dish of slow-cooked short ribs with mashed potatoes. The meat was slow cooked and fell off the bone.  So, so good.
  • The Peninsula Beverly Hills, the hotel restaurant is serving a delicious trio of Salmon Blinis, Sashimi Tuna and a chilled soup.
Pictured: The Trout Pate from the Luxe Hotel.  It's really amazing. (photo: M. Hall)

Wine and Beverages:
Layer Cake-- Try their incredible Shiraz which retails for a mere $14.99 (US).  The winery's motto is one I love, "Luxury Everyone Can Afford." Layer Cake Shiraz shows you that a wine can be inexpensive and robust. Their Primitivo is also a winner.
Frank Family Wine-- Zinfandel blended with Cabernet Franc. It is so rich and flavorful. A must try.
Rosenthal Chardonnay, the Malibu Estate.  A nice, light chard perfect to start a night of tasting with.
American Tea Room--Try the unique hot Coco tea.  It's not as sweet as hot chocolate, but it's a nice ending to the evening of delicious wines.

 Pictured: The taste is luxurious but the price is not, Layer Cake wine. (photo: M. Hall)

Bottom line, if you are looking for some terrific food and wine over this Labor Day weekend, then do get a ticket to Taste of Beverly Hills. Just use a discount code from one of their social media communities to get the best price.  Over the next few days the Taste of Beverly Hills will offer  BBQ tastings, Brunch Tastings,on-site cooking and  cocktail "mixology".  Tastings are "unlimited" so go hungry.  You will want to keep tasting long after your stomach is full.  It's just that good.

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