One of our favorite annual events is East LA Meets Napa, an elegant celebration of food and wine held in the cool courtyards of Union Station. It is a fundraiser for AltaMed Health Services, which provides “…access to health care, senior services, teen mentoring, HIV care and more to underserved families in Los Angeles and Orange Counties.”
The 10th anniversary celebration will take place July 17th. Participants this year include Ray Garcia of B.S. Taqueria and the highly-anticipated Broken Spanish, as well as Chichen Itza, and the century-old El Cholo. French chefs and wines from Bordeaux will be joining the festivities for the first time as part of Sister Cities of LA, Inc.
In addition to the exquisite food and flowing wine, this year there will a display of the art of Cheech Marin and a showcase from the Anthony Quinn collection in honor of his 100th Birthday.
We were invited to a preview at the French Consulate last Tuesday. We were able to enjoy tastes from Michelin star award winner Chef Drew Deckman of Deckman’s en el Mogor, and longtime friend of The Beat, Chef John Rivera Sedlar, who recently opened up Eloisa in New Mexico. Delicious pastries were provided by French consul chef Thierry Cahez. Special Bordeaux wines were chosen to pair with the chefs’ dishes and were poured by sommeliers from Wally’s.
Drew Deckman presented a lovely appetizer trio — Pasture raised New York strip from Mexicali cured in salt overnight, Pickled Kumiai oysters, and Yellowtail in beet juice (to mimic the look of tuna, an overfished species) with avocado and blood orange. Chef John Rivera Sedlar was assisted by his LA right-hand man, Kevin Luzande, and his chef from Eloisa, Nathan. Together they created an Escargo en mole and Hamachi marinated in olive oil, citrus and kumquat on a Kennebec crisp with one of Chef Sedlar’s floral trademarks — a single pansy leaf.
Sedlar’s Tamal de queso de cabra con chicharos, New Mexico Anaheim chiles with handmade goat cheese and peas, was like a very fresh version of a chile relleno. But the tamal that really blew us away was made of a steamed lobster mousse with just a little masa. I’m not normally a fan of salmon, but it was an ethereal dream. The tarragon sauce lifted the dish further, and probably served to counteract the intensity of the salmon. But the main course with the wow factor was the Grilled New Mexico rack of lamb.
Speakers included Councilmember Tom LaBonge, AltaMed’s Castulo de la Rocha, and Axel Cruau, the Consul General of France in Los Angeles. Also speaking was Chef John Sedlar Rivera, Co-chair of “East LA Meets Napa & Bourdeaux.” The speeches praised the outstanding community work of AltaMed, previewed the event, and told stories about a trip to Bordeaux taken by the event’s participants. Tom LaBonge and Cheech Marin whooping it up in France? Now that’s a party.
Purchase your tickets early. The event always sells out. As a bonus, early bird tickets are only $150 compared to $200 for procrastinators. Buy tickets here.