The Taste Day 4: Picnic in the Hills

The Taste offered something for everyone, and Monday was a brighty, sunny family day. Target did a fantastic job with the picnic scene, covering the parking lot with artificial grass and setting up picnic tables, big striped umbrellas, a lemonade stand, and welcoming blankets with pillows for lounging on the “lawn.” Although their lemonade looked refreshing, we much preferred Yes Vodka’s strawberry version with a wallop.

Entrance was free for children under 14, and booths were set up for face-painting and cupcake decorating.  There were even children’s party performers, though we didn’t pause to watch. No puppets, no balloon animals, sorry – I’m moving on. Our hostess, Giada, brought along her children. She easily flowed between looking after the kids and posing with fans as if she were hosting a small party in her own backyard.

A number of restaurants played to their audience, with Clementine busting out the Sloppy Joes. Others were way off base. Inn of the Seventh Ray offered a Mole Braised Short Rib with Cauliflower Escabeche, Quail Egg and Crisped Carrot Slivers over Honeycomb Polenta. Yes, these are Beverly Hills kids, but wow, fussy much?. I tried to catch a dish on two separate occasions, but the plating was so elaborate you really had to be lucky to catch a bite right when the quail eggs were ready.

What were our favorite grown-up tastes of the event? Kate Mantilini’s Lamb Lollipops with Curry Dip and the comfort food chicken chili were both winners. Wurstkuche is a perennial favorite, and their duck, bacon and jalapeno sausage did not disappoint. Momed made a believer out of one of my foodies, who didn’t expect to want any duck shawarma. Several restaurants went for old fashioned canapes. Fig and Olive has this down to an art form, with a mind-blowing wild mushroom crostini. Literati had a canape with one of the best chicken salads I have ever eaten.

B Street presented countless flavors of mini cupcakes, our favorite being Red Velvet. Richard Ruskins may have out-baked them with his cookie extravaganza. The apricot bars were one writer’s favorite, but the chocolate chip bars won me over. Various chocolates were available. Green and Black’s Organic chocolates were delicious, and the mini candy bar I took home had huge delicious cherries. Compartes Chocolatiers had airbrushed designs, including vampire fangs for Blood Orange.

Now here is where I failed you, Dear Reader. I try so hard to taste every damn bite. To truly and thoroughly compare everything. But I hit my wall. After four straight days of feasting, I choked. I mean, I figuratively choked, like in baseball, not like in Heimlich maneuver. The last row held Pitfire Artisinal Pizza, Huckleberry with dishes of pulled pork and corn cakes with blueberies, Lawry’s prime rib sandwiches, Veal sliders, Osteria lasagne and Terroni’s handmade pasta. I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t run the final gauntlet. I picked at the lasagne, but I was ready to be rolled out for the night like Violet Beauregarde.

We made sure to catch The Extra Virgins’ cooking demo. Debi Mazar and her husband Gabriele Corcos are just adorable together and their cooking is so accessable. We will definitely be trying out some of those recipes. But maybe not tonight.

Elise Thompson

About Elise Thompson

Born and raised in the great city of Los Angeles, this food, culture and music-loving punk rock angeleno wants to turn you on to all that is funky, delicious and weird in the city. While Elise holds down the fort, her adventurous alter ego Kiki Maraschino is known to roam the country in search of catfish.
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