Taste of the Nation LA 2014

The Mo-Chica-Picca-Paiche Guys Ham it Up

The sun shone down on Taste of the Nation LA last Sunday. Mature trees shaded the grass, creating sun-dappled picnic spots for the attendees. Barbecue smoke from Mo-Chica’s booth wafted over the line outside promising much to come. More than 40 food booths, a wine tasting section and live stage inside provided even more than the anticipated entertainment. An icy sparkling and still water station was much-appreciated during the warm afternoon.

The early Summer fest made the most of berries, stone fruits and fresh greens. House made pickles were popular. Besides barbecue, raspberry cheesecake ice cream pops were provided by Sherry Yard, while Quenelle blew us away with their Apple Pie Bonbons. Valerie Confections, one of our favorite pastry chefs, created a lovely Earl Grey Panna Cotta accompanied by Earl Grey Chocolates. Akasha took advantage of the Summer fruits with an Apricot Raspberry Slab Pie with Creme Fraiche.

CJ Jacobson of Girasol constructed a refreshing corn salad and Chuch & State Bistro made Legumes a la Grecque with artichokes, fresh peas and an assortment of al dente vegetables in a coriander lemon vinagrette.

Ray Garcia of Fig kept it simple and elegant with a shrimp tostada, Kuniko Yagi of Hinoki and the Bird whipped up an avocado shake and Faith & Flower’s Michael Hung offered Marinated Bay Scallops with Preserved Plum Salsa and Shiso Granite in what may have been my favorite bite of the day.

Antonia Lofaso fried up an expert “rice ball” which is basically an arancini, but she said that’s what they always called it growing up. Jimmy Shaw of Loteria Grill changed things up with delicious chilaquiles, kudos to him for keeping them from getting too soggy. Phorage’s Perry Yeung made delicious Crispy Pork and Shrimp Imperial Egg Rolls.

On the heartier, meatier side, Wilshire Restaurant served a popular Fried Chicken Slider with Sriracha Aioli and House Made Kimchi. Border Grill presented a surprising canape-style Aspen Ridge Beef Salad. Actually, I think that may have been my favorite bite of the day. Partner Susan Feniger was conveniently in the tent right next door with Mud Hen partner Kajsa Alger so she could pull double duty. Mud Hen went all out with a Pastrami and Rye sandwich dipped in fondue cheese.

Pork belly made a nice showing, first with cherry mustard on a flatbread by Culina Modern Italian and in The Wallace’s Grilled Pork Belly, Pickled Red Velvet Apricots and Goats Cheese. Not to be outdone, porchetta showed up with pickled ramps and bitter greens on Scarpetta LA’s plates by Freddy Vargas. Superba Food + Bread layered their porchetta onto a toast with apricot, rocket (arugula) and crispy skin. Maybe porchetta is my new favorite thing.

There was a large wine tasting section, but we were happy with chilled Golden Road beer to cool things off. Things were popping over at the Church Key and Top Round booths, with a flight attendent making alcoholic Otter Pops in nitrogen for Church Key and the guys from Top Round tossing beef and cheese sliders to the crowd, “Go long!”

It was a beautiful day in a lovely setting for this kind of event, and proceeds went to No Kid Hungry, so everyone gets a full belly. Now if I could only pick my favorite…

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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