Sunday was as warm as any summer’s day for Los Angeles Magazine’s Food Event, but the flavors were definitely autumnal. Squash was everywhere, from Crossroads‘ sweet and savory Kabocha Squash with Pumpkin Seeds to Faith & Flower’s Pumpkin Panna Cotta to Farmshop’s Butternut Squash Canapes with Pomegranite. Root vegetables are coming into season as heralded by a surprisingly delicious Parsnip Poached in Duck Fat from Cliff’s Edge. Another homey dish that had us imagining cool nights with comfort food, albeit gourmet comfort food, was the Garganelli with Pork Sausage, Parmesan and Fennel Pollen from Drago Centro.
Red meats were popular, with the line for Michael’s Wagyu Steak with Soba Noodles stretching more than twice as far as any other line that day. A Meatball served in a Steamed Chinese Bun from Barbrix, Vietnamese Pork Belly from MB Post, and a Wild Boar Bacon BLT in a Gougere from Saddlepeak Lodge were standouts. Tar & Roses Oxtail Dumpling was rich without being too filling, and newcomer Front Yard made a great first impression with Korean Braised Shortrib Grilled Cheese. Rather than adding kimchi, the Korean flavor came from a galbi marinade.
On the lighter side, we could eat the Freshly Baked Sourdough Bread with Ricotta, Honey and Walnuts from Bucato for breakfast every day for the rest of our lives. Tar & Roses also served an addictive Popped Corn with Bacon, Brown Sugar and Chili.
Familiar restaurants that can always be counted on for something special were Animal, serving a light Honey Walnut Shrimp dish, and Jitlada, helmed by the ever friendly and ebullient Jazz. Jitlada’s Tamarind Dip Chicken wasn’t as spicy as many of their dishes, but we were grateful for the Turmeric Rice with Tofu, considerately prepared for vegetarians, that helped balance out the heat. Sotto mixed things up with a creative Pulled Pork Salad and Loteria Grill brought the always welcome chilaquiles, both verde and roja.
Photo essay after the jump
Some of the most impressive visual plates of the day were Little Sister’s Shrimp Sambal and a fish dish from Black Market Liquor Bar, which went for a Halloween effect by coating the fish in a thick squid ink sauce that made an unusual black dish. How much blacker could it be? The answer is none. None blacker.
To quench the thirst on this sunny day, Deep Eddy Vodka from Austin made a variety of cocktails with their cranberry, grapefruit and sweet tea vodkas. And what would a festive event be without an ice luge? Our favorite tequila, Don Julio, sent traditional margaritas down the luge, while the cocktail shakers were busy mixing up cocktails like the delicious “Este Lado” made with Don Julio blanco, fresh lime, simple syrup, English cucumber and fresh mint. Wines pouring included Saddlerock, naturally, and Black Ink red wine. Belgian ales were provided by the über hip Shock Top.
There were a few notable summer holdouts. The refreshing shrimp aguachile from Petty Cash Taqueria was one of the best bites of the day, as was The Strand House’s strawberry shortcake. Also on the sweet side, Playa Provisions bakes one hell of a chocolate chip cookie. Sometimes the simplest things are the best when they are made with care and premium ingredients. Farmshop was tossing individually wrapped Cinnamon Meringues into the crowd. I warned, “If any of those hit me, they’re mine.” The chef then started playfully lobbing them straight at me. I may not be a dancer, but I can make it rain meringues. Another perfect day at Saddleback Ranch.