Last Saturday the sky was blue and the weather was sunny on the Santa Monica Pier. It was the perfect Day for Pier del Sol, an annual event to raise funds for The Special Olympics. It’s a family-friendly atmosphere, and there were naturally Pink’s Hot Dogs, Dandy Don’s Ice Cream sundaes, and plenty of burgers to please the kids…even us big kids!
We loved the lamb burger from Playa Provisions’ chefs Brooke Williamson and Nick Roberts. Their new Hawaiian concept, Da Kikokiko (“The Spot”), opened today in Playa Vista serving poke bowls and musubi. Also serving lamb was Chef Yousef Ghalaini of Fig. The Lebanese chef served the exotically spiced Colorado lamb meatballs with feta and Ciabatta, making a seriously international dish. Even corn dogs made an appearance at Pier del Sol, albeit seriously upscale corn dogs made with a lobster and shrimp sausage. What else would we expect from Chef Collin Cranelle of The Lobster?
There we also some healthy options. Chef Tanino Drago of Tanino Ristorante and Villa Alloro served a sumptuous soup and salad, with a burrata-topped Panzanella di Farro and a decadently rich, smooth mushroom soup that would make Campbell’s® run home crying.
There was a nice selection of salads and soups kept cool for the warm day. Chef Tony Esnault of Church and State created a little salad d’ endive with forme d’ amberte (the only blue cheese I like), candied walnuts, shallots and sherry vinagrette. It would be the perfect finger food to assemble for an elegant New Year’s Eve party. Chef Olivier Roussell of Luxe in the Sunset Boulevard Hotel was also incspired by the gallic and served a frisee salad with poached egg, and I believe lardon.
Another must for my imaginary New Year’s Eve menu came from honorary chef of 2016, Josiah Citrin of Melisse and Charcoal Venice. His mushroom-stuffed crab was topped with what appeared to be a paper-thin slice of aspic and a miniature purple flower. Served with a light mushroom shiso broth in an adorable miniature martini glass, it was both gorgeous and delicious. Chef Alain Giraud of Maison Giraud served a soup and salad in one. A light gazpacho was poured over crab salad, making a nice, refreshing shot. The cups were garnished with cherry tomatoes and olives, making for a charming and colorful presentation.
There was also a sort of picnic feel to eating outdoors by the beach. Chef Daniel Waked of The Arthur J in Manhattan Beach served fantastic boneless fried chicken on a scoop of mashed potatoes, while Dulan’s on Crenshaw went for a soul food brunch with chicken and French toast. And lest anyone get hungry, they also brought out greens and macaroni and cheese. Chef Joe Miller of Bar Pinxto recreated his amazing brunch paella we loved last year. Also on the heartier side, Chef Gino Angelini of Angelini Osteria served a green lasagne. I planned to take a bite and let it go, because stomach space is precious at an event like this. But I ate an entire plate of lasagne. And I would do it again.
Entry into Pier del Sol included unlimited rides on the boardwalk. We took one look at that rollercoaster while sampling a Sprinkles cupcake and walked away.