This year’s LA Time’s food event, The Taste, was up against some record high heat. When I wanted to complain though, I just thought about those hardworking chefs. And clearly, these are pros at working in the heat, because everything was spectacular. There were some light cocktails and ceviches perfect for the warm afternoon on Saturday. Con’i Seafood served a refreshing shrimp and octopus ceviche with piquin chile on a tostadita. I spoke with Connie, the owner, and she said that there were too many places named Connie, so she had to come up with an original spelling. Chef Gilberto Cetina Jr. of Holbox impressed us, unsurprisingly, with his fish ceviche tostada using hamachi. A hamachi tartare with mint, sesame seeds and avocado mousse from M was perfection.
There was a 3-way octopus-off, which we felt was won by Preux and Proper’s “Octopus Island” Crispy octopus myrna potatoes, anchovy remoulade, mustard greens, and blood orange mojo. The gnarly little black tentacles just added to the fun.
There were also some spectacular cozy and comforting dishes that would have been excellent come November. Mrs. Fish with Chef Alex Reznik served mirin and soy braised beef short ribs with a wasabi potato puree that I would eat a whole bowl of on a rainy day. The “wow” dish was probably Restaurantation’s salted doughnut with oxtail jam and black garlic salsify puree. It was like a savory Italian bomboloni. Rao’s represented the NYC transplants with their tender as hell meatballs. I have got to get down there soon.
Jim Beam poured a ginger highball and an old fashioned, and the Sassafras bartenders over at Bulleit Bourbon made something fun with blueberries. More on that later.