What We Loved at LA Times’ The Taste This Year: Saturday’s Dinner with a Twist

Urban Block Gastronomy Experience Cooking and Mixology Demo (All photos by Elise Thompson for the Los Angeles Beat).

Saturday night the heat wasn’t so oppressive, it was just another summer night for partying in LA. Dinner with a Twist is all about cocktails, but the night also offered some of the best food of the weekend. Cocktail-wise, I pretty much stuck with my blueberry bourbon drink from Sassafras.

Bellwether set the bar high with their lightly crisp squash blossom filled with stracciatella cheese and sauced with crushed heirloom tomatoes. Not to be outdone, the other chefs upped their game, serving creative dishes with upscale ingredients. I love cheeks, and the smoked beef cheeks with whipped polenta and crispy cornbread from Chef Wilfrid Hocquet of Georgie were tender and luscious. The “wow” dish of the night was peanut butter foie gras mousse and caramelized onion jam on a grape tuille from Alexander’s Steakhouse.

Chef Michael Hung was pulling double duty running between Mama Lion, which was serving a house menu favorite, Plancha Seared Gulf Shrimp with anchovy butter, sourdough croutons and herb salad, and XO on Beverly, which was offering corn on the cob with tamarind, bacon and curry.

The Village Idiot had a hype pig looking for handouts, and I seriously think this pig is my spirit animal. And what to you feed pigs but corn cobs? I think I burnt us both trying to feed him XO’s corn on the cob with hot bacon drippings, but no pain no gain. Another thing I love besides cheeks is rillettes, and The Village Idiot had fantastic pork rillettes. I wonder if anyone has ever made cheek rillettes.

Little Fatty brought their squid ink soup dumplings (xiao long bao) filled with pork and black vinegar. Barrel and Ashes served a nicely smoked brisket with corn salad. I think that may have been the last corn of the summer. And Chef Marcel Vigneron served just what you would expect a Wolf to make, lamb.

There were some Italian flavors in the house with Ricotta Gnudi with summer squash and anchovy butter from The Ponte, gnocchetti served from a wheel of parmesan by Chef Mirko Paderno of Estrella Sunset and steak frites from Antonia Lofaso of Scopa Italian Roots. This year I didn’t wear the big bear head. I just behaved myself and went home early. And full.

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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