What We Loved at The LA Times’ The Taste This Year: Sunday’s Flavors of LA

Blistered tomato crostini from The Beverly Hilton Hotel (All photos by Elise Thompson for The LA Beat)

The heat wave finally broke on Sunday evening in time for Flavors of LA as a light sprinkle of rain started to clear the sky of orange residue from the Las Tuna Fire. Octopus was still a popular dish, with Holbox serving its signature Taco de Pulpo en Su Tinta, braised and fried Mediterranean octopus on top of calamari ink sofrito on handmade corn tortillas. . Host and Chef Gilberto Cetina even did a demo with a giant octopus hypnotically swirling around in a sous vide water bath. Another exciting seafood dish was the mantarray tostada from longtime favorite El Coraloense. Ford’s Filling Station, which we have not seen on the food fest circuit lately served a delicious shrimp and crab roll.

I am always happy to see Burritos La Palma. Catholic schools don’t have cafeterias, but the moms will get together and cook one day a week as a fundraiser. The shredded beef Burrito de Birria from La Palma bring me right back to elementary school at Our Lady of Guadalupe. Loteria Grill served a square meal, with beer-marinated skirt steak from West Coast Prime Meats, drunken beans, roasted potatoes and poblano peppers. And Chichen Itza served my dream dish — salibutes! They are very similar to Indian tacos, with a puffy tortilla/sopapilla topped with beef and a healthy dose of avocado.

Circa55 at The Beverly Hilton impressed us all weekend, but they really blew us away Sunday with a crostini topped with blistered cherry tomatoes and real Italian bomboli filled with either lemon custard or Nutella. I told the chef I ate these [bomboli] in Sorrento. It turns out Sorrento is his home town, so we bonded over my cell phone pictures of the beautiful Bay of Naples. Another Italian favorite came from Chef Mirko Paderno of Estrella on Sunset who served a fantastic gnocchetti with beef ragu out of a giant wheel of Parmesan.

As I drove back towards the smoking hills of Burbank with a full belly and a Lamill Coffee Iced Chai Milk Tea in hand, AM Radio 1260 cranked up some 60s garage music and I fell just a little bit more in love with my city.


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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