Highlights of The Taste 2019: Sunday

Omega Blue Baja Kanpachi Tacos from Holbox. All Photos by Elise Thompson for The LA Beat.

LA Times’ food event, “The Taste,” was mellower and less crowded on Sunday night. That doesn’t mean the food was anything but spectacular. Two chefs even served three-course meals.

Sometimes the simplest things, expertly made with the best possible ingredients surpass complicated technique. Union’s new Executive chef, Chris Keyser, created the best bite of the night with a house-made Mortadella with peach mostarda on rosemary focaccia. I must confess I went back for seconds.

Osteria Cal Mare from Chefs Adam Sobel and Michael Mina, was frying saffron arancini filled with smoked mozzarella and green marinara. Chef Nancy Silverton of Osteria Mozza turned out lovely wooden boards with bite-sized pieces of Eggplant Parmesan that looked straight out of a fancy food magazine’s dinner party layout.

I am a sucker for pizza with honey ever since Chef Steve Samson turned me on to it. Roberto’s Bee Sting Pizza with sopresetta and honey made me crave it all week. I guess I need to head down to Culver City. Vchos Truck served comforting warm pupusas revueltas with cheese and chicharonnes while Eve in the Mayfair Hotel downtown served juicy Oxtail mole tostadas with green cabbage, Cotija cheese, and salsa verde.

Chef Gilberto Cetina was pulling double duty serving tacos made of fresh wood-grilled Omega Blue Baja kanpachi under the banner of Holbox, his seafood spot, while overseeing his family’s Yucatanean restaurant, Chichen Itza. Located along with Holbox in Mercado Paloma, Chichen Itza was serving Panuchos, homemade black-bean stuffed tortillas. The chalkboard said they were topped with “ground pork and stuff.”

Pulled pork sliders from Nice Guy were being picked up as fast as they could make them. Inexplicably, mini wagyu hot dogs from 40 Love, a country club-inspired lounge on La Cienega Boulevard, weren’t moving very fast. I think it was due to the house-made relish. Luckily, I like relish on my dogs and they were delicious. Pasta Sisters’ gnocchi was light and heavenly. The ginger pasta brother told us that it was so light because it was made of water and flour. Only. We always suspected the potato made the board-rolled gnocchi heavy, but it’s amazing how many things can be made with only flour and water.

Le Comptoir had a line down the block for the chef’s three-course tasting. First was a kale chip with aioli followed by a cream of artichoke soup, which may have been the best soup I have ever eaten. The final course was a tiny little donut with cream and fruit puree.

Chef Phillip Frankland Lee, or as we know him, PFL, was serving a 3-course sushi meal in the VIP lounge. It was an easier spot to get than in his 8-seat Sushi/Bar in Encino. The Hamachi was delicious, but the best bite was the dessert. It was a little frozen block, like a petit-four with a shortbread base and Kaffir lime leaf ice cream. It was just mind-blowing! It was a favorite flavor used in a wholly unexpected way. The top was even dotted with black sesame seeds to mimic caviar and make the dessert look like sushi. We can’t wait for next year!








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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