Delectable scents emanated from gourmet dishes offered by 15 top Latino-owned Los Angeles-area restaurants while wine from 15 acclaimed Napa Valley vintners flowed. Joined with live music from LA’s own Ozomatli, the return of East LA Meets Napa made for a summer evening to remember.
Hundreds of patrons visited LA Live in Downtown Los Angeles on July 29 for East LA Meets Napa, a celebration of the richness and diversity of LA’s Latino-influenced cuisine and California’s Latino-owned wineries.
Now in its 15th year, East LA Meets Napa is the premier fundraiser for AltaMed Health Services, a local organization that helps bring healthcare to underserved LA and OC residents.
Michelin-starred chef Rocio Comacho, known as the “goddess of moles” and owner of Rocio’s Mexican Kitchen in Bell Gardens, shared her empanadas stuffed with chicken and topped with mole negro. They paired well with the refreshing Cucumber Margarita made with tequila, Cointreau, agave nectar, fresh cucumbers, lime, and chili bitters from the Aguila Real Tequila booth.
Long lines formed for the enormous pan of Paella Valenciana, loaded with shrimp, chicken, pork, and two types of beans, made by Maria and Natalie Curie of El Coraloense in Bell Gardens. Meanwhile, Chef Oscar Perez of Sol Agave (located in DTLA and Santa Monica) served up a tender New Zealand Rack of Lamb served over chorizo mashed potatoes and topped with spicy Mexico City mole. Marco Zapien, owner of Pico Rivera’s Zapien’s Salsa Grill and Taqueria, passed out plates of his eatery’s pollo en mole with crema over rice.
Everyone’s all-time favorite, guava pastries, were a hot item from the Porto’s booth. Porto’s offered a plethora of desserts, including mango mousse, guava mousse, and besitos – cookies filled with dulce de leche. We are always impressed that the family members work their table. As The Beat’s Elise Thompson says, “I always get a kick out of Betty Porto. It’s like meeting Colonel Sanders.”
Celebrating 44 years in Boyle Heights, La Parilla served their house sangria and a “buffet de quesadillas.” Made from fresh corn tortillas, each quesadilla was filled with huitlacoche, flor de cabeza, or queso. City of Industry’s Tepayac served up chile verde with rice and mushrooms, as well as cilantro quesadillas and sangria, while Don Chente served two types of ceviche, one colored a bright red, thanks to chili arbol.
Pez Cantina‘s offerings included a mashed potato ball topped with shrimp diablo and pickled radish. Genovese’s Italian Kitchen served a less expected, but nonetheless delicious choice: homemade ravioli stuffed with tender beef and topped with marsala cream.
East LA Meets Napa was once again a success, Yes, we were able to taste some great food and excellent California wines, but the evening also helped support AltaMed, which provides health care, senior services, dental care, teen mentoring, HIV care and more to underserved families in Los Angeles and Orange Counties.