The lady and I headed up to Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon to see what the first-ever LA Times Celebration of Food & Wine was all about. As fans of both food (essential to survival) and wine (essential to happiness, also: good for you?) the lady and I thought spending our Labor Day Sunday "celebrating" them sounded like a fine idea, even if it required a drive to LA, which I like about as much as like getting punched in the balls. (Read: not at all.) As someone amused by words and how we use them, I had no idea what a "celebration" of Food & Wine would entail, but I was eager to find out.
"Ladies and Gentlemen...TACOS!"
(Crowd goes wild, pops champagne, dogpiles on a pitcher's mound made of taco meat, Kool & The Gang's "Celebration" plays.)
What did happen was a surprisingly enjoyable, albeit crowded, afternoon of culinary exploration and people-watching. A $55 ticket got us access to the Paramount lot, eight coupons that we could exchange for samples of wine and booze, and a free She & Him concert (which we skipped.) VIP tickets were available for $125, but from what I gathered, that extra $70 just got you access to an exclusive corral of the wealthy (surrounded by a white picket fence), featuring higher-end wineries and purveyors of booze, and I think you could try to jockey for conversation time with some of the chefs that mingled in the area. I consider myself neither "important," nor "very important", so I happily snatched two of the "general" admission tickets and generally wandered the Paramount lot with the rest of the unimportant masses.
1) The Good:The Food & A Panel Featuring Michael Voltaggio
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Notable wines we sampled (before almost every wine booth worth a damn ran out of their stock at 5pm) were the Bonny Doon Rosette, Alexander Valley Vineyards Sin Zin, and four different varietals from Pech Merle (available for the cost of one ticket, which was a very smart move for a young winery trying to make a name for itself.)
We also caught most of an entertaining, informative, and inspiring panel featuring "LA's New Star Chefs: Michael Voltaggio (the winner of Top Chef Season 6, and the culinary mastermind behind the greatest dining experience I've ever had--a birthday dinner for the ladyfriend at The Dining Room at the Langham hotel in Pasadena) and Vinny Dotolo & Jon Shook (from Animal in LA).
The point that all three of them stressed that really resonated with me was that they are extremely driven to bring high-quality dining to So Cal in an affordable and comfortable atmosphere. To me, so much of fine-dining seems overly uppity and stifled by convention, it was inspiring to see these young chefs so eager to think outside of the box not only in what they're putting on the plate, but how and where they're going to do that in the new restaurants they'll be opening soon.
2) The Bad: The Layout
3) The Ugly: The Whine
It's summer in LA, idiot.
Surprise! You're not the only one that thought an afternoon of food and booze would be a good idea.
"Ew, what the hell is she wearing?"
Your sweaty exposed back flab is pouring over your belt, and you're calling people out for what they're wearing?
"Man, I thought I'd get more free shit."
Everything is amazing and nobody is happy (see: the clip above.) Sigh.