We didn't plan on attending The Golden Foodie Awards this year, but we're glad we did. There were some worthy wins (The RANCH! Cathy Thomas! Slapfish! ALAN effing GREELEY!! But the best time was had before and after the main event, over Patrón and Chambord cocktails with some of our favorite people. Every time we wondered out loud what to try next, someone would not only throw out a suggestion, they led us to a great bite. Here were some of our favorites.
5. Pork Belly from Lucca Cafe
Winner for Best Mediterranean, Cathy Pavlos wouldn't settle for one offering. We'd normally reach for the tri tip, but she advocated for a spiced and rubbed Snake River Farms pork belly. Dressed with heirloom tomato jam, a balsamic glaze and cilantro, it was a slider worth devouring.
4. Coconut Ceviche from 118 Degrees
We ran into fellow Weekling photographer Josue Rivas covering the event. He stayed later than most, probably waiting for that one person to
hurl trip on the dance floor. A man who likes his raw vegan cuisine, he highly recommended Jenny Ross' version, “It was so good, I had five plates.” We agree. The bright flavors were a refreshing change from all that meat, and her carrot flax corn chip kept us satiated. However, we initially went to her table because they had the most convenient dishware– large enough to hold multiple selections, with a notch for us to easily hold it (or was that for our wine glass?…whatever.)
3. Seabass Ceviche from Orange Hill
Yes, another ceviche. When you consider we aren't big seafood fans, this was rare. Recommended by Jim, another photog acquaintance, it was a great alternative from an establishment otherwise known for ambiance and weekend brunch. A smart choice on such a warm evening. Okay, and the bright orange Tobiko caviar didn't hurt.
2. Polenta from Maro Wood Grill
Sassy Chef Deb, who also won for Best Dessert, cleaned up nicely with her black dress and golden makeup. She knew how to represent Laguna Beach with house made membrillo and creamy goat cheese. Smoked pheasant and micro greens completed her dish. It may have been a small portion, but we had to take a break after that one.
1. Duck from The Winery
The winner for Best Wine List, chef Yvon Goetz charmed the hungry masses with Maple Leaf Farms duck, a.k.a. 'Deux Facons'. Frenchy presented a caramelized marget over rich leg confit. Butternut squash, chantrelle mushrooms and a truffle oil risotto made for one very indulgent plate. It was our Best In Class, as far as we're concerned.
Additional kudos to winners Rachel Klemek (Pastry Chef), ARC (New Restaurant), Pizzeria Ortica (Pizza), Provisions (Beer Selection), Michael “Mick” Schepers (Burger) and Clay Oven's Geeta Bansal (Indian). Bravo!
A contributing writer for OC Weekly, Anne Marie freelances for multiple online and print publications, and guest judges for culinary competitions. A Bay Area transplant, she graduated with a degree in Hospitality Management from Cal Poly Pomona. Find her on Instagram as brekkiefan.