Mozza Caprese Salad, photo taken by plus-one extraordinaire Binary Tastebuds
Thanks to goldstar, a great site that sells various event tickets, including concerts, performances and food/drink festivals, at a discount, my friend and I had the chance to check out the Gold Standard for free. And even at their discounted price of ~$42 (compared to the regular price of $60) those tickets sold FAST! Not that big a surprise really, the event isn't too pricey for a tasting event and boasted a pretty wonderful collection of well-known L.A. eateries. So the event was definitely one of the highlights of the week that was.
Since there was so much going on that afternoon, I'll spare you the detailed play-by-play and just provide some of the day's highlights (between all the blogposts, Yelp entries, Chowhound threads, and goldstar reviews I'm sure all the corners got covered thrice-over.)
*As with most tasting events, there are bound to be lots of people and lines at some of the more popular table. However, the Smashbox venue made it worse since there were quite a few chokepoints between the four event spaces -- the doorways and comparative narrow passages definitely made it hard for the throngs of folks, all teetering on the edge of spilling their plates and cups, to squeeze through.
*On a similar note, more eating surfaces (even high-boy tables that we can just stand and put our plates down) would've been nice.
*Thankfully, I decided to do away with dealing with traffic and parking by Metro-ing to Hollywood and Highland and walking the mile and a half over. I could use the hike given all the food I'll be eating.
*Some of my favorite eateries and food: the Mozzas' fresh made mozzarella with roasted tomatoes, basil and olive oil, Drago Centro's wonderfully rich panna cotta with citrus segments, Palate Food & Wine's pork belly with grits and violet mustard.
*Other food booth highlights: the uber-spicy beef curry dish at Jitlada that got me all red and sweaty, Tiara Cafe's vegetarian pho dish in the most outlandish booth setup, and props to Sona for having their bartender make mocktails and Loteria Grill for providing the much-needed refreshing agua frescas!
*Surprising amounts of wine were available -- though between the cramped space and body heat I would've like to seen more beer as well (I only recall Singha, Kirin and Stella being available there). Felt sorry for the cash bar, with all that wine and beer poured generously for free, who's going to really pay for a spirited drink?
*Of course, met a whole lot of bloggers and writers. Waited in line with Food Marathon and the Glutster, hung out a bit with Caroline on Crack, e*star LA and Binary Tastebuds, Mattatouille, folie a choisauce and SinoSoul, and also met Diglounge, Gourmet Pigs, Food Destination, Eating L.A. and Social Domain. Heard chowballa and Pleasure Palate were there too. Sorry if I missed anyone!
*And of course, how could I forget the J.G. behind this event? Saw Jonathan Gold making the rounds a few times throughout the evening (I hope he actually got to eat some of the stuff being served!) Totally chill and pleasant guy, with a local food IQ that's off the charts!
For an inaugural event, this was a pretty good one and I would definitely hope that it'll roll back again next year. Some pointers for improvement: a logistically better space or more crowd control, partnering with spirit brands so cocktails are free or just do away with the bar altogether, and of course, I wouldn't complain if there was even more restaurant representation (invite the entire Gold 99? ;) ) Of course, hoping that all parties, from the participating eateries to LA Weekly and Heal the Bay, considered this a success.