Monday, June 22, 2009

Special Foodventure #124: Church & State (downtown)

While I try to be prompt with meetups, events and gatherings (especially with fellow bloggers,) with the actual blog itself -- more often than not procrastination rears its ugly head. Which probably explains why I have a backlog up the wazoo, and how I basically went "OH SH*T, I still haven't blogged about the Church & State dinner from almost two months ago!" when I met Chef Walter Manzke at last weekend's Taste of the Nation LA. Thank goodness for a menu we can take home and my trusty notes . . .

Anyhow, the event was put on by food-focused social review site FoodDigger (so all of us bloggers went for free), and like previous FD dinners I've attended, it was a food and wine feast of gastronomical proportions consisting of nine wine-paired courses (and that's when multiple dishes get lumped into one course, separated out I'm sure we tried closer to around twenty items of food!)

For a play-by-play of every dish, I'll point you to the detailed post and photos by KevinEats (including a photo of the night's menu)-- but here are some highlight eats and sips that I remembered fondly, even nearly two months after:
escargot pot pie - so cute and tasty, you'll forget that you're eating snails--I sure did. The little critters were merrily swimming in garlic butter, covered in a light flaky puff pastry crust (also made with generous amounts of butter, I'm sure;) I was utterly shameless when I took bread to dunk into this aromatic, fatty goodness.
charcuterie platter - a carnivore's delight, each meat were tasty yet still assert its individuality at the same time, having varying levels of smoky and cured tastes, along with nuances of herbs and spices. My favorite was the luxurious smooth and rich foie gras terrine mousse topped with a sweet port wine gelee, the combination vibrant flavors simply danced in perfect synchrony on my tastebuds.
Lobster & Asparagus
asperge a la tashiro - a special of the night crafted for Marshal, who brought in lobsters for this dish; effortlessly elegant, with thick, fresh stalks of tender Hog's Farm asparagus topped with generous chunks of meaty lobster in a light buttery sauce; a savory dish -- that's simple and beautiful, just like a haiku.
roasted bone marrow - it's hard to go wrong with this, and of course the version here did not disappoint; the long shanks were chopped in half for easy scooping and spreading on the bread. Pure meat-flavored fat heaven -- after everyone had their share I was tempted to plop one of these suckers on my plate and suck it till bone dry. But I exercise modesty, even after countless glasses of wine.
and of course, kudos to the assorted desserts served up on another platter - there were cakey tarts, creme brulee, pot de creme and a mixed berry crisp, the last of which is my favorite since it's bursting with fruity flavors that played well with the vanilla ice cream.

I also like the eclectic wine pairings chosen by their in-house sommelier -- they're not necessarily matchy-matchy with the food, but I like having to think about how the two play against different aspects of one another. Of the wines, the one most memorable is the FRV 100, a sparkling gamay that has the color and the aromas of a ripe strawberry, making it a perfect summer sipper.

And as always, the meal is only half the experience in making the evening memorable, the other half being a splendid night of chatting and conversing with fellow bloggers as we update each other on our latest foodventures, share our new favorite haunts and console one another on the perils of photo-taking and note-scribbling, and our ever growing backlogs as we literally bit off more than we can blog.
Chef Manzke
So a much thanks to Will, Marshall and others of the FoodDigger Co. for hosting another enchanting evening of fine eats and sips, Chef Walter Manzke and Sommelier Josh Goldman for serving up all that food and wine, and, of course, to the following fellow bloggers for their more-than-palatable company:

Kats 9 Lives
I Nom Things
Right Way to Eat
Kung Food Panda

Church & State
1850 Industrial St
Los Angeles, CA 90021
(213) 405-1434



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