Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Special Foodventure #73: Dining by Design's Table Hop and Taste (Pico-Union)

My weekend of gluttony concluded at the Dining by Design's Table Hop and Taste, a $45/person preview event to look at designer interpretations of the dining room/table, taste small bites from a variety of LA area restaurants and sip various wines provided by Beringer. Swanky artsy designs, good restaurant representation and offerings, great charity tie-in (DIFFA, Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS) -- say no more, I'm there!
I had no trouble finding the LA Design Mart (where it's being held) south of Downtown, especially given the giant dining chair that's right in the parking lot.
The attendees are more designers and decorators than foodies, no surprise given the benefiting charity and the focus of the event itself with sets laid out by many up-and-coming designers alongside well-established visionaries; but any art aficionado would've taken delight here: the dining room sets look AMAZING! Pushing the envelope at every direction, it was a wonderful varied mix -- from a birdcage dining table to a kids birthday party theme to sleek modern interpretations with the table flanked by black, nude mannequins. It's hard to pick a favorite, but the ones I liked best included the colorful Oriental garden table above and the casual-chic Napa lifestyle table below.
Of course, I did more than just gawk at pretty dining tables over a glass of wine and actually table hopped and tasted too; like the sets, many of the dishes were a dazzle for the eyes and most are just as tasty. A few notables include:
Cafe Surfa's Ultimate Grilled Cheese: warm, open-faced walnut-currant bread with blue cheese mayo, molten white cheddar and swiss cheeses, greens and a drizzle of white truffle honey. Wildly delicious that hits on so many levels texture and taste-wise -- I am definitely hitting this up next time I am in Culver City (and unlike Meltdown, etc., I don't need to worry about crazy opening days/hours!)
Equally memorable is Wilshire Restaurant's ginger squash puree topped with duck confit, roasted chestnuts and sichuan peppercorn pickled apples. Didn't really get the spiciness, but the complexity from combining the firm duck, smooth squash and crispy apples made it a very fun and intriguing dish, every bite and chew bringing a little surprise as those three main ingredients melding into a novel flavor.
Comme Ca's crostini with tomatoes, haricot verts, avocado and tapenade: very simple but tasty, definitely showcases the freshness of the produce.
Homegirl Cafe's assorted sandwiches, salads and mini-tostadas: the jicama-tequila dressing stood out for the salad, with the alcohol flavor cutting wonderfully into the tart-sweet dressing and the jicama adding a light crispness. Their "Consuelo's sandwich" with homemade jalapeno pesto and panela cheese is also wonderful, and great for vegetarians! (On a sidenote - great to see them represented, since their umbrella organization, Homeboys Industries, helps former gang members to lead normal lives with services such as tattoo removal, occupational skills training and counseling.)
Lemonade's deli salads (the roasted cauliflower with golden raisins and curry vinaigrette and the roasted beets with pickled red onions and hazelnut vinaigrette being most memorable) and their super-refreshing, not-too-sweet rosemary-watermelon lemonade, a great break from all the wines that are being poured, that I kept getting full glasses of despite me specifically asking for "just a little a bit" "a taste" and "a few sips" from the caterers . . . I felt so bad dumping the remaining wine down the garbage because I simply don't want a full glass!
Last but not least, Vanilla Bake Shop's cupcake babies (the blackberry-passion fruit one was a nice sweet 'n tart treat!) and assorted macarons, made even tastier with a few sips of Nightingale dessert wine.

Given the theme of the event, I actually took more pictures of the ambience and art than I did the food! But the eats were tasty overall, and it looks like a hit given the happy crowds and the happier staff working the event. Here's hoping their Monday night gala, as well as the rest of their nationwide tour, goes equally well.

Closing off, here's more photos of the designer dining photos (apologies for the bad quality, see what a few "tastes" of the wine does to my balance and stability?)

yes, the last dining set featured a life-size horse sculpture ON the dining table and no, I didn't realize how the wall painting behind it would give the horse an extra anatomical feature until I got home to edit the pics. *sigh*


FoodDigger said...

Nice pictures! Now I wish I went to this event. Could you eat as much as you wanted? I would have tried every cupcake flavor!

H. C. said...

FD, yep, it's pretty much a help yourself to as much as you like affair (I seriously would've packed away a few more of those Surfas sandwiches if I don't already know how fattening they'd be!)

mattatouille said...

looks like some good food at the event.

H. C. said...

Matt, Yep, the food was definitely the hook of the event for me -- but it was absolutely fantastic to eat it in such an amazingly beautiful ambience (and to think that the gala diners will actually sit at those tables for their meals!)


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