Sunday, September 21, 2008

Special Foodventure #76: Savor the Season (Downtown L.A.)

Thanks an invite from the event's PR firm, I had an opportunity to check out tonight's Savor the Season for free (otherwise, I probably would've needed a beer mug fund for it). In short, it was a stellar event.
Taking place in the Vibiana downtown, a former cathedral converted into a performing arts center and events venue, the setup was elegant and logistically friendly. There were really no mobs or bottlenecking throughout the night, and it was not uncomfortably jammed with attendees. The space could've been better ventilated, given how hot my friends and I were, but it wasn't too uncomfortable.

Of course, food was the highlight of this event -- and the offerings here didn't disappoint. For the most part, the things I've sampled were well-made (and beyond my expectations for an event, many of the foods were prepared on-site and not sweating on a tray or in a chafer dish for hours). Remarkably memorable eats and drinks included the:
Geoffrey's lobster salad in phyllo cups - despite my recent overload on this shellfish, I found this a refreshing and tasty bite. Particularly interesting to eat since the raw lobster (mixed with corn and avocado) is still firm, meaty and almost crunchy, unlikely other seafood which is usually more limp in this preparation.
Catering by Field's chilled avocado bisque (seen here with tandoori chicken croquettes) - asides from the visually appealing presentation, the bisque was very well balanced. A little sweet, a little creamy with nice texture contrast from the crisp. The croquettes were great mini biscuit sandwiches, but I didn't pick up much of the tandoori marinade/rub flavors.

Boneyard Bistro's fried mac 'n cheese fritters - I am usually not a fan of already-fatty stuff fried up, but these were not too heavy, had a great crunch and were wonderful when coupled with their house barbecue and chipotle mayo sauces.
The Saltistry's various flavored/smoked salts - If I had unlimited access to drinking water, I could spend the entire evening experimenting with all their different flavored salts! My favorite combos included a vodka-soaked tomato rolled in chili salt (an edible bloody mary) and the olive-oiled covered potato in truffle salt. Melon cubes and clementine segments in assorted fruit-flavored salts also did a number on my tastebuds too! Now I am bummed about missing out on their event @ the (now closed) Food Court LA a few months back.

The Timanoix cheese presented by Andrew's Cheese Shop - a semi-firm, brown rind cheese produced in France. It is washed in walnut liqueur and thus has a strong, pleasant smell and taste reminiscent of that nut. A few other good cheeses were offered here (Humboldt Fog and an orange Stilton) but the walnutty one definitely stands out, probably because it was so unique. Well, and because I love walnuts in general . . .
Truffle lollipops from Brix@1601 of varying flavors (the two I tasted resembled a key lime pie and macadamia caramel), I loved the feel of these, since the chocolate shells were thicker than normal and the centers were liquid. In short, a flavor explosion in my mouth followed by cocoa-licious linger of the melting shell pieces.
I was definitely glad to see the Edison mixing up drinks there too. Pictured above is their English Afterthought, made with Miller's gin, St. Germaine elderflower liqueur, ginger beer and muddled blueberries and ginger slices. A well-rounded a complex drink with good aromas, taste and finish all around, particularly the fruity tang and the lingering spicy bite. They were also mixing other cocktails as well, and even commissioned a Green Fairy to push a cart giving out miniature bottles of absinthe (already mixed with water and sugar) to promote their Lucent Dossier event on Wednesdays.

Ventura Limoncello - made from lemons grown one county over, it packs a nice tang, an intense fragrance and a barely-there bitterness (some limoncellos I've tried before are unpleasantly bitter, because lemon peels - along with the aromatic zest - got steeped in alcohol, not the case here!)

Nicolas Feuillatte's Rosé Brut Champagne, presented by wine expert Bonnie Graves from Girl Meets Grape - light, summery and refreshing; while it's not sweet, the nose has distinctive ripe berry smells. Easy to drink but with decent depth and character, so a great all-purpose bubbly to serve at gatherings.

And like any other high-profile food events, part of the thrill comes from meeting the chefs, restauranteurs and food purveyors and experts who are so passionate about what they're serving (the saltistry girls were definitely the most enthusiastic of the bunch!). And of course, seeing fellow foodies, including Gourmet Pigs, Caroline on Crack and Eating L.A. as well as the guys behind Social Domain and Drink|Eat|Play, and having fun sharing what's a must-try and other culinary going-ons in town while nibbling and sipping the evening away, literally savoring the season and bidding a fond farewell of a wonderful summer of good eats and drinks.

Here's to wonderful event that's definitely worth checking out next year, and that it will be bigger and better and raise more funds for Break the Cycle to help end domestic and dating violence.

Update: 944 Mag's got some amazing photos of the event here.

Savor the Season at the Vibiana
210 S. Main Street
Los Angeles (downtown)


Kat said...

Oh I am so jealous! The food looks amazing and all for a great cause!

I am especially jealous that they had raw lobster. I have been meaning to try raw lobster because I hear that it's sweet and has a nice texture.

ila said...

ooooh so jealous... not only of the food, but the venue mustve been bootiful!

jepot said...

You lucky dog H.C., the flavored salts looks so interesting.

Chubbypanda said...

You'd think that with ceilings that high, the temperature would have been cooler. Hopefully they managed to keep the raw lobster chilled down.

H. C. said...

Kat and Ila, it was a wonderful event! They're moving the venue for next year, though - I believe. Hopefully the logistics will be just as easy.

jepot, the salts are indeed very yummy! The saltistry folks emailed me back and told me that they're doing a tasting and shopping event in early December, so keep your eyes and ears peeled ;)

CP, yep the lobster was kept cool -- and two days out and no ill after-effects. The venue did also have fairly large windows -- great to let natural light in, but can also make the interior feel like a greenhouse.


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