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Armed with the usual video camera, excessively large microphone and matching appetite, Team Betty took to the Paramount Studios Backlot for the fourth annual Los Angeles Times The Taste, on what may have been one of the hottest Labor Day weekends in Los Angeles history.
The best bites and beverages from around Los Angeles were there for the tasting, along with the visionary chefs that formulate flavor in this discerning city. Surely the unsung hero of the event, Icelandic Spring Water, that kept everyone hydrated.
Gearing up for The Taste weeks in advance by smoking ribs with Noelle Carter and weaving zucchini with Russ Parsons, Team Betty had the inside scoop on the impending BEARD-OFF inspired by Chef Michael Cimarusti’s fierce facial hair, and James Beard Award winner, Russ Parsons. Watch the video!
OK. OK. Chef Cimarusti wasn’t really there for a BEARD-OFF, rather to speak with Parsons on a panel about sustainable fishing practices and do a killer cooking demonstration. So I asked the chef-owner of Connie & Ted’s, a new concept named after his beloved grandparents, “What’s so darn important about sustainable seafood?”
Cimarusti replied, “It’s important for so many reasons. It’s important because if your child wants to eat salmon, beautiful wild salmon from the the coast of California, the Pacific Northwest, in twenty or thirty years — we’ve got to worry about it right now. It’s important because wild fish, as a protein source, is very important for the world and we already have enough problems with starvation. If you don’t protect what we have right now, that problem will just get worse and worse.”
The stars must have been aligned for Team Betty to get an interview with the man, chief instigator and sometimes banana-clad owner-operator of Starry Kitchen, Nguyen Tran.
The animated restaurateur explains, “We’re on our first, third restaurant. Which makes no sense and statistically we should have failed by now, but we’re still around. We’re tenacious.”
But why is Nguyen rubbing my baby bump? I dare you to watch the video!
It’s very unlikely for me to pick a favorite bite that’s sweet. First of all, it’s really hard to choose just one bite from an event like The Taste. But the combination of the charming ladies in the booth at Sweets for the Soul and their rich, salty-sweet confections won me over.
Also, a huge thank you to the Sexy Sauza Senoritas for dancing in the video… You did watch the video, didn’t you?
Still on a sweet kick I suppose, Mozza’s Butterscotch Budino with Almond Rosemary Cookie had me wanting more. The Cheddar Bacon Deviled Eggs from The Counter made a strong impression on me as well, as did their Mini Beef Burger, which you won’t see pictured because it was devoured too fast. The Chicken Tinga Taco from La Sandia was good, even better was their Pork Carnitas, but not nearly as photogenic. The Rodeo Cronet, a cronut knock-off from the BLVD at Beverly Wilshire Hotel created quite the buzz.
Go ahead, call me averagebetty, Pinches Tacos are good. Fresh ingredients and tortillas, and an even fresher staff in the booth, keeps the line long and the crowd smiling. Chicken Curry with Shanghai Cucumber from Mr Chow was good. Kale was on the menu at Tender Greens, including the Kale and Salami Salad above, even better was the Kale and Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho, not pictured. Nidi di Rondine from Rivabella, much easier to eat than to pronounce.
Spicy Dan Dan Noodles from Lukshon were a dream come true. The STK Lil BRGR with blue cheese, onion and arugula was a forbidden treat. (You’re not supposed to eat blue cheese when you’re pregnant – don’t tell my doctor!) The Halibut Tacos from Border Grill were lovingly served by Susan Feniger and her beaming smile. Also from STK, the Grilled Watermelon Salad was nothing short of spectacular. I didn’t indulge but was made to feel awfully jealous by those around me, slurping the Chopin Bloody Mary. Chef Jimmy Shaw of Loteria Grill was also on hand passing out his Three Little Pigs Tacos, which I’d huff and puff and blow somebody’s house down for, no doubt.
Jitlada warned every guest that their offerings were spicy, and they weren’t playing around. What they didn’t warn people is how darn delicious their Spicy Barbecue Pork Noodles with Peanuts are. The Watermelon and Tomato Salad from Feed Body and Soul was surprisingly delicious. An even bigger surprise? The Kale and Porcini Mushroom Salad from Chi Lin. Dressed in sweet sesame, I would dare to say, it is the best kale salad I have ever had. Rounding out the the evening, a Short Rib Ravioli from Pasta Mia. Very hard to believe it was frozen, though I don’t think you’d be able to fool Joe Bastianich.
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