The Taste 2018 - Event Review

By Kathy Flynn

The Taste 2018 on the Paramount backlot
Photo by Kathy Flynn

So much food, so little time. If you are have any sort of foodie inclinations, Los Angeles Times annual The Taste, held on the backlot at Paramount Studios, is heaven on earth. Each night features more than 50 food and beverage samplings from the top restaurants and chefs in Los Angeles. The setting is beautiful, the food amazing, and the drinks strong.

Photo by Kathy Flynn

Friday night, I started out at Hinoki & the Bird for a sampling of their wonderful Miso Donuts, available in your choice of matcha, chocolate, and caramel. I went for the matcha, which appeared to be the popular choice.

The Bellwether's Lamb Sausage Baba Ganoush with fresh herbs was probably my favorite taste of the night. Everything about it was flavorful and impeccable. Firefly's Crispy Fried Olives with whipped creme fraiche were unusual and delightful.

My next stop was to try Burning Chair's Bourbon, which was described as "aromatically intriguing with brown sugar, caramel, butterscotch and toasty oak." It was absolutely gorgeous and I found myself going back later in the night for another taste.

Bulleit Frontier Whiskey had a gorgeous set-up and two mixed cocktails to choose from. I went for aMAIZEd and CORNfused, an intriguing twist on a Pina Colada made with Bulleit Bourbon, Thai basil, coconut milk, pineapple juice and corn. Downtown LA's all organic Greenbar Distillery put in an appearance, with tastings of all of their spirits. I adored the complex and delicious Crusoe Spiced Rum, with molasses, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla beans, allspice, nutmeg, orange zest, and osmanthus.

Bulleit Frontier Whiskey
Photo by Kathy Flynn

Both Stella Artois and Exotico Tequila ingeniously served their offerings in souvenir glasses you could take home, making both of their booths destination sites, with long lines throughout the weekend.

Speaking of lines, Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken had a huge one, and were one of several booths that frequently ran out of food. Their legendary chicken was worth the wait, hot and crispy on the outside, and tender and juicy inside.

One of my favorite creamery's, Wanderlust, was there with two flavors to try; Te Amo LA Sorbet was dedicated to Jonathan Gold. It was a vegan, dairy-free neopolitan sorbet made with watermelon, cucumber and chamango. Their other flavor, Violette Marshmallow, consisted of marshmallow creme ice cream scented with parma violet. I was disappointed that I couldn't make it back Saturday night to see their Ice Cream Social demonstration.

Tribute to Jonathan Gold at Taste LA
Photo by Kathy Flynn

A few of the other options on Friday night included Rao's Hollywood fantastic meatballs made with beef, pork, veal, breadcrumbs, and pecorino romano cheese,  Casa Vega's Sweet Corn Tamales with cheddar cheese and green chile crema, and  Chao Krung's Sour Pork Sausage and Thai Beef Jerky.

On Sunday, Wolf's Crack Potatoes proved to be just that. Made with serrano, cilantro, and aji amarillo aioli it was one of two dishes that had me going back for seconds. The other dish being Pacific Dining Car's Top Sirloin and Lobster Mac n' Cheese, which was absolute perfection.

Hollywood's Luv 2 Eat Thai Bistro's Chef Pia was out in front of their booth, handing out samples personally and introducing herself. It was a lovely touch and their sticky rice was some of the best I have ever had.

Momed was a must try for me, and I found their Greek Meatballs flavorful and delicious. Commerson brought along Salmon Tartare as well as Chocolate Parfait, to hit both the sweet and savory cravings, while Manuela featured a grass-fed Beef Tartare with black corn & aged cheddar griddle cake, tallow aioli, grated tomato, corn cracklins and pickled onion.

Dog Haus' T-Mex
Photo by Kathy Flynn
My favorite hot dog joint, the rapidly expanding Dog Haus, was there with their newest creation, T-Mex, a beef, beef chorizo & pepper jack sausage topped with chipotle aioli & firecracker cole slaw, served, as always, on King's grilled Hawaiian rolls. It was a fantastic addition to their menu, and one I will probably order again.

Eataly brought along their gelato & Bomboloni. The warm bomboloni, fresh from the oven quickly melted the sweet cream gelato, creating a delectable sweet treat.

Other offerings on Sunday included mac n' cheese, collard greens, black-eyed peas and cornbread from Dulan's Soul Food, legendary Nashville Hot Chicken Bites from Hotville Chicken, and Kobeefried, made with cracked wheat with beef, stuffed with beef, onion, and pinenuts, from Kobee Factory.

The longest line Sunday night must have been for 71Above's Crispy Cauliflower, a delightful sign that plant-based food can be just as popular as carnivorous options. 

Sean Lowenthal from Little Beast
Photo by Kathy Flynn

In addition to the tastings, there were cooking demonstrations from some of LA's top chefs. I managed to catch Sean Lowenthal from Little Beast on Sunday night, and it gave me wonderful insight into both his technique and his menu.

I wish I had the intestinal fortitude to make it through all the booths, as every night had new restaurants to try. This is only a small sampling of the amazing food and beverage offerings that were available throughout the weekend. 

I would highly recommend Taste LA to anyone who enjoys good food, and trying new things. It gave me a great sense of what restaurants I want to explore more fully. I hope to see you there next year!

Posted By Kathy Flynn on September 04, 2018 12:10 pm | Permalink