We attended the "festival" on Saturday. I won a pair of tix and thought it would be fun. After driving around 1/2 hr looking for parking, we ended up paying $20 at a Hilton 2 blocks away. The festival started at 2. We entered at 2 and no one was properly set up. The ice was late in arriving, so all the wines were warm. Now, I don't know what the words "food festival" mean to you, but I certainly was expecting more than 2 small tables with cheese trays (which were absolutely mobbed) and 1 table with 3 small plates of chocolate, a tart vendor with a surly attitude and a pair of kids handing out tiny packets of pistachios. My husband and I purposedly did not eat all day expecting some wildly delicious exhibits and were stunned by this total lack of hospitality. The Cat Cora demo was ok, at least her people handed out small plates of the dish she was preparing (although they were cold). Tommy Tang's demo resulted in ONE plate of Thai rice passed from person to person in the seated audience with a box of plastic spoons. It didn't make it past the first 3 rows. Disgusting. All in all, the people who put on this show should be totally embarrased by it and we wouldn't return to it if they paid us.
We just got home from the festival, and my advice is don't bother. We got in free thanks to a family connection I'm not going to mention, and it was worth exactly what we paid. There were about 20+ wineries, ranging from two or three pretty good ones from the Paso Robles area, to some very forgettable ones. There was no rhyme nor reason - there was a booth of Chilean wines, two or three French (one from Bordeaux, one from Cote du Rhone, both with their drinkable but lower-end products), several from various parts of California, but no structure at all.
The "food" consisted of two booths handing out very small samples of cheese and one food service company serving a teensy crab cocktai. There were a lot of unrelated booths - LA Times, somebody selling paintings, etc. If we'd paid $65 to attend this, we'd have been very unhappy.
We did get to try the Wine Wizard - the product featured a few weeks ago in the Times that claims to smooth out the tannins and make harsh wines drinkable. They poured before and after tastings on a lower-end Cabernet and Merlot. I could tell no difference at all on the Cab. The Merlot seemed a little less tannic after pouring through the device, but if anything that just made it less interesting.
We also attended the Food & Hospitality show, and will post our thoughts tomorrow after sorting through the masses of literature we brought home.
My wife and I are going to the Bon Appetit Culinary & Wine event in Beverly Hills in September. Has anyone else sign up for this event. It is a weekend culinary extravaganza....I hope.
Conny Andersson/The Blvd
Gino Angelini/Angelini Osteria
Govind Armstrong/Table 8
Christopher Blobaum/Wilshire Restaurant
Steve Carson & Michael Carmona/La Conversation
Celestino Drago/Enoteca Drago
Ben Ford/Ford's Filling Station
Neal Fraser/Grace Restaurant
Gabriel Gabreski/blue on blue
Suzanne Goin/A.O.C. and Lucques
Tim Goodell/Dakota and 25 degrees
Karen & Quinn Hatfield/Hatfield's
Monique King and Paul Rosenbluh/Firefly Bistro
David LeFevre/Water Grill
Jane Lockhart/Sweet Lady Jane
Sal Marino/Il Grano
Walter Mayen/Mastro's Steakhouse
Joan McNamara/Joan's on Third
Jean Francois Meteigner/La Cachette
Gabriel Morales/Republic Restaurant and Lounge
Michelle Myers/Boule Patisserie
Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger/Border Grill and Ciudad
Joseph Ojeda/Social Hollywood
Erik Ritter/boé restaurant
Aaron Robins/Boneyard Bistro
Raffaele Sabatini/Pecorino Restaurant
Raul Salinas/Katana Robata
Hiroshi Shima/Sushi Roku
Kerry Simon/SIMON LA
RaShon Smith/Café Rodeo at the Luxe Hotel Rodeo Drive
Suki Sugiura/The Beverly Hilton
Shigefumi Tachibe/Chaya Brasserie
Christine Torres/The Grill
Pasquale Vericella/Il Cielo
i've been to this event in past years ( several times at paramount studios ) - my suggestion, if you are close enough, take a taxi - there were quite a few wines and beers to taste - the food was decent - what i really liked was the opportunity to talk to the chefs - most were very accomodating, especially if you buttered them up by mentioning meals you've enjoyed at their restaurant - i remember talking to sherry yard from spago about where a home cook can purchase quality ingredients for pastry goods - she was very nice - the key is being at their booth when they are not too busy. One year i got to the event late - the downside, some of the booths ran out of food, the upside, the chefs weren't too busy so they were very receptive to discuss foodie stuff, also, the liquor purveyors were pouring large drinks...i got hammered !!!
after reading the list of the participants in this years event, i'll need to consider going !!