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Jun 1, 2008 08:36 PM

Taste of the Nation-Culver City

Kar and I go to several Food & Wine Events annually.
The T of the N Event today was absolutely fantastic! 20th Anniversary.
Most of the Best Chefs in LA were there and serving their food in Sample form.
Lots of good Wine and lots of Shade.
Everything was great and it was nice to try the food from Restaurants that are new or off the beaten trail. Don't miss it next year.

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  1. Agreed. Even though the price of the ticket is kind of steep, most of the proceeds goes to charity.

    It gave me a good idea of which places I want to splurge next without having to waste time and money.

    Next time though I will share the plates with my hubbie. I can't believe how full I was just eating essentially appetizers and mini-desserts (no dinner for me tonight). I can't even try all the offerings there.

    2 Replies
    1. re: notmartha

      Actually, the great thing about the event is that 100% of the ticket cost goes to charity (child hunger organizations). All of the food, wine, etc. is donated by the chef and the workforce is entirely volunteer.

      That aside... I too had a great time. Perfect weather, great food from the city's ttop chefs (who were all there volunteering themselves - Michael Cimarusti, Josiah Citrin, Neal Fraser, etc.). The lines for will call were a little long and the folks pouring Pellegrino were a little stingy with the water, but it was a great event.

      For a full write up on the food, with photos, check out our blog post here:

      1. re: Hobsons Choice

        I guess I should have say that the majority of the ticket cost can be tax deductible. ;)

        Nice photos. I was debating whether to bring my camera or just stuff my face. At the end I was too busy eating to think about taking any pictures.

    2. And the weather was perfect -great for noshing!

      1. Great event, as always! My favorites included chicken liver mousse from Palates, a passion fruit tapioca and coconut dessert from Joe's/Bar Pinxto and a spicy tuna taco from Asia de Cuba. Biggest disappointment for me this year was the Grace booth, which had my favorite dish at last year's event. This year I was really careful about splitting each bite with a friend and was still stuffed at the end, but at least not painfully so like last year.

        10 Replies
        1. re: mollyomormon

          I am out of town for a few days so, sadly, did not get to make the event this year. What did Grace do/not do that was so disappointing?

          1. re: New Trial

            I may have just had the bad luck or receiving a poorly cooked piece of the pork as it sounds like others liked the dish. They served a roast pork and coleslaw sandwich, but the texture of the meat I received was so chewy and almost gelatinous that it was not something I enjoyed. If you went last year then you probably remember Grace's roast lamb, which I thought was outstanding.

            1. re: mollyomormon

              Unless you peeked behind the Grace tent, you may not have known that was a roasted whole pig you were eating. I talked to Chef Neal and got the impression that they hadn't ever used the equipment (La Caja China) before. They didn't inject the meat, so naturally the seasoning's not going to penetrate the skin. I wasn't impressed with my lean, unseasoned and almost dry sample of pork loin, FWIW. However, I'd give them a chance to dial it in.

              For those who fondly remember the weekly pig roast at Norman's, Neal said he had no plans to put a roasted pig on their menu any time soon.

              1. re: Professor Salt

                I didn't know at the time, although there are pics on Eater LA today of the roaster.

                It definitely didn't make me want to cross Grace or anything like that, it just was kind of a bummer because their dish was so delicious last year.

              2. re: mollyomormon

                Well, it sounds like you were eating high on the hog despite that lapse. I wonder if it might have to do with the portion of the pig from which your particular sandwich was derived (since Professor Salt noted Grace was using a whole pig and seemed new to the process of cooking in La Caja)--that might be the unkindest cut.

                I will note that, at its 5th Anniversary party last month, Grace had served something similar (kind of a cross between a pulled pork and a pork Sloppy Joe) which--at least the batch I tried--was quite tasty but I do not know if they were using the same cooking method for the pig.

                Yes, the lamb Grace served last year was terrific!

                1. re: New Trial

                  I was trying not to be a total pig at the event, but yes, I got to enjoy plenty of excellent dishes in addition to Grace's pork sandwich. Sorry that you missed it. It would have been fun to meet in person since you seem to enjoy hamming it up as much as I do.

                  As an aside, I don't think I've read anything about Fig, a restaurant with a booth at the event that's supposed to be going into 101 Wilshire based on their cards. Anyone know anything about this place?

                  1. re: mollyomormon

                    Per Eater LA:

                    Over at the Fairmont Miramar hotel, Fig Restaurant will replace The Grille, set to open this fall, probably Octoberish

                    1. re: mollyomormon

                      Ah but it sounds like Neal Fraser tried to make a guinea pig out of you by experimenting with his La Caja. At the risk of being a boar, I appreciate your cracklin sense of humor and I look forward to meeting you as well. Rest assured, you are not casting pearls before swine.

                      Per Monday's EaterWire, Fig is shooting for an "Octoberish: opening. In the same Wire, they also note a July opening for a new place on Abbott Kinney, near Wabi-Sabi, to be called AK Restaurant + Bar (from the photo, it looks like AK might have been at the Taste event, too--did anyone try it?). Chef is Conny Andersson, who promises a Swedish influence to the menu.

                      1. re: New Trial

                        Yes, AK's Conny Andersson sampled a gravad lax, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

                        Trying to find fault with a classically prepared dish like this is like critiquing Grace Kelly's beauty.

                  2. re: mollyomormon

                    Mine was like that too. Kind of bland, and not cooked long enough to be fall apart tender.

              3. Russ is right. Plenty of restaurants that fly under the Chowhound radar were there. I very much liked that aspect of the event.

                One of my favorite samples was from Napa Valley Grille, which I've never heard of before. They did a braised short rib on a corn pudding. Kind of on the heavy side for summer. Short rib could have braised a little longer but the accompanying savory corn pudding rocked. I also liked the simplicity of Water Grill's oyster bar. Perfectly refreshing and very popular. I'm also a sucker for gravlax, and AK had a good version.

                Some photos on my Flickr archive:

                6 Replies
                1. re: Professor Salt

                  Great day - next year I will go way earlier - long line for will call. I loved the Napa Valley Grille short rib too (mine was perfectly braised, falling apart) and the shrimp with mango colis at Bottle Rock (sweet and big). Fois Gras ice cream was a gimmick that didn't win me over (basically chocolate and peanut butter ice cream). Very dissappointed at Foxtail - all they had was a spicy chocolate cup? Desserts at Dolce Forno (fig cheesecake and lemon cake) were dabomb!
                  Does anyone have the program? I was so busy eating I forgot to pick one up - so I don't remember exactly which restaurants served what.

                  1. re: tangy tart

                    Foxtail was also serving fettuccine with clams, but they were having a really hard time getting it out in any timely way so you had to stand there forever. I was't patient enough to wait. I have the program, but not with me at work. Also, totally agreed on the Napa Valley Grille dish. Definitely one of my favorites there.

                    1. re: mollyomormon

                      Bummer you missed the Fettuccine & Clams (one of my faves of the day out of many)

                      1. re: russkar

                        what was the info for this event? I think i got it confused with the Culver City event or was this one and the same. Does it beat the Puck Meals on Wheels event?

                        1. re: kevin

                          I think were talking about the same event. As far as the comparison to M on W they are totally different.
                          The T of the N was much more compacted and focused on LA Chefs and Restaurants where as the M on W's is Chef's from all over the USA and is much larger.

                  2. re: Professor Salt

                    I was too stuffed eating at most of the well known ones that I didn't a chance to try out Napa Valley Grille.

                    I wasn't impressed with the oyster bar. I can get the oysters anywhere (actually just had stingray at Hungry Cat at Santa Barbara). I would have thought this is a chance for the restaurant to showcase their stuff.

                  3. Grace also had a timing problem. I don't think their roasted pork sandwiches came out until later but they were fantastic.