SEPTEMBER 1, 2012 | BY: CHRISTINA KHARBERTYAN
“I only know two things to be true: wine is fun. And free wine tastes better than wine that you pay for,” said Fred Dame, a Master Sommelier, in his wine seminar entitled “How to Taste Wine like a Master Sommelier.” In the seminar held on the first day of The Taste food and drink festival, we learned about wines from visual, olfactory, and taste perspectives.
The first leg of the festival centered on farm-to-table cuisine, and the beverages that accompany them. A treat for all the senses, with mountains of food samples such as fried avocado wedges with Thai chile sauce from Avalon Grille (located a hop, skip, and jump across the Pacific to Catalina Island), The Taste truly gifted attendees an extravagant tasting experience. Creative pairings of flavors were abundant at each booth; one of the more memorable dishes emerged from Crème Caramel LA with its emerald plum and almond crème caramel which had delicate flavors of plum and almond extract.
To accompany the sweets and savories were wines, beers and spirits from all over the California, ranging from the dry, acidic Chardonnay of Bernardus Winery to the sweet, rosy Moscato of Rose ‘N’ Blum. In addition to the food and wine, the organic spirits were a breath of fresh air. The most notable were Farmer’s botanical organic gin and Crop organic vodka which made refreshing cocktails.
Organic ingredients were prevalent throughout the entire event, such as the dishes at Blvd 16 like chilled Piquillo pepper and strawberry soup, all of which were made with organic produce from the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market. The panel “State of the Farmer’s Market” included three speakers: Tara Kolla, Diana Rodgers, and Jordan Toft. Kolla is an independent grower, Rodgers serves as the manager of the Sunset Strip Farmer’s Market, and Toft is the executive chef of Eveleigh. The three speakers discussed the role of local and organic ingredients in restaurants and the future of farmers markets in Los Angeles.
In the panel, Rodgers revealed the reason why farmers markets are in such high demand in Los Angeles at the moment. “They are real community builders,” she said. “Every little town wants one. The food is there and the food brings people together.” This idea rang even truer being spoken in the center of one of the largest gatherings of food enthusiasts in California.
So much of what humans consume on a daily basis pleases and utilizes every one of our senses. Food festivals give us a chance to fuel and exercise these senses and make them more attuned to nuances in flavor. By tasting foods we have never heard of, such as a salad made with Freekeh grain, or partaking in this essential community of food enthusiasm, we get back in touch with a basic instinct in being human, the instinct to connect with one another through what we eat.