A FLAVORFUL AFFAIR
Hundreds of foodies were in hog heaven as they headed to the Santa Monica Auditorium for Planned Parenthood L.A.’s annual eating extravaganza. It was hard to miss longtime PPLA supporters Marvin Shapiro and Barry Goldman, who were holed up at Pink’s with chili cheese dogs in hand. “We start at Pink’s,” Marvin proclaimed between bites, “and we end at Pink’s.”
There was an endless array of swankier fare, of course, that sent gourmands and gourmets alike into a truffle-induced trance. The food fest features more than 150 local eateries, caterers, bakeries, wineries and beverage companies stepping up to the plate for a good cause.
It was a tight squeeze, especially at glorious gastronomic hotspots like Luques and AOC. With a small, hard-working staff, they managed to assemble imaginative offerings like roasted beet salad paired with fried chickpeas and feta. Next door, at Melisse, the blenders were going nonstop whipping up asparagus velouté chaud froide with black truffled prawns en gelée and truffle froth. Magnifique!
Whether your palate tends to be princely or plain, there was something for everyone. While the piano man played American standards like “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,” El Cholo dished out their sweet corn tortillas. In the next room, the Profit and Loss Dixie Land Jazz Band played “Sweet Georgia Brown” while Vietnamese chefs handed out Dungeness crab puffs and salmon tartare. There was Caribbean jerk chicken and guava goat cheese quesadillas from Cha-Cha-Cha, duck confit tostadas from James Beach and curried veggies from Bombay Café. For dessert, they offered everything from tangy key lime tarts to hot fudge brownies complete with whipped cream, sprinkles and a cherry on top.
In addition to getting your fill, the food fair is a fab place to tuck into new trends. One of the evening’s most popular chefs was Joe Miller of Joe’s Restaurant in Venice. “In this business, you really need to try out different things all the time,” he said, while putting together an order of braised lamb shank topped with spicy paprika pistachios. “In the ’90s, California was very much into a French influence. We moved from bistro to Nouvelle and experimented with Italian. Now we are doing innovative American cuisine. Everything’s fresh from the farmer’s market and comes directly from the source.”
The next hot trend will bring a touch of Ole to L.A. “Look for Spanish, not Mexican but Spanish,” said Joe, while wrapping chorizo in shiso leaves drizzled with sweet and sour honey. “You have to look for influences outside the country to stay new and fresh.”
On my way out, I found Marvin and Barry right where I left them with another dog in hand. “What can we say,” Marvin shrugged. “It’s our tradition.”
The appetizing event raised $500,000 for PPLA.