Tuesday 14 August, 2012

LAFW Saturday Grand Tasting



Chef Mark Estee's Blood sausage and polenta. Nom doesn't begin...

The Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival did something interesting with the obligatory "Grand Tasting" this year: it split the event in half. So while all 200 wineries (!!) were pouring on both Saturday and Sunday, each day had 30 distinct chef/restaurateurs sampling food. That had good and bad aspects to it: On the good side, presumably one could experience the Grand Tasting for a cheaper ticket price, if one only wanted to do one day (a hard choice, though!), and still taste as many wines as one possibly could in three hours. The event tent was definitely less crowded than it would be if it was one day only, too. On the downside, if you could only make it to one day, as I could, you might feel you missed out on some chefs. And with only 30 tasting stations, several popular ones got very long lines. Also, that reduced number tended to make the sponsor stations from Jenn-Air, Lexus, Delta Airlines, Ruth's Chris, Stella Artois seem a bit more prominent, even dominant.

Conversely--and here, you might think I've really lost my mind--200 wineries pouring seems a bit excessive. After all, there's no possible way to taste even half of the offerings and leave standing, and it's challenging to choose from a large field of small and largely unknown wineries, so you're likely to gravitate towards ones you already know, and what's the fun in that? Just take my experience: I tried some Royal Tokaji, because, hey, that doesn't get poured very often. And I tried Drew Barrymore's pinot grigio, because, well, I was curious (It didn't suck). Can't even remember what else I tried. It would definitely be nice to see the field pared down and curated a bit--either organized more by region or by variety. Or, at the very least, copy Taste Washington and organize them alphabetically.

Enough of my griping, the photos really tell the tale here--many nice bites, none phoned in, none overlapping in concept, most all impressively original. That doesn't happen often. See captions for more detail...

The entire LAFW event is a fundraiser for St. Vincent Meals on Wheels. Please consider making a donation.

Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival official site