Girls on Food

Event

Marissa A. Ross Talks EastSide Food Festival, Natural Wines And Chugging Wine Straight Outta The Bottle

The 5th Annual EastSide Food Festival is coming up, Sunday, October 21st, 2018 and the line up this year is incredible. Girls on Food will be there tasting and sipping the afternoon away, so come join us!

With over 35 local food establishments will be participating, there will also be guest appearances from Eric Andre and Eric Wareheim but I’m most excited for the discussion with Marissa A. Ross, Bon Appétit’s wine editor and writer of my favorite wine book, Wine. All The Time.: The Casual Guide To Confident DrinkingI love this book because she approaches wine in a non-pretentious but still informative tone. Marissa also writes with a cheeky sense of humor and brings her personal experiences along the way.

Marissa took a break from chugging wine from the bottle on her Instagram stories (you know what I mean if you follow her!) to chat with me below. 

 

GOF: What food vendors for the Eastside Food Festival are you the most excited for?

MR: Oh man, it’s so hard to choose! I’m excited for Kismet because I don’t eat there nearly as often as I’d like to, and Otoño. I love seeing female chefs doing badass work.

 

GOF: I saw on your Instagram stories that you don’t accept unsolicited wines via mail, which I respect because it shows you’re not biased on wines. How many unsolicited wine samples do you receive per month? 

MR: I don’t get any now that I just started returning them to the sender [laughs]. There was a time when I was getting like maybe four wineries a month sending me stuff. I don’t even know how they got my address! I still get at least a dozen emails a day from wine PR companies that want to send me stuff. I used to be nice and politely respond “no thanks” to every one but I’ve given up and just started ghosting that shit [laughs].

 

GOF: Favorite wine region? 

MR: It’s constantly changing, but I’ve been on a big Italian kick for the last year or so. I love Abruzzo and Umbria, but I’m also super intrigued by the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

GOF: Any plans to start your own wine club? 

MR: I’m going to have to since everyone keeps asking me! [laughs] It is something I’ve been toying with for awhile, so we’ll see. Hopefully soon.

 

GOF: I know you’re a big promoter of natural wine, in your opinion, is there one region in the world that is mastering this? 

MR: No. The truly incredible thing about natural wine is that it is proving that fantastic, terroir-driven wines can be made anywhere in the world, versus this old school thinking that certain regions were better than others. I mean, of course there are some regions that are not conducive for making wine but often regions have been dismissed because people were trying to grow grapes that shouldn’t be grown there. You can’t grow Cabernet everywhere! [laughs] But any region can shine with the right grapes in the right hands.

 

GOF: Are there any commercial wines that you can’t help but love, like a guilty pleasure? 

MR: This is going to make me sound snobby, but I don’t. Honestly, after years of drinking natural wine, it just doesn’t taste good to me. That’s not to say I don’t have my own shitty guilty pleasures. I love Coca-Cola, especially Cherry Coke. That’s the ultimate treat for me, besides a bowl of Jeni’s Brambleberry Crisp ice cream topped with their Lemon Buttermilk Frozen Yogurt but I don’t feel guilty about that. [laughs]

 

GOF: Do you recall the first time you ditched the glass and drank straight from the bottle? 

MR: Yes. It was June 2008. I had just moved to Los Angeles with $400 to my name and unwittingly moved in with a drug dealer and a Craigslist hooker, hoarder, heroin addict. I had moved in May, but by the time June rolled around, the hoarder had all of our dishes in her room and I was terrified to even leave my room and The Ross Test— chugging out of the bottle, specifically two buck chuck because that’s all I could afford– was born. And is now forever my trademark [laughs]. I think some people think I do it just to be an ass, but for me, it reminds me of where I came from and that everyone starts somewhere with wine.

 

GOF:  What are some of your favorite restaurants with wine programs in LA?

MR: I love Kismet, Elf, Night + Market Song, Cosa Buona, Marvin… there’s so many!

 

GOF: Who are some of your favorite fellow female somms or wine enthusiasts? 

MR: One of the most exciting things happening in the wine industry is how many strong women and non-binary people are now a part of it. I love Courtney Walsh, who does the wine program for Cosa Buona and Alimento, as well as works at Domaine LA— owned by another favorite, Jill Bernheimer–and is a rep for Amy Atwood Selections— owned by surprise, surprise, another favorite, Amy Atwood. I absolutely adore Helen Johannesen of Helen’s Wines, as well as Kae Whalen of Kismet and Roni Ginach of Michael’s. There are so many! I could go on forever, especially if I ventured beyond Los Angeles, and feel really grateful to be a part of such a passionate and hard-working community.

 

GOF: Can you sum up Trump with a bottle of wine? 

MR: Probably his own, which no one in their right mind would ever drink because it’s assumably toxic and disgusting.

 

Be sure to follow her Instagram page or check out her podcast, Natural Disaster, for all of her wine adventures. 

Mei Lin to Serve a Taste of Nightshade at JBF’s Taste America LA 2018

Every year, Taste America brings the James Beard Foundation dinners and programs to exciting culinary destinations to their annual LA benefit dinner. This year’s LA event, Friday, October 12, 2018 at SLS Hotel, Beverly Hills, starts with a 6 PM cocktail and tasting reception followed by a seated dinner and dessert reception at 7 PM. I am so excited to cover this year’s event since last year’s was so incredible.

This year’s event will include many tastings, including Holly Jivin of The Bazaar by Jose Andres and Tres, Raphael Francois of Tesse, Margarita Manzke of République and Mei Lin, of the highly anticipated upcoming spot Nightshade, which is set to open this Fall. 

Born in China, Mei Lin and her family immigrated to the US when she was only 3 months old. Mei started her work in the industry at her father’s restaurant in Dearborn, Michigan which took her on a path to a line cook position at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in Vegas. Then she  worked up in the ranks to a junior sous chef.

Mei burst onto the LA scene as a part of the opening team at Michael Voltaggio’s ink. where she earned the sous chef position. She most recently won season 12 of Bravo’s cooking competition show Top Chef and after hosting many of her own pop-ups, I’m feeling confident in Nightshade becoming LA’s next top restaurant. Check out my interview with her below.  

Chef Mei Lin

GOF: Any advice for aspiring chefs working their way up?

ML: One of the key components to me becoming a sous chef within 6 months, is a no holds barred attitude. Just get your work done and learn to take criticism.

GOF: What inspired the concept behind Nightshade?

ML: Nightshade is inspired by my childhood, previous work experience and travels around the world. From helping my parents in their Chinese restaurant as a kid in Detroit to my previous restaurant jobs with stalwarts such as Michael Symons, Wolfgang Puck and Michael Voltaggio, and lastly to my extensive travels around the world. I wanted Nightshade to be the culmination of my culinary history.

GOF: I read that when you were testing out recipes for Nightshade, you opened up your test kitchen and asked for honest feedback. Which items had the best feedback and was there one item that had regrettable feedback?   

ML: The Mapo Tofu Lasagna has been the dish that has gotten the most praise so far. Surprisingly I’ve gotten feedback that the Szechuan Hot Fried Quail wasn’t spicy enough.

GOF:  What can we expect aesthetically with Nightshade’s design?

ML: The dining room is going to be light and airy with emerald green accents lined with brass. The kitchen is semi-exposed behind a marble bar counter that will be reserved for walk-ins.  

GOF: Is there one food item you wish had more hype to it?

ML: Shirataki miracle noodles.

GOF: Any foods you wish Instagram would calm down on?

ML: Rainbow colored foods.

GOF: Which JBF Taste America chef are you most excited participate alongside with?

ML: It’s a pretty exciting lineup all around but I’m particularly excited to see Holly, we’ve been friends for a long time and she is a really talented chef.

GOF:  Why is the James Beard Foundation important to you?

ML: The James Beard Foundation is important to me because it’s creating more awareness around food culture as well as honoring talented chefs that work hard to create good food ultimately helping to bring people together.  

There are still tickets available for the Taste America LA event, click here for info. 

Girls on Food’s Shared Plates Event Recap

The Girls on Food inaugural fundraiser with Industrious Century City and some of LA’s finest food and beverage vendors raised over $2,300 for the L.A. Kitchen.

Host Julianne Gabert (Girls on Food) hosted the event on Friday, October 5, 2018 at Industrious Century City. This ticketed event was in affiliation with L.A. Kitchen’s Shared Plates fundraiser, a city-wide weekend of gatherings October 5-7, 2018 to celebrate the power of food in Los Angeles. 100% of all ticket sales and any additional funds raised were donated to L.A. Kitchen.

Despite the L.A. Kitchen’s significant impact and outpouring of support, they have had to acknowledge that their combined philanthropic and earned income has not been able to fully sustain their work and meet the requirements of the loan they took out to build their beautiful facility. This required them to temporarily pause their culinary training and meal distribution programs.

Although they are not going anywhere, this year’s Shared Plates was more important than ever. All money raised through Shared Plates was matched as part of their goal to reach $600K by the end of the year. Although this event raised a total $1,167, through donation matching, this event raised $2,334 total!  

Industrious Century City, a co-working space that also celebrated it’s grand opening 2 night before this event, generously donated the space. Attendees were allowed to explore the upscale Century City offices, which make up the entire 17th floor of the Watt Plaza, freely as they participated in the event.

Attendees participated in a “take one, give one” burrito station, sponsored by Benny Borsakian, the owner of Benny’s Tacos. At this station, guests took half a burrito to eat at the event and donated the other half. Burritos and additional leftovers from this event were delivered to non-profit organization Upward Bound House, and distributed to local food insecure.

Slo Bru Craft Coffee owner Eric Raschka provided guests with bottles of his new decaf cold brew coffee. He also donated his new product, Bru Packs, a line of brew-it-yourself cold brew packs for the raffle.

Lauren Zeiher of the mylk team, supplied guests with servings of their honey, lavender and matcha almond milks. Many guests fell in love with these local plant-based mylks.

Gérard Bertrand brand ambassador Mathias Icard poured the brand’s Rosé, Sauvignon Blanc and their 90 point Cap Insula Red Blend into mason jars, which guests were encouraged to take home.

Wolfgang Puck Catering provided hor d’oeuvres including Butternut Squash Tarts with Caramelized Onions and Crispy Sage, Poached Pear Parmesan Crisps as well as an array of desserts like cookies and brownies.

Co-Opportunity Market and Deli, who’s locations include Culver City and Santa Monica, contributed a full crudités plate and a generous $100 gift card for the raffle.

A Chile Mushroom Quinoa Salad was provided by Beaming Century City. This dish was a perfect side for guests keeping it vegan.

The avocado toast station, provided by AvocaToast by Lizzy with bread by Bread Lounge (special thanks to the team at Kitchen Table app for arranging) was one of the most interactive stations. Caterer Lizzy Cooper has a special connection to L.A. Kitchen having volunteered there several times helping them prep food.

Cheeri Cheeri, an artisanal and vegan Filipino ice cream, were scooped by owner Christy Cunanan on site as well, and ended up being the Instagram image hit of the night.

Additional prizes awarded from the raffle included CHAYA Modern Izakaya, Mee And GreetTŪMBI, Osteria Mamma, and Food Stirs.

Stay tuned for information on any upcoming events here at Girls on Food! 

For more information on L.A. Kitchen, visit https://www.lakitchen.org/.

Girls on Food Announces Shared Plates Dinner To Benefit L.A. Kitchen, At Industrious Century City, Fri., Oct. 5, 6PM – 8PM

Girls On Food Hosts A Vegetarian Shared Plates Dinner To Benefit L.A. Kitchen

At Industrious Century City, Friday, October 5, 6 PM – 8 PM

Girls on Food, in partnership with Industrious Century City, and LA’s favorite food and drink merchants, will come out to fight food waste, hunger and unemployment 

Host Julianne Gabert (Girls on Food) is honored to announce her inaugural fundraising event on Friday, October 5, 2018 at Industrious Century City. This ticketed event is in affiliation with L.A. Kitchen’s Shared Plates fundraiser, a city-wide weekend of gatherings October 5-7, 2018 to celebrate the power of food in Los Angeles. 100% of all ticket sales and any additional funds raised will be donated to L.A. Kitchen.

Despite the L.A. Kitchen’s significant impact and outpouring of support, they have had to acknowledge that their combined philanthropic and earned income has not been able to fully sustain their work and meet the requirements of the loan they took out to build their beautiful facility. This required them to temporarily pause their culinary training and meal distribution programs.

Although, they are not going anywhere, this year’s Shared Plates is more important than ever. All money raised through Shared Plates will be matched as part of their goal to reach $600K by the end of the year.

Now in its third year, the 2017 Shared Plates campaign provided over 100 dinners arranged by participating restaurants and private individuals, engaged 1,000 Angelenos for the cause and raised over $120,000 for its non-profit programs.

With the purchase of a $25 Girls on Food Shared Plates ticket, attendees will receive:

Beverages provided by Slo Bru Craft Coffee, mylk and Gérard Bertrand

Hor d’oeuvres provided by Co-Opportunity Market and Deli and Wolfgang Puck Catering

Superfood salad provided by Beaming Century City

Access to an avocado toast station, provided by AvocaToast by Lizzy with bread by Bread Lounge

An opportunity to “take one, give one” at Benny’s Tacos’ burrito donation station

Scoops of Cheeri Cheeri, an artisanal and vegan Filipino ice cream

The option to participate in a raffle to win prizes from CHAYA Modern IzakayaMee And Greet, Del Friscos, TŪMBI, Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken, Osteria Mamma and more.

A coupon for a free day of co-working at Industrious Century City, redeemable starting Fri. 10/5

Click here to purchase tickets.

If you are unable to attend this event, please host a dinner or encourage your friends and family to buy tickets. If they can’t, please ask them to donate and support L.A. Kitchen’s rebuild.

Click here to donate to L.A. Kitchen, click “tickets.”

*** Ridesharing encouraged***

***All participating vendors have graciously donated their time, food & talent to the cause for this event***

***All remaining food from this event will be donated to nearby homeless, in an effort to eliminate food waste***

SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR GENEROUS SPONSORS:

SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR RAFFLE SPONSORS:

GOF Interview With La Feria de los Moles Co-Founder Lourdes Juarez

On Saturday, October 7th 2018, the 11th annual La Feria de los Moles will commence at Grand Park in DTLA. This free event is an LA classic celebrating all things mole, offering live music and mole preparation workshops. Favorite local vendors including Rinconcito Poblano, Carniceria La Flama and Zapotec Cafe will be selling their dishes starting at $10 per plate. One new addition for fans of this event is a “Passage Through the Eras of Mole” an exhibit that will detail the development of mole ingredients during “pre-Hispanic” era and the creation of mole and it’s evolution into specific dishes based on environmental region during “post conquest” era.

La Feria de los Moles Co-founder Lourdes Juarez, who grew up in South Central LA, has a serious excitement for sharing this iconic Oaxacan dish with others. Growing up, Lourdes and learned how to make Mole Poblano, Green and Red Pepian from her mother and these experiences awoken that passion in her. I recently spoke with Lourdes about this event and her mole endeavors- check out my interview with her below!

Lourdes Juarez

GOF: Do you have a standard mole recipe that you always cook for events or do you like to mix it up? LJ: My Mole recipe is fairly standard now, but it must have been more unique before. I feel this way because I recall my mother saying “if your grandmother was alive, oh no, I would be in trouble.” See the thing is that it is very hard to get Ingredients common to Mexico. It is often one or two ingredients, a small variation, that becomes the essence of each family’s recipe.

GOF: How did you start up La Feria de los Moles?
LJ: My husband (co-founder Pedro Ramos) one day said “I want to honor my grand-mother.” Of course she too had a special Mole recipe and I recall that moment because he tells me he saw my face shine like a light bulb in my head was shining through my eyes and skin. The dots all connected with memories of his mother’s Mole, and of course with my parents each coming from Oaxaca and Puebla would tease each other about growing up with the best Mole. The difficulty at first was getting the Moles and the chefs to come from those Mexican states. It was kind of hard to find it on menus here. Now everyone from the smallest to the grandest restaurants have Mole on the menu. If Angelenos still can’t find a Mole they love, they should make plans each year to taste different Moles at La Feria de Los Moles.

GOF: Can you tell me about the process of getting Mole sauce it’s own national holiday in Mexico?
LJ: Oh my gosh. First we had to submit an official request. Then we wait for majority approval. It is a long extensive writing process. It’s like submitting a scientific study on Mole with research and findings, etc. Its very difficult but not impossible, we are indeed excited.

GOF: Can you tell me your top 3 spots for Mole dishes in LA?
LJ: Sorry, but no, not really. That’s just too difficult a question for me because some places just use about 6 ingredients in their Mole while others are far more extravagant with over 40 ingredients and I completely appreciate any and all Moles. If someone loves, cares, and respects the history of Mexican cuisine enough to place Mole on the menu I’m going to be a fan. So I’m just going to take the easy way out of that question and say come down to La Feria de los Moles and find your own favorite.

GOF: Have you ever tried to add something different to Mole, and did that work out?
LJ: Yes, I have always been very interested in exploring and experimenting with different ingredient options. One day I tried honey instead of homemade chocolate, and my mother stop talking to me for over two months! In my family that’s like an eternity and every family member knew I must have done something horrible and when they found out what I did they agreed with my punishment. My lesson learned was go ahead and experiment around the edges, but never mess with the core of our Mole recipe!

GOF: What does mole represent to you?
LJ: Mole represents my roots. The flavor always takes me back to my childhood, which goes back four generations. In my opinion Mole is the epitome of family. Mole brings families together, large and small. When Mole is being served everyone comes over. The table is full, everyone is happy, it’s just the best.

For more information on La Feria de los Moles, click here.

All The Booze And Bites You Missed At Music City Food And Wine

The sixth annual Music City Food and Wine Festival came to a close Sunday, September 16th. Those who were lucky enough to score tickets to the sold-out bash had a chance to sample some of the best bites and booze from across the country. The talent roster was an assortment of celebrity chefs, TV personalities, authors and local Nashville culinary masterminds. From book signings, cocktail throwdowns, chef panels, and a concert headlined by Kings of Leon, this weekend was a celebration of all things that make Nashville “Music City.”

Here were some of my favorites from the weekend festivities!

Ruffino (Website and Instagram)

What girl can resist bubbles and a perfect photo op? Ruffino brought their A game to Music City Food and Wine. Not only did they have this darling champagne cart complete with photo booth capabilities, but they greeted guests on Saturday morning with their own miniature bottle of Prosecco or sparkling rosé. You know what I say, “ Rosé all day!”

Wicked Weed ( Website and Instagram)

Wicked Weed is one of my favorite breweries in Asheville, North Carolina. When I saw their tent on Friday night, I couldn’t think of a better way to beat the heat than with their Uncle Rick’s Pilsner. Given the insane temps and number of beer enthusiasts at the festival, this tent was in high demand.

Black Rabbit (Website and Instagram)

Chefs Trey Cioccia and Chad Kelly knocked it out of the park this year. I might even go as far as to say it was one of my top three food bites of the festival. Don’t be fooled by the unassuming, monochromatic appearance of this bite, it was filled with flavor and the toppings packed a punch. Below you will find a Rabbit Terrine Taco topped with cabbage, onion and mustard sauce. Seriously, is your mouth watering?

Nicky’s Coal Fired (Website and Instagram)

I couldn’t let Music City Food and Wine Festival pass without checking out one of my favorite Nashville establishments, Nicky’s Coal Fired. Not only are they making some incredible pizza and pasta, but the owners, Tony and Caroline Galzin, are two of the nicest people you will ever meet. Chef Tony served up his legendary Gnocchi Sardi with Bolognese Blanco and Porcini Breadcrumbs. Thank goodness I know Tony pretty well so there was no judgment when I went back for second and thirds… Yes, I have zero shame when it comes to his pasta.

If you are planning a trip to Nashville, this is one of my most recommended restaurants outside of City House.

Belle Meade Bourbon (Website and Instagram)

You can’t officially call yourself a Southerner if you don’t have an affinity for bourbon. While I had a chance to sample their full portfolio at the kick-off party, these gentlemen were serving guests Cold Fashioned, which was the BEST way to stay cool on Saturday. When there are four massive tents filled with bites and booze and you make the conscious effort to seek out the same cocktail on repeat, you know you have a winner!

Funk Seoul Brother (Website and Instagram)

This isn’t your average KFC, ladies and gentlemen. Chef BJ Lofback served one of his highly sought after dishes, Korean Fried Chicken to festival goers on Saturday. This is one of those legendary dishes that you often hear about but rarely have the chance to sample. I’m not going to lie, this dish was worth the sticky fingers.

Lonesome Dove Western Bistro (Website and Instagram)

There’s nothing I love more than a good stuffed pepper and when I heard that Chef Ian Shorndon from Lonesome Dove Western Bistro in Knoxville was serving up brisket stuffed chili peppers, I had to swing by and check them out. I was fortunate enough to snap a photo right after they were replenished because these guys couldn’t keep up with the demand. A crowd favorite for sure!

Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint + Friends (Website and Instagram)

Every year Pitmaster Pat Martin hosts an extraordinary bar-b-que inviting friends from across the country to brave the Tennessee temps and cook over the open coals for the weekend. Dishes and chefs rotate on a frequent basis, so it’s worth making multiple stops. I had a chance to sneak back to the prep area and see where all the magic happened and skip the excessively long lines. It’s hard to pick a favorite from this but I have to say I was at a loss for words after taking one bite of Chef Chris Shepard’s concoction. Chef Shepard is the at the helm of UB Preserv, where he was awarded a James Beard award in 2014. Next time I find myself in Texas, you better believe I’ll be at Underbelly!

Chef Tom Bayless, The Public House

If you have followed along on the blog or caught a glimpse of my Instagram, you know I was ecstatic when I walked into Harvest Night and saw that Chef Tom Bayless was making my all time favorite creation, The Tomato Sandwich. Yes, it may sound like a simplistic Southern dish, but I assure you it is far from that. Imagine three layers of freshly sliced tomatoes, topped with sea salt, sandwiched between a sesame seed bun slathered with charcoal mayonnaise. Is your mouth watering? I know mine is. I exercised no self-control at this tent, it was on repeat.

Chef Jeni Britton Bauer, Jeni’s Ice Cream

I have a sweet tooth like no other. Sometimes I exercise complete restraint while other times I say screw it and enjoy all the things. It goes without saying when “Jeni’s Ice Cream” is mentioned, I get a little weak in the knees. Saturday evening, Chef Jeni Britton Bauer partnered with Hi-Fi cookies and created a Sweet Corn and Blackberry Ice Cream Sandwich. You know Jeni’s Ice Cream, I don’t have to tell you how good it was!

Music City Food and Wine, you are by far one of my favorite weekends in Nashville. My clothes may be a little tighter, my feet a little sore and my liver beyond repair, but you throw one heck of a party. One I will never miss!

If you are interested in attending THE festival of the year, stay tuned to the Music City Food and Wine website (click here) as they will be announcing the dates for the 2019 festival soon!

Save The Date! Music City Food and Wine Festival – September 14-16, 2018

Image Courtesy Of Music City Food And Wine Festival

Calling all food connoisseurs, music lovers and imbibing enthusiasts! The sixth annual Music City Food and Wine Festival returns to Bicentennial Park on September 14-16, 2018.  Hands down, this is one of my favorite Nashville events. For the most part, festival programming will remain the same as it was in 2017, but there are a few new additions I want my readers to know about!

Friday Night Throwdown and Official Drink of Nashville

Nashville is known for honky-tonks, hot chicken, and hockey, but isn’t it about time that we have an official drink of Nashville? On Friday evening, partake in the ultimate happy hour where Nashville’s top bartenders and mixologists compete to create the Official Drink of Nashville. “this competition will celebrate the spirit of Nashville and shine a spotlight on Music City’s talented bartending community. The city’s best bar teams will mix, shake and measure to create this year’s essential Nashville cocktail. Enjoy bites from top chefs & restaurants, wine and cocktail tastings and more.”

If imbibing isn’t your thing, head on over to the Friday night throwdown where chefs Anne Burrell and Tim Love go head to head in a spirited cooking demo captaining teams featuring celebrity sous chefs from our very own Nashville Predators and Tennessee Titans.

Harvest Night

Where are my Studio 54 fanatics?  Pull out the velvet jumpsuits, plunging necklines, and sassy sequined clothing for this year’s Harvest Night where Kings of Leon along with other special musical guests will be performing iconic disco hits from the 70’s and 80’s. Guests can enjoy bites from 7:00-9:00 pm with Studio 54 tunes beginning at 9:00 pm.

“Chefs scheduled to cook at Harvest Night include: Jeni Britton Bauer (Jeni’s Ice Cream);Tom Bayless (The Public House); Matt Bolus (The 404 Kitchen); Sean Brock (McCrady’s, McCrady’s Tavern, Husk, Minero); Maneet Chauhan (Chauhan Ale & Masala House); Carla Hall (ABC’s The Chew); newly minted James Beard Foundation Award-winning “Outstanding Chef” Gabrielle Hamilton (Prune); Tim Love (Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, Woodshed Smokehouse, Queenie’s Steakhouse, Love Shack, White Elephant Saloon); Margot McCormack (Margot Café & Bar); Aarón Sánchez (Johnny Sánchez); Chris Shepherd (UB Preserv); Jonathan Waxman (Barbuto, Jams, Adele’s, Brezza Cucina); Tandy Wilson (City House); and Andrew Zimmern (TV personality, Andrew Zimmern’s Canteen).”

In addition to the panel discussions, cooking demos and the grand taste, Pitmaster Pat Martin will be joined by friends, chefs and other well-known pitmasters for Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint and Friends. This event is always entertaining as Pat and his buddies will cook and serve the most fantastic live fire bar-b-que. You never know who may be at the helm of this feast because last year I ran into Andrew Zimmern cooking over the hot coals.

For my bourbon enthusiasts, Pappy Hour will return on Saturday, September 16th. “This exclusive bourbon tasting will be led by Preston Van Winkle of Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery, great-grandson of iconic bourbon maker Julian P. “Pappy” Van Winkle.  More information n how to attend Pappy Hour will be announced this summer. “

One event that I haven’t had the opportunity to attend is the Gospel Brunch. To be honest, I am usually so wiped by the time Sunday comes around, I never make it. My friends who have previously attended have raved about both the music and the food. After all, who doesn’t love a good brunch?

Tickets to the Music City Food and Wine Festival are on sale and can be purchased here.  Want my advice? Purchase an all-access pass… you don’t want to miss a minute! But if you can’t splurge on the all-access pass, I’d opt for one of the following: Saturday Day Pass (Fantastic cooking demos, access to the Grand Taste and one hell of a dance party Saturday afternoon when they shut down) or Harvest Night (Stellar chef line up and an intimate KOL concert- and you know they are going to bring some great guests out).

For more information about the Music City Food and Wine Festival click here.

Hope to see you in September!

 

My Top 10 Favorite Bites From Stu And The Kids 2018

The fifth annual Stu and the Kids fundraiser showcased some of the best Thailand-inspired bites by over 25 LA restaurants. Held annually, by Stu and the Kids founder Chef Stuart Skversky and Redbird’s Neal and Amy Fraser at Vibiana, this event brings an incredible turnout of food and beverage vendors as well as epicurean guests to help raise funds for the organization.

Stu and the Kids provides scholarships for poor and orphaned Hill Tribe children for continuing their education in Chiang Mai, Thailand. This one fundraiser raised over $106,500 throughout the whole day.

Myself and guest Sara Mayer-Fried

I’m a tough critic on food events and this one did not disappoint!

What makes Stu and the Kids better than most?

  • If you weren’t able to bid on high ticket items, there was also a vending machine for guests to donate what they can (brilliant idea and I hope more fundraisers take note).
  • None of the food/beverage vendors ran out of food and drinks (to my knowledge- and I was there all day)
  • Putt putt golf! The Tourism Authority of Thailand was there and supplied putt putt for prizes. Not to brag, but I got a hole in one my first try!
  • This event is on a hot summer day, Vibiana, a cathedral turned event space, stays cool inside. There was also plenty of shade for the outdoor portion.
Coconut Tapioca by Patina Catering

My top 10 favorite eats from the event are below!

Chef Jet Tila – Grilled Pork Neck with Sticky Rice

Same Same Thai –  Papaya Salad

Tender Greens – Chicken Wings

République – Grilled Shrimp With Thai Curry 

Chichen Itza – Red Curry Mussels

Patina Catering – Ahi Tuna

Redbird – Local Calamari

Ayara Thai – Northern Pork Curry 

Chef Jason Fullilove from Barbara Jean – Thai Fried Pork Belly

Herb + Orchard – Strawberry Thai Basil Rambutan Infused Water Pop

Please follow @stuandthekids on Instagram to keep up with next year’s event!

Come Rosé All Day With Us At wineLA’s Rosé & Bubbles Festival

ATTN: LA Oenophiles!

Are you ready to taste the very best in rosé and bubbles with us at wineLA’s Rosé & Bubbles Festival?

We’ll be at this event and hope you can join us!

BUT FIRST- HOP OVER TO OUR INSTAGRAM BEFORE FRIDAY, AUGUST 17TH FOR A CHANCE TO WIN 2 TICKETS TO WINELA’S ROSE & BUBBLES FESTIVAL! 

I attended my first wineLA event last month for the 4th Annual Stars of Pinot event and now I’m hooked!

When: August 25, 2018

2 PM – 4 PM for the Afternoon Session

7 PM – 9 PM for the Evening Session 

Where: Leica Store & Gallery
8783 Beverly Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90048

Ticket Prices: Check out ticket options and buy your ticket here.

BONUS: USE PROMOCODE “ROSE10” TO SAVE $10 OFF 

Tickets are selling quick, so get on it!

Image via wineLA

Both afternoon and evening session tickets include:

  • Unlimited tasting of wines in the beautiful Leica Space. Confirmed reps that’ll be on site to pour include:      Domaines Ott, Scharffenberger, Champgane Henriot, Fleur De L’Amaurigue and many more!
  • Unlimited tastings of appetizers provided by Petrossian West Hollywood.
  • A chance to bid on wine, tours and more luxurious items through a silent auction, benefiting the TJ MARTELL FOUNDATION.
  • Awards given for best dressed male and female to the Rosé Theme- no idea what’s in store for this, but it’ll be fun to see what attendees come up with!

Check out ticket options and buy your ticket here.

Be sure to follow along with us @girlsonfoodblog, where I’ll be posting live stories from this event!

CHEERS!

New Brunswick Restaurant Week 2018: Catherine Lombardi

Guess who’s back…back again…Fatboi’s back…tell a friend. It is I, Jess, the ghost of Christmas past, coming to you after a year-long WordPress hiatus. In the past year, I started grad school and have been grinding it out, while Christie’s been managing a sports facility and running 23812947 Spartan races (aroo!). But don’t worry, we’ve been just as committed to the #fatlyfe.

July 14th kicked off restaurant week in New Brunswick, NJ. ‘Til the 28th, the hottest spots are offering discounts on beverages, meals, desserts, and everything in between. From ramen to Ethiopian cuisine, to jam-packed strombolis at Stuff’s, there’s something for everyone. It’s a great excuse to have a fancy date night, dinner and drinks with the girls, or a family outing.

I decided to give Catherine Lombardi a try, after hearing great things about their Italian fare. I easily mapped out my prospects from their $39 three-course menu, prior to even setting foot into the building. I rolled out of bed, changed, and headed to Catherine Lombardi accompanied by my childhood friends (s/o to Marce and Cee, the OG’s). Scoping out the restaurant, I quickly regretted my outfit choice. I looked like a fat baby who got separated from her nanny, in my floral jumpsuit. Wine glasses and fancy linen napkins dotted every table, and everything was RED; the walls, the velvet curtains, the carpet, the upholstery. It was what I imagine entering Christian Grey’s red room of pain would feel like, but not as terrifying.

I dove right into the wine menu (overwhelmed by the number of categories I never knew existed) and zeroed in on my go-to, Pinot Grigio, and ran with it.

For starters, I ordered the Caprese salad with house-made mozzarella. Tomatoes are either a hit or miss for me, but I easily chowed them down, and the house-made mozzarella was divine. 

I’m obsessed with anything and everything truffle, so I had to go with the Garganelli with truffle cream, prosciutto, and asparagus as my entrée. The prosciutto was the perfect addition, balancing out the truffle flavor.

Marce opted for the linguine with shrimp scampi. Obviously, I stole a bite, and it was a delicious rendition of the Italian classic.

Cee chose the tortelloni with Parmagiano-Reggiano cream and bolognese sauce. We actually had to google if tortelloni and tortellini are the same and *spoiler alert*, they are. I may have an Italian last name, but I had no idea wtf was going on. You may be looking at this picture thinking, ‘What gives? There are only 6 tortellonis.’ I thought the same thing until I sampled some, and the tortellonis were stuffed with filling, making it a reasonable portion size.

To round out my trifecta, I opted for the mascarpone cheesecake. It was incredibly creamy and tasted flan-like.

Marce selected Mrs. Palmisano’s cookie plate. To our delight, the cookies were melt-in-your-mouth soft and delicious. This plate would make any Italian grandmother beam with pride. 

Cee went for the mango sorbet. It didn’t knock her socks off, but I was pleased with the refreshing zing. 

Not only was the presentation on point, but the food quality really knocked it out of the park. All of the ingredients were incredibly fresh, making for flavorful dishes. It was fun pretending to be bougie for a night, all under the guise of a discounted prix fixe menu.

J

Fatboi Tendencies 

The 4th Annual Stars of Pinot Raises Funds (And Plenty Of Glasses) For The T.J. Martell Foundation

wineLA, Los Angeles’ top source for wine-centered events and education, held their 4th Annual Stars of Pinot gathering at the luxurious Montage Beverly Hills last week. Over 150 wines were poured for enthusiasts to taste, wine reps were on site to talk about their brands and DJ Richard Blade was also spinning the best in 80’s new wave. This grand tasting also raised funds to benefit the T.J. Martell Foundation, a non-profit that supports innovative groundbreaking cancer research.

Bouchaine’s ’17 Vin Gris of Pinot Noir

One might be under the impression that an event like this would be suited for the high rollers at wine auctions, but it was actually much more approachable.

With my general admission ticket (priced at $75) I was provided with a beautiful complimentary pinot wine glass and given access to taste any wine on the floor of my choosing. Plenty of cheeses, breads and Evian water bottles were also included in this ticket.

I believe every event should begin with bubbles and clearly, wineLA does too! Sponsor Champagne Henriot was providing guests with a champagne tasting right at the entrance to start the night on a bubbly note.

Let the games begin!

I’ve been to some smaller scale tasting events in the past, but this was a different beast. The Montage ballroom sets a tone for ostentatious LA glamour, with its operatic balconies and lavish chandeliers. However, the wine reps were all smiles and very down to earth. It was a fun mix of luxury and comfort.

Although this event wasn’t intended for attendees to make on the spot purchases, the reps were readily available with brochures and info on how to buy their wines. Many of the winemakers are also open minded to touring their vineyards, so keep their contact info on file for when you’re in their valley.

Ballroom of Montage Beverly Hills

I started the tasting tour with one of the friendliest faces there–Lindy Willingham, representing A to Z Wineworks–who set a high standard for the night. Their ’16 A to Z Essence of Oregon is lighter-bodied with notes of stone fruits, perfect for sipping on in the summertime. Although this was an earlier tasting, it was one of my favorite pours of the evening.

’16 A to Z Essence of Oregon

Pinot Noir was the belle of the ball, but many makers also offered samples of their rosé and an occasional chardonnay.

Other favorite tastes included:

Wrath Wines’ ’15 Pinot Noir – medium bodied and fruity with a little bit of spiciness

Bouchaine’s ’17 Vin Gris of Pinot Noir – very refreshing, perfect for a pool day

Iris Vineyards ’17 Chalice Estate Pinot Noir Rosé – loved the strawberry notes and light minerality

Van Duzar Vineyard’s ’16 Pinot Gris – notes of tropical fruits and a bit creamy

Although I attended this one solo (I was there for this post specifically), I do think it’s more fun to attend with a friend. So if you have a wino partner in crime, bring them out! Luckily I did bump into Chef Derrick Fox (who I have interviewed in the past) and I also got to meet one my favorite DJs on Sirius XM, DJ Richard Blade.

Me with DJ Richard Blade

There’s nothing better than discovering wines for a good cause. Be sure to keep up with wineLA’s upcoming events on their website. In addition to these events, the wineLA program (founded by sommelier Ian Blackburn) also includes wine classes, private dinners and wine travels abroad. We’re looking forward to the upcoming 2018 Bubbles and Rosé Festival, Sat, August 25, 2018, 1:00 PM – 9:00 PM at Leica Store and Gallery in Los Angeles–keep an eye out on Girls on Food for more information.

Iris Vineyards ’17 Chalice Estate Pinot Noir Rosé

Although this general admission ticket was comped by wineLA, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. 

Irvine Media Tasting: Jazz En Plein Air at Bistango

When I first moved to Irvine back in 2008, Bistango was one of the first restaurants that I went to and really enjoyed. Summer is here and they have weekly live jazz music (in partnership with Saddleback College), every Thursday from 5:30pm-8:30pm on their patio deck. It’s one of those days where you can celebrate, because Friday is happening soon! And a good way to celebrate is by relaxing in their patio, order one of their signature cocktails, sit back, relax, and enjoy the music.

Bistango
19100 Von Karman Ave #100, Irvine, CA 92612
https://bistango.com/

They recently revamped their cocktail menu, and I have to say, it was impressive. They have 9 signature cocktails. The 4 we ordered were Coconut Mojito (RumHaven coconut rum, fresh mint, fresh squeezed lime juice), Ginger Basil Lemonade (Malahat ginger rum, fresh strawberry, fresh basil, splash of lemonade), Jalapeno or Pineapple Mule (Dulce Vida pineapple, jalapeno infused Tequila, fresh lime juice, ginger beer), and the Gin Reviver (Botonist gin, lillet blanc, cointreau, fresh lemon juice).

They also have a food menu that has remained classic over the past few years. They have a bar menu, which starts at 2pm, and a tapas menu, which starts at 4pm. If you have a few friends, you guys can definitely order a lot of things to try and share it among you and your friends. A few of my favorites from their food menu is their Pan Seared Diver Scallops, Prime Beef Sliders, Filet Mignon Flat Bread, and the Crab Cakes! All were very savory and delicious!

It tends to get cooler in the evening on the patio, but if it gets too cold, they do have outdoor heaters that they can turn on. All in all, Bistango is a great place to sit back and relax right before you weekend starts. Be sure to grab a few friends for drinks, Uber if you must, pick your poison, sit back, and enjoy the music. If you drove, they do validate your parking ticket. And if you did drive, limit your alcohol intake. ^_^ Until then, cheers!

Although this meal was comped by Bistango via Shout PR, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.