AltaMed East LA Meets Napa & La Rioja + OC Meets Napa & Mexico


After much debate and consideration I was able to narrow down the awesome (pescatarian friendly) bites and beverages from AltaMed’s East LA Meets Napa & La Rioja as well as OC Meets Napa & Mexico. The events were incredible fundraisers with proceeds supporting health care for uninsured patients (from AltaMed). I couldn’t believe how huge the event was and was happily jumping from one table to the next in my attempts to try everything.

My Favorite Food Picks!

1) L.A. Paella Catering Mixed Paella. Totally took me to Spain with all the savory smells and textures. They do catering for any type of event and have vegetarian options!

All hands out for paella!

2) Mascarpone Cheesecake by Chef TurokSangria & Red Wine Sublime Cheesecake. Chef Turok partnered with Pochteca Spirits and used their Pomegranate and Blackberry Liqueurs for extra flavor on these delectable cheesecake bites. I may or may not have gone back for seconds 🙂

Chef Turok


3) La Mestiza Shrimp Ceviche. Toasted ground corn aioli on shrimp with locally grown veggies from Baja. This was my favorite ceviche of the events (and the OC date had quite a few). This location is in Tijuana, Mexico and I am definitely planning on going south to check out Chef Sandra Vazquez’s other culinary gifts to the world. 

Image by Sandra Vazquez

4) Spana Life Co. Purveyors of Spain Sheep Milk Cheese, Raspberry Chips and Jasmine Jelly. Can we please make raspberry chips the new Skinny Pop? The flavors in my mouth were incredible! Also, sheep milk cheese was so smooth and creamy – so different than goat cheese.

Cheese plate

5) Prospect Gourmand Shrimp Crudo. Blue shrimp, toasted rice with squid ink, parsley and a pepper aioli. Best of all, the restaurant prides itself on its farm to table model!

Shrimp Crudo

My Favorite Beverages! 

1) Jose Wine Caves – Malbec. Favorite wine of the entire event and Mr. Alfonso Elena (the owner) was at hand to tell us about his company’s humble origins. A love of hard work and family are at the roots of this delicious wine and it is so apparent in the taste that the Elenas’ put their heart and soul into their wine. Jose Wine Caves has a gorgeous pet-friendly tasting room in Garden Valley with absolutely breathtaking views. Upon seeing pictures of the location my trusty +1 Rocio began discussing the location as the venue for her wedding.

2) Pochteca SpiritsPomegranate Liqueur. Incredible Mexican-inspired liqueurs made with agave tequila and all natural flavors such as pomegranate, coconut, lime, almond, and hibiscus. They were spiking coffee at the event but I personally can’t wait to make my own pomegranate and blackberry margaritas!

3) Pavo RealRed Wine. From vineyards in the increasingly popular Valle de Guadalupe of Baja California Mexico, comes this sweet fruity wine. Was served chilled and was oh so perfect for the balmy evening. Can be found in Whole Foods for about $10!

4) Hard Frescos Brewing Co. – Hibiscus Flavor. Awesome juice beverages inspired by Mexican “aguas frescas” which roughly translate to fresh waters. Aguas frescas are made with pureed fruit and varying amounts of sugar, these however are put through a fermentation process similar to craft beer. The result is an amazing refreshing beverage perfect for day drinking and picnics! Check out their website for availability near you.

Hard Frescos Brewing Co.

5) Ceja Vineyards  Bella Flor Rosé. Amazing rosé with such a vibrant history. Ms. Amelia Moran Ceja was present and had me in awe at her accomplishments as a woman in the wine industry. Not only is she the first Mexican American woman to be president of a California winery but Ms. Ceja received the truly prestigious American Dream Award from Congress this past month. It is an award which recognizes immigrants’ achievements and contributions to their communities.

Overall this was such an incredible event! My tiny tastebuds were ecstatic at the end of the night and so happy to have participated towards a great cause. This event was remarkable in the fact that many passionate individuals came together with their love of food and spirits. Their stories resonated just as much as their creations.

Carla Duran

My government name is Carla, but in many circles I’m known as Carby due to my love of carbs. I've been a pescetarian for seven years and still love pizza, tacos and burgers.