Monday, August 16, 2010

Croquer: Plate by Plate 2010

All dressed up and nowhere to go. The opposite was the case this past Saturday night when a last minute hookup from Food Marathon sent me on my way downtown to the Wallis Annenberg Building at the California Science Center to cover Project by Project's Eighth annual Plate by Plate tasting benefit. Rolling up alongside black suits and cocktail dresses made me sheepishly glance down at my short sleeve button-up and white canvas shoes (thank goodness it wasn't after Labor Day). Luckily a sunny smile from PbP's marketing director Belle Hsu made me feel more than welcomed and sent me on my way into one seriously well-planned party.
The shimmering space-age hangar housed the fifty-some restaurant participants and vendors with ample space to move between the stations.
The well-dressed crowd ping-ponged between wine tasting booths, sake and limoncello vendors, and of course the food...
As PbP supports Asian and Pacific Islander communities, the prevalence of Asian restaurants and dishes was to be expected. And the first stop was one of my favorites, Jitlada Southern Thai cuisine. Their spicy Crying Tiger Beef and Chicken Green Curry set the standard for a quality spread.
Fraiche's Salmon Tartare on a potato chip was the first of MUCH raw fish to be consumed throughout the night!
Mo-chica had one of my favorite bites at the LA Street Food Fest tasting event, and again won my taste buds with their deliciously seasoned Anticuchos.
Bistro LQ's Sweet Pea Tapioca with Smoked Salmon wasn't quite my thing, but was one of the more beautiful presentations.
The Liberty Farm Duck & Heirloom Melon Salad from Craft Los Angeles was a tasty twist on prosciutto (though mine lacked the melon!)
The Pepper Crusted Yellow Fin Tuna, Sweet and Spicy Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes with Star Anise Essence from Café Pinot was indeed peppered! A bit too much for my taste (caused a light cough), it simply overwhelmed the other flavors.
Musha's Spicy Tuna and Rice Cracker was a nice marriage, but I could have gone for a smaller helping! Hated to leave any unfinished. Their marinated Kushi Kara tofu kebab was incredibly chewy and a lesser favorite.
When I asked Eric Greenspan of the Foundry on Melrose what was in his curious looking "Albacore Tartare" he said "too many things to list!" The meaty menage included crisped cheese, beef, onions, and the popular potato chip.
One of my favorite dishes that really captured an unforgettable and layered single bite was the Pomegranate Glazed Duck Meatballs with Parsnip Puree & Orange Essence from Executive Chef Amar Santana of Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale's South Coast Plaza. Not generally a huge proponent of foam, the light orange essence froth here was lovely with the rich and juicy duck.
A presentation mark goes to Roy's Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine, their New Style Hamachi Poke ceviche with caviar the lustful little martini glass on everyone's plate (and it was tasty too). The Forbidden Black Thai Rice Pudding was a welcomed sweet bite at this point, with a lingering herbaceous after taste.
Chef Brian Redzikowski of the Thompson Beverly Hills composed a tidy Spot Prawn "Cuban Style", which is when I realized I was getting very, very full...
But not too full for Perfecto Rocher's Kampachi with Apple Arugula Avocado Foam and Shiso Flowers. This absolute stunner from The Blvd (along with impressive design elements and, well, pure charisma) won head of the class for me. Again with the foam, but here as a bracingly crisp planty kiss atop the kampachi. Wow!
One last savory from One World Vegetarian Cuisine made me realize I had to stop... I do have to give their Vegan Shrimp Spring Rolls & Vegan BBQ Drumsticks credit for being deceivingly authentic tasting meatless bites however! But alas, I had to take a stroll around, taste some wine & sake, and prepare myself for at least a few dessert tid bits from the kitchens' second guard...
Craft's Peach Tart Tatin with Sauternes Sabayon was a warm flaky pastry reminder of my Czech family's summer favorite peach dumplings.
Bistro LQ's sweets were more to my liking, with a Black Sesame Macaron and Tuille Cone with White Chocolate Ice Cream and American Caviar. The satisfying salty crunch of the caviar may have added a new favorite ice cream topping to my list...
Fraiche's Panna Cotta with Watermelon Soup struck me as odd, the cream slowly curling into the watermelon liquid, not the most appealing texture combo, but a very palatable dessert.
I unfortunately missed Starry Kitchen's Tofu Balls (another LASFF fave), but was happy to have another pass at their Pandam Flan! Starry Kitchen always wins my spirit award - they're so damn cool!
I munched my taro Yogurtland with mochi bits like a food zombie as the celebrity sous chefs were introduced and the event winded down, and slowly made my way out into the night, wishing I had taken the bus so I could jog back to Hollywood...
For more info on Project by Project and their non-profit partner Health Justice Network visit


  1. What was up with Greenspan's tartar? It definitely tasted like beef and according to you it was, so why was it labeled as albacore?

  2. too bad you missed the tofu balls - they were stellar!!!

  3. kevin - right? I swear he said beef carpaccio to me, before I saw the sign... very confused, and it was DEFINITELY beefy!

    t.a.d. - Luckily I had SEVERAL at the LASFF!!! ;)

  4. My stomach hurts just reading about all that food! Though I'm sure I could have found some room for that taro yogurt + mochi too. Guilty pleasure. :)

  5. Kevin, it's possible we had the wrong signage. There were quite a few last minute changes from the restaurants on what they were preparing.

  6. Looks like this year's event was better than last year's

  7. After looking back at the event, I realized the over abundance of raw, room temp fish was due to indoor venue featuring no gas lines, and hence no griddle, stove, grill, etc. Blvd's hamachi + avocado mousse was the best bite for me at the event due to missing quite a few booths.