For those of you who don't know yet, I am now the new Dine intern at L.A. Magazine. I've been helping with the online restaurant database and also blogging on the Digest blog. It's been great fun and I'm super excited for what's to come.
One of the biggest perks so far, was being able to attend L.A. Loves Alex's Lemonade this past Sunday. I really had an amazing time. The weather was perfect, and the venue was beautiful, with the stately mansion at Culver City studios acting as the backdrop to the event. (some of Gone with the Wind was filmed on those steps!) The food was great, with a lot of out-of-town chefs I wouldn't normally get to experience.
Lemonade was definitely present in its traditional form and in boozy variations. Red and white checkered table clothes were thoughtfully placed on the green lawns in front of the mansion for those who wanted to have a little picnic. Grilling seemed to be the popular method of cooking, and it did get a little smokey at times, but it only added to the outdoorsy, picnic-y ambiance of the event.
The best thing about the event though, was how genuine everything felt. The event benefited Alex's Lemonade Stand which raises money to help fund research in the battle against childhood cancer. Cancer is something that a lot of people can relate to. I know my life was just recently touched by cancer, and it's not an easy thing to deal with. Listening to Suzanne Goin and David Lentz talked about how they were inspired to put this event together was beyond touching. I'm not gonna lie, when Alex Scott's parents talked about their daughter's strength and courage in battling her cancer, I teared up a bit.
The live auction that followed was actually very entertaining. I enjoyed it for two reasons: 1) the items being auction all involved food in one way or another (i.e. an underground tour of L.A. eateries with Jonathan Gold, a day with Alice Waters in Chez Panisse's kitchen, a dinner for 12 cooked by some of the best chefs in town...) Of course these things were going for thousands of dollars which puts them a little out of my budget, but it was fun fantasizing nonetheless and 2) the crowd was very enthusiastically participating in the auction. It's always great when you get something in return for giving to a good cause.
L.A. Loves Alex's Lemonade 2010
Here are pictures of all the delicious bites we sampled that day.
Giada De Laurentiis
The Food Network [Los Angeles]
Pasta topped with crispy prosciutto bits and breadcrumbs--simple, but the pasta was Giada-brand pasta!
blackbird, Avec, The Publican [Chicago]
"ham in hay"
Delicious house made chorizo with ham hock that was cooked in hay to give it a grassy, earthy flavor. It was topped with fresh farmer's cheese, apple slices, and dandelion greens. The chorizo was amazing!
Gordon Ramsay at the London [West Hollywood]
"caramelized scallops with cpaer-raisin purée"
One of our favorite of the day. A tender piece of sweet scallop was crusted in crispy little rice puffs? on top of a creamy cauliflower purée.
Bayona [New Orleans]
"grilled rosemary shrimp with artichoke bread pudding
In hindsight, I should've enjoyed this dish more. It was too early in the day and I was too busy trying to plan out the best way to eat everything there. The shrimp was whatever, but that artichoke bread pudding was something else. I would kill for that recipe.
Zuni Cafe [San Francisco]
"marin sun farms hamburger on rosemary focaccia"
We told ourselves we wouldn't finish the entire burger because then we'd be too full, but it was just so juicy and the home made pickles were so good, we ended up eating the entire thing...
"pete knutson's sock eye salmon, caper aïoli and niçoise oil"
This was tasty. You could definitely taste the brininess of the capers in there. I might have went back for another of these...
Lark Licorous [Seattle]
"wood grilled wagyu skirt steak with chimichurri and green tomato relish"
Good but nothing too special. I did enjoy the green tomato relish though.
Barbuto [New York]
"farmers market vegetables with grand aïoli"
I absolutely adored the "Zen" chef when he was on Top Chef Masters, but really Jonathan Waxman? Really? Just some raw vegetables with dip?
Pizzeria Bianco [Phoenix]
Sadly, no pizza was to be seen. Although I guess it's hard to make a pizza outdoors...
Globe [San Francisco]
"chicken robata with serano chili yuzu koshu"
Good but it was chicken and it just tasted like chicken. I could've used more yuzu koshu.
Grace [Los Angeles]
"whole pig in a box"
Definitely my favorite bite of the day. I wish I'd gotten a picture of them carving the whole pig. The meat was super flavorful and the mustard potatoes that accompanied it was delicious. I could've eaten an entire bowl of that stuff. The purple sauce that topped the dish was also very interesting. I'm not sure what it was, but look how cute Neal Fraser's daughter looks while piping on the sauce. I don't like kids but she was just too adorable.
Quince [San Francisco]
"quail and chicory salad with quince mostarda"
This was also another highlight of the day. The quail was delicious and the slightly sweet quince mostarda was great with it.
Cochon [New Orleans]
"assorted link sausages with chow chow and cochon's abita beer whole grain mustard"
These sausages were spicy!
Amis, Osteria, Verti Ristorante [Philadelphia]
"lamb mortadella sandwich with ricotta and honey"
While the ricotta and honey with nuts was interesting in a sandwich, it wasn't enough to overcome the fact that it was just a sandwich.
Chez Panisse [San Francisco]
Really Chez Panisse? You too? Raw veggies and fruit?
"boudin blanc with homemade sauerkraut"
Another sandwich I wasn't very interested in.
The Hungry Cat brought amazingly fresh oysters and shrimp. I may or may not have eaten more than my allotted share of oysters. It was oyster heaven.
Mozza [Los Angeles]
Mint chocolate chip, espresso, meyer lemon, pistachio, passionfruit, vanilla, salted caramel, oh my! All the flavors were amazing. I know because we tried almost every flavor. Sadly, I was most excited about passionfruit, and that was the one they ran out of. The tangy, yogurt-y meyer lemon was my favorite out of the bunch.
Huckleberry [Santa Monica]
"beignets with hot chocolate"
These were the best beignets I've ever had. Light and airy on the inside, crispy and sugar-crusted on the outside, it was like a warm cloud of deliciousness. The hot chocolate on the side wasn't necessary, but it added a nice touch.
carrot cake, salted caramel macarons, "Snickers" bar, chocolate chip cookies, s'mores, pumpkin cupcakes"
Tavern's spread of desserts took my breath away. The salted caramel macarons were the best I'd had on this side of the Atlantic. So amazing! The s'mores built from an incredibly crisp graham cookie, chocolate, and brulée homemade marshmallow were better than any s'mores I've ever had. The "Snickers" bar had a layer of peanut-y feuilletine on the bottom that was ridiculously good. The variety of desserts offered was spectacular, but it was the flavor and execution of each little bite that really impressed me.
Yeah...I definitely had too many desserts that day and I definitely took too many pictures of the macarons.
There were plenty of celebrity sightings that day--chef and non-chef. I'm not usually one to ask for pictures with celebrities, but we couldn't resist one with Giada! Oh and that kid from Modern Family...
I can't wait to love Alex's Lemonade some more next year!