For years I’ve been reading the Los Angeles Times food section — sometimes for the restaurant reviews and sometimes for the recipes that the staff churns out on a weekly basis. The dishes are all prepared in the newspaper’s test kitchen, a mythical place that I’ve always imagined was run by elves and little hamsters in wheels. Imagine my delight when I was invited last week to a media-comped meal at this hallowed culinary ground. Yes, I was headed to the LA Times test kitchen, and I was just barely less excited than the time I managed to get myself into the Playboy Mansion ten years ago (but that’s a whole other story — spoiler alert: I was in the same room as Gloria Alred, Jesse Jackson, Anna Nicole Smith, and Tiffany. Need I really say more?).
Anyway, the purpose of these test kitchen shenanigans was to provide a preview of the LA Times’ upcoming food event titled The Taste. It’s a multi-day affair this coming Labor Day weekend at Paramount Studios featuring food, wine, and various noteworthy speakers. To give us a taste of The Taste (see what I did there?), we were treated to various bites from a few of the vendors who’ll be at the festival. After the jump, check out some pics of what’s to come…
The LA Times Test Kitchen. Surprisingly homey and not Top Chef-y.
My stomach begins to growl as little plates of ceviche appear on the counter.
A veritable bouquet of sliders, courtesy of the Los Angeles Times test kitchen director Noelle Carter.
The guys from Dog Haus in Pasadena grill up some Hawaiian rolls. As we Jews say at Passover, DAYENU.
Ceviche and hot dogs. This is my type of meal.
Noelle Carter and LA Times Food Editor Russ Parsons welcome us to the kitchen. I can barely focus on anything they’re saying with all the food and aromas overwhelming my sense, but I somehow I do latch onto a few tidbits, such as the fact that they test recipes up to 40 times and respond to nearly every Culinary SOS submitted to the paper. See some of them here.
Zomg hot dog heaven, courtesy of Dog Haus. The foreground is something of an ode to a reuben with a pastrami hot dog, slaw, and Thousand Island dressing.
The other hot dog is a spicy red curry something or another. Being that I am very professional, I took no notes, which is unfortunate as my brain turned to static upon hearing the words “red curry.”
*Update: the dog was a Spicy Thai sausage with arugula, diced tomato, crispy onions, spicy basil aioli, avocado.
Time to take a bite.
This won’t be easy. Did I mention that the hot dogs were all presented in those grilled Hawaiian rolls. Why is this not the norm? It’s basically the perfect combo.
Here we go.
The bliss is already registering on my face.
And now comes the dawning realization that I’m about to make a mess of myself at the Los Angeles Times.
But I forge ahead! Btw, photos courtesy of DianaTakesABite
Once again, I’m feeling joy.
We have achieved BITE status.
Things are getting mad real. #turnUP
I did it.
And I’m happy.
Lesson to be learned: these hot dogs are awesome. Why isn’t there a Dog Haus in Hollywood?
You can’t really see it, but I have Thousand Island dressing all over my nose.
We definitely can’t overlook Noelle Carter’s sliders. The brisket was smokey, tender, and sweet — nicely counterbalanced by the slaw. I may have taken two home with me
The dish I probably ate the most of was this Marlyn fish pâté, topped with sea snail, shrimp and octopus ceviche, courtesy of Coni’Seafood. I’m so glad I honored it with this blurry photo.
Beverages courtesy of Josh Goldman and Circa. This nifty libation is a Richard Pryor, which features rum and smoked cola.
And now dessert, courtesy of Crème Caramel LA. Many bread puddings — including a caramelized Chinese pork sausage variety — were had.
Nutella bread pudding. Tasty, but definitely needing more Nutella.
Upside down ube pie. This may have been my favorite dessert, especially as it reminded me of the taro pastries I enjoyed in Hawaii last month. Hmm… I should blog about that.
Here’s that crazy Chinese pork sausage bread pudding. It actually works much better than you’d expect. In fact, my only complaint was that there wasn’t more sausage.
Buko Pandan Crème Caramel (basically a crème caramel made with young coconut). Wait a second, THIS was my favorite dessert. Or was it the ube. I JUST DON’T KNOW.
Great colors. And plenty of sexy wiggle.
Your standard crème caramel. Tasty, but nothing compared to that ube.
A happy man.
If you’d like to attend The Taste, check out the event information here. I only sampled from a few vendors, and it was more or less THE BEST. I can only imagine how the rest of the event will be…