On August 2, Wally’s Wine & Spirits hosted their 6th Annual Central Coast Wine and Food Celebration, benefiting the Michael Bonaccorsi Scholarship Fund. This year’s tasting under the “big top” featured 120 Central Coast wines and top-flight restaurants from L.A. and California’s Central Coast. Here are five great tastes from the event, listed in order of consumption:
Tavern – Gazpacho
Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne, owners of Lucques, A.O.C. and Tavern, have earned justifiable acclaim for their take on Mediterranean-influenced California cooking. At Wally’s, Chef Goin poured yellow tomato soup from a carafe, dropped in dabs of crème fraiche, spooned on diced cucumber and onion and sprinkled on ground Aleppo pepper for spice, creating an absolutely of-the-moment taste that was especially refreshing on a hot day.
The Hungry Cat – Grilled Hama Hama Oysters
The Hungry Cat – David Lentz and Suzanne Goin’s Hollywood seafood bar – featured fresh-shucked, flash-grilled Hama Hama oysters. The large shell was hot to the touch but worth a little pain to taste the firm oyster and ambrosia-like mix of brine, garlic butter and breadcrumbs.
Full of Life Flatbread – Wild Boar Porchetta Flatbread
Full of Life Flatbread owner Clark Staub uses local, organic and sustainable ingredients whenever possible to produce some of the best Southern California pizza in “downtown” Los Alamos (pop. 1000). His restaurant features an impressive European-style “beehive” oven, and the mobile version at Wally’s was nearly as impressive, lined with colorful tiles. Full of Life sells frozen versions of their flatbreads to local markets, but they’re clearly better when plucked right from the beehive.
Full of Life contributed two flatbreads to the fundraiser, but it was the meat-topped version that made the bigger impression, with a blistered crust and toppings that included chunks of Chaz’s wild-boar porchetta, Los Alamos fennel, mildly bitter treviso and judicious applications of fresh tomatoes and whole-milk mozzarella.
Pier 46 – Rock Crab Claws with Tomatillo Salsa
Eric Gonzales has been supplying fresh seafood to top Central Coast restaurants like Artisan, but this year’s event was the coming out party for his own restaurant: Pier 46 Seafood in Templeton. Artisan shared a table with Pier 46 and contributed BBQ pork sliders with house-made squash pickles and ricotta zeppole with lemon curd and plum jam, but it was Pier 46’s chilled rock crab claws that made the biggest impression. The meat from the black-tipped claws from Morro Bay were nearly as sweet as Florida stone crabs and paired well with the vivid, tangy tomatillo salsa.
CUT – Sweet Corn Salad
CUT chef de cuisine Ari Rosenson and his crew were hard at work plating the revered restaurant’s ultra-seasonal salad. Sweet corn kernels and bursting cherry tomatoes were tossed with Feta vinaigrette, shavings of tangy Feta and just a few leaves of spinach to cut the salad’s richness.