It’s not all that often that I party with lion tamers, contortionists and “elephants,” but that’s exactly what happened on July 10, when CONCERN hosted their 36th Annual Block Party on the Paramount Studios backlot in an effort to CONquer CanCER Now.
Additional circus-themed theatrics included the ringleader and tall man who greeted us, a carousel, acrobatic ring girls and a woman who wore a table as a dress. Or was it the other way around?
We were invited to experience this year’s soiree, which organizers titled “Concern Under the Big Top.” The block party featured over 50 restaurants and caterers, including Lawry’s The Prime Rib, Delphine at the W Hollywood and Grace/BLD. Guests also enjoyed an extensive “casino,” live music from the likes of the Tom Nolan Band, coffee, soda and plenty of alcohol.
Early in the evening, dessert didn’t make much sense…until we spotted Jamie Cantor’s display for Platine bakery. Cantor is known for her cookies, and her deluxe “Oreo” was certainly satisfying, but so was her caramel capped brownie and chocolate baby cake with fleur de sel.
Dominick’s and Little Dom’s chef/co-owner Brandon Boudet prepared two of his signature items, including massive, golden-crusted arancini filled with mushrooms and molten mozzarella.
Bar Hayama chef Frank Toshi Sugiura named his sushi-focused Sawtelle restaurant for a town just outside Tokyo. He approximated his sushi bar on the Paramount backlot, preparing yellowtail and shrimp sushi, placing dabs of “wasabi” between the sushi rice and fish.
Grace/BLD chef/co-owner Neal Fraser prepared what was probably the night’s top taste, dressing silky, sous vide sea bass with yuzu kosho, shrimp and bay scallop ceviche drizzled with olive oil.
Joss Cuisine delivered upmarket takes on dim sum, including spinach siu mai with wasabi cream sauce and sesame oil; and chicken wontons with chile sauce.
Delphine contributed an exemplary dessert, which was a bit of a surprise, since the Mediterranean influenced French restaurant hadn’t been on my radar. The clear cup hosted textured layers of Thai coconut jelly, Grand Cru Abinao 85% cocoa chocolate cream, a chocolate mousse made with Grand Cru Alpaco 66% cocoa, crunchy chocolate beads and yuzu cream, all topped with a square of rich, brownie-like “marquis cake” made using both Grand Cru chocolates.
Near the end of the evening, we took a ride on a towering ferris wheel that provided unparalleled views of the festivities below. This allowed us to soak up the scene and reflect on one of the more unique food festivals in the city. Then again, movie studios are known for producing surreal experiences, so that probably shouldn’t have come as a surprise.