On June 14, hundreds of people strolled Culver City’s Media Park to show their support for Taste of the Nation and were rewarded with some of the best possible food and drink in Los Angeles. Instead of clubbing you over the head with a bite-by-bite rundown of all 30 dishes, here are my eight favorite tastes from this year’s event, which benefited Share Our Strength, in order of consumption:
Pizzeria Mozza is best known for pizza, but you won’t find many tables without Pastry Chef Dahlia Narvaez’s butterscotch budino. The rich, creamy pudding is topped with a thin layer of caramel sauce, a dollop of cool cream and a sprinkling of Maldon sea salt that really makes the flavors pop. The perfect complement: a crunchy rosemary pine nut cookie.
BLT Steak is currently my favorite steakhouse in Los Angeles, and it’s because of their perfect outer char. They have a new head chef since my last visit – Brian Moyers – but the steak was just as impressive as in February. The slice of New York strip was plated with “smoked” potato salad and chimichurri.
Philippe’s and Cole’s have the pedigree, but Warren Schwartz’s lamb French dip from Westside Tavern might be my favorite, thin-sliced and not fatty but still juicy, topped with caramelized onions and a spicy horseradish cream that set off the soft, jus-soaked bun.
FIG chef Ray Garcia topped a bowl of nutty farro with pulled duck confit and, tart cherry slices and arugula that helped balance the duck’s richness.
Rivera‘s John Rivera Sedlar said organizers balked at his plans to serve a seemingly simple tortilla, so he added tangy salsa verde and fresh shrimp. The flower-pressed tortilla was ethereal, seared on the grill until crisp at the edges yet still ultra-light.
6-year Craft veteran Jeff Harris recently took over the kitchen at Tom Colicchio’s Century City outpost. Based on his two dishes, he’s clearly off to a blazing start. There was plenty of pork belly circulating at Taste of the Nation, but none could match Craft’s caramelized square with sweet corn kernels and juicy cherry tomatoes.
Craft was the only stop to deliver two knockout dishes. The ultra-moist apricot buckle was topped with cool cream and sprinkled with crushed almonds for texture’s sake.
Nobu‘s miso-glazed black cod came on butter lettuce with matchsticks of crispy phyllo. The fish came apart in luscious sheets and featured caramelized, miso-lacquered skin. This was probably the best miso-glazed black cod I’ve eaten. Then again, it better be good. After all, didn’t Nobu popularize the dish?