Sunday, June 1, 2008

A foodie's weekend - Sunday!

Sunday - June 1st!  The beginning of the challenge - whoo hoo!

Ah let me say that I am currently reeling in food goodness.... What a day!

We started off at the Hollywood Farmer's Market on Ivar Avenue in between Sunset and Hollywood Blvds
This Farmer's Market is the real deal - probably second to only the Santa Monica Farmer's Market on Wednesday mornings. In both cases - restaurant chefs buy their items from the market and there are literally tons of vendors representing farms, ranches, and dairies from all over Southern and Central California.  It is a food paradise and it was everything I could do not to spin around in dizzy circles with my arms raised.

Okay, so what did I buy?
  • 5 avocados for $2
  • Large bunches of dill, basil, and mint (can you say mojitos?) for $3
  • Bunch of organic spinach for $1
  • Bunch of swiss chard for $1
  • Second bunch of swiss chard for free - going to the market at closing time has its advantages. A guy behind the stand was like, hey want some swiss chard? I told him that I had just purchased some and he just handed it to me and said, just take it. Awesome.
  • A pound of ground grass-fed/grass-finished bison from Lindner Bison for $8.  Kathy Lindner herself was manning the booth and she gave me a fact sheet about the merits of grass-fed/finished meats for the eater, the animal, and the environment and answered all my questions.  She was a very charming lady and I look forward to eating my bison.  This will be my first time eating bison, so we shall see how it goes.
Not a bad haul!  My meal plans are to make a swiss chard, tomato, garbonzo beans dish; a spinach salad (since I learned that eating spinach raw is the best way to capture its vitamins and nutrients); garlic dill potatoes; fattoush; and yet to be determined.

I wanted to spend more time at the Hollywood Farmer's Market, but we were in a hurry to get to another event that a colleague of Mr. Insomniac's had invited us to - the Taste of the Nation, the "the nation’s premier culinary benefit dedicated to ending childhood hunger in America." Because nothing says child hunger than a bunch of people gnoshing on lychee infused caviar atop a bed of fennel and locally grown sugar beets. But 100% the ticket proceeds go to local and national charities, so I was able to get my eat on without much consternation.  Dozens of Los Angeles restaurants were representing - many that I haven't eaten at because they are too damn expensive.  So now was my chance.  Awesome.

Now the food. Lordy, the food. Let's see: highlights were the ahi tuna tacos and calamari salad from Asia de Cuba, a lump crab meat salad on top a dollop of guacamole, watermelon ceviche, hazelnut chocolate, various sushi rolls, and a chocolate espresso donut on a stick garnished with raspberries.  Oh and a grilled cheese sandwich that was perfection on a plate.

And now for the celebrities... lol

Antonia , a finalist on Top Chef, was representing her restaurant Foxtail. Her offering of mussels with pasta was tasty enough, but difficult to eat on the go.  She participated in a 30 minute cook-off against another local chef. Unfortunately, her offering of a Vietnamese duck spring roll (while reported as tasty) lost out to the other chef's raw food concoction of a salad with a spicy pepper dressing.  Here she is toiling away while some cameraman videotapes her:

Antonia seems just as likeable as on Top Chef and joked around with the audience and her sous chef (a local comic) during the cook-off. Sitting in the front row was her daughter wearing a XS white chef's jacket. The girl was adorable and looked exactly like her mom, except for her curlier hair.

Hosting the cookoff was Kirk Cameron, who still has his charm even though he's been reported to be a little loony.  Here he is doing his emcee duty:

And rounding off the celebrity spawn was Harrison Ford's son who is the head chef for Ford's Filling Station in Culver City. I pass by that location on a regular basis and never knew that the Ford represented Harrison Jr. Interesting.  Our hosts for the day (the folks that paid for the tickets!) were part-owners of a nearby restaurant and were hosting an after party.  So we stayed around towards the end of the event.  Wonder what those crazy chefs and wait staff do once the regular folk leave the building?

Wine relay racing.  Oh yeah, it's on.

The rules are as follows: three teams line up balancing trays of an opened bottle of wine and two glasses.  At the signal, the first runners walkrun 50 yards, and come back.  They must, and here the rules are specific, do a "two-inch pour" in one glass and then hand off to runner #2.  Who does the same thing and hands off to runner #3.  At no time may the tray be carried with two hands or a second hand touch the bottles/glasses during the walk/run portion.  And of course, a dropped tray is instant disqualification for the team.  

 So here's Benjamin Ford (Harrison Jr.) representing Ford's Filling Station as he balances a tray of 2-buck Chuck on a waiter's tray with two glasses.

Border's Grill emerged as the victors and only two teams ended up dropping the trays.  Well done folks!


WeezerMonkey said...

I heard that Antonia lost a battle to Fred Eric, who is a friend of a friend.

Looked awesome! I want to go next time!

Ann Marie said...

Sounds like a fantastic event!