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The Finest of LA's Food and Wine Scene

Monday at Picnic in the Hills

By Mary Anne Been

It’s not often that a foodie can have a great time at events with huge crowds and food vendors focused on quantity over quality, but there were some great gastronomical offerings at the LA Times “The Taste” food and wine festival.

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I was pleased. I sampled grilled grapes over cheese with salt and olive oil made by Stella Rossa Pizza Bar, hot-off-the-iron Belgian waffles from Waffles de Liege, handmade fresh pasta with sauce made prepared by Terroni, and desserts galore. There were some outstanding items to not be missed! Did I forget the on-site brick-oven pizza? Yes, Pitfire Artisan Pizza brought their pizza oven and made pizza with fresh mozzarella cheese and the most gorgeous heirloom tomatoes you’ve ever seen. It was to die for.

Stella Rossa's Oak wood grilled grapes with fresh cheese, olive oil sea salt and arugula on baguette

Along with the food and wine, there was the added perk of celebrity chefs from my favorite food shows doing cooking demos and interview panels. Being in good company presented many opportunities (which the Jetset Extra crew took) to rub elbows and get interviews.

The event started on a Friday, and included nine different events in three locations around LA. I started with Saturday’s event on the Paramount Studios Lot on New York Street. It was a blast! Maxine, our Hollywood Insider (aka Vanity Girl Hollywood) was with me. We saw our friends from Pinches Tacos serving tacos and chatting with the crowd. The wine and spirits were flowing, and we tasted a great Bloody Mary from YES Vodka.

Pinches Tacos at LA Times Taste on Paramount Studio Lot

Sunday came a little too quickly after drinking the night before, but I was excited to get to the next event. Back on the Paramount lot, we sampled amazing street food and saw a lot of the favorite food trucks that have become so popular in Los Angeles. Roy Choi, Mr. Food Truck himself was there. We met him and did a quick interview with him about food trucks, how he started, and why he loves them so much. He also gave some great advice for all you wannabe food truckers.

Food trucks lined up on Paramount Studio NY Street

Then the moment of all moments for me as a foodie happened – I spotted an LA food icon. Susan Feniger was introducing Chef Alex Guarnaschelli for a cooking demo. Susan Feniger was one of the first Food Network chefs (I never missed an episode of Two Hot Tamales) and is the owner of Santa Monica’s Border Grill. She was a delight, and so wonderful to talk food with. She believes in experience and inspiration. The one thing she always brings home from her travels is relationships. She meets people all over the world who influence her.

Susan Feniger in front of her Boarder Grill food truck

The second event on Sunday was Desserts After Dark on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. If you have a sweet tooth and didn’t make this event, did you miss out! I’m sorry to rub it in, but LA’s finest were there. Duff Goldman of Charm City Cakes was hosting the evening, and shared some fun facts with Jetset Extra about himself and his bakery, which is opening here in LA. Yes!

Duff Goldman of Charm City Cakes being interviewed by Maxine Tatlonghari, JSE Hollywood Insider

On Monday I was still in a sugar coma. Somehow, wink, wink, I managed to rally and get out of bed to face another day of food, wine and celebrity. I had the opportunity to bring the whole gang, so I packed up the kids and Jason (cameraman/husband) and Maxine and off we went to the Picnic in the Hills. It was literally a picnic in Beverly Hills hosted by Giada De Laurentiis, with grass, lemonade, and all the fixings.

LA Times Taste Picnic in the Hills

There were more people at this event than was even imaginable. We muscled our way through and met up with Jeff Mahin of Stella Rossa Pizza Bar. We also encountered a whole list of people you might recognize: Penny Davidi (Food Network Star), Candace Nelson of Sprinkles Cupcakes (she is as sweet as her pastry), Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos (they win my vote for most romantic couple).

This event could have sacrificed quality to quantity, but didn’t. Here’s to all the LA restaurateurs all of the wineries and spirit distributors. I give you praise! Job well done.

Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos at LA Times Taste interviewing with Maxine Tatlonghari

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