We have been very poor Uncouth Gourmands lately and sadly had to miss Pasadena Restaurant Week, but there was one event that we were not willing to miss…Taste of the Nation LA. It featured the best (high end) restaurants in LA, the best chefs in LA, and best of all it helped to end childhood hunger. The ticket price was too steep for us but we had an alternative, we could volunteer! As soon as our blogger idol, Eating LA, posted that volunteers were needed we jumped all over that. We had great, but always uncouth emails with the volunteer organizer Paul. He hooked us up with the book table area. We were thrilled; we love cookbooks, authors, chefs and combined is perfection. We grabbed our Starbucks and Noah’s Bagels (FYI-Josie wants you all to know that she thinks paying $3 for a bagel is atrocious) and were ready to take on hunger, ironically, by eating and helping to get cookbooks sold. Our new friend SinoSoul said it best on his Twitter, “Oxymoron: stuff your face @ Taste of the Nation so children can be fed. yet it’s hard not to have a blast…” We got our wristbands, shirts, and nametags and we helped to set up the cookbooks. Josie does design for a living and created a beautiful display that I helped implement. Our old friend (in our imagination) Jonathan Gold, aka the food god genius that’s “just not that into us”, was moved from our area to the LA Weekly booth. However, we were still going to be in the presence of amazing chefs and authors. Here is that famous shot of J. Gold uninterested in the Uncouth Gourmands to refresh your memory.
The cookbook authors were all extremely impressive. We met and helped sell books for Evan Kleinman (whose book was first published 19 years ago and is Executive Chef at Angeli Caffe), Mariel Hemingway (Oscar winner for playing Woody’s teenage girlfriend in Manhattan, healthy living expert, and granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway), Nancy Silverton (of La Brea Bakery and now Osteria Mozza), Michael Mina (world renowned chef who flew in from SF just for the event, we promised him we would visit XIV as soon as we had some dinero), and JoAnn Cianciulli (who will be speaking and cooking at Barnes & Noble in the Grove, just feet away from her inspiration, the Los Angeles Farmer’s Market, on the 24th). I know that for most of you these great chefs need no introduction but this is the uncouth version.
So all work and no food, didn’t the UGs get to eat? Let me put it this way, the chef at Border Grill walked up to Josie and said, “Everytime I have seen you, you have something different in your mouth and hands”. You better believe we ate. Since this all went to a great cause we will only discuss the great, but in all honesty we didn’t eat anything bad.
Carina is reluctantly Nobu obsessed. She doesn’t want to like it but loves it so much. The lettuce wrapped black cod was incredible. Josie is allergic to seafood so can’t comment.
Josie went crazy for the lambwich from Venice Beach Wines and by crazy I mean she ate more than two. Carina is not a big fan of lamb so shouldn’t judge such meat.
There were a few dishes that we both went crazy over. We loved the caprese salad with a big slice of a peach on it from Cube Cafe and Marketplace. Another dish we loved was the Reuben sandwich from bld Restaurant. This may be insignificant but I am obsessed with their logo and how it looks like a table and chairs, and stands for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We haven’t seen a logo so cool since the u spork g for Uncouth Gourmands, relax, we kid. By the way, we have important news, I asked the owner if BLD is coming to Pasadena and she said, “There is some talk, how did you hear that?” I told her I read it on a Pasadena blog and she smiled confirming that it is in fact true. We are thrilled, we need some new restaurant blood in Pasadena. We ate a ton but it was so hot we mostly stuck to water and delicious iced lattes from LA Mill Coffee so we can’t really comment on the wine other then saying that there was a ton of wineries and breweries there. One cool drink we experienced was the Nitro Margarita with salt foam from Bazaar.
As with almost every eating event or experience it comes down to the people you are surrounded by. We are so thrilled that in the 6 months of having our blog we already have so many amazing foodie friends that we get to run into. Today we saw Tony of Sino Soul, Dawson and her Beer of Yelp LA, our friend and Freshman in the Kitchen author Eli, and Octavio of Palate. We even made a new friend, H.C. of the very popular LA and OC Foodie. I think we made some people angry when we took all the attention away from the authors as people came up to us and said, “Are you the Uncouth Gourmands?” Anyway, H.C. is very cool and we are so happy he approved us as guests for Blogger Prom.
Of course, when the UGs are in attendance at any event uncouthness is bound to ensue. We very much enjoyed the waiter race where some very quick and skilled waiters were doing the spilling, instead of us. Don’t worry we still had our share. At one point, Josie asked me to grab her another lambwich and I said, “No Josie, I just bought you a salad.” We started cracking up because all of the food was free and therefore my excuse sucked. All of the volunteers were kindly given a free pair of flip-flops at the end of the day. A man, concerned and out of breath, ran after Josie. Once he caught up with her, he tapped her on the shoulder and said, “Ma’am you left your shoes on the table”. I was in hysterics, there on the beautiful LA Mill spread was Josie’s flip-flops. Paul, the mathematician and volunteer coordinator, came up to us thinking that we were making fun of the shoes. Nope, just our own stupidity.
Anyway, it was such a truly great food event and we were so happy to get to be a part of it! I asked Josie in the car after we left, “If we would have paid $150 for the event would it have been worth it?” She said, “Yes, but we wouldn’t have been able to meet so many cool people.” That is true. Hopefully, next year we will be in the financial position to buy tickets but we still would want to volunteer to be part of this amazing event and cause.