Showing posts with label media event. Show all posts
Showing posts with label media event. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Nespresso Pixie Launch Party with Ted Allen and Pixie Lott

My first exposure to Nespresso was from my former roommate who owned a machine. We would chat over an easily made espresso (pop in capsule, press button, and voila). And they were good! They may not be as good as the ones made by real baristas at, say, Intelligentsia, but they were certainly better than what I could achieve, and at $0.55 per capsule they make espressos a more affordable life style choice.

So, Nespresso recently launched a new model. A much more compact machine dubbed Pixie, which easily fits on small kitchen counters (my Pixie is smaller than my water kettle or my bread box). More about the machine later, let's talk about a party. To get word going about the Pixie, Nespresso held intimate parties around the US and I was invited to the LA one, held in a suite at the W Hotel in Hollywood. There were various reasons to come to this party, one of them was that Ted Allen from Food Network's Chopped was there to host the party.

Ted Allen and Pixie Lott
A propos to the name Pixie, they had a British hit pop singer Pixie Lott perform a few songs for us also! Now, I hadn't heard of her before since I'm pretty unaware of the pop world, much less the British pop world, but apparently she's huge there and was actually named "Hottest Female" by Virgin Media Music Awards.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Angeleno Magazine's Chef's Night Out 2010: The Recap

Angeleno Magazine celebrated their annual restaurant awards with Chef's Night Out, a tasting extravaganza. This year's event was held at The Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica, hosted by their restaurant, FIG.

The night started with a VIP reception, where they presented the awards to the winning chefs for photo ops accompanied by small bites from FIG and cocktails courtesy of Oxley gin.

Here's a rundown of the winners, selected by Brad Johnson:

Chef of the Year: Michael Cimarusti (Providence)
Runner Up Chef of the Year: Ludovic Lefebvre (Ludobites).
Best New Chef: Michael Voltaggio
Restaurant of the Year: Hatfield's
Best New Restaurant: Lazy Ox Canteen
Pastry Chef of the Year: Zoe Nathan (Huckleberry)
Outstanding Wine & Spirit Awards: SAAM at The Bazaar
Outstanding Service: The Grill on The Alley
Vanguard Award: Water Grill

Compared to other food/charity events LA had seen, Chef's Night Out turned out to be a smaller yet one of the best. Quality over quantity is the name of the game.

This event brought forth big name chefs like Josiah Citrin from Melisse, who was personally on hand preparing this loup de mer.

More indulgent bites:
Cauliflower panna cotta with Transmontanous caviar from Chef Ben Bailly Petrossian.

Fried chicken and Indian spiced waffle from Nine Thirty at The W. The fried chicken failed to stand out but the waffle was not only unique and creative but also delicious.
Capesante day boat scallops with farro, summer corn, heirloom tomatoes by Chef Victor Casanova of Culina.

I made sure to try the tequila/chocolate pairing from 123 Tequila since Caroline on Crack highly recommended it.

Speaking of chocolates, Bistro LQ served up some intense (and deliciously dark) absinthe chocolates!

And even more:

For those who had valet-ed their cars, they also got a little present from FIG: a tee featuring the FIG Dog and a frisbee.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Intelligentsia Pasadena: Preview Lunch, a First Look

Knowing Pasadena residents have been looking forward to the opening of Intelligentsia Coffee's Pasadena outpost for a while now, but few may have known just how special the 3rd SoCal location would be. The space in Old Town comes with a kitchen and will soon have a liquor license. That's right, it will be a full-on restaurant with about 73 seats serving market-fresh menu and a nightly farmer's market prix-fixe dinners.
The food at Intelli-Pasadena is prepared by Matthew Poley, whose partnership with Intelligentsia started when his catering company Heirloom LA catered Intelligentsia's Christmas party. The result of Poley's experience at Angelini Osteria, La Terza, All' Angelo and Barbrix can be seen in the housemade cheese (e.g. goat's milk ricotta and sheep's milk ricotta drizzled with chestnut honey) and charcuterie platters, his specialty mushroom-ricotta and shortrib raviolis, crispy flatbreads, rib-cap lettuce tacos, and an incredible salad of fresh peeled asparagus and fennel. You can also find his famed (super cute and good) lasagna cupcakes a.k.a "lasagnettes" in various flavors, vegetarian or otherwise.


This is a definite upgrade in the space that used to be Wok 'n Roll and if Poley can maintain this quality food, Intelligentsia can easily be the best restaurant in Old Town, or at least on that part of Colorado Blvd. This style of eatery, while not new in general (pioneered long ago by Chez Panisse), is a first in Pasadena.

Intelligentsia's pastry case will feature scones, muffins, and cookies from Cake Monkey, as well as lychee tarts and other pastries from Bottega Louie, but if you're dining in might as well indulge in special treats from Cake Monkey: an unbelievably moist chocolate bread pudding and seasonal fruit crisp.

Bread pudding, Fruit Crisp (Cake Monkey)

Lychee tart (Bottega Louie)

Wash everything down with the slightly sweet and caramel-y black cat espresso, or the SCAA "best of origin" prize winner La Isabella coffee. If tea is more your speed, try their staple Iron Goddess of Mercy tea or the sweet and earthy Golden Needle cold brew.
La Tortuga cappuccino

More photos (of the charcuterie and cheese platters, ravioli, flatbread, etc) in this slideshow:

Intelligentsia Pasadena opens tomorrow and will be open for short days (10-4) for the first week but soon you will be able to get a grab-n-go lunch bag and coffee starting at 6 am and stay late for a prix fixe dinner (beer and wine involved).

Intelligentsia - Pasadena
55 E. Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91105
Intelligentsia Cafe on Urbanspoon

Intelligentsia Pasadena Cafe in Los Angeles on Fooddigger

Disclaimer: This preview lunch was hosted by Intelligentsia (i.e. gratis)

Monday, July 5, 2010

EFFEN Vodka Party at La Vida

EFFEN is a wheat-based vodka from Holland that is targeted for the club scene and "younger drinkers."

EFFEN boasts their focus on "design" as evidenced by the good looking box and bottle its product comes in, along with the rubber grip of the bottle, which will make busy bartenders' lives much easier. Rushing and grabbing bottles in a busy night club? Yep I can see how a gripping a glass bottle will be hard and how that rubber sleeve would really help.

Photo courtesy of EFFEN

It's also evidenced by the EFFEN by Design events they've been putting on around the country. I was invited to one held at La Vida in Hollywood. They had invited Vanessa de Vargas, an interior designer, to speak about interesting architecture in Los Angeles. The four cocktails (created by La Vida's even director) are named after historical and architectural landmarks like The Parker and The Coonley Playhouse.
Two of the four cocktails were made with the plain EFFEN vodka while the other two were made using the black cherry flavored vodka. The regular vodka runs at $25.99 at BevMo - not a bad price - though the Black Cherry flavor seems to run above $30.

La Vida's new executive chef is the former Chef de Cuisine at Rivera, Joseph Panarello. While I didn't get to have a full meal here, the passed hors d'oeuvres did give an idea of what he was doing at his new gig.
We all loved these little lamb chops. I probably ate about four. I'm looking forward to having a full dinner here soon.

Disclosure: The party was hosted by EFFEN vodka and I received a bottle of their regular vodka.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Balblair: Tasting The World's Only Vintage Single Malt Scotch

Balblair scotch distillery has been around since 1790 but the name is fairly new to the American audience. Two of their products have finally made their way into the American market.

They claim to be the only distillery which bottles their scotch in vintages, just like wine.

Balblair 1991 ($129.99) and Balblair 1997 ($64.99) are the first two vintages that are available for purchase in the U.S. Distillery Manager John MacDonald handpicks the casks that he deems to have reached the peak of maturation each year and releases them as the single malt vintages.
To introduce these two vintages, Balblair recently invited some media and scotch lovers to a tasting party at The Edison (the ambiance there is a perfect fit with the bottle's design), where I sipped scotch and ate bruschetta with other bloggers and members of the LA Scotch club. I started the night out big with the 1991.

Balblair 1991 just received a rating of “Excellent Highly Recommend” in the Ultimate Spirits Challenge. Reminds me a bit of butterscotch and has a smooth and long finish.

The Balblair 1997, on the other hand, is spicier, has more bite but not as smooth and the finish isn't as long. I personally prefer the smoother 1991, but the characteristics of the two bottles are quite distinct and worth separate considerations.

By the way, the gorgeous picture on the gift box is supposed to be a hill behind the distillery. Makes you want to go visit, doesn't it?

At the tasting, a bowl of chocolates was prepared for us to pair our scotch with, starting from milk chocolate to 55% to 61% to 73% dark. Of course, I stuck with 61% and above :)
Dark chocolate and scotch? Yes, please. I will definitely keep that in mind next time I pop open my bottle of scotch.

*Photos courtesy of Balblair, bcs they look so much nicer than the ones I took.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Feasting on California Avocado with the Too Hot Tamales

California Hass Avocados are now in season! Plus, it's almost Cinco de Mayo! Did you know that over 80 million pounds of avocados are consumed on Cinco de Mayo? That's a lot of guacamole!

The California Avocado Commission is working with the Too Hot Tamale chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger to create avocado-centric recipes and share them for Cinco de Mayo. They held a media lunch and cooking demo at Ciudad last week and I was lucky to be invited.

Many familiar faces were there, including Food Marathon, who convinced me it's never too early for a mojito ....
So in the email they had mentioned a cooking demo and a guacamole contest, i.e. a "guac-off".

Little did I know the "guac-off" mentioned was for us, not the chefs! They divided us into teams of two though we ended up in a team of three with Food Marathon and Active Foodie.
We were given a few minutes to look over the available ingredients and come up with a guacamole recipe.

Onions, corn, ... pomegranate, fish paste, banana, etc? OK ...

And of course, ripe California avocados!

Many of them made some pretty impressive guacamole. Ravenous Couple even decorated their "Saigon Samba" guac and tied it in nicely to their Vietnamese cooking blog. We didn't really have time to think about that :P
Well, ours ended up being halfway of what Active Foodie had envisioned. We weren't gung-ho enough to get some of the ingredients before the others used it all up. Oh well ...

We put bananas, oranges, tequila , and salt in ours.
Whatever, it tasted good ...

Lindsay from LAist and her team ended up winning the guacamole taste contest. Congratulations!

We did at least win the naming contest and won this Ciudad baseball cap! Mainly thanks for Food Marathon for his Ciudadocado Relish name idea.

Now that we got that out of the way, we let the experts, i.e. Chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger do the job. Eating at Border Grill or Ciudad is really nothing like eating the food created personally by these great chefs!

I was excited about our first course, crispy avocado tacos. These quinoa and sesame seed-crusted and deep fried avocado tacos were all the rage at Border Grill Truck.

Crispy California Avocado Tacos (recipe)
Pretty spectacular. The crunchiness of the quinoa and sesame seeds gave way to a deliciously creamy avocado. Add to that all the flavors from the refreshing corn relish. This taco is actually available exclusively at the Border Grill truck, and I highly recommend you get it.

California Avocado, Bacon, and Tomato Salad (recipe)
This simple salad has the delicious avocados as the main attraction, but the finishing touch is from the capers fried in bacon fat.

For our main entree, chefs Milliken and Feniger prepared chilaquiles for us. I haven't had chilaquiles since I last went to Tijuana and had it for breakfast (it's apparently a typical breakfast item)!
They told us that chilaquiles are an easy dish and a good way to finish up leftover salsa (and leftover tortillas too). Basically you simmer down tortillas in salsa until they soften up.

Chicken and California Avocado Skillet Chilaquiles (recipe)

Our first dessert is a simple garnishing of sliced fresh and ripe fruits:
California Avocado and Mango with Yogurt, Honey, and Lime (recipe)
With mangoes and avocados as good as these, you really don't need to do much! The yogurt and honey are such a good accent for the two fruits. Interestingly enough, because of the sprinkled Cayenne pepper, this ended up being the spiciest dish of the day!

To really finish off we had an Avocado Orange Licuado
Since they made this just for the event, the recipe isn't available on the CAC website, but it is basically avocados, orange juice, lemon, agave syrup, and milk blended. Oh and with a little bit of salt. The chefs said that they found salt to bring out that "avocado" flavor, so even though it may sound weird for a sweet drink, they put a bit of salt in it.

The drink is heavy yet refreshing due to the orange zest. It's a great drink for a warm summer day and a great way to end our meal!

I've heard Spring is the best season for avocados (though they're in season and available through Fall), and now that you have all these great avocado recipes on the CAC website, you can rush to get some ripe avocados and contribute to the 80 million pounds that will be eaten in 2 days.

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