Tag Archives: Top Chef

The Olympics for Foodies

I love a good food festival and I’m happy to report that Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival is back after a very successful inaugural year last year. It will take place from August 9-12 at locations all across the city. If you’re not familiar with Los Angeles Food & Wine, it’s pretty much the Olympics for foodies, although it’s not a competition and everyone is a winner. I went to four of their events last year and had an amazing time and ate a lot of incredible food. Top chefs from all over the country, including Hubert Keller, Susur Lee, Michael Mina, Michelle Bernstein, Michael Chiarello, Graham Elliot and Kerry Heffernan, as well as many of the best chefs in Los Angeles, are participating this year.

Events range from grand tastings to special dinners at some of LA’s top restaurants to cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs such as Richard Blais and Michael and Bryan Voltaggio. There are around 40 events in all and include a decadent champagne and caviar tasting night at the Montage, an Asian night market hosted by Andrew Zimmern from the Travel Channel show “Bizarre Foods,” and an Italian food and wine celebration at LA Live hosted by Giada De Laurentiis. A portion of Los Angeles Food & Wine’s proceeds go to benefit a great cause, St. Vincent Meals on Wheels. Some events are already sold out. For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

UPDATE: Los Angeles Food & Wine did not disappoint this year! I attended a couple events and had an amazing time. Highlights included meeting chefs Michael Chiarello, Susur Lee and Floyd Cardoz, as well as seeing some of my local favorites including Ricardo Zarate, Antonia Lafaso and Susan Feniger, and of course trying each of their dishes. My favorite savory dish was a Lobster Pig in a Blanket from new Downtown restaurant Towne. My favorite dessert was a Nutella Banana Panini with Bacon, Toffee and Espresso Nibs from Chef Hedy Goldsmith of Michael’s Genuine Food ‘n Drink in Miami. It was so good!

Wine-wise, the highlight was a wine tasting led by Delta Airlines Sommelier Andrea Robinson (who knew Delta had their own Sommelier?!), who introduced eight California wines which are part of the new Delta Winemaker Series. These specially selected wines, including a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara-based Inception Wines and a Viognier from Miner Family Winery, will be available on flights between JFK and LAX, as well as JFK and SFO.

Delta Sommelier Andrea Robinson hosted a wine tasting.

Wines from the Delta Winemaker Series

Brilliant Chef Susar Lee from Toronto preparing Chinese Duck Sausage Pies

Chefs Michael Chiarello and Fabio Viviani

Picca and Mo-Chica’s Chef Ricardo Zarate and partner Stephane Bombet

Chef Susan Feniger from Street

Chef Floyd Cardoz made pork & beans!

Chef Antonia Lafaso from Black Market Liquor Bar

Pig in a Blanket from Towne

Nutella Banana Paninis with Bacon, Toffee and Espresso Nibs

Alcoholic Frozen Push-ups from Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas

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Sack It To Me!

Los Angeles foodies have been eagerly awaiting the opening of ink, the new restaurant by uber-talented, bad-ass Top Chef winner Michael Voltaggio. While ink should finally open next month, Voltaggio surprised everyone recently by opening a gourmet sandwich counter called ink.sack a few doors down from his soon-to-debut fine dining restaurant on Melrose. I’ve been to ink.sack a couple times since it opened less than two weeks ago and I am already a huge fan. The sandwiches are inexpensive but small, so you need to order at least two (I could easily polish off three) to make a meal. This is a great feature because even if you go there alone, you’re able to try different things without making a pig of yourself.

The seven sandwiches on the menu are what you would expect from Voltaggio; they’re inventive, complex and fun. I’ve tried all of them (I have a duty to my blog readers, right?) and I liked all of them, although some more than others. My favorites are the Maple-Pepper Turkey Melt, a sweet and savory sandwich which includes Camembert, Mustarda (candied fruit in a mustard flavored syrup) and arugula, and The Jose Andres aka “The Spanish Godfather,” which is named after the awesome chef of The Bazaar and includes Serrano, Chorizo, Lomo and Manchego. These sandwiches are must-haves. I also loved the messy but yummy, sushi-inspired Spicy Tuna with Miso-Cured Albacore and Sriacha Mayo, as well as Voltaggio’s take on a Vietnamese Bahn Mi, which was made with pork cheeks, chicharrones (fried pork rinds) and pickled vegetables. Ink.sack’s version of a classic Ruben is made with corned beef tongue, so when you taste it, it tastes you back (sorry; I couldn’t resist). The “Ruben” is also made with Appenzeller cheese, kraut and Russian dressing and I thought it was very good. My least favorites were the Cold Fried Chicken with house-made ranch cheese and the C.L.T., which is Voltaggio’s version of a B.L.T., made with chicken liver mousse, curried fried chicken skin, lettuce and tomato.

Whether you eat in (there is very limited seating) or take-out, sandwiches are given to you in a black paper bag with your name written on it. Make sure to order the salt, pepper and vinegar potato chips to go with your sandwich. Also worth getting is the refreshing “Street Fruit” (pineapple, jicama, mango and melon mixed with chile and lemon juice) or the watermelon with sriacha and lime. They also have Mexican chocolate chip cookies and a good selection of gourmet sodas.

Ink.sack is located at 8360 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles (in West Hollywood).

Sack Lunch

Chicken Liver Mousse and Curried Chicken Skin Sandwich

Beef Tongue "Ruben" Sandwich

Cold Fried Chicken Sandwich

Spicy Tuna Sandwich: messy but good

House-made Salt, Pepper & Vinegar Potato Chips

ink sack on Urbanspoon


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