East LA Meets Napa
Benefiting AltaMed Health Services
800 North Alameda Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Last night, John Rivera Sedlar of Rivera Restaurant in DTLA hosted a media event previewing the upcoming benefit for AltaMed Health Services, East LA Meets Napa. During the event Cástulo de la Rocha, President and CEO of AltaMed spoke of the organizations founding mission and development. AltaMed started as a free clinic and now serves underserved populations, providing community access to medical and dental clinics, complete senior services, including adult day health centers, case management, and the Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), youth programs as well as HIV/AIDS and substance abuse prevention and treatment. De la Rocha noted that they serve more than 240,000 clients per year.
As an end to support this worthy cause, and I think as an end unto itself as well, over 20 restaurants and more than 20 wineries will present offerings to ticket holders a week from Friday. See the current list here. The gist of the event is to educate consumers on how to pair high quality Latino foods with fine wine as a companion beverage, as opposed to the standard margarita or Corona (Tecate, if you are in my house). All the food presented on the 10th is Latin, and all the wine makers and/or vintners themselves have their roots in Latino ancestry, although the wines are all made in California.
As shown on the menu above, three of the many restaurants participated in the tasting last night. Rivera, headed by chef de cuisine Joe Panarello and the charming John Rivera Sedlar who made himself very present during the event for scintillating conversation about his beautiful restaurant (now a favorite of mine) and the upcoming event. Rocio Camacho, chef of Casa de Moles La Tia, was also quietly in attendance seeing to food and chatting just a little. I have not yet gone to Moles La Tia, but it is on my to-do list, written right there on a post-it in my iPhone alongside Ludobites, Huckleberry and Palate Food + Wine. Also, in the house were Daniel Salcedo, Jay Arroyo and Nikomi Arroyo of Whitter's Phlight. Phlight started out as a small tapas restaurant, and through offerings of specials the owners discovered what their regulars really wanted to see on the menu in Whittier. The menu now includes a mix of Latin-American cuisine and Spanish style tapas. Might just warrant a trip out to Whittier, methinks.
I arrived a tiny bit late, after spending the afternoon with my wonderful out-of-town cousins tracking down the Beatles star on the Hollywood Walk-of-Fame. I arrived hot and thirsty. Immediately, I was supplied with this amuse-bouche-esque deliciousness. From the Rivera kitchen, this is shrimp in a pineapple foam. Loved the mixture of salty and sweet, and although they are hiding in this pic there were definitely nice sized chunks of shrimp in there. After delicately spooning out the shrimp and foam I knocked back what was left of the sweet/savory juice like a caballero sucking down his tequila.
Next tasting was a spin on a regular menu item at Rivera. For a snack, Rivera offers patates xips. Housemade potato chips form Kennebec spuds with chipotle-lime crema and caviar. The above spins that menu item by changing the topping to butter poached Maine lobster in chiplotle crema. Delicioso!
This item won my heart. My heart that is cold and wooden toward anything dessert oriented. Melted it like buttah in the hot Zona Rosa, D.F. August sun. I spoke to Mr. Sedlar about its absence on his regular menu. This I would have noticed. If I ever see it appear on the menu, I plan to skip dinner and dive straight into a vat of this. Treble size, face first.
OH! You wanna know what it IS! The Mexico City Sundae. Housemade vanilla bean ice cream is the base of the sundae. Drizzled on top is habanjero spiced caramel. Topped with roasted pine nuts, whipped cream and freshly grated cinnamon.
I have never had anything better tasting in my mouth, ever.
The wines were great, too! Of particular note is the Sequoia Grove 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon and the Madrigal 2008 Sauvignon Blanc. And the wines were very generously shared. Alexia Haidos of Double A Public Relations and Marketing spoiled us bloggers by asking us which wines we liked the best and sending us home with a swag bottle. There is one cold bottle of Madrigal Sauvignon Blanc in the fridge waiting for me to crack open and suck down.
I am looking very much forward to July 10th. I plan to coast my bike from Echo Park right down the Sunset/W. Cesar E Chavez hill toward Union Station and likely walk it back up the hill toward home at the end of the evening.
Viva California y Mexico!