Hi back at you, Simple Human. Fancy seeing you here at the Taste of Beverly Hills. The theme tonight is Date Night – who’s your date? Where? Oh there! Come out, don’t be shy!
Oh, there there. I know, you’re $6.49 for a pack of 35 on sale at Target. Simple Human is the $100 Dyson of trash cans. But, there’s nothing to feel self-conscious about. You’re not too trashy for Simple Human. Lady and the Tramp, Prince Charming and Cinderella, the prostitute and Richard Gere, Xena and Gabby — see, opposites attract. By the end of the night, you’ll see that it doesn’t make a difference whether your dress is lined with silver or with a black Hefty bag: when it comes to AYCE, rich people shove, jostle, and growl at each other in line, just like everyone else. And, after the plates are full and the drinks are imbibed, the all-class instinct to mark your spot in a queue gives way to another, more communal instinct to have deep, intellectual thoughts on whether Mozza’s butterscotch budino could properly be considered one of the Top 5 Desserts in Los Angeles, and theories on how it is that that guy over there snacking on Chef Ben Ford’s pork cheek and risotto doesn’t care much for Chef Ford’s father, Indiana Jones.
There you are. What a handsome couple. Trash for everyone.
The happy couple there were dutifully performing their duties on Saturday night’s Taste of Beverly Hills event. This was the third night of Food & Wine Magazine’s food and wine festival on the roof of a parking lot behind the Beverly Hilton (it was slightly more classy than that reads). Saturday night was themed “Date Night”, because, I guess, the restaurants in residence were the types of places you would take someone on an (expensive) date? Or, in my case, take yourself on a date, because many of these restaurants have great bars that make solo dining not sad. Also, future reference, everyone: you can take me to a very good taco truck, and I’ll love you just the same.
I digress. On to the food. The restaurants began dishing at 7pm sharp. I’m no fool – I made a beeline to Mozza‘s stand first. Nancy Silverton, as she was plating mini versions of her butterscotch budino, noted that they would have to have more at their ready because “these will be gone in minutes.” And she was right. They were. Minutes.
Dessert done, I went on for more substantive samples. Chef Ben Ford’s Ford Filling Station had a nice little library that gave you a feel for the type of food he was serving: pig’s cheek on a soft bed of risotto.
Ford’s Filling Station wasn’t the only one to convey its food via table setting.
Clockwise from the left: a lot of red at Chaya; fresh made pasta at Terroni; Pace showing off fresh ingredients and, possibly channeling its inner Macaroni Grill, crayons for the kids; and Oliverio‘s white rose in a birdcage, which surely symbolizes something I was much too full to deconstruct.
A map of the vendors would have been helpful to plan one’s pacing of the event. As it was, I pretty much ate ’em as I saw ’em.
From the top: olives at Terroni; refreshing gazpacho and summer salad from Porta Via; rugulah from Nate ‘n Al’s; a fried pig’s ear with a hearty corn bisque courtesy Fig; chicken mole tamale and mole rice from one of the best Oaxacan spots in the city, La Guelaguetza; goat cheese and pistachio baklava and s’more from BOA; 25 Degrees‘ mini-sirloin burger [insert Jack-in-a-Box jingle here]; cured barramundi with salsa and pink sea salt and a cookie from Craft; and SimonLA‘s pot pies.
It was a food and wine festival, but once I saw Father’s Office nearly hidden in a corner, I left the reds and the whites behind in favor of their beer. I was handed a crisp Alaskan ale, then instructed to drink it with the next plate they handed me: a smaller version of their famous burger. I was very full from all of the above, but how do you not eat their burger?
Despite the sometimes hostile glares at line cutters, you really only had to wait a few minutes at most at each table, which is how I managed to eat all of the above well before the night was over. There are some things I didn’t even snap before gobbling up, like Anglini Osteria‘s plate of faro, meatballs, lasagna, and artichokes. Having eaten an enormous amount of savory food, then, I had to go back to the sweets. And then call it a quits, because I can only eat so much. Luckily, I found Valerie Confections, who was sampling toffee and small slices of an amazing coffee crunch cake. They’re often out at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market with freshly made jams and sweets; you’ll be remiss not to check them out at least once.
As I was walking out, I caught SimonLA spinning their own cotton candy. The adults eagerly grabbed these sugar yarns like kids in a cotton candy store. Some were unabashedly happy that a bit of the LA County Fair was found here in Beverly Hills; others were shyly justifying their reach with mumbled sentences about how this was for their son or daughter. Sure.
A good first date night, then, by most accounts: the food was flowing, generous, and easily representative of the quality at the actual restaurant; most felt they got their money’s worth; and almost everyone left stuffed to the gills. Will Simple Human and Hefty last, or will they decide that the whole idea was rubbish all along? Ah, we’ll see – here’s to hoping there will be a second date next year.