I was invited to a wonderful event at The Corner Door, a terrific bar and neighborhood restaurant in Culver City, CA. The event was in support of Planned Parenthood’s Food Fare, its annual fundraiser at the Santa Monica Civic, in Santa Monica, CA.
Food Fare began 34 years ago with a simple cooking demonstration from Julia Child. Since then it has grown to become the oldest and most celebrated culinary event in Los Angeles. Food Fare is a unique opportunity for LA’s food-lovers, Planned Parenthood supporters and the general public to sample the finest food and drink LA has to offer, all in one place.
Food Fare is produced by the Planned Parenthood Guild, a group of nearly 200 women dedicated to providing financial and volunteer support for Planned Parenthood Los Angeles. I joined the Planned Parenthood Guild more than a decade ago, and ran Food Fare a number of years ago. The event is the single largest fundraiser for PPLA. Money raised at the event helps to provide preventative care – including life saving cancer screening, birth control and annual exams to over 136,000 women, men and teens in LA every year.
This year Food Fare is on Thursday, March 7, 2013. For ticket information visit www.pplafoodfare.com or call 213-284-3200, ext. 3700.
The Corner Door will be at Food Fare and it graciously hosted a pre-Food Fare event for food bloggers and food writers. We spent a terrific afternoon with Chef Luke Reyes and Bartender Beau du Bois. Both of them clearly love food, the food business, and quirky, unusual drinks. Their enthusiasm for the process of cooking, bartending, pairing drinks with food, and providing their customers with a high quality dining and drinking experience is palpable. I wanted to take both of them home, FOREVER.
We were given small portions of a six-course dinner, all paired with fantastic bar creations. The dishes we were served are all on their dinner menu (though the menu is seasonal – so if you wait six months to go, I can’t guarantee that any of this will still be there). I’m going to walk you through what we ate and the drink pairings. I was promised that I’ll be provided with some of the food recipes and more importantly the DRINK recipes, soon. As soon as I have them I’ll post them. They are absolutely worth trying.
Though I didn’t count it amongst the courses, we started out with house made focaccia and a massive dish of olives. I tried to eat them all, but I gave up at 47.
The first course was Lettuces and Avocado served with bayley hazen blue cheese (more nutty than your average blue) and radishes, with a lemon buttermilk dressing. The drink pairing was a King’s Assassin (gin, blanc sweet vermouth, salers, cocchi Americano and Cointreau). The drink, in large part because of the Salers, has a moderate earthiness, and light sweetness as well as a strong vegetal quality. I thought it did very well against the strong flavors in the salad. Beau, the bright, well spoken and booze obsessed mixologist, said that the drink is a play on a “Negroni” and that it is meant to be “boozy but elegant.” That’s what I go for personally, at least on Saturdays…
Next up were Slow Cooked Pork Ribs served with a fennel glaze and beluga lentils. Chef Luke is rockin’ great with legumes. His beluga lentils were otherworldly. He and I had a long chat about beans and lentils. My head is full of new ideas to try (watch this space). He processes some of the cooked lentils in the blender and then gently folds them back into the rest of the cooked lentils so they are creamy, without any cream, and still full of texture. Perfecto. The drink Bartender Beau paired with the ribs was the Old Havana Mistress (aged rum, dry vermouth, dry curacao and px sherry). I am in LOVE with this cocktail. It has a fantastic winter flavor. Beau tells me it’s a tad unusual because it’s a, “Stirred rum cocktail.” This was news to me. I had no idea all you folks out there were making rum drinks and not stirring them. Who knew?
Course number three was the Agnolotti filled with grilled cauliflower and fontina cheese and garnished with currants. This dish was fan-bloody-tastic. Tender, flavorful and totally delicious – I wanted MORE. They paired the pasta with a French 75, a light, slightly frothy drink that will be very popular with those of you who love Lillet Rose.
Course four was a Roasted Halibut served with exquisite cannellini beans and an anchovy aioli. I am going to be replicating the cannellini beans at home, with or without recipe assistance from Chef Luke. Those beans were the bomb. The drink pairing was a play on a cocktail called a Penicillin. Their drink, a Mezcallin has mescal, lemon, ginger and pineapple gomme. This drink is for those of you who love peaty scotch. It was a tad too medicinal for me and made me think I’d spent far too much time licking my Bar-B-Que.
The last course before dessert was a Slow Braised Beef served with a potato purée, cooked carrots, cipollini onions and horseradish. It was a perfectly braised beef dish, total comfort food. They paired the Braised Beef with a Lumberjack Liquor Cabinet, one of the most popular drinks the restaurant serves. The drink is made with bourbon, apple brandy, maple syrup and cinnamon smoke. One or two of these and I’d find myself inside my liquor cabinet unable to get out.
I thought The Corner Door was outstanding. I only wish it was a bit closer to my hood. Watch this space for drink recipes and my attempt to copy Chef Luke’s outstanding skill with legumes. A huge thanks to Chef Luke and Bartender Beau for their support of PPLA’s Food Fare!