LA Weekly’s The Essentials event this year was a hit. It featured over 50 of the 99 essential restaurants around LA. Celebrity chefs made their appearances, plating single serving creations for the masses. To be considered an ‘essential’ restaurant, a venue must have been open for at least a year. The VIP hour of the event also included tastings from The Freshman 15, restaurants which would have been included in the essentials list if they had been open just a bit longer. The Freshman 15 included:
- Baran’s 2239
- Gus’s Fried Chicken
- Here’s Looking at You
For a full listing of The Essential 99 click here. We didn’t get a chance to try every place on the list, but definitely did not leave hungry.
Not only was the food flowing, but also libations-a-plenty. I haven’t been a big tequila drinker in the past but the ice pop cocktail the Don Julio booth was serving hit the spot on this warm day. Spring has officially arrived!
One of my favorite part of food events is getting to try to pair the dishes with the selections of wine available. Over 20 wineries were present at this years event with some coming representing all the way from New Zealand. New Zealand produces less than 1% of the world’s wine but in my opinion, outputs some of the best quality wines. As New Zealand wines are some of my favorites, I was excited to see that NZ Wine Navigator had a selection of wines available for tastings.The selection presented by NZ Wine Navigator was curated by none other than Cameron Douglas, the only Master Sommelier in New Zealand.
The producers handpicked and distributed by NZ Wine Navigator include:
- Mills Reef Winery (Hawke’s Bay)
- Osawa Wines (Hawke’s Bay)
- Clearview Estate (Hawke’s Bay)
- Squawking Magpie (Hawke’s Bay)
- Vidal Estate (Hawke’s Bay)
- The Darling Wines (Marlborough)
- O:TU Wines (Marlborough)
- Ceres Wines (Central Otago)
- Drumsara Wines (Central Otago)
- Alexandra Wines (Central Otago)
- Brennan Wines (Central Otago)
- Ostler Wines (Waitaki Valley)
- Vinoptima (Gisborne)
- Brightwater Vineyards (Nelson)
With an ever increasing and varied food selection in the Los Angeles area, pairing the right drink to keep pace with the demands of a constantly shifting foodie landscape is becoming even more necessary. Los Angeles’ thirst for innovation and creativity, not only in different types of food but also mixology, will continue to evolve our amazing culinary scene.
The Essentials is one of the premier LA events which highlights annual trends and recognizes the hard work and genius of our local chefs. I’m so thankful to be living in such a inspiring and forward-thinking city.