Notes from the Road – Los Angeles, September 2008
This past weekend I had the pleasure of joining the President of The Nyman Group, Robert Nyman to work along side his best friend, Piero Selvaggio at the American Wine & Food Festival (the 26th year – www.AWFF.com), representing his restaurants; Valentino (Los Angeles & Las Vegas) and Caffe Giorgio (www.WeLoveWine.com). This is a wonderful event, which was originally started by Wolfgang Puck & Barbara Lazaroff and held in the parking lot at the original Spago on Sunset & Horn Avenue.
It began with only four restaurants, including Spago and Valentino and has now grown to include over 3,000 guests being held on the back lot of Universal Studios! Robert, as usual, was the point person for Valentino – manning the pizza station and dishing out slices of Piero’s famous grilled pizza with flair. As the line snaked around other tables and restaurant stations, it held steady between 50-100 people at a time! Robert’s signature line of, ‘Pizza, pizza’ could be heard throughout the evening…
Some of our best experiences and highlights were:
- The lovely ladies and wine of Peju Province (www.Peju.com). HB and Lisa Peju were pouring their 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Wonderful Napa fruit and well worth a visit when you make it up to the Valley.
- Chef Cal Stamenov and Bernardus Lodge & Winery (www.Bernardus.com). Chef Cal was serving a flavorful seared Abalone with Celery Root Angnolotti, topped with shaved Black Summer Truffles. Wow, wow and wow. They were pairing with their newest release of Carmel Valley Pinot Noir, which had a great body, light smokiness and outstanding mouth feel.
- Chef Lydia Shire (www.LockeOber.com). Lydia was ‘on-point’ as always this year and did a combo-plate of pork goodness. I wish I could remember all of the variety of meats, but the true winner was her Cumin-scented, crisped Pork Belly. Succulent and rich, with the right amount of saltiness.
- The After Party. Just to let you know, Wolfgang Puck knows how to throw a party! Held at The Highlands (Hollywood & Highland – www.TheHighlandsHollywood.com) once again, this event was a superb gathering of chefs, restaurateurs and friends gathering together to eat, drink and be merry. Wolf’s catering company was up to the challenge with outstanding quality sushi and sashimi as well as classics such as his Smoked Salmon Pizza.
I’m not sure yet where the next travels are taking me, however there is a rumor that it will be to Eats 3 – Savor Scottsdale, a new Food & Beverage event being held in Scottsdale, Arizona and sponsored by Food & Wine Magazine. Check it out at www.Eats3.com. I’ll keep you all posted – and, Always remember, Keep Eating & Drinking!