foodnews :: #bitenite

foodnews :: #bitenite

This Sunday past, food critic LA-Xtraordinaire Jonathan Gold gave the world his “Best of” list of Southern California cuisine, the second such list published via the LA Times in as many years. A few years ago while at my writing program at USC, Mr. Gold discussed his passion for food exploration while a panelist at a session sponsored by my program, which featured LA genre-smart phenoms speaking on food, movies, books, music. Each on the panel were memorable, but the pursuits Mr. Gold described – the near limitless steps he’d take to discover a new taste or an intriguing and relevant dish – begged respect.

Loved this venue - printing ops were in full swing
Loved this venue – printing ops were in full swing

At the time, I thought I wanted to write for television. So instead of enrolling in J-Gold’s class on food writing the semester following the panel, I took a sitcom course. We were just next door to the food class, and at breaks could smell the varietal flavors seeping out from their classroom and into the hallway. Back then, I wasn’t too jealous – I cranked out my own Modern Family episode and got to sit in on a Simpsons table read. Looking back now, though, thinking about what stirs my passions, what stimulates me, the food writing class would have been very fitting.

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Bite Nite 2014 in full eat

But sometimes our journeys take rewarding detours. I think I considered the class back then but I had so many food fears, I didn’t dare embarrass myself by taking a food writing course and opt to pass on 50-75% of the food. In the past couple of years, I’ve come a long way in my pickiness. And I’ve also come to savor and adore dining out, and then writing about my experience as a beloved hobby. Since skipping his class, I’ve stayed tuned in to Mr. Gold – his likes, his loves, his Pulitzer Prize winning turns of phrases when describing a dish. It makes sense that he is so well respected – just in the telling of food he offers a sensuous experience for the reader.

Jonathan Gold speaking with chefs from Corozon Y Miel
Jonathan Gold speaking with chefs from Corozon Y Miel

Last year’s Bite Nite – hosted by the Times – gave subscribers the chance to sample dishes from some of J-Gold’s list of 101 spots all in one night, and all in one space. This year, thanks to the popularity of last year’s event, they held two Bite Nites.

And I went.

And I ate. And I saw J-Gold once again. And I lived happily ever after.

My Nite featured plates from 20 restaurants, served along with signature cocktails, beer, and wine. And some groovy snacking music spun at the Times printing facility. I know I don’t eat everything – pork, beef, bananas, dishes that still have eyes when put on the plate – but I tried EVERYTHING. Mostly. Here are some of my favorites, and a list of must-try spots from the 101 that I hope to get to before 2014 comes to an end.

Favorite Single Bite: Cherries with chamomile, elderflower, and rye crisps from Girasol

Greatest New Thing I Tried: Grilled beef heart tartare crostino with mint, red onion, pine nuts, Fresno chilies, champagne vinegar, and dill from Bestia

Sweetest Sweet Treat: Peanut butter potato chip cupcake from Nickel Diner

Favorite Mini Meal: From Post & Beam – I can’t remembered what the protein was (not because it wasn’t worth remembering but I was so chef-struck at seeing Govind Armstrong in the flesh, I somehow forgot to take a picture of their menu), but the cornbread and greens with which they were served were out of this world

Bite I Can’t Forget: Boneless short ribs wrapped with rice paper

Can’t Wait to Eat Again: the classic chicken mole from Guelaguetza or the pistachio mole from La Casita Mexicana

Most Dynamic Carrots on the Planet: Mozza

Wonderful-est Moment: Running into Guillermo Diaz (aka Huck) from ABC’s Scandal

Where I Want to Eat Right Now: Girasol, Post & Beam, Bestia, La Casita Mexicana, Guelaguetza, Ink (they were at the Monday Bite Nite so I didn’t taste anything from there, but still need to get there ASAP)

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Bite Nite – Tuesday

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