January 26, 2013

Buick Discovery Tour 2013: Los Angeles

While every delicious meal involves a perfect marriage of flavors, subtle seduction of textures, and artful presentation, every beautiful meal is able to bring together different people, friends and strangers alike, to participate in the one activity every human does daily: eat.  Sure, food, in and of itself, can elevate you to a point of bliss (been there, done that -- and it's great!), but the true beauty behind food stems from the community that forms organically, and with whom you can share each enjoyable bite.

That's what the folks at Food & Wine Magazine and Buick strived to achieve through the 2013 Buick Discover Tour.  And after galavanting around the Four Seasons for 3+ hours,  I can honestly say they did a job well done.

Chef Recipe Cards

When Buick sent me an invite to this event, I was intrigued and surprised.  (1) I've never stepped foot in a Buick before; (2) I've always equated Buicks as cars driven by old folks; and (3) For reasons (1) and (2), I've never had any desire to be a Buick owner.

A few weeks ago, I not only stepped foot in an off-white 2013 LaCrosse, but I drove it around Westlake Village for a few miles.  Scratch (1) off the list.  Will I immediately go buy myself a Buick?  No.  Will I stop equating them as old people's cars?  Probably.  Scratch (2) off the list.

While test-driving was fun, the highlight of the day were the sessions where renowned chefs demonstrated their cooking styles and we ate/ inhaled their food.

Meet Chef Ben Roche, chemist + artist/ architect = "progressive pastry chef."
Roche hails from Chicago where he is the executive pastry chef at the North River restaurant, Baume & Brix and former pastry chef at Moto Restaurant.  Roche has given TED talks on food, too.

Voila le Yuzu Chiboust:

Coconut Rice Pudding, Yuzu Chiboust, Caraway Ice Cream, garnished with grapefruit, pineapple, and rice noodle puffs

The chiboust (pronounced "she-boo" or "chi-boost") was light and creamy as expected, but the yuzu juice introduced an unique hint of sweet and tangy.  She-boo was she-bam!  The caraway ice cream took some getting used to -- it kind of reminded me of black licorice, of which I am not a fan.  But much to my dismay, but also unsurprisingly, I cleaned my plate without trouble.

Meet Chef Raphael Lunetta, owner and chef of Jiraffe Restaurant in Santa Monica.
Lunetta's demo was my favorite not just because it involved a prime beef filet, but I was attracted to his down-to-earth personality.  No wonder this surfer-chef is one of Food & Wine's Best New Chefs.

Hellooooo, so nice to (m)eat you.

What Chef Lunetta cooked live.

What I actually ate.

In the zone.

The perfectly-cooked filet was topped with a hearts of palm salad (which included croutons and a creme fraiche vinaigrette) and sat atop a potato and pear gratin.  Hidden between the filet and potato was sauteed Swiss chard.  Madeira reduction and red grapes all around.  Delicious!  Oh man Jiraffe, I must visit you soon!

Meet Wine Connoisseur Michael Green.

Green talked us through two wines: (1) the 2011 Rodney Strong Charlotte's Home Sauvignon Blanc and (2) the 2011 Tapena Tempranillo.

The sauvignon blanc from Sonoma Valley was light, crisp, and without much body.  To remedy that, Green taught us to bite into a lemon prior to drinking the white wine, and lo and behold, the wine suddenly tasted sweeter!

The Spanish Tempranillo had more rich and intense flavor with a lingering finish.  Like the lemon bite for the white wine, after a bite into a supreme dark piece of Lindt 90% cocoa chocolate, the taste of the red wine changed dramatically.  This goes to prove that thoughtful food and wine pairings are important and necessary.

Do you feel his passion? Preach it, Psilakis.

Last, but not least: Meet Chef Michael Psilakis, a Greek New Yorker who has collected pretty much every worthy culinary award and accolade due to his diligence, fortitude, and passion for food.  Aside from running multiple Greek restaurants throughout NY, Psilakis is co-exec producer and co-star of BBC America's "No Kitchen Required."  Best of all, he's a family man who cherishes the precious moments spent with his (big, fat, Greek) family.

He presented us with Gyro Spiced Sliders.

As a huge fan of Greek cuisine, the slider was a hit.  Beneath the familiar slider look, there were various spices that created a less-familiar flavor.  Nevertheless, there was still genuine comfort found behind this gyro spiced patty with tsatiski sauce, a kind of comfort that you often crave.

And I can further my Greek food explorations at home through Psilakis' cookbook, "How to Roast a Lamb"!

Good food, good company -- literally, GM is a good ol' American company -- and great community of fellow food enthusiasts is always a recipe for success.  Thank you Buick and Food & Wine for putting on a great event!  See ya'll next year!

Note: If you're interested in trying any of the above-featured dishes, email doahshungry [at] gmail [dot] com, and I'd be happy to share the recipes!