Let’s just take a moment to recap what this event is all about, though, shall we?
The Barristers of the Beverly Hills Bar Association and the Beverly Hills Bar Foundation established the Vintage Bouquet Food and Wine Event in 1988 to raise funds for various causes including, but not limited to, Wills For Heroes (a free program to provide wills to firefighters, police and first responders), free programs for victims of domestic violence, The High School Blue Car Project, which educates high school students about the law.
Over the years, the Foundation has enhanced the community by funding a number of nationally recognized and emulated legal literacy and preventive law programs as well as community service projects including, but not limited to:
- Free Wills for Fire Fighters and Emergency Responders
- Free Monthly Legal Clinics
- Free programs for victims of domestic violence
- Free one-day seminars to help individuals understand their legal rights
- Free programs to elementary students about tolerance and diversity
- Free programs to high school students about the law
The Foundation is also proud of its long-standing support and association with Public Counsel, conceived and founded by the Beverly Hills Bar Association more than 30 years ago and now the nation’s largest pro bono law firm. The Foundation, the Association, and Public Counsel share a deep commitment to helping others through volunteer service, a cornerstone of the Foundation’s tradition of excellence.
OK, back to me now; back to the food. Still with me? Groovy. Naturally, I can’t share all of my pictures, but here is a grand selection from the 25th Annual Vintage Bouquet Food and Wine Event:
Steak Sandwich jus and horseradish sauce & creamed corn
Lawry’s Prime Rib Restaurant & Steakhouse
My Thoughts: Damn it, it just isn’t the Vintage Bouquet until I beeline over to the Lawry’s booth and sear a bundle of nerves with that butt-kick horseradish sauce. I don’t care that this could be the identical photograph to the one I snapped last year; that meat and that insanely good creamed corn deserves respect.
Salmon Ceviche on squid ink brioche with horseradish aioli
Lazy Ox Canteen
My Thoughts: Black colored food still messes with my brain. I have a bit of trouble finding squid ink tinted food appetizing, but this is my second run-in with the fad, so I saved face for the sake of the otherwise mouth-watering looking bite. It was easily the best salmon of the day; well marinated with the adequate contrast of textures. The speared grape tomatoes were a fresh touch, and the brioche with the horseradish aioli was actually well paired.
My Thoughts: Spotting St~Germain was a delightful surprise, though it came as no shock that this was my favorite drink of the entire event. Cool, crisp and refreshing, St~Germain Cocktail really hit the spot. Had I not been honor-bound by my bloggerly duties to explore a variety of beverages, I would have stuck with this cocktail for the rest of the day.
Chicken Salad Sandwich
The Palm Restaurant
My Thoughts: Giving the scorching temperature, I passed on the beef sandwich in favor of the lighter chicken salad sandwich. I was pleasantly surprised with this very unassuming little bite; chunks of veggies, almonds tender and tender chicken. Simple, but effective when made with capable hands.
Stuffed Mushrooms spinach, cream cheese, pine nuts, bacon
My Thoughts: I could not tell you what I detected in this stuffed mushroom, other than pure deliciousness. I don’t even recall what the sauce was because I was too busy making a balancing act out of carrying three or four of these off to my “party” (confession: I had one guest) and trying not to devour them while en route.
My Thoughts: I was very excited that DRY Soda would be present at the Vintage Bouquet Food and Wine Event. Back at Christmas, I purchased the Juniper soda for my aunt’s stocking, while my brother received cucumber and rhubarb. I past on lavender, cucumber and blood orange, and sampled the rest. Rhubarb was too herby for my liking, vanilla bean delivered exactly what it promises, juniper was intense and gave me visions of a European woodland, while the lime distinctly stood out as zippy, refreshing and unsurprisingly my favorite. The sugars are half what one would find in traditional soda, and the DRY rep encouraged food pairings and cocktail mixing with each flavor.
My Thoughts: This was one out of four samplings Fleming’s Steakhouse offered at the event, the others being a rich hand-rolled chocolate truffle, their signature steak, and risotto. While these were all equally tasty, it was the tuna tartar that leapt out and took center stage. Everyone was raving about it. It was so simple, yet packed so many expertly constructed layers of flavor that it blew all other tuna tastings out of the proverbial water. Considering there were roughly seven other vendors offering tuna, this says something.
My Thoughts: The first booth as guests walked into the main area was led by An Catering. They set the bar very high with their crowd pleasing garlic noodles, cleverly served in these iconic Chinese take-away boxes. I had to resist trying more, as that would have filled me up a bit prematurely.
Astrale e Terra
My Thoughts: The first wine of the day had me shying away from the rosé and going for the Bordeaux style blend, which can include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and sometimes Syrah from the Estate Vineyard in the mountains of the Atlas Peak Appellation. The wine was smooth, though I regret not going back for the rosé as it came highly recommended from wine connoisseur and Chairperson of the Los Angeles chapter of the American Wine Society, Jennifer Hill.
Bow and Truss
My Thoughts: As I have only ever had bites of this signature Valencian dish, I cannot comment on what makes paella good or authentic. What I can comment on, however, is that this spoonful of paella with its dainty bay scallop and well seasoned rice, had me going back for seconds. Possibly thirds.
Screwdriver Mini Cupcake
Lemon Drop Mini Cupcake
My Thoughts: A good idea, but either not executed to the best of their abilities or a victim of the scorching heat as the sugar was gritty and overbearing, rendering these bites totally unpalatable. My personal feelings of Wasted Cupcakes’ distasteful use of the word “Car Bomb” to describe their Guinness infused cupcake ensures I cannot in good conscious give them my business. Making light of and capitalizing on the horrific and violent strife between Ireland and the UK doesn’t sit well with me. To every bar/restaurant utilizing this revolting name, please consider renaming your drink/dish/cupcake/whatever to “Irish Orgasm”. It’s positive, chuckle-worthy and doesn’t undermine the death and destruction caused by car bombs.
Braised Pear with prosciutto & Peperomata with goat cheese
Napa Valley Grille
My Thoughts: As I approached Napa Valley Grille with open arms and a smile of recognition on my face, I was greeted by the same team from 2012. I had Chef Taylor Boudreaux himself write down the components of these morsels, as I was far too busy noshing. Sumptuous, elegant and never disappointing.
Broken Shed Premium Vodka
My Thoughts: Broken Shed Premium Vodka is made from whey and distilled, crafted and bottled in New Zealand. The Lychee Cocktail concocted above was very nice, but a little lacking in creativity. It employed the use of canned lychee with its syrup from the tin. I understand wanting to let the vodka shine, but a touch more imagination would have been welcomed.
Spicy Yellow Fin Tuna Tartar
Bedford and Burns
Shrimp Ceviche with serrano and avocado
Bedford and Burns
My Thoughts: Another knock-out tuna tartar – this time with the added bonus of seaweed! However, it was the shrimp ceviche – oh, that juicy, crunchy, citrusy, spicy, incredibly fresh shrimp ceviche that wins my personal favor as the best sampling of the day. Even the added touch of a fresh scoop of avocado adds to the reasons why I went back a third and fourth time. I’m not even that big of a ceviche fan, but Bedford and Burns has made me a believer (as well as a total glutton). I’m not joking when I confess that I already have a grocery list written up to acquire the ingredients in the hopes of replicating this exquisite summer dish. I raise my glass to you, Bedford and Burns.
Wood and Vine
My Thoughts: The pickle didn’t really do it for me, as I thought it soured out the natural flavors of the pâté. Still, I love Wood and Vine; they won me over with their samplings at last year’s Vintage Bouquet. I want to give new executive chef Eric Buss a proper go of it. Perhaps I’ll drop by during a Sunday at Seven movie night this summer.
2010 Cabernet Sauvignon
My Thoughts: My favorite wine of the day. Smooth as satin, aromatic, with a fruity and floral finish.
Tofu with shiso pesto, peas, pea greens
Livello at L’Ermitage Beverly Hills
My Thoughts: Unless it’s floating in some miso soup, I really don’t dig tofu. However, this dish was too innovative to not give an acknowledgment of admiration. The execution is flawless, and though I would not personally be one for this particular dish, I am intrigued enough by the creativity that I would look into dining at Livello.
Beef Slider & Sweet Potato Casserole with pecan crust
Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse
My Thoughts: I think the beef would have fared better with another sort of bun; it was a little lost among the gluten. The sweet potato casserole with pecan crust saved the entire plate, though, and begging to be replicated come Thanksgiving. Thankfully, the good folks at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse handed out their recipe on nicely printed cards.
My Thoughts: I ended my day at the Vintage Bouquet Food and Wine Event semi-hovering around the Moreno BHLV booth, chatting with familiar faces over cold, crisp and dry sparkling wine. I wish I could end every single one of my days like this!
Yeah, there was a silent auction. Yup, a live auction, too. Didn’t even notice. A band? Totally didn’t hear them. For me, this event is all about the food and drink; everything else merely fades into the background. Cheers to all of the food, wine, spirits and beverage vendors who tackled the task of serving up dozens of hungry and thirsty attendees in 90 degree weather.
Despite the shade and water shortage, the Vintage Bouquet is still one of the highlight events of my year. My lone quibble leads to the simple advice to always be prepared for the heat; increase the shade. Otherwise, keep doing what you’re doing, Vintage Bouquet. I can’t wait to taste 2014!
See all of my photos from the 25th (and 24th) Vintage Bouquet Food and Wine Event!