Over the weekend I had the pleasure of attending one of the fanciest ceremonies to date – The Academy of Magical Arts (AMA) Award Show. This black tie event was hosted by the Magic Castle and recognized the contributions of magicians from far and wide. For my readers who are hearing about the Magic Castle for the first time, the Magic Castle is a private club housing magic performances from both local and international guests. Invites are restricted to members, associate members, and their guests; however, tickets for the AMA Awards were sold to the public around February (about two – three weeks before the event) if this black tie event is something you’re interested in attending in the future.
Guests were dressed to the nines and started checking in at 5pm. We were all greeted with the evening’s program book and escorted down the property to the event. Hor D’oeuvres were passed around and guests were welcomed to the self-serve buffet table which featured steak, salmon, roasted veggies, butternut squash ravioli, among other things. The ceremony began around 7pm and announced nominees and winners for various categories. Some of the guests in attendance included and Paul Reubens (Pee Wee Herman) and actress Bai Ling (The Crow).
The ceremony concluded at 9pm and guests were invited to enjoy the after party inside the Magic Castle. There were special performances in the various showrooms, a photo-booth, and complimentary desserts passed around. It was dare I say a magical evening and one for the books!
Disneyland is known as the Happiest Place on Earth, but did you know that it’s also home to one of the most exclusive restaurants as well? Yup! Club 33 is a private club with an initiation fee of $40k, $10k annual renewal fee, and a rumored 10 year waitlist! Whew! Talk about exclusive! Thankfully, a friend recently got off the waitlist and I was fortunate enough to get an invite to check it out!
As a first timer I was extremely excited to finally see what this was all about. There were some strict guidelines on what we could photograph so I did my best to abide by the rules while also showcasing some of the details for you to enjoy. Nested right in New Orleans Square my friend and I rang the doorbell and were directed to the garden with a glass of ice cold water and a towel. It was so hot that day, so the gesture was greatly appreciated. We then took an elevator upstairs and were given a tour of the facility before being seated.
The intimate space was certainly very classy and the restaurant rotates its menus seasonally. The Summer 2018 dinner menu was inspired by Italian flavors and guests selected one item from each category: Primi, Insalata e Zuppa, Pasta, Entrata, and Finale, although I opted to forgo the Insalate e Zuppa section and doubled up on the Primi. Service was impeccable and the Sauteed Snow Crab Claws and Ahi Tonnato Carpaccio were the highlights of my meal.
Los Angeles is home to Hollywood stars, year-round summer weather, and some of the country’s best restaurants. So it should come as no surprise that the LA Food and Wine Festival is one of my favorite events to attend (See 2017 post here, here, and here) Not only do they serve from food from world class chefs like Aaron Sanchez and Antonia Lofaso, but over 200 of the best wines and talent rivaling that of the Food Network.
This five day extravaganza gives foodies a wide variety of experiences to indulge in the countries finest and I was lucky enough to attend Sunday’s Lexus Grand Tasting at Barker Hanger in Santa Monica, where I got to stuff my face silly and meet celebrity chef Curtis Stone!! In his station he was shucking oysters for patrons to enjoy, gotta love a man who’s willing to get his hands dirty. 😉
Like many festivals that I’ve attended they were pumpin’ the top 100 music and served a huge variety of bites to sample including fresh sashimi, lobster waffles, macaroons among other fine dining options. However, what really elevates this festival is the fact that they have servers taking your plates away so the environment is always clean and spotless.
If you could have any celebrity chef make you a meal who would you pick? I’d love Alton Brown to make me anything!
When I first started attending tastings I remembered the Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival setting the bar of how all food festivals should be – refined and elegant, but casual and relaxed, all while highlighting the dishes as the stars of the show. I remembered each bite bringing together a myriad of bright fresh ingredients with complex flavors. This festival has since become a household name and this year’s increase in guest attendees reflects it’s popularity. I had the opportunity to attend the event again this year and the culinary lineup for 2017 was equally spectacular.
During Sunday’s tasting my plus one and I enjoyed the finer things in life and indulged in so many delicious tastes. Many of Southern California’s most esteemed fined dinning establishments were present including Pelican Grill and Bar, Red O-Restaurant, and Alexander’s Steakhouse just to name a few and there was an abundance of seafood and steak options. If you love wine there’s not better place to sample so many different varieties, though I fancied the Kentucky Straight from Duke Bourbon. There was also a cooking demonstration by Top Chef contestants Chef Amar Santana and Katsuji Tanabe and viewers had an opportunity to sample their version of arroz con pollo. It was hilarious to see those two banter back and forth.
If you love seafood and steak, this event harmoniously brings two of my favorite proteins together with class and style. While many vendors offered them prepared in a variety of manners – marinated with secret ingredients, roasted, fried, my favorite dish was the Baja cocktail served in a tin-can from A&O Kitchen and Bar. It was simple, but the large chunks of charred squid and shrimp paired with the creaminess of the avocado on a crunchy tortilla chip just made it a perfect afternoon bite. It reminded me how good squid tastes and how infrequent I eat it.
If you could have a festival featuring your favorite protein exclusively what would you choose?
If I were a celebrity this is how I would imagine an Oscar afterparty to look like – patrons dressed to impress, a red carpet filled with the best chef’s showcasing signature dishes, and booze galore! While I may not be an Oscar recipient anytime soon, this foodie red carpet event was nothing short of spectacular. Held just outside the Walt Disney Concert Hall (111 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA), I had the opportunity alongside @FoodieJudge (Instagram Food Influencer) to attend the kick-off party to celebrate the 7th Annual Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival.
During the event we enjoyed the kick-off celebration entitled – the “Ultimate Bites of LA hosted by Curtis Stone” which featured some of LA’s most celebrated culinary talent from Downtown, Westside, Hollywood and MidCity/Beverly Hills. There was a DJ spinning pop tunes, photographers capturing every moment, and a plethora of delectable bites and strong spirits to enjoy. Some dish highlights include the BBQ Pork Brisket from Belcampo Meat Co, donuts from The Church Key, sugar custard from 71 Above, and sandwiches from Fleishik’s #nomnom!
I definitely felt like this was one of the most glamorous tastings I’ve ever attended and one thing that I loved about this event was the VIP treatment! The lines were short and the servers took away all finished plates and drinks throughout the event keeping the venue in impeccable condition. If you consider yourself a food and wine connoisseur this is definitely the place to be.
What would you be most excited to try at the LA Food and Wine event?