The 7th annual Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival brought together culinary celebrities, home cooks and foodie enthusiasts over a beautiful weekend, from March 24 – 26. Two days of grand tastings were marked by extravagant food and drink, along with live demonstrations from celebrity chefs, TV personalities and kitchen masterminds alike. Set in the El Paseo shopping district, the Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival embodied the fun-yet-relaxed feel of the Coachella Valley and region’s surprisingly diverse culinary talent.
So what made this year’s Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival stand out? In a nutshell, the cooking demonstrations blew it out of the park, there was more wine and champagne than you knew what to do with, and the food offerings featured some remarkable dishes not seen in years past. In some cases forced guests to pick and choose among simultaneous performances…first-world problem indeed. Highlights below:
Saturday Grand Tasting
Talent and Demonstrations
Sunday Grand Tasting
Talent and Demonstrations
Wineries present included labels from France, Canada, New York, Virginia, Washington and of course California, including Napa and Sonoma as well as across Southern California. Beer standouts included Babe’s Brewhouse, Ace Cider and Bootlegger’s Brewery.
And while there was no shortage of festivities that took place, it is necessary to note that a significant number of food vendors wrapped things up well before the event ended each day. Many booths ran out of food and closed down by 2:30, when the festival was set to last until 4 p.m. There were also noticeably fewer food vendors on Sunday’s grand tasting compared to Saturday, with some never showing up in the first place. While this didn’t significantly take away from the overall experience, one would hope that these scenarios would be more the exception than the trend leading into next year.
The 2018 Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival is already highly anticipated. For more information, PalmDesertFoodAndWine.com
Burger City Grill is opening its third Los Angeles location, in Torrance, on Monday, March 27th, at 11 a.m. As part of their grand opening, the chain is giving a year’s supply of burgers to the first 50 customers!
In addition to the big promotion, Burger City Grill will also be raffling off "Burgers Rule" t-shirts, hats and more swag throughout the day. The new Torrance location, the restaurant’s third property, is 3605 Artesia Blvd. Torrance, CA 90504.
Burger City Grill aka B.C.G. is known for burgers with Certified Angus beef, quality ingredients, and a fresh brioche buns, made exclusively for B.C.G. The Burger City Grill menu consists of eight signature burgers, three homemade sides, free-style drinks from Coca-Cola’s Freestyle Machine, three flavors of hand scooped shakes, as well as local craft beer and wine.
“Since we started Burger City Grill, we have had many people ask us when we would be expanding and offering burgers lovers in Los Angeles a chance to enjoy wholesome burgers. Now they can – just in time to eat better quality burgers throughout the year,” said Themios Tsiboukas, President and Founder of Burger City Grill.
Napa Valley Grille, located at the border separating Westwood’s hustle-and-bustle with one of the last quiet and homey neighborhoods in LA, is both a step back in time and a modernistic showcase. This interesting feat is embodied by classic flavors with just enough of a twist to appear all-new, as well as a beautiful layout that still reminds you of home. Even the crowd mixes past, present and future, with energetic couples, business groups and locals who have lived in the neighborhood for decades all dining side by side.
The menu reflects Napa Valley Grill’s appeal to ‘palates distinctive of West Coast wine country’ which also encompasses local, sustainable ingredients. This means that the menu also changes seasonally, with new additions coming in pleasant batches.
Among the seasonal delights is the Kansas City strip, a 14-oz steak with charred onion-thyme jam and green peppercorn-cognac ju, adding a distinct sweetness that melds beautifully. The Ancho-crusted albacore tuna is just in as well, with a sear that releases spectacular flavor. Pair these with some baked cavatelli gratin—think of it as spruced up mac ‘n’ cheese—and you’ve got a heck of a palate-pleaser. All sides, by the way, come out in great portions fit for sharing.
Additional highlights include the crescenza cheese and serrano ham tartine and the charcuterie, led by a house-made chicken liver pate. Sadly, though, these appetizers don’t come out in portion sizes that can justify their price, and the charcuterie could really use some cheese to round it out.
Save room for dessert, because the butterscotch bread pudding and sticky toffee date cake are as decadent as they sound. When it comes to drinks, the wine list is quite extensive but cocktails don’t come together that well; it should be noted, though, that their drinks are strong and do come out in real sizes [as opposed to some menial 4 – 5 oz drinks you’ll get elsewhere].
Service is as pristine as the atmosphere. Thankfully so, because with this kind of experience in this location, that bill will set you back. Good thing there’s an excellent happy hour [and reverse happy hour] menu.
Napa Valley Grille is located at 1100 Glendon Avenue, #100, Los Angeles, CA 90024. Average out-the-door price for appetizer, entrée, side, dessert and 1 – 2 drinks is ~$125/person. For more information or reservations call (310) 824-3322 or visit Napa valley Grille online.
Benjamin Brown is a seasoned restaurant writer and hospitality consultant, serving up SoCal's hottest food news and reviews.