Monday, October 16, 2006
Back To LA For A Second: How To Say "I Did" The Downtown LA Way
We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you this important post.
Let's stop for a minute to do something a little different, shall we? We're going to leave the beautiful Hawaiian islands and go back to smoggy-ass LA. But don't worry, it won't be all that different than what you've been used to over the last four posts. Why? Because we're going to talk wedding again--yay!
Despite all the advantages of having a small wedding (which I know I already pounded into your heads in my last couple of posts), there will undoubtedly be a teeny-tiny part of you that misses the big, mingly party atmosphere of larger weddings. And so having been back from our Hawaiian honeymoon for only two weeks, that teeny-tiny part of us transformed our loft and parking lot in downtown L.A. into a swanky post-wedding party central as we hosted a Help-Us-Celebrate-Our-First-Month-Together-As-Husband-And-Wife shindig for 75 people. This past Saturday, we let the "Hey-We-Can-Still-Be-Young-And-Hip" sides of our personalities shine through: we ate, we drank, we hopped from table to table mingling with friends, neighbors, coworkers and foodbloggers, we satisfied that itty-bitty urge to celebrate our nuptials on a larger scale. But we couldn't have pulled what would normally have been a major feat without having followed a couple of guidelines:
1) Go with what you know and love
From the first time Isaac and I laid eyes (and mouths) on the tacos from Taqueria El Zarape, we were in love. And when I say Taqueria El Zarape, I'm not talking so much about the restaurant located in Montebello, I'm talking about their catering services where they actually send a guy to whatever place you choose to make street-style tacos for you on the spot. What? Yeah, fuckers, you heard me. They send a guy to your house to make tacos for you. This was a no-brainer. We just had to have the taco guy at our party. Period.
everybody loves victor
I'm sure we tortured more than a few of the local vagrants as Victor, our taco cook, fired up his grill in our parking lot and the smell of freshly grilled meats and onions started to permeate the downtown LA air. Soon, tacos of succulent carne asada, luscious carnitas and tasty grilled chicken tacos, grilled onions and (hot!) jalapenos, velvety refried beans and fluffy Mexican rice filled everyone's plates. On the side, a variety of garnishes to help one fix their tacos to their hearts' desires: chopped onion and cilantro, spicy red chile salsa, smoky fire roasted tomato salsa, tangy tomatillo salsa, lime wedges and sliced radishes.
eau de taco is a good thing
The tacos were a hit, but we knew they would be. After all people love grub, so we gave them grub.
2) Know who the talent is
I remember when Dylan from Eat, Drink and Be Merry was just starting out at "the restaurant" and with weekend catering gigs just to get some experience in the world of professional cooking. Over the course of several months, I'd read Dylan's posts chronicling his cooking and catering adventures, and I could tell that my fellow foodblogger friend was true talent who was just waiting to be discovered. It was at one of our fabulous monthly foodblogger food-fests that I asked him if he could help cater our post-wedding celebration.
"Sure, I'd be glad to. How many people are you expecting?" Dylan asked.
"Um, I think about 75," I responded.
Dylan's eyes lit up. "75??? Oh, I don't know..."
But after some further discussion, Dylan happily accepted the challenge, and Isaac and I were just relieved to have that part of our party planning crossed off our list. We were never worried that this was the largest group of people that he'd catered by himself thus far...we had complete confidence that Dylan's creations would be nothing short of specatcular, and in the end, he exceeded our expectations in every possible way.
With Jeni from Oishii Eats and Yoony from Immaeatchu in tow, Dylan arrived with his arsenal of ingredients and gear and transformed my kitchen into a well-oiled machine slicing, dicing, frying, piping, and plating, the three of them moving and flowing in perfect harmony. Right before the clock struck 7, the first trays of their hard work were put out with cute little menu cards to describe each of their edible efforts.
dylan & team hard at work
as franck eggelhoffer would say: the "mahn-yoo"
The Hawaiian Tuna Poke with Yuzu and Green Apples was a downright sexy creation. Not only did each piece look beautiful with their little gleaming ruby red cubes of tuna contrasting with the green of diced apple and radish sprouts, but they tasted amazing. I loved how the citrusy yuzu and crisp apple brought out the fresh flavor and tender texture of the tuna; I loved how the crispy bite of the wonton crisp tied the whole thing together. Simply sexy.
super sexy hawaiian tuna poke with yuzu & green apples
The Dungeoness Crab Cakes with Remoulade were little bites of heaven, fried to a perfect golden brown. Each little disc was topped by a tiny dollop of remoulade sauce which provided a nice creamy tang to pair with the slightly spiced flakiness of the dungeoness crab. Excellent.
eliminate all crabbiness with heavenly dungeoness crab cakes
Edamame hummus was a refreshing twist on the more tradtional concoction of garbanzo beans and tahini in Dylan's Truffled Edamame Hummus on Parmesan Crisps appetizer. Add a little truffle oil and put the whole thing on delicate round parmesan crisps and you've got yourself a tiny mouthful of interesting flavors that you'll never forget.
palate pleaser: truffled edamame hummus on parmesan crisps
If I had to assign a Sex and The City character to the Spiced Harissa Dip on Pita Triangles, I'd say they were Samantha--a little more forward and voluptuous than the others, but so self-confident that she gets what she wants. And boy, did we bite: the gorgeously maroon-colored pepper paste possessed deep, sultry and smoky properties that hauled you in at the first taste but that were tamed by a few crumbles of mellow feta cheese. Pillowy triangles of pita bread gave these just the right amount of body.
From preparation to execution to clean-up, Dylan and team handled our event so effortlessly and so professionally that I would have sworn he'd been catering for years. And from the overwhelming compliments our guests paid to the appetizer spread, I'd say he's got one heck of a bright future in front of him.
3. Satisfy those sweet tooths
...and what better way to satisfy them than with bite-sized cupcakes from Leda's Bakeshop in Sherman Oaks. Such squeals of joy filled the room when we brought these out that you'd think we'd brought a baby out for everyone to go ga-ga over. But the truth is, these are cuter than any baby ever will be. (OK, except for my 6 month old niece) Each little munchkin cupcake is dressed in a pleated silver cup and wears a darling little "hat" of frosting adorned with colorful candy decorations of flowers, birds, butterflies or dots. Oh, and did I mention? They taste dreamy too. Babies, eat your hearts out.
who can possibly resist an army of adorable little babies?
After the last guest had left, Mr. and Mrs. Gluttony plopped down on the sofa in the middle of our brick- walled space and let out a huge sigh. We were dead tired and could hardly move a muscle, but on the inside we were beaming because our gluttonous affair was a success. And all thanks to people who know good food.
Keep these peeps in your party-planning black book. Trust me, you'll thank me someday.
Taqueria El Zarape
2575 Via Campo
Montebello, CA 90640
Dylan at Eat, Drink, & Be Merry
13722 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423