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LAist Takes a "Taste of Italy"

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It was our pleasure to attend yesterday's "Taste of Italy" Wine and Food tasting event that was held to premiere several Italian wines paired with samplings of food from some of LA's best eateries and in benefit of the non-profit eco-gastronomic organization Slow Food. This gave us the unique opportunity to mingle with prestigious vinters and chefs--some of whom, like Angeli Caffe and KCRW's Good Food's Evan Kleiman and the La Brea Bakery's Nancy Silverton, we'd know of and admired for quite some time.

But enough preamble. The stars of this event were the glasses full of greatly hailed wines and the plates of delicious food. We first sampled Grace's Braised Pork Belly, which we found to be rich, savory, but far too fatty to eat more than just a morsel of. Vincenti's Lasagna Verde was a brilliant balance of creamy cheese, well-seasoned meat, mild sauce, and verde pasta, served with a beaming smile from the most charming young man. Mako's Kobe Beef Sliders (mini hamburgers) featured the most phenomenally tasty meat accented with thin, transparent slices of sweet bermuda onion on a darling ball-like bun, but their coleslaw was a tad dull, despite the colorful, creamy promise of its appearance. Rising star Chef Troy N. Thompson of Jer-ne served his Slow Roasted Stuffed Onion (stuffed with, well, more onion) which was a piping hot burst of oniony goodness. Jar, along with Ms. Silverton, brought their Mozarella topped with grilled radicchio drizzled with honey fresh from the comb, which was overwhelming on the first bite, but more balanced by the second (the honey was amazingly sharp and sweet--a little can go a long way). The Grill at the Fairmont Miramar (the host hotel) served a rich and surprisingly moist Baked Salmon in Pastry with Sun Dried Tomato and Olive Tapenade. But our favorites, hands down, were Angeli Caffe's simple, creamy Ricotta Gnocchi, and the only dessert in the room--Roasted Figs and Peaches with Lemon Mascarpone Cream and Pine Nut Basil Cookie, courtesy of Melissa's Produce. It was our first fig, and it made quite an impression; we could taste the charring, which was complimented by the lightly sweet taste of the mascarpone and the buttery fullness of the cookie. Now, get tipsy with us after the jump...

We're not even going to pretend to know wines, though we did sample some fine Barolos from Michele Chiarlo, and some fruity, woodsy Pinot Grigio's from Bollini. Our favorite was Pighin's Friuli Pinot Grigio, with its clean, dry finish and its fruity, crisp taste (listen to us go on about wine like we knew what we meant!), which is a regional white from the winery's base in the Risano area of Grave del Friuli (known for its superior soil, natch). It was quite the experience to pair the wines with the foods, to be served so graciously and enthusiastically by some of our city's finest chefs, and to learn about the Slow Food (locally, Slow Food LA) folks. More photos of the day are here.