Foodies' Delight

Hyatt Century CityThe gleaming Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Century City has hosted kings, queens, prime ministers, celebrities and every US President since Lyndon Johnson. In fact, President Reagan spent so much time in the hotel that the press called it "The Western White House". Last Wednesday, the 18th, it was the site of the 2012 Herzog International Food & Wine Festival. The preliminary trade event is THE place to be for Kosher wine buyers with makers from Israel, France, Spain, Australia, Portugal, Italy, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand and the USA, with two booths needed for the wide variety of wines made by Herzog Cellars. The consumer portion is an opportunity to taste wines and spirits often not widely available, not just for those that keep Kosher, but for those of us who are not Jewish but like to taste wines from around the world.
Food at Herzog International Food and Wine FestivalLast year, the Festival was at Herzog's state-of-the-art 77,000 square foot facility in Oxnard, CA. Incongruously set in an industrial park in a city not known for gourmet dining, the facility houses the extraordinary Tierra Sur restaurant, the highest Zagat-rated restaurant in Ventura Country. Chef Aarons has long and varied international resume, including Savoy in New York, Zuni Café in San Francisco and Restaurante Da Delfina in Tuscany, Italy. Chef Aarons creates exotic and mouthwatering cuisine with a Mediterranean flair, from fresh local seasonal produce. At last year's festival he had his own kitchen as the event was at Herzog Cellars. This year, he had to build his own kitchen at the Hyatt location. He looked a bit harried and called the experience "like a Restaurant Impossible" but one would never have guessed at any hinderance to his culinary creation because the food was delicious and beautifully presented.
AppetizersI spent so much of my time sampling the fabulous hors d'oevres that I didn't taste as many wines as I should have. But who could resist the lavish spread with multiple offerings such as hot smoked salmon with black garlic sauce, black cod ceviche in Lapsong tea marinade with Mandarin orange and cucumber, tuna tartar with Za'atar spice (Middle Eastern herbs with sesame seed) pickled eggplant and microcelery, cold smoked hamachi with baby beets and Myer lemon aioli, and Jerusalem artichoke tortillas with salmon roe and black bowfin caviar? To top it off, I had the huckleberry compote and sips of two delicious dessert drinks: the Walders Vodka & Vanilla mixed with pineapple juice and the limoncello from the Israeli winery Binyamina.
Herzog International Food & Wine FestivalAs for the wines, I had the Chateau Leoville Poyferre stuck in my mind from the 2011 Herzog Festival----so I made a beeline to their booth to try the Bordeaux. I tasted the 94 point 2004 last year and thought the 93 point 2005 just as luxuriously complex, smoky and rich. Next stop was Capçanes, made by the eponymous village in the Priorato hills of Spain where the grape growers formed a cooperative, producing about 2% of their wines under Kosher conditions. They have become world renown, garnering high ratings of 90+ points. Touring & Tasting had the Mas Donis Barrica at one time--a spicy, fruit-forward Garnacha with a bit of Syrah. I enjoyed the 95 Point Peraj Ha'abib which is a powerful blend of Garnacha, Carinena and Cabernet Sauvignon. The name Peraj Ha'abib was a fortunate mistake--a rabbi translated spring flower erroneously as Peraj Ha'abib, instead of Peraj Ha'aviv. But Ha'abib means is a term of endearment, so it gives the wine a loving touch. Other highlights: Herzog's dense and chocolately 2008 Chalk Hill Cab, the Domain Netofa 2009 Latour Red blend of Syrah and Mourvedre, and the Chilean Alfasi 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon.
Herzog International Food & Wine FestivalWe scooted out of the trade tasting just in time as motorcycle cops were starting to line the Avenue of the Stars in advance of President Obama's motorcade. I'll be keeping a lookout on the Herzog website for upcoming food and wine pairing events at their restaurant to taste more of Chef Aarons tasty treats and sample more of the Herzog wines--some only available at the winery. I haven't been to one of their wine and food pairing evenings, but see on their events calendar that past tastings are just $15--worth making the drive to Oxnard!
Photos by Shannon Jordan Photography.

0 Comments--Click HERE To Add Or Read:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your feedback...