In terms of one-stop food marathons, the Jonathan Gold Union Station Cocktail Party for Zócalo had one of the longest names and most prolific groups food and drink participants.
The very quick background is:
– Zócalo is an organization that provides a public space for conversation and deliberation about the world today.
– Jonathan Gold is the Thom Yorke of food writing- a rockstar that should be treated as such.
– The cocktail is currently experiencing its shining moment as more than just an important part of nightlife, but in the food scene and resurgence of downtown LA as well.
And now the party…
Just as the cocktail resurgence brings the golden age of Hollywood back into style with a modern twist, so too does discussion of a new high speed train that would run from Los Angeles’ Union Station to San Diego. Union Station is the landmark of downtown LA that best sums up the night. Grand and historic, it signifies the strength and comfort of the old way of life. Rye whiskey, scotch, gin- timeless drinks, that take time to make. The train station in the 1940’s was the place where soldiers went off to war and then returned home. It was the center of community and communication.
The room, with its infinitely high ceilings and giant windows was warm despite being so open. It’s sturdy and well appointed, not unlike a good Manhattan.
The alcohol was flowing in many forms, with the cocktail menu developed by 213.
Palate’s Octavio Becerra was the first chef I saw.
His pork terrine with Szechuan pigs ears, yali pears, pickled shiitake and radish, violet mustard was one of the top dishes of the night. No salad is complete without pigs ears… especially when it’s topping pork.
My other favorite was from Cut. They had kobe short ribs that were succulent and savory (albeit a bit messy) along side tuna tartare “sandwiches” with wasabi aioli on Togarashi crisps (not pictured because they were in my stomach too fast).
Michael Cimarusti from Providence was in attendance, both to serve delicious clam fritters and to speak on the panel.
The clams were sweet and mild, not too greasy. They were tasty on their own and didn’t need the yuzu mayo.
Then came the dish I was most excited for- Ilan Hall’s bacon wrapped matzo balls. As a pig-loving Jew I’ve already expressed my excitement for The Gorbals’ menu. I’ve also written about my love for all things bacon-wrapped.
Just look at the pan of harmonious religious unity.
The final product is tasty, because everything wrapped with bacon is tasty. Whether hordes will flock to eat them by the fistful, I’m not sure.
Chef John Sedlar from Rivera was there as well.
He was serving up his famous tortillas florales.
The handmade corn tortillas have a flower pressed into them before hitting the grill. The resulting beauty is the epitome of Rivera’s menu- unique, artful and delicious.
Mozza sent over some mozzarella- yawn.
Comme Ca made more of an effort but failed with their bland steak tartar sliders.
The bite sized burgers of choice were Church and State’s. They were perfect sized pork patties, with fantastic buns and rich flavor.
Oh right. The cocktails. The Manhattan from Cole’s was my favorite.
I also love Cole’s habanero pickles but they weren’t serving those.
The absinthe was a big draw for some, but I’m not a fan.
Champagne was prevalent throughout the party as well.
There was a panel featuring Eric Alperin from The Varnish and Vincenzo Marianella from Copa d’Oro. Vincenzo actually has taken a train from New York to LA, so this wasn’t his first time at Union Station.
213’s Cedd Moses and Providence’s Michael Cimarusti were featured as well.
The Zocalo girls put together a great party, one of the most fun I’ve been to as a blogger (it had nothing to do with the cocktails…).
By the end it turned into a real party with DJ Pajaro spinning dance hits for the few drunks left.
When it started to resemble a frat party I took my cue to leave.
If anyone doubted the impact Jonathan Gold has had on LA, the night was a testament to the scope of his reach. In terms of fund raising for Zócalo, it was a great success. Not to mention it was fun as hell.