Dining With the (Food Network) Stars

Avis Budget Group came to town to do some entertaining, and they wanted to bring in a little something special for their group: Food Network’s Aida Mollenkamp.

full-service cateringPhoto by Erik Neldner

Aida did a cooking demo of three of her killer recipes. She also mixed up three delicious cocktails in signature Aida style. If you want a taste of what the Avis group experienced, try this Strawberry Moscow Mule.

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Feeling more snacky? This Zucchini and Ricotta Salata Bruschetta recipe is definitely worth a try as well.

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After the demonstration, everyone sat down for dinner and had their choice of three signature Taste of Pace dishes:

Dukkah crusted bass, quinoa, avocado radish slaw, wild mushrooms (Get the recipe here.)

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Photo by Joel Maus, Studio EMP

Miso sapporo short rib, pickled ginger, micro shiso, wasabi mash

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Photo by Joel Maus, Studio EMP

One of the best things about running a full-service catering company is getting to work with other creative chefs in the industry and finding inspiration in unexpected places. Lately, I’ve been so inspired to create floral arrangements. It makes Taste of Pace more full service since there’s one less vendor to bring in, and I’m constantly enthralled with all the different colors and textures.  And c’mon, who doesn’t love dahlias?

erikenldnerphoto, Praedicat

Photo by Erik Neldner

Fall is right around the corner, which means that there’ll be a whole lotta entertaining goin’ on. If you want to bring a little Taste of Pace to your next event, click here for more info.

Beautiful Buffet Styling in 5 Easy Steps

I’m no stranger to buffets. As the owner of a full-service catering company, it’s sort of a job requirement. And c’mon—who doesn’t love a buffet? This casual, grab-n-go serving style is a great way to make food more accessible to your guests. And when you’re the host, it also gives you much more time to mingle. I’ve learned a thing or two about styling a beautiful buffet table, and today I’m sharing these five simple steps with you. Here’s how we do it at Taste of Pace:

1.Perfect Asymmetry

To create visual interest, position the highest point of your buffet table slightly off-center. This keeps things from looking too stuffy or formal, and also creates a more organic flow.

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2. Right Angles

When arranging your serving platters, vary the heights and angles so that they’re harmonious, but not uniform. Layering your levels makes it easier for guests to load up their plates, and looks much more “pro,” too.

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3. Fab Fillers

Add a variety of candles and floral arrangements in different shapes and sizes to your buffet table.  This will fill in the gaps between platters and make your buffet appear more abundant.

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4. Pretty Up the Party Food

If you’ve spent any time on this blog, you’ve heard this before. But it’s worth repeating. Serve seasonal produce! Food that’s in season right now is fresher, brighter, and much better tasting.

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5. Think Outside (or on top of) the Box

Don’t be afraid to bring unconventional materials to your buffet table. For this event, we used wooden crates, woven baskets, and moss boxes to add a variety of levels and textures to the table. But really, anything goes.

TOP’ s Guide to the Best Ice Cream in L.A.

It’s hard to believe that there’s just one more month of summer. But it’s true, people! Which is all the more reason to indulge in one of summer’s sweetest treats: ice cream. We’ve got some pretty fantastic ice cream shops here in LA, and if you play your cards right, you still have time to try them all before the summer ends.

Scoops Westside

I love the fact that Scoops features new flavors every day—especially since some of those flavors are Brown Brown Bread (yum!), Salty Vanilla Maple, Goat Cheese Basil, and (oh yeah!) Dr. Pepper. Seriously, folks, these are some of the most creative flavor pairings you’ll find in LA. Bring your enthusiastic palate and adventurous appetite to this Westside creamery and you won’t be disappointed.

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Photo via Bellybound

Sweet Rose Creamery

This artisan ice cream shop makes seasonally-inspired ice cream using organic milk and cream, and much of their produce comes from the Santa Monica Farmers Market. I could eat a scoop (or three) of their Salted Caramel ice cream every day and never get tired of it. You should definitely try the Summer Corn ice cream and White Nectarine sorbet before the summer ends. So heavenly.

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Mashti Malone’s

Mashti Malone’s is an ice cream shop that belongs to two brothers from northern Iran. They use a centuries-old recipe to make an exotic, ultra-creamy ice cream that is a serious treat for the senses. The creamy rosewater is sort of magical, and the orange blossom with pistachios transports you to a warm day in Morocco, lying beneath the intoxicating orange groves. The original Mashti  Malone’s is located on La Brea Avenue, but the ice cream is also available at Whole Foods Markets on the west coast. (Lucky, lucky us.) The sophisticated flavors would be an amazing addition to your adult dessert bar.

 

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Photo by Hanson T. via Yelp

Top Round Roast Beef

Most people go to Top Round (the Arby’s from scratch place) for their sandwiches and fries. But some just go for dessert. Either way, you can’t go wrong.  They make frozen custard, which is a tasty spin on traditional ice cream.  The peach praline nearly knocked me out after I crushed my fried chicken sandwich and fries (in the parking lot, in five minutes flat, like I’d never seen food in my life).  It’s the perfect balance of sweet and fresh, and the frozen custard menu is extensive.

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McConnell’s Ice Cream

While McConnell’s isn’t technically located in Los Angeles, they ship their made-from-scratch pints of ice cream straight to your door no matter where you live, which means there’s really no reason you shouldn’t be enjoying it here in LA. My personal favorite is Peppermint Stick, but every now and then I get a hankering for the Churros Con Leche, too.

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Edible Blossoms: Eat Your Flowers

You know what they say—you eat with your eyes first. And honestly, I couldn’t agree more. Presentation is a major component of food preparation, which is why I’m all about natural garnishes (and we’re not talking parsley, people). Nothing looks prettier on a plate than edible blossoms. Think broccoli flowers, squash blossoms, and those lovely purple buds you’ll find on a chive plant. So. damn. pretty.

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Photo by Erik Neldner

edible blossoms

Photo by Erik Neldner

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Broccoli flower photo by Joel Maus, Studio EMP, via Utterly Engaged

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Photo by Joel Maus, Studio EMP

But beyond glamming up a gorgeous dinner plate, edible blossoms also make a pretty yummy entrée on their own. Enter my latest obsession: fried squash blossoms with herb goat cheese and fleur de sel. We recently served these babies at an Event Brite event, and let’s just say there weren’t any leftovers. Was I surprised? Not at all. The delicate crunch and warm, cheesy filling make these blossoms an absolutely perfect bite—and a beautiful one at that. (Get the recipe here.)

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Photo by Joel Maus, Studio EMP

In addition to looking stunning on a plate, edible blossoms can also take center stage when you turn them into a centerpiece. I recently styled this edible arrangement for Utterly Engaged, and I must say, I was really quite pleased. It’s part centerpiece, part hors d’ oeuvre tray. Pretty clever, huh? And yes, pretty delicious.

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Photo by Joel Maus, Studio EMP

So here’s the lesson for the day: It’s totally time to ditch the bouquet. Scour the vegetable garden instead of the flower bed. Trim the squash plant instead of the roses. Edible blossoms are a modern approach to garnishing a plate, and a fresh cuisine trend that isn’t going anywhere soon. And to that, I say Amen!