Sunday, November 09, 2008

Chez Panisse + Dosa in Downtown LA

At the intersection of food and fashion this weekend were creations celebrating the local and artisinal alike. Housed in the airy loft space of fashion and housewares label, Dosa, artist/designer Christina Kim co-hosted an afternoon event with chef Alice Waters to benefit the Chez Panisse Foundation's Edible Schoolyard project.

Dosa showcased its discounted fall/winter "Casa Malatesta Franzini" traveler collection -- inspired by Kim's recent journeys and interaction with far-flung traditional cultures and craftsmanship -- while Waters held court and catered the party, bringing her trademark sustainable, local, and organic cuisine to a captive audience of Angelenos. It was a simple but visually stunning marriage of parallel approaches and philosophies to Waters and Kim's respective arts.

A small staff from Chez Panisse crafted an autumnal bounty gathered from local farmers' markets here on Saturday in Santa Monica and on Sunday in Hollywood. They staged a delectable still life of persimmons, pomegranates, apples, almonds, grapes, plums, and meyer lemons, plus a plate of fresh-pickled veggies including fennel, carrots, and radishes.

Chez Panisse servers emerged from the open kitchen with platters of rich farmer-fresh egg salad sandwiches, tangy watercress and cucumber sandwiches, and savory flat-pressed paninis with prosciutto, arugula and a fresh mozzarella made by a local gentleman who attended the event. A cleansing mint tea was offered to soothe and wash down the small bites.

The only imports on the menu were the roasted almonds from Chez Panisse's local provider in Berkeley, CA, reported the restaurant's general manager Jennifer Sherman, and the spectacular Fleur de la Terre cheese from Traders Point Creamery in Zionsville, IN. Sherman lauded the Mid-Western diary's sustainable practices and 100% organic milk from grass-fed cows (no grain whatsoever), which produces a heavenly raw-milk, natural rind cheese.

For the eco-minded and taste-conscious, the event was not to be missed. Not to mention a chance to chat with the affable revolutionary and inspiration to many market-to-table cooks, chef Alice Waters.

- by Jennifer Eno

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