THE NEW TASTE OF SAN PEDRO
By Gina Ruccione, Cuisine and Restaurant Writer
After a several-year hiatus, the highly anticipated Taste of San Pedro will be returning Aug. 1 for a special one-day event.
The culinary festival, which will take place at the courtyard of Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles, will host purveyors of the very best cuisine from 20 of the best restaurants in the Harbor Area. Live music, performers and an extensive list of craft beers, wine and craft spirits will also be featured.
The San Pedro Chamber of Commerce, which has been sponsoring the event since its inception in 1989, has been working hard to rebuild the festival for quite some time. Many are eager to see the Taste of San Pedro return to its roots and bring in the crowds that once used to flock to the harbor each year. This year, the festival has been redesigned with more of an emphasis on the great food and beverages and less about making it a spectacle with carnival rides and outside vendors.
While there have been some general mixed feelings about the event, much of that stems from the nostalgia and history surrounding the Taste of San Pedro. Naturally, everyone has expectations.
Andrew Silber, owner of The Whale & Ale, has been participating since the beginning. He is thrilled to see the Taste of San Pedro return. He has been pushing for years to see the event upgraded to a level that really showcases San Pedro’s restaurants at their best. The Whale & Ale will be serving it’s famous fresh, blue lump crab cakes with a light mayonnaise drizzle and two different ales: Guinness draft and Boddingtons’s Pub Cream Ale, which was originally sold in North America exclusively at his restaurant.
Frank Buono of Buono’s Authentic Pizzeria has also been involved in the Taste of San Pedro since the beginning and shared some of his favorite memories about the festival from previous years. Buono’s will be serving many items, but the crowd pleaser will definitely be the battered eggplant rolls stuffed with goat cheese and spicy marinara.
Dustin Trani from J. Trani’s Ristorante reminisced about attending the event when he was a child. “It’s about the bigger picture,” he said. “ It’s about supporting the community.”
Eager to showcase some fan favorites alongside some of their more creative, dishes, J. Trani’s Ristorante will be serving two plates: a Hamachi Tartar with green apple and soy consommé, and an oak-grilled chicken sausage with charred lemon.
“We wanted to serve something with global flavors that incorporates intricate plating techniques, but we also want to serve a classic dish that everyone enjoys,” he said. The chicken sausages are a huge hit at J. Trani’s and are all made in-house.
Several other restaurants that are participating this year want to shy away from serving items that people expect. It seems the focus has shifted to choosing dishes that remind us why we love these restaurants and will entice us to return, rather than opting for obvious choices.
John Bagakis from Big Nick’s Pizza will be serving chicken marsala and caprese salad skewers.
“I wanted to pick something off of our catering menu,” he said. “Something that is popular but not everyone thinks to order… People expect us to serve pizza. I thought we’d try something a little different.”
New this year to the Taste of San Pedro is Primal Alchemy, a well-known catering company in Long Beach that will no doubt be serving some show-stopping cuisine. Known for catering many events at Crafted, as well as the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium gala, Chef Paul Buchanan wanted to make sure he provided something sensitive to vegetarians. He plans on serving a kale and quinoa salad with citrus segments and feta. Of course, there will be something for meat lovers too. A sweet corn pudding with barbecue chicken chili topped with corn salsa and crema fresca.
At the end of the day it’s about being a part of a strong, supportive community to the local businesses that we already know and love. Let’s welcome the Taste of San Pedro back with open arms.
For a full list of participating restaurants, bands, and to buy tickets, visit the www.sanpedrochamber.com.
Gina Ruccione has traveled all over Europe and Asia and has lived in almost every nook of Los Angeles County. You can visit her website at www.foodfashionfoolishfornication.com.