Review: Taste of Venice Lives Up to Expectations

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Piccolo Venice's homemade duck prosciutto. (Nichole Pouncey/Living Out Loud LA)

Piccolo Venice's homemade duck prosciutto. (Nichole Pouncey/Living Out Loud LA)

Abbot Kinney Street, the street that anchored the food krawl portion of Sunday’s Taste of Venice culinary event, sent me home with a belly full of delicious food.

This past Sunday, art, food, cocktails, and fun, were all brought together by over 20 restaurants located off of Abbot Kinney – the street that made Venice famous for food, to support local nonprofit Inside Out Community Arts.

The event began with a VIP Reception at Electric Lodge at 3:30 p.m. Twenty-two restaurants and vendors set up tables and put their very best on display. As I walked from station to station, I was excited by the vast array of choices, choices that I had never even thought to try before.

I can honestly say squash filled ravioli hadn’t dawned on me. After trying Larry’s squash ravioli with crab, I’m thinking about putting my own spin on the dish and adding it to my Thanksgiving Day menu this year. Kelp Noodles? I’m pretty sure they’re not on your grocery list. But if you toss them in a pesto vinaigrette, and serve them atop a bed of fresh greens and paired them with kalamata olives like Café Gratitude did – divine.

After dinner comes dessert. At Taste of Venice, I had my pick of lemon bars and chocolate fudge cookies from the Rose Café, and Hostaria del Piccolo’s baccala, but the star of the show was liquid nitrogen bacon caramel corn from Executive Chef Adam Steudle of Hotel Erwin’s Barlo. You read right. Bacon. Caramel. Popcorn. All mixed together, with liquid nitrogen, in a metal bowl. It is frozen, and smoky, and soft, and sweet, and best of all, the steam comes right out of your nostrils each time you take a bite.

As if the VIP reception didn’t host enough food, the tour de Abbot Kinney began promptly at 4:30 p.m. Up and down the street, groups of foodies trekked from restaurant to restaurant, dining on gelato, and pizza, pressed juices, and even chicken liver.

Tlapazola was my first stop. When I got there, 5-year aged tequila and garlic and spinach queso (quesadillas) awaited me. I tried Abbot’s Pizza’s popeye’s slice, and the lightest lemon gelato ever from N’ice Cream.

Have you ever had a fried pickle? If you have, erase everything you know from your memory. If you haven’t, please don’t even think of trying them until you make it out to Pork Belly’s where my tour ended. As I approached the restaurant, I was surprised by the large crowd gathered in front of it. Everyone was singing the praises of their plates, mouths full and in between bites. I had to see for myself. The pulled pork slider was good, but the fried pickles were out of this world. By far, the best way to end an afternoon of feasting.

Most of the time, when I over indulge, I feel some sense of guilt. On Sunday, I felt the opposite. I tried new dishes, excited my senses, and most of all I witnessed a community coming together to support an amazing cause.

Every ticket for admission, every restaurant in attendance, and every donation – big or small – went to supporting Inside Out Community Arts, and the youth they are committed to helping. After school programs, media education, and arts of various mediums take time effort and funds. These programs continue to thrive, in part, because of the generous support of the Venice community, evidenced by the sellout crowd at Taste of Venice.

Nichole Jones is a Staff Reporter for Living Out Loud - LA, covering lifestyle, entertainment and sports. Follow her on Twitter: @Cinnam0nBun
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