While Mr. Monkey attended the premiere of The Express tonight at Grauman's Chinese Theatre and hobnobbed with Dennis Quaid and the rest of the cast at the after-party at Katsuya, I went to The Grove.
But not to shop.
Los Angeles Magazine, The Grove, and the Sherry Council of America presented a "tasteful evening of friendly competition between Top Chef contestants C.J. and Antonia." My cohorts were Trisha, insomniac, and Mr. and Mrs. starlily313, who was the one who told us about the event.
I love food. I love TV. I love free things. This combined all three!
We enjoyed free samplings of sherry and little morsels from restaurants at The Grove.
The Whisper Lounge. Tasty, but it was clear that these had sat around for awhile.
Braised short rib tostadas with avocado crema and spicy heirloom tomato salsa, courtesy of The Whisper Lounge. My fave of the night. I could've eaten 10 of these.
Butternut squash ravioli tossed with sun-dried tomatoes in a light parmesan cheese sauce and topped with crumbled amaretti cookies, courtesy of Maggiano's. Quite yummy. I enjoyed the sweetness.
Black and white salmon, sesame seed crusted and served with baby bok choy, bell peppers, red onions and sugar snap peas over ginger sticky rice with wasabi, orange-hoisin, and miso honey mustard sauces, courtesy of The Farm of Beverly Hills. Not very good. Way too much going on.
Olive oil poached Alaskan Halibut with oven-roasted tomato sun choke puree with a tyme and lemon jus with a wild and morel mushroom duxelle with heirloom tomatoes and micro greens served on a freshly toasted crostini, courtesy of Morels French Steakhouse & Bistro. The halibut was forgettable, but the crostini was worth eating. Even this mushroom hater liked it.
C.J. and Antonia battled Iron Chef-style -- the "secret ingredient" was sherry, of course.
Top Chef is far more entertaining to watch on TV. When you watch cooking live, it takes a long time. It's not remotely as exciting and fast-paced. I'm sure the Quickfire Challenges on Top Chef take just as long in real life, but they're so frenetic when condensed into a few minutes on TV.
The lamest result -- the judges declared it a tie.
Then we headed to the stage to sample some of our beloved reality show stars' offerings.
starlily313 spotted both C.J. and Antonia standing behind us, observing the cooking demos that preceded their showdown. We walked over and asked if they would take a picture with us. Here we are in front of the Michael Kors store.