AltaMed's sixth annual East LA Meets Napa wine and food tasting July 8 at Union Station will focus on a single Mexican state, Michoacán.

Last fall, UNESCO named Mexican cuisine an intangible cultural heritage of humanity (France is the only other country so honored.)

Michoacán helped to get Mexico recognized with its own rich culinary heritage, which blends indigenous roots with input from later settlers supported by fertile soils, lakes and rivers.

Typical dishes include carnitas, Patzcuaro white fish, fresh corn tamales called uchepos, pointed masa tamales called corundas, both types wrapped in fresh leaves from the corn plant; and pepiánes, which are meats with a sauce made from pepitas (squash seeds)

Among the desserts are chongos Zamoranos (milk curds in syrup), fruit pastes known as ates and milk-based candies. Drinks include fruit-flavored atoles, the cane liquor charanda, coffee and hot chocolate made with chocolate ground on the metate.

But AltaMed had another reason for promoting Michoacán. “We wanted to please the winemakers. The bulk of them are from Michoacán,” Said Zoila D. Escobar, president of the AltaMed Foundation.

Napa wineries with Michoacán ties that will pour at the benefit include Black Coyote Chateau, Ceja Vineyards, El Centauro del Norte, Mi Sueño Winery, Rios Wine Company, Robledo Family Winery, Shafer Napa Valley Wines and V. Sattui Winery.

Some 60 stations will provide opportunities to pair tamales, tortas, moles and many other dishes with Napa wines.

Restaurants have been asked to prepare food reminiscent of Michoacán. Examples are Lotería Grill's Michoacán-style green mole, made with squash seeds and greens; tacos from Guisados filled with duck cooked carnitas style, and Setá's chilled avocado soup.

Duck carnitas taco from Guisados; Credit: B. Hansen

Duck carnitas taco from Guisados; Credit: B. Hansen

Michoacán is Mexico's leading producer of avocados, and its top customer is the United States. The avocados are Hass, the variety that Setá chef Hugo Molina uses in the soup.

Proceeds from the event will go toward health care and human services for underserved communities in Southern California. Some 130,000 people use AltaMed services with annual visits numbering 800,000, said Cástulo de la Rocha, president and CEO.

East LA Meets Napa takes place July 8 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Union Station, 800 N. Alameda Street in downtown Los Angeles. Tickets to the event are $150 if ordered by June 30. On July 1, the price rises to $200. Tickets can be ordered online, or call (323) 889-7825.

Chilled avocado soup from Hugo Molina; Credit: B. Hansen

Chilled avocado soup from Hugo Molina; Credit: B. Hansen

Chilled avocado soup

From: Hugo Molina

Makes: 8 servings

For the Broth:

2 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

2 large white onions, peeled

4 stalks celery, chopped

1 cup white wine

8 cups cold water

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1. Combine the carrots, onions, celery, wine, water and salt in a Dutch oven or stockpot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer over medium heat for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Remove from the heat. Strain the broth and cool.

For the Soup:

3 ripe Hass avocados, peeled and seeded

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 jalapeño chile, stem removed

6 to 8 sprigs of cilantro


1. Place the cooled vegetable broth in a blender. Add the avocado pulp, the lime juice, chile, cilantro and salt to taste. Blend until smooth. Check the seasoning and set aside. The soup should not be too thick or too runny. Refrigerate.

For the Garnish:

8 roma tomatoes

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

¼ cup olive oil

16 large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tail left on

1 teaspoon chopped cilantro

½ teaspoon salt

1. Make a cross cut on the tip of each tomato. Bring a pan of water to a boil. Add the tomatoes, turn off the heat and let stand 1 minute. Drain, cool and peel. Make a straight cut across the bottom of each tomato so it is flat. Trim each so that it is 1 ½ to 2 inches tall. Remove the seeds.

2. Saute the garlic in the olive oil in a large skillet until translucent, then add the shrimp and sauté for about 2 minutes, or until pink. Add the cilantro and salt. Remove from the heat.


Ground black pepper

Equal parts paprika and cayenne

8 cilantro sprigs

Olive oil

1. For each serving, pour ¾ cup soup into a broad bowl. Place a shrimp inside each tomato, then place it in the center of the soup. Sprinkle black pepper on one side and paprika and cayenne on the other. Garnish with a cilantro sprig and a few drops of olive oil.

LA Weekly