In today's bottomless pit of L.A. tasting events, with food festivals, beer crawls, and restaurant tasting dinners on just about every freeway exit, it can feel like a crap shoot deciding between that 5-course anchovy/smoked porter pairing dinner (it would have been wise to order off the menu) or the all-you-can-eat food truck festivals (if it weren't for the hour-long lines). So an intimate museum-curated tasting like the Fowler Museum at UCLA's 3-part Flavors of the Archipelago tour beginning this Sunday, October 10, is sounding awfully good.
For starters, the entire point is your palate edification, as that $35 fee, or $80 for all three evenings, couldn't possibly do much more than help cover the non-profits' costs (for-profit tasting events can be a big money maker — an obvious point, but one that is easily forgotten, as restaurants and beer event organizers have a knack for making you feel like the lucky one for being included in a $125 wine dinner or $40 ale tasting).
This Sunday, Roy Hamilton, the museum's Curator of Asian and Pacific Arts, will be giving a guided dinner tour of the Philippines at a restaurant in Glendale (restaurant locations will be revealed with registration). Crispy pata (fried pork leg) and grilled longaniza (garlic and vinegar seasoned pork sausage) are among the ten menu items for Sunday, along with buy-you-own beer. On Sunday, October 24, Hamilton will be hitting a restaurant West L.A. to discuss Indonesian dishes like ayam belado (chili-spiced chicken) and gulai nangka (jackfruit curry). The final stop is a Malaysian restaurant in Alhambra where clay pot fish head curry, limau purut (chicken curry), and udang lemak (prawns in coconut broth) are among the dozen items for the talking and tasting.
It's a pretty remarkably deal for one of those culinary edification, blog-able moments, even if the retirees tend to outnumber the college bound at these lecture-oriented museum events. But sometimes it's fun to bring down the average age at a dinner party by a couple of decades. And a deck of cards and a flask of bourbon do wonders to break the ice.
Flavors of the Archipelago Tasting Dinners, 5:30 p.m. on October 10 and 24, and November 7. $30 museum members; $35 non-members for each dinner. Three-series price, $80 members; $95 non-members. Advance reservations required, call (310) 825-8655 or for reservations; more information on the Fowler Museum website.