Get full and faded at East L.A. Meets Napa 2012! (Union Station, July 20, 2012 6:00 PM)

It’s about that time of year! Yup, East L.A. Meets Napa is this Friday and the tickets are going fast, well, I’m guessing they are, the event always runs out of food early every year.

It’s definitely among the most unique food events in Los Angeles, it sounds exactly as the title implies: East L.A. (the Chicano elite and the restaurants in the Eastern Los Angeles where they like to eat at) meets Napa (Latino-owned vineyards in North California).

It takes place in the pretty cool, low-pro courtyard outside of Union Station and there is usually a “Latin” band to accompany, complete with a waxed dance floor. If anything, just go to witness the spectacle of buzzed veteranos in guayaberas at a food event.

I’ve been covering the event for the last few years, here are some past links on Teenage Glutster so you can know what to expect.

East L.A. Meets Napa 2011

East L.A. Meets Napa 2010

East L.A. Meets Napa 2009

Ahí nos vemos!

MAN VS. BEER Tonight At Far Bar. 20 Japanese Craft Beers for $25. 7 PM. Augustfest!

This just in via the Chuy-Wire…Puro Pinche Pari!

Far Bar in Little Tokyo is hosting the last night of MAN VS. BEER. In celebration of their exclusive “Augustfest” celebration they will offer the chance to taste 20 different, unique Japanese craft beers for $25. Here is the the scoop directly from the website.

As part of the Augustfest celebration, every Thursday come to FAR BAR Lounge and get the opportunity to taste 20 differently unique Japanese craft style beers for only $25. There will be music, Japanese horror and Samurai Movies and free popcorn! Challenge yourself and if you can finish, get your photo on the “WALL OF FAME”. Come early as the fun begins from 7pm-midnight. Only at the FAR BAR Lounge!


Pues, hay que aprovechar! Not sure if this is true or not but I heard that the portions will be allotted to five oz. of each beer. Let’s see x20, that is, hmm, hold on, carry over the one….100 pinche oz. of thick, high Alcohol luxurious Japanese craft beer!

This probably isn’t a good idea, I am the spitting image of a latino-fangled Gumby at 6’3 feet tall and like 135 lbs. But fuuuuuuuuuuck it, one last hurrah before I go back to 13 units of hardcore schoolage next week.

In the words of my beloved East L.A homies, “You’re not doooooown! Ahhh, gonna be a little biiiiiitch or what?”

Haha. I’ll see you guys there at 7 PM sharp, and wish me luck.

Cheers and more beers!

East L.A Meets Napa This Friday! Carnitas and Cabernet!

Damn, this year went by pretty fast, huh?

Well, its that time of year again for everyone’s favorite food and wine event! The 6th annual East L.A Meets Napa celebration is happening this Friday evening at Union Station! From 6-9 PM, get drunk and full as f*** for a good cause!

its not always 40 oz.
It’s Not Always 40 oz!

And I’m not just using “everyone’s favorite” as a generic term foo. For some reason, everyone–Eastsiders and Westsiders alike–tend to dub this event as their “favorite” every time they they meet me. Compared to the rest of these traditionally stuffy, snobby food and wine events I guess? It must be out latin passion eyy! haha.

No but seriously, this event is pretty fun. It wrangles together most of the cities current top Mexican restaurants and some pretty top-notch latino-owned wineries. Also, its pretty funny to see all the powerful brown politicos dancing salsa and grown up hoochie-mama’s taqueando and getting all barras! Support the cause ese!

un taco de cevichazo y nopalitos
Ceviche and Nopales From Last Years Offerings

cacaos taquiza assortment
A Taquiza Plate from Cacao Mexicatessen (taken last year)

I’ve been covering this pachanga for the past three years and trust me, this shit cracks!
Check out my past coverage.

East L.A Meets Napa (2009)

East L.A Meets Napa (2010)

Here is the info, I know the ticket is a little pricey but its worth it! I promise. C’mon its for a good cause!

(taken from the email they sent to me)

Carnitas and Cabernet Converge as East LA Meets Napa Celebrates

the Cuisine of Michoacán

What: AltaMed’s Sixth Annual East LA Meets Napa celebration returns to Union Station to pay tribute to the regional cuisine of Michoacán – considered by some to be Mexico’s soul food. The event will feature the diversity of Los Angeles’ Latin cuisine and fine wine from Latino-owned or -operated Napa Valley wineries. A total of 60 wine and food pairing stations will feature the best wine and food Southern and Northern California has to offer.

East LA Meets Napa showcases the contributions of Latinos to California’s multi-billion dollar food and wine industry. The event provides culinary enthusiasts with the opportunity to support AltaMed’s mission – increasing access to quality and culturally relevant health and human services to underserved communities in Southern California. AltaMed provides quality care without exception.

When: Friday, July 8, 2011

6:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Where: Union Station

800 N. Alameda St.

Los Angeles, CA 90012

Who: Cástulo De La Rocha, President and CEO of AltaMed

Wine Industry Representatives from Napa Valley and

Latino Winery and Restaurant Owners

Music by Jose Rizo’s Mongorama

Visuals: 1,400 guests enjoying fine wine, fantastic Latin food, and dancing to live music amidst the backdrop of historic Union Station.


Tonight! My O.G-Eastside Graffiti Older Brother Featured in “No Biters Allowed” at Crewest Gallery


So apparently, alternative forms of artistry runs in my family. My older brother, Rojelio Cabral, will have some of his work featured in tonight’s show called “No Biter’s Allowed” at Crewest Gallery. My brother is credited with being one of the first writers to hit up in the “heavens” back in 1985, that is, the freeway overpasses along San Gabriel Valley and all of Eastern Los Angeles. He is the founding member of FB and one of the founding members of UTI.

He also pretty much shaped who I am now, basically being the raw benefactor responsible for my blog through out the early years (2006-2008).

His work exhibited tonight was directly inspired by the late Chicago 80’s Hardcore band “Life Sentence” and the angst of growing up between the graffiti and punk-rock worlds during that influential phase of Los Angeles graffiti.

“Its not in retaliation to MOCA’s current graffiti show but it is a comment on it” he tells me over a dinner of my mom’s rice and lentejas last night.


So come down tonight if you can and support another Cabral boy who has made a difference in L.A!

PS. The pho at Blossom restaurant down the street are is actually not that bad and the wine list at Pete’s Cafe (a block away) is even better!

New Winter Desserts and Cocktails at Drago Centro: A Sweet Affair

The only thing certain in life is change. Feelings change, seasons change and at Drago Centro….desserts and cocktails change.

drago urban signage

The air is getting colder and the days are getting shorter. The cocktails are getting fruitier and the desserts are getting richer. And that certainly was the case this last Thursday as Drago Centro launched their new cocktail menu. We walked in at about 6 PM and there was no place to sit. The bar was overflowing with the older white-collar regulars as well as the younger patrons who just wanted to get in on the new libation action. After all, all cocktails that evening were on special for only $9 a wintery pop.

making sure (shot)
The Violet Femme: Real De Mexico Tequila (Reposado), Maraschino Liqueur, Yuzu Juice, Crème de Violette, Limoncello

Our first drink of the evening was–of course–the Violet Femme made with Real De Mexico Reposado Tequila. A huge congrats to them for making it out on the new menu, very well deserved. Its natural subtle vanilla and brown sugar notes went well with the sweet, flowery flavors of of the Crème de Violette and maraschino liquor. Although, the flavors of the tequila got kind of lost in the acidity mix of Yuzu and Limoncello, that elegant back-of-the-throat burn was there to keep you on check and remind you that this was in fact A TEQUILA DRINK. It was just dangerously well balanced, I downed mine in less than 5 minutes. I was surely “high as a kite” after drinking this. But I’m pretty sure the candied violet petals had a lot to do with that too.

morning courage off center shot
Morning Courage: Genever, Beet Juice, Lemon Juice, Serrano Tincture, Celery Bitters, Pickled Radish

Our second cocktail celebration of the night was the Morning Courage. Created by Jaymee Mandeville (head bartender), this drink was probably my favorite of the evening due to the outstanding execution of such outlandish ingredients. It was complex on both sides of the flavor spectrum, sour thanks to the pickled radish and lemon juice, earthy thanks to the beet juice and spicy thanks to the celery and serrano flavors.

calzon de ricotta+mozz and truffle
il calzone, ai funghi e tartufo: Calzon Filled With Ricotta, Mozzarella, Mushrooms and Truffles

By this time of the night we were getting the booze munchies so we got a couple of bar bites including some plump blue point oysters and this calzone I saw another party get. It looked good with its burnished skin and thin layer but too bad it was a bit heavy and flat in flavor. Basically a glorified Italian quesadilla es todo.

the watcher in the woods
The Watcher In The Woods: Gin, Douglas Fir, Lemon Juice, Nocello, Lavender Syrup, Mint Bitters, Nocello Candy

The third drink up was definitely the most unusual of the night. It took me a while to figure it out actually. It was buttery, piney, aromatic, minty all the same time. But once I got over the florescent green Fabuloso-like color of the concoction, I think I liked it. Think of a pile of fresh kettle corn tossed with fresh mint leaves. Buttery and nutty due to the Hazelnut-caramel derived flavor of the Nocello than herbaceous thanks to the Douglas Fir syrup, mint bitters, lavender and lemon juice. Again, balanced.

smoke on the horrizon
Smoke on the Water: Dark Rum, Drambuie, Carpano Antica, Mole Bitters

Notice how my angles get more artsy as the night of drinking went on, haha. Well, I was pretty buzzed but it still didn’t stop me from appreciating the classic cocktail like features of this next cocktail. Another favorite of the evening, the drink was spicy and sweet. This was more of a classic cocktail, paying homage to the bitter, more direct flavors of drinks like Sazeracs and Manhattan’s. I was fond of the profound use of Mole bitters in particular.

And now it was time for the real reason I had made the grueling rush hour traffic drive from Pasadena on my Vespa.

Jashmine Corpuz, (Pastry Chef) had also just launched her new winter dessert menu a few days ago as well. I’ve chronicled her deft, seasonal dessert brilliance in the past and it was time to add yet another fruitful chapter.

Just as she had sent me a formal invitation to try, I was already walking in to the restaurant, dessert cognitive communication I guess?

lychee sorbet
Lychee Sorbet: blood orange juice, raspberry, edible flower

To cleanse our palates and pique it for what was to come, she sent out a light and refreshing quenelle scoop of Lychee Sorbet. It was perched nicely on a foundation of a halved raspberry and a crimson shellac of pure blood orange juice.

panna cotta close
Panna Cotta: vanilla bean, macadamia nut crumble, coconut mint sorbet, citrus (blood orange, tangerine, candied kumquats)

She described her inspiration for this as being a “creamsicle” when I asked about it. Well, its what a creamsicle might aspire to one day be. The speckled panna cotta was ethereally velvety with the soothing light flavor of vanilla bean, all the better to contrast with the shortbread-crumb like crunchy texture of the crumble. But indeed was the ‘creamsicle effect completed when eaten with the tangy citrus segments and candied kumquats. The coconut mint sorbet was just as intriguing, reinforcing the creamy and acidic overall flavor play of the dish.

jashmine Corpuz Glazed Donuts From Drago Centro
bomboloni: vanilla glaze, huckleberry-thyme compote, toasted almonds, lemon cream, chamomile-honey gelato

Next dessert up was her rendition of the classic Italian donut, bomboloni. Glazed donuts and flower flavored gelato? Need I say more? This time of year, she went for the classic jelly and cream filled approach. Although these fried doughy spheres glowed with a glossy vanilla glaze and were served along side a tart huckleberry compote fortified with the lemony amenities of thyme if you wanted the jelly-filled flavor. If not, a tarter, Bavarian cream-like lemon cream was also on the same plate for the ‘cream filled’ sensation. Toasted almonds were nice too, especially when eaten alongside ice cream. And there was no need for tea or coffee, that fragrant gelato actually had chamomile-honey in it.

Jashmine Corpuz Yoga Flame
Pistachio Spumoni (Deconstructed): braised cherries, cherry reduction, crystallized pistachios, confit orange, chocolate crumbs, meringue chips

A successful redevelopment of an Italian-American dessert classic. This gave prominence to the individual components of a traditional spumoni ice cream mold beautifully. The cherries were braised until tender and tart, the pistachios were crunchy and sweet. The confit orange was like the dried orange peel in the original creature. And the crunchy chocolate crumbs brought it home safely with the delightful oreo-like bitterness of chocolate crumbs. She described the tear shaped crunchy meringue chips as “Yoga Flame!”, the famed special flame burst attack of the character Dhalsim in Street Fighter.

close up shot of chocolate cake
chocolate tart with hazelnut butter: milk chocolate crisp, tuaca chocolate sauce, bananas, banana gelato, toasted hazelnuts

“Like a Reese’s peanut butter cup!” she replies when I ask about her inspiration for this dish. The fudgey cake was crisp around the edges and soft in the middle where the toasted homemade hazelnut butter lay dormant. It was connected to the banana gelato via a milk chocolate wafer crisp. This dish was my definite favorite of the evening, you just can’t beat the flavor combo of toasted hazelnuts and chocolate. Only enhance it like she did with this dessert, the thick chocolate sauce spiked with Tuaca (a woody Italian brandy) had me all googly-eyed by the end of the night.

I am noticing that the more I write about Corpuz’s desserts, the more I appreciate a simple, superbly executed dessert. “Light” seems to be the prevailing key word I use when describing most of her desserts. And “light” is a characteristic in dessert that is not always easy to accomplish in the world the industrial dessert kingdom. But more and more, I am also realizing that is all I really want in my dessert after eating a rich dinner…that is all I really need. And that is something that probably won’t ever change.

Drago Centro
525 South Flower Street
Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213) 228-8998

East L.A Meets Napa 2010: Drinking Wine For The Hood

handling on the dance floor
It Ain’t Nuthin’ Without Passion

Glad to say this years East L.A Meets Napa 2010 was a success. For one thing, it was more than twice its size than last year and just as cracking with Latino royalty of all kinds. Although I think that I was probably the youngest person there, but well…as if I wasn’t use to that already.

I was rolling deep too, hanging with my older brother Rojelio Cabral (fresh from a three year U.S hiatus in Buenos Aires!). And as you all probably don’t know, he basically created The Glutster when he took me out to my first real restaurant five years ago.

This was basically his first non-pampas fed-beefsteak dinner he had in three years too, ha ha.

First things first! I’m only going to highlight the best wine I remember I had that night.

miguel casa adobe
Baja California Mexican Vino

Remember, I’m still relatively new to this wine-o stuff so bare with me. And up until now, I didn’t really put to much attention to blends…until I tasted this Miguel Casa Adobe blend. Its made from Tempranillo 80%, Grenache 15%, Cabernet Sauvignon 5% and makes for a quite enjoyable sip. Quite smooth with this deep color and such full body. A slightly leathery nose that gave way for the fruity flavor of freshly cut strawberries that were left on a wood cutting board or something. There I go, trying to sound all romantic about my wine and stuff.

fish taco
Señor Fish Grilled Fish Tacos

Senõr Fish was the first wow of the night, grilled cod tacos with all the fixins on a homemade tortilla. It was my bro’s favorite, although I think its because it was the first time he has salsa in three years too.

Proud to say there was two of my Zacatecano paisanos restaurants being represented too. Both Teresitas and Chalio’s were there.

tacos de birria chalio
Birria For The Masses

Like last year, they had substituted the usual gamy–flavorful–protein of pinche chivito (goat) for lamb. Whatever really, still tender as all hell, you can’t really go wrong with anything you cook that perfectly balanced vinegar and spice marinade they use. Heck, you could even put some boneless, skinless chicken breast and it’ll still be bomb. No tortillas though? ‘Atkins-ing’ it I guess….

cacaos taquiza assortment
Cacao’s Trio Of Tacos: Hasta Para Chuparse Los Deditos!

Major props goes out to Andrew Lujan from Cacao Mexicatessen for going all out with his offerings. A first timer to food events, he decided to not hold back on the quality and commitment that is Cacao even if that meant spending a prettier penny to come through. He offered a taco each of Wild Boar, Duck Carnitas, Huitlacoche, and one with his house made Chorizito!

La Huasteca Mexican History On A Plate
Mexico History On A Plate: Not Surprising Coming From Rocio Camacho

Next to him, was the lovely Rocio Camacho of La Husteca. She basically was offering Mexican History on a plate, having regional dishes from all pre-hispanic bichi’s (braised verdolaguitas; Mexican Purslane), Yorique (spiced corn flour cooked chicken in raw mushroom caps) to Mestizo periods (Empanada de Flor De Calabasa; Squash Blossom Corn Turnover & Mini “Brazo De Reyna” Yucatan Tamales; “Queens Arm” Yucatan Tamales stuffed with Pumpkin Seeds and Hard Boiled Eggs). And of course, her deft hand at Oaxacan cuisine will never be absent where ever she cooks, with a tasty tortilla crisp canape topped with braised cactus and grasshoppers.

Rivera's Indian Tortilla
Indian Spiced Tortilla?: Only From Rivera Of Course!

Last but not The Glutster least, the last highlight of the night came from chef John Sedlar of Rivera restaurant, doing his signature work of art handmade “Indian Tortillas”. And yes, he actually imprints them with real edible flowers. This time around though they were actually “Indian” “Tortillas”! ha ha. He changed it up by adding wonderful curry-like spices to the freshly elabortated corn masa. This gave for a PRIMO experience that I relished vastly in, especially when shmeared with some incredibly tart and thick spiced yogurt spread he also made. Think of your most favorite of Indian breads–Paratha, Chapari…Pani Puri even! But made with that golden brown and rich tasting mother grain of Maiz instead. Don’t fuck around!

By around 9:30 though, party started to die down. Think it was bedtime for all those rich old folk that attended or something. That was the cue for me and my brother to make like a banana and leave. Of course we kept the ball rolling, introduced him to the L.A standard of desserts at the moment But that my friends–or readers–is a whole other bittersweet post in itself.

Anyways, I could only imagine how next years event will be like. But until then… buen provecho!

Drago Centro: Italian Dessert Ultra Violence

drago urban signage
Urban Signage

So I finally made it out to Drago Centro. It was long overdue really, if you’ve seen me or talked to me lately…you know why. I was quite excited.

It was a Monday, gloomy and I had school at 2:00 PM. But I had delayed this outing long enough.

It was time–

To psyche me up for this meal, I had extensively been listening to the Rotten Bois, an Italian street Punk band who only had songs like Ragazzi Di Periferia

ambiance shot
My Type Of Lunch Crowd: I Blended Right In

Bed headed and still groggy from yet another late night’s debauchery, I showed up with a spray painted “Discocks” D.I.Y shirt and my tightest of fading 501’s; the hostess pulled my seat for me to sit. I was here for the food man.

But there is no such thing as an ordinary ‘quick lunch’ when certain people know you are a food enthusiast.

Sooner than I knew it, an impromptu tasting menu of Ian Gresik’s favorites, the chef di cucina at Drago Centro, was set to take place.

Michael Shearin, Drago Centro’s beverage director, came out and showed us the old cocktail list in addition to a sneak peek of their new spring cocktail list to be unveiled next Wednesday at 6PM for $6 each, look at website if interested.

Only one drink was kept.

clockwork orange
Arancia Meccanica: Monday Ultra Violence

Although I had to send back the first attempt due to wateriness, Michael showed me what’s up with one he made himself. A unique sweetness was achieved with the sweet pepper boosted agave while the cilantro–in unison with the Sombra Mezcal’s smoke profile–added a savory element. And that smoked salt only left you wanting more of smoky nectar. Italian for “Clockwork Orange”…this just might probably be the official mixed drink of The Glutster for now.

truffle agnalotti
Luscious: How Superlative Can A Pasta Get?

Agnolotti stuffed with a creamy Ricotta, and bathed in a truffle and fine-herb enhanced butter sauce. Each tender-to-the-bite little pillow literally exploded with molten cheesy goo. Sheer glee in every bite, the bar was set high with this.

crack stix
Bread Sticks: aka Crack Sticks

Some crispy bread sticks were brought out to the table by the pastry chef, flecked with kosher salt, my taste buds suspected some Parmesan action went into it. Hence the gourmet cheese-it addictiveness of them. I ate three in a minute.

pizzoccheri della valtellina
I Pizzoccheri Della Valtellina: The Rich Earth

My first time having a Fettuccine-like and cream based dish in a long time, these chewy noodles were made with Buckwheat flour and was served with fried sage leaves, cooked cabbage, crispy potato ball things, lotsa Fontina and an underwhelming sage cream. This dish definitely had potential to be outstanding, had everything going on: texture, appearance, portion. If my lunch mate and I didn’t have to ask for some salt to make up for the kitchens under seasoning, nothing a couple pinches mended right up though.

lamb bellyyy
Lamb Belly: The New Belly In Town

Crispy skinned with a gamy, sinewy bite that almost squeaks as you pleasurably chew it, this is what pork belly aspires to be. Served with those pretty dots that I think was some sort of balsamic reduction, shelled and buttered fava beans, some type of mushrooms and a crispy potato halves. I was pretty damn satiated.

But the reason for me being here was dessert.

jashmines fruits of labor
Like A Breath of Fresh Air: Spring

Harry’s Strawberries, sweet raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, mandarin oranges, blood oranges, and ultra tart passion fruit seeds were polk-a-dotted with the classic balsamic reduction as well as a tantalizing aromatic basil syrup. The sorbets were tangelo, piña, and coconut and left me licking the edges of the spoon as I kept my dignity this one time and didn’t lick the plate.

jashmines cakes
Basil And Avocado: The Odd Couple

There was something oddly complacent about the sudden mating of smooth, creamy avocado and the balmy, perfumed basil gelato, talk about sweeping me off my feet. La Torta Di Primavera‘s complexity in textures of spongy olive oil cake, crunchy homemade Campari candy and tart grapefruit segments came out of nowhere with its clean, fruity and strangely comfortable flavors.

jashimines chocolate mousse
Il Budino Di Cioccolato: All of A Sudden

Keeping the decadence train going, the chocolate custard was smooth and luscious, the pecan crumbles and pulled sugar added that bomb signature texture contrast while the conceptually named date carpaccio was sweet and chewy. That caramel gelato with its burnt sugar decree only bounded it all together.

By this point I was pretty much sweeted the hell out but I almost never will refuse MORE DESSERT.

jashmines cookie plate!

=”font-weight: bold;”>Testing The Limits of The Glutster:
Jashmine Corpuz’s Cookie Plate

Canoli, biscotti, torrone, baci di cioccolato, nocciolati (hazelnut chocolate), savoiardi (lady fingers)…I could write a whole other post on just this cookie plate. Whipped ricotta filled canoli, nougat-like, meringue based torrone with pistachios and dried fruit, baci di cioccolato chocolate cookies sandwiched with hazelnut ganache, a raspberry jelly nocciolati and the most airy, light ladyfingers that only led me on thinking how her Tiramisu is…

For the first time I actually opted for some coffee on the fact that Drago got a custom blend made from Lamill coffee. And after all that sweet fondling, a serving of their slightly long-pulled espresso hit the spot. Like an unforeseen sock in the face with its intense, bitter almost astringent qualities. I payed for the uber high caffeine content later though.

drago custom LAmill blend espresso
Black: This Espresso Don’t Mess Around

jashmine corpuz
Jashmine Corpuz: Drago’s Dessert Devotchka

Thanks to Jashmine Corpuz for making all this possible and being awesome.

By the time the feast was over I realized my journalism class was about to start in ten minutes…all the way in Pasadena. Oh well, ditching school and many other “important” things in life for food is the story of my life. And I don’t care really, when those experiences are worth it…like this.

Drago Centro
525 South Flower Street
Los Angeles, CA 90071-2200
(213) 228-8998

Drago Centro in Los Angeles

Drago Centro on Urbanspoon