Savoir-Vivre on El Paseo

Wine and food complement a week of fashion in the Big White Tent


After Fashion Week El Paseo’s runway show on Friday night, the Big White Tent transformed overnight into a showcase for another element of sophistication: fine wine and food. Instead of models strutting down a catwalk for a seated audience, winemakers conversed with guests roaming from one table to the next — wine glass in hand. Some of the region’s best restaurants and caterers, as well as national food purveyors, kept busy restocking trays of gourmet treats to complement the wines. At intervals throughout the daylong event, celebrated chefs revealed their cooking secrets to rapt audiences at demonstration stages.

The desert’s typically beautiful weather brought wine and food lovers out to explore the myriad offerings: wines from grape-growing regions as far-flung as Africa and Australia, as well as our beloved California vineyards. Wineries brought some of their best bottlings, whether sparkling, white, rosé, or red — and with characteristics ranging from flower-scented to herbaceous, fruit-forward to earthy, delicate to full-bodied.

While some guests exhibited an enviable memory, others noted their impressions on a pamphlet identifying the various wines available to taste. Before departing, many of them seized the opportunity to acquire their favorites from the Jensen’s Finest Foods “store” set up just inside the tent entrance.

The Fashion Week El Paseo/Fashion Food & Wine finale continued on Sunday with more wines, tasty treats, and cooking demonstrations. The two-day event attracted not only local culinary masters, but also chefs from some of Southern California’s most celebrated restaurants (such as Campanile, Grace, and Kemo Sabe) and television (Tommy Tang, Jill Davie, and Marc Cummings).

By the time the Big White Tent came down for 2010, those who appreciate the finer things in life — fashion, food, and wine-wise — enjoyed a first-class exhibition of good taste, figuratively and literally.

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