The Pierpont Inn was alive on June 30 with Ventura County’s tastiest ethnic cuisine, live music, free-flowing beverages and, most importantly, a charitable spirit. A Flavor Trip Around the World, with proceeds benefiting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society was a true win-win — not only were you able to support a great cause, but you could also inspire your taste buds by experiencing flavors from every corner of the world. I was blown away by the many delicious offerings from ethnic restaurants in Ventura that I never even knew existed!
As I made an initial lap around the event, I couldn’t help but eat with my eyes as each restaurant and deli displayed its creations and imported foods in such an appetizing fashion. I walked through the dining room, glass of sauvignon blanc in hand, and entered the middle room of the event. This is where the silent auction was held and also where a video was playing on a loop, which helped explain how the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society helps give priceless support to those battling blood cancers and the first annual Light the Night event coming to Ventura on Sept. 28.
After some sobering, albeit inspiring, education surrounding the event’s cause, I stepped outside to the rhythmic drums coming from live music. Moving into the warm rays of sunshine illuminating the Pierpont’s beautiful lawn with its ocean views all seemed symbolic to me. While feeling sympathy for those affected, I was also reminded that it’s events like this that help make a difference. The sunshine, abundant food and upbeat music reminded me that life is really something to cherish and celebrate.
Photo by: Matthew Hill
Charles and Christine Law perform on the bluff at the Pierpont Inn.
Enough with the mushy stuff, it was time to eat everything in sight. While there was enough food to feed a small army, there were some definite standouts that I have to report. My first plate was from Mai’s Cafe and Da Aloha Lounge — a shrimp spring roll paired with a spicy peanut dipping sauce and a deliciously balanced chicken salad. The spring roll was fresh and flavorful, but the sauce took it to a new level. The owners were very sweet and welcoming, and their invitations to dine at their restaurant felt less like a hard sell and more like someone being invited for dinner at their home. The transition from sweet to sinful happened abruptly as I made my way over to the Amigos Surf Cantina table. Instead of the expected tacos or tamales, this was serving up mouthwatering corn like just as is done Mexico, where it’s referred to as “elote.” Be forewarned — this dish is dangerous. It’s grilled corn slathered in mayonnaise, spicy chili powder, Parmesan cheese and drizzled with lime juice. I took two bites and I’ve been on the treadmill ever since, begging my love handles for forgiveness. As for the flavor, it’s rich, creamy, tangy and spicy. It haunts my dreams.
One of the surprise tables at the event was the Santa Cruz Market and its full spread of Mediterranean fare from the deli. The tabbouleh and Greek salads with vegetarian dolmas were the best I’ve had in Ventura County. I’m definitely going to stock up with these dishes in the future for an easy picnic.
Photo by: Matthew Hill
Andres Fernandez of Andres 805 Bar and Grilled Cheese emceed the event
while Susie Skillstad showcased her dance moves
and her bratwurst from the German Deli and Market.
Next stop was the We Olive table, which was offering flavored olive oil and vinegar pairings that dazzled. The two must-have pairings were the Meyer lemon with white peach balsamic and the jalapeño olive oil with pineapple balsamic. I was advised, when cooking at home, to pair the second tasting with fish to offer the spice and richness from the jalapeño olive oil and the sweet acid from the pineapple balsamic. I’ve already set a date in the near future for some alone time. Simply delicious.
My journey then took me to Germany as I tasted both sausage and sauerkraut from the German Deli and Market in Ventura. I’m not an expert in sauerkraut by any means, but I can say that this deli has the best I have ever tasted. It seemed to have mastered the right balance among bitter, tangy and sweet without any one flavor profile taking over. This also marks the first time I’ve ever gushed over cabbage. I think I have a problem.
Photo by: Matthew Hill
I then sampled the cuisine of Nepal, India and Tibet at Himalaya, located on Main Street and Ventura Avenue in Ventura, offering a simple chickpea stew that was so packed with flavor, I needed a second helping. The stew was paired with a saag naan that had a chewy texture and charred flavor that paired perfectly with the rich spiciness coming from the chickpea soup. I have already committed to the owner to have dinner there in the coming weeks. Lastly, I was thrilled to find Rosie Lee Imports, a store that brings all of the tastes of England to East Main Street. The proprietor, Susan Malloy, filled my entire plate with baked beans, sausage rolls and spicy mustard. The sausage roll, with its crispy, flaky crust, dipped in imported mustard, was just like what I’ve had in London. Apparently, this place imports everything from “prezzies” to pub wear, and if the beans and franks were any indication, I’m going once a week.
The event definitely lived up to the hype. I went on a flavor trip around the world and somehow, gave back to a very worthy cause in the process. Thank you to all who gave their time and donated to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society — you guys rock!
Editor’s note: Though we weren’t able to fit all 21 vendors into the review, much thanks to all who participated, including the 805 Bar and Grilled Cheese, Barrelhouse 101, Chill Out, Daphne’s California Greek, Gotetsu, Italian Grocery, Peking Restaurant, Tipps Thai, Winchesters, The Sushi House, Wine Rack and Total Wine and More. We also send out a special thanks to Robert Barrett of Barrett Productions for creating the video, Rick and Debe Bloom for video and sound effects, Christine and Charles Law, Jagged, Ian Hutchinson, Glass Key Hotel, Memo, DJ EVP, Andres Fernandez, Randy Lubas and all of the amazing volunteers and everyone who donated to the raffle and silent auction. The event netted nearly $6,000, all to benefit blood cancer patients and research. But none of this could have happened without the generosity of the Pierpont Inn. Thank you. To join a team or create a team for Light the Night Ventura, go to lightthenight.org. Also, like Light the Night Ventura on Facebook for updates.