Paris-based gastro-fest Le Fooding alighted on the courtyard of the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA for two days over the weekend, all strung lights, French DJs and celebrated chefs from the City of Light. It was the first Le Fooding event in Los Angeles, as the culinary group (which also organizes an eponymous restaurant guide) expands to cities beyond Paris, including New York and Milan.
Jeffrey Deitch, the controversial director of MOCA, was resplendent in an Italian custom purple suit as he wended his way through the crowds on the patio and in the open exhibit of sculptures from Swiss artist Urs Fischer. A glittering tower of Veuve Cliquot Champagne stood in the middle of the soiree, where ticket holders sipped to a playlist curated by David Lynch that included the instrumental theme song from "Twin Peaks." Meanwhile, actor Billy Zane was seen side-hugging French chef Jean-Francois Piege. And women asked to have their photos taken with L.A. chefs Ludo Lefebvre of Trois Mec and Roy Choi of the Kogi empire.
But the fooderati were talking about beans. "Have you tried the beans? ... These aren't just any beans," gushed Los Angeles Magazine dining editor Lesley Bargar Suter as she crossed the lawn past a line of about 150 people waiting for a taste of Nancy Silverton's beef tagliata. Other tastes included Greg Marchand's pulled-lamb sliders, Sven Chartier's crab with beets and horseradish, Jordan Kahn's hazelnut financiers topped with mushroom puree, Josef Centeno's hamachi ceviche with favas and mandarin, and "liquid pizza," a collaboration between Carolynn Spence and Piege.
But "wow, I could eat the whole pot of these beans," said one attendee, spooning the last of the broth from his recyclable bamboo plate. "What's in here?" It was as if no one had never tasted beurre noisette before.
The much-touted beans were from Inaki Aizpitarte, the Basque chef behind Le Chateaubriand and Le Dauphin in Paris, known for his improbable flavor profiles. The beans, however, were a simple if not prosaic dish of fresh beans with brown butter and herbs. Maybe it was the freshness of the beans, the lemongrass and ginger in the chicken broth, or the finish of Meyer lemon and nasturtium leaves. Something had everyone hooked.
And here, after several days of hounding the chef, is the recipe:
Inaki Aizpitarte's fresh beans, herbs and brown butter
Note: The Times Test Kitchen did not test this recipe. You can substitute canned, rinsed chickpeas for the beans and prepared chicken broth for the stock.400 grams (about 1 pound) free-range chicken wings
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 onion, chopped
16 grams (1/2 ounce) ginger, grated
1 lemongrass stick
400 grams (about 1 pound) of 3 to 4 varieties of fresh organic beans (for example, 240 grams chickpeas, 80 grams black beans and 80 grams black-eyed peas), podded, tailed and rinsed
150 grams (5.3 ounces) slightly salted premium quality butter, sliced
225 grams (about 1/2 pound) organic Meyer lemons
80 grams (1/3 cup) organic lemon juice