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Ever since Chef Bruce Kalman opened Union in Old Town Pasadena in 2014, it had been at the top of my list of restaurants to visit. I had tried his fresh, home made, delicate pasta dishes at various food and wine events around town but just could not seem to get myself across town to Pasadena. But finally I did and it was everything I anticipated and more. Union is a 50-seat restaurant and bar located in a stripped-down storefront on Union Street. Brick walls, large windows looking out at the street and minimalist decor create an intimate and casual atmosphere similar to restaurants in San Francisco, Brooklyn and beyond. 
East Meets West in Pasadena at Bistro Mon Cheri. Tucked upstairs in a strip mall overlooking Pasadena's East Colorado Boulevard sits Bistro Mon Cheri, the newest restaurant by Chef Kimmy Tang. I first met Kimmy years ago in Beverly Hills at 9021Pho where Vietnamese cuisine was met with a California flair. Now at Bistro Mon Cheri, Vietnamese cuisine gets a European touch. The European influence was immediately apparent with the first dish placed on the table - Paté de foie de canard, a duck liver pate served with Vietnamese baguette. Creamy and rich, it was more French than any other culture. Next up was a more traditional Vietnamese dish - Sakura shrimp salad with carrot strips, cucumber, walnuts, fried shallots and sesame seeds on thin rice noodle crackers. I loved the freshness and lightness of this dish.
As the saying goes, "April showers bring May flowers", but in Los Angeles that saying rarely applies. Here we are in the beginning of May, ready to enjoy the spring weather. But, last weekend, while the sun was shining, the clouds were grey and the rain was looming as the 2nd Annual Masters of Taste LA was getting ready to start. As we entered the iconic Rose Bowl in Pasadena, we were ready, just in case, and we had our rain jackets and umbrella. Masters of Taste brought together more than fifty chefs and restaurants, as well as wine, beer, spirits, cider and non-alcoholic purveyors. More than 2000 people bought tickets to attend the event. A football field filled with food and drink is reason enough to attend the Masters of Taste but all the more so because 100 percent of the proceeds go to Union Station Homeless Services which assists the city's homeless.