Malibu Seen

SMALL BITES, BIG CAUSE

It wasn’t Valentine’s Day, but love was definitely in the air at the annual food fair to benefit Planned Parenthood Los Angeles. The Santa Monica Civic Auditorium was at its festive best for the gourmet graze-a-thon, done up with massive red and white hearts, red and white gingham fabric and color-coordinated tulips, roses and carnation pompoms to match. Dozens of Los Angeles area eateries set up shop with everything from exotic Indian curries to handmade sausages.

“We’ve been coming for years and just love it,” said Malibu’s Jim Green. “It’s like the world of tapas out here. We taste away and every year we find a new restaurant we like or rediscover and old favorite.” Green was busy washing down his plate of jerk chicken from Cha-Cha-Cha with a cold pilsner from Angel City Brewing. “That was very good,” he added, “very good and very spicy.”

And if variety is the spice of life, you’ll find plenty of it here. “I’m eating my way across the world,” proclaimed one giddy eater who had just polished off a tasty tamale from El Cholo and started moving in the direction of Bombay Café.

Gourmet guru Josiah Citrin was there doing the honors himself at Melisse’s beautifully dressed booth. The celebrity chef was preparing small, perfectly prepared plates of liberty duck breast infused with an orange rosemary essence that got rave reviews.

Susanne Tracht of Jar, meantime, was cutting up wafer-thin slices of Macintosh and Fiji apples for her famed apple-celery salad, which was topped with fresh shaved Parmesan cheese.

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While there was no shortage of first-class fare, get-down comfort food was popular too. One of the top spots at this affair is always the iconic Pink’s Hot Dog stand, where we found Viceroy chef Warren Schwartz waiting in line for his annual fix. Schwartz and hundreds of other frankfurter fanatics were personally greeted by Gloria Pink, who was wearing her favorite blazer (pink, of course), paired with a matching beaded hot dog-in-bun evening handbag. While Pink’s always has some of the longest lines around, Gloria doesn’t let it go to her head. “It’s really nice that we’re so popular,” she said, “especially with the chefs.”

Lynn Morris, who served as one of the evening’s co-chairs, said months of hard work goes into each event. “We’ll take about a month off and then start planning for next year.” That’s not surprising, since planning is what this group is all about. Morris is especially proud of how the eating extravaganza has grown. “Julia Child cooked at the first one,” Morris explained. “What started as a little food and wine fair just mushroomed into what we have today. It’s a marvelous group. We raise more than half a million dollars a year that goes toward education, HIV and choice issues.”

The Planned Parenthood Guild started its annual food fling back in 1985, and since then has taken in more than $6 million for vital community services.

This year’s event raised another 500K for PPLA and that’s a lot of love!

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