It was a full-on food fling at Fox Studios the other night as gourmets and gourmands chalked up a few calories for a good cause. More than 40 top L.A. eateries and 100 California wineries pulled out all the stops at The Annual Extravaganza for the Senses to benefit the Los Angeles Free Clinic.
Amid the rows of crimson tables topped by red dahlias there was no shortage of delicacies to choose from. Gregg Wangard of the recently opened Ocean and Vine restaurant at the Lowe’s Hotel in Santa Monica was busy whipping up some first-class fondue. Wangard, a cheese head who hails from Monroe, Wis. blends his gooey delight with three different mixtures of Italian Fontina and Gruyere cheese.
“Fondue is such a fun food,” Wangard explained over his whisking bowl. “I wanted to bring my own version of it to Los Angeles.”
The casual but oh-so chic crowd came clad in everything from Rock and Republic to Prada, summer florals, chiffon skirts paired with cowboy boots and even a few saris.
In between bites, they put their bids in on a wide range of auction items. “This is one of the best wine selections I’ve seen at a charity event,” said one grape lover plunking down $200 for a few bottles of Girgich Hills. “I’m in heaven.”
But there was a lot more than vino at the auction tables. Temptations included exotic getaways, Kiss bobble heads, VIP tix to the King Tut exhibit, a trip to Boston where one can watch the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles. Another must-have was presidential action figures. Press the lapel on Bill Clinton and he’ll boast about balancing the budget for the first time in three decades. Bush daddy says “read my lips,” while George W., complete with cowboy boots and flag pin, proclaims “our country is unified and we are resolved that this makes the president feel really good.”
After a spell of browsing and bidding, it was back to those incredible eats. Quality Food and Beverage prepared a tasty goat cheese and peach salad; perfect for a warm summer evening. Chandara whipped up a spicy spread of Thai treats, Il Moro offered luscious lobster ravioli and the Farm of Beverly Hills came up with a dynamite bite of Parmesan cheese crisps stuffed with truffle-laced macaroni and cheese.
Winemakers meantime were popping their corks in celebration of a recent Supreme Court decision that eased out-of-state shipping rules. “Finally,” cheered Peter Rubissow of the Rubissow-Sargent Estate in Napa. “This is huge.”
The evening of indulgence was all for a good cause. The proceeds will go toward providing free medical and dental care to thousands of people in need. “The Free Clinic is an incredible organization,” said Chief Medical Officer Ross Miller. “So many people can’t get health insurance or health care. We give them that and it’s a very gratifying experience.”