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Chillin' Out at the Los Angeles Magazine Food Event

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Probably one of the best food events of its kind, this past Sunday food and drink enthusiasts took to the hills of Malibu to experience the annual Los Angeles Magazine Food Event at Saddlerock Ranch.

Despite the chilly, damp weather, hundreds of people filled the green fields of Malibu Family Wines' welcoming vineyard sprawl, adjacent to pens filled with friendly horses and in the shadow of the fog-shrouded hills. Under tents, chefs, restaurants, and food and drink sponsors, served up tasty plates and cups to attendees who could also relax in the conversation lounge and listen to food experts chat in panel sessions, or simply find a cozy spot to sit down to sip and snack.

Some vendors sadly ran out before the day was done, and coupled with the plentiful bounty on offer, eating each and everything up for grabs was a noble, but ultimately fruitless, pursuit. The best of the best savory bites turned out to both be braised beef dishes, the first of which was Westside Tavern's "like butta" shortrib crostini with horseradish cream sauce, the second the gorgeous, colorful plate of melt-in-your-mouth veal cheeks from the soon-to-open Public at the Hollywood Roosevelt, served with fingerling potatoes, a dazzling salsa verde, and ribbons of gorgeous watermelon radish.

The sweets shone brightly on the dreary-skied day, however, and we chomped down on a tasty (but too-frozen) pumpkin ice cream sandwich with ginger cookies from Sweet Rose Creamery, a mini cup of Magnolia Bakery's legendary Banana Pudding, and a luxurious cup of Bulgarini Gelato.

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Of course there was much more to see and sample, after guests passed into the venue greeted by a lively mariachi band, meant to reflect the spirit of Los Angeles magazine's current Mexican food-themed issue. The flavors of Mexico were evident at a number of stalls, like those of Malo, Loteria!, and Rosa Mexicano, and the popularity of L.A.'s biggest food trend evident by the addition of two food trucks parked in the event.

Content to keep boozing to a minimum, we sipped first a dark, nutty, and immensely satisfying Crafstman beer, then added some sunshine-in-a-glass cheer to the day with a taste of host vintner Saddlerock's Orange Muscat.

The line for LAMill was, alas, too long, though coffee would have been the perfect pick-me-up and companion to the sweet treats we'd amassed. As the skies began to send forth sprinkles upon the party, and the vendors packed up, the lovely afternoon came to a gentle and timely end. See you there in 2011!