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Dessert Decadence Rehash & Photo Essay

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Last Sunday night, whilst many Angelenos were trying to make complete sentences out of what was left between all the bleeps heard during the MTV Movie Awards, I was down by the beach at the Loews Hotel in Santa Monica, checking out an event called "Dessert Decadence." Billed as a sunset poolside minglefest, the event featured neither a sunset (too overcast and ran from 5-8, just a bit too early) nor a poolside (we were inside our "designated area" within Ocean & Vine restaurant and could see the pool beyond a few sets of doors) and the minglefest was more an elbow-tangle.

It was a sell-out night--and, man, was it crowded. We were all there to taste the wares from some of LA's best restaurants, bakeries, and caterers (Angelato Cafe, Breadworks, Cafe Del Rey, Cannoli Kings, Chunkomunko, Compartes Chocolates, Essential Chocolates, The Farm and Yummy Cupcakes) and sample the hooch from over a dozen wineries (including Blackhand Cellars, Glessinger, Midlife Crisis Winery, Summerland Winery, and Vina Robles, and more). The shindig was put on by CozmoCard--the same folks who orchestrated last year's tremendously enjoyable Vegas in LA food event. I tried my best to balance a wine glass, a tiny plastic plate of goodies and my camera in my hands while not inadvertently re-enacting a mosh-pit scenario as I manoevered my way from table to table. I even discovered I had the ability to make a cannoli materialize from thin air. Oh, what a night!

Highlights, lowlights, and more photographic evidence of my epic(urean) adventure after the jump...

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Some of these nice folks strayed from the "designated area." Uh oh...

I got there at 6 p.m., one hour into the three-hour evening. After being ushered to our "designated area" (already sensing that the Loews Hotel did not appreciate the overflow of people attending the poolside event who were breaking free of the restaurant and moving towards the lobby, the lounge, and--gasp!--the pool area) I strapped on my wristband, accepted my issued wine glass, and then prayed for a gap in bodies so I could actually progress with forward motion. At this early hour a few of the tables showed signs of abandonment, having given out all their goods and packed it in. In the glass-covered patio area I tried a "spicy chocolate milk" from Cafe Del Rey (nice little bite, although overall uneven), a brownie bite the size of my thumbnail from The Farm (um, I think it was good, but I don't think it was enough to tell) and then headed into the main banquet room.

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Spicy Chocolate Milk, a wine pour amidst a sea of people, truffles from Compartes on display

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Once I realized that this room was hopelessly overcrowded and inefficiently set-up, I gave in and went with the flow. I had a scoop of delicious tiramisu gelato from Angelato, a drink called the Almond Joy (Almond Champagne and Chocolate Port), some salty-sweet truffles from Compartes Chocolates, and a piece of a Red Velvet cupcake from Yummy Cupcakes served on a piece of wax paper. (Why like this? Well, when they realized they were going to run out the cupcakers began to hack down their goods. Of course, they also ran out of plates. Fun.)

And then I made a cannoli appear out of nowhere.

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The Cannoli King (Chef Michael Parise) spied me taking a snapshot of his empty table. “Hey!” he said, grinning, “whatcha doin’ taking a picture of my empty table?” I told him my picture would just be a fair and accurate report of the evening. I’d completely missed the boat on tasting any and all varieties of his cannolis, as they’d been snatched up in the first 90 minutes of the evening. “We sold out!” he boasted. But the word “report” tipped him off. I admitted to being the food blogging type, and after a speedy swap of business cards, I was assured a cannoli with a wink and a smile. Sure enough, out of nowhere I was handed “the one that started it all.” It was a traditional cannoli, filled with sweet cream, covered in pistachios, and dusted with powdered sugar. Just the whiff of cinnamon from the pastry was enough to make my mouth water.

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Cannoli Magic!

Of course, I had to eat my magical treat standing up. There was nowhere to go in our “designated area.”

So the highlights were definitely the great food and drink we were able to sample. A chat with a fellow attendee clued us in to the fact that there had been bread and cheese as advertised…all of which was nibbled up the lucky mice who got there right at 5. And I don’t get to the beach often enough, so overcast skies and all, it was a nice way to end a Sunday. The lowlights, well… I think I’ve covered them all. With a little more space, and the participating eateries bringing more eats, this kind of event can be absolutely delightful.

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Waiting for the sunset by the fires near the pool.

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