The very best food-and-wine event of the year is arriving shortly on Saturday, July 11th, at the back lot of the Paramount Studios in Hollywood, and I can only advise you that it is time now to get your tickets. Yes, it's the 41st Annual Block Party for the Concern Cancer Foundation, a huge fun-filled gathering of the city's best food sources and beer-wine-and-spirits companies. Last year almost 4,000 people laid out several hundred dollars a tix for the evening of eating-and-drinking...and it was worth every penny. I am proud (or humbled) to admit that I have attended every one of the yearly feasts from its early days in a parking lot. The theme this year is An Evening in Paradise and if you like surfeiting yourself with delectable goodies of unimaginative variety, along with artisan brews and strong spirits, it's the event for you. Its president, Derek Alpert (relative of cousin Herb, the great trumpet player), told me that they had raised $1.8 million last year, which went to critical funding for research project throughout the world focused on immunology-based approaches to treating cancer. Derek also spoke of the remarkable advances being made and predicted we would have radically new and exciting treatment opportunities shortly for many strains of cancer.
The island-themed event is expected to again attract about 4000 people and hopes to raise over $1.5 million. Some of the new events will include 3D Cheeze photos, Brian Kramer digital photo studio, island ink airbrush tattoos (that's for me), and spa services provided by the Marinello Schools of Beauty...along with a full gaming casino. L.A . Magazine will be holding an "Experience the Best of L.A." on the Los Angeles Street featuring the Infiniti Lounge, special giveaways and treats from CLIF/LUNA Bar. This year, the attractive Love Boat actress Jill Whelan will be hosting the live auction. The Block Party features lots of live music...incessant loud, melodic live music...on its four stages. Earplugs are optional.
But is it the food as well as the cause which brings me back year after year. You want to know my favorite of the 70 food-and-beverage vendors showcasing the best of their menus? I immediately head for the Lawry's The Prime Rib Stand before the lines get to long...where Todd Johnson and his staff are carving luscious slices of prime rib, setting them atop crispy rolls, dowsing them with au jus, and offering up a few side dishes to boot. Then I head for my godson Danny Elkin's corner stand, where he and his partners at Savore Catering offer up a chunky handful of delicious goodness. Meat-lovers come hungry...there is a profusion of the best beef barons of our fair city. Bob Spivak's Grill on the Alley serves their tender tri tip with crinkly fries, and the Brazilian 'all-you-can-eat' Fogo de Chao offers a dozen meat cuts serves to hungry festival-goers. Not to be forgotten...never...are my dear friends at PINK'S HOT DOGS who bring their mobile truck to all of our communities' charity events. I always entreat them to roll two juicy dogs with mustard, sauerkraut and chili in some silver foil for a midnight snack, with that orange-red chili fuel guaranteeing I won't sleep for about three days. This year, Chef Michel Mina will be bringing his Bourbon Steak to the event. Other newcomers are Spread PB, Tipple & Brine and Slater's 50/50. You may well ask me, what about my ever-present sweet tooth? The gang has told me that Audrey's Cookies, The Larder at Tavern, La Provence Patisserie and Rita's Italian Ice will all be present. For me, there is my great sweet love, DANDY DON'S HOMEMADE ICE CREAM TRUCK, where I always ask, "Do you have his cappuccino?" And she always answers in the affirmative. Almost as good as that from Berthillion on the Isle St. Louis in Paris. These days I don't like to drink-and-drive so unless I get a designated driver to join me or decide to try Uber, I will go easy on the brews and spirits. But I am a huge fan of the Ventura Limoncello people from Santa Barbara, so will sip some of that elixer. If there is Laetitia, Justin or Landmark Wines, a glass will do.
Derek Alpert, President of Concern Foundation, told me that the event will also be special in another way; "This year the Block Party will pay tribute to the more than 750 cancer researchers who have been funded by Concern in the last 47 years who have demonstrated their achievements as leaders committed to finding innovative treatments and ultimately cures for cancer."
To learn more about the 2015 Block Party, purchase tickets or become a sponsor, please visit www.concernfoundation.org/block-party.html. See you there!
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