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Chocolaty Peeps

Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center Benefit


Everything in moderation, they say, including moderation. When pondering the wisdom of “they,” I, like any good hedonist, tend to fixate on that final little nugget. Of course, doing so has, on occasion, left me hung-over, bloated, injured, and overworked, but sometimes, it’s just worth it. And if ever there was a time to throw moderation to the wind, last Saturday night’s Chocolate de Vine benefit for the Rape Crisis Center was undeniably it.

When the invitation from event organizer Hilary Kleger arrived several weeks prior, I responded with an enthusiastic, “Chocolate and wine? Duh and duh!” In reading the fine print, I grew even more excited: a run-of-the-mill chocolate orgy this was not (which was fine-conveniently, I’d gotten that out of my system just a couple days prior on Halloween); several of S.B.’s most acclaimed chefs and chocolatiers were preparing unique creations-de-cacao, on which they would be judged.

Enjoying an event such as this to its finest would be, I figured, a matter of strategy. And so, my day began as a model of moderation: some exercise, some Farmers Market fare, some water : any nutritionist would have been proud. But by the time my date and I arrived at the Maritime Museum, my stomach was growling. We clung to the heaters on the patio overlooking the harbor while the caterers worked to get the solid food ready for the VIP reception and the V-I-peeps poured in. We laid down a base of brie, ceviche, coconut-marinated chicken, and itty-bitty pear-and-pecan quesadillas, and, thus fortified, were ready to move on to the main course: dessert.

Inside, we found Jessica Foster assembling her display, which included, among other things, dark-chocolate-covered white-chocolate-and-Meyer-lemon truffles. Um, hello? Divine. A mere few paces beyond, we found ourselves staring down Elements’ Jocelyn Kuzminski’s chocolate and lime cheesecake. Sounds unusual, and it was unusually amazing. We swooned, as the entertainment, which included Vanessa Isaac and Randy Tico, kicked into gear.

Now, any excessively moderate soul could have easily ditched out at this point, but we, being more of the moderately excessive persuasion, sucked it up, mustered our strength, and, perhaps unwisely, kept going. We hit up the as-beautiful-as-they-were-delicious creations from the Bacara and Chocolate Maya, and then, approximately 14 million calories later, we hit the wall. Semi-sweetly semi-comatose, we strategized how best to rally for the upstairs contenders: My date opted for cheese, I went for caffeine. Neither proved ideal, but when we heard rumors of cacao-dusted pork tenderloin, we knew we had to try it. So, upstairs we went to Cindy Black-of the Wine Cask and Mmm : Cake! fame-where we were duly rewarded. And, after a sample of her sweeter fare, we were stuffed to the point of no return. Stuffed to the point, that, when we passed Bella Dolce’s beautiful cupcake display, we had to pass. No point in going to excess.

Where will your peeps be? Email shannon@independent.com. For more peeps, click here.

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