Monday, August 2, 2010

Savor Los Angeles Offers Sweet Treats

Sweets served as the delicious entree at Savor Los Angeles -- Sweets!, a dessert-friendly tasting event held at the mod Miauhaus Studios on Friday night.

Young L.A. hipsters in gladiator sandals, bubble shorts and button-downs put their diets on hold for the evening as they indulged in tasty treats from local outlets such as Pure Cheesecakes, Plaisir, Frosted Cupcakery and XT Patisserie. Intelligentsia coffee, Boxed Water, Pama and Izze sparkling juice offered libations to accompany the treats.

When I arrived, about 45 minutes after the event began, there was already a sizable line out front, and the crowd practically obscured all of the tables inside the space.

That, however, gave me the opportunity to chat up Mike Cruz from Parallel Lines, a creative collective that presented the inaugural event. Cruz told me that this was just the start of Savor Los Angeles, which will also encompass Angeleno-friendly events for food and even art.

Cruz also introduced me to Becca Herrman, Outreach Coordinator of CoachArt, a nonprofit organization that provides free lessons in the arts to children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses. Cruz himself is a volunteer and hopes to incorporate his own saxophone-playing into lessons for a musically inclined child.

After making the rounds and indulging in a mini cheesecake (Pure Cheesecakes), cayenne pepper-infused brownie bites (Sweets for the Soul), S'More muffins (Gotta Have S'More), Dulce de leche ice cream with sea salt (N'Ice Cream) and accompanying the sugar shock with Kenyan coffee from Intelligentsia and environmentally friendly box-packaged water (Boxed Water), I sat down to talk to Herrman and CoachArt Executive Director Thyonne Gordon.

(And, yes, btw, I totally skipped dinner to make room for locally created sweets.)

CoachArt, which had an info table at the event, is an inspiring organization that pairs volunteers with about 1,000 in-patient and out-patient children.

"We look for artists, musicians, athletes, chefs, different types of people, not necessarily professionals," Herrman said. "We get a lot of people who love to do the things they do."

"They do it for themselves," she added, "and now they're ready to share it with someone."

CoachArt also offers art workshops at Children's Hospital. Volunteers teach kids for a couple of hours.

"It's really, really soothing for them, a great way to get out of their rooms," Herrman said.

And while they're always looking for volunteers around the city, there is a particular need in South Los Angeles. They would also like to get partnerships within the community, at places including dance studios and sports centers, where they can send kids to learn without cost.

But it's the one-on-one connection that really fuels the special bond at CoachArt.

"I got an email from a piano teacher who was telling me about his student," said Executive Director Thyonne Gordon, "and you could have sworn he was talking about Beethoven."

"I think about the Louis Armstrong song 'What a Wonderful World,' and when I think about CoachArt it really is a wonderful world," Gordon added. "Everybody wants to help. They want to help kids, they want to work with them, they want to teach them what they know. You know, accountant by day, rock star by night. They're coming up and teaching the kids this passion that's probably deep inside so many of us."

"It's really nice," she said, "it's just this beautiful thing."

I made one last sweet stroll around Miauhaus, sampling macarons from XT Patisserie and a mini cupcake from Frosted Cupcakery before I left. I also grabbed a red velvet cake on a stick from Popcakes for CC.

It was a great night -- one that was perfect for my sweet tooth and, thanks to CoachArt, also sweet for the soul.

Note: Press ticket was provided.

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