Published on Sat, Jul 10, 2010
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
Fine Wine and Chocolate Tasting at Galpin Motors Words by Brian Kennedy, PhD Pictures by Gabriela Moya What do wine, chocolate, and a collection of rare and exotic cars have in common? Nothing really, except that they are all good things, and when someone has the sense to bring them together, the possibilities for delight are grand. That’s why “Decadence: A Fine Wine & Chocolate Event,” held at “The Collection” at Galpin Motors, is such a great idea. The event benefited the San Fernando Valley Community Mental Health Center, which offers programs to people of all ages. The Center’s nearly five hundred employees will serve 15,000 people this year in twenty-four facilities. One of the things they do is help people who are temporarily homeless, providing four hundred transitional beds for Valley residents. Like other such agencies, the Center has been affected by government budget cutbacks, and thus needs to supplement its budget through donations and money raised through events like Decadence. Now in its second iteration, Decadence is underwritten by a number of sponsors including Galpin Motors and Union Bank, and all of the food, wine, chocolate, and other goodies that attendees get to consume at the event is provided through the courtesy of the companies represented.
This year’s event took place on Sunday, June 27th, and it featured a nicely dressed crowd who milled around enjoying wine samples, chocolate, food, and, naturally, the cars. It’s hard to know what to talk about first, since all three aspects of the event are so wonderful, but it doesn’t seem possible to go wrong with chocolate. That is present in several forms, including samples, desserts, and a fountain flowing on a center table. Other tables are laden with hor d’oeuvres prepared by the former Executive Chef of the Beverly Hills Hotel, Geovanni Euceda. These include sliders, pan-seared scallops, and vegetable potstickers. The Horseless Carriage restaurant underwrote the food, chocolate fountain, and desserts. Chocolate is also on offer from Jeff Thackaberry of The Chocolate Traveler. He offers specially packaged chocolates that you corporate types might consider for your next giveaway (thechocolatetraveler.com). To his left is the most amazing chocolate-toffee brittle on earth, from Malibu Toffee. There is also the “Gotta Have Chocolate Now!” table, where tasters could try a variety of creations. Is it all too much? Of course—but isn’t that the idea? It’s all delicious! The wine tasting is done courtesy of a number of California vineyards and one Chilean wine importer. These include Four Sisters, Pacifico Sur Tutunjian, and Fallbrook Winery.
The most lively character among the vintners is Dr. Serena Friedman, who staffs her table and tells stories of how she and her husband had reclaimed unused agricultural land to plant a vineyard twenty-one years ago. Since then, Four Sisters has established itself for selling grapes to other manufacturers and also with a limited bottling of their own (3400 cases a year). They plant one hundred eighty-five acres a year, and their wine is sold in boutique wine outlets and offered at some restaurants. The wine the good doctor offers is a 2005 Cabernet, a Syrah, and a Merlot. The Cab has the kind of rich, deep flavor that goes well with something like a sea-salt encrusted caramel, which is found in abundance on the center table. (Yes, you blew it by not being here. But next year, you’ll have another chance.) Other tasty vintages include Century Oak Winery’s Cabernet 2004 and a couple of offerings from the Firestone Vineyard. Most I find deep and inviting, and a perfect complement to all the goodies on offer. (No, I’m not driving home from this event.) This is not a set of expert opinions, as is evident, but an “I like what I like” kind of impression. Those of you with more developed palates may check these vintages out for yourselves. Then there are the cars. The showroom is a large rectangular space, and at the back is the cove where the reveal happens on the TV show Pimp My Ride. The owner of the collection is Bert Boeckmann, and a man of considerable good taste he must be. The cars shown (a selection from a larger collection) are all pristine, but not the kind of grouping that the Meadowbrook set sits around and tut-tuts over. Rather, they are a zany group that ranged from classics to new stuff to customs done by the very best in history.
Ronald Reagan's 1965 Mustang As guests walk in, they first see Ronald Reagan’s 1965 Mustang convertible, blue, looking unrestored (a good thing). On loan from the Reagan Library, it’s the car that the Gipper drove during the 1966 California gubernatorial race. Following that are a series of more recent exotics, including the Ford GT and a 1970 XK-E 4.2 Jaguar, a 2003 Aston Martin V12 Vanquish, and a 2010 Spyker C8 Laviolette. Along the opposite wall sits the real gems, including customs done by Ed “Big Daddy” Roth and Von Dutch. A replica of a George Barris car also gets in on the action.
Ed "Big Daddy" Roth's long lost Orbitron The “Orbitron” is my favorite: a spacey-looking machine of blue hue, TV set mounted under the dash, wild fur carpeting, and bubble top. This is hands-down worth the price of admission. Close behind, two Von Dutch numbers as far apart as could be: the “Toad,” a VD creation built on a 1960s BMW Isetta, and a 1956 XK-140 Jaguar customized for a Hollywood producer. The latter is understated and tasteful. Wild and crazy is the replica of George Barris’s “Drag-U-La,” the car that Grandpa Munster drove on the TV series. It’s literally a coffin on wheels.
Roth's signature Honda Civic The absolute most fascinating vehicle sitting in the collection is perhaps the most pedestrian of all. It is an early 1980s Honda Civic, a beater by all measures except that it had apparently been Roth’s personal car. It is lettered all over with wording describing his services, some of which is half rubbed off but none of which could ever be re-created. This car is the very definition of “patina,” and while it would be foolish to drive it for fear of exposing it to the sun or an accident, it is a ton of fun to look at. This collection, not open to the general public, is more extensive that what filled the room on this day, so when the time for this event rolls around next year, be on the lookout for a ticket, because you’ll get to see some of these cars plus others chosen to make the day unique. The suggested donation this time around was $75, and with a little strategizing, you could eat and drink your way through a good part of that, make the rest up in fun looking at the cars, and still feel like you’d done a good deed. Just be sure to bring a friend who is willing to do the driving and leave the wine tasting to you. For more information about the San Fernando Valley Community Mental Health Clinic or to offer a donation, you may check movinglivesforward.org.