What: A fancy-pants gala, and the morning-after party
Where: Sunny SoCal
Why: Because we do what we must for the animals—yes, even if it means hanging out with celebs and eating great foodWhen: September 6–7, 2008
The Scoop: After stuffing ourselves silly at The Veggie Grill, we stuffed ourselves into our fancy duds, and headed out to Acton, Calif., to the amazing Animal Acres Gala. You could say that there are more fun ways to spend your time than hanging out with amazing activists and adorable animals while soaking in the summery Southern California sun. You could say that, but it would be a lie.
Since the gala is actually held right at the sanctuary, we got to literally rub noses with some of the cutest darned rescued animals around. Aurelia took a shine to Mr. Ed, the Brahma bull, while I got to pal around a little with Thelma and Louise, two of the most adorable kids I've ever seen. After getting our fill of snuzzling, we headed to the rotunda to check out the silent auction. Um, hello. Bidders battled over fabulously fancy footwear from Beyond Skin, oodles of cheeky candles from A Scent of Scandal, a selection of high-end artwork, and a mish-mash of other alluring prizes. After bidding and mingling with the likes of Jorja Fox, Persia White, and John Schneider to our hearts' content, we took to the rose garden, which had been set up with dinner tables and the presentation stage. Our table was chock-full of fab friends, including VN columnist Rory Freedman, VN contributor Denise Herrick Borchert and her husband Walter, the ever-radiant Ani Phyo, and Gretchen and Peter Ryan, who—as you may remember from last year's wedding feature—celebrated their wedding at Animal Acres. During the Madeleine Bistro-catered dinner, emcee Carol Leifer got to work cracking us up with her tales of searching for vegan shoes. Of the evening's many highlights, we were particularly proud to watch as Emily Deschanel presented our very own Rory Freedman with the Vegetarian Vision Award. (See the cutie-boots awardee above with the VN ladies.) It seems like there might be some sort of trend here—Joseph Connelly was last year's recipient! After dinner it was straight to the ice-cream-sundae bar, sponsored by Maggie Mudd, and then a few of us—aka Colleen, Aurelia, and Karen Dawn—enjoyed a little impromptu boogeying. It was sad to see the evening come to an end, but we were able to take heart knowing that Animal Acres raised $150,000 for their rescue fund!
The next morning, we continued the Madeleine Bistro trend with a leisurely brunch in Tarzana. Yes, "leisurely brunch" means that we sat and ate amazing food for hours on end. Really, if every meal came complete with Chef Dave Anderson's signature fluffy, sugar-coated doughnuts and beignets (see below!), we'd be a very happy bunch. Oh, and maybe it's totally the case that the tofu benedict, omelet, Bigger Maque, and tofu scramble were incredibly delicious as well. Did I mention the potatoes? Get thee the potatoes. Of course, the only thing better than enjoying exquisite food is sharing it with quality company, of which we were in no short supply. Ani and Denise graced us again, as did Sun Flour Baking Company's Rey Ortega, Jill Hahn, Billy Hulting, Michelle Sass, Stephen Beidner, Lawrence Carter-Long, and Susan Weingartner (though the last two aren't pictured—that's what you get for sleeping in!).
It would be difficult to say whether we spent more time enjoying the company and food or trying to talk Dave and Molly into opening up a San Francisco location, though either way it was time well spent. After this incredible weekend, it was with full bellies and goodie-bag laden suitcases that we returned to San Francisco. Speaking of goodie bags, it just so happens that we have one extra, which, of course, we're giving to you. That's right, it's time for our second-ever Press Pass Giveaway! To win the packed-to-the-gills goodie bag, answer this little question:
What's your favorite method of activism? Do you volunteer at an animal sanctuary or donate to a multitude of worthy non-profits? Do you serve up vegan fare at your local Food Not Bombs chapter or are you on the street with pro-veg pamphlets every weekend? Whatever your preferred method of helping animals is, tell us in the comments by this Friday, Sept. 26, and we'll pick a winner. Good luck!