On Saturday September 27th, 2008, I decided to brush aside my neurotic fear of buffet style dinners and attend the legendary 26th Annual American Food & Wine Festival in the Universal Studios’ “Little Europe” back lot benefitting the Los Angeles chapter of Meals on Wheels. The evening started with a five minute tram ride that took us from the parking lot to the studio back lot. My plus one and I descended off the tram and on to the foodie scene to start with a glass of luscious, rosy Perrier-Jouët champagne. I was literally wined, dined and serenaded by the seemingly infinite array of wines & champagne, toothsome cookery and several live cover bands in multiple areas of the event so that everywhere we went, there was music playing. All of this was set to the charming faux European architecture in the backdrop (Where “The Good German” starring George Clooney and “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan” starring Adam Sandler were filmed) and with George Michael, The BeeGee’s and Sister Sledge cover songs playing in the background -I was in heaven! I ate my way through every participating country in the United Nations -from Italian to Japanese to French and so much more. We agreed that the best way to handle this culinary smorgasbord was to take mini bites of everything and sample sips of wine here and there so that we wouldn’t eventually burst like Violet Beauregard the girl who explodes into a blueberry in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. We feasted on every food you could imagine under the sun: from Gourmet delicacies such as fresh buffalo mozarella that was handmade and stretched into balls at the serving table in front of us and lines of Sturgeon Roe Caviar w/Creme Fraiche in edible ice-cream style cones made of blinis. Onward to Sushi, Sashimi, Kobe steaks, mushroom risotto, fresh fish, shellfish, oysters, roasted duck and eventually dessert. Dessert consisted of pudding, handmade chocolates, cupcakes, mousse, gelatos and pastries. Some of my favorite highlights of the night included the “Salmon New Style Sashimi” which was cut paper thin and melted in my mouth (presented by Matsuhisa of Beverly Hills) I also could not get enough of the Buffalo Mozarella presented at the gourmet food store table, It was so good that I believe I went back for 4th or 5th helpings -it had slightly salty flavored undertones and rip-apart yet chewy texture. As the night progressed, guests started getting more and more “spirited” read: drunk. We took a seat at a table in front of the band so that we could relax a bit, digest our food and take in the tunes yet we thoroughly enjoyed watching people not take themselves so seriosly by dancing like there was no tomorrow. Most amusing were the dancing men wearing pastel colored wrap around neck sweaters and khaki pants, I imagined they all had copies of the “Preppy Handbook” in their back pockets. At one point there were about 5 of these well-dressed chaps dancing right front and center of the band doing every dance from “the twist” to “the walk like an egyptian”, I even spotted a guy doing a modern take on ”the chicken”! The ladies joined in on the dancing but luckily none that I noticed danced “the chicken”. Speaking of men with pastel wrap around neck sweaters, we actually did a count of them and at last count we came up with 31 guys! Wrap around neck sweaters aside, I had an absolutely fabulous evening and although I was tired, I actually did not feel too full when it was time to go home as would be expected. Everyone should try to attend this event atleast once in your life or every year if you can.