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Small Bites: Chef Marilyn, absinthe, Irish cuisine, L.A. Cupcake Challenge

March 4, 2009 |  7:00 am

Cupcakessouldfood Soul Food Celebration: A tip of the ladle to the 99-Cent Chef for reminding us that this weekend Chef Marilyn's Soul Food Express celebrates its 20th anniversary with three days of spectacular deals. From 6 a.m. to midnight on Friday, March 6 through Sunday, March 8, EVERYTHING on the menu will cost only 99 cents. That means single servings of oxtails, gumbo, fried chicken, catfish, pork chops smothered in gravy, meatloaf, blackeyed peas, macaroni and cheese, red beans and rice, fried oysters, candied yams, collards, corn with okra, stewed cabbage, mashed potato salad, sweet potato pie, cobbler and more. March 6 - 8, 6 a.m. - midnight. 2638 Crenshaw Blvd., L.A. (323) 737-8101, www.chefmarilyns.com

Absinthe Vintage Drunkery: Want to pretend you're a late-19th century Parisian dilettante with a weakness for the Green Faerie? Morton's The Steakhouse invites you to explore the history and culture of absinthe. From its elaborate sugar cube/slotted spoon/slow-pour method to the hysteria surrounding its supposedly hallucinatory powers, sip Pernod absinthe cocktails while munching Morton's hors d’oeuvres. Thursday, March 12, 6 - 7:30 p.m., 735 S. Figueroa St., L.A. $45. (213) 553-4566, www.mortons.com

Beyond the Potato: There's more to Irish cuisine than potatoes, soda bread and Guinness. The Culinary Historians of Southern California celebrate St. Patrick's Day with Edible Los Angeles editor Carol Penn-Romine, who will present the lecture "An Incomplete History of Irish Food," emphasis on the "incomplete." Themed refreshments will follow the talk. Saturday, March 14, 10:30 a.m. Richard J. Riordan Central Library, Mark Taper Auditorium, 630 W. 5 St., L.A. Free. (323) 663-5407, www.culinaryhistoriansofsoutherncalifornia.org

Cupcake Challenge Returns: Between our cupcake crawl, our Great L.A. Cupcake Map and our general love of miniature frosted cakes, perhaps we are guilty of lavishing too much attention on cupcakes here at the Daily Dish? Nay, nay! I say verily unto thee, bring forth your sweet tooth for the 2nd annual L.A. Cupcake Challenge, on Sunday, March 29, 1-4 p.m. Last year's competition was fierce as judges like LA Weekly food writer Jonathan Gold, Eating L.A.'s Pat Saperstein and Caroline On Crack chowed down on dozens of cupcakes to determine the winners in three categories: traditional, original and overall. Will Best Overall Winner Leyna's Kitchen return to defend the honor of their strawberrilicious cupcakes? Can anyone top Sugar Jones' green cupcake with pineapple and mandarin orange in the original category? Renaissance Hollywood Hotel, 1755 N. Highland Ave., L.A. $40.

--Elina Shatkin

Photos: Top Left: Coconut cupcakes (Carlos Chavez / Los Angeles Times).

Top Right: Buffet options at Chef Marilyn's Soul food Express. (Rob Takata / For The Times)

Bottom: Bartender Linda Mani prepares a traditional absinthe cocktail by dripping ice water over a sugar cube and into the glass of liquor. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)