LACO á la Carte: Finland

LACO á la Carte

“LACO à la carte,” five intimate, elegant fundraising events presented by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, pair exclusive musical performances with delectable international cuisine in the spectacular private homes of the Consuls General of Australia, Austria, Finland, France and Germany. Providing a decidedly cosmopolitan flair to LACO’s wide ranging musical offerings, each unique evening features representative cuisine complemented by a salon performance spotlighting LACO musicians and guest artists. The LACO à la carte series, now in its sixth year, illustrates that music truly knows no boundaries. Proceeds help support the education outreach programs of LACO, proclaimed “America’s finest chamber orchestra” by Public Radio International.

Juha Markkanen, Consulat of Finland | soloist Juho Pohjonen | LACO Exe. Director Rachel Fine
photo by Jamie Pham

On Thursday, September 18th I was lucky enough to experience the refined cuisine and culture of one of the world’s northernmost countries at the first “LACO à la carte” of the season hosted by The Honorable Juha Markkanen, Consul General of Finland. Finnish pianist Juho Pohjonen offered an intimate recital of Grieg Ballade in the Form of Variations, Op. 24 and Sibelius Finlandia, Op. 26.

Executive Chef Sirpa Welch
photo by Jamie Pham

Finnish Executive Chef Sirpa Welch is looking forward to representing her country and its culture through cooking authentic Finnish cuisine and preparing specialty mixed drinks for the evening. Having gained an appreciation for traditional Finnish food from her mother and grandmother, Sirpa has been cooking her whole life and has been sharing her passion for food with guests at the Finnish Consulate for over 15 years.

Just look at this amazing feast on my plate:

Finnish Cuisine at LACO á la carte
Finnish Cuisine by Sirpa Welch

The salads were just salads, though my mother raved about the beet salad. I was all about the potatoes au gratin, the cabbage roll with lingonberry sauce (the only way to eat cabbage rolls, in my honest opinion) and the pilaf with its complex texture. Above all though was the gravlax, something I never thought I would admit to as I don’t usually like cooked salmon. I don’t know how Chef Sirpa prepared this salmon, but it was the best salmon I’d ever eaten and I’m still full of regret over not going back for seconds.

On with dessert:

Finnish Cuisine at LACO á la carte
Finnish dessert plate

My favorites from this selection were the cloudberry cream puffs and fresh berries. I haven’t had an overwhelming sweet tooth as of late, so these milder picks really hit the spot.

I attend these events not solely for the food, but to honor what I’ve loving dubbed “The Summer of Beethoven” – the summer of 1997 when my best friend KD had me listening to classical music during my visit. And Civil War songs, but that’s another story for another blog post. Kate’s love for anything is infectious, as typical between best friends, and while an all out love affair with the classics never happened, I do have an appreciation and respect for them. The music at any LACO event is always impeccable, and the a la carte series never fails to enchant me, due to the intimacy of each event. I feel like I’ve been magically transported to another time and place, when salon performances of the latest and greatest musicians were all the rage.

Finnish Cuisine at LACO á la carte
Cheers, LACO! To another year of beautiful music and delicious food!


LA Weekly Tacolandia 2014

Tacolandia Header

One day I will return to normal, I keep telling myself, knowing I am full of lies. Not in that cute, convenient way The Doctor is, but a real, tangible way that needs tender, loving care and a good swift kick in the ass. I would also like to order more time and energy, please. With a side of fries. July is never an easy month for me; it’s my birthday month for one thing, now throw in house/dog sitting, catching up with friends, blogger events, and of course, Steffie’s wedding – which is three weeks from today!

All of my writing, reading, and artistic endeavors have come to a grinding halt in the meantime, but whenever I have a moment (and a bit of energy to string a couple of sentences together!), I think of Glass of Win and say to myself, “I should probably get on that.” So here I am, getting on it, with my recap of the second annual TACOLANDIA.

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4th Annual Taste of the Eastside

Taste of the Eastside

4th Annual Taste of the Eastside

On June 1st, the fourth annual Taste of the Eastside took place at the Los Angeles River Center and Gardens in Cypress Park. Taste of the Eastside is a food & drink festival that showcases the evolving and diverse food scene of the eastside neighborhoods of Silver Lake, Echo Park, Eagle Rock, Highland Park, Los Feliz, Atwater and beyond.

You ready to dig in?

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26th Annual Vintage Bouquet Food and Wine Event


26th Annual Vintage Bouquet Food and Wine Event

The most miraculous of miracles occurred on April 27th, 2014. Picture this: Beverly Hills; a stunning manor sitting atop a hill, with sweeping landscape views of Los Angeles. The grounds are immaculate in both care and beauty and the weather is perfect. That’s right. It wasn’t too chilly, nor was it scorching hot. It was as ideal one could hope for the 26th Annual Vintage Bouquet Food and Wine Event.

Why do we gather to sample the best of the best in food and wine, you ask? Refresher Course:

The Barristers of the Beverly Hills Bar Association and the Beverly Hills Bar Foundation established the Vintage Bouquet Food and Wine Event in 1988 to raise funds for various causes including, but not limited to, Wills For Heroes (a free program to provide wills to firefighters, police and first responders), free programs for victims of domestic violence, The High School Blue Car Project, which educates high school students about the law.

Over the years, the Foundation has enhanced the community by funding a number of nationally recognized and emulated legal literacy and preventive law programs as well as community service projects including, but not limited to:
– Free Wills for Fire Fighters and Emergency Responders
– Free Monthly Legal Clinics
– Free programs for victims of domestic violence
– Free one-day seminars to help individuals understand their legal rights
– Free programs to elementary students about tolerance and diversity
– Free programs to high school students about the law
The Foundation is also proud of its long-standing support and association with Public Counsel, conceived and founded by the Beverly Hills Bar Association more than 30 years ago and now the nation’s largest pro bono law firm. The Foundation, the Association, and Public Counsel share a deep commitment to helping others through volunteer service, a cornerstone of the Foundation’s tradition of excellence.

Still with me? Fantastic. Below the jump is a grand sampling from the 26th Annual Vintage Bouquet Food and Wine Event:

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Event: 7th Annual Chocolate Salon – Pasadena

Today’s guest post is brought to you by Mary; check out her blog Along Comes Mary for her adventures living gluten-free in SoCal. Be sure to give her a big hello on Facebook and Twitter!

7th Annual Chocolate Salon

The 7th annual Chocolate Salon is in the books with their LA sweet stop to The Pasadena Convention Center this past Sunday. I was thrilled to be given press access to check out all the fun. From the second I entered the lower level of the center, to when I ended my visit, I was offered a sample of a decadent piece of some of the finest cocoa candies out there. Oh, yeah!

Combining interviews, demonstrations, workshops & an expo, The Salon travels the west coast every year celebrating everyone’s favorite sweet while highlighting the craft & artistry that goes into preparing chocolate & while many are familiar with wine & cheese pairings, The Salon will gladly educate you in pairing chocolate with wine, or beer (more on that later).

I was super happy to stumble onto Bobby Bognar preparing for his discussion on his hit TV show, The History Channels’ The Food Tech & just what goes into preparing the food we eat every single day.

Bognar made my day especially for me as his story is very inspiring; he spent 10 years in charge of Food Services at The Getty Museum, where he met his wife & she continues to be there to this day, when he came across a link on Chow Hound that a new food show was in the works & auditions were being held, he thought, what the heck, & after many audition tapes, 2 callbacks then several months later, Bobby became host of The Food Tech, where he literally shows you how your meal gets to your plate. He told us about the 1st topic he covered; burger and fries! Sounds so simple, no? Well, that meal had him going everywhere from a slaughterhouse to an onion farm!

What particularly moved me about his interview, was his advice of, “Just do something.” He knows this for sure as he later found out that the link he had used to submit his info to audition for The Food Tech, only lasted on Chow Hound for about 5 minutes, as it did not meet the terms for posting on the web-site. Bognar could easily be the only person who submitted from that post.

After Bobby, we got to meet The Beeroness herself, Jackie Dodd. Dodd is famous for telling you all you want to know & more on beer & pairing it with food. Have you ever wanted to host a beer & chocolate tasting party? Here are some cool tips from Jackie:

  • Choose a good mix of your chocolate: Brownies, Oreo s, Milk/Dark
  • Don’t do blind tastings, it will just make things harder for your guests. You’re better off labeling all your goodies so people know what they like.
  • Brown ales should be paired with a nutty chocolate.
  • Go from mellow to intense when doing a flight.

Over at the expo, I came across some delicious booths & already have holiday gifts in mind. Droga Chocolate’s, I got to taste 3 of my favorite things rolled into one: a Honey Caramel Chocolate with French Sea Salt. So smooth & sweet, I definitely could taste the honey as an under note with the caramel.

Over at Monterey Chocolate Company, they had me try a chocolate covered blood orange….yes. What I love about this company is that they make their treats according to whats at its ripest & they can get their hands on, literally.

Rachael had mentioned to me to try the Krave chocolate covered jerky, but, alas, I do not eat meat, but it did look quite popular!

I am so happy I finally got to see this amazing event, but word of advice: Go ahead & just eat any chocolate you buy, it was about 95 degrees today & I didn’t go right home afterwards…oops.

Thanks for letting me stop by & share a story, Rachael! Xo

Disclosure: I was provided with a media comp to attend The Salon for review purposes.

Swag Bags and Words of Wisdom: IFBC

Sponsored Post: I use Grammarly for proofreading online because nothing spoils my appetite like a rotten typo in my blog soup!

I returned from Seattle last week, having visited a friend and attended the International Food Bloggers Conference. I’d like to say that I have gone through all of my swag, sampled all of the the goodies from the gift suite and sorted the several dozen or so business cards I collected. Alas. What I have accomplished, though, is gone through my notes and settled on the wisdom and what I have taken away from IFBC.

Firstly, though, let’s take a moment to admire just a fraction of all of the swag I took away from this conference:

Friday IFBC Swag for the Amazon Grocery Demo

Now times that by four and you have the amount I walked away with on Sunday. IFBC was not about all of the freebies. Well. It was mostly not about the freebies. It was really about the new friends and friendly bloggers I met and spent time with. Big shout outs to Garrett (Vanilla Garlic), Jean ( Gluten Free Doctor), Meredith (Life in a Nutshell), Katie (Katie at the Kitchen Door), Ashlee (I’m Topsy Turvy), Diana (Eating Richly When You’re Broke), Christine (The Solo Cook), Tracy (My Other City By the Bay), Jeska (Geeks with Drinks), Lesie (Dash of Les) and Katie N. (A Byte of Life). You all made my IFBC experience all the richer!

  • Between my peers and IFBC guests Dorie Greenspan, Mark Briggs (Journalism 2.0), and Kim O’Donnell, I took away a few nuggets of gold in wisdom and growth.

    The Purpose of Attending IFBC

  • I went in with the knowledge that attending this conference was going to make-or-break my passion for Glass of Win. There has been an integral link missing from my blog since I hyper-focused on food and travel. While it was necessary to shave away the excess fat, as it were, for the sake of organization, I need to reclaim the old charm and personality this blog had when I first began in 2009. My voice had been lost. I need to find it again and work harder at not just staying afloat, but racing, swimming as if my very life depends on it.

  • Mission: Repurpose Glass of Win!

  • Are my readers aware that I am considered legally disabled due to my congenital heart defect? That I have survived multiple open-heart surgeries? That my health forced me to leave my career working with kids behind, and that’s when I decided to pursue food & travel writing? I’m unsure. This blog is my portfolio of life, my ever-growing stamp on the world and it’d be pointless if I let my personality be swallowed up by an endless void of copy. I want to see Glass of Win thrive as well as give my readers the best experience a blog can offer: a unique point of view through the chronicles of a food-and-travel focused life less ordinary, valued and sought after.

  • IFBC was more than just a gift suite, a networking opportunity, or an excuse to eat like a Queen; attending gave me a glimmer of hope and a renewed zeal for my little corner on the internet. I hope you’ll come along for the ride!

    The Lexus Grand Tasting: L.A. Food and Wine Festival

    Lexus Grand Tasting - Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival 2013

    The Lexus Grand Tasting – Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival

    Late as usual, but I swear I have an worthy reason this time. The day after The Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival concluded, I was off the grid at my annual volunteer excursion. I had to be up at 5:00am and out the door by 6:00am to take kids living with heart health issues to Catalina island. See? Now you feel bad for wondering what took me so long getting this up.

    Initially I was going to have separate posts for Saturday and Sunday of The Lexus Grand Tasting, but an overwhelming majority of the dishes I enjoyed were on Saturday while there were a lot of misses for me on Sunday. I didn’t want to be such a Debbie downer, so I decided to combine my favorites from both Saturday and Sunday of The Lexus Grand Tasting!

    This is an image-heavy post, so click the READ MORE for some hard-corn food porn!

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