Sunset Safari at the L.A. Zoo

Sunset Safari at the Los Angeles Zoo

Sunset Safari

Sunset Safari, an exclusive after-hours party hosted by the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA) for SAFARI SOCIETY donors took place September 20th during after-hours at the L.A. Zoo. The evening featured wildlife of Africa, Asia and the Americas and spotlights the Zoo’s new Rainforest of the Americas, providing guests a chance to experience animals up close through keeper talks, animal feedings, training demonstrations, and strolling animal walkabouts. I took along my friend and life-time animal lover Annie, as an apology for not taking her to the Beastly Ball last year! Whoops. I think this event made up for it – especially since most of the animals were out in the cooling evening air, ready to play.

Sunset Safari at the Los Angeles Zoo
Black Bear

Sunset Safari at the Los Angeles Zoo
Hungry Hungry Hippos

Sunset Safari at the Los Angeles Zoo
Kids get acquainted with a ball python

Sunset Safari at the Los Angeles Zoo
Southern three-banded Armadillo

43rd Annual Beastly Ball L.A. Zoo GLAZA
Tigers going for a dip

Sunset Safari at the Los Angeles Zoo
Jaguar waiting for his snack

Sunset Safari at the Los Angeles Zoo
Blue & Gold Macaw

Sunset Safari at the Los Angeles Zoo

Sunset Safari at the Los Angeles Zoo
This Galapagos tortoise is totally mooning me

Sunset Safari at the Los Angeles Zoo
Howler Monkey Mama and her baby

By the time Annie and I were done going gaga for all of the animals it was time to tuck in at the buffet dinner. The highlight of which was undoubtedly the mashed potato bar:

Fancy Potato Bar Creation

Being the seven year old that I am at heart, I beat the rush to the face paint and was able to get this colorful piece of art:

Rainbow Leopard Print Face Paint
I think I pull off rainbow leopard print rather well.

And what Sunset Safari would be complete without a ride on the historical Tom Mankiewicz Conservation Carousel, where I managed to nab the highly coveted unicorn:

Unicorn at the historic LA Zoo Carousel
I swear I did not push over a toddler to get to it.
You can’t prove a thing.

SAFARI SOCIETY is the pinnacle among donor and membership programs presented by the private, nonprofit Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA), founded in 1963, which funds plant and animal exhibits, species conservation, capital projects, and education and community outreach programs at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens. There are 65,000 member households in GLAZA representing more than 240,000 adults and children, one of the largest membership bases of a cultural organization in Los Angeles. GLAZA additionally boasts a volunteer corps of more than 800 individuals.

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!

LAFW: Asian Night Market

LAFW: Asian Night Market

Well, here is the first of…three or four posts I have for LAFW, or the Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival. Coverage will be out of order, because, frankly, that is just how I roll these days. #Likeaboss. Even though I drank about six glasses collectively over a four day period, I still feel like I am just recovering from the sheer amount of energy a multi-day festival takes out of a person. A Spoonie like me feels the drain all that more poignantly, but I have to say, I would not trade a minute of it!

LAFW: Asian Night Market - Chef Jet Tila
Chef Jet Tila

Although, I’d have to say that due to an overwhelming throng of people, I think Asian Night Market was my least favorite night. I missed out on Chris Oh, one of my favorite Los Angeles chefs, and lamented I hadn’t taken a photo with him when I ran into him the night before. The lines on Friday night were aggravating, and Tanaya and I called it a night shortly after nine o’clock. There were still a handful of tantalizing bites that made the crowds completely worth it, as recorded below:

Here is a closer look at my favorite bites of the night:

LAFW: Asian Night Market
Five-Spice Pork Belly Taco
Chef: Jet Tila | Pakpao Thai

LAFW: Asian Night Market
Hoegaarden Waffle: cilantro, yuzu custard, meringue, lime zest
Chef: Bart Vandaele | B Too

LAFW: Asian Night Market
LAFW: Asian Night Market
Coco Chili Snails & Beer Caramel Panna Cotta
Chef: Thi Tran | Starry Kitchen

LAFW: Asian Night Market
LAFW: Asian Night Market
Salmon Sashimi Tacos & Elote Dry Miso Aioli
Chef: Jason Benavente | Nobu Los Angeles

LAFW: Asian Night Market
Tea Smoked Ora King Salmon
Chef: Brad Farmerie | Public / The Thomas

LAFW: Asian Night Market
Indonesian Shrimp Satay: cashew curry, fried shallot, sambal
Chef: Tin Vuong | Little Sister

LAFW: Asian Night Market
Mango Pudding
Patina Group Catering

LAFW: Asian Night Market
Pork Belly – Octopus – Calamari – Big Eye Tuna – Fish Sauce – Puffed Rice
Chef: Jeffrey Lunak | Blue C Sushi

LAFW: Asian Night Market - Duck Slider
McDuck Sandwich + Duck Chips
Chef: Andre Bienvenue | Joe’s Stone Crab

Shockingly enough, the pork belly taco from Jet Tila wound up being my favorite bite; surprising as I don’t particularly care for pork outside of the dried cured deli meat variety. I’m depressed that Pakao Thai is in Dallas! Booo-urns! A close second would be the sweet and spicy bites from Starry Kitchen. NGUYEN, YOU MADE ME BREAK MY VOW NEVER TO EAT SNAILS! *shakes fist at you* AND THEY WERE DELICIOUS, DAMN YOU! Ugh. Now I need to go and try that Singaporean Chili Crab.

The duck sandwich was also amazing, though I was sure to give my best playful scowl to the chefs for the dig on my favorite Disney characters. I enjoyed the duck chips equally, if a little more than the sandwich itself. Ah, I wish Joe’s Stone Crab were in Los Angeles and not Miami! So much good food, and a tremendous amount to follow, so stay tuned!

  • Learn More: Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival | Asian Night Market

  • Moon Crisis Sailormoon Exhibit at Rothick Art Haus

    I had missed out on the first Sailormoon event in Little Tokyo, and then again on the opening night of Moon Crisis down in Anaheim. I mean, Anaheim? Yikes that is far for me. After I’d heard about the insane crowds at both events, causing some folks unable to even get into the gallery, I didn’t feel too left out. THEN one of my favorite artists, Miss Kika, announced she would be at the Moon Crisis “second opening night” to sign what remained of her limited edition silkscreen print, “Moonlight Legend”, at a reduced price. Now, I’d seen this piece up close and personal at Anime Expo, so I knew how gorgeous it is – and I’d been coveting it ever since she would tease her instagram followers with images of its progress. I decided I’d do everything I could to get out to Anaheim and splurge on this truly spectacular piece. It a twist of serendipity, my friends decided to take their daughter to Disneyland that afternoon, and dropped me off at Rothick Art Haus right before Moon Crisis was getting underway.

    Here are some of my favorite piece of artwork from the exhibit:

    Chibi Usa and Luna P by Pamela Barbieri

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    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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    Steffie’s San Diego Hen Party

    It’s never easy when my girlfriends walk down that long, red carpet towards some man I’d shank in a heartbeat should he ever hurt my precious friend. Don’t get me wrong, most of the men my friends have decided to share their lives with I now consider friends, but they should never for a moment forget whose side I stand on out of pure loyalty. Eyes all of them.

    Steffie is my fifth bride, and so far the only one who wanted a bachelorette blow-out weekend. The last time I had a hand in any sort of bachelorette shenanigans was in 2005 when I planned Lynleigh, my first brides’, “tacky bridesmaids dresses” themed party, which took place on a singular night in Hollywood. Nine years and three brides later, Steffie wants not a bachelorette party but a Hen Do, the UK, Aussie, Kiwi and Irish equivalent. The groom-to-be is Scottish and therefore, a Hen is fitting.

    Here are some of the highlights from the weekend:

    Our hostess, Tootie, dressed as Cher (LIPS Drag & Dinner Show)

    They made Steffie and the other brides-to-be do a floor shot

    Samplers from the Stone Brewery

    Bride and Maid of Honor

    Party Favors!

    So I made a little Tastemade video of our trip to the Ballast Point Brewery, which unfortunately cut Steffie off. Sorry, Steffie! She wanted to add that she also enjoyed the Victory At Sea porter and Sculpin ale.

    All in all, it was 48 hours of hot pink, phallic gags and booze-soaked good times. Soon enough, though, it will be time to walk down that aisle, Steffie Love. Your girls will be there right behind you whenever you need us.

    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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