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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    Pairing Cheese and Wine with the First Lady of Fromage

    Wine and Cheese Pairing - LA Food and Wine Festival

    Pairing Cheese and Wine with the First Lady of Fromage

    L.A. Food and Wine Festival

    Everyone was talking about the buffalo chicken macaroni and cheese on Saturday during the Lexus Grand Tasting (post coming shortly!), made by none other than Laura Werlin – America’s authority on cheese ( I really need to buy her book, “Mac & Cheese, Please!”). I counted my blessings that I had a follow-up panel with her on Sunday morning – Pairing Cheese and Wine with the First Lady of Fromage. Aptly titled, no? I’m going to copy the panel summary directly from the LAFW website just so you understand the magnitude of awesome:

    “In addition to being a James Beard award-winning expert on cheese, Laura Werlin also has to be just about the nicest person in the food business. She’s published five books on cheese and her most recent entitled “Grilled Cheese, Please!” will have you rethinking this classic American sandwich in no time. A long-time friend of Pebble Beach and Los Angeles Food & Wine, Laura returns for our Third Anniversary to help you understand the world of cheese in a way that is informative and fun. Oh yes, there will be wine, paired with Laura’s hand-picked cheese selections in a seminar that sells out each year.” – LAFW.com

    Joining Laura was Master Sommelier Damon Oronowski, who picked all of the wines and gave Laura the cheese end of the challenge. Unbeknownst to us in the audience, Laura had no clue which precise wines would be used in the tasting – so some of her cheese picks ended up missing the mark she had intended. Oops! Hey, no sweat off my nose – wine or no wine, I ate that cheese up like nobody’s business! Let’s dive in, shall we?

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    Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival: Rosés from Around the World

    Rosé Wines from Around the World - LA Food and Wine Festival

    Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival

    Hello, readers! I’m back from camp. I know that makes me sound like a teenager who spent her days gluing popsicle sticks into a birdcage, but I swear, I’ve been a counselor for the last decade. Anyway, it takes me off the grid on Catalina Island and while some of my peers can’t hack five days away from the mainland, I’m proud to say I don’t even think about my phone, blog, social media and all of that Internet stuff. I’m connected enough as it is, a few days isn’t going to hurt me.

    Anyway! The Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival was the weekend before I left, and thankfully none of the events I was scheduled to attend were at night ’cause I have a sneaky feeling I would not have made it to the docks at 7:00am Monday morning, ready to greet my cabin full of eleven year old girls. I needed recovery time, you know what I mean?

    My first scheduled event at the Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival came as a surprise to me. I don’t drink rosé; I had never taken a shine to it. So I was determined to go in with an open mind and palate.

    Our hosts were Gillian Ballance and Eugenio Jardim, two noteworthy and critically recognized sommelier’s with a wicked rapport and a passion for dispelling the myths of rosé and its bad rap, caused by the Frankenstein mixture of “White Zinfandel” with red wine and the insipid “blush” wine of the 1970s.

    Now, I have to say, I would have probably had a better reception to these wines had there been food present to offset dryness, tannins and acidity, which are harsh notes on my sensitive palate. As it was, I could only handle one or two of these wines. However, Gillian and Eugenio gave us food recommendations, which I took note of in case my readers are looking for a nice wine and food pairing.

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    Event: An Evening with Star Chefs

    An Evening with Star Chefs - Rosemary Children's Services Benefit

    An Evening with Star Chefs – Pasadena City Hall

    Last month marked the 50th Anniversary of “An Evening with Star Chefs” event in front of historic Pasadena City Hall, benefiting Rosemary Children’s Services. Founded by Julia Child in 1963, “An Evening with Star Chefs” is Pasadena’s oldest, largest, and most prestigious culinary benefit.

    The honorees were news anchor Christine Devine, (Golden Star Award), and Chef Claud Beltran, (Community Star Chef). This year’s event, chaired by Autumn Way, Wells Fargo and Honorary Chair, Liz Rusnak, Vice President of Public Relations, RUSNAK Auto Group, attracted over 500 guests, over 30 local restaurants, and made $219,000!

    This is all well and good, Rachael, you are undoubtedly saying, but just what is Rosemary Children’s Services? Since 1920, Rosemary Children’s Services has been committed to providing compassionate and therapeutic services to “at-risk” children. Annually the agency serves over 450 children throughout Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange Counties. Programs include: The Residential Treatment Program, Non-Public School, Mental Health Services, Foster Care and Adoption Services, Transitional Housing Program, Intensive Treatment Foster Care, and Therapeutic Behavioral Services.

    It was a real treat to be able to attend this event and see all of my local restaurants pitching in for the greater good. I hear you sighing; Are we done thinking of the children, Rachael? Yes, you soulless beasts. You know what time it is: hardcore food pr0n! Under the cut, yo.

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    Bibimbap Backpackers Korean Food Tasting Event

    Bibimbap Backpackers Korean Food Tour - Los Angeles

    Bibimbap Backpackers

    A short while ago, I was cordially invited to attend a sampling of Korean cuisine through the traveling food tourism group, Bibimbap Backpackers. Since 2011, Bibimbap Backpackers have been globe-trekking, showcasing the wonders of Korean food, especially bibimbap, and inviting bloggers out to their food demos. They have been everywhere, from New York to the Great Wall of China and everywhere in between. The Los Angeles stop was held at the Korean Cultural Center late last month, and I was very honored to have been chosen to come out for the experience.

    I’d never eaten Korean food until I moved to the San Gabriel Valley. While I was in high school, my mother befriended a Korean woman at work and she introduced us to Korean food via Korean BBQ in Old Town Pasadena (long since gone now). To this day, it remains my one of my favorite experience with Korean food and I always get excited over trying new places. We’re very fortunate in Los Angeles to have such a wide variety of Korean eateries to pick and choose from.

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