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Annual Sons of Norway Lutefisk & Meatball Dinner

Just a reminder that the Annual Sons of Norway Lutefisk & Meatball Dinner will be taking place at the Norrona Lodge in Van Nuys on Friday, November 9 & Saturday, November 10. They start serving at 4 and it ends at 8.
In addition to the all-you-can-eat lutefisk (which is REALLY not bad at all) with melted butter, they serve meatballs, gravy, potatoes, peas, lefse, limpa, knackebrod and dessert.
Parking is crazy, since they are in a residential area, but you can park at Central Lutheran Church which is at the north-west corner of Victory and Tyrone.
The way it works is that you enter the building and tell them how many people in your party (they do not take reservations) and pay (they take cash & checks - don't think they take credit cards). They then give you a ticket with a number on it. Then the wait begins. They call out numbers as people get up and leave and they get the tables cleared (you have to pay attention). The wait can be upwards of an hour.
But good news! There is a little sale going on behind the lodge (you can access it from the parking lot) in which you can purchase lefse, lefse makers, various Scandinavian items (tablecloths, cards, candle holders, books, jewelery, trinkets) but the best thing is Lois Seeger’s Rosemaling. I love Lois. I have known her since I was 5 years old when we lived right around the corner. She is an amazing artist and sells her wares at the dinner. There are also other crafty items. I think they also do a raffle which you do not need to be present for.
There is also a bar in the back at which you can purchase wine (not the good kind) and aquavit.
If anyone is interested in joining us this year, you can contact me at eklundlatyahoo.com. We will be going on Saturday (arriving as early as possible). It is always fun with a big group!

Sons of Norway
14312 Friar St.
Van Nuys, CA 91401
(818) 780-4778

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  1. Sorry But after watching Alton Brown's Show on the Food Network I'm AFRAID to try Lutefisk......

    3 Replies
    1. re: Skunk2Racer

      No Fear! Nothing to fear but fear itself!

      1. re: Skunk2Racer

        My family used to spend every Christmas in LA visiting relatives and my Minnesota/Swede aunt used to always serve lutefisk and potato sausage along with the traditional holiday meal. I think the lutefisk was served in a buttery cream sauce and it was pretty good. I always had a serving, and not just for politeness' sake.

        1. re: chocolatetartguy

          Yay! You can get potato sausage at Schreiner's Deli in Montrose/Glendale. So good!!

      2. This is just wonderful, thank you! This kind of regional European food culture transplanted to the U.S. is so common (and tasty) in parts of the midwest but seems kind of hard to find out here on the coasts. (Though I have fond memories of some kind of Polish food being served at a catholic church event in Humboldt County in No Cal when I was a kid . . . )

        EVERYONE SHOULD GO TO THIS! Cancel your Providence reservations, save Craft for next week! Sons of Norway, baby!

        4 Replies
        1. re: altadenafoodguy

          Really? For fish preserved in lye, then rinsed for 3 hours to get rid of the lye, and served sans taste except butter? There is a reason for preserving food thus in northern Europe, but does it translate to this southern warmer climate, unless you have associated memories while growing up?

          Tried the Wat Thai in north Hollywood?

          1. re: suvro

            I actually have no associated memories of it when I was younger although I am half-norskie, half-swede. My dad would always sing The Lutefisk Song at our church's annual Gong Show. I will never forget the time my mom put salt on our Lefse (should have been sugar) and my brother and I were on stage with her while my dad was singing the Lefse Song (or something like that) so we were not acting when we were gagging!! I like it because it is different and not something that I can have every day. I enjoy it like I do many other things. There is nothing wrong with it. As you state, it was done that way for presevation reasons. Just so you know, the VN SoN has the preparation for it down to a science (6 minutes, not a second longer) and it is the best you are going to get anywhere! I say, try it and then you can write about it afterwards. I have a feeling that any negativities you may be feeling will be erased!

            1. re: suvro

              The Wat no longer has food booths. The neighbourhood got sick of the hellish parking situation and (reasonably politely) asked the Wat to shut down. They're looking for alternatives since it was somewhat of a moneyspinner for the temple.

              And you can eat things besides lutefisk at the Sons of Norway.

              1. re: suvro

                how about preserving with salt with vinegar,fermenting.?

                the lye is washed out. the texture is great. would you leave all tropical foods in the tropics? there's plenty of coffee at the sons of norway dinner, and that's not a hyperborean product.
                Norwegian prepared stockfish (the poor man's lutefisk) and those made by basques and others were readily adapted by Italians and other southern europeans and even the french who like their baccala'/bacalao, bakalua (from kabeljau), and morue. even the caribbean adopted it albeit for economic reasons.

                it's really good. without butter. and it has a flavor.

                and it's not that warm right now. acdg to weather.com it's 50°F in Studio City (that's 10°C for all you fancy folks).

                If you didn't go, it's a pity. it's a great meal and a fun experience. the meatballs are quite good as well.

              1. re: Bon Vivant

                You do not get it but you can buy it out back!

              2. Thank you thank you, THANK YOU, WildSwede! I knew I could count on you to let us know when the SoN lutefisk dinner would be in SoCal!

                I've got to see if I can make it down that weekend-i'm really wanting to attend this. I've done some poking around the SoN website to see if they had a Las Vegas chapter with a planned dinner, and didn't get too far. I will be sending an email to the powers that be, to try and see if Las Vegas gets this as well.

                You KNOW i'm now wanting to try lutefisk! It dosen't scare me now I understand what's going on with it. I'm even tempted to order some online to make at home!

                4 Replies
                1. re: Honeychan

                  It just has a bad rap and people perpetuate that rap. I would venture to guess that most of these people have never even tried it. Lutefisk honestly has little to no flavor - just the melted butter you pour on. People are afraid of what they don't know. They shouldn't be. What is nice about the SoN dinner is that it is all you can eat. They also serve meatballs, potatoes, veggies, bread, etc. so if you don't like the lutefisk - you can eat the rest of it!! But I would tell everyone to try it once. All the people (minus one) that I have introduced to Lutefisk (and there have been many) have loved it (and they were definitely skeptical about it at first!).
                  Hey Honey, if you come down be sure to let me know and I will bring you that Swedish cookbook I promised you on the Home Cooking Board a while back!!

                    1. re: WildSwede

                      I don't think it needs the butter. If you've had strong fish - this is very light. the texture is fine unless you're six years old and can't stand to have the pasta touch the peas.

                      all right that was a wee bit harsh - but i'm upset because i missed it this year.

                  1. I think it sounds like great fun! Thanks for the heads up on this, WildSwede. I'm always looking for Scandinavian food/gifts/stuff.

                    Unlike some others on this board, I'M not a big pansy about trying lutefisk (wink, wink, grin)!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: onebite

                      If you want to join us, we will be there at 4 tomorrow! ;-)

                    2. Thanks for posting this, Wild Swede. I hope you (or others) will also keep us posted on other Scandinavian events as the Christmas season approaches. Does the Covenant Church in Pasadena still have their Lucia Fest in Dec.? (and all those delicious foods and Nordic goodies?). Seems like there are some places in OC as well, but I'm not familiar with them.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Joani Macaroni

                        I'd love to know about the places in OC. I know that SWEA put on their annual Christmas fair in the Hollywood Palladium every December, but the lines for the food are... abominable.

                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                          If only IKEA would add this to their menu...

                      2. Dang Lisa - missed this post until tonight. You know I LOVES me some lutefisk. I love the gelatinous melting wonderful fragrant mildly oceanic perfume and texture. Like the angelic cousin of beef tendon in chinese soups.
                        Lefsa and the potatoes are easy, the cabbage a walk in the park but the lutefisk is heavenly.


                        2 Replies
                          1. re: Jerome

                            Aha! Checked the website. It's on again this year. I'm a few months early, but I'll be there!

                            1. re: Jerome

                              Ha Ha! I just posted on it, but, of course, why check to see if anyone else had??!! Sorry! ;-) You going? We will be there on Friday. Hope to see ya! L

                              1. re: WildSwede

                                Andrew Z of Bizarre foods just had an episode in MInnesota that included lutefisk, how it was made, and then the eating of. Interesting!!!

                                1. re: JEN10

                                  It is! You should come try it!! Eddie Lin (who will be there on Friday with his lovely family) was just on the episode where they were at Ford's Filling Station eating pig's ears!!

                                  1. re: WildSwede

                                    i was so looking forward to this. but i think i'm not going to be able to go this year. if i go, it will probably be saturday. so sad.

                                    maybe next year!

                                    and maybe someday - a durian and surstromming chow event.

                                    1. re: Jerome

                                      Darn! I was looking forward to seeing you again! Regardless, I hope you are able to make it on Saturday and that you have a wonderful time! L ;-)

                            2. I am SO glad my in laws saw the California Gold episode about this and let me know. My great aunt is flying in for a visit this weekend from Brainerd, MN and is part of the Sons of Norway chapter up there. We also recently moved my VERY Norwegian grandmother out here for health reasons. Needless to saw the minute I mentioned this to them both they became ecstatic. It turns out they've read about this in Viking Magazine and have always wanted to attend.

                              Well, I can't say I'm gonna enjoy the lutefisk (i've never tried it) but I know they will!

                              4 Replies
                                1. re: wilkinsonjk

                                  So, what is the verdict? What did you (and your family) think? Can't wait to hear!!

                                  1. re: WildSwede

                                    My daughter and I went about 5pm on Friday (couldn't cajole my wife or son) - we waited about 20 minutes for a table - had time for an ice-cold aquavit outside before being called into the hall. I've never seen so many walkers in one place - we couldn't decide whether lutefisk preserves people for an unnaturally long time or if the lye prematurely ages them. The food was about what you'd expect to eat at such a function - rice pudding, mixed veg, brown bread, coleslaw, meatballs, potatoes in jackets - and the stuff - all passed with plenty of butter and a bland white sauce. Lutefisk is definitely food from poverty, but neither the smell nor the taste were offensive - I think it's the sight of a platter mounded with gelatinous, quivering, faintly luminescent fish that accounts for the reputation. Cost: $20 pp; being able to get your Norsk on (and then slip it off again): priceless.

                                    1. re: WildSwede

                                      I guess some of us disagree.
                                      Stockfish/bacala/morue is dried salted cod that norwegians have been selling to all of Europe since before Columbus. They have plenty of this. It is more difficult to make the lye-preserved cod. I don't see how either is the food of poverty any more than fish eggs would be. Stockfish was for use and for export for major trade - lutefisk was kept at home. Again no more a sign of poverty than Durian.
                                      The soft almost jelly like texture of the fish was marvelous, again, always, to me. Not being in the kitchen for the days required to soak the fish properly (as one must do with stockfish as well) so I didn't have to contend with a lye smell. too much lye and there's saponification - the fish turns to soap and a soapy texture.
                                      Butter was passed. Again - is lobster a sign of poverty - also passed with butter. The white sauce was a simple sauce but it was definitely flavored with cardommom. The meatballs were fine - amixture of pork and beef. nicely seasoned. The lefsa was good and I only wish i had bought some to take home with me. Of course, i'm a fan of most potato /wheat mixtures, be they boxty or lefsa or even gnocchi or the slovak potato and wheat flour dumplings.
                                      beets, cole slaw, peas were adequate. I tend to like pickled beets. THe norrona lodges beets weren't extraordinary but i ate quite a few. The lefsa with butter and the lightly gel-like quivering warm fish - a delight.

                                      there were quite a few older people. How wonderful that they could be accomodated. There were also quite a few children. It's a community event - no velvet rope and paris hilton bff wannabes at least that I saw.

                                      I agree with the above poster, nothing offensive. And I find light, gelatinous foods fantastic. It was nowhere near as gelatinous as sea cucumber/beche de mer. I thought it was in fact delicious.

                                      I will admit that it is probably unfamiliar to many people, and unfamiliar textures (how many readers have had enough head cheese, or calves foot jelly to really appreciate those foods) may be enough to turn some people off of this experience. Some people find garlic offensive. Others, buttermilk and plain yogurt. Or at least they find them unpleasant.

                                      If someone's never had it and wants to try - think of it as saving yourself thousands of dollars and it's the equivalent of a night market in beijing, or camel's hoof paste at fangshan restaurant in beihai park. Have an adventure.

                                      I did. This is my third or fourth time now, and I enjoy it heartily. Probably more than some of the Norse who eat it from a sense of tradition and duty.

                                      oh -one note, the home-made butter cookies were so good that stuffed friends at my table begged the girl who waited on our table for a few more. They needn't have - you get as much as you like, everything refilled. we were told that a few of the old-timers come early and eat until 8pm. So as many traysof the lutefisk or lefsa or meatballs or anything as you like. All you can eat - which didn't really interest me as much.
                                      yes - and the boiled red potatoes hot from the kitchen were a great foil to the rest of the rich menu.