Archive for August, 2012

The 63rd Annual Long Beach Greek Festival & Cultural Event returns this Labor Day weekend to Assumption Greek Church on Pacific Coast Highway between Bellflower and Loynes. Open this Saturday through Monday from 12pm to 9pm each day, a multitude of Greek foods & desserts, wine, beer, ouzo, and more will keep guests full. A tent will house a stage with live music and dance performances during the entire festival. Guests can participate in the dance too, as instructors will provide free lessons to anyone willing to try. A full carnival zone will contain many rides and games to keep kids occupied while you get your ouzo on.

The non-specialty food menus:

To park for free, locate the parking lot or structure on the northeast side of the CSULB campus, on Atherton and Palos Verdes. A shuttle will transport guests to and from the parking area to the festival. Attendees should NOT park in the church’s neighborhood.

The festival has a $3 admission fee; however, you can enter for FREE by printing this flyer from their website.

Looking for something light and entertaining to do this weekend? You have a 3-day weekend, so make the most of it by visiting the Long Beach Greek Festival. Remember to print the flyer to enter for free!

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The Aquabats played a free* all-ages show yesterday at OC Great Park in Irvine. The catch? The park charges $10 for parking, but some people circumvented that by walking, biking, skating, or getting dropped off. As opposed to the last time I saw them live when they played one set, this show consisted of two 45-minute sets, allowing for more songs… and more fillers a.k.a. stalling time.

The Aquabats not only play their music, but tell a story using their songs. They also care deeply about kids and emphasize empowering the new generation to get into ska, and usually end of involving kids in their show somehow. In every show they perform in, they always bring something new to the set. For this show, I filmed that particular “something new,” which I will work on editing soon.

As mentioned above, The Aquabats care about the new generation and want them to love ska, not see it as brutal like the punk rock scene. Typically, this involves getting some kids onto the stage for a song or stunt. At one point, they brought up a boy named Joey to partake in their song Burger Rain. During Pool Party, they invited kids from the side to come on stage and dance during the song.

Some time during the first set, an “evil shrimp” appeared on stage and began distracting the audience. The Aquabats retaliated by comically beating it up before tossing it off-stage.

During the second set, the keyboard began to malfunction at the beginning of Martian Girl. After about 5 minutes of distractions from the band while the roadies tried to fix the keyboard, they finally settled with playing the song with the sax, old-school style.

A few songs later, the aforementioned evil shrimp returned, this time seemingly to seek mercy. The Aquabats wanted none of it, so instead of confronting the shrimp themselves, the kids from before rushed the stage and proceeded to stomp the shrimp.

Too much goes on during an Aquabats show that one can capture in photos. Listening to their recorded material has nothing on a live set. You must go to an Aquabats show for real to feel the intensity of the band and crowd. At one point, they jokingly wondered out loud if they should play more free shows so more fans would show up. Due to the overwhelming crowd response, we all could possibly see more shows for free in the near future.

One of the most talked-about annual events in Orange County, the Orange International Street Fair returns to the streets of Old Town Orange this Labor Day weekend. Free to attend and open to all ages, thousands of people gather on the streets to see and experience everything: food, drinks, music, dance, arts & crafts, merchandise, and more. From the Orange Circle at the intersection of Chapman & Glassell, four roads radiate out, each with different themed “streets” where guests can experience a particular culture or region from the world.

To the south:

To the west:

To the north:

To the east:

Strangely, the north has one extra, while the east has one less.

Although every street has crowds and parties, no party can live it up quite like at Irish Street. Located at the end of the southern road, immediately in front of Haven Gastropub houses the Guinness truck and the Irish music stage, where bands like The American Wake entertain crowds all evening. The American Wake plays some songs exclusive only to this fair, meaning they only play some of those songs once a year. Also, mandolin-player Frank also has his daughter sub in for drums for some songs. You have never seen a street party this huge – trust me.

Although you do not have to pay to enter, note that parking may not exist at all. The surrounding neighborhood streets can only hold so many cars, so either get dropped off, or prepare for a long walk.

The annual Los Angeles Epicurean Festival brought the best of food, wine, and spirits together under one roof this past Sunday at Vibiana in Downtown Los Angeles. One of the largest fests of its kind, the LA Epicurean Fest lives up to its name, especially since the name contains epic. A food fest typically sees guests sampling food from various vendors. Epicurean allows guests more privileges than merely sampling – guests gain a full experience in small packages at a time. With abundant wines to taste and pair, wine connoisseurs could not easily taste everything within the three-hour event duration.

All around the main hall, attendees could try many different foods as well, most of which have no substitutions. Take, for example, these cake truffles from Velvet Rope Bake Shop:

If you have eaten cakeball pops, think of these little bites of heaven as a cake pop, but intensely more dense. One of these truffles contains the same density as four cake pops. In addition to traditional flavors like Red Velvet and Double Chocolate, Velvet Rope Bake Shop crafts “adult flavors” such as Guinness, Chardonnay, and Dirty Martini. After sampling these flavors, I believe that Velvet Rope Bake Shop truly epitomizes the phrase “Often imitated, never duplicated.”

Right beside Velvet Rope Bake Shop, I tried this all-natural ketchup with sweet potato fries:

The sweet potato fries did not stand out, but the ketchup completely amazed me. I normally do not consume ketchup anymore because most ketchup out there contains high fructose corn syrup, which I try to avoid entirely. This all-natural ketchup still tasted sweet like it did have high fructose corn syrup, but also had a tomato tartness, where you can tell that the ketchup does not contain unneccesary added sugar.

I continued my scroll around the hall, slowly browsing through all four aisles of the fest:

Eventually, I circled around and discovered that an opened side door led to an entire outdoors area of the fest!

As I started to explore outside, the very first thing to catch my eye had the most important food words on its sign:

Ladies and gentlemen, Foie Gras had returned to me. I knew I recognized the sign from the petition back in June to attempt to overturn the Foie Gras ban, but for now, simply getting Foie Gras back in my lips satisfied me to no end.

Immediately past the Foie Gras booth, I found a French gentleman sampling not just any old iced coffee – nothing “any old” about this coffee. This gentleman carried glass bottles that resembled beer bottles, but contained pure black coffee. Consumers should drink this coffee straight up black – no sugar, no creamer. For a hot day, I definitely needed something cold to cool me down, so I humbly accepted an entire bottle.

Across from the iced coffee, a booth contained chips with gourmet salsas:

In front of that booth, a woman sampled shots of Hazelnut Espresso Vodka. It sounds strange, but after trying it, I really wanted to buy a bottle… but my wallet said no.

The next booth over from the salsa booth contained Caribbean food:

The last booth in that row had exotic meat sausages. From left to right: Llama, Kangaroo, Wild Boar. Finally, I could cross llama off my list of meats to eat.

Continuing my tour of the outside area before stepping back in to the main hall, I discovered a booth with meatballs made with 100% grass-fed beef:

Next to that booth, I spotted a giant rotisserie with various meats already spinning inside it:

Another booth outside had cold meat samples: Smoked Turkey, Applewood-smoked Bacon, Canadian Bacon, and Smoked Liver Pâté.

On my way back inside, I noticed a sign that said SooFoo in giant bold letters. This grains mix reminded me of quinoa, but with different grains and nutrients. Personally, I would stick with quinoa, but this healthier alternative (as they claim) could find its way into mainstream soon.

Back inside, after having sampled all that food, I searched for something cold or sweet. My search did not last long, as I stumbled upon this bakery serving cappuccino cream puffs topped with a caramel ring candy:

Going around to the next aisle, a lady served a few varieties of latkes:

Samples of crème fraîche lie in wait just beyond the last lady:

Continuing down this aisle, I saw these cute little fruitcake-like logs resembling works of art:

The best part of this aisle came at the end: chocolate truffles.

Down the next aisle, I finally found the escargot, which I as a foodster knew I had to try. Once you get past the fact that you just ate a snail, the texture and taste does not seem that bad.

Further down this aisle, a pastry chef set out mini pastry dishes for display:

Up near the main stage, a French gentleman named Stephane Treand worked away at crafting food art:

During the entire fest, cooking competitions took place on the main stage. These competitions pit two chefs head-to-head to cook dishes for the judges, in a similar vein to what Food Network shows.

That concludes my pictorial of the Los Angeles Epicurean Festival. Costing $100 per person to enter, do not take this fest lightly – should you attend next year, embrace everything around you, and take advantage of everything available to guests. I guarantee you will discover amazing food and drinks here.

The 2nd Annual Taste of Brews Long Beach returned to where it all started this past Saturday at Lighthouse Park in Long Beach. Altering some things from last year’s format, the organizers had to adapt to last-minute rule changes. Instead of unlimited pours, all guests received 15 tickets to receive 4 oz. pours. Unlike last year, no VIP area existed this time – instead, attendees with an early-entry ticket provided the option of entering an hour early, plus three additional beer tickets. Staying true to the locals, most of the breweries that attended hail from California. A few restaurants offered food samples, while four food trucks provided extra food, though at their price.

So what made this beer fest such a hit? The organizers did all they had to do to ensure ample satisfaction to the guests. Prior to the start of the fest, volunteers and security checked the ID’s of and distributed wristbands to everyone in line. Staging the fest on grass allows for easy disposal of extra or unwanted beer so guests could proceed to the next brew. Having extra space around the fest allows guests to relax between drinks away from the crowds, especially with all the trees available to provide shade. Food samples kept guests fed, while food trucks could feed guests even more. Live music prevented awkward silences throughout the fest. The organizers simply knew what to do. After all, an organization cannot have four successful beer fests already without knowing what to do.

Want to attend the next Taste of Brews? Mark your calendar for 2pm-6pm on Saturday, September 29, for Taste of Brews will repeat their Dana Point fest, but with the Dana Point BBQ Fest as well! Purchase tickets by September 9 to save $5 on admission!

America’s Got Talent heads into its semifinal rounds tonight, meaning that this year’s season will end in less than a month. I have already crafted my predictions for this round’s winners based on their quarterfinal performance. I did not arrange the acts in position order, only the week they will perform and the “tiers” I have placed them in.

Likely = Should progress; will go home if they terribly mess up their performance
Maybe = Able to progress; must perform extremely well to surpass the top performers
Unlikely = Little chance to progress; all other acts must perform poorly to stand a chance

WEEK 1:

Likely:
Andrew De Leon
Joe Castillo
Turf
William Close

Maybe:
Academy of Villains
Donovan & Rebecca
Scott Brothers
Tom Cotter

Unlikely:
Bria Kelly
Edon
Eric Dittelman
Todd Oliver

WEEK 2:

Likely:
Jacob Williams
Lightwire Theater
Olate Dogs
Shanice & Maurice

Maybe:
Clint Carvahlo
David Garibaldi
Sebastien
The Untouchables

Unlikely:
All That!
All Wheel Sports
Magic of Puck
Tim Hockenberry

OC Weekly hosted their annual Decadence – A Celebration of the Senses this past Friday night at the Fairmont in Newport Beach. Touted as an upscale gala that tingles all of your senses, all lucky attendees could sample food from over 30 local restaurants, drink from the many beverage vendors, dance to the funkiest beats in Orange County, and more. At first glance you would think of a giant party, but in the end, guests pretty much attended a food fest. OC Weekly mentioned free parking on their website; however, everyone who drove there found out about the $5 parking fee. OC Weekly also enforced a dress code, which I found unnecessary because of the nature of this food fest, and that some guys did not dress up at all. Also, throughout the entire night, I never once witnessed any art exhibits. Surely they head in the right direction with having guests experience food with all their senses: seeing it, hearing it cook, smelling it, picking it up, and tasting it.

Check out this montage of photos I acquired from Decadence:

Will you come back to Decadence next year? For such a low price for all-you-can-eat AND drink, what have you got to lose?

Build Your Own Poutine Night
6:00 pm – 11:00 pm, August 29
Beachwood BBQ, Seal Beach
http://www.facebook.com/events/281621261942187/

Based on their popular Build Your Own Mac & Cheese Nights, Beachwood BBQ will now allow you to construct your own Poutine this Thursday night. Food fans must attend this night and build something epic for dinner. See below for what transpired during a Build Your Own Mac & Cheese Night:

Beachwood BBQ Live Music Night
8:00 pm – 11:00 pm, August 30
Beachwood BBQ, Seal Beach and Long Beach
http://beachwoodbbq.com/events.php

Both Beachwood BBQ locations will have live music on Thursday night. Seal Beach will have acoustic music, while Long Beach will have a DJ spinning beats.

The Aquabats – FREE SHOW @ OC Great Park
8:15 pm, August 30
OC Great Park, Irvine
http://www.facebook.com/events/229555637167508/

The Aquabats will play a FREE (kind of) all-ages show this Thursday at OC Great Park. However, the park charges $10 for parking, so technically you still have to pay to see The Aquabats. Bring friends & family, because if you split the parking cost, that reduces the per-person price!

LA County Fair – Opening Day
10:00 am, August 31
Fairplex, Pomona
http://www.lacountyfair.com/

Your local fair will open this Friday at the Fairplex in Pomona. If you missed the OC Fair, you will not want to miss the LA County Fair. Ticket prices range from free up to $17, but places like Walgreens and Costco sell discounted ticket packages.

E Hula Mau
12:00 pm – 12:00 am, August 31
8:00 am – 12:00 am, September 1-2
Terrace Theater @ the Long Beach Convention Center
http://www.ehulamau.org/

The annual E Hula Mau returns to Long Beach to exhibit various Pacific Islander performances, arts & crafts, food, vendors, and more. The actual fest requires no admission, while spectating the competitions requires a ticket purchase. Nearby parking structures east of Pine Avenue between 3rd & 6th Streets provide free parking for up to two hours.

Orange International Street Fair
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm, August 31
10:00 am – 10:00 pm, September 1-2
Streets of Old Town Orange
http://www.orangestreetfair.org/

One of the grandest events to grace Orange County, the annual OISF returns this weekend to the streets of Old Town Orange. Completely free to attend and open to all ages, the OISF brings together regions of the world and their food, drinks, merchandise, dance, music, and so much more. The four roads radiating from the Orange Circle each contain 3-4 themed “Streets” based on a region of the world. For example, the east road usually contains Old American, New American, and Mexican Streets. But we all go to the OISF every year for one reason: Irish Street. Located at the end of the southern road, immediately in front of Haven Gastropub houses the Guinness truck and the Irish music stage, of which bands like The American Wake entertain crowds all evening. You have never seen a street party this huge – trust me.

IMPLANTS, Sederra, Lowbrow, The Highest Account, & Drown The Witness at The Juke Joint
8:00 pm – 1:00 am, August 31
The Juke Joint, Anaheim
http://www.facebook.com/events/256749424438685/

A clash of punk rock bands will take over The Juke Joint this Friday night. $10 cover, ages 21 and up only.

Fiesta Hermosa
10:00 am – 6:00 pm, September 1-3
Downtown Hermosa Beach
http://www.fiestahermosa.com/

Fiesta Hermosa returns to the streets of Downtown Hermosa Beach this weekend. Free to park and attend, this street fair will have food, drinks, music, arts & crafts, games, rides, vendors, and more. You cannot park AT the event – for those driving, you must park at the Northrop Grumman Building at Marine & Aviation in Redondo Beach, and a free shuttle will carry you to and from the fest and parking lot.

Shoreline Jam – Reggae Festival
11:00 am – 11:30 pm, September 1
The Queen Mary, Long Beach
http://www.shorelinejamqm.com/

The annual Shoreline Jam returns this Saturday to the Queen Mary. Last year, Pepper headlined the show. This year, a plethora of reggae bands will highlight the stage all day. General admission tickets cost $35, while VIP tickets (VIP line, parking, lounge, and 4 free drinks) cost $75.

The TASTE
11:00 am – 11:00 pm, September 1-3
Paramount Pictures Studios, Hollywood
http://events.latimes.com/taste/

Los Angeles Times presents The TASTE, a series of food-based events at Paramount Pictures Studios. Each event will feature unlimited food & drink tastings from over 40 of LA’s top restaurants, along with live cooking & mixology demonstrations, wine seminars, and panel discussions. Presale tickets sell for $65, while tickets will cost $75 at the door.

FYF Fest
12:00 pm – 12:00 am, September 1-2
LA State Historic Park, Los Angeles
http://fyffest.com/

FYF Fest really requires no other description. If you have heard of or attended Coachella, FYF Fest will feel similar. This two-day concert will feature the largest names in music, including recently reunited Refused. Surprisingly, you can still purchase tickets! I recommend getting dropped off or taking the Metro, as parking will not exist on these two days.

Long Beach Greek Festival
12:00 pm – 9:00 pm, September 1-3
Greek Orthodox Church, Long Beach
http://www.lbgreekfest.org/

At this Greek Festival, you will find Greek foods & desserts, drinks, dancers, music, games, rides, arts & crafts, vendors, exhibits, and more. CSULB provides free parking and shuttle rides. Print the voucher from the website to waive the admission fee.

SoundWalk 2012
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm, September 1
East Village Arts District, Long Beach
http://soundwalk.org/

This free street art exhibit beats the norm of art by hosting art through sound. Participating artists ditch contemporary visual art in favor of art for your ears. For example, the famous slinky ladder may return, where each step represents a different sound that, when struck by the special slinky, plays together for a clash of sound effects.

Drink Good Beer Mash-Up & Homebrew Competition
12:00 pm – 4:00 pm, September 2
The Factory Gastropub, Long Beach
http://www.facebook.com/DrinkGoodBeerMashUpHomebrewCompetition

The Factory Gastropub will host a beer fest and homebrewers competition in their parking lot this Sunday afternoon. Presale tickets sell for $25, while tickets will sell for $30 at the door. Over 30 local breweries will serve their beers to attendees, while homebrewers will sample their beers as well. Registration to enter you homebrews ended already, so if you want to enter your brew(s), you will have to wait until the next competition.

The Adolescents performing Amoeba at the Kelly Thomas Memorial Benefit Concert. Filmed on July 7, 2012.

The Rose Park Bluegrass Festival returned this past Sunday to the Rose Park community in Long Beach. Free to all ages, the festival contained a handful of food trucks, local vendors, arts & crafts, games, a beer garden hosted by Beachwood BBQ, and more.

Although the fest only contained one stage, this small fest only needed that one. The entire community could hear the music from a few streets down. In addition to the music, organizers held mini shows or games between sets, such as a pie-eating contest.

Lasting from 12pm-5pm, I saw everything I needed to see within an hour of arriving. Bear in mind that the fest only takes up the space in the circle around Rose Park, meaning that if you wanted to see everything, you would see it all in about two minutes. Locals can spend more time here by bringing their family and setting up chairs picnic-style on the grass of Rose Park.

Considering attending the Rose Park Bluegrass Festival next year – it costs nothing to enter, and you get to see food trucks, local vendors, and more.