Archive for September, 2012

Arcadia hosted the 2012 Harvest Moon Festival last weekend right next to the Santa Anita Racetrack. Around this time of year, the Chinese celebrate their own version of Thanksgiving with a festival dedicated to the full moon. During this occasion, they celebrate by eating Mooncakes, small cake pastries that contain at least 1,000 calories each. Free to attend for all ages, this festival provided numerous vendors, food, a stage for live entertainment, a play area for kids, and more.

Cutting to the chase, I felt disgusted the moment I walked in because of the over-commercialization. Festivals like these should celebrate the culture by supporting and featuring local mom & pop businesses. Instead, this festival emphasized the commercial sponsors so much so that every vendor affiliated with one of the big businesses. For example, McDonald’s gave away FREE food, and the only food truck present, Calbi, serves under a corporation – the few local food vendors simply could not compete. Other corporate booths & vendors gave away freebies as well, so the few local vendors barely saw any foot traffic. Whatever happened to celebrating culture for the locals? Once I snapped those pictures, I departed due to sheer disappointment. I hope that other similar festivals do not soak up the corporates as bad as this one did.

When you wake up in the morning on the weekend, what do you crave? Thinking about a typical Sunday morning, or maybe even a Saturday morning, most people want to revitalize themselves after a long previous night, so a Sunday brunch hits the spot. But perhaps you want something out of the ordinary one random weekend morning. You want to wake up to no ordinary breakfast, something to get your day started right. Ask yourself this though: do I want something sweet like donuts, or savory like eggs & meat? What if you could get the best of both? If you desire to wake up to something sweet and savory, head over to Slater’s 50/50 and order their 50/50 Donut Burger.

Slater’s 50/50 continually outdoes themselves in manly culinary creations. They serve their latest iteration, the 50/50 Donut Burger, on weekends from 9am to 12pm. This messy mouthful holds their signature 50/50 patty topped with American cheese and a sunny-side up egg, served between TWO glazed donuts with a side of strawberry jam. Unlike other donut burgers we have seen before which consist of one donut cut in half to serve as the buns, Slater’s 50/50 decided to give you TWO donuts as individual buns burger holders. The ingredient list appears minimal, but honestly all you need in a wake-up slap lies right here, because everything works well together. The subtle combo of the egg and cheese plus the sweetness from the donut truly bring out the meatiness of the 50/50 patty. I have eaten 50/50 burgers before, but usually the toppings overwhelm the patty, and the burger becomes an afterthought. With this Donut Burger, nothing overpowers the patty, allowing you to savor the true experience of devouring a 50/50 burger. For those feeling extra bold, request some peanut butter and lather it and the jam on the burger.

Need a wake-up call worth bragging about? Head over to Slater’s 50/50 for breakfast on weekends and order this manly creation for the low price of $9.95. Feel free to take pictures of it and show it off like a boss.

EDIT: One of the event organizers has informed me that the Pirate Invasion will not go on this year. In the meantime, please enjoy these pictures from last year’s Pirate Invasion.

The annual Pirate Invasion of Long Beach returns this weekend to Marina Green Park at Shoreline Village in Long Beach from 10am to 6pm Saturday and Sunday. This all-ages festival celebrates all things pirates with pirate shows, merchandise, live pirate music, games, food, a beer garden, and more. Unlike the Pirate Invasion at the beginning of Summer, this festival will have an entry fee, but contains so much more to do and see in a larger area. Many actual pirate crews will set up camp here, so guests can watch and interact with real pirates. If it matters, this fest will have pirate eye candy, for both men and women. Guests may dress to their preference, but those who dress up as pirates will garner more attention from the pirate crews, as they will likely interact with those of the same kin. Guests who plan to stay a while should apply and bring sunscreen. Immediate parking has a cost, but visitors can park in the neighborhoods east of Alamitos Ave if they want to avoid paying for parking.

Bring out your friends and family to the Pirate Invasion of Long Beach this weekend. Avoid LA traffic with this neat fest down in Long Beach.

The Chocolate & Art Show (Experience) occurred this past weekend at KGB Studios in Los Angeles. What sounded like an amazing event on the website for the low price of $10 sounded too good to come true… which actually happened. In other words, the organizers did not fully deliver what they promised.

First, I shall describe what they envisioned putting on:
Dedicated to LA’s underground artists, this weekend gala will feature live music, incredible art, nude body painting, and lots of free chocolate. Come see over 75 of LA’s top artists, photographers, designers, live nude body painters, and chocolate. Crispy Truck will serve their delicious liege waffles too! Free parking and $10 cover.

Did all of this really happen? Check out my photos, then scroll down to read what truly happened while I stayed.

Based the on pictures, the event looks like a typical art exhibit. Sadly, this show only lived up to the expectations of a normal art exhibit.

When you call an event a Chocolate & Art Show, guests need to expect to see art everywhere and snack on lots of chocolate. While plenty of art adorned the halls, the only chocolate consisted of a small table with Oreos, chopped fruit, marshmallows, and wrapped mini chocolates (Snickers, Three Musketeers, Butterfingers, etc). Two other vendors present sold desserts, but as vendors, those did not come included with admission.

When you advertise nude body painting as a draw for more attendees, at least clarify that paintings will have nudity on them, not that actual people will sit/stand nude for painters and onlookers. Not a single person showed extra skin the entire time – guests could only see nudity in the paintings.

The website also posts a schedule of the weekend’s live music. However, only one band played in a few hours, and the schedule did not match at all.

After about half an hour of waiting for something to happen, I began to regret leaving Autumn Lights early just to see this event. The description left me with that “More! More!” feeling, which quickly dissipated the longer I spent at KGB. Did I end up arriving at a bad time? I figure Saturday night equals primetime, and thus the best of the weekend should occur at that time. Alas, for a weekend where everyone went out to do something, this show at KGB severely disappointed for not living up to expectations.

Remember the famous theme song to Disney’s Electrical Parade? Perhaps you may have even watched the parade in person before? If you fondly remember that parade, then Autumn Lights @ Pershing Square will take those memories, enhance them, and throw them back at you in a puff of sparkly lights. A free event that occurs annually on the weekend closest to the autumnal equinox, Autumn Lights invites artists and performers from all over to exhibit their work in this after-dark setting. All participants must supply their own method of lighting for whatever they exhibit – paintings, sculptures, 3D renderings, dance shows, and more. Many of the exhibits even encouraged guests to interact as well! I had arrived shortly prior to sunset, so I took as many photos as I could with natural sunlight.

Take a look at this exhibit that caught many people’s attention as it operated:

This glass circle consisted of four quadrants: two clear glass quadrants and two mirror quadrants both lie across from the center of the circle, attached to a gear that guests could spin. By spinning the gear, the circle created a half mirror/half glass image such that if you place two people or objects on opposite sides, you see a “ghost” or superimposed image of the two people or objects. Once guests found out how this exhibit functioned, many flocked over to see it in action. Personally, I spent at least 15 minutes gazing in awe at such a cool and creative invention.

Once the sun fully set, all the lights simultaneously powered on, revealing a spectacular show of lights, dance, music, art, and more.

Truly a marvelous sight for no entry fee, Autumn Lights redefines art by portraying it in its inverse setting. Whereas traditional art occurs in light on a light base, Autumn Lights focuses on no lights and that the art must create its own light or function differently without light. Those who remember Disney’s Electrical Parade will see Autumn Lights as the grown-up version of it. Make sure you remember to bring your friends and family to visit Pershing Square in Downtown Los Angeles next year to check out Autumn Lights, a spectacle you do not want to miss.

The first ever OC Fest of Ales & Beer Run 5K took place this past Saturday in Downtown Anaheim. A two-in-one event, the day starts with a 5K run/walk, immediately followed by a beer fest. Guests could attend an event individually, but attending both as a combo saved some money. The actual beer fest did not contain anything extraordinary, just the standard booths with volunteers pouring beers, food trucks selling food, and local bands playing music. The organizers fenced off only the beer area – random people on the street could still walk up to the food trucks or the music stage. In the case of the food trucks, beer fest guests received tickets to vote for which truck made the best food with beer in it, and only the paid guests could order that particular item from any given truck.

Within the beer fest, a VIP area contained more beer and free food. Although I had only purchased the sampler pass, I used my connections to acquire a VIP pass so I could enter and snap these pictures.

After seeing all this, what can one say about the OC Fest of Ales? For the first try, the organizers have a long way to go. They did not make any many mistakes as Manhattan Beach did with their beer fest, but I still found a handful of problems.

  • Area of the venue – although on a street, remaining in that fenced area felt restricted, compared to the openness of OC Beer Fest or OC Brew Ha Ha.
  • Variation of beer – the website claimed to have over 100 beers, but I barely counted 50.
  • Lack of information on the website – I had to ask other attendees and vendors for crucial information, such as where to park, what time to arrive, etc
  • Popularity contest – the guests could vote on their favorite beer and favorite food truck. Guess what? Guests will only vote for popular choices. That explains why Shock Top won for favorite beer, and why Lime Truck, who not only arrived late, but did not even prepare a beer food and had to make something up on the spot, won the food truck challenge.
  • Not unlimited Unlimited VIP – VIPs had two options: limited and unlimited VIP. Even the Unlimited VIPs could not have anything they wanted in the VIP section, as vendors stood by the one sample per person rule.
  • Weak security – the fence that surrounded the beer fest did not qualify as a real fence, just some plastic borders. As a result, minors could easily enter the beer fest, as I witnessed that day.
  • Lack of restrooms – five porta potties cannot possibly serve a few thousand drinkers.
  • No rest area (chairs, benches, tables, etc) – while the VIP section had plenty of chairs, benches, and tables, the beer fest area did not have many opportunities for guests to rest.

I could go on all day given the time about anything and everything that went wrong, and how to remedy those problems for the OC Fest of Ales. I feel certain that this will return next year, so I hope by then the organizers fix the problems before reinstating the 2nd Annual OC Fest of Ales.

LA Beer Week
Now through September 30
Greater Los Angeles Area

This 11-day beer celebration covers Los Angeles through Orange County, culminating in a beer fest on the last day in Downtown Los Angeles. During this period, virtually every restaurant, bar, gastropub, and any other craft beer establishment will host some sort of beer event. Literally hundreds of beer events will take place over 11 days in the Greater Los Angeles Area, so for an abridged list, visit the website linked above. Even the website cannot contain every single event! Check with your local favorite brewpub to find out how they will participate.

Voodoo Glow Skulls, Union 13, White Kaps, Destruction Made Simple, Brother @ Blue Star Cafe
8:00 pm – 1:00 am, September 27
Blue Star Cafe, Los Angeles

Come see Voodoo Glow Skulls, Union 13, and more rip it up this Thursday night at Blue Star Cafe in Los Angeles. $10 cover includes free food. If you have not seen these bands perform, you are missing quite a show.

Stair Climb for Los Angeles
11:00 am – 9:00 pm, September 28
YMCA, Downtown Los Angeles

On this day, the city will shut down Hope Street as thousands attempt to race up the stairs of the US Bank tower in Downtown Los Angeles. This all-day fest also includes food trucks, live music, a beer garden, rock-climbing walls, and more. Even if you cannot participate in the climb, the actual festival requires no fee to enter.

Feast of San Gennaro
11:00 am – 11:00 pm, September 28-30
Hollywood & Highland

Hosted by Adam Carolla and Jimmy Kimmel, the Feast of San Gennaro makes its annual return this weekend just south of Hollywood & Highland. This street festival celebrates Italian culture in America, and will feature Italian food, desserts, drinks, music, entertainment, and more. Admission costs $5, while parking will vary.

St. Pius V Fall Festival
6:00 pm – 11:00 pm, September 28
3:00 pm – 11:00 pm, September 29
1:00 pm – 9:00 pm, September 30
St. Pius V Church, Buena Park

This annual fair/carnival returns this weekend. Free to park and enter, this family-friendly fair has fair food, rides, games, music, and more.

11th Annual Irvine Global Village Festival
10:00 am – 6:00 pm, September 29
Bill Barber Park, Irvine

This international cultural festival occurs this Saturday in Irvine at Bill Barber Park. Free to park and enter for all ages, this multicultural fest features international cuisine, live entertainment, a kids village with crafts & activities, cultural & religious exhibits, and an international marketplace.

Pirate Invasion of Long Beach
10:00 am – 6:00 pm, September 29-30
Marina Green Park, Long Beach

Come see and act like pirates at the beach! Visitors may choose to dress as a pirate or arrive in normal clothes. Many others will fully dress up to play their parts. Unlike the pirate fest at the beginning of summer, this one has an admission cost that gets you pirate shows, vendors, music, games, and more in a larger setting with more content. If you plan to stay for a while, sunscreen available. Immediate parking has a cost, while visitors can park in the neighborhoods east of Alamitos Ave if they want to avoid paying for parking.

Taste of Brews – Dana Point
12:00 pm – 4:00 pm, September 29
Sea Terrace Park, Dana Point

Taste of Brews returns for their second annual Dana Point beer fest this Saturday at its new location – Sea Terrace Park. This time, Taste of Brews will coincide with the Dana Point BBQ Championship, meaning a two-for-one admission deal. Admission includes a number of 4oz beer pours, free waters (while supplies last), and live entertainment.

LA Beer Float Showdown 4
1:00 pm – 5:00 pm, September 29
Golden Road Brewing, Atwater Village

Part of LA Beer Week, catch the LA Beer Float Showdown this Saturday afternoon at Golden Road Brewing in Atwater Village. Five teams of LA chefs and breweries compete to serve the ultimate beer float to the people. The $35 admission starts at 2pm and includes a float from each team, and a savory food item from Golden Road. For $10 more for VIP, guests enter an hour earlier, receive a special Golden Road beer, and can take home a souvenir glass.

74th Annual LA Chinatown Moon Festival
5:00 pm – 11:00 pm, September 29
Chinatown, Los Angeles

Chinese Thanksgiving celebrations continue this Saturday in Chinatown with their annual Moon (Cake) Festival. Free to attend for all ages, participants celebrate by eating mooncakes, mini pastries that may contain up to 2,000 calories each. In addition, guests can see kung fu demos, lion dancers, live music, food trucks, ping pong tournaments, and more. Guests can find free street parking beyond Spring St. or close to LA State Historic Park.

4th Annual LA Beer Week Festival
12:00 pm – 4:00 pm, September 30
Union Station, Los Angeles

LA Beer Week concludes its 2012 run with its annual beer fest closer this Sunday. In addition to the over 70 breweries present to serve beer, multiple food trucks will pair their foods (sold separately) with the beers. The $50 admission comes with UNLIMITED pours, so prepare your body to handle this!

The Cerritos Taste of the Region made its annual return yesterday evening at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts. Resembling a “Taste of Cerritos” (and nearby cities), guests had to pay only $5 for all-you-can-eat samples of food, drinks, and desserts. This price alone sets this food fest apart from all others in Southern California. Typically, events with a fixed cost this low usually have variable costs, such as food and drink tickets. Alas, attendees greatly benefited by paying a low cost to try so much food, in addition to free parking. Not surprisingly, every actual “food” table had ridiculously long lines – about half of the booths had business vendors, not food. Regardless, for an event lasting three hours, I saw and ate everything I needed to within an hour.

Check out these highlights from the Taste:

In Southern California, people can find BBQ in most major cities. BBQ itself comes in many forms: American, Korean, Mexican, and more. With the connotation that BBQ & grilling indicate manliness, nearly everyone grows up with BBQ somehow in their lives. Today’s food movement revolves around bringing something new to the table, serving consumers foods they may have never tried, seen, or thought of before. Sometimes, you just want to go back to basics and eat something familiar without all the bells & whistles. No one else represents this concept better than Shortstop BBQ.

Shortstop BBQ knows exactly what good BBQ means. Their style of BBQ borrows elements from other cultures to create BBQ symbolic of the food culture and melting pot of Southern California. They not only show this in their use of pork belly as bacon, but also in one of their signature dishes, the BBQ Frites. This mound of pomme frites gets smothered with pulled pork, cheddar cheese, and two BBQ sauces: tangy and honey. Reminiscent of poutine, nothing says comfort more than this dish. For as simple as it sounds, every ingredient synergizes incredibly well with each other, creating harmony without having one part overshadow another. This dish can feed 2-3 people, but soon you may realize that you will want to devour the entire serving yourself! Head over to Shortstop BBQ in Fullerton/Placentia, or search for their food truck that roams Orange County. After one bite, you may get hooked… and start trying their other food too!

For those who love and swear by bacon, I encourage them to open-mindedly explore and discover new foods. While bacon makes anything better, certainly other meats can hold their own against bacon. I have rambled on and on about Foie Gras, and I have always loved Pork Belly. Although fairly common yet delicious, I have not brought up Duck much. Duck has its own amazing taste (unlike chicken), and now consumers can even purchase duck seasonings and flavorings. But why eat just the flavor when you can savor real duck? If you want to truly experience duck as it should taste, look no further than Haven Gastropub.

Known for reengineering food as we know it, Haven Gastropub transcends many other restaurants that attempt to imitate them. Their standard for food and craft beer has raised the bar substantially high for other gastropubs wanting to match them. For example, take this Duck Confit Poutine that they serve all day everyday. This dish comes with Pommes Frites, Duck Gravy, Port Salut cheese, and of course, Duck Confit. For all the gravy smothering the Frites, the crispiness holds up very well. You can let the Frites sit in the gravy for a while, and you still will feel the crunch in every bite. The duck gravy and cheese combine extremely well together, creating an indescribable unity of comfort food. Finally, you have the Duck Confit, the headliner of this dish. Salty, juicy, crispy, tender… this duck has it all. After one bite, you may never look at bacon the same way again.

Chef Greg Daniels proves time and time again that he does not skimp on quality. You owe it to yourself to head to the nearest Haven Gastropub (Orange or Pasadena) and order the Duck Confit Poutine. Sure this dish can serve two or more, but take warning – anyone you share this with may want to hog it all to themselves!