Archive for November, 2012

Voodoo Glow Skulls performing Charlie Brown at Alpine Village in Torrance. Filmed on August 23, 2012.

Meet young artist Fabio Dario Fortunati, based out of Buena Park. Using his vivid imagination, Fabio essentially puts on paper or canvas the exact thoughts going through his mind. Whereas some people think heavily with facts, numbers, and words, Fabio thinks with images and perceptions. I first witnessed Fabio’s works of art at the Downtown Santa Ana Art & Music Festival, after meeting him through a mutual friend that I had found there. His use of pictures within the bigger pictures captured my attention, and I had to spend time gazing at every piece to find every bit. As a left-brain thinker, I may never fully comprehend art as abstract as this, but I can still appreciate it.

Have you ever taken the time to fully comprehend your palate? I refer to more than just your taste buds and what you prefer to eat – your palate encompasses anything and everything you have or plan to consume. The human palate involves more than just taste – it involves the entire experience of sight, smell, temperature, texture, consistency, ingredients, and more. When you consider the possible ingredients, a plethora comes to mind. Having a variety of ingredients makes for a more pleasant experience, and the master crafters at Beachwood BBQ have capitalized on that notion.

Two weeks ago, Beachwood BBQ hosted their first-ever Meatloaf Night, following the success of their ribs, mac & cheese, and poutine special event nights. Unlike the mac and poutine nights, guests could not actually construct their own meatloaf. Instead, Beachwood offered a menu containing six different types of meatloaf: Duck, Veggie, Ham, Buffalo, Venison, and Seafood. Each meatloaf paired with a craft beer also mentioned on the menu. Torn between all the meats, Beachwood knew their customers would struggle to select one meatloaf, so they offered a “flight” of four types of meatloaf PLUS all the sides for just a dollar more. In addition, guests could add beer pairings to that flight for just $6 more. With this kind of deal, who could pass up the chance to eat meatloaf without questionable meats?

Clockwise from top left: Duck, Ham, Buffalo, Venison

How beautiful does that look? Beachwood took an ordinary white plate and turned it into a centerpiece. Every meatloaf paired with one of the sides and a craft beer creates a blissful serene experience for your palate. You may not witness culinary synergy like this again in a while. Human palates have to expand beyond everyday “comfort foods” that we all grow up to eat. With a world of foods you may have never even heard of, why settle for routine? Break out of routines that lead to nowhere, and find something new and interesting to eat, like these different types of meatloaf from Beachwood BBQ. Your palate will thank me later.

The 30th Annual Belmont Shore Christmas Parade returns this Saturday night. This wondrous treat for locals allows the community to recognize prominent individuals, groups, and organizations that help to shape what Long Beach represents. This year’s parade theme ties in with the recent Summer Olympics, as not only numerous Long Beach Olympians past and present will join in the festivities, but Misty May-Treanor and Matt Treanor will serve as the parade’s Grand Marshals! Although free, this parade draws in an enormous crowd every year, equating to immense traffic and insufficient parking, especially since police will close 2nd Street to traffic starting at 5pm. I always just park incredibly far away and just walk to Belmont Shore with friends, although I have seen groups bike there. Many people set up seats along the parade route, which encircles 2nd Street in both directions, quite early. Arrive too late and you may just barely catch the tail end of the parade with some visibility.

Looking for something festive to do with friends and/or family this weekend? Bring them to Belmont Shore and check out the parade. It costs nothing to attend, just the agony of searching for parking or arriving early and waiting until then. But even if you do the latter, Belmont Shore has plenty of businesses and activities to keep you and your group occupied for quite some time. So if I do not see you at the parade this Saturday night, Happy Holidays to you and yours~

Beer & Cheese Part 2: Barrel Aged Beers
6:00 pm – 11:00 pm, November 29
Beachwood Brewing, Long Beach

Because of the brewing and aging process, barrel aged beers not only cost more than regular beer, but tastes stronger and contains higher alcohol content. You can taste some barrel aged beers and pair them with artisan cheeses this Thursday night at Beachwood Brewing in Downtown Long Beach.

Bad Brains, H2O, Year Of The Dragon @ The Observatory
7:00 pm – 12:00 am, November 29
The Observatory, Santa Ana

See legendary punk rock band Bad Brains headline an all-ages show with H2O and Year Of The Dragon this Thursday night. Tickets cost $25 for this show.

2nd Annual Taste of Mexico
5:00 pm – 11:00 pm, November 30
Vibiana, Downtown Los Angeles

Taste the best of LA’s top Mexican restaurants at this food fest in Downtown LA this Friday night. Guests receive unlimited tastings of food, while drinks may come at an additional cost. Expect live Mariachi music and entertainment the entire time too. General admission costs $50 and allows guests to enter at 6pm, while VIP costs $70 and can enter at 5pm. No guest under 21 may enter.

The Chocolate & Art Show (Experience)
7:00 pm – 2:00 am, November 30-December 2
KGB Studios, Los Angeles

This chocolate and art show that occurred in September returns for another installment this weekend for $5 per person. If you plan to attend, do not carry high expectations.

18th Annual Nutcracker Christmas Tree Lighting & Holiday Village
10:00 am – 7:00 pm, December 1
Downtown Anaheim Promenade

Completely FREE to attend for all ages, this Christmas tree-lighting celebration lasts all day. During the day, guests can partake in breakfast with Santa, kids’ crafts & activities, a food fair, live entertainment, train rides, snow play, and more. The actual tree lighting begins at 6pm. If you need something to do with family, bring them to Downtown Anaheim this Saturday night.

5th Annual Unique LA Holiday Show
11:00 am – 6:00 pm, December 1-2
The California Market Center, Downtown Los Angeles

Their website describes this event best: “The largest independent design show in the country, attendees get the rare chance to meet and shop directly from over 350 hand-selected designers and artists. The exciting two-day shopping event makes it easy for you to buy local and support LA’s economy, discover great design and deals, join in community, and have a blast.” The $10 admission allows for unlimited reentry for both days, and anyone buying presale online will receive a free tote bag. Guests over 21 can receive free cocktails, while all guests may receive other free drinks, like teas and waters. The show will also feature some of LA’s most popular restaurants and food trucks serving their delicious food. Parking directly at the venue costs $6, while nearby parking lots will range from $3-5.

3rd Annual Taste of LA
Nighttime, December 1-2
Koutoubia, West Los Angeles, December 1
Got Kosher? Cafe, West Los Angeles, December 2

This two-night five-course dinner takes place across two different venues in West Los Angeles. Night 1 occurs at Koutoubia and features a Moroccan feast for $35 per person. Night 2 occurs at Got Kosher? Cafe and features a kosher dinner for $39 per person. Seats fill up fast, so grab your tickets before they sell out!

30th Annual Belmont Shore Christmas Parade
6:00 pm – 9:00 pm, December 1
2nd Street, Belmont Shore, Long Beach

This year’s Christmas parade ties in with the recent Summer Olympics, as it will feature Long Beach Olympians in addition to the typical entrants in the parade. Police will close 2nd Street beginning at 5pm from Livingston through Bay Shore. As one of Belmont Shore’s most popular annual events, parking fills up intensely within a mile radius. I recommend parking way away and either bike or walk to Belmont Shore.

6th Annual Home For The Holidays Pet Adoption Fair
10:00 am – 3:00 pm, December 2
Irvine Animal Care Center, Irvine

Looking to adopt a pet? For just $1 admission, come to this pet adoption fair this Sunday to see cats, dogs, rabbits, and more animals that need a good home. In addition, attendees will also find vendors, food trucks, raffles, a bake sale, a silent auction, trainers, and more.

Enjoy Jakarta Festival
12:00 pm – 5:00 pm, December 2
Hollywood & Highland, Hollywood

Free to attend for all ages, this festival celebrates Indonesian culture with music, dance, shadow puppetry, food, painting, and more.

The Downtown Santa Ana Art & Music Festival took place this past Saturday night in a lot on 1st St and Bush St. For $5 admission, guests could enter to see the work of local artists, listen to local bands, and eat from local restaurants that had set up booths there. Contrary to what I had mentioned last week, food trucks did not get invited to this art fair. In fact, all the other extras I had mentioned did not appear at all. This outdoor fest only contained art, music, food, and a few vendors. Stone Brewery hosted a beer tent, but aside from them, the fest carried no other extras. This fest caters mainly to those who know any of the artists, musicians, or vendors present. For a Saturday night, Downtown Santa Ana always bustles with activity, so holding this on a Saturday night should carry some extras to draw in a crowd. Coincidentally, I saw an old friend there, so at least I could reminisce for some time prior to leaving.

The 43rd Annual Torrance Craftsmen’s Guild Holiday Arts & Craft Faire took place this past weekend at the Torrance Cultural Arts Center. First off, I start by stating this event as not my cup of tea. Many local artists set up tables to sell their holiday themed trinkets, accessories, apparel, and more. I did not expect to see many senior citizens present, both as guests and vendors. As such, guests would expect to find many traditional and old-fashioned items here. At least the calm friendly atmosphere made the stroll through the three ballrooms of vendors pleasant. I doubt I will return next year, but something like this may appeal to families. Who knows? You may even find the stereotypical soccer mom here.

Have you visited Tavern On 2 lately? This amazing little gastropub brings the quaint charm of quality food and craft beer to the local community of Belmont Shore in Long Beach. Seen as that little restaurant between Rite Aid and Panama Joe’s, Tavern On 2 has cemented a name for themselves amongst locals and out-of-towners for their delicious food, craft beer selection, and personable wait staff.

Since their opening last year, the folks at Tavern have wanted to expand their front-of-house area to the vacant adjacent space. Finally after a year of negotiations and paperwork, they finally broke down the wall last week. In just a few days, they brought down the wall, set up tables, and opened restrooms to the guests. This huge step marks only the beginning of several improvements for this gastropub in Belmont Shore, as they plan to install an official bar next. If you have yet to visit Tavern On 2, you can now see them in full glory! Head on down this weekend and check out the great menu and new wider space.

The 2012 Long Beach Turkey Trot takes place Thanksgiving morning, this Thursday as early as 6:30am. Spectators should expect to see thousands of runners over the course of four start times: 7am, 8am, 9am, and 10am. Participants may select to run a 5k or 10k at 7am or 8am, a 10k at 9am, and a 5k at 10am. Kids may enter a half-mile run starting around 9:10-9:15. Online registration already closed, so those still wanting to participate will have to visit the starting line at the Belmont Olympic Pool this Wednesday from 1pm til 7:45pm with the $40 registration fee. Participants may also pick up their race bib and packet during this time frame. Because of Thanksgiving, anyone can park at any metered parking spot for free, allowing for plenty of free parking, in addition to the nearby neighborhoods.

The race takes place mainly along the shores of Long Beach, ranging from Granada Beach all the way to Shoreline. The starting line begins at Bennett Ave and launches eastward before turning around at Granada Ave and running along the beach. 5k runners will turn back before Junipero Ave, while 10k runners will continue all the way to Shoreline Village Dr before turning back. The run ends on the north side of the Belmont Olympic Pool building.

Turkey Trots will occur in many places across the nation this weekend, so you have choices on which one to pick. Looking for a way to either build up metabolism or burn off your Thanksgiving feast? Check out a Turkey Trot near you, and get your body back into motion.

Zephyr’s 6th Annual Vegan Thanksgiving Potluck Dinner
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm, November 21
Zephyr Cafe, Long Beach

Bring a holiday vegan dish to share, mingle with locals, enjoy local music, and more. Zephyr only provides the venue – guests must provide food, drinks, plates, cups, napkins, utensils, etc.

Long Beach Turkey Trot 5k/10k Run/Walk
6:00 am – 11:00 am, November 22
Belmont Olympic Pool, Long Beach

This fun run takes place on Thanksgiving morning. Participants should pick up their bib and packet from Belmont Olympic Pool prior to that morning – see the site for schedules. Four different runs start at 7am, 8am, 9am, and 10am. The registration fee now costs $40 per person for any run. As a fun run, participants do not receive any actual prizes – only bragging rights. Participants may park in nearby beach parking lots for free until the end of the event, upon which officials will enforce the parking meters.

Dana Point Turkey Trot
6:00 am – 11:00 am, November 22
Dana Point Harbor, Dana Point

Another Thanksgiving fun run takes place in Dana Point. Registration costs $40 per person. As with any fun run, participants do not receive prizes for winning.

San Dimas Turkey Trot
6:30 am – 10:30 am, November 24
Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park, San Dimas

Unlike standard turkey trots, this fun run takes runners through dirt and other sorts of uneven trails, even passing through a stream. Looking for a challenge to burn off that Thanksgiving dinner? Look no further than the San Dimas Turkey Trot.

Santa Monica Gobble Wobble
6:30 am – 11:00 am, November 24
Emerson Reed Park, Santa Monica

Combining a fair with a race, the Gobble Wobble adds to the main run with a costume contest, turkey calling contest, potato sack races, and other fair-themed activities. Registration currently costs $35, but will increase to $40 starting Thursday.

9:00 am – 5:00 pm, November 24
Frank & Son’s, Rowland Heights

This FREE expo this Saturday will feature games, costumes, music, tournaments, panels, speakers, celebrity meetings, and more. Fans of all things geeky will want to come to meet the legendary Dean Cain of Superman fame, play in video game tournaments, dress up in costumes, and more.

Patchwork Indie Arts & Crafts Festival
11:00 am – 5:00 pm, November 25
Sycamore & 2nd, Downtown Santa Ana

This semi-annual arts & crafts fair consists of a series of Sunday fests at four different locations: Culver City, Long Beach, Oakland, and Santa Ana. As with any typical arts & crafts fair, Patchwork will feature many traditional forms of art and merchandise, but also mixes in alternative art – thinking outside the box, or Rebel Art. Those who have attended Renegade Craft Fair will view Patchwork as a hybrid of that and a traditional art fair. Featuring clothing, accessories, home goods, jewelry, pet items, and more, this FREE fest caters to a wide & diverse crowd. Food trucks will serve guests during the fest. Always remember to carry cash, since most vendors only accept cash. Visitors may park in the nearby parking structure for free.