Archive for January, 2013

When you ask a random person if they drink beer, typically they will answer no, as the majority of the world does not purposely consume beer. But for those that have drank beer, what you do expect they will answer with? Some sort of fizzy yellow beer? Everybody has at least heard of the standard mass-produced beer that costs cheap, lacks flavor, and lacks alcohol content. As a general rule, if you can see through the beer, avoid drinking it. With this said, how can you determine beer worth drinking? One cannot simply look for the alcohol content, as that alone does not govern the preference of a beer. I have tried the (current) world’s strongest beer, and that 41% beer did not taste that good. On the other hand, many beers I have tried from 12% to 27% taste amazing. In order to determine the quality of beer, just like food, you have to look at the entire taste experience, from start to finish. To find a beer that delivers layers of flavor throughout the drink, look no further than Widmer Brothers.

Famously known for their Hefeweizen, Widmer Brothers brews diverse a slew of craft beers out of their Portland brewery. Featuring a beer for every taste imaginable, Widmer clearly shows that they place only one egg in many different baskets. From IPAs to ambers to wheats to stouts, Widmer covers the entire spectrum of ales. Sadly, over 90% of everyone who has heard of Widmer only knows them for their Hefeweizen, which sucks because they make lots of awesome brews. Take their Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout for example. Weighing in at 9.3% abv, this Russian Imperial Stout gets infused with real Raspberries to give it a subtle aftertaste once you get past the strong espresso and chocolate notes expected in most Russian Imperial Stouts. Up front, a blast of dark chocolate and roasted malts hits your taste buds. Moving forward, you being to taste hints of vanilla and a sweet fruit, as the espresso builds up. After the espresso hits you in the nose, the raspberry kicks in as you down your brew. This may surprise many consumers, but this layering of flavors perfectly highlights what craft beers should aim to do with their ingredients. Why drink a beer that always tastes the same? You might as well throw a burger, fries, and a milkshake in a blender. You want to absorb the flavors at intervals, not all at once. Some may criticize the raspberry for only slightly showing up at the end, but think logically about the order of which you receive the flavors. You have may heard of chocolate-covered fruits like raspberries, but do you ever see raspberry-covered chocolates?

I posted a picture of the Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout’s 2012 version above. By now, they have already released a 2013 version on limited release. Luckily they have a beer finder on their website that you can utilize to locate a bottle near you. If you desire a beer with fruit that does not necessarily taste like framboise, seek out a bottle of Widmer Brothers’ Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout while supplies last. Keep the bottle too – it makes a great decorative ornament.

Twenty-twenty-twenty four hours to go, and then I got sedated. Even if the music selection does not fit, one cannot deny the charm of a themed restaurant. Sure, sometimes the theme feels too cheesy, but depending on the location or theme, if it works, then it sells hard. Why do you think many restaurants in Disneyland prosper very well? Aside from their locations inside a theme park, their concept of going all-or-nothing allows them to prosper with the theme. Outside of theme parks, this same concept of all-or-nothing holds more significance, as anyone playing in the middle ground will find themselves at a point of no return, and tend to close down quickly. Few restaurants roll with a music theme, especially if the food does not match the music’s stereotype. For example, a bluegrass restaurant would typically serve Cajun or Creole food. But what about heavy metal? When you think about heavy metal, what types of food cross the mind? Does any food walk hand-in-hand with heavy metal at all? I mean, you cannot spell metal without ‘meat’ or ‘meal’ in it. Thankfully, some bright young gentlemen took their love for heavy metal and turned it into a successful hamburger restaurant. Drawing inspiration from Metallica’s first album, those young gentlemen opened up Grill ’em All.

Having just opened a week and a half ago, Grill ’em All seeks to destroy false burgers. They take the norm, smash its head in, and punt it far away. Do not expect to find many traditional food items here – throw out any expectations you have of a burger joint. Grill ’em All slings burgers with attitude, as they lay on toppings that very few would even conceive. From a peanut butter & jelly burger to a burger sandwiched between two grilled cheeses (FOUR slices of bread), Grill ’em All takes the art of slinging burgers to levels beyond the next. Take their Exciter for example, a burger that contains duck confit, frisée (curly endive), truffle-herb goat cheese, and cranberry gastrique (caramelized sauce). Any random chump can toss random things on a burger and call it a meal. However, it takes careful precision to craft a burger with such balance to bring out the flavor of every ingredient. Duck in itself holds a very strong unique taste, so other ingredients should never overpower it. The inclusion of the goat cheese and cranberry gastrique greatly draws out the duck, especially the cranberry because sweet flavors help highlight anything savory going on. After each bite, feel the pause as you take time to savor each bite and reach every ingredient on this burger as it coats your taste buds. At $15 for this burger, the Exciter sits as the most expensive burger Grill ’em All offers, along with the Jump In The Fryer. Ask yourself this first: would they price a burger like this if it did not deliver? Explaining this burger’s pleasuring allure can only go so far – you have to head over to Grill ’em All and, as they describe it, experience Valhalla for yourself.

When you consider the people behind a beer fest, what type of people come to mind? Do you picture tough men drinking nonstop? Do you envision Irishmen drinking all day at the pub? Perhaps you think of Germans celebrating Oktoberfest. Contrary to what many believe, certain nationalities do not need a holiday or occasion to drink. Who said the Irish clamor over St. Patrick’s Day? Who believes Germans only drink prior to Oktoberfest? Each nation delivers more than the stereotypical beer that people know them for. Take the Germans for example – what else do they drink other than Oktoberfest beers? Have you heard of Bocks? This winter equivalent of the Oktoberfest brew deserves more attention than they currently do not receive. Luckily, Southern California holds an annual beer fest celebrating the wonderful world of Bock beers, and holding true to its location, Bock Fest brings more than just the beer – it brings on the bacon and the burlesque babes.

Taking place at the Arena Nightclub in Hollywood, the 2013 Bock Fest holds true to its roots as the beer fest that celebrates the lesser-known of German beers. Similar in style to Oktoberfest brews, Bocks appear darker and taste bolder, but can range from the paleness of a pilsner to the darkness of a stout. Although this fest focuses on Bocks and other German beers, many other microbreweries served their amazing craft beers as well. Popular breweries such as Lagunitas, Hangar 24, and Fireman’s Brew made an appearance, while the latter actually took home the People’s Choice award for Bock Fest. Rotating live music, a handful of food vendors (including a food truck right outside), wines & spirits upstairs, fortune telling, cigar rolling, and more kept all guests occupied as they guzzled their brews.

Speaking of upstairs, remember my post(s) about Sugar Lounge a month ago? It made a return to Bock Fest, this time as an open lounge to all guests. Just like last time, Sugar Lounge featured a live DJ the entire time, full bar, more beer, and not one, but TWO sexy burlesque shows by the Dirty Little Secrets. As anyone can imagine, this area filled up fast, and remained full for the entire duration of the fest.

Missed Bock Fest? Want to go to another beer fest just like it? I heard they plan to host a St. Patrick’s Fest. I currently have no details about such a fest, but perhaps I shall soon. For the latest in beer fests in Southern California, follow my blog for my weekly events post!

Los Angeles Restaurant Week
Now through February 1
Various locations
http://www.discoverlosangeles.com/dinela-los-angeles-restaurant-week

This dining event showcases the best in food Los Angeles has to offer. All participating restaurants will feature prix-fixe menus for locals and visitors alike. Lunches range from $15-25, while dinners range from $25-45.

2013 OC Music Awards Showcase Series Night 4
7:30 pm – 11:30 pm, January 29
The Observatory, Santa Ana
http://www.facebook.com/events/458007997571821/

This free and all-ages show will feature some of the nominated musicians for the OC Music Awards. Each night features five different local artists performing and competing for the title of Best Live Band awarded at the OC Music Awards in March. This series of free shows occurs every Tuesday night all the way through the finals on February 26.

Stout of the Union
6:00 pm – 11:00 pm, January 31
Beachwood Brewing, Long Beach
http://www.facebook.com/events/235914716540951/

Love stouts? Head to Beachwood Brewing in Downtown Long Beach this Thursday night to immerse yourself in a world of stouts. Expect plenty of stouts in the form of both drafts and bottles, in addition to the handful of Beachwood Brewing’s own stout brews.

First Fridays
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm, February 1
Various locations
Long Beach: http://firstfridayslongbeach.com/
Venice: http://www.abbotkinney1stfridays.com/

This monthly artwalk occurs on the first Friday of every month. Each location offers different activities, but most will contain food & drink specials, art exhibits & displays, street performers, and more. Venice and Long Beach have the two largest gatherings of all First Fridays. Other locations include Westchester, Fullerton, and City of Industry. Most First Fridays locations cost nothing to attend, while the local businesses uphold their standard rules (e.g. bars 21+ only).

D.O.A. (Farewell Show!), D.I., Amerikan Made @ The Observatory
7:00 pm – 12:00 am, February 1
The Observatory, Santa Ana
http://www.observatoryoc.com/events/doa

See legendary punk bands D.O.A. and D.I. perform this Friday night. Tickets to this all-ages show cost $15.

The Secret Affair – 60’s Night
9:00 pm – 1:00 am, February 1
Alex’s Bar, Long Beach
http://www.facebook.com/events/431710220233747/

Occurring on every month’s first Friday, this 60’s night at Alex’s Bar will play all vinyl music of motown, northern soul, boogaloo, 60’s pop, and more. Feel free to dress up too, as the bar staff will hold costume contests and dance contests.

Color Run – Los Angeles
8:00 am – 3:00 pm, February 2
Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
http://thecolorrun.com/los-angeles/

Ready to run through color? As the run that started it all, the Color Run 5k hits Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium this Saturday. In addition to the 5k run, all participants have to endure waves of color thrown on them throughout the run. By the end, all participants come out looking like a rainbow. Registration costs $50 each, or $45 per person for groups of four or more.

Southern California Pet Expo
10:00 am – 6:00 pm, February 2
Long Beach Convention Center, Long Beach
http://www.socalpetexpo.com/

This FREE all-ages expo for all things pet-related takes place this Saturday at the Long Beach Convention Center. Open to all types of pets (with proof of vaccination), visitors can experience agility demos, prize giveaways, pet adoptions, free grooming, training sessions, and more.

3rd Annual Lunar New Year Festival
11:00 am – 5:00 pm, February 2
Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena
http://www.pacificasiamuseum.org/_events_calendar/families.aspx

Here at this free and all-ages festival, celebrate Chinese New Year in style, complete with food trucks, artists, performers, dancers, crafts, demos, and more.

Cro-Mags @ The Observatory
8:00 pm – 1:00 am, February 3
The Observatory, Santa Ana
http://www.observatoryoc.com/events/cro-mags

Tickets to this all-ages hardcore punk show cost $15 each.

Have you ever heard of the Hedgehog Theory? What do we know about hedgehogs? People know hedgehogs best as little critters covered with spines that serve as a defense mechanism. A hedgehog never uses its spines in an aggressive manner – only to defend. Because of this temperament, the hedgehog specializes in defense, and has done so for aeons. The hedgehog theory states that specializing in one field significantly increases longevity and lifespan. This concept applies to nearly every subject and industry in the world, especially in the food & beverage industry. Generic restaurants will serve a variety of food, while higher-end restaurants specialize in a type of cuisine. For example, a BBQ restaurant will typically cater a menu focused on BBQ. So when local legend Beachwood BBQ announced a Curry & IPA night, I had to travel there once more to vanquish my curiosity.


Clockwise from top: Shrimp, Pork, Chicken, Goat

Following up on their ribs, mac & cheese, poutine, and meatloaf special event nights, in conjunction with their Pliny the Younger raffle, Beachwood BBQ has developed their first-ever Curry & IPA Night. Similar to the meatloaf night, guests could select a curry dish from five offerings: pork, vegetarian, chicken, goat, and shrimp. On the menu, Beachwood suggested an IPA to pair with each curry. For those guests that could not make up their minds when ordering, Beachwood offered the choice of a curry flight – for just a few dollars extra, guests could choose four out of the five curries to serve as a sampler dish. To pair with this, Beachwood also offered a 4-beer flight to go with the curry flight for just $6. The hedgehog theory may state that specializing in one particular thing will lead to longevity, but doing the same thing all the time does not always yield different results. Sometimes, you have to break out of the routine and try something new. Luckily for us, we have Beachwood BBQ, known for always staying ahead of food and beer trends. If you missed Curry & IPA Night, follow Beachwood BBQ on Facebook for their next special dinner night. Based on previous nights, expect the next one to occur in approximately two months.

Las Vegas – The Entertainment Capital of the World. By large a tourist attraction, Las Vegas sees millions of tourists annually. Of all the visitors, what can you expect them to answer as the reason to going to Las Vegas? Clubs? Casinos? Dining? Shows? Marriage? Whatever the reason, travelers often only conceive these main reasons for going. They often lose sight of the less frequent reasons for visiting Las Vegas. Has anyone considered shopping? How about looking around the outskirts of The Strip? Ever consider rock-climbing? Or do you want to check out a music show? I do not refer to the grand shows, like Cirque du Soleil, but the smaller, more intimate music shows. Many people do not consider Las Vegas for doing things small, but when it happens, of course it happens right. Even a small, niche music genre, like punk rock, has found a few places to call home in Sin City. In the case of punk rock, it lives on at the Las Vegas Country Saloon.

Roid Rage

At the Las Vegas Country Saloon on Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas, the entrance tells the story of two separate event spaces. Initially, the entrance places guests in the bar & lounge area, typically with a live DJ spinning the newest beats. Beyond a door to the side lies the LVCS music hall, complete with a bar, tables, open space, and the stage. Set up similarly to House of Blues, when no act occupies the stage, tables fill the room for guests to enjoy food & drinks. Show acts here vary in genre, from rap to pop to jazz and more. Invariably, LVCS features a punk rock show monthly, often with local bands as openers to headliners. Some previous headliners include Lower Class Brats and D.I., while some future shows include Angry Samoans and Jodie Foster’s Army (JFA).

Shotguns ‘N Gasoline

Although located in Downtown, LVCS follows standard bar procedures. During special events, no one under 21 may enter. Guests also have to find their own parking – nearby parking structures charge according to the structure owner, but a few streets down enforce street parking meters only until 8pm. Most shows cost a reasonable price, regardless of the headliner. Expect to get in on the day of the show for under $20 for most shows. They even allow reentry as long as you leave the wristband on you. For a venue in Las Vegas, they have the power to charge exorbitant prices to guests and enforce stricter rules, like a dress code. But for remaining lenient on rules and prices as they do, LVCS shines as a venue worth visiting as often as possible. The next time you visit Las Vegas, check out a show or two at the Las Vegas Country Saloon.

IDFI

Everybody wants to align with a person in power. Humans naturally want to know and acquaint with someone in power. After all, your personality reflects the company you keep. It would rock if your looks also reflected your company, but hey – we do not live in a perfect world. Knowing this, upon discovering The Dirty Little Secrets, I knew I had to get in cahoots with person in charge of them. One event after another, I attended many of her events that she participated in. Eventually, I got to meet the intelligent, beautiful, skilled, and accomplished Caitlin Litzinger. Despite her young age, Caitlin has numerous accomplishments under her wing. From winning dance competitions to creating a burlesque troupe to landing acting roles in Sons of Anarchy and Californication, Caitlin has done more than ran a triple crown. But to Caitlin, she does not view the sky as a limit; in fact, Caitlin knows no limit. So before she gets the chance to set off into outer space, I sat down with Caitlin to talk more about her life and what brought her to her position today.

When did you start dancing?

I started dancing when I was two, and I started with ballet, tap, and jazz. I have danced all throughout life, and I finally opened a dance studio when I was 26.

What was the next step for you?

After opening the studio, I started the Dirty Little Secrets. Once we became a solid group, I returned to work on acting afterwards.

What made you decide to go into acting?

I just always wanted to. Nothing really stood out to me. It felt like instinct to act.

How did you get your big break? How did you land roles in Sons of Anarchy and Californication?

I started auditioning when I was little. I landed a Skittles commercial when I was 11, did theater after high school, then got back into TV. As far as SoA and Californication, I simply auditioned for both and got the roles.

What other major roles have you filled?

Some movies I have been in include Drive and Nick Cannon’s School Dance.

When you are away from the busy Hollywood life, you lead a burlesque troupe. How did that get started?

After the dance studio, I felt like doing something more with the available space, so I came up with the idea and rolled with it.

It appears like you never stop working! What other projects do you have going on?

I manage and book girls for events, such as bartending, go-go dancing, modeling, etc.

What do you currently do for a living?

I currently work in television and at Henry’s Bar. Right now, I mostly do commercials for consumer goods and cars. I also do stand-in work for celebrities.

Do you ever have spare time? If so, what do you like to do?

I hang out with friends and take it easy. I also go shopping, decorate the house, take the dogs out for walks, and other stuff.

You have dogs?

Of course! Holiday is my pitbull and Maximus is my Shepard/Mastiff mix. They are sweet puppies who run and play all day. They have endless energy and they are both rescues.

Where do you see yourself going next?

I plan to stick with acting, auditioning, and fulfiling parts. I want to move into theater for more acting roles and experience.

We first met at a beer event, which I always find you at. What do you like to drink?

Beer, any kind. I don’t have a favorite beer – I love them all.

How about food? What do you like to eat, and where do you like to go out to eat at?

Italian and Japanese. I like Carolina’s in Garden Grove. I can’t think of a Japanese place in particular.

Is there anything else you would like the reader to know about you?

I love getting to know people, and I strive to include them in my life. Sometimes I even play matchmaker! Also, I love to garden.

Interested in getting to know Caitlin? Then come say Hi to her in person at the 2013 Bock Fest this Saturday. Want to score some brownie points with her? Click here for information on volunteering at Bock Fest.

See below for links on Caitlin.
Caitlin’s website: http://www.caitlincupcake.com/
LIKE Caitlin on Facebook!
Follow Caitlin on Twitter and/or Instagram @CaitlinLitz