Archive for February, 2013

An old quote goes “Behind every great man lies a great woman.” Perhaps back in the day, this quote held absolute meaning, since men used to typically dominate the home and work environment. Today, this quote has more-or-less dissolved in meaning, and can now apply to more than just two people. Have you ever heard anyone say “Behind every great meal lies a great person (chef/cook/etc)”? When one consumes an outstanding meal, generally an astute person prepared that meal. Many people live through life with little regard to the people behind the food. Sometimes, you just have to know the people behind the food, and as another saying goes, “Knowing is half the battle.” That said, we shall turn our attentions to the curator behind a Southern California legacy known as Slater’s 50/50.

A renowned Southern Californian institution, Slater’s 50/50 continually pushes the bar when it comes to reinventing the wheel of food. Discontent with maintaining a boring, routine menu filled with standard restaurant faire, founder Scott Slater sought to experiment with food to generate the “perfect mess.” With a background and story as epic as their burgers, Slater’s 50/50 hosted a small, private gathering where select lucky guests could sample some of the menu items and partake in a Q&A session with Scott and Executive Chef Brad.

As the night began, servers gradually brought out appetizers for the guests to munch on: Fried Bacon Mac ‘N Cheese Balls, Beer Cheese Fries, and Slater’s Vampire Dip. With all this came a mini Mint Chocolate Shake. Afterwards, servers brought out three burgers to sample: the standard 50/50 Burger, the B’ B’ B’ Bacon Burger, and the Peanut Butter Jellousy Burger (a la mode on the side). This entire time, all guests could walk around freely and mingle with others, including Scott Slater himself, Chef Brad, Erika & Brooke from marketing, and more. Once servers brought out the Bacon Brownies for dessert, Scott and Brad began their presentation of the March Burger-of-the-Month: the Drunken Steak Sandwich (yeah, not exactly a burger).

I do not recall the full list of ingredients on this sandwich, but I do know it contains an unsliced 8oz New York Steak, peppered arugula, Jameson-marinated tomato, provolone cheese, red peppers, and some white sauce that contained Guinness. All five Slater’s 50/50 locations will serve this sandwich throughout the month of March.

Following one final sample of this sandwich from the servers, Nancy Luna of the OC Register began moderation of the Q&A session with Scott and Brad. Neither Scott nor Brad revealed any surprising information – they arrived at their current location in life in a traditional way, in stark contrast to the anti-traditional items found on their current menu. Tailgating at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego prompted Scott to one day use ground bacon as burger patties, and his idea received so much praise that he eventually got into business, but decided to mix in ground beef to tone down the intensity of the 100% bacon burger. Scott did not consider any other names for the restaurant besides simply Slater’s 50/50; thankfully, it worked out, as he now owns the trademark to the 50/50 burger. Prior to the bacon burger discovery at the tailgate in San Diego, Scott ran a food cart in Northern California. After a string of profitable days, Scott opened more food carts in multiple states once he realized his knack and proficiency in the food industry. After that, Scott and Brad answered general interest questions, such as what beer they like to drink and what else they like to eat.

Got anymore questions for Scott? If you do not see him within a month from now, you can meet him and his excellent team at the 4th Annual Mission Valley Craft Beer & Food Festival in San Diego on Sunday, March 24th. Grab your tickets quick, because they sold out early last year! Until then, visit your local Slater’s 50/50, order their Drunken Steak Sandwich, and revel in the magnificence of Slater’s 50/50.

Remember back in the day, when people followed norms and conformed to traditions set by society? World history has taught us that rebel/anarchist groups have caused the most trouble throughout the world, seeking to overthrow law and justice. Historically, these types of groups have rarely instigated good upon the world, and always end up leaving a trail of blood and burned bridges in their wake. Can theorists rationalize the reasoning and motives behind these groups? While the general public believe they intend to cause harm, members of those rebel groups believe what they do brings good. Intrinsic value indicates a greater good for the greatest amount of people, though the concept of intrinsic value varies between people. As time progressed, people started to grasp the concept of intrinsic value more and more, while the so-called “1%” of the world continue to live on in greed and corrupt politics. Fast forward to today, where rebel groups now attempt to right wrongs using extremely unorthodox methods. Enter Rebel Bingo.

A smashing phenomenon in the UK, Rebel Bingo combines the interactivity of bingo with the energy of a nightclub. Some whackjobs in London developed Rebel Bingo one drunken night, and the rest turned into history. Their website explains it best, but I shall attempt to describe the night in my words. Upon first arriving at the venue, guests will experience a normal nightclub scene – dark, lines at the bar, and a DJ on stage. As the 11th hour approaches, a 10-minute countdown starts, giving the crowd ample time to make their way down to the main floor.

Once the clock strikes zero, the emcee slowly struts up to the mic to make a somber introduction. After a few words explaining the series of events that led to the night…

All hell breaks loose, as gals that appeared as go-go dancers arrived on the scene and the lights started strobing profusely, marking the start of Rebel Bingo. In a nutshell, the night comprises of two sets of two games. The first game requires one line of bingo, while the second game requires two lines. The entire time, the DJ plays typical club music, while the go-go gals call out the numbers in lewd, sexual ways. Prior to calling out the number, the gal would make a comment about sex or sin, or some combination of the two among others. During a game, I heard more moans than a porno. When an audience member has fulfilled the requirement, that person must run onto the stage and hug the emcee. This continues until two people have climbed onto the stage and hugged the emcee. Once this happens, the two guests play a minigame to win some odd prize. These prizes either meant little, such as a panda plush doll or tiger animal suit, or held high value, like a disco ball or iPod Speaker. Once all games had ended, the venue returned to normal nightclub operations.

Does Rebel Bingo sound crazy to you? Imagine going to a show, but instead of a band or only the DJ, the audience gets to participate in the night other than just dance. If anything, do not see this as a gambling event or some competition to win a prize. Just tell yourself and your friends that you bought a ticket to go see a show, and that they should go too to see something unusual that you may never see again. With no future dates currently announced, only time will tell if Rebel Bingo players will emerge from the darkness to spread the word again here in the United States.

Ever stop to think that music genres belong to certain age groups? While many of today’s popular music genres certainly fit some age groups better than others, if you think punk rock only belongs to the young generation, think again. Last Friday night, The Angry Samoans, JFA, and some more of punk rock’s older bands occupied the stage at The Observatory in Santa Ana. Impressively, not only did the show start on time, but with the exception of the first band of the night, every band played a lengthy set, clocking in at roughly 40-50 minutes per band. The majority of the night’s audience had arrived by the second band, due mainly to the night’s amazing lineup.

Social Task opened the show with their 30-minute set. For reasons unknown to me, their set lasted the shortest of all bands in the night. Having seen them at shows over the past few years, I recognized them immediately once they arrived on stage. They truly know their craft, so going first came as a surprise to me, as Social Task deserves a greater crowd than the crowd that slowly trickled in during their set. Regardless, Social Task put on a great show, and everyone who arrived on time enjoyed the music.

Whitekaps played next in the night with their skate-punk music. They market themselves as a skate/surf ‘humorcore’ band, which only came out as the lead singer making lewd and debaucherous comments between songs, and even in some songs. At one point, a female singer appeared after the main singer motioned for all guys to leave the pit so the gals could freely mosh. A combination of their raunchy jokes and harder sound led to the start of the rest of the night’s pit.

Up next, Naked Aggression rocked out on the stage. A handful of people did not know this band, which strikes me down, since the band started in the early 90’s. For those who do not recognize Naked Aggression, a female plays bass, and a female does vocals. Furthermore, their bassist possesses the rare ability to scream. Their anarchistic music maintained the energy in the room the entire time during their set.

Luicidal took to the stage next. Featuring a former bassist and drummer of Suicidal Tendencies, Luicidal displayed the same energy that Suicidal Tendencies did in the past. With a harder sound closer to hardcore, they even played some classic Suicidal Tendencies songs, eventually ending their set with Institutionalized.

The first headliner of the night Jodie Foster’s Army (JFA) played after Luicidal. As one of the most prominent skate-punk bands of all time, the audience never allowed a slow moment in. The pit remained intense, even when JFA played non-fast songs. JFA played hits like Johnny D and Beach Blanket Bongout, and covered classic songs such as the Peanuts theme and Lowrider. Following their set, vocalist Brian Brannon jumped down for a meet & greet. I got to shake hands with him, and I introduced myself as Johnny D, which prompted him to tell me the story of how they came up with the song. Totally rad!

Closing out the night, the Angry Samoans decided to include giveaways during their set. They threw out t-shirts, CD’s, stickers, and posters throughout their set. As an older punk band, I had high hopes for them. Unfortunately, it appeared that they had some problems with their sound at the beginning. The vocals worked fine, but they started out with no bass. After a few songs, they fixed the bass, but then lost some of the guitar sound. Once that got fixed, they lost some of the drums. I wanted to see them put on a great show, but the crowd had run out of energy, and their non-functional sound did not keep the energy up for long.

Looking for punk rock music in Southern California? Check my blog weekly for upcoming events, which may include some shows in your area!

Orange County Restaurant Week
Now through March 2
Various restaurants in Orange County
http://www.orangecountyrestaurantweek.com/

For one week, numerous restaurants in Orange County will offer prix-fixe multi-course meals, ranging from $10-20 for lunch and $20-40 for dinner.

2013 OC Music Awards Showcase Series Finals
7:30 pm – 11:30 pm, February 26
House of Blues, Anaheim
http://www.facebook.com/events/491275007570240/

This free and all-ages show will feature some of the nominated musicians for the OC Music Awards. Five different local artists will perform and compete for the title of Best Live Band awarded at the OC Music Awards in March. Come see the best of the 7-week series duke it out one last time.

Mustard Plug, Los Kung Fu Monkeys, Matamoska, Just Like Before, and more @ DiPiazzas
7:00 pm – 1:00 am, February 28
DiPiazzas, Long Beach
http://www.dipiazzas.com/index.php?option=com_events&task=view_detail&agid=1658&year=2013&month=02&day=28&Itemid=12

Ready for this ska show? Mustard Plug rarely plays on the west coast, so you do not want to miss out on this, plus the reunion of Just Like Before. Tickets to this all-ages show cost $10 presale and $13 at the door.

2013 Long Beach Health Freedom Expo
10:00 am – 7:00 pm, March 1-3
Long Beach Convention Center, Long Beach
http://www.healthfreedomexpo.com/hfe/page.php?id=4

Seek out information about fresh, natural, and healthy living at this expo this weekend in Long Beach. Whereas other expos focus on sales and pushing products onto guests, this expo deals more with information and seminars, educating guests about a natural and healthy lifestyle. Tickets cost $20 for one day or $35 for the entire weekend pass. Parking costs $10, so I suggest parking in the neighborhood east of Alamitos Ave, or taking public transportation.

First Fridays
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm, March 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).

Noche de Estrellas
6:30 pm – 10:30 pm, March 1
Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach
http://www.aquariumofpacific.org/events/info/noche_de_estrellas/

This all-ages Latin-themed party celebrates the sea stars of the aquarium. Live bands, DJ’s, dancers, and more will keep the Latin music going all throughout the night. Entry into this party comes with the cost of admission into the aquarium.

Beer Savage Art Show
7:00 pm – 11:00 pm, March 1
Noble Ale Works, Anaheim
http://www.facebook.com/events/616659161684018/

Independent artists from across the country fly in for one night to exhibit their work at Noble Ale Works this Friday night. Free to attend, this event will also feature a live DJ, food trucks, and a special beer release.

The Secret Affair – 60’s Night
9:00 pm – 1:00 am, March 1
Alex’s Bar, Long Beach
http://www.facebook.com/events/430639640351114/

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.

Bake ‘N Buy Fundraiser + Bake Sale
11:00 am – 4:00 pm, March 2
Jones Coffee, Pasadena
http://www.facebook.com/events/227067910758518

Buy delicious treats from various chefs and bakers from around Los Angeles, or fill yourself up from the Grilled Cheese Truck at this fundraiser this Saturday in Pasadena.

Grand Park Downtown BookFest
11:00 am – 6:00 pm, March 2
Grand Park, Downtown Los Angeles
http://grandparkla.org/ai1ec_event/grand-parks-bookfest-2013/

Book lovers rejoice! Readers of all ages can enjoy this free gathering that brings together the joys of books and more. Live DJ’s will keep music on the entire time, and food trucks will keep hungry guests fed.

12th Annual Lantern Festival
12:00 pm – 7:00 pm, March 2
Chinese American Museum, Los Angeles
http://www.camla.org/lanternfestival.html

This free and all-ages festival celebrates Chinese tradition with recreations of street fairs filled with illuminating lanterns, music, lion dance, interactive arts & crafts, and more, all culminating with a glow-in-the-dark dragon dance at the end of the day. Local food businesses will sell authentic Chinese food and drinks as well.

Gastropubs have risen significantly in population and popularity over the past few years. What once existed as a foreign concept now flourishes in a modern setting, where people seeking high quality food & drinks at affordable prices actively research gastropubs to visit. When you break it down to the bare bone, a typical gastropub menu contains bar-adapted appetizers, entrée salads, thick burgers, simplified yet improved desserts, and a decent selection of craft beers. Some aspiring chefs have taken a different approach to the menu by reengineering the gastropub perception and focusing the menu on a particular type of cuisine or food. Some gastropubs may focus on pizza or flatbreads. A few may focus on sausages and applications of sausages. Others may just like to experiment with whatever comes their way, and if it ends up tasting good, they run it as a special for their customers to try. In the case of The Factory Gastrobar, they tested out their renditions of chili to pair with their selection of craft beers.

Located in the heart of the Bixby Knolls neighborhood of Long Beach, The Factory Gastrobar hails as one of Long Beach’s first modern gastropubs. Reinventing classic foods since 2009, The Factory has gone through countless kegs of beer while serving up an ever-changing menu. Every month, they hold special events for different purposes, such as wine, beer, or food. Sometimes, they like to combine occasions to garner a larger turnout. Last night, in conjunction with the tap takeover of Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company, The Factory also concocted four versions of chili for a chili-extravaganza. Customers could order chili as an entrée, or all four as a flight paired with respective Figueroa beer. The four chilis with their beer pairings from left to right:

  • Bavarian Bratwurst (Paradise Rd Pilsner) – grass-fed beef bratwurst, bacon, Davy Brown ale, smoked tetilla cheese, spiced yogurt crema
  • Fire Roasted (Danish Red) – seasonal vegetables, roasted red peppers, shaved cabbage, avocado
  • Green Pork (Pale Ale) – pinto beans, shishito, serrano, poblano, pasilla, tomatillo, mango salsa, radish, mozzarella curds
  • Creamy Chicken (Hoppy Poppy IPA) – free-range Shelton chicken, white beans, corn salsa, pepper jack, avocado relish

The entrée versions included either bread or a pretzel.

Just like their last similar night of a food night and tap takeover, The Factory plans to retain the popular choices on their menu, pending a few tweaks to perfect the recipe. If you missed all the chili last night, fret not – they will feature one, some, or all of these on their menu very soon. They appreciate feedback, so if you love chili and want to see it on their menu, drop on in and inform them. Until then, visit them anyways and try some of their delicious food and refreshing beers on tap.

Did you enjoy a romantic Valentine’s Day last week? If not, you should have spent your Saturday night watching the Dirty Little Secrets perform their first official burlesque show of 2013. Returning to the stage after a winter break full of dancing and rehearsing, these darling vixens showed no signs that the holiday break wore them out. The audience enjoyed a sexy show, complete with sultry dance moves, raunchy naughtiness, and plenty of pasty-covered boobs. With a full troupe ready to rip and roar, the Dirty Little Secrets plan to perform more shows in the near future. Perhaps you would like to see them perform very soon? Catch them performing a FREE show this Sunday night at TRiP in Santa Monica. No one under 21 may enter.

What more can I say that pictures cannot? Enjoy these highlights from Saturday night’s show:

The 20th Annual Queen Mary ScotsFest returned this past weekend to Long Beach. This Scottish cultural festival celebrated everything that makes Scotland so memorable today. From the bagpipes to the kilts to the haggis to the highland games, anyone who has not experienced Scottish culture surely needed to check out this festival. The Scots built the Queen Mary many decades ago, so naturally they get to host this festival. Largely remaining unchanged from previous years, visitors attending for the first time will enjoy everything this festival has to offer. Guests attending again following previous years will not see much in the way of new things, besides new people and new tangible goods. But how often can groups prance around wearing kilts and grunting in Scottish accents?

The shepherding demo moved to the front of the venue area, providing more room for the highland games to take place at. The vendor village also expanded, albeit the expansion only made more room for weapons. Those Scots sure do love their weapons.

Within the Queen Mary, the main banquet room hosted piping contests and dancing contests. Eventually, all the piping moved outside to give room for the girls to dance in the competitions.

Just below that, a dart tournament took place, allowing anyone who registered online to test their skill at this pub game.

A nearby vendor sold imported European treats and other goods.

Speaking of food, you cannot attend a cultural fest without trying the food of that culture. Thus, I opted to order the Haggis, and I added a Pork Pie. Sadly, this year did not measure up to last year, as they did not provide brown sauce (such as HP Sauce), and they kept the pork pies in a cooler. I do not usually eat meat pies cold, and after I discovered that the filling resembled ground pork, I immediately thought of a pâté chaud, which I could buy hot for just a dollar at markets in Westminster. To anyone instantly turning away from the haggis, do not knock it until you have tried it. It does not taste as bad as many people believe, as it simply tastes and feels like salty meatloaf.

If you go to a Scottish festival, you will hear bagpipes guaranteed. Throughout the fest, numerous piping groups marched around the Queen Mary and competed to win best in show and other prizes.

The Highland Games took center stage as the main event of the fest, drawing in the largest crowds. Something about burly men in kilts tends to attract many people, men and women, old and young. I suppose in ancient Scotland times, someone picked up a heavy object, threw it, and his comrades decided to turn that into a competition, thus giving birth to the highland games. Purely speculating, all games involved throwing some object, usually with no technology involved; thus, the Highland Games.

Every year, ScotsFest hosts a single-malt scotch whisky tasting for the adult crowd. This year, they added a craft beer tasting class, hosted by Deschutes Brewery. A $10 entry ($11.75 after fees) provided any guest with five tasters of Deschutes beers. As each taster amounted to about one ounce each, each person received the equivalent of about half a can of beer. Paying $11.75 for this little beer sounds terrible, but it sure beats the $8 Bud Lights served throughout the fest.

For a two-day fest, the Queen Mary can pack a lot into ScotsFest. Both days followed a very similar schedule, which happens to follow similar schedules of previous years. Sad to say, to anyone who has attended ScotsFest in the past, you did not miss much. Everyone else who has not attended should consider attending next year. Consider donning a kilt and the rest of a Scottish outfit if attending. Getting into the Scottish spirit not only amps your enthusiasm up, but will likely make guests treat you more jovially.