Archive for June, 2013

The 4th Annual Orange County Brew Ha Ha will return to Oak Canyon Park in the hills of Irvine on Saturday, September 7th, 2013. As Orange County’s grandest beer fest not organized by a sole brewery, this beer fest always delivers the goods with everything they stock into one venue. Unlike some beer fests that only cares about numbers, Orange County Brew Ha Ha will likely sell out of tickets before the fest arrives. They only invite micro breweries with terrific craft beers, not that Shock Top junk, and this year, they plan to invite over 70 breweries to booze up all the guests. Not only will guests get to revel in all the beer goodness, but they will also have the chance to listen to keynote speakers from the craft beer industry, as they speak about all things craft beer and the industry. We must not forget the amazing food on hand, as Southern California’s top food trucks will drive in to sling some killer eats, plus the many other booths serving treats, including Drunken Udder ice cream. Last but not least, as announced this past Wednesday morning, Huntington Beach ska band Reel Big Fish will perform at the Brew Ha Ha! If you have not seen them perform since the release of their last album last year, then you can kill two birds with one stone by indulging in craft beers while skanking to Reel Big Fish. Their presence alone will attract hundreds more to Brew Ha Ha, so you must act quick and obtain your tickets before they sell out! Buy your tickets now by clicking this link, where you can choose between a $45 general admission that starts at 1pm and comes with 10 beer pours, or a $60 VIP admission that starts at 12pm, comes with 15 beer pours, and grants access to a special seminar and tasting with one of the keynote speakers. Do not dawdle on this opportunity – block out that day on your schedule, buy a ticket, invite your friends, and as Reel Big Fish says, Don’t Stop Skankin!

Reel Big Fish performing Beer at House of Blues in Downtown Disney in Anaheim, CA. Filmed on January 5, 2013.

The Muckenthaler Cultural Center in Fullerton hosted their 4th Annual Summer Solstice Festival & International Taco Festival this past Sunday. This two-in-one festival combines an international cuisine taco fest with an arts & crafts fair for all ages. The Summer Solstice Festival requires no admission fee, as guests could simply park for free and walk into the cultural center area, where guests would find plenty of arts & crafts booths, activities, games, and live music on the stage. Inside the cultural center, various acts performed in the center room, such as storytelling and cultural dancing.

The International Taco Festival occurred inside the summer fest. This small food fest featured booths hosted by various businesses, groups, organizations, and charities from around Orange County. Each booth prepared tacos using a particular cuisine from around the world. Some of the international tacos included Tex-Mex, Kenyan, Swiss, German, Greek, Somalian, Moroccan, Chinese, Korean, Indian, Singaporean, and many more. Basically, each booth used some sort of tortilla or other holder, and added meat from the booth’s respective cuisine. For example, the fest featured Chomp Chomp Nation as one of the booths, and they served a Singaporean taco by taking their Singapore Sloppy Joe and placing it in a fried wonton shell instead of a bun. A Kenyan booth simply used Kenyan-style beef in a normal tortilla. A taco more common to today’s community included BBQ tacos using pulled pork and tri-tip.

This small festival provided a treat to the local community. On the first Sunday of summer, families arrived all ready to enjoy a day together while enjoying some delicious food in small portions and exploring the cultural center and all the arts & crafts booths. The original ad mentioned Bootlegger’s Brewery and tequila at the taco fest; however, I never found any alcohol at the event. This did not deter the event from prospering, as the lack of alcohol meant that families could truly enjoy the day without worrying about the endangerment of the children. The Muckenthaler Cultural Center plans to hold plenty more events throughout the rest of the year, including a luau in a couple of weeks. If you seek something to do with the family, check out the Muckenthaler’s calendar of events to discover something different and unique to expand your cultural knowledge.

What happens when you combine two dudes hungry for sliders, beer, and cake? You can cross ‘really bad sitcom’ off the list of guesses, because I refer to Ben & Drew, the two food dudes behind the group L.A. Foodie. Always in search for Los Angeles’ great hidden gems, L.A. Foodie ventures out around Los Angeles County weekly for that perfect bite. In addition to these adventures, they also record a podcast a few times a month, which you can find on their Soundcloud channel. These gentlemen also find time to organize monthly dinner events such as Get Porked, which occurred last month. This month, they returned to a previous event that they host every two months: Bite Flite in Culver City.

Welcome to Bite Flite, a craft beer and gourmet slider pairing dinner at Bar & Garden in Culver City, with endless desserts provided by Mwokaji Cakery. Unlike Get Porked last month, Bite Flite does not follow any structured schedule. Guests simply show up anytime during the event hours, and receive their food and drinks at their leisure. The $22 admission includes one slider, four craft beer tastings, and unlimited desserts. Upon arriving, guests receive tickets good for whatever the ticket says on it: one slider of choice, and four different craft beer tastings to pair with the sliders. Optionally, guests could purchase additional sliders at cost as specified by the vendor.

Vagabond Grillyard provided the food for the night with their mobile grill stand. This mobile catering company crafts gourmet sliders with quality ingredients and find cooking techniques to rival that of official restaurants. Rarely does one find a slider cooked perfectly medium-rare due to the size of the patty, yet Vagabond Grillyard has perfected a perfectly pinkish medium-rare slider patty. They only brought four sliders to serve off their menu, which included:

  • The Signature: grass-fed dry-aged beef, homemade garlic cilantro aioli, sweet onion marmalade, sharp cheddar, wild baby arugula, brioche bun
  • Bacon Bleu: grass-fed dry-aged beef, homemade garlic aioli, caramelized onions, bleu cheese, thick-cut applewood-smoked bacon, wild baby arugula, brioche bun
  • Pulled Pork: 12-hour roasted pork shoulder, fried onions, sriracha-poppyseed coleslaw, BBQ sauce, brioche bun
  • Grilled Cheese: American cheese, buttered brioche toast

A local artist even featured some work at Bar & Garden during the event. I did not obtain any contact information, however.

Missed out on Bite Flite? Fear not, as L.A. Foodie runs Bite Flite every other month. Check back again in early August for the announcement of the next Bite Flite, which will likely occur at Bar & Garden again on a Saturday night. Make sure to like L.A. Foodie on Facebook and follow them on Twitter to stay up-to-date with all the latest on food & drinks in Los Angeles County!

How do you raise money for prostate cancer research while having a fun time? How about throw a meatball-eating contest? Eager teams gathered this past Saturday evening in Downtown Los Angeles for Philanthro LA’s Balls For Balls, a meatball-eating contest raising money for prostate cancer research. As the cancer that has caused the second-most deaths of any cancer, prostate cancer research does not receive nearly as much funding as breast cancer research. As a result, prostate cancer rarely gets treated, as most men simply do not bother to get checked, or doctors miss the early symptoms. Ironically, more women than men run Philanthro LA, a non-profit group of volunteers primarily consisting of UCLA graduates, albeit this philanthropy supports men’s health.

This meatball-eating competition follow an elimination system, placing teams in heats to compete against one, two, or three other teams. When the announcer starts a heat, an individual from each team must completely ingest all the meatballs on their plate before the next team member can start eating. A team finishes when all four members have consumed all their meatballs sequentially. Imagine playing Flip Cup, but with just eating meatballs instead of drinking & flipping a cup. The last team to finish in any heat loses and walks away, while the remaining teams move on to the next heat. This setup of eliminating one team per heat continues until only two teams remain, and those teams eat it out until one finishes first and takes home the grand prize of $400. Registration to compete only cost $60 per team, or $15 per individual. Note that one can write off this registration fee as a charitable donation.

Philanthro LA raises money for a justified cause, and they raise it in crafty, exciting ways. With Balls For Balls, they decided to have a little fun with word play, and it worked out great. Philanthro LA will have plenty more fundraising/charity events in the near future, so like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, or connect with them somehow to discover their future events. By participating, not only do you support a great cause for the greater good of mankind, but you have fun doing so.

The Dirty Little Secrets – Girls On Film
9:00 pm – 10:30 pm, June 26
One-Eyed Gypsy, Downtown Los Angeles

Catch a sexy burlesque show this Wednesday night in Downtown Santa Monica, dedicated to women on film. Have cash available for parking and a potential cover charge. No one under 21 may attend.

New Kids On The Block 2
5:00 pm – 9:00 pm, June 27
Handlery Hotel, San Diego

From the organizers behind the Mission Valley Craft Beer & Food Festival comes NKOTB2, a festival of beer and food featuring breweries, brewpubs, and restaurants that opened less than two years ago. The admission of $30 includes parking and grants all-access to beer tastings and food samples until it runs out; however, with a hard limit of 300 tickets and over 15 breweries on board, do not expect any vendor to run out of food or beer by the end of the fest, so go nuts. Local bands will play live music to fill the room with uplifting beats. As of this morning, less than 100 tickets remain, so act quick and purchase your ticket today!

Union 13 @ The Airliner
7:00 pm – 1:00 am, June 27
The Airliner, Los Angeles

Union 13 returns to their hometown of Los Angeles to headline this street punk show featuring Rats In The Wall (Leftover Crack + F-Minus), Sleepwalkers, Nomads, All Out Attak, and more. Admission to this show costs only $5. No one under 18 may enter. Remember to bring your ID too, as security will not allow anyone in without showing it. Guests can find plenty of street parking in the neighborhood across the street.

Jack Bradshaw Dog Show
8:00 am – 5:00 pm, June 28-30
Queen Mary, Long Beach

Watch multiple dog shows and competitions this weekend in Long Beach. Free to attend for all ages, breeds will compete in show and athletic contests throughout the weekend. Expect parking to cost $15. Take public transportation (free on the Passport bus) or ride a bike to circumvent the hefty parking fee.

OC Tastefest
5:00 pm – 11:00 pm, June 28
3:00 pm – 11:00 pm, June 29
12:00 pm – 8:00 pm, June 30
OC Fair & Events Center, Costa Mesa

Get a taste of Orange County’s top restaurants at the annual OC Tastefest this weekend at the OC Fair. This fest follows the pay-as-you-go system, foregoing last year’s admission fee to allow anyone in, and allowing guests to purchase as many tickets as they would like. Guests then use these tickets to exchange for food & drink samples from the 20+ participating restaurants. The more tickets you purchase, the more you save – $10 for 10 tickets, $25 for 30 tickets, and $40 for 50 tickets. Based on last year’s ticket requirements, a single person can consume more than 10 tickets, so I suggest 30 tickets for two people, or 50 tickets for three people. Parking at the OC Fair costs $5, so have cash available for that. This fest takes place mostly outdoors, so if you go early on Saturday or Sunday, dress for the warm weather, and apply sunscreen.

CH3 @ Alex’s Bar
8:00 pm – 1:30 am, June 28
Alex’s Bar, Long Beach

Catch punk rock band CH3 as they headline a punk rock show at Alex’s Bar in Long Beach this Friday night with The Simpletones, The Gears, White Flag, and Shag Rats. Admission to this costs costs $8 presale and $10 at the door. No one under 21 may enter. Guests can find plenty of free street parking on Orizaba Ave or in the neighborhood across the street. Avoid parking on N Gladys Ave, or in the Autozone parking lot.

Color Burst 5K
9:00 am – 3:00 pm, June 29
Irvine Lake, Silverado

Enjoy a summer kickoff color run this Saturday morning at Irvine Lake. As with all color runs, this all-ages run covers a 5k dirt & grass course along Irvine Lake, complete with color “bursts” along the route. Participants should wear white to absorb and display all the colors the most upon reaching the bursts. As a fun run, no participant will win an actual prize other than the fun of running through color, and the colorful clothes they leave the event with. An afterparty will feature a beer garden, food trucks, live music, and other miscellaneous games. Registration costs $50 per individual, $35 per individual running for a team of four or more, $20 for children ages 9-15, and free for children 8 and under. Parking costs $5 at Irvine Lake. I strongly suggest carpooling and arriving early, as traffic here gets intense with only one road leading to the lake.

Pirate Invasion of Belmont Pier
10:00 am – 9:00 pm, June 29
10:00 am – 6:00 pm, June 30
Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, 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. Expect to see pirate shows, vendors, music, a (mock) ship fight, and cannon blank shots fired at the pier. This FREE and all-ages event runs on Saturday & Sunday starting at 10am both days. If you plan to stay for a while, note that this takes place entirely outdoors, so have sunscreen available. Guests can find free street parking in the neighborhood across Ocean Blvd.

Riviera Village Summer Fest
10:00 am – 7:00 pm, June 29-30
Riviera Village, Redondo Beach

This FREE and all-ages annual street fair occurs in the Riviera Village neighborhood of Redondo Beach. Numerous vendors, arts & crafts, food & drinks, carnival rides, entertainment, and more will take over the streets, as visitors stroll through all the roads gazing at all the wonderful booths. Do not attempt to park nearby – instead, park at South High, right off of Calle Mayor and Pacific Coast Highway, and take the free shuttle. The festival takes place entirely outdoors, so keep sunscreen handy.

Beachwood Brewing 2nd Anniversary Celebration
11:30 am – 2:00 am, June 29
Beachwood Brewing, Downtown Long Beach

Celebrate Beachwood Brewing’s 2nd anniversary at their restaurant/brewery in Downtown Long Beach this Saturday. Free to attend, expect to find rare beers on tap, as well as a handful of guest breweries and their brews. Beachwood BBQ will also serve up some food specials unique only for this glorious day. Guests can park for free for up to three hours with validation in the parking structure in the alley behind the restaurant.

Bottle Share #5
1:00 pm – 5:00 pm, June 29
38 Degrees Ale House, Alhambra

Brew your own beer? Got an interested craft beer to share? Bring it to 38 Degrees’ monthly bottle share event, taking place this Saturday afternoon, and discover other great beers too. Free to attend, guests should bring approximately 40-50 ounce’s worth of beer. The restaurant has its own free parking lot.

1st Annual BrewGrass Craft Beer & Music Festival
1:00 pm – 6:00 pm, June 29
Packinghouse Brewing Company, Riverside

Rock out to bluegrass music as you sip on unlimited craft beer samples this Saturday at Packinghouse Brewing Company in Riverside. This festival brings together food trucks, bluegrass bands, and craft beers from a handful of local breweries for your afternoon enjoyment. The fest will even provide a wine booth and a cigar lounge for those interested. Admission costs $35 presale and $40 at the door. Guests may bring a picnic blanket and/or chairs into the event. Food and full pints come at an additional cost. No one under 21 may attend.

Farm Folk Festival
1:00 pm – 7:00 pm, June 29
Packing House, Anaheim

Check out a local arts & crafts fair near Downtown Anaheim this Saturday afternoon. Expect live music, art, vendors, cooking demos, other merchandise, and more. Hungry guests can munch on food from food trucks or from Umami Burger right around the corner. The tasting room at Anaheim Brewery will remain open for normal business as well.

4th Annual Los Angeles Street Food Fest
3:00 pm – 9:00 pm, June 29
Rose Bowl, Pasadena

Experience the best of mobile eats in LA at the 4th annual LA Street Food Fest. This all-ages food fest features hundreds of chefs, restaurants, food carts, food trucks, food stands, pop-ups, bars, and more. The list of participating businesses includes more than enough food to cover your entire day, plus plenty of dessert, ice cream, coffee/teas, drinks, alcoholic drinks, mobile boutiques, and so much more. General admission costs $50, starts at 5pm, and includes parking and ALL food & drinks. VIP admission costs $75, starts at 3pm, and also includes access to a VIP lounge. Children 7 and under enter free with a paid adult admission. Attendees should bring a picnic blanket and/or chairs, as the venue cannot provide enough tables for the thousands of attendees.

4th Annual Claremont Village Blues & Brews Craft Beer Walk
4:00 pm – 8:00 pm, June 29
Streets of Claremont Village, Claremont

Exhibit the local businesses of Claremont while sipping on craft beers and local food at this annual music and beer fest on the streets of Claremont Village. Over 30 of the local businesses will serve as sites where attendees to this fest can pick up some food or beer as they continue to stroll through Claremont Village to enjoy the live music and the goods & services offered by the local businesses. Admission costs $35 presale and $40 at the gate, and includes free parking and 12 beer tasting tickets. The site does not mention if admission includes food, so if you plan to eat, have some cash available. No one under 21 may attend.

Space of Light
7:00 pm – 12:00 am, June 29
Tierra de la Culebra, Highland Park

If you have attended Autumn Lights before, you will not want to miss this. Space of Light takes art as we know it and transforms it into glow-in-the-dark works of art. For a fee, guests can actually turn into the canvas for the artists. Other types of art will go up on display at this art show. Join in the communal fire pit lighting at 10pm. Guests will also find live music, vendors, raffle prizes, food & drinks, and more. Admission costs $5 presale and $10 at the door. The site makes no mention of age limits or parking, so prepare for whatever happens in that case.

Fang @ The Airliner
7:00 pm – 2:00 am, June 29
The Airliner, Los Angeles

See some 1980’s bay area punk rock bands play at this show at The Airliner this Saturday night. This show costs $5 to enter before 9pm, and $7 to enter after 9pm. No one under 18 may enter. Guests can find plenty of free street parking in the neighborhood across the street from the venue.

Volcanik Rockers + more @ Bob’s Bar
8:00 pm – 2:00 am, June 29
Bob’s Bar, Baldwin Park

Support local punk rock bands at this show that only costs $5 to attend. This show will include raffle tickets to upcoming shows for Luicidal, Lace ‘Em Up, and Agent Orange. No one under 21 may enter.

5th Annual Pasadena Marathon & Expo
9:00 am – 7:00 pm, June 29
5:15 am – 11:00 am, June 30
Pasadena City College, Pasadena

Have you prepared for the 26.2? Enter the Pasadena Marathon, occurring this Sunday morning at Pasadena City College. A marathon festival occurs at the start/finish line until 11am, complete with vendors, activities, and other services. A marathon expo takes place on Saturday at Fuller Theological Seminary from 9am to 7pm. Full marathon registration has already sold out, but you can still register for the half marathon, 10k, or 5k until Wednesday night – after that, interested individuals will have to go to the expo and register there.

Vintage Clothing & Textile Show
9:00 am – 3:00 pm, June 30
The Pickwick Gardens, Burbank

This expo features over 65 vendors selling their antique textiles, vintage clothes, accessories, and more for attendees to exhibit and purchase. Admission costs $7 per person and comes with free parking.

13th Annual Taste of Adams Avenue
11:00 am – 3:00 pm, June 30
Adams Avenue, Normal Heights, San Diego

30 restaurants, 30 tastes. Taste the local flavor of Adams Avenue this Sunday afternoon, as you stroll up and down Adams Avenue checking out all the local restaurants in the area. A ticket bundle costs $30 presale and $35 on the day of the event, and provides guests with 30 taster tickets. Park in the neighborhood, and pick up your tickets from Smitty’s Auto on the day of the event if you purchased presale.

2nd Annual Dog Day Afternoon
12:00 pm – 6:00 pm, June 30
Fountain Valley Recreation & Sports Park, Fountain Valley

This FREE dog event takes place at Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley. Open to guests of all ages and all breeds, guests will find lots of dogs and dog activities, with athletic demos, vendors, adoption information, merchandise, and more. As part of Fountain Valley’s 5th Annual Summerfest, guests will also find rides, games, live music, beer/wine gardens, food, and more. Guests can park for free in any of the park’s parking lots. If those fill up, guests can park on the street, or in the neighborhood across the street.

Wanderlust Yoga In The City
1:00 pm – 6:00 pm, June 30
Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica

Join in on this FREE yoga meetup this Sunday on the Santa Monica Pier. Simply RSVP by clicking on the picture below, then show up when desired. Attendees should bring their own yoga mat, plus sunscreen if they want to share.

Angelenos sure have a way with seeking out new and unusual things around town. Looking into the realm of local businesses, trends rapidly fluctuate in a short period of time, and sometimes a trend that seems like it just started yesterday will now classify as vintage. Because of these ever-changing tastes, both business owners and consumers must search for new trends, or risk falling behind and getting labeled as not up to date with trends. To succeed to today’s world, people cannot simply thrive on existing ideas or products – they must invent or reinvent. To invent means to create something brand new that works, while to reinvent means to take an existing idea or product and improve it. For example, a grilled cheese sounds simple, but make that grilled cheese with mac & cheese and add some sort of meat in there like bacon or pulled pork, and you have successfully reinvented the grilled cheese. On the other end of the spectrum, you can invent something, though this new invention must have some common ground with constituents such that the invention does not come off as a foreign concept. Luckily for Angelenos, The Lobos Truck has struck the perfect balance between familiarity and originality.

Currently seen roaming the roads of Los Angeles, The Lobos Truck delivers a mobile gourmet spin on classic American comfort foods. Using local sustainable ingredients, they can satisfy most tastebuds and diet plans with their ever-changing seasonal menu of meaty and vegetarian options. The current menu contains burgers, sandwiches, mac & cheese, meat a la carte, and their signature Wachos. By simply substituting waffle fries in for tortilla chips, customers receive a brand new spin on the classic nacho dish. Their Wachos come in a few different variations, but nothing else compares to the original OG Wachos. These waffle fries get topped with Angel sauce (wing sauce), cheddar cheese, bleu cheese, buttermilk dressing, diced tomatoes, fresh guacamole, chopped scallions, fried onions, and crispy bacon. The combination of all these ingredients contributes to an outstanding bowl of fried goodness that you may not want to share, especially after biting into the bacon. I have no idea how they prepared this bacon, but you could technically call it bacon chips, as they come in short pieces that pack a loud crisp. Even after sitting in the sauces in this bowl, the bacon remains crispy and full of piggy flavor. Just like regular nachos, they serve your Wachos with every ingredient in sections. Pro tip: ask them to toss the Wachos – when you receive it, you will now get every flavor in every bite instead of having to search for the ingredients in the bowl. Trust me: the bacon WILL remain crispy.

The Lobos Truck rolls around Los Angeles on a daily basis, taking very few days off each month. Should you happen to stumble upon The Lobos Truck on your daily adventures, pick up an order of OG Wachos for $8.50. For a mega meal, add an order of either ribs or wings for added protein to your meal. See them at or near a brewery? OG Wachos make the perfect pairing with your favorite craft beer. Honestly, the OG Wachos go great on any occasion, so get it when you see the truck.

The Del Mar Fairgrounds in San Diego County hosted the 2013 Big Bite Bacon Fest this past Father’s Day Sunday. Pulling together some of Southern California’s bacon-centric businesses plus craft breweries, this fest brought on all forms of pork to serve to guests that purchased the admission. Admission included unlimited food tastings until the food ran out, while guests could only receive five 2oz pours of beers, contrary to what they originally advertised. The staff mentioned that guests could receive more beer tastings than the original five, but that only applied to VIP guests, as the staff would not allow me five more tasters. This only marks the first of many things gone bad at this bacon fest. In order to receive food, guests had to wait in four staggering long lines: a line to enter the fair, a line to enter the fest, a line to receive a wristband, then a line to receive food. It took an hour and a half from arriving at the fair until I could obtain my first bite.

A handful of other problems contributed towards the overall lackluster performance of the Big Bite Bacon Fest. First off, when you look at the price compared to other food fests, most people clearly did not receive $55 worth of food. When you factor in the long lines and the vendors running out of food, most attendees received only about $20 worth of food. The $55 admission includes access to the rest of the fair, but the fest promoters failed to mention that the fair held Dia De Las Familias that day, a fair day dedicated to families. This resulted in excessive amounts of children and strollers not only in the fair, but at the bacon fest. Children do not appreciate certain foods as much as adults, so bringing children to a bacon fest that has beer in it too wastes the admission’s value. Speaking of food, those who did not attend did not miss anything special that they could find regularly on the restaurant’s menu. A majority of the vendors did not cook the food enough, such as:

  • A potato, egg, cheese, and bacon mix had rubbery bacon in it
  • The bacon waffles tasted like dough and wet batter
  • Slater’s 50/50 did not cook their burgers consistently – they ranged from rare all the way to well done
  • The BBQ chicken came out pink and slimy, a sign of not getting cooked long enough
  • Red in the center of a bacon-wrapped meatball

Other problems include not keeping the food warm, meager sample portions, no seconds allowed, beer volunteers that did not know the beers they poured, inefficient lines, and significantly less booths than the website advertised. How does a vendor serve cold food an hour after the fest starts? With such long lines, why do attendees receive only one small sample? For an event that does not limit the ticket sales, vendors should prepare more than enough food to meet the demands. This could potentially alleviate long lines, and increase marketing exposure to those who did not yet earn a chance to try the food. Keep in mind that general admission cost $55, while non-drinkers paid $40. Even for non-drinkers, nobody can scoff at $40, especially since nobody truly received that much food, albeit some of the bacon treats stood out from the rest.

A few of the bacon treats from the fest stood out, albeit most of the food do not belong in a fest that costs this much. My favorite treats include:

  • Pig Candy (candied bacon)
  • Bourbon maple bacon bar
  • Bacon cotton candy
  • Badunkachunk‘s Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

In the end, the Big Bite Bacon Fest took a big bite out of many attendees’ piggy banks. The long lines, lackluster food, strict beer rules, and expensive admission made for quite a disappointing event. This makes me fearful for future events of a similar nature. This weekend, the fair hosts the San Diego International Beer Fest. They claim to boast over 400 different beers from around the world, but I have seen the lineup, and it includes generic beers like Heineken, Stella, or Foster’s, plus many clones of those types of fizzy yellow beers. Each session costs $55 to attend just like the Big Bite Bacon Fest, but reviews from previous years reveal that each session tends to run out of beer an hour before a session ends. I would hold off on admission to this, and save it for a better beer fest, such as NKOTB2 occurring next week in San Diego. Also, save a spot on your calendar for Saturday, August 31, as the San Diego Bacon Fest occurs on that day. I have higher hopes for this one, as the organizers allegedly have nothing to do with the organizers behind the Big Bite Bacon Fest. San Diego will see some great food and/or beer fests in the upcoming months, so keep an eye out for events in the area, or check this site every Monday for the week’s upcoming events.

On Father’s Day Eve this past weekend, legendary punk band Agent Orange headlined a show at The Juke Joint in Anaheim near their hometown. Although this show occurred mainly just for the heck of it, the bands on the night’s lineup catered well to the older crowd, as an unintentional nod to the punk rock fathers out there. As my friend Mike mentioned to me prior to the show, “bloodstains and seek and destroy define my childhood” and as a result, I encountered plenty of the elder crowd at this show. Surprisingly, I also encountered a significant amount of girls at this show, showing that punk rock appeals to more than just guys. One of the girls attended the show with her dad, further displaying how punk rock unifies friends and families.

The original lineup contained Splntr as an opener. However, Bombay Snakes opened the night instead with their street punk set. For an opening band, they played a solid set with very little downtime and a strong sound similar to Civet. I also love to see gals in bands, and this rad chick rocked out just as hard as the guys in the crowd. Should they play another show locally, I encourage you to attend their show to appreciate and support local music.

O.C.A. played on stage next following Bombay Snakes. They did not take long to set up, and once they got started, they did not allow much downtime. Instead, they jumped right into the fray with their punk rock set that combines street punk with hints of oi punk. Nothing too exciting occurred – just a good loud set with a small pit starting up to last the night.

The Yeastie Boys appeared to play during the night, an unexpected surprise since they did not appear on the original lineup. Just like with all their shows, Yeastie Boys brought anything possible to distract and annoy the crowd, including clown go-go dancers, balloons, and beach balls. As a punk rock cover band, they started their set with lesser known songs, then moved their way to more popular songs, such as Holiday In Cambodia and Kids Of The Black Hole. They generated a large crowd in the room, almost appearing larger than the crowd later in the night for Agent Orange. Despite the Juke Joint’s new hardwood flooring, Yeastie Boys kept the party to just the inflatables, foregoing the confetti, party poppers, and other loose decorations.

Moving on with the night, Longway started their set to a seemingly less crowded audience than the previous band. However, to my surprise, more girls had shown up by now for Longway’s set. In fact, for almost the entire duration of Longway’s set, the girls dominated the pit, and had to drag guys into the pit, including myself. I went along with it while listening to Longway’s punk rock set. Their set ended up lasting about ten minutes longer than the previous bands – this only allowed the girls to continue circling the pit for that much longer.

Agent Orange finally appeared with a rather lengthy set list, which they eventually trimmed down, removing the less popular songs. As a result, they skipped around quite a bit, and went out of order a few times. Because of this, I did not prepare myself for when they played Bloodstains, as it started immediately following another song. After The Last Goodbye, the set list indicated an encore, which they ended up not playing. This may have occurred for the better, as the venue filled to capacity once Agent Orange started their set. I lodged myself in a corner by the stage, and just stayed put due to the tight crowd. The pit finally gave way to all the big guys in the crowd, with the circle collapsing for a good ol’ push & shove mosh pit. For a venue this small, a pit would not have enough room for the slam dancing circle pit, but a mosh pit fits in just well here.

On this night, punk rock fans would have loved to stick around Orange County. In addition to this show, Rezurex headlined the OC Psycho Punk Fest not too far from the Juke Joint. However, another show in Santa Ana headlined by Narcoleptic Youth got canceled, so most people planning to attend that show ended up traveling to the Rezurex show. This week contains a handful of great local shows too. If you find yourself in or near Pasadena this Friday night, check out Old Towne Pub for a benefit show. In Orange County, the Observatory hosts two punk rock shows this weekend: A Wilhelm Scream with The Flatliners, and Nekromantix. Next week, expect some more great shows, including the return of Union 13 to Southern California!

Orange County’s largest Irish cultural festival returned for its 38th annual run this past Father’s Day weekend at Oak Canyon Park out in the hills of Irvine. This festival celebrates Irish culture by throwing together thousands of traditional Irish step dancers, a handful of Celtic bands, lots of characters, and more vendors than you can shake a clover at. First-time visitors to this fair may feel overwhelmed at all the activities available – after all, they call it the BIG Irish Fair for a good reason. Luckily, this fair takes place on two consecutive days, allowing guests to select which day they want to explore this fair. The event staff provides a map of the fair, as long as guests can read it and get past the immediate wave of vendors upon walking in through the front gate.

Once past the initial wave of vendors, guests will find a Fish & Chips booth and the Sean Baun’s Stage, complete with its own lineup of Celtic bands.

Continuing onwards past the stage and the lake places guests out in a wide field with many more things to see and do. One of the exhibits out here features Irish automobiles, including real DeLoreans.

Guests would find animals to the right of the automobiles. The animals including herding border collies and the sheep herd, and Irish wolfhounds.

On the other side of the automobiles, the Emerald Bowl sat under the shade of the big tree. This stage’s lineup included more of the younger, modern Celtic bands that carried more modern rock sounds, such as a Celtic reggae band, and a handful of Irish punk bands.

Down at the far end of the fair, guests will find three shaded stages housing the Irish step dancing competitions, where girls display their precision and grace with their fluid and bouncing movements.

Immediately adjacent to the step dancing area lies the football field. Throughout the day, teams would appear on the field to play rounds of football (soccer) or Gaelic football (offshoot of rugby).

Following a counter-clockwise route from the entrance after the athletic fields, the Innisfree Pavilion allows guests to observe and participate in reenactments of traditional Irish life, including demos on playing with Irish musical instruments.

In this back area, guests could purchase some of the art on display randomly throughout the fair.

Continuing full-circle, we now return to the front of the fair on the left side of the entrance, where more vendors set up shop.

Completing the circle tour of the fair, we end up at the Shamrock Bowl, where the traditional Celtic bands played to large crowds all weekend.

At random points during the fair, bagpipe bands would march and play around the fair, each representing a different squad/team.

The Big Irish Fair hosted its own Rose of Tralee pageant, but had already selected their Rose of Tralee prior to the fair. Think of the Rose of Tralee like an Irish version of Miss America, because the organization selects a young woman with the beauty and brains to represent their organization for a year.

The Big Irish Fair has now completed its 38th year running, operating very similarly to how they did many years ago. Of note, they use traditional means of marketing and advertising the fair. Today, the new generation uses a lot of internet and social media to get word of events out to the public, as well as publications like local newspapers or magazines. In the past few years I have attended the Irish Fair, I barely discovered any form of marketing – I personally originally discovered it through word of mouth. Speaking of the past few years, very little has changed as far as structure and activities. If you attended the Irish Fair many years ago, you would not miss a lot in the recent years of the fair. Also, for an Irish Fair, the fair did not sell Irish food, or at least American Irish food. One booth sold Fish & Chips, but at a quality like a county or state fair, meaning mostly fried with little regard to the quality of the fish and chips. Another booth posted a Corned Beer & Cabbage sign; however, that booth lied with the sign because they sold corned beef sandwiches that contained so little meat. For a true corned beef sandwich, head to Roscoe’s Deli in Fullerton, where they pile on over a pound of meat on your sandwich. In the end, first or second time visitors to the fair will enjoy it, especially if you attend with friends and/or family. But as the fair barely changes year after year, attending more than two years in the row yields less excitement. If you have not gone, then I certainly recommend attending next year. If you already have attended, spread the word out to your friends and family. For such a low price to enter, any new attendee will easily get his or her money’s worth.

Free Chocolate Tasting
5:00 pm – 7:00 pm, June 18
Blackmarket Bakery, Costa Mesa

Love chocolate? Sample some artisanal chocolate treats this Tuesday night at the Blackmarket Bakery at The Camp in Costa Mesa, free of charge.

Summer Cocktail Preview
4:00 pm – 7:00 pm, June 19
Hopscotch Tavern, Fullerton

Hopscotch Tavern’s new summer cocktail menu debuts Friday, but you can order any of these at happy hour prices this Wednesday evening. RSVP using the provided link, where each RSVP works for the registrant plus one.

Taste of Little Italy
5:00 pm – 9:00 pm, June 19
Little Italy, Downtown San Diego

Sample the local flavor of Little Italy this Wednesday night, as attendees stroll through Little Italy and sample food directly in each participating business. Attendees pay for a stamp card with boxes representing each participating business. After receiving a sample, that business will stamp their corresponding box. Two different stamp cards exist for a north route and a south route, and each route’s stamp card costs $28 each, while purchasing both costs $42.

Belmont Shore Stroll & Savor
5:30 pm – 9:00 pm, June 19-20
Along 2nd Street, Belmont Shore

This “Taste of Belmont Shore” occurs during the summer months annually from May through August on the third Wednesday and the Thursday immediately after. Attendees may purchase booklets of 12 tickets for $10, and redeem these tickets for food & drink samples from various restaurants along 2nd Street. Buy tickets presale now at Olives Gourmet, La Strada, We Olive, Mail Boxes etc. & Sweet Jill’s, or purchase tickets in front of CHASE BANK during the event.

Dom’s Favorite Burgers
6:00 pm – 9:00 pm, June 19
West Elm South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa

Snag some free burgers, and take pictures with pin-up models on the red carpet at this blogger’s summer kickoff party.

Take Your Dog To Work Day
All day, June 21

As the name suggests, this holiday celebrates man’s best friend by granting a day where pet lovers can bring their darling dog(s) to work. Please consult with your boss/manager/supervisor if you can bring a dog to work!

Jack Bradshaw Dog Show
8:00 am – 5:00 pm, June 21-23
Queen Mary, Long Beach

Watch multiple dog shows and competitions this and next weekend in Long Beach. Free to attend for all ages, breeds will compete in show and athletic contests throughout the weekend. Expect parking to cost $15. Take public transportation (free on the Passport bus) or ride a bike to circumvent the hefty parking fee.

San Diego International Beer Festival
Various times, June 21-23
Del Mar Fairgrounds, Del Mar

The San Diego County Fair will import over 400 beers from around the world for a weekend of beer at the fairgrounds. Over the weekend, the fairgrounds will host five different four-hour sessions of unlimited tastings, and each session will feature different seminars and presentations. General admission costs $55, and includes admission to the rest of the fair plus the souvenir cup. Parking on-site costs $10, while off-site parking with shuttles costs nothing. Although the beer fest takes place in the arena under a roof, the rest of the fair takes place outdoors, so prepare for sunny weather if you choose to venture outside. I highly recommend arriving as early as possible, as each session tends to run out of beer an hour before a session ends.

To Kristen With Love
6:00 pm – 2:00 am, June 21
Old Towne Pub, Pasadena

A punk show, art show, and film premiere take over this small pub this Friday night in Pasadena. For just $10 entry, guests will see lots of local punk rock bands, art, and a film premiere by Seraph Films. The bar will serve drink specials all night, as well as free nachos. You will find the entrance to Old Towne Pub at the end of an alley on Holly St right next to Cafe Linda. Although free parking almost does not exist in this area, a few spots on Corson St have no meters. No one under 21 may enter.

A Wilhelm Scream & The Flatliners @ The Observatory
7:00 pm – 1:00 am, June 21
The Observatory, Santa Ana

A Wilhelm Scream and The Flatliners will start a tour soon, and that tour sweeps through California this week. Catch these two bands plus local openers at this all-ages show for only $13. The venue contains a free parking lot, but late arrivals may need to park in neighboring lots, which require a parking fee.

Steampunk Los Angeles
8:00 pm – 12:30 am, June 21
The Vex, Los Angeles

Art, merchandise, food, music, gadgets, live tattooing, body painting, and more will grace The Vex with their presence this Friday night. For just $20 admission, guests can explore a night of steampunk music and art. Guests under 18 must attend with an adult. Guests can park behind the building, but should take care not to park too deep or risk getting blocked by other cars.

2013 Rental Car Rally – Los Angeles
9:00 pm – 3:00 pm, June 21
Location TBA, Los Angeles

What do you get when you mix Halloween with Mario Kart? You get the Rental Car Rally! This race abandons all conventional means by pitting themed teams against each other as they drive from point A to point B overnight. Instead of which team arrives first, winners reach the destination with the fewest miles traveled while hitting every single checkpoint along the way. Along the way, teams may attempt to interfere with other teams, using methods such as water balloons, water guns, powdered balloons, and other wacky ways that you would normally see in a video game. Words cannot accurately describe the mayhem behind a Rental Car Rally. To understand this, one must commit to competing in this wacky ride.

2nd Annual Long Beach Art in the Park
10:00 am – 3:00 pm, June 22
Bixby Park, Long Beach

Enjoy an afternoon of plenty of family activities, arts & crafts, live music, food trucks, and more, free for all ages.

34th Annual Ocean Beach Street Fair & Chili Cook-off
10:00 am – 8:00 pm, June 22
Newport Avenue, Ocean Beach, San Diego

Have some fun in the sun in Ocean Beach this Saturday at their annual street fair and chili cookoff. At this free and all-ages street fair, tens of thousands of people will stroll through Ocean Beach to check out all the art, live entertainment, vendors, and of course, the chili. Attendees may purchase chili tastings on the day of the event. This area gets extremely crowded with traffic, so plan alternate routes on arriving, and prepare to walk long distances to reach the street fair.

27th Annual Long Beach Bayou & Blues Festival
11:00 am – 9:30 pm, June 22
11:00 am – 8:00 pm, June 23
Rainbow Lagoon Park, Long Beach

Enjoy a weekend of Blues & Jazz music, specialty Cajun & Creole food, a Mardi Gras parade, dancing, kids’ activities, and more. Ticket prices vary, with general admission costing $25 presale, and discounts available for seniors and students. This fest takes place outdoors with very little shade, so dress for the warm weather, and prepare sunscreen.

2013 Tomato Assault – Los Angeles
12:00 pm – 6:00 pm, June 22
Fairplex, Pomona

Time to get down and dirty! Tens of thousands of pounds of tomatoes will fly through the air at this glorified tomato fight. Tomato Assault brings together live music, inflatable objects, a beer garden, food trucks, costume contests, and more all for the love of smacking other people with tomatoes. Registration costs $60, and no one under 21 may attend. Attendees must print, sign, and bring a waiver, found on the website, to the event in order to participate.

Balls For Balls 2013
4:00 pm – 7:00 pm, June 22
Nirvana Bar & Grill, Los Angeles

In a nutshell, gather a team to competitively eat meatballs for charity. The winning team does take a cash prize home. A team of four enters for $60, while individuals enter for $20 and get placed in a random team as a filler. Spectators may enter and watch for free.

Bite Flite
6:00 pm – 9:00 pm, June 22
Bar & Garden, Culver City

Sample burgers, beers, and desserts at this food pairing dinner this Saturday in Culver City. The $22 admission includes a 4-beer flight, a choice of one of four sliders ($3.50 for each additional), and desserts from Mwokaji Cakery. Guests can find free street parking on nearby streets. No one under 21 may attend.

Nekromantix @ The Observatory
7:00 pm – 1:00 am, June 22
The Observatory, Santa Ana

Catch a psychobilly show this Saturday night in Santa Ana, as Nekromantix headlines a show with Graveyard Johnny’s, Dragstrip Demons, Black Rose Phantoms, Crash Cadillacs, and Butchery Boys. The first band starts at 8pm. Tickets to this all-ages show cost $18. The venue contains a free parking lot, but late arrivals may need to park in neighboring lots, which require a parking fee.

CicLAvia – Iconic Wilshire Boulevard
9:00 am – 4:00 pm, June 23
Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles

Wilshire Blvd from Downtown LA to Miracle Mile will close to bikers this Sunday. Cars may not enter the designated areas during this time – only bikers and pedestrians may roam the streets.

4th Annual Summer Solstice Festival & International Taco Festival
12:00 pm – 4:00 pm, June 23
Muckenthaler Cultural Center, Fullerton

Sample worldly cuisine in a tortilla at this taco fest this Sunday afternoon at The Muck in Fullerton. The Summer Solstice Festival, which contains live music, arts & crafts, merchandise, and more, occurs the entire time, and costs nothing to attend for all ages. The Taco Fest starts at 1pm, lasts two hours, and requires an entry fee, which guests pay for at the gate. No one under 21 may attend the Taco Fest, as it also comes with complimentary beer tastings from Bootlegger’s Brewery. Guests may park for free at the venue.

1st Annual Tacolandia
12:00 pm – 5:00 pm, June 23
Hollywood Palladium Parking Lot, Los Angeles

Gorge out on tacos from over 30 chefs from around Southern California and some from Baja at this taco fest in a parking lot. General admission costs $20 and includes unlimited food until it runs out, while VIP admission costs $40 and also includes a hosted bar. Guests of all ages may attend, but adults must have ID to drink.

Santa Monica Wine Festival
5:00 pm – 9:00 pm, June 23
Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica

Sample wines from over 50 wineries on the pier this Sunday evening. General admission costs $50 and starts at 6pm, while VIP admission costs $60 and starts at 5pm. Food comes at a separate cost here. Both admissions include access to Pacific Park, the mini amusement park on the pier. Bring extra cash for parking. Dress for chilly weather, as this takes place at night near the ocean.