Archive for May, 2015

The hot summer days lend perfectly to grilling weather. As an American tradition, people officially start the grilling season on Memorial Day weekend, as that signifies many things. First off, on that weekend, Americans celebrate an important federal holiday to celebrate and honor the lives of those lost while serving for the United States Armed Forces. The weather starts to significantly heat up by this weekend, following the inconsistent weather of April and much of May. As a result of the warmer weather, Americans take advantage of a holiday weekend off of work until the next federal holiday, Independence Day, to gather some friends & family for a party involving grilling. When thinking about grilling for a group of people, what food exactly comes to mind? All sorts of foods can cook on a grill, from meat to vegetables and more. However, across all people who utilize their grill, barbecue meats rank as the top favorite food to cook on the grill. While beef burgers get consumed the most, other forms of beef also see grill time, such as ribs, tri-tip, and brisket. For enhanced flavor, use a fatty meat since much of the fat will drip out in the grill, so you will want meat higher in fat to preserve its moisture. For the perfect example of moist, juicy meat, look no further than Smoke City Market.

Out in the San Fernando Valley, the people love their BBQ meats. Plenty of BBQ restaurants exist in the San Fernando Valley, and it takes a while to visit them all to evaluate their meat. If you seek a great spot to start, check out Smoke City Market in Sherman Oaks. Smoke City Market serves up traditional Texas-style BBQ with full attention and care to highlighting the natural flavor of the meat. As a BBQ restaurant, they carry a typical lineup of meat types: ribs, brisket, chicken, pulled pork, sausages, plus a few extras such as pastrami and turkey. Sides include the typical coleslaw, beans, chili, mac & cheese, and more. Their care to the natural quality of the meat comes out the best in their Beef Brisket (Moist). Unlike their Brisket (Lean) that removes the fat, the moist brisket uses the meat’s natural fat for flavoring. This preserves the texture of the meat so that each bite carries a rigid bite, where every nook & cranny holds a pocket of… fat, for lack of better words. Also if you arrive at Smoke City Market early enough, you may receive the end cuts of the brisket that holds the most flavor. If you manage to acquire the brisket ends, you may never want brisket from another restaurant ever again.

Got a hankering for delicious beef brisket? Make an appointment to visit Smoke City Market to savor it, and consider bringing friends & family along too. For more media on Smoke City Market, like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter for news about menu items and upcoming events. Additionally, download their mobile app, available for Apple and Android devices, to preview their menu on the go and make preorders.

The Santa Ana edition of the Spring 2014 Patchwork Indie Arts & Crafts Festival wrapped up this past Sunday in Downtown Santa Ana. This semi-annual arts & crafts fair consists of a series of Sunday fests at three different locations: Santa Ana, Long Beach, and Oakland. Patchwork Fest emphasizes supporting the local community, and does so by not allowing anything corporate within the boundaries. To envision Patchwork Fest, imagine an arts & crafts fair, but catered to a modern trendy crowd that features local independent designers. Many locals set up their booths here, selling their wares, merchandise, apparel, accessories, foods, desserts, music, and so on. Twice a year, thousands of visitors descend upon Patchwork Fest to discover and revisit the hundreds of vendors present. No matter who shows up, all visitors will definitely find something that will please their interests.

The Patchwork Fest series happens twice a year: in Spring and Fall. With each series, it runs weekend after weekend at different locations. The next Patchwork Fest will occur in Long Beach in a few weeks. In addition to new foods to try, the lineup of vendors changes, so you may find some great new gifts for your friends & family. Like Patchwork on Facebook and follow them on Twitter to see what they have in store for you at future shows. For a free fest, what have you got to lose?

San Diego County has no shortage of microbreweries, and as a result, beer events occur almost every weekend. One particular event occurred at Saint Archer Brewery in the Miramar neighborhood of San Diego County. This past weekend, they celebrated their second anniversary at their tasting room. In just those two years, Saint Archer has ramped up a huge following (compared to a handful of breweries that still keep to their own location) and their anniversary celebration showed the fruits of their efforts. At this all-day celebration, Saint Archer released special beers on tap and cask, along with an ongoing raffle throughout the day, brewery tours, food trucks, and more activities. Although anyone could have simply entered the tasting room and ordered a beer or two as per regular business hours, Saint Archer had sold tasting packages that consisted of a souvenir glass, beer tastings, a raffle ticket, and brewery stickers. Other anniversary goodies existed for purchase too, such as t-shirts, bottle openers, tote bags, and more.

In the end, I settled to enjoy just one nice cold pint of one of their special brews. For one of the newer breweries, Saint Archer has quickly established themselves as one of the young ones who carries a big stick. Stick around to see what Saint Archer has in store for the craft beer community by liking them on Facebook and following them on Twitter. With plenty of beer events coming in the next few months, expect that Saint Archer will make their presence felt there.

The 7th Annual Santee Street Fair & Craft Beer Festival returned to the streets around the Santee Trolley Square this past Saturday. Unlike previous years where the festival covered an entire weekend, this year’s festival reduced to just one entire day. At this free and all-ages street fair, thousands of visitors got to check out hundreds of local vendors of food, treats, home goods, accessories, services, and more. Live music across a few stages prevented silence from rising, while multiple activities existed that allowed everyone to occupy themselves for quite some time. On one end, the fair had a carnival section complete with games and rides. On another end, a gated beer garden featured seven local breweries and allowed visitors of age to enjoy local flavors. The multitude of vendors throughout the street fair provided all sorts of products and services, meaning that almost anyone can find something neat to buy and bring home. The Santee Street Fair occurs around late May every year at the same place, so whether you live in San Diego County or live out of town, if you ever find yourself with free time during this weekend, head on over to Santee and check out what a small town can deliver.

57th Annual Garden Grove Strawberry Festival
1:00 pm – 10:00 pm, May 22
10:00 am – 10:00 pm, May 23-24
10:00 am – 9:00 pm, May 25
Village Green, Garden Grove

This free annual all-ages city fair features rides, games, vendors, food, contests, live entertainment, a parade, and more. Despite its name, the festival does not liberally give out strawberries or sell it – it just uses strawberries as its theme. Guests may go on rides with all-day wristbands, which cost $30 each, or just $25 on Friday.

Fiesta Hermosa
10:00 am – 6:00 pm, May 23-25
Downtown Hermosa Beach

Fiesta Hermosa returns to the streets of Downtown Hermosa Beach this weekend. Free to park and attend, this street fair will have food, drinks, music, arts & crafts, games, rides, vendors, and more. You cannot park AT the event – for those driving, you must park at the Northrop Grumman Building at Marine & Aviation in Redondo Beach, and a free shuttle will carry you to and from the fest and parking lot.

Refused – Live in Southern California
7:00 pm – 12:00 am, May 25, The Observatory, Santa Ana
8:00 pm – 1:00 am, May 26, The Roxy Theatre, West Hollywood

One of the most influential bands in the history of punk rock embark on a cross-country tour starting this week in Southern California. Tickets to these all-ages shows have sold out long ago, but you may still find them on after-market sites.

Deschutes Tap Takeover @ Blue Palms
4:00 pm – 10:00 pm, May 27
Blue Palms Brewhouse, Hollywood

Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery will take over the taps at Blue Palms this Wednesday night. Stop on by and check out the vast beer portfolio of Deschutes.

Neon Retro Arcade Community Fundraiser
12:00 pm – 10:00 pm, May 28
Neon Retro Arcade, Pasadena

Get your gaming on in Pasadena this Thursday, and 50% of admission and gift card sales will go towards charity.

King Harbor & Telegraph Brewing Tap Takeover
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm, May 28
Select Beer Store, Redondo Beach

Both King Harbor Brewing and Telegraph Brewing will split the taps at Select Beer Store in Redondo Beach this Thursday night, which will include the two breweries’ collaboration brew.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon – San Diego
11:00 am – 7:00 pm, May 29
7:00 am – 5:00 pm, May 30
6:00 am – 2:30 pm, May 31
San Diego Convention Center/Balboa Park/Petco Park, San Diego

A full weekend of running festivities will take place in San Diego this week. On Friday and Saturday, a health & fitness expo will take place at the San Diego Convention Center. On Saturday morning, a 5K run will take place near Balboa Park. Finally, on Sunday morning, the main marathon and half marathon will take place. Participation in each event varies depending on the event and age of participant, so check the website for pricing information.

2015 Orange County Home & Garden Show
12:00 pm – 7:00 pm, May 29
10:00 am – 7:00 pm, May 30
10:00 am – 6:00 pm, May 31
Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim

This all-ages expo will showcase the latest in home improvement, remodeling, interior-design, decorating, landscaping, and more. Admission costs $8, but print the coupon below to enter for free.

Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival
3:00 pm – 10:00 pm, May 29
6:00 am – 10:00 pm, May 30
6:00 am – 5:00 pm, May 31
Lake Skinner Recreation Area, Winchester

Taste wines and fly in hot-air balloons during this three-day festival out in the Temecula Valley. In addition, enjoy live music, local food, craft beer, and other forms of entertainment. Admission varies from $5 up to $50, so see the website for more details.

Brea SummerFest 2015
5:00 pm – 11:00 pm, May 29
12:00 pm – 11:00 pm, May 30
12:00 pm – 10:00 pm, May 31
St. Angela Merici School, Brea

Brea brings all of the elements of a state fair into one weekend with their annual SummerFest. Find food, rides, live entertainment, games, vendors, and more at this weekend-long fair for the entire family. Guests may enter and park for free – please adhere all signs for parking and entering the fest.

South Central Skankers: Live in Long Beach
7:30 pm – 1:30 am, May 29
Blacklight District Lounge, Long Beach

Rock out to some great local bands this Friday night in Long Beach. Tickets to this show cost $8 presale or $10 at the door. No one under 21 may enter.

Strung Out – Live at House of Blues
7:30 pm – 12:30 am, May 29, House of Blues, West Hollywood
7:00 pm – 12:00 am, May 30, House of Blues, San Diego

Punk band Strung Out will headline two shows in Southern California this week. Tickets to these all-ages shows vary in price, so check the links above for prices.

Barb Wire Dolls & A Pretty Mess @ The Vu Bar
8:30 pm – 1:30 am, May 29
The Vu Bar, Santa Clarita

Enjoy some live punk rock music in Santa Clarita this Friday night. The cover for this show costs $5 if entering before 9pm, or $7 afterwards. No one under 21 may enter.

Idea Fest Long Beach 2015
10:00 am – 5:00 pm, May 30
Orizaba Park, Long Beach

At this free and all-ages event, gain entertainment through education with workshops, classes, demos, arts & crafts, seminars, exhibits, and more. The content covers a wide variety of topics, so check out the website to see what the event will cover.

Cismontane Brewing 5th Anniversary Party
12:00 pm – 6:00 pm, May 30
Cismontane Brewing, Rancho Santa Margarita

Cismontane turns five years old this year, and to celebrate, they will have a beer tasting event at their tasting room in Rancho Santa Margarita this Saturday afternoon. Admission costs $35 presale or $40 at the door, and includes eight 9oz pours (72 ounces!) and a t-shirt. Cismontane will also have events for Friday and Sunday, so check their social media feeds for more information.

Punk Rock Luau Summer Kick off
1:00 pm – 10:00 pm, May 30
The World Famous Doll Hut, Anaheim

Enjoy a full day of local punk rock music at the World Famous Doll Hut in Anaheim this Saturday. The cover for this show costs only $5. No one under 21 may enter.

2015 Long Beach Bike Fest
1:00 pm – 11:00 pm, May 30
The Pike, Long Beach

Enjoy a family-fun day filled with bike activities, vendors, and exhibits at the finish line of the Tour of Long Beach, located at The Pike right next to the Laugh Factory. This free all-ages event will feature bike exhibits, live entertainment, a bike valet, rides, games, vendors, food, a mini beer fest hosted by Beachwood BBQ, and more. The mini beer fest has no admission fee, but costs $20 for ten 5oz beer tastings. In addition to beers from Beachwood Brewing, other local breweries will make an appearance too.

Pepper Tree Brewery’s 1st Annual “A Taste of Summer”
2:00 pm – 6:00 pm, May 30
Pepper Tree Brewery, Riverside

Check out this small brewery as they provide two beers for the public to taste for FREE.

10th Annual Los Angeles Wine Fest
2:00 pm – 6:00 pm, May 30
12:00 pm – 5:00 pm, May 31
Raleigh Studios, Hollywood

Want to sample up to over 500 wines, brews, and spirits from around the world? Head to LA Wine Fest this weekend, where you will find plenty of good drinks, cooking demos, live entertainment, seminars, food trucks, boutiques, merchandise, and more. Ticket prices vary depending on how you choose to attend, with a general admission ticket starting at $70. This fest takes place outdoors with limited shade, so prepare for a day in the sun. Bring cash for the parking lot across the street, unless you get lucky and find street parking.

Spring 2015 Balboa Island Wine Walk
3:00 pm – 7:00 pm, May 30
Balboa Island, Newport Beach

Put on your walking shoes and bring your sense of fashion to Balboa Island this Saturday afternoon. At this event, attendees will receive a souvenir wine glass that they can take to various participating businesses on Balboa Island (map provided at event) to sip on wine and explore the businesses of Balboa Island. During this self-guided tour, check out the various shopping specials and food specials while you sip the day away. General admission costs $40 presale or $45 on the day of the event and includes ten wine tastings. VIP admission costs $75 and includes a VIP entrance, exclusive wines, a goodie bag, and access to a post-event party.

4th Craft Beer + Bites @ SILO: New Brewery Edition
3:00 pm – 7:00 pm, May 30
SILO in Makers Quarter, San Diego

This mini beer fest takes place close to Downtown San Diego this Saturday evening. For $25 presale or $30 at the door, attendees get treated to ten pairings of tapas and craft beer. In addition, attendees will find outdoor games (bocce ball, beanbag toss, glorified Jenga, and more) and local designers/makers. Attendees may even bring their pets as well! No one under 21 may attend.

3rd Annual Local Brews & Local Grooves
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm, May 30
House of Blues, Anaheim

Sample beers from 20 breweries while enjoying the sounds of local musicians at this food & beer event this Saturday evening at House of Blues in Downtown Disney in Anaheim. Admission costs $12, while the tasting wristband costs $15 and come with five taste tickets, good towards food or beer.

Rocket From The Crypt @ The Observatory
7:00 pm – 1:00 am, May 30
The Observatory, Santa Ana

Catch Rocket From The Crypt, The Bronx, and more at this all-ages punk rock show at The Observatory in Santa Ana this Saturday night. Tickets cost $20.

Teenage Bottlerocket – On Tour
8:00 pm – 1:00 am, May 30, The Observatory’s Constellation Room, Santa Ana
8:00 pm – 1:00 am, May 31, Soda Bar, Normal Heights, San Diego

Teenage Bottlerocket currently tours across the country, and that tour will swing through Southern California this and next week. Tickets to these all-ages shows cost $12 each.

9:00 am – 4:00 pm, May 31
Old Town Pasadena

Much of Colorado Blvd and surrounding streets in Pasadena will close to bikers this Sunday afternoon. Cars may not enter the designated areas during this time – only bikers and pedestrians may roam the streets.

5th Annual Taste of the Eastside
4:00 pm – 8:00 pm, May 31
Los Angeles River Center & Gardens, Los Angeles

Sample the best of East LA’s restaurants this Sunday evening. At this all-ages tasting, guests can receive unlimited food samples from all of the 20+ participating vendors. Admission comes in three levels and varies depending on when you purchase it, starting at $50 and rising up to $100 – check the website for pricing details.

The Spring 2015 Santa Ana Patchwork Indie Arts & Crafts Festival returns to W 2nd St & N Sycamore St in Downtown Santa Ana this coming Sunday. This semi-annual arts & crafts fair consists of a series of Sunday fairs in Long Beach, Oakland, and Santa Ana. To envision Patchwork Fest, imagine an arts & crafts fair, but catered to a modern trendy crowd. As I describe it to others, imagine an art fair full of hipsters, but in a non-offensive way. The many local vendors set up their booths here, selling their wares, merchandise, apparel, accessories, foods, desserts, music, and so on.

Completely free to attend to the public, Patchwork Fest openly welcomes pets, and boasts a free bike valet for visitors. Each branch of the streets will feature over a hundred different local vendors all selling their various goods and/or services. Check out the few music booths around the area, which will host local musicians. Visitors who get hungry can enjoy fresh hot eats from the various food vendors throughout the event area, or can browse through the various food booths in the fest for portable eats.

As a FREE event open to all ages and all pets, Patchwork Fest presents a welcome opportunity to support the local community. Commuting visitors should look for parking in the neighborhood to the south. Come experience what makes Patchwork Fest a repeat success, and support local businesses while having fun this Sunday. Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter for news on upcoming events.

More often than not, a beer festival starts out fun, but ends up turning into a drunk fest. Some beer festivals only care about filling people up with beer, while the better festivals deliver the quality beer from local microbreweries. Regardless of the size, the latter easily applies to Eagle Rock Brewery, a well-known microbrewery in the greater Los Angeles area. Eagle Rock Brewery’s take on approachable beers full of flavor makes them great for both casual beer drinkers and craft beer enthusiasts. One could find both of these types of people at Eagle Rock Brewery’s 5th Annual Session Fest this past Sunday, a beer tasting event dedicated to session beers. For those unfamiliar, session beers carry lots of flavor while keeping alcohol content low. This allows drinkers to enjoy more beers in a given time frame without overloading on alcohol or killing the palate with strong or hoppy beers. This year, Eagle Rock Brewery switched things up by inviting other local breweries to bring their session beers in to sample to guests. Doing this shows that not only Eagle Rock does session beers – other breweries churn out session beers too.

Keeping with tradition of Session Fest, all of the staff at Eagle Rock Brewery contributed towards the beer selection at Session Fest. Every staff member brewed their own session beer for the fest, based on their personal taste preference. The other breweries served their session beers from the tasting room, while all the Eagle Rock Brewery beers poured from the brewhouse. Anticipating a greater turnout this year, their brewhouse received a reshuffle to allow more guests to hang out inside. In addition, they finally have air circulating in the brewhouse, eliminating the heat issue that occurred last year. Guests paid $15 at the counter to receive three 8oz pours of any session beer of their choice, plus the glass to take home. If guests wanted more than three beers, they could purchase more tasters at cost.

With a greater selection of beers this time around, some guests would have a hard time deciding which beers to taste. Keeping in mind that guest breweries brought beers that they normally serve, I opted to seek out the Eagle Rock Brewery beers, as nobody can try any of these beers anywhere else but during Session Fest. As expected, these beers contained just as much flavor as the same category of beer, but with lower alcohol content.

Microbreweries like Eagle Rock Brewery prove that craft beer represents more than just higher alcohol beer. Microbreweries place an emphasis on flavor and ingredients, not alcohol percentage. It just so happens that more alcohol may result from certain ingredients added into the brewing process. In a culture where people look at absolute percentages to rate beers, we often overlook that some of the most popular local beers have relatively low alcohol content. Session beers allow us to appreciate the ingredients that go into our drinks without the worry of getting drunk too quickly. Cheers to Eagle Rock Brewery for raising awareness of beers for their flavor rather than strength. Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter for future happenings from Eagle Rock.