Chalk It Up

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Art Walk: Walk the Walk, See the Chalk. Would you like to attend a free gallery viewing? You can, tomorrow (Saturday) from 9 – 4 on 2nd Street in Belmont Shore. It’s the 14th annual Belmont Shore Sidewalk Chalk Art Contest.  Over 100 seasoned and emerging artists will be competing to win cash prizes totaling $1000. Each participant will receive a sheet of art paper to tape onto the sidewalk, and a set of pastels to create their masterpiece. You can wander the street and experience their craftsmanship as they draw, sketch, and blend. If you are interested in seeing the winning pieces, Final Judging and awards will be at 4:10 in front of Chase Bank. Throughout the day (starting at 11,) there will also be art-inspired family fun at Chase Bank. Get in on some drawing lessons, face painting, and mural coloring. This year, Born Free Boutique will be hosting a Tot Art Walk from noon to 6. Each little artist will receive a free paint palette to add to the outdoor creation (and baby wipes for clean-up.) It’s great family time. It’s great daydrinking time. And it’s sure to draw (sorry, I couldn’t resist) a crowd…

 

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Running Man

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It’s that time of the year again! The 33rd annual Long Beach Marathon is tomorrow (Sunday.) The race course is flat – the highest point is merely 54 feet above sea level – and scenic. It starts on Shoreline Drive and heads to the Queen Mary and back, with a tour around the waterfront, then heads towards Belmont Shore on the beach path. There’s a full marathon, and a half marathon. The full marathon starts at 6:00, and the half starts at 7:30. There will be an estimated 20,000 runners in town. That’s a lot of people, and a lot of running, and a lot of closed streets. Street closures begin today at midnight, so make sure you are prepared! (I parked my car yesterday, and it will remain there until Monday.)

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So, you’re not a runner? You don’t want to get up at 6:00 am? You can still participate. Runners have a span of 7 hours to finish the marathon. Participants will be racing through the streets of Belmont Shore for most of the morning. They need your encouragement; 26 miles is a lot! Step out onto the streets and cheer them on. There’s a great atmosphere of neighborly camaraderie and your applause may be that one little push someone needs to get them through the run…

 

 

 

 

Say Cheese

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Mr. and I don’t eat a lot of red meat, but we’re both a sucker for a good burger. A cheeseburger. Any. Burger. Must. Have. Cheese. I love cheese, and it belongs on a burger as much as the beer that goes alongside it. It can be good ol’ American cheese, or something fancy like this Maytag Blue at Tavern on 2 or anything in between. And the burger itself can just be something simple like lettuce, pickles and mustard. Or, it can be extravagant like the Verklempt at Brix. That one is Mr.’s favorite, with pastrami, slaw, swiss, and deli sauce. Ooh! I also love the one at Riley’s that has bacon, brie, grilled onions, and garlic mayo on sourdough. They have a great assortment of burgers (and beer.) In fact, there are many other places on 2nd Street that also have great burgers (and beer.) Why am I waxing on about cheeseburgers? Because today is National Cheeseburger Day! So, whether you throw one on the grill in your backyard, or head out to 2nd Street in BS, you should definitely indulge in a burger (and some beers) for dinner today. The hardest part will be deciding where to go…

 

 

 

Low Rider

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All my friends know the low rider
The low rider is a little higher

(do de doo doo doo doo doo, de doo doo toot doo)  Oh, sorry. I was thinking about cars. Yes, I’m well aware that is not a photo of a low rider. I was thinking about the Belmont Shore Car Show, and this song got stuck in my head. Then, I found this pic from last year’s show. It all makes sense in my mind because there will be ALL kinds of cars there. Classic roadsters, sedans, convertibles, muscle cars, hot rods, low riders, you name it. Many of these cars are one-of-a-kind, limited editions, or customized. The car show takes place tomorrow (Sunday) from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, and it’s free! It’s one of the rare times that 2nd Street is closed to vehicular traffic (I think the Christmas Parade is the only other time) from Livingston to Bayshore. FYI, Bayshore will be open to traffic on Saturday. There’s over 500 cars there, and approximately 40,000 people will be in attendance! What? You don’t know anything about cars. Neither do I. But there will be some beautiful automobiles there. Vendors will be intermingled in the middle of the streets. All of the shops, bars, and restaurants will be open. It’s not too hot out. Grab your friends or family (or go by yourself; I’m sure you’ll see someone you know.) You can go to brunch first, then check out the cars. Or do that first, and have a late lunch. The best way to experience this though, is to mix it up. Wander the streets, stop in somewhere for an adult beverage and a snack, rinse, and repeat as needed…

 

 

 

 

 

Get Baked

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There have been some comings-and-goings of businesses on 2nd Street lately. The corner of 2nd and Argonne has gone through a few changes over the past few years. Urban Table was located there, as was Olives Gourmet Grocery prior to that. Good concepts; I’m not sure why they didn’t do well. There’s a new kid in town on that corner: Pietris Bakery. It’s a Greek bakery with roots traveling all the way back to Corinthia, Greece in the 70s. I stopped in late afternoon yesterday, while I was out and about running errands. Upon entering, it’s light-filled, airy and open. I was a little disappointed to see that the sidewalk seating was no more, but there was a nice amount of indoor seating. I believe you can sit and order a “real” meal from a menu, but I’m not certain what those options are, and their website is not quite complete yet. Almost everything is in glass cases. There was an assortment of ice cream/gelato over on the left. Then, the register, and a case of pastries that contained items like croissants, spanakopita, and other baked delicacies. There was also a cooler with salads, protein bowls, and pre-made sandwiches. Along the back wall was an extensive showcase of sweets like lemon meringue pie, banana pudding, panna cotta, cakes, tarts, etc. They also had a cart full of fresh baked breads varying from traditional Greek loaves to a simple baguette. Everything was very reasonably priced. There was an attendant behind each display, and also a salesperson wandering the floor.

I lingered by the banana pudding, but really wanted to try their spanakopita. I mentioned that I’d like to try one of them, and the wandering salesperson asked if I wanted anything else. “Do you like feta?” (Pronounced “feh-Ta.” Hitting that “T” hard.) Well, yes, I do. It’s cheese for heaven’s sake! And because I’m a carboholic up for trying new things, I purchased the feta bread, too. The spanakopita was a nice pie-sized slice with light, buttery, flaky crust. But I’ll be honest (as I always am,) I prefer George’s. It needed more filling, and was lacking a bit of tang I so love in Mediterranean food. Now, the feta bread was another story. It was slightly larger than a brioche bun, and you could see little crumbs of feta, and oregano sprinkled on top. Very unassuming. But, when I bit into it, I could tell it was just one of those things where ingredients really make the difference. It was a marginally sweet, very fluffy dough, with a slight crust on the bottom. I could taste the olive oil, and the oregano. But the best part was the tiny air pockets that had little pieces of feta hidden inside. I only ate half of each yesterday, and I couldn’t wait until this morning to finish the other half of that bread! It’s definitely a place that will be on my radar; I’ll have to check into the whole sit-down-and-be-served option. I think what would make it ideal would be to have some other offerings to go with the bread, like some cheeses, olives, marinated peppers. Then again, maybe I’m just getting greedy…

 

 

 

 

Aloha!

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Aloha neighbors! No, we’re not suddenly in Hawaii, we’re just getting ready for the Tiki Beach Festival this weekend. Summer is wrapping up (I know – already?!) and this is a great way to celebrate on the beach. There will be live music and dancing, Polynesian food, an island marketplace, and “tropical libations” (yum!) It takes place on Granada Beach in BS, and is FREE. Saturday it begins at 9, and Sunday it begins at 10. I like to go Saturday afternoon/evening because that night, they have the Night of Fire Spectacular. Trust me, you don’t wanna’ miss it! So, if you didn’t get a chance to take a vacation this year, head to the Tiki Festival and soak in some of that island spirit…

 

 

Rock On

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We live in a fantastic community. But, I think sometimes, we can forget how wonderful it is, or how special we – as individuals who make up the greater whole – are. Or maybe, we just go about our everyday business not expecting anything exceptional to happen. But what if that were different? What if you were having a bad day, and stumbled across a token in the grocery store parking lot that made you smile? What if you were out at the park, and found a trinket that reminded you just how beautiful Long Beach is? Groups are forming across the US to be able to inspire other people with something simple: rocks.  Justin Rudd, the founder of the Community Action Team (and general Mr. Long Beach,) created the Long Beach Rocks Facebook Page so people can connect and get inspired. What can you do to be a part of this motion? It’s simple; paint rocks with fun or inspiring images or sayings, and leave them around town for others to find. If you find one, take a photo of yourself with it and share it on that page’s wall. Visit the page to find tips and inspo. Get your children involved, or school or church or work friends. Better yet, have a rock-painting-wine-tasting party! Have fun with it and take pride in knowing #LongBeachRocks…

 

Hoppiness Is

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Hoppiness is an IPA. Happy IPA Day! There’s nothing quite like that hoppy, citrus-ey bite you get from IPAs; by far, these are my beer of choice. Some great establishments in BS serve an assortment of them. You can sit on the 2nd floor balcony of Murphy’s and enjoy a bottle. Or, head over to Rance’s where they have like 30 beers on tap; and, I think Simmzy’s has even more. One of my go-to places on 2nd Street is Tavern on 2. While their draught selection may be smaller, they do have an extensive bottle collection, and they always have one of my favorites (Ballast Point Sculpin) on tap. Now, I could get into the origins of IPAs; how they were created for British sailors making the long voyage to India. We could have a discussion about the complex flavors of IPAs; what “hoppiness” means, why people like “bitter” beers. Or, I could just tell you to get out there and have a few…

 

 

 

 

 

Rajun Cajun!

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Ooooh-wee! Long Beach is about to get down with some Cajun partying this weekend! The Long Beach Crawfish Festival begins this evening, and runs through Sunday. This is one of my favorite events in LB (even though it’s not in BS.) Literally tons of crawfish are brought in, along with many other delicious New Orleans-inspired delicacies. Here’s a hint: if two of you are going, get only one of the crawfish feasts and split it, so you can sample all of the other tasty treats! But the food and booze aren’t the only reasons this is so fun, it’s the music! When you hear that Zydeco beat, there is no way you’ll stay off of the dance floor. You can’t help but smile when the parade of traditionally-costumed characters snakes its way through the crowds: umbrellas twirling, beads swinging, trombones, trumpets, and tubas joyfully proclaiming “let the good times roll!” Don’t worry, it’s not adults-only. This is a family-friendly event with a kids zone, and kids activities. So, the whole family can come and enjoy the festivities. Now, where did I put my stretchy pants…?

 

Juicy Couture

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Y’all know how much I love Summer: beach days, free festivals, late evening sunsets. But one of the best things about Summer is the produce. Being in SoCal, we can pretty much get “Summer” produce all year long. But you can definitely taste the difference in the Summer months. Watermelon is juicer, berries are sweeter, tomatoes are more luscious. I could just eat a big bowl of berries for breakfast; no yogurt, no whipped cream, just berries. Or tomatoes. Just slice one up, and sprinkle with a little salt & pepper. Makes the best lunch. Sometimes, I like to get fancy and throw on a blob of burrata, some fresh torn basil, and chili flakes. My favorite place to get my fruits and veggies are farmers markets.  We are so fortunate that we have so many to chose from. There are multiple farmers markets throughout Long Beach 6 days of the week! My favorite one is the Long Beach Southeast Farmers Market on Sundays from 9-2. That’s the official name. I just call it the Farmers Market by The Marina. IDK why it’s my favorite. It’s smaller. It’s larger. It’s more organized. I think really it’s just because it’s on the water. Now, please excuse me while I go scarf down slice up a tomato…