Thursday, May 6, 2010
We have brunch ideas for your Mother's Day as well as beer and beach ideas for your Saturday. And we can't forget an event where you can drive a Mars rover! We'll get weekend recommendations from two culture scouts in the know.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): From Mother's Day to Space Day, it's shaping up to be a great weekend here in San Diego. And even if you’re cranky enough not to want to celebrate moms or space, it's the first weekend in May, totally enough reason to go out and do something fabulous. Here to talk about all the fabulous things going on are my Weekend Preview guests. Erin Chambers Smith is the senior editor of the Balboa Park Online Collaborative and former editor of San Diego Citysearch. And, Erin, good morning.
ERIN CHAMBERS SMITH (Senior Editor, Balboa Park Online Collaborative): Good morning. Always good to be here.
CAVANAUGH: Derrik Chinn is a content producer for Sign on San Diego, where he writes about music and nightlife. Good to see you, Derrik.
DERRIK CHINN (Content Producer, signonsandiego.com): You as well. Good morning.
CAVANAUGH: Let’s start out with Mother’s Day. It’s this Sunday. Erin, you’ve got a couple of options you want to mention for families looking to treat mom. Let’s start with the brunch options and Anthology.
SMITH: Yeah, Anthology has a really neat Mother’s Day brunch option that pairs a really great brunch menu, buffet brunch, with live music. Anthology’s a great jazz venue, acoustically designed for really good jazz but they have all kinds of live music acts that come in there. It’s three stories. It’s really kind of a neat event space in Little Italy. And they have a great chef there that does really great locally focused menus. For Mother’s Day, they – I saw on their menu, they had strawberry and candied ginger muffins that they bake right there in their restaurant. That sounded amazing to me. And then they have a little bit of a southern influence a lot of times on their menu, which does change all the time, and they have a chicken and – fried chicken and waffles, also, for Mother’s Day, this brunch. And then their house band is going to be playing sort of a medley of different songs but all from famous women, so like Beyonce, Billie Holiday, that kind of thing. It’s kind of fun.
CAVANAUGH: Now, Grant Grill is offering a traditional afternoon tea setup. Now tell us about what’s involved in a traditional afternoon tea.
SMITH: Yeah, so the Grant Grill, they’re doing a Mother’s Day brunch on Sunday but on Saturday they’re doing like a mother/daughter afternoon tea setup. Very traditional with the – sort of the three tiered tray with tea sandwiches and scones and coddled cream to spread on your scones, and a wide variety of assorted loose leaf kind of teas to make a really nice cup of tea. They also have a Bellini and champagne and things like that available. So a little bit elegant, a little bit fancy, if you want to spend a little bit of money and treat mom to something special.
CAVANAUGH: And that’s on the Saturday before Mother’s Day.
SMITH: That’s on the Saturday before, and then they do have a very traditional champagne brunch on Sunday.
CAVANAUGH: Very interesting.
CAVANAUGH: There’s also a Mother’s Day brunch at the zoo. Where in the zoo is this brunch?
SMITH: Okay, this, I think, is such a fun thing. It’s at the – it’s in the Treetops Room at the zoo, and I didn’t really know that you could hold private events at the zoo but you can have weddings and private events. They actually have a couple of different spaces within the zoo. And on Mother’s Day, they’re opening up one of those spaces, it’s the Treetops Room, and it’s literally up in the treetops above one of the exhibits. They have a great outdoor deck, and it kind of almost looks like one of those rooms like inside a private hotel space or something. But this one’s all decked out with sort of an African theme and they have a big buffet brunch in there for moms on Mother’s Day.
CAVANAUGH: Is it expensive?
SMITH: Well, that depends. If you’re a member of the zoo, you can, you know, use your zoo membership card to get into the zoo and then the brunch is $34.95 for adults and $17.95 for kids. Now, if you’re not a member at the zoo, you have to pay the zoo membership and then the extra, the extra money for the brunch.
CAVANAUGH: I see. I see.
SMITH: But it is going to be a very nice brunch. A make-your-own omelette bar and, you know, champagne and the whole nine yards.
CAVANAUGH: Do you have any options for Mother’s Day that are free?
SMITH: Yep, there’s lots of free stuff going on. The museum of – The San Diego Museum of History in Balboa Park is free all day for moms as long as you buy a child’s ticket. They’re doing a raffle and they’re giving away an A.R. Valentien sort of designed scarf and a lot of fun activities for moms at the Natural History Museum. And then actually the San Diego State School of Music and Dance is putting on a free concert at the Organ Pavilion Sunday evening at five o’clock. They’re going to have a whole medley of different kind of songs. I think the Kiwanis Club is also sponsoring that with them.
CAVANAUGH: Well, thank you, Erin, and happy Mother’s Day to everyone out there.
SMITH: Yeah, I’m not a mom yet but Happy Mother’s Day to my mom.
CAVANAUGH: Well, Derrik, you want to recommend an event for those who want to relive their prom. Now who would want to do that?
CHINN: Oh, I think that one’s for the therapist. The Pearl Hotel is hosting a vintage prom on Saturday night. It turns out May is Brain Tumor Awareness Month and so this is a benefit for the San Diego Brain Tumor Foundation.
CAVANAUGH: Interesting. Okay, so do you have to wear prom attire?
CHINN: Well, that’s kind of the idea. Anything goes if it’s from the fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties, anything. Even if you want to wear the poofy gold lame gown that you wore to your prom in whatever, in 1990, it goes, you know? As long as you can zip it up, it goes. I don’t know.
CAVANAUGH: That’s the question, isn’t it?
CHINN: Well, for me, it would be my opportunity to wear a tux that maybe isn’t a rental and isn’t three sizes too big.
CAVANAUGH: Uh-huh, and is light blue, right?
CAVANAUGH: Now one of the good things about this event is that it’s at the Pearl. Tell us about that.
CHINN: Well, the Pearl is a boutique hotel in Point Loma, and if you haven’t seen it, it’s definitely worth checking out. Even though it’s a hotel, they have a great bar and a heated saltwater pool where on Wednesdays they screen movies. So it has this – it’s basically a lounge. Like many – San Diego being such a tourist destination, we’ve adapted well to enjoying our own hotels as if they were bars or lounges. It used to be a kind of a gringy, grimey sportsmens lodge or, I was told, fishermen used to hang out at the end of the day. But they’ve…
SMITH: Uh-huh. Yeah, my husband’s family is Portuguese and they have lots of fishermen in their family and lots of old stories about that hotel way before it was cool and hip and the Pearl.
CAVANAUGH: Wow, okay.
CHINN: They’ve scrubbed the boulders. I’m sure it was covered in smoke and grime, God knows what else. But it’s beautiful now. It’s been open for a couple years. And, yeah.
CAVANAUGH: Okay, so this vintage prom, will there be a deejay? Will there be a king and queen of the prom? Will they be doing the whole nine yards?
CHINN: I was too busy thinking about what I could wear. But I’m sure that – I know there will be punch.
CHINN: And there will be a raffle. Tickets are $15.00 per single for if you want to go alone, or $25.00 for a couple, and then they jump to $25.00 per single and $30.00 for a couple at the door.
CAVANAUGH: That’s really a way to relive your prom, is go in alone.
SMITH: Yeah, going stag, oh, gosh.
CHINN: Yeah, yeah.
CAVANAUGH: Going with your brother. Vintage Prom takes place Friday night at the Pearl in Point Loma. Erin, a San Diego restaurant recently made some changes. What’s been happening at the Bali Hai restaurant on Shelter Island?
SMITH: Yeah, we’re going to stick around Point Loma for a little while longer this segment. The Bali Hai went through a remodel and a big restoration the past couple of months and just finally reopened a couple of weeks ago at the end of April.
CAVANAUGH: And what’s – So what’s physically changed about the restaurant?
SMITH: You know, I just – I’m really kind of proud of them. This is like an old San Diego landmark and I think that they did a really good job. It’s sort of an exercise in restraint. It definitely needed a bit of a sprucing up but they didn’t change everything. I mean, the Bali Hai, it’s very sort of sixties, mid-century, tiki sheik kind of a place, and they kept all that feel. When you walk in, it still feels like that. They still have the old beams in the ceiling but they added some architectural details to the outside. Graham Downes, you know, a very well known architect here locally, did some work to the outside. They really opened up the inside of it, so I’m sure a lot of your listeners and a lot of people in San Diego know that, you know, the mai tais at the bar in the Bali Hai, those are legendary. The bar’s still there up on the second floor, but they’ve really opened it up so when you walk in you can see straight through the bar out to the ocean. And this is right out on the end of Shelter Island, so, really, I mean, these are some of the best, best views in the city.
CAVANAUGH: I can imagine, yeah.
SMITH: And they’ve really maximized them. So there’s a new deck on the second floor so – and I went there to a couple of the opening parties and some media events and things and, I mean, sitting out on that deck on the second floor, it has all clear glass walls on the deck and it literally feels like you’re sitting in the middle of the bay looking out at everything. And they also have a new fire pit downstairs and a lot of people hold weddings and private events there and they kind of made that section of the restaurant more permanent with a structure rather than a tent. So they just did a really good job of sprucing it up but it still feels kind of old school, like the old San Diego place.
CAVANAUGH: And they also changed the food a little bit. I mean, they have a new chef and – and has the menu changed, therefore?
SMITH: The menu has definitely changed. They have a new chef, Chris Powell, who was most recently at the Rancho Valencia Resort up in sort of the Rancho Santa Fe area. He’s down. And they do – the menu is new. There’s a few things that are still there. The Chicken of the Gods thing on the menu that everybody loved, that’s still there. There’s one of the appetizer options that every – that’s sort of a, you know, a classic, has stayed on. But the majority of the menu is new and I think it’s a lot better. It’s just a little bit lighter, a lot more local produce and local ingredients, and just a little bit lighter and more modern, you know what I mean? The restaurant’s been open for, what, 30 or 40 years so it kind of was ready for a little bit of a facelift. But, still, it’s the same owners, the Baumans, locally own. Tom Ham was the one that bought it and started it, you know, many years ago so it’s still the same family and I just – I love to see an old San Diego restaurant sort of shift and change to stay relevant with all the new places opening but still have a little bit of soul. So I’m excited about this one.
CAVANAUGH: Okay. The Bali Hai restaurant on Shelter Island is back open with a new look and a new menu. Derrik, a Welsh singer/songwriter performs at The Loft on Saturday night. Tell us about Cate Le Bon.
CHINN: Cate Le Bon is a Welsh singer/songwriter, like you said. She’s often compared to Nico of the Velvet Underground. She’s dark.
CHINN: And she usually – she sings both in English and Welsh. This is her first – she just released her first solo effort. Her last album, which was just an EP was all entirely in Welsh but this album is in English. And she’s making a lot of waves even though she’s a new name on the scene.
CAVANAUGH: Now, you know, Duran Duran, Simon Le Bon, there’s no – is there any relation there?
CHINN: Oh, I don’t know. I do love the Duran Duran but I’m not sure.
CAVANAUGH: We don’t know. We have to find that out. You describe her lyrics as dark. Why do you say that?
CHINN: Well, I read that she credits her – Well, I know that she only writes in the dark.
CAVANAUGH: In the dark?
CHINN: In the dark.
SMITH: That’s interesting.
CHINN: Yeah, which, I would imagine, is easy to do in Northern Europe. And she credits a lengthy line of pet deaths as a child for inspiring her, her dark lyrics. But if you listen to it, it’s not – I don’t think it’s terribly sad as you would think it would be.
CHINN: But it’s – Yeah, you can definitely hear Nico and it’s laced with electronica and some psychedelica. It’s sixties sounding as well.
CAVANAUGH: We do have a cut but before we hear it, I – her last album is called “Me Oh My,” and, Derrik, what do you think of it?
CHINN: Well, it’s pretty folksy throughout and the working title was actually “Pet Deaths,” fittingly, so…
SMITH: Oh, gosh.
CAVANAUGH: She’s not kidding.
CHINN: But like I said, her first release was a Welsh language EP, which was released in 2008, and then her last album just came out.
CAVANAUGH: Okay, let’s hear Cate Le Bon. This is the title track of her 2009 album, “Me Oh My.”
(audio clip of Cate Le Bon performing “Me Oh My”)
CAVANAUGH: That’s “Me Oh My” by Cate Le Bon. I was hoping she would sing in Welsh. I’ve never heard anybody speak – sing in Welsh.
CHINN: Yeah, I should’ve brought some of that, too. But, yeah, you can hear Nico, right?
CAVANAUGH: Yeah, but Nico is like much lower.
CAVANAUGH: This is like Nico with, you know…
CHINN: In a sundress.
CAVANAUGH: In a sundress.
CHINN: In the dark.
CAVANAUGH: Thank you very much. That’s exactly right. Cate Le Bon plays The Loft at UCSD on Saturday night. Erin, the San Diego Air & Space Museum is celebrating Space Day this Saturday. What happens on Space Day?
SMITH: All kinds of space age, outer space celebratory kinds of things happen on Space Day. The Air & Space Museum has done this for the last six or seven years now. I think this is the seventh time they’ve done it. It’s just a really fun, family friendly kind of day to come out and explore the museum and really sort of do some hands on stuff celebrating space.
CAVANAUGH: Well, local astronaut Jim Newman will be there. Tell us about him. What is he going to be doing?
SMITH: Yeah, they actually have all kinds of experts coming. Jim Newman, a local astronaut who’s actually been into space and done several different space walks, he helped repair certain aspects of the Hubble telescope when it was up there and, I mean, just has a really interesting, neat career and he’s going to be there, you know, telling some stories and available for questions. And, you know, he’s just going to be sort of there walking around and available. There’s also experts from NASA and all kinds of people. The curators and education people from the museum are going to be there. So, I mean, if you have kids that are into anything space or dreaming about being astronauts, this is sort of the place to really come and see these people, you know, firsthand in the flesh.
CAVANAUGH: Is this something that the Air & Space Museum does on a yearly basis or…
SMITH: The do it every year. Umm-hmm.
CAVANAUGH: Interesting. Now tell us – I understand that there must be a lot of fun activities since it’s such a family friendly event, lots of good activities for kids. What can they do?
SMITH: Yeah, there’s lots of activities for kids and one really neat thing for kids is that it’s free for kids, so as long as adults buy a ticket to get in to the museum, then your kids get to get in free. And I think the museum has coupons on their website to even get you a discount on the adults. So this is a really inexpensive way to spend a day. But, yeah, the kids, they’re going to have a real Mars Rover there, like the kind of thing that they used to drive around Mars when they landed on Mars. Kids can drive around in that. They can…
CAVANAUGH: Oh, they can actually drive the Mars Rover?
SMITH: Yep, I’m telling you, this is like really hands on. And then, you know, those paper bottle rockets that you can build? There’s going to be a station where you can build those and actually shoot them off either in the parking lot or on the lawn behind. There’s going to be storytelling and, actually, on the blog that we have going on, Balboapark.org it’s called Balboa Park Beat, there’s a really neat video posted on there right now of last year’s Space Day, and you can just see the kids. They’re like making balloons and making things explode and, you know, just doing all kinds of fun, Space Day things, and that video gives you a good sense of sort of what it’s like.
CAVANAUGH: Now the museum’s galleries are also going to be open so what should visitors expect to see in the actual museum?
SMITH: Well the Air & Space Museum, they have that neat atrium so right when you walk in they have the old replica and some of them are actually real, you know, like vintage airplanes and fighter planes and things like that, hanging in the actual thing. They have a whole history of aviation in space in their permanent exhibitions but their special exhibition right now is about aliens and it’s a – it’s really cool. I’ve walked through it a couple of times and just all about the science of aliens and sort of the pop culture aspects of aliens, and they’ve got, you know, things in jars that you can look at, like, you know, alien head kind of looking things. They have all kinds of comic strips that have – that have featured aliens in them over the years, and at the very end of the exhibit, kids can even send a message out to aliens in outer space. You can pick up a phone and hear like the live NASA feed that’s going on and stuff. So it’s kind of a cool exhibit.
CAVANAUGH: That sounds great.
CAVANAUGH: The 7th Annual Space Day takes place this Saturday – Saturday, that is from ten to two at the San Diego Air & Space Museum in Balboa Park.
CAVANAUGH: Now, next, Derrik, we’re sort of like combining a brewery fest and a music festival. And, indeed, it is – it’s – it is combined at Karl Strauss. Tell us about this.
CHINN: Well, the Karl Strauss Beach to Brewery Festival is happening this Saturday. It’s from two to seven and it’s the 7th annual installment of this. Karl Strauss is a local brewery, obviously, and they’re heralded as having reintroduced the concept of craft beer in San Diego, which was banned in the thirties because of prohibition.
CHINN: And they opened in the eighties kind of wondering whether this whole microbrew, craft brew thing would kind of take off in this age of Budweiser and Bud Light and…
CHINN: …and all of that. But it did, and it’s obviously bloomed into San Diego’s now considered to be the new beer capital of the United States.
CAVANAUGH: And so why – that’s why it’s a beer festival. So why is it a music festival?
CHINN: Well, I mean, we have great local music, too.
CHINN: So it’s a great way to combine the two. It’s actually a benefit for the San Diego Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.
CAVANAUGH: I see, so these two things you’ve mentioned are benefits this time. What kind of beers are they going to have?
CHINN: Well, it’s their – Karl Strauss is 21 this year, celebrating their 21st anniversary, so they’re going to have 21 beers. They have a specialty ale that is their 21st. That’s called the – I have it here. It’s like their 21st Anniversary Ale. They’re also going to…
CAVANAUGH: You have to think about that for a long time, huh?
CHINN: ...they’re also going to have 5 casks, which are, you know, noncarbonated beer that are brewed in small, wooden containers. So those are one-offs that you won’t be able to get anywhere else.
CHINN: It’s a great way to taste everything that Karl Strauss has going on, which is a lot of good stuff.
CAVANAUGH: Now I see here that there’s something called a Lavender Hefeweizen?
CAVANAUGH: Umm, what is that?
CHINN: Right, now you want to go, right?
SMITH: Yeah, that sounds good to me.
SMITH: I like hefeweizen.
CHINN: Yeah, hefeweizen, which it’s a white beer and so this one will have a hint of lavender into it.
CAVANAUGH: Ah, that sounds great.
CAVANAUGH: So the bands will perform throughout the day during this beach brewery fest. Who’s performing?
CHINN: Well, there are four bands playing: Strangers, The Howls, Writer, and The Silent Comedy. And they’re all local bands. Stranger is kind of considered to be Karl Strauss’ house band because their drummer is a brewmaster there, not the brewmaster, he’s a brewer, so he works at Karl Strauss and…
CAVANAUGH: I see.
CHINN: …so we have a connection there.
CAVANAUGH: Double duty.
CHINN: Yeah. But if you’ve never seen any of those bands perform, they’re great. It’s a great lineup of – to showcase local bands.
CAVANAUGH: Now we’ve talked before about the local band, Silent Comedy. Tell us again about this band and what they’re up to.
CHINN: Well, The Silent Comedy, they just actually released a new album. It came out recently, I think it was in April. It’s called “Common Faults.” But the band started in 2006 and it is probably one of the more entertaining acts that you will catch in San Diego. The brothers who started it, their names are Joshua and Jeremiah Zimmerman. They credit their father who was a Pentecostal preacher as to putting this sort of, you know, energetic, hand-clapping hallelujah kind of…
CHINN: I mean, the music has nothing really to do with religion or anything about that but that spirit, that sort of Pentecostal, running up and down the aisles, you know, screaming in tongues…
CAVANAUGH: High energy.
CHINN: …it is…
SMITH: With a Lavender Hefeweizen in your hand.
CHINN: Right. Sounds so much more fun than church.
CAVANAUGH: Well, let’s hear them. The Silent Comedy will perform at this year’s Beach Brewery Fest. This is their song, “Exploitation.”
(audio clip of The Silent Comedy performing “Exploitation”)
CAVANAUGH: That’s Silent Comedy with their song “Exploitation.” And amen, hallelujah, people’ll be running down the aisles during the Beach Brewery Fest. Derrik, so tell us, should listeners get their tickets quickly for this? Is this something that’s going to kind of go fast?
CHINN: It usually goes pretty – this is one of, you know, San Diego’s more popular outdoor events, you know, as far as – We – Most San Diegans love drinking their local beer and hearing their local music. So, yeah, I would buy tickets before. And they’re twenty-five bucks on Karl Strauss’ website and they should be – I believe they’re $30.00 at the door. You can get your pre-sale tickets until tomorrow at two.
CAVANAUGH: And, yeah, especially on a beautiful May weekend, right?
CHINN: Right, yeah, yeah.
CAVANAUGH: Now, tell us about the bike riding aspect of this because I would imagine if people are going to indulge in Lavender Hefeweizen and many other brews, they may want to do a little conservative bike riding.
CHINN: Well, the conservative bike riding, you can still, you know, go to the slammer for riding your bike drunk.
CHINN: But everyone should know that. But the San Diego Bicycle Club organizes a 4.4 mile bike ride from the PB Library to the brewery, which is on – off of Mission Bay Drive. So it’s a pretty easy ride, it’s a great way to meet some new friends before you go to the fest and to not use your car. There’s also going to be shuttles running from OB at Dusty Rhodes Park and from the Pacific Beach Library as well, and those are free. Those are included with your ticket price.
CHINN: Those start at 1:40, I believe, and they’ll take you back when the fest is over. They’ll be running all day. And the bike ride starts at 1:30, leaving from the Pacific Beach Library.
CAVANAUGH: Okay, and now that you’ve cleared that up for me, don’t bike – don’t drink and bike.
CHINN: Don’t drink and bike.
CHINN: Wear a helmet.
CAVANAUGH: The Karl Strauss Beach and Brewery Beer and Music Festival, that’s this Saturday to benefit, as you said, the Surfrider Foundation. Hey, I want to thank you both so much, Derrik Chinn and Erin Chambers Smith. Thank you so much.
SMITH: Thanks very much.
CAVANAUGH: There’s so much to do on this weekend.
CHINN: Indeed. Thanks, Maureen.
CAVANAUGH: If you want to listen to a segment you heard on These Days, you can go to KPBS.org/thesedays. These Days is produced by Hank Crook, Angela Carone, Megan Burke, Pat Finn, and senior producer Natalie Walsh. Production Manager is Kurt Kohnen, with technical assistance from Tim Felten. Our production assistants are Jordan Wicht and Rachel Ferguson. I’m Maureen Cavanaugh, hoping you’ll enjoy the rest of the week. You’ve been listening to These Days on KPBS.