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Weekend Preview: Eating Oysters, Taste Of The Gaslamp

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You can learn how to eat some mighty fine oysters, walk a mile in high-heeled shoes and get a taste of some of downtown San Diego trendiest restaurants, this weekend in San Diego. Those events and more are the subject of our Weekend Preview.


Barbarella Fokos, author of the Diary of a Diva column and Your Week page at the San Diego Reader

Erin Chambers Smith, senior editor at San Diego Magazine

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This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Coming up, arts and crafts design can be seen in historic buildings all over San Diego. We will hear about an exhibit that features work from one of the founders of the movement. And oysters, high heels and more all on the weekend preview. It is 12:22 I am Maureen Cavanaugh you are listening to KPBS Midday Edition. This is KPBS Midday Edition. I am Maureen Cavanaugh. You can learn how to eat some mighty fine oysters, walk in high heeled shoes and get a taste of some of downtown San Diego's trendiest restaurants all here, on Midday Edition's weekend preview. My guests are Barbarella, author of the diary of the diva column and your weekly page of the San Diego region. Hi good morning to you.

BARBARELLA FOKOS: And good to you too.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I've been saying good morning for three weeks.

BARBARELLA FOKOS: We should stop at good and it takes care of the whole thing.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Erin Chambers Smith is here. She is editor of San Diego Magazine.

ERIN CHAMBERS SMITH: And good to you.

BARBARELLA FOKOS: Right back to you.

ERIN CHAMBERS SMITH: We are going to start a trend. Good you.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Oyster Fest is this weekend. What is the event Barbarella?

BARBARELLA FOKOS: This is a beer and music and oyster Festival all rolled into one at the Embarcadero and there's going to be oysters from British Columbia and Alabama coast of California and Mexico.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And so there is an oyster shucking competition.

BARBARELLA FOKOS: I should probably have a disclaimer. I really hate oysters. I call them snot in a shell. I do. But everybody around me loves them. My husband for one, my friends.


BARBARELLA FOKOS: I'm actually going to try to steal some oysters for Erin here, but the shucking competition, there will be blood. I've seen this. This is like taking a knife to a rock hard shell and it's difficult to watch people do it so the competition in the allotted time how many can you shuck, so you will see San Diego's fastest shucker.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: All right, and there will be live music as well?

BARBARELLA FOKOS: There is a great lineup and actually want to make sure I get the names right. There is pepper, nervous records, though Company and is equating among the few and there are a lot of DJ appearances. Mikey beats fresh one and Chris cuts.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: For people who really love their oysters and want to learn how to cook and do everything right, will they be able to pick up some tips?

BARBARELLA FOKOS: They will, there will be demonstrations throughout. They have 16 beers offered on one side and there will be cooking demonstrations by local chefs which is interesting because I thought oysters were eaten raw.

ERIN CHAMBERS SMITH: My best tip for cooking oysters is not to cook them, just lemon juice and hot sauce.

BARBARELLA FOKOS: Breaded, fried and I don't know what it is, it might be palatable but there will be demonstrations.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Anything breaded and fried. The second annual San Diego Oyster Fest is this Saturday at the Embarcadero. The special exhibit of Beatles photographs at the Oceanside Museum of Art. Erin, tell us about it.

ERIN CHAMBERS SMITH: This is a new collection at the Oceanside Museum of Art of vintage and modern photographs collection from 1950 to 1980 everything from (inaudible) to snapshots to posters and (inaudible) from that era.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What are some of the photographers or the photographs whose work we will see?

ERIN CHAMBERS SMITH: This is definitely a big names of pop-culture kind of exhibit so Annie Leibowitz has pictures there will be Linda McCartney, big names like that anybody who has sort of a pop-culture reference a reverence for the Beatles.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It's not just photography, this is a whole event.

ERIN CHAMBERS SMITH: It is Father's Day this weekend and then there is another that coincides with the collection is Friday night on Father's Day but if you have a dad who is a Beatles fan you might want to bring them out to the Museum of Art. On Friday this was called Art After Dark it is Friday night 25 bucks and it's just like a party at the museum and you have to be 21 to go because there is (inaudible) beer, there's a wine bar, food from Bull Taco, and the exhibition is open. They have live music and a fashion designer, local Stacey (inaudible) with that of a modern 60s style of aesthetics that kind of goes with the Beatles era so it is a fun event to counter.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And the tribute band Help! will be there.

ERIN CHAMBERS SMITH: Yes, like I said, but you do have to be 21 and I don't know if I mentioned ticket prices but it's $25 and if you are a member it's only 20.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The Beatles photograph exhibit is on exhibition the Oceanside Museum of Art through this Sunday. A scavenger hunt in Hillcrest and high heels. Barbarella?

BARBARELLA FOKOS: In Heel-crest, I want to call it.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What are you looking for?

BARBARELLA FOKOS: Only in Hillcrest can you have a scavenger hunt with rules which include no hair pulling or (inaudible). You have to wear heels, they have to be at least 2 inches tall and you go on a scavenger hunt through Hillcrest starting at (inaudible) and going back to (inaudible). I think they are all owned by the same person. It is to benefit the community but you have to do it in heels and they have awards they're giving for the biggest blister, fiercest heel, highest hill, best team costumes. I have a feeling they've already taken registrations and now it is a spectator sport because the teams are set. I want to go just to watch.

ERIN CHAMBERS SMITH: There has to be margaritas involved.

BARBARELLA FOKOS: Between three bars, yes I would imagine.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It is a scavenger hunt so would you have any idea what people are going to be looking for?

BARBARELLA FOKOS: All teams have to bring a digital camera so although they are not saying exactly what they have to find, they give an idea. The businesses are supplying the clues, Hillcrest businesses so you get a clue that you are supposed to go take a picture of the thing you find that answers the clue and you get a clue to the next area so that is the proof that you find it. I don't believe they will be collecting things. It would be hard to carry if you are wearing heels. It's hard enough to walk in heels.

ERIN CHAMBERS SMITH: And holding a Margarita.

BARBARELLA FOKOS: This is serious sport. Okay.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How much does it cost? It's all for charity?

BARBARELLA FOKOS: It's all for charity to help the Hillcrest business Association, they are going to choose one beautification project. The registration fee is $150 there are also donations if you want to donate they have a website where you can put in donations as well for Hillcrest.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The amazing high-heeled race is this Saturday. The race starts in Baja Betty's in Hillcrest. No hair pulling at all.

BARBARELLA FOKOS: No, and I will be there having a cocktail outside and watching you.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Taste of Gaslamp is this weekend as well tell us more about this, Erin.

ERIN CHAMBERS SMITH: This is a neighborhood tasting tour. A lot of neighborhoods have these in San Diego. I bet a lot of your listeners have gone to one another and this weekend is the Gaslamp so it's a good time to go down. You buy one ticket and you get to cruise the Gaslamp and stop at participating restaurants and get either a sip or sample of food that is on the menu there. It all starts this year it is little bit different because Altitude, the 22nd floor bar at the Marriott downtown so if you go to the 22nd floor there is a Sam Adams beer garden up there, you get a ticket you get the check in, get the map and then you wander down.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I understand you don't have to wear heels for this.

BARBARELLA FOKOS: No you do not.

ERIN CHAMBERS SMITH: A little bit more tame. The Gaslamp is teaming up and the other thing is really exciting---

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The thing about the tastings is that if they go on too long people tend to get full so how long does the event last and how do you go about trying the best of the restaurants without getting too full to enjoy?

ERIN CHAMBERS SMITH: It is two days so you could either buy a ticket for Saturday or Sunday and you do not get like a full meal at every place. You just get a little sample and I think they're doing a good job this year by having sort of a home base where you can check in and get a map and you sort of make a cheat sheet for yourself and pick the ones that you want to try our and for some people this is a chance to try the ones that you would never go to or that are too expensive or out of your budget that you wouldn't normally try. I recommend you try this once.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You have your (inaudible) restaurants you wanted to recommend what is on the menu there?

ERIN CHAMBERS SMITH: I should say that not all restaurants in the Gaslamp do this. There's a list of the ones that do at the Marriott but Air supper club is a brand-new place only been open a couple of months in the Gaslamp it is above a bar called sidebar and a pizza place called (inaudible). It's a cool looking place with one white room, one red room, a really neat wine cellar kind of wine bar and just a very cool new spot to check out that most people haven't been to yet. I did eat there something the other day it was good, like spicy shrimp over risotto, or on Israeli couscous and that was really good. I like décor. And Quality Social, so glad to see that they are participating. They do a great job. They are on the corner of sixth and F St. and they have a chef (inaudible) out of Chicago we wrote a little bit about him in the July issue. We reviewed the restaurant just about a year ago, really cool innovative restaurant out of Chicago kind of a rising star type of guy. They make everything in house; they make ketchup and bread and they bring in a whole pig to make the bacon. I really love the restaurant and of all the things I love their pretzel bites. I don't know how they make pretzels taste so good.

BARBARELLA FOKOS: And at a bar you wouldn't expect fresh and locally sourced. It's pretty incredible.

ERIN CHAMBERS SMITH: He's doing something innovative with cocktails. He's actually starting to have his chefs and sous chefs create cocktails for the bar so they are specialty cocktails that are more expensive and I love the idea that's so cheffy, the innovation of this crazy things are just (inaudible) and how to put things together so why not put that technique into cooking as well as cocktails.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I want to remind our listeners we are talking about the taste of the Gaslamp that is happening this weekend at the Gaslamp district. I wonder, these things can get expensive. Is this thing going to be a little bit pricey?

ERIN CHAMBERS SMITH: The price, you're wandering around all dayeating, food tickets are $30 there are over 100 restaurants but has been used in one place I want to recommend a restaurant that you might not have heard of or didn't know was there is Donovans, for while they have a cocktail bar called (inaudible) like music, dueling pianos and it didn't work and they've reopened it very recently as Donovan Seafoods so that's another seafood joint on Fifth Avenue to check out.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Most of the restaurants in taste of events put on their best dishes for the event, don't they?

ERIN CHAMBERS SMITH: That is the idea behind it, to catch customers that normally would not come into the restaurant like Donovan Seafoods is definitely expensive and you go to have a sample and choose it for a special occasion coming up. A lot of people criticize the event saying that you just get trays and trays of food prepared ahead of time but that's why I sort of brought in a few restaurants that I recommended. Quality social is not going to throw together something they made last night, same with Donovan's. They are committed to fresh local seafood and (inaudible) kind of restaurant.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Sometimes I think maybe we should stop eating now.

BARBARELLA FOKOS: Or start. Everybody who does the food eating contests always says---

ERIN CHAMBERS SMITH: Either fast or stretch your stomach, one or the other.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The taste of San Diego in the Gaslamp is this Friday and Saturday and the check in is in the lounge of the Marriott on the 22nd floor. Barbarella we have another event. In full disclosure, it's an artist who used to work here at KPBS. It's called metaphor and mystery, a new work by Kira Carillo Corser. What kind of work will people see at the exhibit?

BARBARELLA FOKOS: It's pretty interesting. I would like to check out their painted photograph; visual metaphors based on historic sites and that basically this particular exhibit will include a 10 foot mural, a triptych of a young bride and her new (inaudible) a confessional from a Catholic Church in France and she takes photographs and paints over (inaudible) floating face and hands, a fiery ghostlike figure hovering in an image to the spirit of forgiveness, so it seems pretty interesting.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I understand that there are also masks that are going to be on sale for a charity?

BARBARELLA FOKOS: There's going to be a raffle of masks for her charity. They will be raffling them I don't know if she will be selling them there. The panache orchestra will be there, so a full well-rounded range of events where it is not just the art. You see a lot of that around town now, there is no just art or just music. It's kind of a combination of everything.

ERIN CHAMBERS SMITH: Come and have a party actually.

BARBARELLA FOKOS: We want more, art is not enough. We want art of every kind.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The opening of metaphor and mystery exhibit is this Saturday from 6 to 9 at the L St., Saturday and we have time for beer barley and hops at Grant Grill, Erin?

ERIN CHAMBERS SMITH: I always bring all the food stuff.

BARBARELLA FOKOS: That's why I like you.

ERIN CHAMBERS SMITH: This is a really fun dinner that they're bringing out the Grant Grill, inspired by Father's Day but not necessarily tied to that. The menu starts June 18 and that is Saturday Saturday to Saturday June 18-24 and it is a special beer pairing dinner that the chef and their mixologist and bar people put together. This is fancy, $40, $60, $80 depending on three, four, five courses. So this is sort of a splurge or special occasion if you want to take dad out. I brought the menu and printed it out it just makes your mouth water, the first courses duck sausage (inaudible) with cherries, paired with Manhattan's sour beer there is a crispy pork of course with cascade hops pickled mustard seeds and that is paired with a blue star wheat beer.

BARBARELLA FOKOS: You are going to have to take me to lunch after this. I'm looking over your shoulder at it and I'm thinking that looks good but I don't think I can wait. We have to starve ourselves now for the Taste of the Gaslamp.

ERIN CHAMBERS SMITH: We went from duck sausage and crispy pork and then there's skirt steak. so if you're vegetarian I don't know if this is the dinner for you. I should note that as well.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It sounds as if you have a lot to thank Dad for during the year this is the place to do it and tell us where this takes place.

ERIN CHAMBERS SMITH: The Grant Grill at the Grant Hotel. The menu is between June 18 into 24 this is the place to make a reservation for even if you or somewhat close to a special occasion at Grant grill they fill up. So call and make a reservation.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I've been speaking with Erin Chambers Smith and Barbarella who has a new job. Tell us about it.

BARBARELLA FOKOS: California (inaudible) is a new channel by NBC and I have a new weekly segment called five questions with Barbarella that airs every Friday night. On this new channel in the seven o'clock news hour.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What channel will that be on Cox?

BARBARELLA FOKOS: If you get Cox cable it will be channel 107 Time-Warner it's 253 and over the air it's 39.2 and so basically I'm interviewing people around town with interesting jobs or interesting personalities and I'm asking them five questions. Five a little offbeat questions. I had the San Diego Symphony conductor serenade me and tell me how he keeps his orchestra in line and that will re-air this month.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Much luck and thank you both.



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