Local Wally's Guide to San Diego

Local Wally's Guide to San Diego


Del Mar Racetrack to Host BBQ State Championships Sunday, July 17th, 2016

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Let's get Smoking!

BBQ Competition at the Del Mar Racetrack!

I am addicted to BBQ. I love the smell of the smoke in the air, I love the artistry behind great BBQ, and I love to try it all, from perfectly tender spare ribs to juicy brisket. I've been to BBQ joints in Kansas City that look like something in a Blues Brothers movie, I've done Texas BBQ, and love the tang of Carolina.  Wherever there is BBQ is where I am at. So you know where I will be on July 17th - at the Del Mar Racetrack where the 2016 BBQ Championships are taking place.

More than 40 of the nation's top professional BBQ pitmasters, local restaurants and chefs will be competing in the State Championship for more than $15,000 in cash prizes. Best yet, those attending can purchase BBQ samples to see for themselves how good BBQ can be. Four 2 oz competition ready samples of brisket, pork, ribs, chicken and steak are only $10 and include a People's Choice ballot so you can vote for your favorite. 

Del Mar San Diego Fair BBQ Championship coming July 17th

Come for the races, stay for the BBQ - or the other way around!

The competition, sanctioned by the Kansas City BBQ Society, also features local craft beer options and live music and is held at the Seaside Concert Area west of the Grandstand, tickets included with track admission of $6. Oh yeah, the Del Mar horse races will be going on at the same time so dang this is going to be a great day!

You want a bite?  I know you do.  And you can, at the Del Mar Racetrack BBQ Competition

Here are some BBQ rating tips from your favorite local expert, Local Wally.

1.  Fall off the bone = fail.  Ribs should be tender but still have some bite to them. If you take a bite and all the meat falls to the plate and you're left holding the bone then you overcooked them.

2.  Sauce should never be the star.  It's the meat that needs to shine. Bad BBQ is over-sauced to hide mediocre BBQ. 

3.  Too much smoke is as bad as crockpot BBQ.  Smoke should be there but not overpowering. If it sort of tastes like an ashtray smells it was oversmoked. And don't get me started on cooking BBQ in a crockpot!


Where:  Del Mar Racetrack

When:  July 17th, 12 to 5

Cost:  Included with $6 track admission, get four samples for $10

VIP Pre-Sale Package
Gain early entrance to sample the mouthwatering BBQ from noon - 1 p.m. Includes four BBQ samples, racetrack admission and Peoples' Choice ballot, for $25 now through July 10th. 

Pre-Sale Package
Includes four BBQ samples, racetrack admission and Peoples' Choice ballot, for $14 now through July 10th.


What to Do in San Diego: Bacon and Barrels Festival, May 21st, 2016

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Bacon, Bacon, Bacon, AND BEER!

The Bacon & Barrels Festival is back, and this time it’s better than ever.  On Saturday May 21st, the hottest chefs from the finest local restaurants will prepare and serve small plates starring bacon in its most inventive forms. The best mixologists, brewers and wine makers will quench your thirst with refreshing bacon-based and bacon-inspired cocktails and brews. The event will feature equally impressive views, as it will be held on the waterfront at Embarcadero Marina Park South.


This hog heaven will include artisan and local vendors, live music by The Spazmatics, demos by celebrity chefs and a whole lot of fun!  To celebrate special achievement in the bacon arts, one chef and one mixologist will be named the 2016 Jefe del Porko by well-known food enthusiasts. It's pretty much the Bacon Oscars, and not one to be missed!

Tickets are now available for those 21 years and older and can be purchased here. Not to mention, all food and drink tastings are unlimited and included in the ticket prices. Go hog wild!

Madama Butterfly: Local Wally Goes to the San Diego Opera (and doesn't die)

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OK, I will admit that the idea of going to the opera, the opera, was not initially my idea of a good time.  I mean, I don't know nothing about the opera other than they sing in a foreign language and ain't nobody's got time for that.  Well wait, hang on, I am here to tell you that I went to the San Diego Opera and saw Madama Butterfly and not only did I not die but I actually enjoyed it.  You should go.  Seriously.


Now some people out there (i.e. my wife) are thinking that I am just showing how uncouth I am, akin to stating that one's a Trump supporter while waiting in line for tacos in Tijuana, but I think there are a lot of people out there like me who have either never been to an actual opera or who went so long ago that memories of being spanked come to mind.  But Madama Butterfly wasn't hard to understand, the plot simpler than a Will Ferrel movie but with perhaps a bit more emotion.  Look, I'm saying you won't be cocking your head like a confused dog, it's not that hard to figure out the story!

And then there's the music, live music played by real people!  Oh my goodness, we have been listening to preprogrammed and synthetic music for so long that there is something so sweet and organic, human, about a real orchestra. And when the singers step up to the mic's - wait, there are no mics so they actually have to belt these songs out and the power of their voices is simply amazing. Just. Beautiful.

So go.  Get tickets.  It's way cool!  



The Official Press Release:

San Diego, CA – San Diego Opera is proud to present Puccini’s Madama Butterfly as the second mainstage offering of its 2015-2016 season when it opens on Saturday, April 16, 2016 at 7 PM for four performances at the San Diego Civic Theatre. Returning to San Diego Opera in the title role, is American soprano Latonia Moore, who dazzled audiences in 2013 as Aida, and audiences at the Metropolitan Opera earlier this month when she sang her first American Butterfly. The Company is excited to welcome Romanian tenor Teodor Ilincăi as Pinkerton, a role he has sung the role to critical and popular acclaim in Vienna, Paris, Budapest, Toulouse, and Hamburg, in his American debut. Also making an important Company debuts are American mezzo soprano J’nai Bridges as Suzuki and American baritone Anthony Clark Evans as Sharpless. Taiwanese-American tenor Joseph Hu returns as Goro and American bass-baritone Scott Sikon returns as the Bonze. Franco-Canadian conductor Yves Abel, last heard leading the orchestra in 2014’s Pagliacci, returns to lead the San Diego Symphony for these performances. American stage director Garnett Bruce will stage the production. 

In Puccini’s tragic opera Madama Butterfly, the American naval officer Pinkerton marries a Japanese geisha named Cio-Cio-San (who is also known as Butterfly). Pinkerton takes the relationship lightly despite the warnings of the American consul, Sharpless. Pinkerton returns to America, and Butterfly gives birth to their child whom she names Trouble while she waits for her husband to return. When Pinkerton does return he brings with him his American wife and Cio-Cio-San must choose to live in disgrace or die with her honor intact. With the famous aria “Un bel dì” and the haunting “Humming Chorus” Madama Butterfly is full of beautiful music that will stay with the audience long after they have left the theatre.  


THINGS TO DO IN SAN DIEGO: The Art of Music, Museum of Art, Balboa Park

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WHAT IS IT?:  The Art of Music Exhibit, Museum of Art in Balboa Park, now through Feb 7th, 2016.  Official exhibition website with special events here.

HOW MUCH?  Included in your ticket price - $12 for adults, $9 for seniors, $4.50 for youths

OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION:  The Art of Music presents a multifacted and culturally diverse exploration of the intersection of music and art.  

UNOFFICIAL DESCRIPTION:  Lots of paintings with people playing instruments by famous artists along with other musically focused artifacts.

I like to go to Balboa Park when I have nothing to do because there's always something. OK, yes, I do love that Panama 66 near the Sculpture Gardens has beer, really good beer, but even I know it's time to branch out a bit. Next to Panama 66 is the Museum of Art and a new exhibit called the Art of Music.  I admittedly know next to nothing about art but what the heck, let's dive in.  I can get a beer later.

OK.  Here we are.  Yes, I am scratching my head but there is something here that makes me stop and comtemplate.  Can you imagine if this family moved in next door to you?  Yes, that's what I was thinking.  Look, I told you I don't know much about art!

Wait, I know this guy.  This is Matisse, right?  Right???  And what's that over there, some manuscript by Beethoven? Hey, did I ever tell you the joke about Beethoven when asked why he was erasing all of his music? He said he was decomposing.  Ba-da- Boom! I'm here all week.

Now here is something I understand!  It's stunning how this artist captured the playfulness of youth, a mirror into our own souls with a bit of surrealism mixed with modern imagery and realism.  I wonder who the artist is?

Oh shoot.  Well, I like it anyway.  Good job, kids!  What's next?  And make that kid stop staring at me!

OK, now we are back in my comfort zone, a bit of 60's rock art.  I know you have probably seen the psychedelic posters like these before but stop and look more carefully. It's amazing how the artists wove the names of the bands in and out of the art. It's even more amazing that the stoned kids of the 60's could read it. I mean, I was really trying to read the names of the bands and could only figure out half of them. But then again, I wasn't stoned. I hadn't even had a beer - yet.

THE VERDICT:  Actually a very enjoyable exhibit even for those of you who never typically step inside an art museum. Next time you have an afternoon looking for something different to do, head over to Balboa Park and check out Art of Music exhibit. It's quite interesting and you can even explore the rest of the museum on the same ticket. Then afterwards go to Panama 66 and have a beer. That's the plan. 

Local Wally 

THINGS TO DO IN SAN DIEGO: San Diego Homebrew Festival, Nov 15th, 2015

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Sample some of San Diego's best home brews and support a good cause at the same time at the San Diego Homebrew Festival and Competition.  All proceeds will go to Friends of Jefferson to engage in efforts to support children attending their neighborhood school, Thomas Jefferson Elementary, and to raise funds needed to create and sustain educational enrichment programs and purchase unfunded capital & non-capital improvements.  Hey, I like kids, I like beer, sounds like a winner to me.

Tickets are on sale now and just $35 - check out San Diego Homebrew Festival's official website here.  Tell your friends, mark your calendars, and make sure you head over to the 1st annual Homebrew Festival on Nov. 15th, 2015, in North Park.  See you there!