We hope you're hungry, Angelenos, because this week is all about digging in and sampling the Southland's eclectic culinary offerings. Whether your tastes run toward upscale food festivals with bespoke cocktails, Asian night markets filled with noodles and dumplings, or a good old county fair slinging all manner of deep-fried treats, there's something to savor this Labor Day weekend. Also on the agenda: a seaside arts-and-crafts festival and a riverside bike-in movie screening.
L.A. County Fair Opening Weekend
Friday, Aug. 30-Mon., Sept. 2, at Fairplex
Begun in a beet and barley field way back in 1922, the L.A. County Fair now covers nearly 500 acres and draws some 1.5 million attendees each year. The monthlong event, which kicks off this weekend, features a concert series, themed attractions, a kiddie carnival, shopping, and animal shows -- but the main event might well be the ostentatious fair food. Where else can you indulge in a 6-foot pizza, a sloppy joe served in a Krispy Kreme donut, deep-fried cookie dough and the intriguingly named "spaghetti ice cream"? For those worried about that last item, fear not -- it only looks like pasta, still tastes like dessert.
Friday, Aug. 30-Sunday, Sept. 1, at Paramount Pictures Studios
Looking for more refined cuisine? This food and wine festival presented by the Los Angeles Times comprises five events highlighting different aspects of the Southland's culinary culture. Field to Fork, for example, will explore local, seasonal cooking; Flavors of L.A. will consider the city's global appetite; and Cocktail Confidential will delve into creative mixology. Each of the events includes unlimited food tastings, specialty cocktails, cooking demos, wine seminars and panel discussions.
Saturday, Aug. 31-Monday, Sept. 2, in downtown Hermosa Beach
Hermosa Beach wraps up summer the same way it began: with this three-day arts-and-crafts festival, held every Memorial Day and Labor Day. Arts aficionados flock to the oceanside town as painters, photographers, sculptors, jewelers and other craftspeople show their wares, and two stages provide the soundtrack. The main stage features classic-rock cover bands, and a second stage offers an eclectic mix of rock, zydeco, country, and R&B. Of course, it wouldn't be a fiesta without a beer and wine garden and plenty of grub, including fish tacos served up by genuine Hermosa Beach lifeguards.
626 Night Market
Saturday, Aug. 31, and Sunday, Sept. 1, at Santa Anita Park
Although they're unfortunately scarce in the U.S., night markets are widespread throughout Asia, where vendors peddle a seemingly endless variety of street food and tchotchkes. Luckily for us, 626 Night Market provides a taste of these open-air evening bazaars -- many tastes, more accurately -- with booth after booth hawking noodles, skewers, soups, dumplings, pancakes, desserts and more. If you need to cool down from a hot summer night or a particularly spicy dish, cold beer is also newly available at the market. We'll drink to that. (For more on 626 Night Market, read Clarissa Wei's story in The Nosh.)
L.A. River Bike-In Movie Theater
Saturday, Aug. 31, 6 p.m. at Marsh Park
During a long weekend of chowing down, you might consider pedaling off a few calories en route to this alfresco screening of Wes Anderson's "Rushmore" in Elysian Valley, at a prime spot overlooking the L.A. River. Folks from the L.A. County Bicycle Coalition will valet your bike, after which you can claim a plot of grass, play a few lawn games and dance to DJ'd tunes. Showtime is at 8 p.m. And just in case your stomach is rumbling, Brun's Creole Soul Kitchen and Peddler's Creamery will be on hand selling po' boys and ice cream.