AUSTRIA: I’m a Sacher for a good cake!

AUSTRIA: I’m a Sacher for a good cake!

Haven’t heard of Sacher Torte? Have you been living on Mars or are completely oblivious to a good slice of cake? The history of the torte (cake) is a sweet one. It was created in Vienna (not Salzburg), by a young apprentice chef Franz Sacher in 1832. The delicious cake is traditionally served with a portion of unsweetened whipped cream and is complimented with a cup of tea or coffee. The cake has a mysterious air – covered in a shining, silky chocolate coat with a small round motif decorating the side, once bitten into, life takes on a grander meaning. The cake is chocolaty and has a robust texture divided by a sting of apricots glaze. (SEE recipe below)

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There are specialty shops all over Austria selling this indulgence, but you’ll find the sweetest prize at the Sacher Hotels. And adding to the pleasure of the Sacher Torte experience is the fact that is it always sitting on the breakfast table/buffet daring you to take a slice to begin the day . . .of course we did. At the elegant, traditional Sacher Hotel in Salzburg (below) , the Sacher Torte disappeared quickly and there appeared to be a rotating delivery of said sweetie at the breakfast table. Visit: www.sacher.com/hotel-sacher-salzburg

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Sacher Torte

Recipe courtesy of Wolfgang Puck

Total Time: 1 hr 42 min
Prep: 20 min
Inactive: 2 min
Cook: 1 hr 20 min
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Level: Intermediate

Ingredients

Cake:

  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
  • 3 ounces butter
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 ounce sugar, plus 3 ounces
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup flour, sifted

Apricot Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups apricot preserves
  • 1 tablespoon apricot brandy

Glaze:

  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
  • 1 ounce butter
  • 2 ounces heavy cream
  • Whipped cream
Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9 by 2-inch cake pan.In a bowl, combine the chocolate and butter and melt over a double boiler. Set aside to cool. In a mixer, using a wire whisk, whip the egg yolks with 1 ounce sugar until light and ribbony. Beat in the chocolate mixture.

In another bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining 3 ounces of sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks. Fold in the flour and then fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Fold in the remaining egg whites, gently but thoroughly. Pour into prepared cake pan.

Bake for 40 minutes or until done. To check for doneness, insert a paring knife in centre of cake. It should come out dry. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

To make the apricot filling: puree the apricot preserves. Stir in brandy.

Slice the cake into 3 equal layers. Spread half of the apricot filling on the bottom layer. Top with a second layer of cake. Spread the remaining apricot filling and top with the last layer of cake. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

To make the glaze: in a bowl, combine the chocolate and butter. Melt over a double-boiler. Bring the cream to a boil. Stir into the melted chocolate. Cool until it reaches glazing consistency. Spread over and around the cake. Chill for another 30 minutes before serving. Serve a slice with whipped cream.

Writer, Bev Malzard, has eaten many slices of Sacher Torte and intends to eat more. 
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Art Deco capital of New Zealand (and possibly the planet)

Art Deco capital of New Zealand (and possibly the planet)

Not often you get to thank a natural disaster and community tragedy for a splendid architectural creation. In February 1931 a bastard of an earthquake rocked Napier, a town on Hawke’s Bay on the east coast of the north island of New Zealand. The ‘quake measured 7.9 on the Richter scale and rocked the Hawke’s Bay area for more than three long minutes. There were 260 lives lost and the vast majority of Napier’s town centre structures were destroyed, either by the earthquake of the following fires.

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It wasn’t long after the earthquake that the Kiwis rallied and do what they do best – got on with it! Rebuilding began and much of it was completed in two years. Architects were on the spectrum of quirky and ambitious and the new buildings reflected the architectural styles of the times – stripped classical, Spanish Mission and Art Deco.

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Local architect Louis Hay, an admirer of Frank Lloyd Wright, had his moment to shine! Maori motifs emerged to give the city an identifiable New Zealand character – just check out the ASB bank on the corner of Hastings and Emerson Streets that features Maori koru and zigzags.

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I recently visited Napier for the first time and driving into the city centre on a bright sunny day I was thrilled to be immersed in this stylish time capsule. And driving further afield around Hawke’s Bay (just out-of-town to find the cultish ice cream parlour Rush Munro’s, which has been here since 1926. And yes, I had a double scoop for research purposes, hokey pokey and vanilla, and yes, it was divine), you drive along a tree-lined boulevard waterfront. Marine Parade is where you drive slowly and capture the extent of the bay.

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Napier’s city centre displays a seamless line of 1930s architecture is quite extraordinary. Enjoy the streetscape via a self-guided walk – ask for a map at the information centre or at the Art Deco Trust. Guided walks around the city are also available every day rain or shine (except Christmas Day!).

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Every February, Napier celebrates its heritage with the Art Deco weekend – a stylish celebration of all things 1930’s, including vintage cars, fashion and music. So get your flapper on, tilt your boater at a rackish angle and do the Charleston, drink pink cocktails and throw caution to the wind.

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Napier’s other special attractions include the gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers and the many vineyards that make good use of the region’s alluvial soils. Pinot Gris and Syrah are the region’s signature drops. On Saturday mornings, the Napier farmers’ market is a chance to shop for artisan foods and fresh produce.

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Writer, Bev Malzard ate ice cream, had dinner at the Thirsty Whale Restaurant and Bar and stayed just outside of town at the Albatross Motel, Westshore Napier. She will learn to dance and hold a long cigarette holder before her next visit.

Visit: http://www.artdeconapier.com ; http://www.napiernz.com and get your art deco vibe happening n 2018!

 

It’s a Shire thing – real estate for Hobbits

It’s a Shire thing – real estate for Hobbits

Many decades after I first read J.R.R. Tolkien’s book The Hobbit I was walking among the Hobbit homes (holes). And proving to myself that they were more than fictional little hairy-toed creatures.

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After immersing myself in the grand trilogy of New Zealander Peter Jackson’s stupendous movies effort of the Lord Of The Rings – yes – all three mighty movies (seen several times over), I had been intrigued by the art direction and the glorious locations throughout New Zealand (with a healthy LOTR geeky obsession). I had visited a few (outside Christchurch and near Wellington) and while strolling around the area acting quite ladylike – I was happily squealing on the inside.

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When I heard that Hobbiton was real real estate I was ecstatic.

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When location scouts found the Alexanders’ spectacular 1250-acre sheep and beef farm in 1998, just outside of the town of Matamata (90 minutes drive south of Auckland), it was clear this would be the perfect setting for Sir (he is now) Peter Jackson’s adaptation of these classic works by Tolkien.

This bucolic setting for The Shire, home of the Hobbits, including Bag End, was right there, and just waiting for the magical director’s touch – and the work of hundreds in building, creating, painting, designing and bringing to life the wondrous place.

Earth moving equipment provided by the New Zealand army came in to do the heavy lifting in 1999. The army built a 1.km road into the site and undertook initial set development.

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There were 39 Hobbit Holes created with untreated timber, ply and polystyrene. The oak tree that overlooks Bag End was cut down and transported in from near Matamata.

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Artificial leaves were brought in from Taiwan and individually wired onto the tree. Thatch for the roofs of the Green Dragon Inn and The Mill were cut from rushes around Alexander farm.

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When they were rebuilt for The Hobbit Trilogy in 2009,these structures were built out of permanent materials including an artificial tree made out of steel and silicon. This entire reconstruction process took two years.Today the set is maintained to keep the magic of The Shire alive.

If you believe all that, you’ll believe anything. Hobbiton is a real place where real Hobbits live, bake bread, eat cakes and drink wine and mead and tell fantastical tales of a time gone by about elves, orcs, wizards and brave knights . . .and jewellery . . .  especially some ring.

Writer Bev Malzard met several Hobbits in New Zealand but has kept them out of this post to respect their privacy.

It cost NZ$79 for the tour of Hobbiton (worth every dollar).

Visit: http://www.hobbitontours.com

Venice . . . as the day begins

Venice . . . as the day begins
Ah Venice, La Serenissima, you temptress, you beauty, you moody city on the water. It never loses its attraction – Venice is a living city that is hounded and trampled on by thousands of tourists every year, her waters are cruised by mega-liners that dwarf and threaten the low-rise city silhouette and the Grand Canal has so many boats washing the waters to the foundations of the ancient buildings that you would think the whole place would crumble in a minute.
Flooded by ‘aqua alta, a natural phenomenon that has occurred for centuries when especially high tides force water from the Adriatic into the Venetian lagoon. This happens about four times a year and especially during winter. (Walking platforms are erected and the water normally drains off by midday. Take your wellies.)
St Mark’s Square under water – extra hands on deck needed to keep the tourists dry.
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But not so. ‘Venice is sinking’; has been the harbinger of doom for a couple of centuries but she still stands. Admittedly, she’s high maintenance and her upkeep is costly – but – still standing.
And Venice is expensive and complicated. But let’s look away from the seductive beauty for a minute and peek beneath the practicalities of this city:
* All the food consumed on the islands has to be brought in from the mainland. Deliveries continue all day long with boats carrying crates of fruit and veg – and remember – this is Italy, and fresh food every day is on the table! The fish – and what a mighty fine display for piscatorial indulgence is being snapped up at the Rialto markets and being delivered at dawn each day.

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Top: best from the local market; early morning window cleaning – all the shops are spic and span; above: picking up the trash.

* Much of the breads and pastries are made in-house – but all the ingredients have a high price as they are delivered by hand after a journey from all over the country.
* Those crisp linen towels, tablecloths and napkins that we enjoy in hotels and restaurants are all taken off the islands to laundries for cleaning – imagine the number of items that leave here and have to be delivered back again to the restaurants and hotels.
* And the garbage. Large bags have to be transported every day off the island – and there’s a lot of it. Interesting is the fact that the locals – and there are 60,000 residents here, who lower their bags down on little pulleys as there are rarely any lifts (elevators) in any of the buildings except the big hotels. Men, running through the tiny lanes with carts, pick the bags up and take them to the boats. And the empty bottles – not all mine either.

Bagsdropped down over night to be picked up by the garbos.

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When you leave the touristy areas of Venice – and discover the life of the city beyond a gondola ride and an aperitif on a balcony overlooking the Grand Canal – there’s the domestic hum and buzz like any other city,.
And the locals! Someone said that if anyone is seen running or jogging around Venice, they are tourists. Venetians and all who work here do not need to do this. Because all of Venice is walkways and canals – there is no transport at all – except for the feet. You don’t see any overweight Venetians, they are lean and wiry. The older folk here, with or without walking sticks, tread slowly, firmly and determinedly as they stick to the right sides of the walls of the lanes and alleys; younger people with high heels, or flat shoes, walk everywhere briskly, and anyone delivering or removing anything by cart – runs.

Morning delivery.

I had two days of blinding beauty under an unseasonal bright blue autumn sky in the city and was fortunate enough to head out early in the morning as Venice was waking up. Start your walk early in the morning and you’ll feel the rhythm of the streets and lanes start to crank up. The side of the city that we don’t see is working hard to give the visitors the true elegant, charming, Venetian experience.

So where do you think those pristine sheets came from, who ironed your pillow cases, who delivered the wine, and who is taking out the trash today?
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Writer Bev Malzard first visited Venice in a misty, cold February years ago and likes to go back in autumn or winter to avoid the crazy crowds and the stifling heat contained within the lanes. A journey across the lagoon through the moody blues of the winter day will take you to the pretty islands – yet again, without the crowds.
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How to make cheese, the easy whey!

How to make cheese, the easy whey!

I like cheese. Cheese is my hero. Cheese is my friend. As a friend it introduces me to the world. Certain tastes send me to Provence in France, a dry parmesan cut from a huge, aged wheel takes me to a remembered trattoria in Perugia, Italy, a large slice of room temperature manchego transports me back to Spain and has me singing ‘the man from La Mancha’. My relationship with cheese had been rather shallow, but last year I saw my first cheese master (mistress) at work creating heaven. (See blog post In Praise of Cheeses, posted 29 April, 2017). Narcissi Municio was making a raw milk cheese that I can only describe after eating far too much of it – if that’s a thing – as life-changing – Torta del Casar.

Absolutely nothing to do with cheese making, but look at these pretty eggs that came from the chooks at Franklin Gardens.

And to see the workings on a biggish scale opened my eyes to the creation from whoa to go! Well, not quite. I didn’t meet the animals from whence the mighty milk came from.

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Recently I had the opportunity to make cheese! I’m not now going into full artisan cheese making in my postage stamp size kitchen, but it was a wonderful experience and made me more appreciative of what went into my indulgences.

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An old friend of mine who I used to party hard with many moons ago now lives in New Zealand on a little farm where six goats (three pregnant), two dogs (rescue cuties), three cats (one a mongrel thief), 12 sociable chooks and several ducks and geese that scurry, and a husband reside.

Jas milking, me stirring, one dog staring . . .

My mate Jasmin learned to make cheese when she acquired the goats. She travelled to Italy to take master classes and now does modest cheesemaking courses for keen enthusiasts – what are they called? Formagios, Cheddarists? She lives in Paparoa, Northland New Zealand, a couple of hours drive north of Auckland, on a drive through an impossibly beautiful green landscape.

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So time for me to don the apron and learn how to make cheese – today it will be haloumi. The goat was milked the day before and the fresh, creamy, raw, organic milk was refrigerated overnight. Next morning, three litres of the milk were strained into a vat and then heated til temp. reached 32deg. exactly, and kid rennet was added to set the curd.

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This was serious, it was all about the temperature.

Straining the milk. This cat was nowhere near the cheesemaking, even though he would like to be – just thought he would add to the ambience of the post! (His name is Roo.)

The milk cooled and I could see it separating away from the edge of the vat. Just looked like junket – back to curds and whey again! (After production the whey went to the chooks for happy hour.) The curd is soft because it is goat’s milk and doesn’t have a lot of fat. The long spatula was inserted and I began the process of slicing through the curd in lines, crisscrossing in an even measurement.

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Cutting the strained curd. There’s that damn cat again – he was not in the cheese making room, I promise!

I lifted the mixture out and placed it in square plastic tubs, evenly packing it so the whey would drain into a tray beneath. The little containers were left for a while until all the whey had disappeared down the whey way! Turning the blocks of dry cheese out onto a board I then sliced through the squares in reasonably straight lines to create rectangles of haloumi.

The (almost perfect, if I do say so myself) rectangles, that had been salted on both sides were then dropped into the whey that had been heated up ,and let cook for a few minutes until the pieces floated to the top.

They were then removed from the whey and set aside to cool. When cool the slices were gently placed in a storage box destined to become dinner that night.

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All in all it was the best experience and even though it looks like I’m the Cheese Whisperer, the real champion of this venture was the Big Cheese Jasmin Futter in the background guiding me every step of the way.

We ate the cheese that night (little olive oil in pan – cook one minute each side), had it with salad and thought it ever so fine.

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We took several slices back to Auckland to have the next night. Same drill and it was better than the night before. I can honestly say I have eaten my share of haloumi over the years but this was the best squeaky haloumi I ever tasted. So thank you Jasmin and thank you goats.

Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet eating her curds and whey . . . what the heck is a tuffet?

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Cheesy grins from the Big Cheese and The Cheese Whisperer.

If you are interested in learning the dark arts of cheese making have a look at @Fromage at Franklin in Paparoa Cheesemaking Classes on Facebook or email Jasmin Futter jasfutter14@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Take me to the Greek!

Take me to the Greek!

The journey began in Athens. SeaDream 1 was waiting for us in Piraeus and it wasn’t too long before we had stowed our gear in elegant staterooms. Up on deck, guests were catching the last of summer’s bright rays. (SeaDream yachts chase the sun, and after the Mediterranean, the Caribbean was the ships next playground for November to March.)

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We departed Piraeus on an afternoon, fresh from summer in October through a flint-like clarity of light.

BUT this is about food – before we took off on our cruise from Greece to Italy, we had two days in Athens. So, this posting is pictures of food – which we ate lots of.

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More cats on Hydra and a splendid lunch of bread, maridaki (white bait), Greek salad and Greek beer. Nothing could be finer.

 

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Now, being a Greek tragic (I claim it as my spiritual home) I wanted to show off to my travelling companion. I wanted to drop in a few words from the language (which I was trying to remember), point out the ancient tiles along the footpath, order a diabolical ‘cafe metreo’, find the best baklava in town and generally want her to fall as much in love with the capital city as I was.

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This cat on the island of Hydra is not edible.

I had lived in Greece many years ago. I came here for three months and ended up staying intermittently over a period of three years. It was love at first step off the plane. I embraced the lifestyle and took to the afternoon siesta like a sloth in syrup.

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There are many nuts in Greece!

I worked at anything (almost) to keep me here and found a perverse joy in lugging watermelons, picking oranges, cooking in restaurants (yep, don’t know how that happened), cleaning houses, running holiday villas for English tourists and hosting (with a couple of other Aussie mates), barbecues on remote beaches to make money. It was the time of my life and there are so many stories to still tell.

I love the food, and as an-on-the-cheap traveller, a fresh salad, a pot of divine yoghurt, honey, bread straight from the bakery and a coffee was always affordable.

I wanted to revisit the food and markets – and my mate Jane Hodges took these images as mine have gone the way of an unnatural cyber disaster. The markets in Athens are a marvellous introduction to the variety of fresh produce to be had here. The fish selection is splendid, the cheeses astounding and the fruit and veg crying out to be cooked! And the sweets. The history of honey being used in sweets for thousands of years blows the mind. Some things never change

Thanks for the pics Jane and your company on the cruise and our visits to Athens, and the Greeks islands. Yassou filos mou!

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TIPS: Eat everything.

Food generally in villages is served warm not hot, and it’s quite OK to ask to see what’s cooking in the kitchen. Beware of Ouzo – you’ll think it’s your fiend, but trust me, it’s not.

When in Athens, check out all the museums but get to the new Acropolis Museum as it is beautiful and as the name explains, the artefacts and pieces in the museum have all been found in and around the acropolis. Acropolis means a rocky mound or hill constructed in many Greek cities where their temples were to be built (e.g.the Parthenon) and it was a place for the people to retreat to if they were under attack.

The writer, Bev Malzard loves Greece and intends to head back there again in 2018. In the meantime, she’ll drag out some of the old Greek-days stories for this blog until her readers protest and say: “No more”.

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How long is Long Beach? or How long do I stay there?

How long is Long Beach? or How long do I stay there?

It wasn’t a long visit to Long Beach, California. I was to stay overnight before I headed across to Catalina Island. I didn’t know what to expect as I couldn’t quite get the gist of the geography – where’s the beach? I could see the bay from my hotel and in the distance the static Queen Mary, and the bay turned into the ocean . . . maybe it’s time to explore.

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Rainbow Harbour.

My expectations were average and it wasn’t until I was given a quick tour of downtown by my friend who is an enthusiastic local that I began to absorb the charm of this quiet achiever. Long Beach doesn’t have the bold sprawl of Los Angeles, nor the confined slick commercialism of Beverly Hiills, it almost feels familiar to a Sydney girl.

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Downtown is pretty cool and ultimately walkable. The cafes, restaurants, galleries and boutiques of Fourth Street (retro row) are accessible and the county of Long Beach has many little urban pockets that are charming and offer several worldly experiences ranging from romantic rides in sleek Italian gondolas followed by dinner at one of the fine Italian restaurants, Michael’s on Naples and L’Opera Ristorante, to tasting tapas, sipping Sangria and watching live Flamenco dancers at the famed Spanish eateries Café Sevilla or Alegria Cocina Latina.

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The Dog Beach.

I experienced transatlantic history aboard the majestic Queen Mary for a night. I had dinner onboard, slept in an original cabin (the bed was new) and took a tour around the old girl. She was still well-mannered and royal but looking a little tired. But the good news is she’s in the middle of a major makeover. This is worth a night to remember and you are on one of the finest ships ever built and – you won’t get seasick.

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On deck on the Queen Mary.

 

 

Looking across to the Queen Mary from the Maya Hotel.

Told ya so! Named one of the ‘Most Walkable’ Cities in America by Walkscore.com, Long Beach boasts more than 120 quality restaurants within an eight-block area in the downtown waterfront, top hotel brands, along with dynamic shopping and entertainment options along the shoreline. Stroll the 5½ mile (8.8km) beach path that has stunning views of the Pacific coastline. And for some retail therapy –  The Pike Outlets feature name brand merchandise at great prices, or take a stroll down 4th Street’s Funky Retro Row or Belmont Shore’s 2nd Street, two popular districts offering myriad boutique shops and eclectic restaurants.

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Fourth Street.

 Averaging 345 days of sunshine per year Long Beach, with its comfortable Mediterranean climate, is ideal for a winter escape to defrost and decompress.

 

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Wall art downtown.

LONG BEACH IS BIKE FRIENDLY

Long Beach is listed as one of the most bike-friendly cities in the U.S.  An expanding Bike Share program is available to residents and visitors. With a simple swipe of a credit card, visitors can rent bikes at a nominal fee and explore throughout the city. Additionally, the bikes can be returned to any bike station throughout the city.

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Looking out from the porthole of the Queen Mary in the morning – this is the ‘June gloom, a fine misty fog that creeps in from the Pacific Ocean at this time of year.

LONG BEACH: “THE URBAN WATERFRONT PLAYGROUND”

Centrally located between Los Angeles and Orange County, Long Beach boasts the ambiance of a sophisticated urban centre and the charm of an ocean side community. Long Beach’s downtown waterfront sets a new standard for “walk-ability,” with first-class accommodations, shopping, dining, and seaside sightseeing, just steps from each other. Located 40 minutes from Universal Studios and 30 minutes from Disneyland, Long Beach’s attractions include: The Queen Mary, featuring a hotel, exceptional restaurants and historical tours, Aquarium of the Pacific, a world-class facility home to more than11,000 inhabitants of the Pacific Ocean, several museums including the Museum of Latin American Art (MoLAA) and Second Street in nearby Belmont Shore, the quintessential beachfront community. With 345 days of sunshine, the Mediterranean climate makes Long Beach the ultimate year-round playground. 

 

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LIGHTS, CAMERA, LONG BEACH!

And of course you never know who you will run into here – with its sparkling waterfront, diverse architecture and film-friendly weather, Long Beach has been a popular location for filming television and movies, including recent features: Iron Man, Knight and Day, Transformers 2 and 3, and Star Trek.

Located less than 30 miles from Hollywood production studios, Long Beach has been and still is the backdrop for many TV shows, including Miami for Dexter and CSI Miami. NCIS: Los Angeles, True Blood and Criminal Minds also filmed in the city. It’s not uncommon to see camera crews in Belmont Shore, Alamitos Bay Marina and on Shoreline Drive for coastal stand-in locations and downtown Long Beach’s East Village Arts District or Third, Cedar and Pine Avenues for urban settings.

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SUSTAINABLE LONG BEACH

Don’t be fooled by the blue skies – Long Beach is a green city! Home to the LEED-certified Aquarium of the Pacific, regal Queen Mary and solar-paneled Museum of Latin American Art (MoLAA), several green certified hotels, sustainable seafood serving restaurants and much more — Long Beach is definitely a green city by the sea.

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THE QUEEN MARY

Arriving in Long Beach in 1967 after a distinguished 30-year career as a Trans-Atlantic liner and a Wold War II troopship, the Queen Mary has become a centerpiece of the downtown waterfront. As the fastest and most elegant ship afloat during the heyday of trans-Atlantic travel, the Queen carried the rich and famous as well as thousands of tourists and immigrants. Today, the Queen can still transport her passengers to a bygone era via history and imagination. Visitors to the Queen Mary can stay on board in one of 360 converted 1st class staterooms, dine in the ship’s restaurants and shop on the Promenade Deck. Guided and walking tours bring back the grand history of this famous ship. The Ghosts & Legends show and tour conjures up some of the ship’s ghostly passengers.

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AQUARIUM OF THE PACIFIC

The Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific is also a world-class educational and research facility.  The Aquarium staff received global attention when they became the first to breed weedy sea dragons (a cousin of the seahorse) in captivity. Exhibit areas are divided by Pacific Ocean regions and feature fish, birds, and mammals from each region. At Shark Lagoon visitors can actually touch several varieties of sharks and rays. In the Lorikeet Forest, these colorful little parrots from down under can be fed by hand.

Join in the fun and excitement of viewing some of the earth’s most incredible sea mammals, year round off the coast of Long Beach. From June through October, visitors can expect to see and learn about Blue Whales, the largest animals to have ever lived on this planet. From December through mid-May the California Gray Whales pass close by Long Beach on their annual migration from the Bering Sea in Alaska to Baja California, Mexico.

 THE CALIFORNIA DREAM IS AT YOUR FINGERTIPS

From sandy beaches to eclectic neighbourhoods, Long Beach offers the great adventures of a big city with the laid-back atmosphere of a resort town.  You can be as active as you wish or just sit back and bask in the sunshine.  Long Beach gets 345 days of sunshine each year.  Seldom is an outdoor activity ruined by weather.  Stroll, rollerblade or pedal down the bike path winding along more than five miles of beachfront.

 ARTS & CULTURE

Long beach boasts five distinctive museums, The Long Beach Museum of Art, perched atop the bluffs with spectacular Pacific Ocean views, the Museum of Latin American Art, the only museum of its kind in the country, the Pacific Islands Ethnic Art Museum, the University Art Museum on the campus of Cal State Long Beach, and the Long Beach Historical Society Museum. Long Beach aso has two historic Spanish-era Ranchos, complete with adobe ranch houses and formal gardens. Rich in history and diversity, our city offers unique neighborhoods to explore, from the whimsical East Village Arts District, to effervescent Belmont Shore, the ultimate beach community.  Long Beach is proud to have its own symphony orchestra, municipal band, opera, ballet and numerous theatrical, dance and performing arts troupes. 

LONG BEACH IS ‘PAWS-A-TIVELY’ PET FRIENDLY!

I know we can’t travel with our dogs from Australia – but if you need a froendly pooch fix head the the beach! Recognized four years in a row by Dog Fancy Magazine as one of the most dog-friendly cities in America, Long Beach is full of treasures that Fido and family alike can enjoy, ranging from pet friendly hotels, shopping, dining to dog parks and the only off leash dog beach in Los Angeles County!

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This little fella was waiting patiently at the beach for an extended run.

50 THINGS TO DO IN LONG BEACH

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  1. Immerse yourself with underwater life at the Aquarium of the Pacific with an interactive experience that has you swimming with the fishes, ogling otters, petting sharks and promenading with penguins.

2. Channel all your senses during the Paranormal Ship Walk Tour on The Queen Mary          or step back into the glorious heyday of Trans-Atlantic travel on a historical ship                tour.

  1. Cruise the Naples Canals in style with Gondola Getaway on romantic Italian gondolas.
  2. Visit the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA), the only museum of its kind in the U.S., featuring art from Latin America and the Spanish speaking Caribbean.
  3. Enjoy “Breakfast on the Bluffs,” or lunch overlooking the Pacific Ocean on Claire’s patio at the Long Beach Museum of Art, then stroll the museum’s captivating exhibitions.
  4. Explore the Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum (PIEAM), showcasing sculptures, painting and carvings from across the Pacific.
  5. For a glimpse of today’s cutting-edge art, visit the University Art Museum on the Campus of Cal State Long Beach.
  6. Sail away to a “not so faraway” island. Catalina Express has daily high-speed catamaran service to the City of Avalon on Catalina Island. See where the film stars of yesteryears vacationed and where many celebrities of today still do.
  7. Walk, run, bike or skate along a 5 ½ mile beachfront bike and pedestrian path right on the sand. Wide separated lanes keep walkers and riders safe. Rent a bike, a pedal surrey or a Segway and explore our many downtown and shoreline bike paths.
  8. From Irish pubs to multi-million dollar dance clubs, piano bars to a sexy after hour lounge, dance your way through the many nightclubs and bars in downtown Long Beach.
  9. Let art and culture enrapture you as you take a walking tour through the East Village Art’s District.
  10. Celebrate with cocktails and take in the downtown skyline at The Sky Room.
  11. Keep steady doing stand-up paddle boarding or kayaking in Alamitos Bay.
  12. Visit the largest population of Cambodians outside of Phnom Penh at Cambodia Town. Enjoy exotic cuisine and unique shopping opportunities.
  13. Take a lesson in Kite Surfing on one of the best kite Surfing beaches in Southern California.
  14. Enjoy a scenic Sunday brunch at the Queen Mary, the Reef, Fuego at Hotel Maya, or the Queensview Steakhouse.
  15. Stroll one of the Most Walkable Cities in the U.S. (Downtown, Belmont Shore, Belmont Heights, Bixby Knolls and the East Side of Long Beach).
  16. Marvel at the Egyptian architectural style of the Walter Pyramid at Cal State Long Beach. One of only three pyramids in the U.S., it is the largest space-frame structure in North America.
  17. See whales on the Long Beach Arena mural, “Planet Ocean,” by Wyland, which the Guinness Book of Records recorded as the World’s Largest Mural.
  18. Run, Forrest, Run! Not only can you enjoy a fun meal at Bubba Gump’s, you can also participate in the JetBlue Long Beach Marathon.
  19. Do a ‘tap dance’ at Yard House in Shoreline Village, boasting one of the largest selections of beers on tap in the world.
  20. Choose from more than 125 restaurants within an eight block area of downtown Long Beach; many of which have won accolades from the Southern California Restaurant Writers Association.
  21. Rent and drive your own electric Duffy Boat and cruise through the Naples canals.
  22. Come out and be proud; our Gay Pride Festival is one of the largest in the country.
  23. Get pickled eggs at legendary Joe Jost’s — one of Long Beach’s oldest bars.
  24. Have an “All Star” meal at Legends Sports Bar.
  25. Drive ‘round and ‘round the Long Beach Traffic Circle.
  26. Take a refreshing water taxi cruise around the Long Beach Harbor and Alamitos Bay aboard the AquaBus or the high-speed Aqualink
  27. Golf is par for the course in Long Beach. Enjoy the great outdoors with five public golf courses.
  28. Watch the boats go by while sitting under the lighthouse at Shoreline Aquatic Park in Rainbow Harbor.
  29. Place your bid during the Koi Fish Auction at the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Gardens at Cal State Long Beach.
  30. Explore the vibrancy of downtown Long Beach at night with its array of multi-colored LED lighting.
  31. Take your favorite Fido to Rosie’s Dog Beach, the only off-leash dog beach in Los Angeles County.
  32. Taste the world (and leave your Passport at home) by savoring International eateries along Pine Avenue: George’s Greek Café, L’Opera, Alegria, Gaucho Grill, and Wokcano.
  33. Enjoy sumptuous seafood while overlooking the marina and Rainbow Harbor at Parker’s Lighthouse.
  34. Take Salsa lessons and dance the night away at Café Sevilla.
  35. Explore Southern California history at Rancho Los Alamitos and Rancho Los Cerritos.
  36. Let your inner child soar freely with a Ferris wheel ride at the Pike Outlets at Rainbow Harbor.
  37. Put the pedal to the metal and watch the checkered-flag soar at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. If squealing tires and burning rubber are your “thing,” don’t miss our Formula Drift
  38. Buy some new “old” threads at the vintage shops along Funky 4th Street’s Retro Row.
  39. Explore the Pacific Ocean and enjoy Harbor Breeze whale watching cruises year-round off the coast of Long Beach.
  40. Stroll Shoreline Village’s boardwalk and discover an array of waterfront restaurants, plus shops featuring gifts, souvenirs, collectibles, hats, gourmet chocolates and much more.
  41. Get acquainted with the abundant great green outdoors with the city’s many parks and gardens that feature fishing lakes, picnic shelters and bike trails.
  42. Unleash your appetite at the many food festivals and tastings that occur throughout the year, including Belmont Shore’s Stroll & Savor and Taste of Downtown.

45. Rev up those muscle cars and take in the Belmont Shore Car Show, the largest one-day car show on the West Coast.

46. Stroll along downtown Long Beach’s beautifully landscaped and brightly lit Promenade, which stretches from Rainbow Harbor to CityPlace on 6th Stop and enjoy some of the great eateries along the way: SIP at the Renaissance Hotel, The Stave Wine Bar, Beachwood BBQ & Brewery and Michael’s Pizzeria.

47. Pedal across Alamitos Bay and through the Naples canals on your self-powered Hydro-Bike.

48.  Join the fun on the “first Friday” of every month in Bixby Knolls. Shops and restaurants stay open late as folks stroll along Atlantic Avenue while being entertained by live bands and entertainers.

49. Get “inked” at Outer Limits Tattoos, the oldest tattoo parlor in the U.S.

50.  Last but not least…just go outside and bask in Long Beach’s near perfect climate. With 345 days of sunshine each year, seldom is any outdoor activity ruined by bad weather, so have fun in the sun.

Writer Bev Malzard got most of this fab info from the Long Beach Conventions & Visitors Bureau. But she did spend two days there being shown the local haunts by her friend who is a tried and true local! 

Fave finds: the dog beach and an amazing diner called the Breakfast Bar (70 Atlantic Avenue; Long Beach) for waffles, eggs, French toast, chicken wings – all on one plate for brekkie – yay!

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