Seven food events you should know about: Your weekend is all about the festivals
Grecian yearn Open wide and say “Opa!” It’s time for the annual Los Angeles Greek Festival. Enjoy a wide variety of authentic Greek dishes and pastries, including spanakopita, Greek barbecue, pork souvlaki and baklava. Also on the menu: an appearance by celebrity hosts Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson; traditional Greek costumes; dancing; live music; Greek beer and wine; specialty shops; and more. Saint Sophia Cathedral, 1324 S. Normandie Ave., 5 to 11 p.m. Fri.; 1 to 11 p.m. Sat.; noon to 10 p.m. Sun. Adults, $5; children under 12, free. Friday night is free for all. (323) 737-2424. www.lagreekfest.com.
Crustacean elation Been longing for lobster all summer but haven't been able to make the trek to your favorite beachside dining spot? You're in luck because the Original Lobster Festival has arrived, featuring live Maine lobsters steamed in what is being called the "world's largest cooker." Nibble on all the sweet, buttery meat your hungry heart desires at the giant food court while listening to live music and watching other festival goers shake their bibs on the dance floor. Rainbow Lagoon, 400-403 Shoreline Village Drive, Long Beach. 5 to 11 p.m. Fri.; noon to 11 p.m. Sat.; noon to 10 p.m. Sun. Adults, $13 in advance, $15 at the door; children under 12, free. www.originallobsterfestival.com.
A Delta deal It's Mississippi picnic time in L.A. For 33 years this event -- sponsored by the Mississippi Culture & Heritage Society of California -- has drawn devotees of the American South with its picture-perfect promise of a lazy picnic. Bring a lawn chair or a blanket and smack your lips over deep-fried Yazoo City catfish and BBQ ribs from Romie's in Tupelo. To whet your whistle there will be free sweet iced tea from McAlister’s Deli in Oxford and free (while supplies last) Lazy Magnolia beer from the eponymous Mississippi brewing company. Montecillo de Leo Polito at Elysian Park, 2010 Stadium Way, L.A. Noon to 6 p.m. $20. (323) 967-3316. www.mississippipicnicla.com.
Splendor in the valley Join L.A. Weekly food writer and critic Jonathan Gold for a discussion called "the Rise of Regional Cuisines in the San Gabriel Valley." Sponsored by the Culinary Historians of Southern California, the event will give attendees a glimpse into San Gabriel Valley's fascinating journey toward becoming home to the largest Chinese population outside of Asia. Gold will talk about the many regions represented in the area's restaurants, along with their various specialties. Mark Taper Auditorium, downtown library, 630 W. 5th St., L.A. 10:30 a.m. Free. (323) 663-5407, http://culinaryhistoriansofsoutherncalifornia.org
Tea Party Put on your history hat and take a journey into the wonderful world of tea. Fowler Museum guest curator Beatrice Hohenegger will give a talk called "Steeped in History: The Art of Tea," during which she will explore the ways that tea has influenced art, religious practice, international trade and health over the centuries. Fowler Museum, 308 E. Charles Young Drive North, L.A. 4 p.m. Free. (310) 825-4361. www.fowler.ucla.edu.
Taste in the city Having just celebrated its centennial, the Santa Monica Pier is h-o-t. That's why it's only fitting that this year's Taste of Santa Monica is upon us, featuring food from many of Santa Monica's favorite restaurants including Border Grill, Fig, Cezanne, La Grande Orange, Locanda del Lago and Real Food Daily. Live music, discounted tickets to Pacific Park and a sunset happy hour are also part of the equation. Santa Monica Pier, 200 Santa Monica Pier #A, Santa Monica. 1 to 7 p.m. Adults, $10; children 10 years and younger, $5. (310) 393-9825. www.tasteofsantamonica.com.
Eatin' large in the O.C. Orange County Restaurant Week is here. This time more than 120 restaurants are participating, including 25 Degrees, Chart House, Duke's, Zov's Bistro, Wolfgang Puck Bistro and Sage on the Coast. On offer: $20, $30 or $40 three-course prix-fixe dinners, and $10, $15 or $20 three-course prix-fixe lunches. Contact individual restaurants for further information. The event runs through Sept. 19. www.ocrestaurants.org.
-- Jessica Gelt
Photo: Oli Scarff / Getty Images