Cheese Week Begins January 21!
By Linda Kissam
The idea of “Restaurant Month” was created when Visit California announced its first statewide California Restaurant Month for January 2012 to promote business during the slow season. Visit California reaches out to various California communities inviting participation in the celebration. Each community is given guidelines but is welcome to develop its own program according to the community’s unique offerings, participants, and vision.
Downtown Long Beach, an energetic waterfront destination, is known for its diverse dining options and unique cultural offerings. From January 21 through 27, the city’s focus for Restaurant Month will be all things cheese, from flaming cheese to wine-and-cheese pairings to beer cheese soup. It will be served hot and cold, crumbled and melted, spread and sprinkled, and even on fire.
I was one very lucky girl to be hosted by the Downtown Long Beach Associates for a preview of the upcoming Cheese Week celebration. If you haven’t been to Long Beach in a while, you are missing something special. The restaurant community truly has its act together, and the restaurant district is living large and delivering big time. It’s safe, easily walkable, and a must do for every foodie. Downtown Long Beach has a magical, small town, urban feel.
Walk into some restaurants, such as L’Opera, and you’ll feel as though you’re in a San Francisco bistro. Go into another, such as Utopia, and you are magically transported to Old World Europe. Just looking for a great glass of wine from small-lot wineries and some delicious tapas? Head on over to District Wine. Up for a romantic night out with a killer view? Then The Sky Room is an affordable luxury not to be missed. Love going out to breakfast? Try Omelette Inn for its down-home atmosphere, custom breakfasts, and fresh orange juice. Think you know Mexican cuisine? Not until you try the incredibly fresh contemporary dishes at Agaves Kitchen & Tequila.
I have listed all of this year’s Cheese Week participants below, with stars next to the ones I visited during the preview. Each and every one of them is highly recommended for quality of food, beautiful food presentations, innovative Cheese Week menus, outstanding service, and affordable offerings. Visit them all; you can thank me later.
In addition, at the bottom of this article District Wine owner John Dutton has shared his recipe for roasted bar nuts. His suggested pairing is Ken Brown Pinot Noir. Trust me, this is a perfect pairing and is truly unlike anything I’ve tasted in a while.
I loved my preview experience so much, I am going back to visit more restaurants during Restaurant Week. Now THAT is a recommendation.
Special Cheese Week menus will be offered at the following participating restaurants:
Beachwood BBQ & Brewing
Buono’s Authentic Pizzeria
Brew Haus Coffee & Tea
Congregation Ale House
* District Wine
George’s Greek Cafe
* Omelette Inn
The Potholder Cafe Too
* The Sky Room
* = restaurants I visited during the preview
Roasted Bar Nuts Recipe
Compliments of District Wine
The nuts are fresh roasted with rosemary, cayenne, and brown sugar and served warm with dark chocolate on the side. Pair with a Ken Brown Santa Barbara Pinot.
To make: Combine 1 cup pecans, 1 cup walnuts, 1 cup almonds, and 1 cup cashews with 4 tablespoons of melted butter. Heat until nicely toasted.