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Cranberry Meatballs with Reyes Winery 2010 Merlot

| Entertainment | 17 hours ago

It’s that time again for our members to have their quarterly choices and a lunch. Our wine club consists of four shipments a year in March, June, September and December.

There is no fee to become a member, only a commitment that you will remain a member for at least four shipments. With every shipment you have the option of either having it shipped to you or picking it up at the winery.

This weekend is our member pick up party which we offer to all of our members free of charge. It allows two members to have lunch and a glass of wine each. If they wish to invite friends, it’s $15 perperson. Every lunch includes wine pairings. I choose one white wine and two red wines, and one of the three is always a new release.

This quarter my three wines of choice are 2010 Reyes Merlot, 2014 Reyes Muscat and 12-year-old Agua Dulce Delight (new release). This would make an amazing holiday gift for a wine lover!

Now, I had to think about what to serve for lunch.

As I was putting together dinner recently, I realized we have so many leftovers from Thanksgiving. I thought it was time to reincorporate them into a meal. Back in 2012, I published my cranberry sauce recipe (reyeswinery.com/spicycranberrysauce), I then mixed my cranberry sauce with a few other ingredients and created a BBQ type of sauce to serve with my meatballs (which I mentioned last week). I served it with a mushroom pasta and broccoli. During this dinner, I realized this would be perfect to serve this weekend for our quarterly member lunch! It will pair with the 2010 Reyes Merlot.

Reyes 2010 Merlot pairs perfectly with my pumpkin hummus, it also pairs well with pork chops with a cinnamon jerk rub, Toscano cheese dusted in cinnamon and many things you might enjoy during Fall. It has won silver awards from the 2012 O.C. Fair Commercial Wine Competition and the 2012 Long Beach Grand Cru Wine Competition. Plus, bronzes from the 2012 Los Angeles International Wine Competition, Sunset International Wine Competition and the 2013 San Diego County Fair Commercial Wine Competition.

Cranberry Sauce Meatballs

Ingredients
2 cups of spicy cranberry sauce
(http://reyeswinery.com/spicycranberrysauce.)
1 cup of 2010 Reyes Merlot
1 cup ketchup
3 tbsp light brown sugar
Juice of one lemon

Directions
In 3 qt cast iron Dutch oven, place ingredients in pan and cook on medium heat on the stove.
Cook until it boils, 5-10 minutes.
Turn the heat down to low and continue to cook for 5 minutes.
Stir in meatballs (http://reyeswinery.com/meatballs-and-2016-renaissance-by-reyes-sangiovese)

Serve with 2010 Reyes Merlot.

Caroling Cruises and Winter Whale Watching with Island Packers

| Entertainment | December 5, 2019

Island Packers, boat concessionaire of the Channel Islands National Park, provides scheduled whale watching excursions from Ventura and Channel Islands Harbor. They are currently offering gift certificates that can be purchased by telephone now through the holiday season and mailed to the customer or to someone of their choosing. Trips can be booked online for family and friends during the holiday season. Island Packers offers a half-day, non-landing whale watch as well as an all day trip that lands on Anacapa, Santa Cruz or Santa Rosa Island. One-hour caroling cruises will also be available from Dec. 7 through Dec. 23.

The Pacific Gray Whales are normally sighted in the Marine Sanctuary near Anacapa and Santa Cruz Island starting mid December. This mammoth migration of over 20,000 whales covering 6,000 miles is a major attraction in Southern California. Thousands view the huge mammals from vantage points along the shore or aboard commercial and private boats.

Island Packers has the following trips available:

Half-Day Winter Whale Watch Trips (no landing), almost daily Dec. 26 through April
$38 adult, $34 senior, $28 child
3½ hours mid channel or near the Channel Islands for the Pacific Gray Whale migration.

Half Day Island Wildlife Cruises (no landing), frequent weekends and selected dates year-round
$38 adult, $34 senior, $28 child
North shore Anacapa Island wildlife cruise up close to view Arch Rock, lighthouse and sea lion rookeries.

Three Quarter Day Island Wildlife Cruises (no landing), selected dates fall and summer months
$57 adult, $53 senior, $42 child

One-hour Holiday Caroling Cruise in Ventura Harbor, 6:30 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
$16 adult, $13 senior (55+), $10 child
Caroling on board through the marinas and the Ventura Keys, as passengers enjoy the holiday lights with family and friends.

Ventura Harbor Parade of Lights Cruise and Fireworks, Dec. 13 and Dec. 14
$35 adult, $32 senior, $25 child
Cruises depart at 6 p.m., 6:20 p.m. and 6:40 p.m. for approximately 2½ hours to view the holiday lights and boat parade, ending with an onboard view of the fireworks display.

Anacapa Island landing trips, selected dates
$59 adult, $54 senior, $41 child
Take a guided hike or hike on your own the 1½ mile loop on the east end of Anacapa Island.

Prisoners Harbor and mid Santa Cruz Island landing trips, selected dates
$59 adult, $54 senior, $41 child
Other special trips landing on Santa Cruz with The Nature Conservancy to be announced for spring and summer. Prospective destinations include: Cueva Valdez Anchorage, Willows Anchorage and Fraser Point.

Santa Rosa Island landing trips, three or four days per week
$82 adults, $74 senior, $65 child
Hike from Becher’s Bay into the interior of Santa Rosa Island 2 to 5 miles (moderate)
Cruise into the Painted Cave (ocean and weather permitting and captain’s discretion)
Cruise the western Santa Barbara channel and the north shore of Santa Cruz Island.
Ocean and weather permitting, view the Painted Cave

Campers have the option to camp on all the islands to which Island Packers is scheduled to run, and they also offer some inter-island camper shuttles to one or more islands while camping. Check their website for schedules and dates.

Advance reservations are advisable by calling 805-642-1393 or on their website at www.islandpackers.com. Also available in the Ventura location are souvenirs, books, T-shirts and sweatshirts that make a nice addition to a gift certificate.

Descanso Gardens Lights Up the Night with “Enchanted Forest”

| Entertainment | December 5, 2019

December is upon us, and with it comes a blizzard of holiday events all over Southern California. Descanso Gardens is once again jumping on this festive sleigh ride with its annual lights extravaganza, “Enchanted Forest of Light.” As soon as the sun goes down, their grounds spark up with thousands of twinkling lights transforming the popular Gardens into a magical playground for the young and old alike. Shining through January 5th, Descanso Garden’s “Enchanted Forest” is one attraction you won’t want to miss.
Guests can look forward to 10 luminous exhibits located across the Gardens, all of them twinkling with brilliance. Located across a one-mile stretch of some of the most popular areas, not only are these beautiful to see, but most are interactive. Kids especially will be thrilled that they can manipulate the lights and sounds they encounter, making the experience extra magical.

Each exhibit shines in its own special way. Upon entering the grounds, you will encounter Flower Power, a large bed of lighted tulips in a variety of transforming colors. The flowers put on their own show, changing from color to color in a synchronized pattern. Beyond this you will find the Celestial Shadows by HYBYCOZO, spinning installations that hang from the trees and allow you to explore geometry through light and shadow. Take a moment here to admire the Camouflage House by contemporary sculptor Tom Fruin, which graces Descanso’s Mulberry Pond.

Lightwave Lake lies just beyond and here guests can control the lighted landscape. Watch as the water, shore and surrounding trees change colors with the touch of a button or a turn of a handle. This is a great time to take a small break at the welcoming Lakeside Lookout, located next to the Lake, which is cozy and warmed by a number of fire pits.

One of the most popular exhibits is the Luminous Lawn featuring Aqueous by Jen Lewin. These interactive pathways of light shine with illuminated interactivity and are a huge hit with kids and adults alike. There were hundreds of guests partaking in collaborative play across the Lawn, making the night glow with color.  Here you will also find a number of lit benches, and while they may look too pretty to sit on, feel free to take a seat while the kids wear themselves out.

There is so much to see at “Enchanted Forest.” So, whether you’re walking under a canopy of bright stars in the Starlight Garden, or making a wish on one of the dozens of red lanterns in the Garden of Good Fortune, you’ll go home filled with wonder from the twinkling exhibits.

If you’re worried about the weather, the Garden has a variety of hot beverages for sale that you can take with you during your adventure. There are also a variety of food and snack items if you find yourself hungry before or after. The gift shops are open and filled with seasonal surprises so make sure you take a look before heading home to pick up some last minute Christmas gifts.

We are lucky to live in such a festive city with so many wonderful winter attractions. Make it a point to visit Descanso Gardens during the holidays; they will make your seasonal experience glow with spirit.

Descanso Garden’s “Enchanted Forest of Light” runs through January 5th. For tickets and information call (818) 949-4200 or visit descansogardens.org.

Live Music

| Entertainment | December 5, 2019

Live Music this week in SCV!
Dec 6, Fri
6–8pm Alchemy in Valencia Monaco Piano
7–9pm Rock Inn Nathan on piano Piano
7–10pm Hyatt Valencia lounge Various artists Live music
8–11pm The Local Pub n Grill Nick Horn Pop & orig
8–11pm Wine 661 Bill Cinque & friends Classic rock
8–11:30p Vincent Hill Station Overdrive on the patio Classic rock
9–12m Salt Creek Grille Galo Pacheco Acoustic CR

Dec 7, Sat
12:30-3:30 Backyard Grub n Brews Mojo Filter Blues Blues mix*
6–9pm Vincent Hill Station Crystal Whiskey Country
6:30–9p Pocock Brewery Special ticked event 2 bands
7–10pm Hyatt Valencia lounge Various artists Live music
8–11pm Wine 661 Various artists Live music
8–12m VFW 6885 Right Side Up band Classic rock
9–12m Salt Creek Grille Sean Wiggins & Colin CR, pop, orig
9–12m Rock Inn Freddie’s Bomb Factory & Waves of Steel
* Saugus Strong fundraiser – special event
Dec 8, Sun
10a–2p Saugus Swap meet Brothers & Others Live music
3–7pm Vincent Hill Moldy Marvin’s open mic Various
5–9pm Amer Legion Newhall SCV Blues Society Jam with Primal Kings *
5–9pm VFW 6885 Magnolia Drawl Country
5:30–8p Vincenzo’s Newhall the Will Call band Classic rock
6 – 9pm Black & Blue Sunday Night jazz Jazz
* Blues Jam is also toy drive for Toys For Tots! (Admission is $15 toy or $10 donation)

Dec 10, Tues
6–8pm Alchemy in Valencia Monaco Piano
7 – 9pm Rock Inn (Lake Hughes) Just One Guy Acoustic

7–10pm Bergie’s steakhouse Harry Orlove & friends Blues mix

Dec 11, Wed
6–8pm Alchemy in Valencia Monaco Piano
6–9pm Tomato Joes Cyn Ctry James Hackett Classic rock

Dec 12, Thurs
6–8pm Salt Creek Grille Laurence Tamez Sax
6–8pm Alchemy in Valencia Monaco Piano
6–9pm Tomato Joes Cyn Ctry Daphne Winters CR & folk
6:30–9p Brewery Draconum The Gamblers duo Acoustic
7–10pm Bergie’s steakhouse John Davis Travelin’ Band Fogerty
8–11pm Black & Blue Dueling pianos Piano

Dec 13, Fri
6–8pm Alchemy in Valencia Monaco Piano
7–9pm Rock Inn Nathan on piano Piano
7–10pm Hyatt Valencia lounge Various artists Live music
7:30–10p Vincenzo’s Newhall Calling Kings band Live music
8–11pm The Local Pub n Grill Nick Horn Pop & orig
8–11pm Wine 661 Bill Cinque & friends Classic rock
8–11:30p Vincent Hill Station Benny Thomas on the patio Country
9–12m Rock Inn (Lake Hughes) Alan Wright Band Blues mix
9–12m Salt Creek Grille Lance Allyn Acoustic CR
9–1am Doc’s Inn Frankly Speaking Rock classics

On the Town with Jason Downs

| Entertainment | December 5, 2019

Greetings fellow Santa Claritans, and welcome to a column that’s all about having fun around town! This was a week of Thanksgiving and travel for a lot of us…so, let’s commiserate, shall we?

Here’s what I got up to: A long line at the Food Pantry in Newhall, a longer line on the way to Big Bear and lots of amazing food in between!

It’s a time for giving thanks and a time for just plain ol’ giving…and I, for one, have a lot to give thanks for, my friends. I have amazing children for one. On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving I took my two kids, my nephew and one of their school friends to the Food Pantry in Newhall where the The Rotary Club of Santa Clarita was giving away 300 turkeys to those in need this holiday. As a proud member of the club myself, I had signed up to help hand them out. They were thrilled to have my kids along as well. We went to work unloading all the frozen birds as hundreds of folks waited in a long line that disappeared around the corner.

We put the turkeys in bags that included some other Thanksgiving necessities and then began handing them out one by one. My kids took turns heaving over a very large turkey to each of the folks that stepped up. “Happy Thanksgiving,” they’d say with a smile, always getting the same sentiment in return. At the end of all the hustle and bustle, each of the kids I’d brought walked away feeling a sense of pride. I often include them in volunteer work but they continue to seem surprised that it can be so much fun and make them feel so good. They are learning how important it is to look your neighbors in the eye and lend a hand when needed. What better lesson for kids on Thanksgiving? I was proud of them and proud to be a part of the Rotary Club who’s out there doing what we can to make a difference in this great community.

Then we went to work cooking up our own feast for the extended family on the big day. It was my wife at the helm and the rest of us her sous chefs. She’s a marvelous cook and we got to indulge in all the favorites including broccoli cornbread and the star of the evening (aside from the turkey, the stuffing and the mashed potatoes), mouthwatering butternut squash soup. Ooooh, mama.

After a lovely Thanksgiving, we jumped in the car on Friday to head up to Big Bear. Yes, we knew there was a winter storm that dumped two and a half feet of snow on the area the day before, but we had made reservations the previous year (we enjoyed our last visit immensely) and there was no course for a refund so off we went. Apparently, half of Southern California was in the same predicament because it was a looooooong crawl, my friends. The only route that hadn’t been closed by the storm was the north eastern passage through Palmdale, Victorville, and the Lucerne Valley…and that is where we spent the next twenty-eight hours. We got all the way to within fifteen miles of Big Bear, essentially the base of the mountains in Lucerne, when traffic simply stopped. After sitting completely still for over an hour we were finally informed that the road had been closed due to an accident involving an eighteen-wheeler and an RV. Sounded bad, so we got a room nearby.

The next morning we set out and joined the long line of cars at the base of the mountain once again…a mere fifteen miles from our destination. Seven hours later, we finally arrived. (All I can say is, thank goodness we had The Da Vinci Code audiobook to listen to.) Twice we were stopped for so long I was able to take a nap at the wheel! My son periodically walked along beside us and built snowmen on the embankments. Other families piled their kids out of the car, bundled up like mini marshmallows, and pulled them along in snow sleds to pass the time. Bathroom breaks had folks one after the other skipping for nearby trees and bushes.

And never once did anyone in my family complain…other than myself. If they had not all been so set on spending time in Big Bear I would’ve turned around. But no, they were determined, and therefore I was determined.

After the first four hours of inching forward at an average of 2mph, we learned that snow chains were the entire reason for the hold up. We knew snow chains were “required” so I had a pair in the car just in case, but having spent forty years back east dealing with snow and ice (and never once using chains) I felt confident we should wait until the last minute to see if they really were necessary. And they were absolutely not. Turned out they were not only unnecessary but also a huge hinderance. For those folks who put the snow chains on, going up a steep mountain on which the roads were perfectly dry and clear, the chains actually gave them LESS traction. Cars were spinning their wheels until their frustrated drivers had to pull over a second time to take the chains off!

Having said all that, we still had a wonderful time. Once we arrived we ate at an incredible Mexican restaurant called El Jacinto…perhaps not eating the entire day had something to do with it, but I’ve never enjoyed an enchilada more! The next day we ate at Fire Rock Burgers and Brews and man, oh man, did it hit the spot! I ordered something called ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’ and I was down for the count, friends. It was nothing short of transcendent! A reimagining of chicken parmesan, it had fried mozzarella sticks on top of the chicken, then marinara, then mozzarella, then arugula! Man, oh man! And the beer-battered fries were out of this world, to boot! The Fire Rock decor is old school rock ‘n’ roll and the owner has a real penchant for clever design. Light fixtures were made out of dangling vintage microphones and old cymbals, trash receptacles were made of glittering drum sets, and most notably, the beer tap was made out of a huge amplifier whose knobs had been replaced with brass spigots. So cool!
And let me ask you this: Have you ever had a frozen chocolate-covered Twinkie? Well the ingenious folks at North Pole Fudge have invented a crowd favorite with this masterpiece! I was mesmerized by the delectable process pictured below.

As you can see, even after the ordeal it took to arrive, Big Bear delivered in a big way for us and we didn’t regret a single moment. We’ll be back again next year!

Stunning view of Big Bear Lake from our room, icicles and all!

So, there it is for this week, friends. Always feel free to let me know what you like doing around town so I can check it out and write it up. (reachjasondowns@santaclaritagazette.com)

Until next time, bon voyage, break a leg, and bon appetit!

Holiday Festivities and More at the MAIN

| Entertainment | November 29, 2019

Tickets are on sale now for a variety of film, theatre, comedy and music shows at The MAIN during the month of December. The MAIN, located at 24266 Main St. in Old Town Newhall, is Santa Clarita’s newest multi-use arts center.

The 10 by 10 Variety Night occurs on the first Thursday of the month and features music, film, storytelling, magic, comedy and more. Ten performers, from a variety of genres, are selected to perform a 10-minute piece of their choosing. Comedian Mary Gallager will perform this month. The show is on Thursday, Dec. 5, at 7 p.m. and is free to attend.

Comedy Mashup returns to The MAIN on Friday, Dec. 6, at 8 p.m. This monthly show is half stand-up comedy and half improv, featuring comedians and improvisers from all over Los Angeles. Performing this month is a cast of local up-and-coming comedians. There will also be improv and games from “Your Favorite Cast.” Tickets are $10 presale and $15 on the day of the show.

The Society Comedy Troupe will bring its hilarious and energetic team improv show to The MAIN on Saturday, Dec. 5, at 8 p.m. Similar to the TV show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” the performers ask for audience participation while creating improvised music, comedy and scenes. Grab your friends for an evening of laughs at this show that’s appropriate for all ages. Tickets are $15.

Olive Branch Theatricals is back with its production of “A Cowboy Christmas Carol.” This show is a rip-roarin’ twist on the classic Dickens tale, offering music, dancing and lots of holiday spirit. Shows are on Dec. 13, 14 and 20-22 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 15, 21, and 22 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15.

On Dec. 19, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., enjoy a free art reception featuring the newest exhibition at The MAIN, titled “It’s All in Your Head,” by artist Christopher Flores. “It’s All In Your Head” is a phrase that serves as a reminder that individuals in our contemporary society are often disregarded for the sake of the greater good — a false attempt at utilitarianism. When we belittle the experiences of the individual and tell them, “It’s all in your head,” their complex thoughts and emotions are not acknowledged as important and are instead treated as a self-serving indulgence that retains little value in an increasingly materialistic world. Attendees at this reception will enjoy light refreshments and have a chance to meet the artist.

The MAIN’s monthly Note by Note live music night is back. This is a free music event that delights audiences with a variety of genres. Bands, duos and soloists will perform a wide range of styles, including rock, folk, Celtic, Americana, blues, jazz, country, experimental, western and more. This month, check out Wardencliff Jazz Quartet, a group of talented young musicians. The show is on Thursday, Dec. 26, at 7 p.m. and is free to attend.

Adult beverages will be available for purchase at select shows, in addition to concessions. Learn more about these events and purchase tickets to shows by visiting AtTheMain.org/tickets.

Metrolink to Host Santa and his Helpers on the Holiday Express Train on Three Sundays in December

| Entertainment | November 28, 2019

The laughter of children and a hearty “Ho, ho, ho,” will be heard aboard trains as Metrolink offers the Holiday Express Train for a family-friendly seasonal experience on three Sundays in December. This interactive train ride will feature carolers, holiday characters and a visit from Santa and his elves. The Holiday Express Train runs on Dec. 1, 8 and 15 in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Ventura counties.

“When people board the Metrolink Holiday Express Train, they will have a joyous time on festively-decorated train cars and a chance to take photos with holiday characters and spend time with Santa and his helpers,” said Metrolink Board Chair Brian Humphrey. Stephanie Wiggins, CEO of Metrolink, remarked, “Trains bring out the kid in all of us, and kids of all ages love train travel. We are excited to celebrate the season with our Metrolink Holiday Express Train and sharing the fun and festivities with families as they have a unique holiday experience.”

On Dec. 1, the Holiday Express Train will depart the Metrolink Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo station at 11:50 a.m. for a non-stop scenic ride along the Orange County coastline, returning to Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo at 1:20 p.m.
On Dec. 8, the train will leave from the Simi Valley station at 11:50 a.m. for a non-stop ride along the Ventura County hillsides, returning to Simi Valley at 1:05 p.m. Also on Dec. 8, the Holiday Express Train will depart the Burbank-Downtown station at 3 p.m. for a non-stop ride to Newhall, returning to Burbank-Downtown at 4:15 p.m.

On Dec. 15, the Holiday Express Train rides again, leaving the Rancho Cucamonga station at 11:50 a.m. for a non-stop ride to Covina, returning to Rancho Cucamonga at 1:05 p.m.

Tickets for each holiday ride are $20 per person. Children two-years-old and younger ride free, provided they sit on a parent’s lap. A limited number of tickets are available for each trip. Only passengers with valid Holiday Express Train tickets will be permitted to board. Each car will have assigned seating, so families and groups can sit together. Tickets for the Metrolink Holiday Express Train can be purchased only at metrolinktrains.com/holidaytrain.

Ticketholders should arrive 45 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time to receive boarding bracelets and enjoy refreshments and holiday music.

In the spirit of the holidays, Metrolink encourages Holiday Express Train riders to bring a new, unwrapped toy for donation to the Metrolink toy drive in partnership with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s holiday toy drive. Attendees can also bring socks for the homeless, which will be donated to the following charities:

Los Angeles Mission
Orange County Rescue Mission
San Bernardino County Homeless Partnership
Ventura County Rescue Mission

Metrolink is the largest commuter rail agency in California and the third largest in the United States, operating seven lines along a 538-mile network that travels across Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties.

Live Music

| Entertainment | November 28, 2019

Nov 29, Fri
6–8pm Alchemy in Valencia Monaco Piano
7–9pm Rock Inn Nathan on piano Piano
7–10pm Hyatt Valencia lounge Dole – Humphries duo Rk, pop, bl
8–11pm The Local Pub n Grill Nick Horn Pop & orig
8–11pm Wine 661 Bill Cinque & friends Classic rock
8–11:30p Vincent Hill Station The Fulcos band Classic rock
9–12m Salt Creek Grille Galo Pacheco Acoustic CR

Nov 30, Sat
6–9pm Vincent Hill Station Z – Band CR, bl, ctry
6:30–9p Pockcock Brewery Future X Husbands Classic rock
7–10pm Hyatt Val – Great Pacific Vinyl Gypsies Classic rock
7:30–10p Vincenzo’s Newhall Indie Rose & Space Rat 2 bands
8–11pm Wine 661 Bill Horn Acoustic CR
8–12m VFW 6885 Debra Lee band Country
9–12m Salt Creek Grille Sean Wiggins & Colin CR, pop, orig
9–12m Rock Inn Right Side Up Classic rock

Dec 1, Sun
10a–2p Saugus Swap meet Urban Soul Live music
3–7pm Vincent Hill Moldy Marvin’s open mic Various
4–5:30p St Stephen’s Church Scenic Hills Singers Christmas
5–9pm VFW 6885 Lee Harper band Country
5:30–8p Vincenzo’s Newhall Right Side Up Classic rock
6 – 9pm Black & Blue Sunday Night jazz Jazz

Dec 3, Tues
6–8pm Alchemy in Valencia Monaco Piano
7 – 9pm Rock Inn (Lake Hughes) Various artists Acoustic 7–10pm Bergie’s steakhouse Deep Fried Daddys Classic rock

Dec 4, Wed
5:30–8p Vincenzo’s Newhall Golden Valley Jazz Jazz
6–8pm Alchemy in Valencia Monaco Piano
6–9pm Tomato Joes Cyn Ctry James Hackett Classic rock

Dec 5, Thurs
6–8pm Salt Creek Grille Laurence Tamez Sax
6–8pm Alchemy in Valencia Monaco Piano
6–9pm Tomato Joes Cyn Ctry Daphne Winters CR & folk
6:30–9p Brewery Draconum AlanWright band Blues mix
7–10pm Bergie’s steakhouse Tommy Peacock + Feathers Funk rock
8–11pm Black & Blue Dueling pianos Piano

Dec 6, Fri
6–8pm Alchemy in Valencia Monaco Piano
7–9pm Rock Inn Nathan on piano Piano
7–10pm Hyatt Valencia lounge Various artists Live music
8–11pm The Local Pub n Grill Nick Horn Pop & orig
8–11pm Wine 661 Bill Cinque & friends Classic rock
8–11:30p Vincent Hill Station Overdrive on the patio Classic rock
9–12m Salt Creek Grille Galo Pacheco Acoustic CR

What Wine Goes Well with Thanksgiving Leftovers?

| Entertainment | November 28, 2019

by Beth Heiserman, Reyes Winery

Every year before Thanksgiving, I generally give suggestions as to what wines pair with our turkey dinner, yet this year I have chosen not to. I have decided to a pairing with the leftovers. Every time we prepare and cook dinner, we seem to make more than two of us can eat, therefore we have leftovers. Thanksgiving is notoriously known that we seem to have an abundance of leftovers. A few years ago, I remember when my mom made Thanksgiving dinner, she decided to purchase a 14lb bird. That amount generally feeds about 10 people, yet there were just three of us. My mother learned that from my grandmother who couldn’t decide how many pies to buy one year for 12 of us and chose to get 8. I guess, I am not too far behind them.
For breakfast or brunch, I would suggest 2010 Syrah to enjoy with a brunch quiche that has shredded turkey, dried cranberries and leftover dressing. Even a frittata with turkey and butternut squash, turkey and sweet potato hash casserole or biscuits and turkey gravy.

For lunch, one of my favorite leftovers is a turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce and cream cheese. It is best when the bread is toasted, and the cream cheese starts to melt a bit. My other is a roll up that has turkey, stuffing, cranberries and gravy as the dipping sauce. Reyes 2010 Syrah will compliment well with these two sandwiches.

A pot pie with turkey and vegetables with rosemary, thyme and sage is another great dish to make from leftovers. Savory bread pudding prepared from leftover stuffing, turkey and maybe adding fresh spinach and mushrooms can be quite tasty too. Many casseroles can be baked with leftovers and fresh vegetables and no one will notice they were even leftovers to begin with.

The 2010 Syrah is the perfect wine to pair with turkey. It has aromas of fresh raspberries, plums, dark chocolate and a taste of smoky berries. The delicious wine has won silver medal at the 2012 Los Angeles International Wine Competition and the 2013 San Diego County Fair Commercial Wine Competition. Plus, bronze medals at the 2012 San Francisco International Wine Competition, O.C. Fair Commercial Wine Competition, and the 2013 Sunset International Wine Competition.

Coming up, I will be having an event, “Thanksgiving Leftover Tasting” on November 30th. Reyes 2010 Syrah will be featured for this tasting event. Have a Happy Thanksgiving and hope to see you soon.

On the Town with Jason Downs

| Entertainment | November 26, 2019

Greetings fellow Santa Claritans, and welcome to a column that’s all about having fun around town! As we continue to heal as a community it is sometimes beneficial to get out and about…and there is certainly a lot happening in the area to provide fellowship and entertainment during this difficult time.

Here’s what I got up to this week: Songs for Saugus at Vincenzo’s Pizza, a live television broadcast of the Main Street Tree-Lighting, and a Moonlight Forest Magical Lantern fest at LA Arboretum.

Not many things can lift my spirit the way music can. Music is one of the most mysterious and powerful forces on earth, in my opinion. And let me tell you, the healing power of young voices and budding talent could be found in abundance at Vincenzo’s on Thursday night for Valencia High School’s benefit jazz concert in support of Saugus victims and their families. The highly capable and instantly likable band director, Emilio Terranova, invited students from the entire Hart District to take to the bandstand, and they did with heartfelt vigor. Folks from all over Santa Clarita showed up in droves and packed the pizza joint to the gills. It’s possible there were more saxophones on stage than there were slices of pizza on plates, but here’s the thing: They sounded great. We have some seriously talented kids to be proud of in this town. Whether they were playing old standards or improvising a solo there was unbridled delight and impressive precision across the board.

The result was a cleansing sense of fellowship and community, not just on the earnest faces of those singing or playing instruments but also on the faces of everyone listening. “It’s our hope that we can both raise money for our friends at Saugus and bring some much needed joy to our community,” Terranova said.

Mission accomplished, my friend.

A couple days later found us once again among our friends and neighbors for the annual ‘Light Up Main Street’ holiday celebration in Old Town Newhall. Wow, was it packed and wow, did they have a lot to see and do. Not to mention an appearance by the big guy himself: Santa Claus! Another ‘big guy’ in the SCV honored Saugus and our community by hosting the evening, KTLA’s morning co-anchor Chris Schauble. Wanting to show just how strong our Santa Clarita residents are, he went live with the evening news as Mayor Marsha McLean switched on the beautiful tree covered in thousands of lights and the crowd sent up a deafening cheer. Atop the tree was a Saugus Star.

The Los Angeles Arboretum is worth a visit any time of year, but if you’re looking for an incredible distraction from reality then GO NOW! The Moonlight Forest Magical Lantern Art Festival is more spectacular than I could possibly do justice using a few paltry words. We walked through the belly of a great white shark the size of an 18-wheeler as it spiraled with ever changing colored lights. We walked through a zoo of exotic plants and animals (tigers, pandas, cherry blossoms). The theme was all things China so the celebration of lights covered everything from Asian elephants to classic Chinese architecture to peacocks, food and live music. Traditional performers in full costume even danced and sang on the central stage. The overall effect was nothing short of magical.

Although it was quite difficult to narrow down, my favorite works of art were a mystical boabab tree surrounded by gazing deer, a flock of giant monarch butterflies all clustered with wings flapping and colors morphing, and a sea of pink stars and planets covering the forest floor surrounding a glittering moon. Simply gorgeous. Feast your eyes (although these pictures do nothing to capture the sheer size and beauty of the display).

So, there it is for this week, friends. Always feel free to let me know what you like doing around town so I can check it out and write it up. (reachjasondowns@santaclaritagazette.com)

Until next time, bon voyage, break a leg, and bon appetit!

The Scenic Hills Singers Present A Christmas Concert

| Entertainment | November 22, 2019

On December 1, at 4pm, a local choral group will present a free concert of sacred and secular Christmas classics and new favorites. The concert by the Scenic Hills Singers, conducted by Roger Lamb, will be held at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. St. Stephen’s is located at 24901 Orchard Village Road in Newhall.

Meatballs

| Entertainment | November 21, 2019

by Beth Heiserman, Reyes Winery

This past Sunday, I made lasagna for my dad and I for dinner. I also made an extra batch of Sunday gravy which most people know as marinara sauce. So, after we finished the lasagna, I had a little bit of sauce left over and I decided to make eggplant parmigiana. I went to the farmers market and bought fresh Japanese eggplant, onions and the most beautiful heirloom tomatoes. I just happened to read something about a week ago about the origins of chicken and eggplant parmigiana.  Eggplant parmigiana has been around since at least 1786, when someone in Naples, Italy published their recipe. Eggplant is an Italian dish and the chicken became an American staple.  When the Italians emigrated to America, eggplant wasn’t a common vegetable, but chicken or veal was in abundance, so they substituted. I remember growing up, my mom making veal quite often for dinner. My mom would make a Romanian dish called givetch. It is a veal and eggplant dish hat we would eat at least once a week. Sometimes she just made it with the vegetables as a side dish.

At the farmers market, there was a local organic grass fed and grass finished beef farm and I picked out fresh sirloin steaks and ground beef that he made fresh from brisket. I am going to make meatballs from the ground beef and later this week I will make steak chili from the sirloin steak. The trick to making light meatballs is not over mixing them. Just combine the ingredients and let it sit for ten minutes before making them into balls. Resting is important.

The most important part to this article is what wine should we enjoy with dinner…. Either the 2016 Renaissance by Reyes Sangiovese or the 2009 Reyes Cabernet Sauvignon are the two the pair the best with eggplant parmigiana and meatballs with marinara sauce. Both wines will be on the menu for December in the tasting room.

The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon estate wine has won Gold & 95 points & Best in Class in the 2011 Los Angeles International Wine Competition plus 86 points in the Wine Enthusiast Magazine (06/2018 Edition).This robust and well balanced “member only” wine has matured gracefully and transformed its tannins to deliver a soft, velvety delightful experience. This Cab has improved with age and has further enhanced its aromas of cherry and cocoa, you can also taste peppercorn, pomegranate and a hint of mandarin. It also pairs with Buffalo Steak au Poivre with herbed fingerling potatoes, sharp white cheddar or with triple dark chocolate cake.

Our Sangiovese is made from a specific vineyard selected by our winemaker, Robert Reyes to create a wine that captures the heart of the 2016 vintage. This was released in June of 2019 in the tasting room. On the nose there is an aromatic profile of black currant and plum that continue on the palate with balanced acidity. Enjoy with aged Pecorino cheese, Panzanella salad and cherries poached in red wine with mascarpone cream.

Coming up, I will be having an event, “Thanksgiving Leftover Tasting” on November 30th which will feature Reyes 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Meatballs

Ingredients
1 pounds ground beef
1 egg
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup Italian breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons of olive oil

Directions
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix using your hand. Don’t over mix.
Make meatballs to the size of a 2” ball. I use a mini muffin disher.
In a medium frying pan over medium heat, heat the oil.
Cook the meatballs for about 5 minutes and flip and cook on the other side for an additional 5 minutes until browned.
Add meatballs to the marinara sauce. (I have shared my marinara and meat sauce recipe in the past.)
Cover, with the lid slightly open and simmer on low heat for 1 hour. You want the lid slightly open, so the sauce wont bubble over.
Serve.

Live Music This Week

| Entertainment, Uncategorized | November 21, 2019

Live Music this week in SCV!

Nov 22, Fri
6–9pm                  Wolf Creek Brewery              Rebel Heart (& SteveJones) $15 / pp
7–9pm                  Rock Inn                                      Nathan on piano                       Piano
7–10pm                Hyatt Valencia lounge           Various musicians                     Live music
8–11pm                The Local Pub n Grill               Nick Horn                                    Pop & orig
8–11pm                Wine 661                                    Bill Cinque & friends                Classic rock
8–11:30p              Vincent Hill Station                 Benny Thomas band                Country
9–12m                  Salt Creek Grille                       Galo Pacheco                             Acoustic CR

Nov 23, Sat
6–9pm                 Vincent Hill Station                 Miles 2 Go                                   CR w/violin
7–10pm                Hyatt Val – Great Pacific       Various musicians                     Live music
7:30–10p              Vincenzo’s Newhall               The Fab Baker Bros                  Live music
8–11pm                Wine 661                                    Eliot Waldhorn guitar               Flamenco
8–12m                  VFW 6885                                   Servants of Soul                        Classic rock
9–12m                  Salt Creek Grille                                      Lance Allyn                                 Acoustic CR
9–12m                  Rock Inn                                      Karson City Rebels                    CR, Bl, ctry
9:30–1a                                Eighth & Rail                              Snareheads                                 Dance rock

Nov 24, Sun
10a–2p                                 Saugus Swap meet                 Sweetwater Gentlemen        Bluegrass
3–7pm                  Vincent Hill                                Moldy Marvin’s open mic      Various
5–9pm                  Amer Legion Newhall            Steve Britain’s C.R. Jam          Classic rock
5–9pm                  VFW 6885                                  Sue Rey & the Runarounds   60’s rock

Nov 26, Tues
6–8pm                  Alchemy in Valencia               Monaco                                        Piano
7 – 9pm                Rock Inn (Lake Hughes)        Jack Lelah                                     Acoustic

7–10pm     Bergie’s steakhouse              Eliot Witherspoon & co           Classic rock

Nov 27, Wed
6–8pm                  Alchemy in Valencia               Monaco                                        Piano
6–9pm                  Tomato Joes Cyn Ctry           James Hackett                            Classic rock
6:30–9p                Brewery Draconum                SRBQ band                                  Bl-CR mix
7–9pm                  Wine 661                                    Ron Suffredini                            Classic rock

Nov 29, Fri
6–8pm                  Alchemy in Valencia               Monaco                                        Piano
7–9pm                  Rock Inn                                      Nathan on piano                       Piano
7–10pm                Hyatt Valencia lounge           Dole-Humphries duo               Indie, folk, rk
8–10:30p              Vincenzo’s Newhall               Open Mic Night                         Various
8–11pm                The Local Pub n Grill               Nick Horn                                    Pop & orig
8–11pm                Wine 661                                    Bill Cinque & friends                Classic rock
8–11:30p              Vincent Hill Station                 The Fulcos on the patio          Classic rock
9–12m                  Salt Creek Grille                       Galo Pacheco                             Acoustic CR

Santa Clarita Valley Youth Orchestra to Perform at COC Performing Arts Center

| Entertainment | November 21, 2019

The Santa Clarita Valley Youth Orchestra (SCVYO) collection of ensembles will perform at the Performing Arts Center on the Valencia campus of College of the Canyons on Saturday, Nov. 23, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The SCVYO is proud to present a “show of their own,” as the orchestra will be the only collective ensemble performing their program, Music that Makes you Move. This performance was made possible by a grant awarded to the SCVYO by the City of Santa Clarita Arts Commission.

The family performance will showcase five of the seven performance groups that make up the SCVYO — Prelude Strings, Orchestra, Novae Symphonia, Santa Clarita Valley Brass Ensemble and Prelude Winds and Brass. Each group is excited to come together to play at the Performing Arts Center in one of their largest performances of the season. Months of practice have led up to this performance, so all the young musicians are looking forward to showing Santa Clarita Valley their hard work.

Tickets cost $15 for general admission and $10 for children (12 and under) and seniors (60 and over). They can be purchased at www.canyonspac.com.

There is also an opportunity to support the SCVYO this holiday season through the Annual Poinsettia Plant Sale fundraiser. The order deadline is Saturday, Nov. 23. Orders can be placed at https://www.scvyo.org/about-poinsettia-campaign.

The SCVYO is a non-profit organization that has served the Santa Clarita Valley community and surrounding areas for over 50 years, providing a variety of enriching instrumental education programs for students eight years and older.

On the Town with Jason Downs

| Community, Entertainment | November 21, 2019

Greetings fellow Santa Claritans. In light of what our community has gone through this past week, specifically those families who lost a beloved child to senseless violence, it is difficult to partake in anything that smacks of joy or levity or the goings on around town. Normally, this is where I would ask you to join me as we celebrate all the area has to offer…but it feels to me as though time should stop for a bit.

When a child is lost everything should come to a stand still, shouldn’t it? Give us a moment to grapple with the gravity; give us a moment to grieve. But the birds continue to sing. The sun still rises and stars still fall. The whistle of the train still blows in the distance. Dogs go on playing in the grass.

After feeling the gamut of emotions these past few days…the fear, the anger, the helplessness…it finally dawned on me why we go to such lengths to soldier on: For our children. We get up and face the day so our children can see that love, fortitude, and family will win the day. We go on so that our kids know what it is to be strong. We go on to teach them that a life lived in fear is not living. We face our fears and we talk about our anger. We begin the healing process slowly but surely.

And so, while I do not want to imagine what some parents are coming to terms with in Saugus, we buck up and head to our son’s little league game at the Hart Baseball Complex. We stick close to each other. Even my teenage daughter. She is visibly addled, having known one of the victims through her tennis team. So, we stick close. The field is more somber than usual, our cheers much more subdued, but we’re all there to support our kids. All we can do is let them know we’re here for them. Do our best to keep them safe. Let them know how proud and happy we are to be their parents.

My son hits a foul ball to the fence in front of me…as we all try to go on with our routine.

On Saturday, we head to the Farmers Market in the parking lot of the Newhall Library. Again, another attempt at normalcy. Another attempt to embrace the blessing of our lives and the blessing of our time together. An eclectic mix of organic fruit, veggies, healthy potato chips, divine pastries and a pony ride are like a balm for the soul.

One baker in particular lifted our spirits not only with her incredible, melt-in-your-mouth cinnamon glazed almond pop tarts and sugar coated blueberry crumble cake but with the pure joy she exuded for her craft. Kimberly Gonzalez of Bake Up knows the definition of comfort food and she has the secret recipe to boot. Her signature pop tarts will put a smile on your face and warmth in your heart.

To order up your own comfort food, call 661.305.5898 or email Kim at bakeup2014@gmail.com

Another soothing treat we discovered for those who prefer savory over sweet were the amazing guilt-free ‘root vegetable chips’ from Fusion Variations. A husband and wife team that create delicious treats to satisfy your cravings using coconut oil to boil (not fry) yummy chips out of organic beets, sweet potatoes, kale, and of course, potatoes. Between Bake Up and Fusion Variations we were ready to take our spoils home and sit down in front of the TV for a Disney movie. Hey, you need to do whatever makes you feel warm and fuzzy during sad times, friends.

We closed the week, like many other families in the community, at Central Park where the memorial vigil took place for the dear students of Saugus High School who lost their lives on Thursday, Gracie Muehlberger and Dominic Blackwell. Thousands of residents gathered in the park, surrounded by dozens of law enforcement officers, to mourn. Stories were told, tears were shed, songs were sung, prayers were lifted up. Being there, hearing the words of the victims families, learning who Gracie and Dominic were to their friends and fellow students, the bright lights they had been in the world, definitely helped make the surreal more real. It helped us feel the pain with each other and be there for each other. For an hour or two, everything stopped as we all stood in stunned, profoundly sad silence.

So again, instead of my usual ‘join me as we celebrate all the area has to offer’ let me say: Join me as we celebrate all the fine people this area has to offer. And if you need it during this difficult time, reach out to someone you love for support…or a pastor, friend, colleague, teacher, student, son, spouse, grocer, gardener…or even me. (reachjasondowns@santaclaritagazette.com)
Until next time, much love to all.

The Wonders of Creative Art

| Entertainment | November 15, 2019

One-man show at The Canyon Theater Guild by Tony Hanna, fine art painter, photo imaging and digital artist. The exhibit runs from Nov. 23 to Dec. 23 with a reception November 30 from 4:30-6:30 pm.

Tony’s work is a collaboration of digital and mixed media paint, you won’t want to miss this exhibit! For information: renderings@colorfusion.us

Tartar Sauce

| Entertainment | November 15, 2019

by Beth Heiserman, Reyes Winery

Tartar sauce is a mayonnaise-based sauce or what we usually categorize as a condiment. I love to read about the history of things and all week I’ve been trying to figure out when tartar sauce became a condiment for fish rather than meat.

Tartar Sauce is named after the Tatar people. The Tatar’s originated in the 5th century from the nomadic Mongols in the Gobi Desert. The Golden Horde, which were Mongols until the 13th century brought Steak Tartare to Russia. There are many stories, but the one I am familiar with is that the Mongols were horseback riders and in order to tenderize the meat and maybe slightly cook it, they would put chopped or ground meat under their saddles and as they rode, it would tenderize it. Then they would make a sauce called “Tartar sauce” and enjoy it with the meat. The tartar sauce included oil, eggs and vinegar; which is what we know as mayonnaise.

But there is nothing in any books until 1745, this was published “aioli bo” with the same ingredients as mayonnaise in a recipe book containing traditional Menorcan recipes. Then in 1756, it was mentioned as “salsa mahonesa” in a Spanish recipe book. The thought was it was named after the city Port Mahon in Menorca which is a Spanish Island. The ingredients included the mixture of oil, eggs and vinegar; which they called “mahonnaise”.

Tartar sauce sometimes has gherkins, capers, and pickle relish. My mom always added pickle relish. In this tartar sauce I didn’t add it, because we didn’t have any in the refrigerator. This condiment would be good on a hamburger. This morning my dad and I were thinking what we should have for dinner. Hmmm….we are going to the farmers market today and what should we get to go with this burger? And of course, what wine will pair? Sometimes I say, pair with the sauce, but if the star of the dish is the protein, then I will pair the wine differently. In this case, the burger is the star!

I think for dinner we will have turkey burgers with sliced red onion, tomato, alfalfa sprouts topped with tartar sauce, wild rice with cranberries and Brussel sprouts. I would pair this with Reyes 2010 Syrah. It has Aromas of fresh raspberries, plums, dark chocolate and a taste of smoky berries. Pairs with roast turkey with rosemary and sage dressing, manchego cheese or chocolate cake with a raspberry filling. This is a great wine to pair with turkey. Coming up, I will be having an event, “Leftover Thanksgiving Tasting” on November 30th. This is a great leftover to enjoy.

Ingredients

½ cup Mayonnaise
½ cup Sour Cream
1 Avocado, small, mashed
1 lemon, zested and juiced
½ tsp guava garlic salt
2 tsp pickle relish (optional)

Directions

In a small mixing bowl, mix all ingredients until smooth
Let rest, for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
Serve.

Live Music This Week SCV

| Entertainment | November 14, 2019

Live Music this week in SCV!
Nov 15, Fri
7–9pm Rock Inn Nathan on piano Piano
7–10pm Hyatt Valencia lounge Lance Allyn Acoustic R&B
8–11pm The Local Pub n Grill Nick Horn Pop & orig
8–11pm Wine 661 Bill Cinque & friends Classic rock
8–11:30p Vincent Hill Station Runaway Train on patio Country rock
8–12m Amer Legion Newhall Andy’s heavy metal night Hard rock
9–12m Newhall Press Room Various artists Acoustic rock
9–12m Salt Creek Grille Jay Bolan Acoustic CR

Nov 16, Sat
6–10pm Vincent Hill Station Dan Parra Folk rock
7–9pm Pocock Brewery Cougarachis orig 60s+70s
7–10pm Hyatt Val – Great Pacific Lance Allyn Acoustic R&B
7:30–10p Vincenzo’s Newhall The Grateful Dudes Bluegrass
8–11pm Wine 661 Sean Hughes band Rock, pop
8–12m VFW 6885 No Chasers Classic rock
9–12m Salt Creek Grille Jay Bolan Acoustic CR
9–12m Newhall Press Room varied artists Acoustic rock
9–12m Rock Inn Boys Night Out band CR, Bl, ctry

Nov 17, Sun
10a–2p Saugus Swap meet The Fulcos Live music
3–7pm Vincent Hill Moldy Marvin’s open mic Various
5–9pm Amer Legion Newhall Thom Teresi’s Jazz Jam Jazz Jam
5–9pm VFW 6885 Pam Loe & Chad Watson Country
5:30–8 Vincenzo’s Newhall 2: Nikki Hahn + Jet Jurgensmeyer
6–9pm Black and Blue Various artists Jazz night

Nov 19, Tues
7 – 9pm Rock Inn (Lake Hughes) Just One Guy Acoustic 7–10pm Bergie’s steakhouse Phil n the Blanks Blues mix

Nov 20, Wed
6–9pm Tomato Joes Cyn Ctry James Hackett Classic rock

Nov 21, Thur
5:30–7:30 Northpark Village Sq Ray Howard Live music
6–9pm Tomato Joes Cyn Ctry Daphne Winters CR & folk rk
6:30–9p Brewery Draconum Steve Jones Acoustic bl
7–10pm Bergie’s steakhouse Servants of Soul Classic rock
7–10pm The Main, Old Town Nwhl Note by Note various
8–11pm Black and Blue Dueling pianos Piano

Nov 22, Fri
6–9pm Wolf Creek Brewery Various bands Live music
7–9pm Rock Inn Nathan on piano Piano
7–10pm Hyatt Valencia lounge Various artists Live music
8–11pm The Local Pub n Grill Nick Horn Pop & orig
8–11pm Wine 661 Bill Cinque & friends Classic rock
8–11:30p Vincent Hill Station Benny Thomas bnd – patio Country
9–12m Newhall Press Room Various artists Acoustic rock
9–12m Salt Creek Grille Galo Pacheco Acoustic CR

On the Town with Jason Downs

| Entertainment | November 14, 2019

Greetings, fellow Santa Claritans, and welcome to a column that’s all about having fun around town! We’re fortunate enough to live in one of the great entertainment meccas of the world. Join me as we celebrate all the area has to offer … and a special thank you to our veterans and servicemen and servicewomen who have devoted their lives to giving us the freedom to do so!

Here’s what I got up to this week: the 8th Annual Valencia High School “Pride of the Vikings” Field Show Tournament and a Chili Cook-Off at Agua Dulce Winery!

Autumn is the perfect time to attend a Marching Band competition…something I never knew until this week. In high school I was always a part of the show choir and the musicals but never the band. I was not prepared for the sheer magnitude of coordination and detail that goes into these astounding performances. A hundred teenagers dancing (and yes, friends, they were dancing, not just marching) in unison with instruments strapped to their bodies while beautifully playing a complicated piece of music…in tune! To say nothing of the color guard dancing and twirling around them with swinging rifles, swords and flags! These kids should be given medals for even attempting such a feat!

Different high schools throughout the Los Angeles Metropolitan area take turns hosting the Field Show Tournament and this year the honor fell to Valencia High School. Eighteen schools competed for top marks in visual effect, movement technique, musicianship, repertoire, choreography, and of course, the overall excellence of the performance. It was a veritable feast for the eyes and ears.

Mr. Kelvin Flores, the Director of Instrumental Music for the Valencia Marching Band and Color Guard (and host of the tournament this year), explained that a specialist visits each team and uses a highly nuanced computer program to type in the number of band members and, whoosh, out pops a live grid of shapes and movements for the marchers to memorize and rehearse. On top of that, a choreographer adds the dance to moves to get everyone from place to place according to the theme they’ve chosen. Amazing, right? We struggle to get my teenage daughter to keep her closet organized!

And the support from parents was incredible. Each team had ten minutes to run on the field and set up before the countdown began to strike the first note. NASCAR would have been proud of these students, alongside their parents, whipping these sets across the field and wheeling out instruments. I mean, wow! Some bands (with the help of their crafty parents) had built platforms and parapets to match their castle theme, some made elegant lamp posts and banners. All had elaborate set pieces and themes. All had incredible spirit and sportsmanship. And all had baked goods that were better than any sporting event I’ve ever been to. (Yes, those band moms can bake!)

This tournament was a huge production representing hours and hours of practice, planning and construction. West Ranch took home the top prize on Thursday night but a wonderful performance was given by all. You can certainly call me a new fan of the marching band and color guard tournament. Seeing Mr. Flores standing on the Viking field surrounded by his students, all smiles and high fives, was a lovely tribute to what makes our schools in Santa Clarita some of the best in the country. I look forward to seeing him and his students on the field next time!

If you love chili as the weather gets cooler, raise your hand! (I’m raising my hand.) November is the perfect time for an afternoon on the vineyard with all the chili you can eat, my friends, and let me tell you, if you appreciate wine and good food you do not want to miss the annual chili cookoff at Agua Dulce Winery!

It has become tradition in our household for my wife and son to come up with a winning pot of chili and compete each year. They toiled in the kitchen the week before giving us taste tests until they felt they had it just right. And it was deeeeeelicious. I could feel it in my bones; they were gonna take home the prize! And then, with so many ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ and wide eyed enjoyment from the folks who came out for a taste assured me they finally had it in the bag. But alas, whether everyone was just being polite (which is possible when you have an adorable eleven year old chef doling out samples) or the other chili pots were somehow even more magical, they didn’t win this time around.

Our adorable eleven-year-old chef doling out samples of his white chicken chili

Either way, it was a delightful day and a wonderful way to spend a November afternoon. The Agua Dulce Winery is worth the trip whatever time of year with plenty of romantic spots to pull out a picnic basket, great wine tasting, beautiful cheeses, horseshoe ranges, and an assortment of animals for the kids to check out. At the very least, come taste my son’s chili next year! It’s bound to be the winner for sure!

So, there it is for this week, friends. Always feel free to let me know what you like doing around town so I can check it out and write it up. (reachjasondowns@santaclaritagazette.com)

Until next time, bon voyage, break a leg, and bon appetit!

College of the Canyon’s Theatre Department Presents Molière’s “Learned Ladies”

| Entertainment | November 7, 2019

The College of the Canyons theatre department will present its production of “Learned Ladies” in the Black Box Theatre for a week-long run beginning November 15th.

Written by the French playwright Molière, the five-act comedy is a satire on academic pretension, female education and preciosity.

“This is very funny play,” said David Stears, the play’s director and the department’s producer. “It is like a sitcom or a romcom. So many of its characters we still see in today’s sitcoms and romcoms, but we added some fun surprises for our production.”

The cast is comprised solely of College of the Canyons students. Scenery and lighting for the production are also facilitated by students in the theatre classes.

Considered one of Molière’s most popular comedies, “Les Femmes Savantes” premiered at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal on March 11, 1672. The play was translated by Pulitzer Prize-winner Richard Wilbur for English-speaking audiences to enjoy.

Performances of the COC theatre department’s production of “Learned Ladies” will take place at 8 p.m. November 15-16 and November 22-23. Matinee performances will run at 2 p.m. on November 17 and on November 23-24.

General admission tickets are $12. Tickets for students and seniors are $6.

The College of the Canyon theatre program is a highly regarded transfer program offering three degrees in theatre, including an AA-T degree that articulates with CSU schools, allowing students to enter CSU schools as a junior.

The COC theatre department season for Spring 2020 includes “The Secret in the Wings” and the musical “PIPPIN.”

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www3.canyons.edu/Offices/PIO/CanyonsPAC/learned.html

Crab Cakes and Chardonnay

| Entertainment | November 7, 2019

This past week was my father’s birthday, and every year I like to make him something special. This year I made crab cakes and tartar sauce.

But first – I got up that morning and made him a breakfast of lox, eggs and onions. We then went to the cemetery to visit my mom and then for lunch we ended up having a scoop of ice cream.

For the crab cakes, I was going to serve avocado on the side and realized when we got home from our day that I forgot the avocado. So, I decided to put it in the tartar sauce. Below I have my recipe for my crab cakes, which was my mother’s. The only thing I did differently was I added guava garlic salt versus original garlic salt and I put black garlic mayo instead of regular mayo. I know that if my mom was still here she would have loved the change to her recipe since she loved garlic so much. My mom was born in Philadelphia but raised in Maryland, so we have been making these crab cakes and eating them our whole lives.

She always made her homemade tartar sauce and kept it in and old Hellmann’s jar. I will share my new tartar recipe with you soon, so stay tuned!

Now the next question I had for myself was which wine to pair with our crab cakes for dinner. I decided to go with a 2016 Renaissance by Reyes Chardonnay. This Chardonnay comes from the same vineyard that we source our Sauvignon Blanc that I wrote about last week. This Chardonnay has delightful aromas of citrus, lemon zest and a hint of grapefruit. It is aged in French oak for 20 months, creating a multi layered and complex wine. It is rich on the palate and filled with notes of tangerines and quince. This wine has been very easy for me to pair this with so many delicious dishes. The acidity pairs perfectly with a rich tasting dish, such as these crab cakes. To complete my dinner I served a frizzy salad with a champagne vinaigrette and roasted corn. Enjoy!

Crab Cakes

Ingredients:
1-pound crabmeat, shredded
1 ½ tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon old bay seasoning
½ tsp guava garlic salt
Juice of ½ lemon
1 egg
1 ½ tablespoons black garlic mayonnaise (If you don’t have this, you can use garlic powder and mayo)
2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:
Add olive oil to cast iron frying pan over medium heat
Combine crabmeat, breadcrumbs, parsley, old bay and guava garlic salt
Combine crabmeat mixture with other ingredients and mix well
Form into patties and place on a lightly greased broiler pan or baking sheet. You should be able to get about 10
Fry for about 5 minutes on each side
Let sit for 5 minutes and serve with tartar sauce

On the Town with Jason Downs

| Entertainment | November 7, 2019

Greetings, fellow Santa Claritans, and welcome to a column that’s all about having fun around town. We’re fortunate enough to live in one of the great entertainment meccas of the world, and every now and then traveling is a good idea to remind us of just how lucky we are to live here.

Here’s what I got up to this week: a trip back East to see the beautiful autumn leaves of New York.

For those of us who grew up on the East Coast, there’s a myth passed down through the generations that there are no seasons in California. This wives’ tale is similar to the belief of many Americans that New York State is comprised entirely of skyscrapers. But ever since my family and I moved to Valencia over five years ago, we’ve been delighted to learn that in fact the opposite is true, for both New York and California. Yes, the seasons are more subtle and mild here, but they are most definitely present. So, my column this week is for anyone who longs for a more extreme (and momentary) taste of crispy cold afternoons, the smell of billowing chimneys and the promise of snow on the brisk breeze, and the crunch of fallen leaves beneath your insulated boots. If that’s you, fellow Californian friends, then please read on!

The excuse for our excursion was a nephew on my wife’s side turning 13. We were all invited to celebrate his bar mitzvah with my wife’s family in Buffalo. The added bonus was a mini vacation during the peak of leaf season and a classic Eastern Halloween. Spoiler alert: It was cold, gray and rainy almost the entire time. But hey, for us native New Yorkers only staying a few days, the novelty of it all was just what we needed. Rather like babysitting your sister’s kids — love ‘em to death and then love ‘em even more when you send them back home to mommy and daddy.

A rainy day in Buffalo! My son took this from the back seat of the car.

After we landed in Buffalo, the first thing on our bucket list was a visit to the Cider Mill my wife frequented as a child outside the city. We loaded up on apple cinnamon donuts, maple sugar candy, crispy orchard apples and of course, a big jug of fresh cider. Then it was off to the Original Pancake House, where we indulged in a dish called a Dutch baby (photo at right). And you thought Buffalo only invented hot wings?

A Dutch Baby is a pastry-like pancake bowl with lemon curd and strawberry.

Another childhood favorite of my wife’s was an old mill alongside a gushing waterfall that’s been converted into the cutest and yummiest chocolatier you’ve ever seen. The thin windows did nothing to keep out the bite, but it didn’t matter. As the confections were being made right in front of us, we tried our best to choose from all the many delights. The place was called Sweet Jenny’s, and let me tell you, she lived up to her name. The homemade ice cream — and yes, we had to indulge despite the nip in the air — was out of this world. The chocolate-covered Oreos, raspberry truffles and (my wife’s all-time favorite) orange-flavored dark chocolate tasted better than any confection I’d ever put in my mouth. Why? Was it really all that different? Or was it just the magic of the moment, the old mill and the smiling faces behind the counter? The alchemy of it all was delicious!

As the sun began to sink and it seemed the rain would not relent, the kids reluctantly put on their Halloween costumes. The plan was to walk around my wife’s old neighborhood and continue to soak up the nostalgia, but because of the weather, there were very few trick-or-treaters on the street. You see? We so rarely need to consider the weather in Santa Clarita that I highly recommend the occasional (short) trip to the Eastern Seaboard during the cold and rainy season to put things in perspective!

So, there it is for this week, friends. Always feel free to let me know what you like doing around town so I can check it out and write it up. (reachjasondowns@santaclaritagazette.com)

Until next time, bon voyage, break a leg, and bon appétit!

Comedy, Theatre and More at The MAIN

| Entertainment | November 7, 2019

The temperatures may be cooling down, but the shows are heating up this November at The MAIN, located at 24266 Main Street in Old Town Newhall! Tickets are on sale now for a variety of shows taking place this month. Adult beverages will also be available for purchase at select shows, in addition to concessions.

The 10 by 10 Variety Night occurs on the first Thursday of the month and features music, film, storytelling, magic, comedy and more. Ten performers, from a variety of genres, are selected to perform a 10-minute piece of their choosing. This month, the show was on Thursday, November 7, at 7 p.m. and was free to attend.

Come out to The MAIN for Comedy Tonight: A Night of Original One Acts, two nights only. Comedy Tonight is an evening of hilarious original one-act plays presented by the Comedy in a Week wing of the Off Book Theatre Company. In the span of one week, each of these comedies is cast, produced, directed, rehearsed and presented by local artists. With each one-act having its own director and the actors working under the adrenaline of limited rehearsal time, the evening will be fresh, contemporary and, most of all, funny. Be ready to enjoy theatre in its purest form as these multi-talented thespians amaze and entertain you. The shows are Friday, November 8, and Saturday, November 9, at 8 p.m.

The theatrical performance this month at The MAIN is Eclipse Theater Company’s production of Neil Simon’s “The Gingerbread Lady.” When her teenage daughter shows up on the same day actress Evy Meara returns from a 10-week stint in rehab, she has a reason to stay sober. But toss in a cheating ex-boyfriend and two enabling friends with their own tragic problems, and she has little chance as she throws the worst birthday party in the history of birthday parties. Neil Simon shows us the funny side of being human and the need to find something bigger than ourselves to live for. The show benefits A Light of Hope Recovery Center. Showtimes are November 15, 22 and 23, at 8 p.m. and November 16, 17, 23 and 24, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $18.

The monthly Note by Note live music night will be canceled this month due to the Thanksgiving holiday but will be back on the fourth Thursday of December.

Learn more about these events and purchase tickets to shows by visiting AtTheMain.org/tickets.

Live Music This Week

| Entertainment, Uncategorized | November 7, 2019

Nov 8, Fri
6–9pm                  Wolf Creek Brewery              Right Side Up                              Classic rock
7–9pm                  Rock Inn                                      Nathan on piano                       Piano
7:30–10p              Vincenzo’s Newhall               Wardencliff Quartet                                Jazz
8–11pm                Wine 661                                    Bill Cinque & friends                Classic rock
8–11pm                The Local Pub n Grill               Nick Horn                                    Pop & orig
8–11:30p              Vincent Hill Station                 Mudfish on the patio              Classic rock
9–12m                  Newhall Press Room             Various artists                            Acoustic rock
9–12m                  Salt Creek Grille                       Lance Allyn                                 Acoustic CR
9–1am                  Doc’s Inn                                    Frankly Speaking                       Rock covers

Nov 9, Sat
6–10pm                Vincent Hill Station                 Sweetwater Gentlemen        Bluegrass
7–9pm                  Pocock Brewery                      Future X Husbands                   Classic rock
7–10pm                Hyatt Valencia lounge           Various artists                            Live music
7:30–10p              Vincenzo’s Newhall               Baklash & Northpark Mission  2 bands
8–11pm                Wine 661                                    All Access band                          Rock covers
8–12m                  VFW 6885                                   Big Coyote                                   Country
9–12m                  Salt Creek Grille                                      Sean Wiggins duo                     Acoustic CR
9–12m                  Newhall Press Room             varied artists                               Acoustic rock

9–12m                       Rock Inn                                     Walt & Pam trio                         Country

Nov 10, Sun
10a–2p                                 Saugus Swap meet                 Abrakadabra                               Live music
12n-4p                  Route 66 Classic Grill              Midnight Rider band                Allman Bros trib
1-4pm                   Backyard Grub n Brews        Mod-U-Lates                              Classic rock
3–7pm                  Vincent Hill                                Moldy Marvin’s open mic      Various
5–8pm                  Vincenzo’s Newhall               Age of Outrage                          Live music
5–9pm                  Pocock Brewery                                     3 live bands                                Live music
5–9pm                  Amer  Legion Newhall           SCV Blues Society                     Blues Jam
5–9pm                  VFW 6885                                  Mary White band                     Country
6–9pm                  Black and Blue                          Various artists                            Jazz night

Nov 12, Tues
6–8pm                 Alchemy in Valencia               Monaco                                        piano
7 – 9pm                Rock Inn (Lake Hughes)        Robby Duron                              Acoustic

7–10pm     Bergie’s steakhouse              Gary Coppola & Time Mach  Classic rock

Nov 13, Wed
6–8pm                 Alchemy in Valencia               Monaco                                        piano
6–9pm                  Tomato Joes Cyn Ctry           James Hackett                            Classic rock

Nov 14, Thur
5:30-7:30              Northpark Village Sq              Natalie Wattre                           Folk Rock
6–9pm                  Tomato Joes Cyn Ctry           Daphne Winters                        CR & folk rk
6:30–9p                Brewery Draconum                Blue Motel Room                      Classic rokc
7–10pm                Bergie’s steakhouse              Chris Cardenas band                Blues rk mix
8–11pm                Black and Blue                          Dueling pianos                           Piano

Nov 15, Fri
6–9pm                  Wolf Creek Brewery              Various bands                            Live music
7–9pm                  Rock Inn                                      Nathan on piano                       Piano
8–11pm                The Local Pub n Grill               Nick Horn                                    Pop & orig
8–11pm                Wine 661                                    Bill Cinque & friends                Classic rock
8–11:30p              Vincent Hill Station                 Runaway Train on patio          Contemporary
8–12pm                Amer Legion Newhall            Heavy Metal night                    Hard rock
9–12m                  Newhall Press Room             Various artists                            Acoustic rock
9–12m                  Salt Creek Grille                       Jay Bolan                                     Classic rock

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