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Lobster Fest!!! Or, An Essay Upon The Most Fair City of San Pedro

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"So you know what you need to do to come off as authentic in San Pedro, right?"

"Tell me!" We were all set to head off to the annual Lobster Fest held in San Pedro's charming seaside Ports O' Call.

"You gotta call it Peeeeeedro."

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Peeeeeedro. Got it. Not that this was my first time searching out good times and good eats in this sunshiney little enclave nestled against the Port of Long Beach, but San Pedro is notorious for its territorial locals -- as well as its working-class charm and fantastic access to the freshest seafood L.A. has to offer.

In fact, Pedro is the perfect site for Los Angeles' annual Lobster Fest, an exuberant and well-provisioned celebration of all that is good and delicious about that most perfect crustacean, the lobster. Except...these lobsters aren't from California. In fact, they ship these babies out from MAINE. That's right, MAINE LOBSTER in CALIFORNIA. Sigh. But it's still a festival, and it's still a celebration of the lobster to come, it's just that the lobsters haven't shown up yet, and so they're shipped in. But there's no shortage of excellent eats, family fun, and perhaps more importantly, awesome live music.

We arrived just in time to see an energetic set by hyperactive neo-punk quartet The Ringers: all the hipsters were in "stand and silently judge while wearing fantastic outfits" mode, while the boomer parents were in "oh god I don't get this music am I old and obsolete???" mode. The little girls, though, totally understood what The Ringers were doing (as little girls so often do): the dance floor was taken over by bouncing little kids who showed the rest of us how to properly RAWK a lobster fest, like the blonde chickie below, who is now my rock goddess hero.

The Ringers were pretty awesome, but they weren't the only band playing this weekend: Friday night's lineup included Duress, The Binges, and The Valley Dolls; Saturday saw blues trio The Otherside, then Native Wayne-approved reggae act Common Sense. The Ringers played Saturday AND Sunday nights (seriously yo, check them out, they are diggable), then came the super awesome indie trifecta of Eagle and Talon, Great Northern, and Scissors for Lefty. Oh, and then a ZZ Top tribute band played. BUT ANYWAY Sunday welcomed Bodies of Water, Country Gone Awry (YEAH hippie cowboys!!), St. James Inc, Neuromance, and Ambrosia.

One of the more elaborate vendors was The Scuba Tour, a year-long traveling scuba initiative who offered free "test dives" in their portable dive tank. They were stationed right next to the Touch Tanks, an educational resource that allows kids to learn about the precious resources of the ocean through hands-on learning and awesome interactive marine science exhibitions. Yeah!!!!

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OH DID I NOT MENTION THE FOOD? Oh!! Well. Let's go over our options, shall we? Just off the top of my head: deep-fried artichokes. Artichokes stuffed with seafood! Brazilian barbecue (oh those Brazilians know how to work with their meat, let me tell you). SAUSAGES. Is there any better fair food than grilled sausages doused with caramelized onions????, no, I think not, DEFY ME. Grilled corn on the cob swimming in butter, drool-factory! Funnel cake: the fair essential. Lemonade, watermelon-ade, horchata, BEER and wine ($5-per-drink alcohol, not bad!).

Here comes the terribly-shamed-faced-admission segment of our entry: we did not get the lobster. Nope. Despite the long lines of happy fair-goers digging into their bright-red sea-beasts, even though $31 for a two-lobster plate ($17 for a single lobster) is not a bad deal, the idea of Maine-imported lobsters at a Los Angeles festival just kind of turned us off. So we headed straight for the San Pedro Fish Market, where we knew the fish would be coming straight off the sturdy little boats that were now bobbing happily alongside the pier.

The San Peeeeedro Fish Market was grilling up whole boat-loads of fresh shrimp, marinated in a Cajun chili sauce, perfect when garnished with shredded cabbage, tomato, and a chili-colored crema. Unfortunately, the mahi mahi tacos also on offer tasted more like cat food: overcooked, and overloaded on a poor thin little corn tortilla. You gotta double-bag those tacos, you know? We were forced to pick apart our tacos with a fork because the single corn tortilla cradling its contents was far too flimsy to support the whole fishy enterprise.

Peeeeeedro is absolutely one of my favorite places to spend a late-summer afternoon (or any other type of afternoon, for that matter), and even though we gorged ourselves on fair food and rockin' tunes, we were still ready for more once we left. And where else to go to continue the seasonal fish party than the Baja Fish Market just up the road on Gaffey? I will swear with one hand on a Bible (and the other on a copy of Shakespeare's Works) that this place serves the best fish tacos in all of California. There below you, behold if you will, the most magnificent, taste-tacular grilled halibut fish taco ever bestowed upon mankind. Cabbage. Crema. Cilantro. Perfection. You can't go wrong with the calamari burrito, either -- um, yes, excuse me, sliced avocado with refried beans and breaded fried squid? Yes, thank me later once you die happy.

The great thing about Los Angeles in the fall is: well, if you missed out this weekend, the Redondo Beach ("Original") Lobster Festival is happening next weekend, so you can catch up on all the great crustacean fun you missed out on this weekend!!! And if you ever really have a craving for beach-side activities, San Peeeeedro is a beautiful and historic place to visit, and one of the best places in the county to seek out the gastronomic delights of the Pacific Ocean. Just don't forget to keep your cool.

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