For folks in Bakersfield, finding a place to enjoy good food and maybe an adult beverage or two is as natural as complaining about the bad air. Luckily, this fall has a bumper crop of activities ranging from cultural food events to a street party and bacon celebrations. Here’s a look at what’s coming up:
Today and Sunday mark the annual Coptic Festival at St. Demiana Coptic Orthodox Church. Organizers were so busy this week preparing, we couldn’t get anyone on the phone as of press time, but the festival promises authentic Middle Eastern food for sale along with church tours and an information film about the faith and fun and games for the kids. Attendees can even take photos with kings or queens of Egypt, although we can assume this won’t require time travel.
The festival runs 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and Sunday at the church, 9200 White Lane.
And speaking of cultural festivals featuring food, the annual St. George Greek Food Festival kicks off Friday for three days of dancing, dolmades and distinctly Greek fun at the church’s Hellenic Park, 401 Truxtun Ave.
For those who have attended in the past, the event promises much of the same. The festival is now spread over three days to hit peak attendance, which church secretary Sahar Ayoub says averages about 5,000.
Lamb shanks, offered in a dinner plate with rice, bread and Greek salad for $15, will be new this year. Those who prefer lamb chops can still order them at the booth selling the popular feta fries, which are actually fresh-fried chips tossed with the cheese, olive oil and oregano.
The festival will return with the usual Greek sweet and savory dishes, plus one addition. The galaktoboureko, a Greek dessert of semolina custard in filo drenched in syrup, will join the pastry lineup.
The event runs 5 to 11 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $5, free for children 12 and under. Visit the church’s website (stgeorgebakersfield.org/greek-food-festival) for a discount on admission and pick up Thursday’s Californian for a full event preview.
There will be dancing in the streets downtown — or at least in Wall Street Alley — on Friday with the BYP Street Party.
In its second year, the event is put on by Bakersfield Young Professionals, a council of the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce that provides networking and other opportunities for professionals ages 21 to 40.
“Although the BYP Street Party is only in its second year, it has quickly become the must-attend event for local young professionals,” said Hillary Haenes, the chamber’s member programs and engagement manager, in an email. “It’s not only a night to unwind and socialize after work, but it showcases talented local musicians and highlights local food vendors.”
Guests enter through the Park at the Mark, 1623 19th St., which will be selling wine and cocktails. Beer tickets are $5, good for selections from Lengthwise, Honey Wagon Brewing Co. and Temblor Brewing Co. along with other craft beers.
And what’s a party without food? In addition to enjoying free La Rosa bars, attendees can choose from gyros, street tacos, hot dogs and more from vendors Curbside Kitchen, Pita Paradise, Brazil Hot Dogs and El Churro Loco.
Guests can also play games ranging from corn hole and ladder ball to giant versions of Jenga and Connect Four. The Jay Smith Group and Lonely Avenue will perform and dancing is encouraged.
Tickets are $20 plus a fee on vallitix.com or $30 at the door. Last year’s event sold out so Haenes suggested it’s worth buying tickets in advance.
Downtown Bakersfield keeps the fun going next weekend with the Bakersfield Friends of Wine. The local group will host a Munch & Mingle with Tony Moreno discussing Chronic Cellars on Saturday at the Padre Hotel. The regional manager of WX, a private label producer for global wine retailers, will highlight varietals from the Paso Robles winery.
Enjoy live music along with appetizers and all-you-can-drink sparkling wine in the hotel’s Belvedere Room. Guests can enter to win a raffle for Chronic wines.
The event runs from noon to 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $45, including tax and tip. Space is limited, RSVP with Tahlia Fischer at 204-4016.
Saturday also marks the return of the Bakersfield Baconfest. With the slogan “Bacon America Great Again,” the festival is back after a year off, promising plenty of bacon dishes and themed cocktails, craft and classic beer and live music.
The festival runs from 2 to 6 p.m. (1 p.m. entrance for VIPs) at Rancho Rio Equestrian Center, 5320 Peacock Park Lane.
Tickets are $30 general admission and $70 for VIP, which includes access to the VIP lounge and a complimentary drink ticket. Buy them at bakersfieldbaconfest.com. Proceeds benefit the Bakersfield Ronald McDonald House.
Later this month, the Guild House hosts its Affaire Extraordinaire on Oct. 23. The evening of fine dining will feature a five-course meal overseen by chef Pat Coyle and a volunteer team. Guests start with a pomegranate prosecco cocktail and garlic roasted shrimp and marinated baby peppers then move onto a Tuscan white bean soup with a parmesan twist, fall harvest salad, limoncello sorbet, osso buco served with risotto and fall vegetables, and finish with chocolate tiramisu and port wine.
The event runs from 5 to 7 p.m. at the restaurant, at 1905 18th St. Cost is $100 per person, with proceeds benefitting the Henrietta Weill Child Guidance Clinic. Reservations are required and space is limited. Call Nada at 834-3566 to RSVP.
If you can’t make this month’s Affaire Extraordinaire, the Guild House has the next on the books for Jan. 29. More details at guildhousebakersfield.com/affaire-extraordinaire.
Changes at Narducci’s
Narducci’s Cafe remains closed for repairs. The East 21st Street bar/restaurant posted on its Facebook page Sept. 9 that it was under construction and would remain closed for improvements. Building owner Jimmy Narducci did not want to comment about the work but noted that the cafe should reopen sometime this week.
He also said that he is running the business again, after leasing it last year to Angel Gonzalez, who owns the Bull Shed bar and grill at Hotel Rosedale. Gonzalez and Narducci had also teamed on the Hidden Cafe on O Street, which is now closed.
Gonzalez did not return a phone message left at the Bull Shed as of press time.
Rock the delicious vote
While opinions are clearly divided on the upcoming presidential election, we can all unite as a country for one undeniable cause: free food. Eureka! Burger, knowing the importance of getting out the vote this November, has sweetened the deal for voters, offering a complimentary order of truffle fries (with purchase of an entree) for dine-in voters on Election Day. To redeem, simply come in Nov. 8 after voting and flash your “I Voted” sticker for an order of truffle fries, tossed with truffle salt, parmesan, green onion and white truffle cheese sauce. The deal is only good on Election Day and limited to one per table. Get the word out with the hashtag #voteforfries.
Cheers to Hello Kitty
For adult fans of Hello Kitty — and you know they’re out there — the 40-something feline has a drink for you. Sanrio, the company that created the character, teamed up with Italy’s Torti Winery to make a line of Hello Kitty wine, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Torti family is using a blend of pinot noir and chardonnay to make a sparkling Hello Kitty rose, and pinot noir grapes only to make a sparkling Hello Kitty white wine. The wines are available now at Antonello Ristorante in Santa Ana. Diners can enjoy the wine by the bottle or the glass at the restaurant and can buy bottles to go.
And since it’s never good to drink on an empty stomach, Antonello owner Antonio Cagnolo has designed an entire menu to pair with the wine. Highlights include Hello Kitty-shaped watermelon slice with microgreens, feta cheese and honey; pink bowtie pasta with a four-cheese alfredo sauce; and a flourless chocolate cake shaped like Hello Kitty.
Patrizia Torti, whose family owns the winery, says that the wines are not a limited-edition item and she and her family plan on making a lot more, as well as expanding distribution. Bakersfield restaurants we’re counting on you to get in on the game.
New and different
Flame Burger is conducting a Facebook poll asking what beer should be added on tap. There are 10 options, including selections from local breweries Dionysus, Honey Wagon and Lengthwise. Check out their page (facebook.com/flameburgerandBar) to vote. ... PizzaRev has tossed a new pizza into the mix. The maple-roasted Brussels sprouts and bacon pizza, which includes buffalo milk mozzarella, is available now for a limited time. ... A new Pieology opened at 5503 Calloway Drive, Suite 300, making that shopping center a spot for second locations since it’s also home to a Sugar Twist Bakery and The Habit Burger. ... Sweet Surrender brought back its, um, anatomically correct cupcakes for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The treats are sold in pairs for $7, with $2 going to Links for Life. ... A lot of bars and restaurants have rolled out specials for football season but the MVP may be Bakersfield Pizza Co., which offers the “Garlic Tom Bready,” garlic bread in the shape of a deflated football for $4.