Tuesday, June 29, 2010

World of Color: Yet Another Reason Not To Pass Up California Adventure

It's no secret that between the two Anaheim parks, California Adventure is the scruffy little sister to it's more glamorous sibling, Disneyland. The Magic Kingdom has better clothes, better hair and let's face it -- probably gets all the cute guys.  

But I think all that is about to change with 'World Of Color,' the elaborate nighttime water show that just opened at California Adventure. A few weeks ago I was invited to the premiere of this newest attraction, and by the looks of it I think more people will finally be paying attention to the 'little sister.' It's like she threw away her retainer and training bra all at once!

(It's also no secret that I'm the only one in my family that prefers California Adventure, with its shorter lines, wide open spaces and wine with dinner. It's also home to my favorite ride, Soarin' Over California, the best ride ever invented -- that is, if you don't count my other favorite ride.)

In a nutshell, 'World Of Color' is a combination water show/light show/movie experience that takes place on a 'stage' of water, bigger than a football field, in Paradise Bay. For those of you who hate nutshells, here's a brief description from Disney:
During the under-25-minute show, “World of Color” immerses audiences in technological wonder and the enchanting magic of beloved Disney and Disney•Pixar characters, combining nearly 1,200 versatile fountains, dazzling colors, Disney music and an all-new kaleidoscope of audio and visual effects...Animated sequences projected onto the “World of Color” water screen will flood the senses, taking audiences on an imaginative journey into the colorful worlds of such classics as “Finding Nemo,” “Toy Story,” “The Little Mermaid,” “The Lion King” and many more.
Take a look:

The 'Blue Carpet' premiere before the show was a great celeb-watching event -- I'll post my photos later this week, including more of this stud and this couple who looked so happy at the time.  Also, God answered my prayers and I finally got to stay at the Grand Californian. I'll be posting a review of my time there later, and for once it doesn't involve me stealing any toiletries.

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Perfect Timing: Summer Is Here and So Is Super Mario Galaxy 2

We're just starting the second week of summer vacation over here at Casa Sweatpants, and I'm not sure who's happier, me or the kids. Those last few weeks of school were so brutal that I think we all deserve a medal for surviving it, and we got something even better -- Nintendo sent over a copy of Super Mario Galaxy 2! They also sent over some freeze dried ice cream and some Tang to go with the intergalactic theme of the new game, but the edibles were gone before I even got to try them. That's the last time I say the words, "Open the package and I'll be right there."

To be honest, I haven't had a chance to try out the game, either. As with most of them, the kids don't have the time to ever show me how to play, so if I ever pick up a controller and try to jump in it's all, "Hey, you're doing it wrong" and "Can you just wait and try it when we're all done?" It's like being at my high school dance all over again.

So in order for this to be accurate, I had my 11-year-old, who is the video game expert in the house and has logged around seven-thousand-hours on the game, write this review. She's a fantastic writer, and I swear she came up with 'devilishly handsome Mario' all on her own.

Personally, I LOVED Super Mario Galaxy 2. I had the first Super Mario Galaxy and enjoyed it, so I had thought the next one would be just as good. Even though there are so many Mario games, this seems to be my favorite of them all. I’m not sure if it’s the creative planets they come up with, the devilishly handsome Mario, or adorable Lumas that fly around, but I’m completely addicted to this game.
The storyline in the first Super Mario Galaxy was the same old thing, Bowser captures Princess Peach, and Mario has to rescue her. The only thing that I found odd was that because this game was a sequel to the first, I expected the storyline to change. In the first game, what had happened was that Peach had invited Mario to this Star Festival or something, and Bowser had arrived, captured her, and took her to the center of the universe. In Super Mario Galaxy 2, Princess Peach had managed to make the same mistake again of hosting the Star festival and was captured by Bowser to the center of the universe again. Other than that flaw though, the rest of the game was good.
Throughout your adventure through space, you travel to different galaxies and worlds, capturing stars and coins. I loved the worlds they had created, each with their own level(or levels) and a magical coin you could collect. Some worlds were engulfed with water, while others were dry as dust. Some even had a special items only found there, enabling Mario to transform and have a special power required for finishing the level.
The whole point of the game is to capture stars to power the starship(that strangely resembled Mario’s face) Mario rode on to reach Peach and save her. Each time you got a new star, the ship could go further, getting you closer to the center of the universe where Peach is. On your starship, you have Lumas (little star creatures) that fly around as well as their leader, a big plump purple Luma that guides you along the away. You also have your classic Toads(little dudes with Mushroom heads) that are aboard your starship helping out by delivering mail and working a small bank.
You also meet many new creatures that lurk around the Galaxy from dangerous Jellyfish and jittery bugs, to cute space bunnies and wide-eyed Penguins. I find that you can get VERY attached to this game, where to the point you are cussing at the monsters when you are losing, and not leaving the TV to even eat dinner. But overall, I think Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a super game and is sure to be a hit.

I couldn't have said it better myself.
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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Loo Hoo's Asian Comfort Food Has Me Under Its Spell

A few weeks ago I was invited to a food tasting hosted by Cindy Liu founder and chef of Loo Hoo's Asian Comfort Food. Is that the greatest name or what? When we met I was going to ask her if it was a nod to Cindy Loo Hoo from 'The Grinch Who Stole Christmas' but before I could say anything she put a delicious, icy cold Lychee martini in my hand and then I totally forgot what I was going to say. Then she put some hot, homemade dumplings in front of me and I even forgot more stuff. Then I woke up the next morning and I had a Loo Hoo tatoo on my hip. I'm just kidding about the tattoo part.

Cindy cooked up a fantastic feast for a group of us bloggers. First up were the dumplings -- she served up three different varieties: vegetable, pork and my favorite, kimchee. I love kimchee, and I love fried food, so putting them together in a neat little package is just pure genius. These are handmade dumplings made from recipes that Cindy created, and best of all she uses natural, farm raised meats that have been humanely raised with no growth hormones, antibiotics or animal by-product feeds. In other words, these are not from your grocer's freezer.

Next up Cindy brought out a couple of noodle dishes. One was a cold salad and the other was spicy Thai Red Curry noodles. Both of these were delicious and quickly devoured by everyone there. I don't know if you've seen a bunch of hungry bloggers at a food event, but it's kind of like watching the shark feeding at the aquarium. But a little more vicious.

For dessert Cindy served up something I've always wanted to try, Thai Mango Sticky Rice. This is rice that's been slightly overcooked and then mixed up with coconut milk and chunks of mango. I'm sure I just completely got that recipe wrong, but you get the idea. Either way, it was really tasty -- a very different melding of textures and flavors that kept me scooping up spoonful after spoonful even when I thought I was full. Once again, kind of like those sharks.

Cindy served all of these dishes with a Riesling, a wine that I usually find to be too much on the sweet side, but it went perfectly with all of these dishes. Yet another example of Cindy's voodoo! I told her that I want to go on a restaurant tour with her, because she's the best kind of foodie -- incredibly knowledgeable and accessible but not obnoxious about it. You know who I'm talking about. 

By now I'm sure you're drooling and smacking your lips, wondering where you can get your hands on some of Loo Hoo's Asian comfort food, and you're in luck -- Cindy cooks up her menu of amazingness at farmer's markets on Thursdays and Sundays:

THURS: Thousand Oaks Farmer's Market, at the Oaks Mall (1:30-6:30pm)
SUNDAY: College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, Lot 8 (8am-noon)

Also, Cindy caters, and you can either pick from items on the menu or she will create a menu especially for you. Now that's what I call comfort food.

Thanks to Cindy for a great evening! I'm serious about hanging out. I promise not to force you to make me a Lychee martini. Well, maybe just one.
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