Continuing Sunday, the 21st edition of the Lobster Fest at Rainbow Lagoon on E. Shoreline Drive Long Beach 90802 is the last hurrah of food folderol of the summer down by the Aquarium Of The Pacific . In previous weeks, they had a smokey and belly-busting celebration of everything BBQ and prior to that, a cousin to tonight’s star crustacean: the lowly but delicious mud bug or crawfish.
Opening night at most of these public displays of gastronomic carnalities are fairly mellow, with the bulk of the visitors coming on Saturday and Sunday. This was the best attended opener of the three food fests I went to there this year. The crowd was diverse and people were very excited. It seems that there is not a culture that doesn’t salivate for a steamed, baked, grilled or Heaven forbid a deep fried lobster swimming in butter or served with an artisan aioli.
We got comp tix for entry off Goldstar with a choice of twelve or so vendors to choose from, but a large part of the crowd opted for the $30 admission with the event-sponsored Lobster Feast Deal. This will get you a delectable creepy-crawler a tad over a pound with potatoes and corn. As you wait in line, you can see hundreds of the clawed wonders being steamed in huge copper kettles. Up the ante to fifty dollars, and you get a 1 and 3/4 pound bright red beast with the same sides and a big piece of watermelon. Tiki-style drinks were about $10 a pop at a separate location.
Normally, you’d associate Lobster dinner as a special occasion or in a romantic setting rather than a wide eyed crowd but when the food arrives tunnel vision takes over and it’s just you and the sweet tender meat. I ended up with Lobster fries with lemon Sriracha Aioli ($14) and later a grilled lobster tail plate ($20) Both were very good and from The Seafood Shack. You’ll have to pick and choose like I did because the Bisque, Lobster Mac and Cheese, Lobster Tacos and similar Cajun style meals are all worth considering.
Like the last two food fests at the lagoon, there are many booths unrelated to lobsters. Oxygen Bars, Inflatable slides, homemade crafts, business promotions and a small reptile petting zoo. Add a dance and rap contest and an 80’s cover band to heighten the senses as the sun sets. Best of all, there was free Ben and Jerry’s for dessert with coupons for the store. Hooray! You could also get three free E pics with props if you cared to wait in the long line.
My personal highlight of the night came when I went to get a snapshot with a tall guy in the happy lobster suit. To my surprise he had seen my act and although his character couldn’t talk, he mimed starting up a chainsaw and making motor noises. What a crack up.
The Lobster Fest continues Sunday from noon until 10pm. Parking is $15, so rideshare if you can. Was it cheap? No. But it was worth the experience? I asked around and no one had an overcooked or undercooked lobster. All the vendors got high marks. My advice is try it once and you will never go back to Red Lobster or Outback for their pre-portioned, pre-cooked sea creatures again. BYOB (Bring Your Own Bibs!)