SoCal flavors

If you're counting down the days until next year's Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival (April 9-12, 2015, so that's 280+), here's something to tide you over. Tickets just went on sale for the fourth annual Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival, which is hosted by the same creative culinary team. The foodie festivities, which run Aug. 21-24, include wine and cocktail tastings, celebrity chef demos, live entertainment and other tres swanky events in downtown L.A. It all kicks off with an Ultimate Bites of L.A. chef challenge starring Graham Elliot, Fabio Viviani and other culinary luminaries competing for charity, followed by three days of grand tasting tents, a Power Lunch series, a Junk Food & Killer Wines bash and the Asian Night Market. Plus, of course, the chance to mingle with chefs such as Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, Food Network's Robert Irvine, Michael Chiarello and Dominique Crenn. Find ticket info ($50 to $350) and lodging packages at www.lafw.com.

Paging Lohengrin

You don't have to be a Wagnerian hero -- or a dead Nordic warrior, for that matter -- to enjoy a visit to Valhalla. We're referring, of course, to the historic Valhalla Tahoe, the Heller family's lakeside summer home, a striking 1920s structure with a vaulted grand hall designed to impress. Today, that hall, the Valhalla Boat House and grounds are home to a summer festival that draws 100,000 visitors per year to its theater, music and arts productions, including some events that are just for kids.


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Some events, including the Music on the Lawn series, are free. Tickets for others, including theater, improv and music productions, start at $12. And tickets ($50-$65) for the family-friendly Gatsby Murder Mystery Dinner -- a roaring '20s bash on Aug. 9 that includes a buffet dinner and a glass of beer or wine, with a side of mayhem -- sell out every year. Find details at valhallatahoe.com.

-- From the Eat Drink Play blog, blogs.mercurynews.com/eat-drink-play