At the 2nd annual Newport Wine & Food this past weekend, it was a marriage in foodie heaven. An elegant event with over 200 wines including numerous 90+ points bottles were on hand. While my wife loves the wines, I personally prefer the whisky crafted cocktails that complemented the food from high caliber Orange County chefs. This all took place outside of the Newport Beach Civic Center, with the iconic wave roof structure and beautiful grounds covered with lounge furniture by Z Gallerie. With celebrity chef names like Hubert Keller, Rick Bayless, Rick Moonen and Master Sommeliers like Michael Jordan and Fred Dame, this was a carefully crafted, high-end event made to please those who prefers the finer things in life.
But if you think the ticket is too pricey, think again. It’s an all-inclusive ticket and just about everything was covered. At $150 ($100 if you received special code or bought from a 3rd party vendor) a ticket, it would pay for itself just from the tastings of these luxury wines and that sparkling commemorative Riedel wine glass. So just what does the ticket include you ask? Here is the checklist:
Wine? Yes (Way too many to list)
Beer & Cider? Yes! Thanks Stella Artois
Whisky cocktails? Yes! Thanks Duke Kentucky Bourbon ; Auchentoshan 12 years, Bowmore 12 years, and Laphroaig 10 year for some crazy tasty creations.
Tequila cocktails? Yes! Margaritas Thanks to Patron
Watermelon cocktails? Yes! Newport Beach Swizzle Thanks to Cruzan
Vodka cocktails? Yes! “Driving Miss Daisy” Thanks to Absolut Elyx
Book signings? Yes! Meet and Greet Hubert Keller , Rick Bayless, Rick Moonen
Chef Demos? Yes! Hubert Keller, Rick Bayless, Rick Moonen, Alan Greeley
Live Jazz Entertainment? Yes! Cooper Phillip and Lauren & the Mike Frost Band
Non Alcoholic Drinks? Yes Thanks Fiji Water, Illy Coffee, and Tea of a Kind (The Twist to Brew Tea)
Having a relaxing time with friends and family? Yes! Totally priceless!
This was not your run of the mill food festival, this food here was amped up with lots of seafood interpretations. Multiple restaurants delicately prepared seafood such as the Seared Ahi from Pelican Hill Resort. Or a take on Poke and Taro chips from Roys Hawaiian. And the Seared Scallops with the roasted cauliflower puree from Fig and Olive. But one of my favorites was the Tempura Crusted Scallops from The Loft at the Montage Laguna Niguel. Nothing spells out luxury than having Scallops and Champagne together in one unison.
Going further down the aisle looking for more bites, I saw foie gras. Does any one of you remember the Foie Gras ban back in 2012 in California? Apparently, neither do any of us. Thank goodness because the Foie Gras ice cream from Balboa Bay Resort wasn’t anything that I’ve ever seen before. Rich can be defined so many ways here. Foie Gras mousse with huckleberry from Selanne Steak Tavern was another. Lastly, the Foie Gras Terrine from Oak Grill Newport Beach on toasted brioche was just a few of the many decadent dishes all featuring the Foie!
Not to be out done, there is a Beef version of the tasting as well. Mastros served a “Surf and Turf” with their seared beef and lobster mashed potatoes that was on point! Selanne Steak served up a mean short rib with gouda foam with shimeji mushrooms. Lastly, Chef JoJo Doyles from The Honda Center cooked up some super tasty braised beef cheeks that melted on every bite.
There is a backstory here between Selanne, Honda Center, and Bure Family wines. As you know Teemu Selanne, the hockey legend with the Ducks is a part proprietor for Selanne Steak Tavern. The hockey family story continues with Valeri Bure, former NHL player and now operates his own winery, Bure Family wines. His wines can be found at the festival also at Selanne Steak Tavern.
As for dessert, there were macaroons and macaroons. Bright colored lemon olive macaroons from The Loft at Montage as well as Reeses Pieces macaroons from Salanne Steak Tavern.
But nothing here was as playful as Chef Jill from B Candy with her colorful imagination on her tasty treats. She brought her A game with her “cookie monster” ice cream. Or you can put 2 cookies together to have your very own cookie ice cream. And the most photogenic picture award goes to her Rainbow Brite mini cakes in which you cut open and see layers of different color cakes and decked out with various color sprinkles.
To end the day on a high note, a “Top Chef” competition among the home chefs who were hand picked by Chef Jamie Gwen battled it out for a basket of Amazing prizes. Prizes included a Vitamix, a Gift Card for $150 to Chef Shirley Chung’s restaurant Twenty Eight, a Wüsthof chef’s knive were just some of amazing prizes for being first place. Contestants were able to duke it out with other contestants in a home cook challenge that involved prepping everyday items such as juicing, dicing, whipping, and grating various foods and competed for the fastest time. All a fun time ending a perfect afternoon with this cooking entertainment.
By far, this was the most luxurious event I’ve been to. You can see why also with the high-end category of food and wine, I felt very spoiled. To be honest, I was a little bummed when I had to leave on Sunday because of the wonderful time I had here on relaxing Saturday and Sunday afternoon. I can’t wait for this event to come around again next year on 2016 and share my experiences all over again! This event was SOLD OUT this year! So make sure you mark your calendar for September 30 – October 2, 2016!