Still in it’s infancy, the 2nd Annual Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival kicked off Fall with an amazing weekend lineup of 200 wines and food samples to sip, savor, and munch on from 31 of the finest restaurants.
The event, held on the Newport Beach Civic Center lawn, included live cooking demonstrations with celebrity chefs, interactive wine panels with master sommeliers, mixology courses and live jazz.
As part of the sold out crowd, we sipped and tasted our way through two tasting pavilions. Proceeds from the event benefited Project Hope Alliance – an organization that is helping to end the cycle of homelessness one child at a time. The Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival was held on October 2nd-4th, however I attended on the 4th with a few blogger friends of mine. Upon entry, attendees were given a wine glass made possible by the glass sponsor for the event – Celebrity Cruises. They had a booth on a site which allowed guests an opportunity to taste wine, enter for a chance to win a 7 day/night cruise to Alaska, and also, this is the probably the best part (aside from the cruise), to get a nifty wine carrier. This awesome “wine bjorn” is a lanyard worn around the neck that holds your wine glass – and it was one less thing to worry about while we tasted our through the Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival.
On the second day of the Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival, we had the luxury of trying 16 different restaurants, cocktails from Absolut Elyx, Patron, and Cruzan Rum, as well as this line up – broken down below by restaurant and chef.
To get things started on that wonderful “Fall” like day, we headed straight to the Cruzan Rum booth. They were serving up these lovely mojitos in a mini watermelon that was hollowed out and ready for us to sip on this refreshing concoction. When we came back around, the line was long and we were glad we got an early jump start.
With two tasting pavilions and an endless line of wineries awaiting our wine glasses, it was impossible to decide where to start tasting first, so we dived in here – at Fig and Olive with Chef Fredric Guerin’s creation of seared scallops with a roasted cauliflower puree, cauliflower semolina, lime juice, slivered almonds, parsley, cilantro, roasted almond oil, and citrus dressing.
After savoring that, we then made our way to Roy’s Newport Beach where Chef John Vega was serving a delightful and fresh Ahi Poke on top of Yucca Chips.
The theme of the day seemed to be seafood because by the time I got to AnQi Gourmet Bistro, I was thrilled to see this Lemongrass Crab served with a Tomato Quinoa. That one bite tasted just as amazing as everything else served in the restaurant – including the die for garlic noodles.
One of the highlights of the day was getting to meet Chef Marco Criscuolo from Andrea at Pelican Hill. It was an absolute pleasure to spend some one on one time with him and try his lovely homemade ricotta cavatelli with a wild boar ragout and porcini mushrooms.
To take a break from the surf, we explored some turf at Selanne Steak Tavern served up by Chef Joshua Severson. He delighted guests with a waldorf salad and a Brandt Beef Prime Rib braised in Cabernet topped with a Crater Lake Blue Foam.
Directly across from him, Chef Jo-Jo Doyle from the Honda Center was signing hockey pucks and serving up this delicious Espresso Beef Cheek with vanilla, bourbon, and sweet potato pudding with Brussel leaves.
All that eating was making us hungry, so we stopped by to visit Chef Marc Johnson of Aqua Lounge and pick up a refreshing Jalapeno Mint and Strawberry Basil Margarita.
To round out our surf and turf Sunday, we made one last pit stop at Stonehill Tavern where Chef Raj Dixit had this amazing Ahi Tuna Tartare served on Salted Seaweed Chips. We couldn’t stop at just one so maybe we had three or four. Who’s really counting? Not us!
To round out our Sunday, we frolicked next door and made a stop at Absolut Elyx for these fun cocktails. Served in fun glasses and straws, they were a hit with our little party.
What’s a festival without dessert? Chef Lee Smith at the Montage had a colorful display of lemon macarons and this wonderful Meyer Lemon and Tangerine Meringue.
Even though the Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival just ended, we’re still thinking about it and planning ahead for next year when it’ll be held on September 30th – October 2nd, 2016. My calendar is marked, is yours? It was an absolute pleasure to wine and dine in a beautiful setting and taste and sip my way through these fabulous restaurants and wineries.
P.S. Thank you Illy, for being on site, to serve up your wonderful espresso. The caffeine rush gave us the energy we needed to power through the Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival.