By Jenny Peters and Andy J. Gordon
A fabulous weekend of summer-inspired culinary bites, wine pairings, refreshing handcrafted cocktails and live culinary entertainment took place at the inaugural Pacific Wine and Food Classic on Saturday, August 19 and Sunday, August 20, 2017. The Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort in Newport Beach hosted the event; that luxurious beachside venue with spectacular views of the nearby lagoon, ocean breezes and comfortable layout made it an amazing occasion.
Food Network star Simon Majumdar hosted the entertainment on the Fisher & Paykel/DCS Culinary Stage. Majumdar interacted with the guest chefs and audience members throughout the weekend in the relaxed, shaded stage area. Chefs, mixologists and sommeliers presented some of their favorite recipes and discussed wine pairings as well as the creative use of fresh ingredients.
There was an abundance of premium wines to choose from at the event. For those looking for light and refreshing choices, Roederer Estate served their tasty sparkling Brut. Jam Cellars had their Butter Block Chardonnay and Chateau Minuty served their 2015 Rose. Reds were widely available as well. Our favorites were the 2014 BV Tapestry and 2015 The Prisoner red blends.
Plenty of other excellent sips were to be had, as various cocktails and craft beers were also flowing all afternoon. Patrón Tequila had an extravagant display in the VIP area, where they served a variety of cocktails as well as totally decadent fruit-flavored, tequila-infused frozen popsicles. Makers Mark, Bacardi Rum and Absolut Elyx had booths interspersed among the food booths that lined the lagoon beach and each was serving inventive cocktails. A variety of refreshing beer styles were available from The Bruery, Town Park and Merchant Du Vin as well.
Many of the food vendors had delicious choices from the sea. Lighthouse Bay View Café had melt-in-your-mouth Hamachi (yellowtail) crudo; we’ll admit we went back for multiples of those delicate bites. Oak Grill served a beautifully complex ahi poke flavored with melon, radish, yuzu caviar, dashi foam and micro cilantro. Pete’s Sunset Grill offered a vibrant scallop crudo paired with mango, pickled cucumber, citrus oil and micro herbs.
Sea Salt Woodfired Grill offered pastrami-cured salmon with a caper cream and citrus cabbage. Baja Shellfish Farms served an assortment of fresh selections including shucked oysters in a bright and spicy sauce. Taps Fish House & Brewery prepared torched Hamachi with a soy truffle emulsion, micro shiso and wasabi caviar over rice.
Carnivores were not neglected at the Pacific Wine & Food Classic by any means. Villa Roma offered an assortment of juicy, grilled meats including spicy sausages, skirt steak and chicken breast. Chianina Steakhouse served their incredibly tender beef over a truffle cream – we needed to sample more than one of those, too. Plaza de Magdelena had tender, smoked chipotle-glazed baby back ribs.
When it came to sweets, Mixed Bakery had a beautiful display of dessert treats including mascarpone with sprinkles and lemon-curd raspberry meringue. Mangiamo offered a variety of creamy gelatos – their double chocolate, s’mores and peanut butter flavors were all satisfyingly decadent.
The inaugural Pacific Wine & Food Classic celebrated the summer season, showcasing many of Orange County’s finest restaurants as well as first-class wines and spirits from around the world. It was a splendid weekend of culinary indulgence in a really relaxed, beautiful spot. With the success of this year’s event, we are sure that next year will be even bigger and better. We’ll see you there.