OK, I’m sorry. I know. Sublimely extraordinary? Right off the bat? I’ve been scratching my head looking for appropriate superlatives and words are failing me. My first experience with the Pacific Wine and Food Classic was off the chain. Sensory overload. After hearing about this event for more than a year, I made my way to Newport Beach on a sun-kissed Sunday afternoon to experience it first-hand.
Dozens of white tents dotted the beach. Each contained a vendor, offering either delightful bites of food from exceptional Orange County chefs, or wine, champagne or cocktails. If you somehow managed to leave the event hungry or wishing for more to drink, I am seriously concerned for your well-being.
My afternoon began with a welcome cocktail from Lillet. I strolled through a small corner of the event, tasting wonderful treats from Atria Senior Living, a salmon poke bite that they told me was typical of the food their residents enjoy. After more tastes from the Tackle Box and Pete’s Sunset Grill, I tried the tasty Maker’s Maker cocktail. It was then I ventured into the VIP area, anchored by Hornitos tequila and Bacardi rum.
Georgia’s Restaurant tempted me with their divine southern gumbo. I stopped by the Hornitos booth for a margarita made with freshly squeezed lime juice. Chef Lauren Lawless was making an amazing pork belly dish. After stopping for some Perrier Jouet champagne and private reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from Daou Vineyards in Paso Robles, I checked in on Executive Chef Linda Johnson from Filomena’s Italian Kitchen for some of the tastiest grilled clams I’ve ever enjoyed. Buttery and garlicky, it was the most fun making a mess I had the whole day!
I left the VIP area and strolled back into the area immediately adjacent. I had yet to venture onto the beach, where dozens more vendors awaited. I was delighted to have a brief chat with Neil Saavedra, KFI’s Fork Reporter. I’ve been a long time listener and we had a good visit, chatting about wine, food spirits and Temecula. I enjoyed delicious pizza from Fresh Brothers, a tasty fresh scallop topped with caviar from Bluewater Grill and a light yet extremely flavorful bite from Adya contemporary Indian cuisine. I was beginning to feel full, but I still hadn’t ventured onto the beach.
I’m a big fan of Melissa’s Fresh Produce and I love Mexican street corn and devoured their deconstructed street corn “esquites.” With the temperature squarely in the 80s, a frozen margarita sounded extremely refreshing, and I was thrilled that Sauza offered a margarita popsicle. Frozen in a shot glass with a popsicle stick, it was perfectly acidic and refreshing. Executive Chef Amy Pham and her crew from chew noodle bar greeted me with a nicely chilled Soba noodle salad with young pea sprouts and roasted wild mushrooms.
My first visit to the Pacific Wine and Food Classic will certainly not be my last. It was well-organized, the vendors were warm and welcoming and offered savory bites and lovely sips. On the sand in Newport Beach, it’s one to begin planning for next year.
Tom Plant launched WINEormous, a food, wine and travel blog in 2009 and is a long-time member of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association. Based in Temecula, California, he offers intimate winery tours for no more than seven people. He is a three-time recipient of the best tour award from the Luxury Travel Guide in Birmingham, England. Tour details and pricing are available at www.temecula-tours.com. Call now to book your Temecula Winery Tour at (951) 907-9701! Ask about special discounts.