The annual Pacific Wine & Food Classic presents an array of bites and sips from Newport Beach and beyond.
By Ashley Ryan
It’s said that the third time’s a charm, and that’s likely true for those looking to sip and savor local tastes at the Pacific Wine & Food Classic this weekend. Now in its third year, the festival is as relevant as ever, providing a range of samples from local restaurants, catering companies, wineries and liquor brands. While there were representatives from all over Orange County—as well as California wine regions like Napa Valley—many of the offerings came from Newport Beach restaurants.
Held on the sand on a stretch of shoreline belonging to Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort, the annual festival brings together a number of eateries. Each booth has something to offer up, all complimentary with the price of admission.
Seafood reigned supreme this year at the Pacific Wine & Food Classic, something that is not surprising in an oceanside town like Newport Beach. Back Bay Bistro, the resort’s own eatery, served up a scallop ceviche made with a tomatillo salsa for a spicy kick. Another ocean-friendly dish came from Sol Mexican Cocina, where the Cadillac tacos were filled with flavorful shrimp complemented by steak as well. Another Mexican venue, Red O Restaurant, was giving out a smooth salmon dish.
Those who enjoy poke could find a delicious bite from Tackle Box, the Corona del Mar State Beach snack shop that offers luxury bites right on the beach, adjacent to the fire pits. This taste, the Lochlander Scottish salmon poke was served with puff rice and a citrus sesame dressing. Then, at the Sushi Roku booth, guests were treated to lengthy baked crab hand rolls, covered in small black sesame seeds.
While the seafood was prominent both from Newport Beach restaurants and beyond, it’s not the only thing locals were serving today. Lovers of Italian fare could find delicious, juicy meatballs at the Sgt. Pepperoni’s Pizza Store booth while Maggiano’s Little Italy in Costa Mesa offered a tomato bruschetta as well as a sausage and pepper concoction.
Cucina Enoteca, on the other hand, offered something incredibly unique: a hand-pulled mozzarella bar. While a staff member worked on molding the cheese in the background, others layered things like pesto, tomatoes and balsamic dressing in a dish served with the mozzarella.
Still others presented a menu filled with seasonal favorites, like the Five Crowns’ chilled corn soup. The dish is currently on the eatery’s summer menu, alongside items like a stone fruit and burrata salad as well as a delicious Jidori chicken.
For dessert at the Pacific Wine & Food Classic, try the miniature doughnuts created by Miss Mini Donuts. These small treats, from a Newport-based company, come in varieties like peanut butter cup and Fruity Pebbles, though the cinnamon sugar remain the crowd favorite.
Another booth important to note combined Newport’s newest brewery, Helmsman Ale House. Paired with The Country Club in Costa Mesa, this space served corn fritters alongside a stout and a deliciously sour Berliner Weisse made with guava, passion fruit and prickly pear.
Elsewhere, cocktails were elevated as well. From the Lillet Blanc welcome drink near the entrance to Absolut Elyx’s grapefruit-inspired drink over the bay, refreshing sips were all over. Other stand out options included Hornitos’ watermelon pucker margarita, the Cruzan Island Punch crafted with rum and POG juice and served in an oversize bucket, and Casamigos’ blackberry basil smash. Wine, too, was on site, with plenty of California varietals to enjoy.
While this year’s event has already sold out, it continues tomorrow, Aug. 18, and will likely return next year as one of Southern California’s hottest food and wine festivals.