Epicurean Esprit

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Scallop aguachile from Bluewater Grill at Newport Beach Wine & Food festival | Photo by PencilBox Studios

Newport Beach Wine & Food festival sets sights on next year after celebrating local cuisine and giving back to charity.

By Sharon Stello 


The culinary and charity worlds came together at Newport Beach Wine & Food festival’s Opening Night Gala, which garnered $250,000 for Covenant House California, a nonprofit that provides shelter for homeless and trafficked young adults in Hollywood and Oakland, Calif. The Oct. 3 event featured a five-course meal prepared by some of Bravo’s “Top Chef” all-stars as well as a silent auction of rare wines and luxury jewelry at Newport Beach Country Club. 

This event kicked off a four-day culinary celebration filled with exclusive lunches and dinners with the likes of renowned chef Nobu Matsuhisa and “Top Chef” alums Richard Blais and Antonia Lofaso, as well as wine, Champagne and caviar tastings; a golf tournament and gourmet brunch; and a Grand Tasting of food and fine wine, beer and spirits. More than 7,000 people attended the multiday epicurean extravaganza, which marked its sixth consecutive year.

Wine tastings at Newport Beach Wine & Food festival | Photo by PencilBox Studios

At the Grand Tasting, which ran both Saturday and Sunday to cap off the festival under large awnings on the Newport Beach Civic Center lawn, participants sampled bites from over 40 of the region’s top restaurants and also sipped drinks poured by 250 world-class wineries, beer and liquor brands, plus celebrity chef cooking demonstrations. 

Dishes included the likes of scallop aguachile with cucumber, red onion, smashed avocado, blue corn and cilantro from Bluewater Grill, tuna tartare with ponzu vinaigrette as well as strawberry balsamic gelato from Pelican Grill, slow-roasted pork belly with spicy mustard, pickled onion and mojo verde aioli from Watertable, citrus-cured shrimp from Aveo Table & Bar and a hefty half of a mouthwatering chicken sandwich called the Cali Dip topped with “schmaltz fries,” pickled jalapeno, guacamole, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions and posole aioli on torta bread from The Crack Shack. Desserts ranged from mini doughnuts topped with sprinkles or Fruity Pebbles cereal from Miss Mini Donuts to Sprinkles cupcakes and sweet potato panna cotta from Ocean at Main. 

Cali Dip sandwich from The Crack Shack at Newport Beach Wine & Food festival | Photo by PencilBox Studios

In addition to dozens of high-end wine booths, Stella Artois was pouring brews from an Airstream trailer and La Adelita tequila brand was serving up Spicy Senorita margaritas while The Singleton offered Scottish Cooler featuring watermelon juice and the brand’s 22-year single malt Scotch whisky.

Richard Blais during a cooking demonstration at Newport Beach Wine & Food | Photo by PencilBox Studios

Among the demonstrations, Blais entertained the crowd with his part-comedy, part-cooking show featuring a cloud of smoke from dry ice, a flame thrower torch and a giant chicken head statue. 

Those seeking an elevated experience had a new option this year: the Diamond Club, which provided a sampling of rare wines like Opus One and The Mascot as well as exclusive access to the Diamond Club lounge and the opportunity to meet with wine industry experts. 

Meanwhile, another luxury experience had acclaimed chef Hubert Keller pairing up with beloved OC chef Alan Greeley of the former Golden Truffle to present a Cristal Champagne and Petrossian Caviar pairing at The Resort at Pelican Hill, toasting to another successful festival.

The dates of next year’s Newport Beach Wine & Food are set for Oct. 8-11, 2020. Follow @NewportBeachWineAndFood on social media for early bird pricing. 

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