There’s something truly special about biting into a succulent lobster dumpling and sipping champagne while your toes wiggle in the warm sand. Looking out into the water, glimmering with a flawless summer sun, it’s about as perfect of a Southern California moment as you can get. And it’s moments like these that the Pacific Wine and Food Classic is all about.
This annual event brought myriads of restaurants, wineries, breweries and libation purveyors right up to the water’s edge in Newport Beach, with booths literally on the sand and the shore just a few steps away in the backdrop. Eateries from across Orange Country stretched just about as far as the eye could see, interspersed with local wineries, regionally acclaimed breweries and the crowd favorite ‘bubble bar,’ which showcased a variety of champagnes.
As far as food goes, chefs made sure to step up their game to match the festival’s dream-like environment. Taps Fish House and Brewery served up those incredible lobster dumplings, each sitting in a sip of lobster bisque. Ten Asian Bistro doled out Japanese dumplings with fresh ahi tuna, as well as colorful black rice rolls. Piccolino Ristorante’s lobster and crab cannelloni stole patrons’ hearts, as did the oh-so-rich gnocchi from Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse.
The District at Tustin Legacy hosted ‘The District Lounge,’ which featured several of the venue’s dining destinations. Prego served a Mediterranean ceviche as well as conchiglie with vodka sauce. The Yellow Chili, dedicated to modern Indian cuisine, served up a tasty murgh angaar begdi, or clay oven chicken. Bar Louie was also there with their nachos in house-made cheese sauce.
Nirvana Grill got creative with creamy chicken empanadas served alongside a dessert of goat cheese maple ice cream. The Country Club Helmsman’s braised bacon corn fritters were up there as well, along with Heirloom Farmhouse Kitchen’s roasted carrot puree garnished with pistachios and honey. Then there was The Waterfront Resort’s ahi cigars, coated in ‘onion ash’ to be a spectacular alternative to the real thing.
Drinks were of course in complete abundance. Maker’s Mark alone hosted several stations, each of which featured a different application of their namesake whiskey, from cocktails to ice cream. Stella Artois was there with its classic pilsner, as well as an infused popsicle for the summer heat.
Wineries present included John Anthony, King Estate, Starmont, Mercer Family Vineyard and Chateau St. Michelle among others. Champagnes at the bubble bar included Martini & Rossi, Gloria Ferrar, Wilson Creek and G.H. Mumm among others. Breweries included Unibroue, Lindemans and Towne Park among others.
The festival’s ambiance was topped off with a silent DJ, as well as all beach games and of course some incredible people watching. For more information, visit PacificWineAndFood.com.
Benjamin Brown is a seasoned restaurant writer and hospitality consultant, serving up SoCal's hottest food news and reviews.