Food and Wine Share a Starring Role at the Newport Beach Wine Festival
With an emphasis on the quality of wines served and carefully thought-out food pairings, the 13th Annual Newport Beach Wine Festival takes place this Memorial Day weekend, May 27–29, at the waterfront Balboa Bay Resort. As always, the event and the resort are open to the public.
“This year we’ve managed to bring out some really cool high-end wineries and also some critically acclaimed boutique wineries,” says Executive Chef Rachel Haggstrom. “There’s going to be a plethora of awesome wines to choose from and expose yourself to. People will have an opportunity to purchase wines at the event, so we’re really trying to make it unique and bring the best of Napa and Sonoma wine down to Orange County.”
The event kicks off with a five-course winemaker dinner May 27, featuring two Napa Valley iconic wineries, Far Niente and Nickel & Nickel. Haggstrom started off by tasting the wines, assessing the flavor profiles and then creating the perfect dishes to pair with them.
“For the reception, the EnRoute Chardonnay is pretty light and mild on the palate, so we’re going to pair it with some freshly shucked oysters, a camembert cheese with strawberry compote and a house-made pate.
“When all the guests sit down, we’ll do a Far Niente Chardonnay. It’s not overly oaky like most Chardonnays; it’s well balanced. With that we’re going to do Nantucket Bay scallops caramelized, seared and slightly rich. We’re going to do a play on a carbonara with a bacon cream foam sauce, a little quail egg and chives.”
Next up, Haggstrom says the EnRoute Pinot Noir screamed to be paired with duck. “It really has a note of cherries and raspberries, so we’re going to pair it with pickled cherries.” To make it a duck duet, it also comes with foie gras.
“Then for the entrée, we’re doing two wines: a Bella Union Cabernet as well as a Nickel and Nickel Cabernet. Both of the Cabs are very nice—they have very different, unique flavor profiles. We’re going to go with two different kinds of beef. The grilled New York should go really nicely with the Nickel and Nickel, and the braised veal cheek with the Bella Union.”
For the final course, Haggstrom says: “I believe Far Niente’s Dolce goes really well with blue cheese because it has a lot of notes of honeysuckle. There’s something innate and natural about blue cheese and honey as a pairing. It’s going to be a play on a blue cheese macaroon. It will have a blue de buffalo cheese and Asian compressed pear and a little bit of meringue. Then we’ll finish off our sweet note with some house-made chocolate truffles.”
Kevin Gasparro, marketing manager at the resort says, “This is an opportunity for people to really see what chef Rachel and Waterline are all about—the creativity and seasonal ingredients.”
On May 28, guests of the wine festival can explore cooking with wine during the Trinitas Cellars Cooking with Wine class and communal lunch. Saturday is also the day for the big event: the Grand Tasting, which includes an optional VIP sunset yachting excursion.
“We just purchased a yacht, and we’re going to do a pre-Grand Tasting VIP reception and harbor cruise on Saturday,” Gasparro says. “It will be an hour and a half cruise around Balboa Harbor in a small, intimate setting complete with very high-end food, wine and Champagne to launch the Grand Tasting. Guests of the cruise will be welcomed to the Grand Tasting 30 minutes earlier than anyone else.”
The Grand Tasting itself is the highlight of the weekend, featuring more than 100 carefully selected wines produced by more than 50 top-flight California wineries. These award-winning wines will be paired with Haggstrom’s custom dishes and accompanied by a live jazz trio.
Last but not least, the “Sunday brunch of all brunches” May 29 features Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte, as well as a variety of sparkling and white wines, a bloody mary bar, fresh seafood, an omelet bar, carving stations, sashimi and sushi.
To purchase tickets, call (877) 210-0365 or click on this link.