Recap of the First Annual Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival September 24 2014

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My recap of the First Annual Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival

What an event!  This inaugural wine and culinary adventure was beautifully done with rustic coastal style, complementary greenery and florals, and tall white tents with huge crystal chandeliers hanging within....not to mention, it was full of amazing wineries and renowned local chefs. 
Living in Newport Beach I knew we had some truly talented chefs in our graces, but having the cream of the crop all in one place really drove that point home.  I loved that each restaurant showcased a few dishes that truly represented their style because it made for such a wide variety of dishes.
I would say I often take for granted the longstanding restaurants like The Quiet Woman and Five Crowns in favor of newer noisemakers on the scene, but what a delight it was to sample some of their innovative dishes!
The Quiet Woman had a delicious sampling of gourmet grilled cheeses made to pair with either white or red wines and complemented by the most flavorful creamy bisques I’ve ever had, along with a short rib tart.  Five Crowns served up tender and juicy prime rib sliders with an organic horseradish that I craftily paired with our 2010 Cab, divine (my mouth is watering, this recap isn’t fair…). 

Lest we forget some of the newcomers to the Orange County restaurant scene: 

  • I fell in love with the swordfish ceviche from Tortilla Republic (served by the dynamic Chef Chris Tzorin). 
  • Lark Creek’s Chef Ryan Pitt served up black angus filet mignon with parsnip and bone marrow puree, along with a beautiful compressed watermelon with habanero orange marinade, goat cheese feta, aged balsamic reduction, and micro basil.
  • The crispy rabbit confit dumpling with wasabi Dijon, edamame, and fig relish was the most flavorful little pocket of rabbit I've ever had from Chefs Tony Nguyen and Ron Lee of Anqi by House of An.
  • A seasonal autumn salad from True Food Kitchen, which they’ll be premiering in the restaurant this week, included perfectly prepared, roasted white beans, Brussels sprouts, squash, cauliflower, candied nuts, and more by Chef Talia Zimmer.
  • And fresh seafood was in no way lacking with yellow tail crudo from Wildfish Seafood and Grille (Chef Dante Ascenzi), house cured Scottish salmon from Driftwood Kitchen (Chef Rainer Schwarz), smoked yellowtail tacos with guac, red onion, serrano, and cilantro in a crispy wanton shell from Blue C Sushi (Chef Jeffrey Lunak), and salmon avocado “Louise” from Lemonade (Chef Alan Jackson).

Onto the wines….being a part of the wine side of things, I must say I devoted much of my attention to our own table. 

We had so many amazing people come to our table and share stories about where they had their first bottle of Partridge, asking about our previous and current winemakers, inquiring about our estate vineyards, tastings, food pairings, etc.  Since the Partridge's also have a home in southern California, our wines largely got their start here.  The time really just flew for me, and though I didn’t get to try many other wines, I was surrounded by some great wineries with personnel that I now consider friends.  These included Ahnfeldt, Bello Family, Hundred Acre, and Ascension Cellars.

Our wines showed great, which made for some rich conversations with people who had never heard of our wines before.  The 2013 Chardonnay was a perfect, light, bright, white wine to pair with many of the soup and seafood dishes being served, and the mid 70’s – 80 degree weather made a white like ours a perfect day drinking wine! 

The 2010 Cabernet is absolutely gorgeous right now….as I opened bottles and immediately poured without letting them breathe, I realized that the flavors and aromas are wide open, making this a great standalone wine.  It has a great, muscular body that really gives this wine character and class, but the riper red notes that develop on the palate and linger throughout the finish are where this wine shines.
Going into this event we really didn’t know what to expect, but I really hope we get to participate again next year.  We were among some of the best and brightest stars of the Orange County wine and culinary scene, and that's where we like to be :)
I’m off to New Orleans for a trade show with our distributor this weekend and early next week.  If you have any restaurant/wine shop suggestions for us in Lousiana I’d love to stop in and pour our wines for them!
Jessica Stock
Richard Partridge Wines