2nd Annual Pacific Wine and Food Classic

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2ND ANNUAL PACIFIC WINE AND FOOD CLASSIC IN ORANGE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA
Article by Mary Farah, photos by Tom Plant, Roger Paige and Lorena Lopez

This episode of Big Blend Radio’s Eat, Drink & Be Merry Happy Hour show raises a glass to the 2nd Annual Pacific Wine & Food Classic held this past summer in Newport Beach, California.

There’s no denying the abundance of glorious food in Southern California. It’s become a melting pot for some of the best chefs on the West Coast. It’s no surprise that Newport Beach, one of the most affluent cities in California, is home to The Pacific Wine and Food Classic. After an impressive inaugural weekend last year, The Classic returned to the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort this past summer to once again allow locals and visitors alike to experience some of the best chefs, winemakers and mixologists in Orange County.

For the price of admission, guests are invited to taste, sip and savor dishes and drinks from some of OC’s favorite restaurants and most beloved Chefs. Portions were generous, and attendees certainly enjoyed some seconds (or thirds) from each booth. Proceeds from the weekend are donated to charity each year. For 2018, the recipient was Golden Rule Charity, a nonprofit based in Southern California inspired by the hard-working restaurant employees who may find themselves in need of an emergency crisis grant such as medical, food, shelter and transportation.

Upon arrival to the Pacific Wine and Food Classic, fun photo props and friendly faces greeted you and encouraged guests to strike some poses on the red carpet. Once inside the event, guests could grab their plates, wine glasses and start having some fun on the sand! One of the first libations offered was a Lillet cocktail that hit the spot on the warm, sunny day.

If you love seafood, you were in luck as some of the best seafood chefs in Orange County were on hand serving up signature dishes. It was such a pleasure to chat with Chef Pascal, San Juan Capistrano’s legendary chef who, after retirement, just couldn’t stay away from the restaurant business. His lunch bistro, Pascal, is a favorite among the locals and was serving up a delicious clam bake in partnership with Baja Shellfish Farms.

Newport Beach’s popular garden center, Roger’s Gardens, is also no stranger to fantastic seafood as their adjoining restaurant, Farmhouse, serves up farm-to-table plates led by Chef Rich Mead. Chef Mead’s salmon dish was a highlight. From presentation to taste, it was easy to understand how Chef Mead has enjoyed 35 years in the culinary industry.

And, how can you attend a foodie weekend in Orange County and not have tacos? Lucky for us, there were various opportunities to sample some of the best in SoCal. Orange County chain, Taco Mesa, was on hand to show Pacific guests that just because a diner is fast-casual, it doesn’t have to taste like fast food. Established in 1991, Taco Mesa has been offering contemporary cuisine honoring our ancestors, our bodies and the earth.  Their new menu features GMO-free corn infused with herbs and spices from in-house Tortilleria Organica.

While over at Bueno Bueno, they like to call their dining experience “Upscale fast-casual”. Another OC favorite, we were treated to their fish and vegetarian tacos that paired greatly with our Hornitos margaritas from the VIP section.

Speaking of the VIP section, it was here that we got to meet Chef Linda Johnson from Filomena’s Kitchen in Costa Mesa, California.

  • Pacific Food & Wine Classic - Photo Lorena Lopez
    Pacific Wine & Food Classic - Photo Lorena Lopez

Chef Linda grew up in the suburbs of South Philadelphia. When the women in her family wanted authentic Italian products, they would go to the Italian Market in Philly. The Italian Market is not just one market, but many different open air markets offering fresh produce, herbs and spices, pastas, cheese, meats and hard to find Italian wares. The sights and smells of the Italian Market are something you never forget. Chef Linda remembers the fires burning in the large metal drums that line the streets during the winter months to keep customers warm as they searched for the perfect products to create authentic Italian meals. The Italian Market is still thriving today and is where most of the city’s top restaurant chefs go early in the morning to select only the freshest products.

Chef Linda spent every Sunday with her Grandmother Filomena and Aunt Rosemary making a pot of Sunday Sauce and learning the secrets to making pasta. This is where the tradition and techniques of Italian cooking were passed down, and what she now shares with her guests. She learned early on that food brings family together and continues to invite guests into her restaurant today to share her passion for food, with her guests finding that as they leave, they are now part of the family.

The traditions, flavors and techniques which Chef Linda continues to carry on today are that of her heritage and her grandmother…”Filomena.”

Family is an important matter to both of our radio guests from the Pacific Wine and Food Classic. For We Believe wines, they’re all about faith, family and freedom. From their website, “When the odds are against us, and all signs say turn the other way. When you are down by a little, but need much more than a lot. When all seems lost, but you still have faith. That is when we band together and unite. That is when we stare adversity in the face and say together — we believe when you have faith, family, freedom, your friends, and a great wine, you are truly blessed.”

We’ll eat and drink to that!

Learn more about Pacific Wine and Food Classic here: www.PacificWineandFood.com

Mary Farah is a Los Angeles-based blogger at Along Comes Mary in addition to contributing to various online magazines. She’s on the Board of Directors with The International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA). Visit her at www.AlongComesMaryBlog.com.

 

 

 

 

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About the Author:

Mary Farah is a Los Angeles-based blogger at Along Comes Mary in addition to contributing to various online magazines. She's on the Board of Directors with The International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA).

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