Laguna Beach Uncorked: Food & Wine to Savor All Year
Wines from around the world and local cuisines came together to delight palates at the second annual Laguna Beach Uncorked International Wine & Food Fest in March. Presented by the Laguna Beach Visitors Bureau, this festival is dedicated to creating an educational experience and benefitting the Children’s Hospital of Orange County.
The event is a three-hour dash to gather as much education, mouth-watering food, and delicious wines your body can handle. While Orange County can be a bit of a drive from Los Angeles, I could not turn down an afternoon to enjoy wine with friends.
Uncorked offered an early morning seminar with Michael A. Jordan, one of only 15 people in the world to hold both master sommelier and certified wine educator titles. This is a man who knows what he is talking about. Some amazing grape growers from Northern California said the seminar was two hours worth the money and beyond educational.
The couple was a small sampling of the wonderful people I met at Uncorked. We shared a table, food, and great conversation. They were very excited about the range of food offerings, friendly people, and delectable wines.
The stars of the event were the talented chefs and their staff. The local restaurants really impressed me with their effort to pump out amazing food on the spot. Sapphire Laguna served up Mama’s blackened fish tacos with a creamy kick in their remoulade. This taco paired perfectly with the Sauvignon blanc from Vina Cono Sur, an innovative winery from Chile.
Chef Rayne Frey, of Tabu Grill, created a melt-in-your-mouth braised short rib. The short rib gave off a hint of sweetness that played well with the smooth, fresh apple of the 2011 Patelin de Tablas Blanc from Tablas Creek Vineyard. I chatted with chef Frey about his dish and learned it all starts with choosing a quality protein and learning how to balance your flavors.
I had the pleasure of sipping the featured wines from Purple Hands. The company is dedicated to the heartbreak grape, otherwise known as Pinot noir. Cody Wright, owner and winemaker, grew up in the wine business. He and his wife Marque are striving for the genuine expression of Oregon soil, and the 2011 Stoller Vineyard really struck a chord with me.
Another star of the day was chef Lindsay Smith-Rosales, a Laguna native. Chef Lindsay was the only female head chef representing Laguna Beach at Uncorked. Ladies and gentleman, she did a phenomenal job with all of her selections. The blackened scallops had just the right amount of flavor and mixed well with the bed of lentils. Nirvana Grille, chef Lindsay’s flagship restaurant, focuses on “clean” food, and I was surprised how delicious it tasted. She is opening the eyes of eaters, showing them good food can be super healthy, too. My favorite dish from Uncorked was chef Lindsay’s cashew almond-salted caramel pie; I was completely satiated by this raw, vegan pie.
In addition to the 20 local restaurants and 30 wineries from around the world, Laguna Beach Uncorked provided a beautiful outdoor location and great music. I was so happy to enjoy the spring sunshine, lounge on the lawn, and take in the sounds. The event took place at the Festival of Arts pavilion, home to the Pageant of the Masters, a show (celebrating its 80th year this summer) where pictures literally come to life. After chatting with the staff, I definitely plan to check out Pageant at the end of the summer.
A day of sun, drinking, food, and fun left me more than a little tired. I checked into the newly remodeled Surf & Sand Resorton the beach. It was a perfect retreat, and my balcony was the best place to relax and watch the sun set. I fell asleep on the most comfortable bed to the sound of waves and woke to a beautiful view. Laguna Beach Uncorked was a perfect start to spring, and I am reserving my room at Surf & Sand for next year. The 2014 Laguna Beach Uncorked with take place on March 8.