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Food, Wine & Jazz. I already like the sound of that. This was an outdoor event held on the beautiful St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort that featured the culinary talents of world-renowned chefs, wineries and boutique vintners. We attended as reps for SDCheers and made the 1 hour drive north to Dana Point. The last time we stopped in this area was for our Catalina Island birthday trip, which I recommend checking out.
We joined a huge line of cars waiting to get into the resort. We soon found out the reason - self-parking lots were full from the vendors so guests had to get valet instead. I have NEVER seen such hard-working valet workers as these guys. They were running back and forth to take care of the massive collection of guests for this event! Parking is yet another reason why you arrive at events early!
After dropping off our car, we made our way through the resort building through the help of signs.
We played follow the leader with the other guests, and were led to an outdoor grassy area where all the tables and booths were set up.
I was surprised to see this motor vehicle near the event with a men and women's entrance. I didn't go in but I'm sure this is the upscale version of a porta potty restroom!
Guests were taking pictures nearby the lit St. Regis Jazz sign. I wonder if this sign is always there or if they added "jazz" for tonight's event. The light was fading fast because our general admission tickets allowed us in at 7:30pm while VIPs were able to enter an hour earlier. We picked a nearby vendor and began our rounds.
Personal chef Kimmy Tang had a choice of spicy tomato, tomato, or plain quesadillas topped with avocado sauce or chili sauce.
41 Ocean had a lovely risotto made with burgandy wine and braised oxtail sprinkled with a litte parmesan on it. Waterman's Harbor, located at nearby Dana Point Harbor, had fresh ahi poke.
Maestro's had ahi tostada topped with avocado and sesame seed as well as their signature buttercake with homemade whipcream, strawberries and raspberry drizzle. You must have it warm!
Chefs Josef Morphis and Steve Lafountain with the rest of their staff. Their booth caught my eye because I found my dress double working here! And it also helped that their food was delicious!
Crow Bar (Corona Del Mar) had shrimp corn dogs.
Chef DJ Seals has a catering business and showcased their beef meatballs infused with grand marnier. There was a chocolate fountain for dipping, sourced from Germany! There was also this amazing southern beans sauce with a gravy-like texture and slightly spiced.
Laguna Cliffs had chicken nacho bites, with or without jalapeno, and was pre-mixed with a roasted garlic salsa. Chef Diane Dimeo had shrimp octopus pibil - sweet, slightly peppery red power with garlic, onion, pineapple, mint, parsley, with pepitas over the roasted poblanos. The seafood did get a little lost in all the rest of the ingredients.
Anqi had braised ribs wonton and garlic noodles. The freshly fried wonton was wonderful while the garlic noodles had a pronounced garlic taste.
Something Good2Eat Catering with Chef Tiffany S. had a buffalo chicken wonton with avocado ranch, a little on the salty side but holy moly, the other item of crab mac & cheese was so delicious!
One of the best samples at this point was the lobster roll from Slapfish. How can you RESIST large pieces of lobster topped with crab in a buttery yummy roll! Dennis would NOT share with me so we each got our own.
These guys came all the way from Reno Nevada and have several restaurants in their circle. This was octopus with lemon olive potato and arugula. This octopus was SO good.
As a little background, they cooked the octopus for seven hours sous-vide, in a bag with spices and then placed it into a salami casing, let it set, then hand sliced it. Octopus Sopressata (salami), another new word to add to my vocabulary! Anyone else know about octopus salami before?
Sushi Roku had crab hand roll wrapped in soy paper or spicy tuna in seaweed. Paul Martini's American Grill had la quercia prosciutto, fromage blanc toast, soft herbs, marcona almonds, and raisins on the vine. This prosciutto was a little chewier than the one at BiCE in San Diego and seemed to be using the same machine as well.
Q Kabob had steak and chicken kabobs.
Osteria Vicario had several pastas to choose from. Here is the black pepper one and pork jowl and onion. My notes crack me up because after hearing each pasta name, we were oohing! Salt House San Fransisco had chilled corn soup with pickled chanterelles, roasted poblano, and huitlacoche spices. It was a light refreshing cold soup but we wanted more corn and perhaps thicker consistancy (we may have been craving corn chowder).
Sugar and Spike had alcohol infused desserts. Everything but the coconut is infused with alcohol, even cake crumbs and graham cracker crumbs were infused. Whoa! Here was their rum sunday and margarita cheesecake. Andrew Bent from Tender Greens (Irvine location) had his chicken liver pate with pickled fennel with onion salad and fig mostarda, another new word to add to my vocabulary!
Chef Marc Anthony Bynum, a 2x food networks chopped champion, was flown out from New York, the eastern coast!
For this event, he prepared braised pulpo blackeye pea, heirloom grape tomato, kalamata olives, citrus vinaigrette, thyme balsamic, and chili oil. The octopus was delicious.
Petit Ermitage with Chef Russell Platoff offered red snapper escabeche. Coast 2 Coast Cuisine had surf and turf. The polenta bed was plain, allowing the beef and shrimp to show off.
St Regis offered chili shrimp over quinoa, marcona almond, capers, and meyer lemon vinaigrette. This was created by their chef de cuisine: Graeme Blair. The shrimp itself was really flavorful and tasty. There was also a gazpacho with ham serrano which Dennis liked.
That Boy Good (TBG) Southern BBQ Joint (Oceanside) had "dirty pork sliders." We like our pulled pork and bbq sauce a little better but we may be biased.
Morton's Steakhouse - Their tenderloin crostini with arugula and bleu cheese was AMAZING. The meat was cooked PERFECT with a nice sear crust and extremely juicy and tender, despite being cooked on a portable grill! Dennis ate three samples himself while I had two!
Morton's Steakhouse also had a wedge salad with bleu cheese dressing, egg bacon and tomato. It was a cute execution but hard to eat because the top lettuce was holding all the ingredients.
The event also had tons of wines and spirits but we forgot to pick up wine glasses upon entering, plus it was a long drive home afterwards. The only thing we DID drink was this yummy Fruitamin stuff, which I heard is sold at HMart, maybe a few other places.
Between pictures, eating, and note taking, we barely made it around to all the food stations in the two hour time frame. Lucky for us, the food lines were rather short while the alcohol lines had a slightly longer wait. Based on how long it took to get parking (valet), we decided it was worth leaving a few minutes early to beat the valet rush. Tired but satisfied, we exited the resort, feeling blessed for the opportunity to meet some great chefs and try their heartfelt creations. Our list of places to try in the OC/LA area has grown considerably!