Laguna Beach a la Carte was a tasty wine and food fest.
The four-day celebration showcased Laguna restaurants from March 8 to Sunday in an effort to promote the city as a foodie destination. It was hosted by the Laguna Beach Visitors & Conference Bureau.
On Saturday, Laguna Beach Uncorked! at the Festival of Arts was the signature event and a fundraiser for Children's Hospital of Orange County.
The event featured tastings from 25 eateries in our own backyard and 25 wineries from around the world, including the Laguna Canyon Winery. There was also beer from Cismontane Brewing Co. and sake provided by Ty Ku Sake.
"My favorites were the shrimp ceviche, gazpacho and s'mores prepared by Montage's Mosaic Bar and Grille and the salmon from Sapphire," said Sandy Hovanesian, one of the locals who attended the event, as well as the wine seminar by Peter Neptune that preceded it. Hovanesian said she also liked the generous servings of white wine at the La Playa booth.
Ara Hovanesian also liked Sapphire's salmon. The couple are regulars at the restaurant in the Old Pottery Place.
Friends of the Library President Martha Lydick voted for Royal Hawaiian's ahi poke, Tommy Bahama's tacos, 230 Forest's goat cheese brulee and the bananas foster bread pudding from House of Big Fish and Ice Cold Beer.
"It makes me want to go to the restaurants," Lydick said.
Other locals at the event included Mayor Jane Egly, Jim and Terri Johnson, Angie Miller, Mark and Miriam Singer and Laguna Playhouse Executive Director Karen Wood.
Everybody received a commemorative wine glass, one of those enormous goblets that wine is served in these days.
As for the wines poured, Lydick found the South African whites to her taste. Patsy Hadlich liked the Oregon whites, which she discovered on visits to her son and grandson.
Participating wineries included Axel, Beacon Hill, Belasco de Baquedano, Bernardus, Boekenhoutskloof, Chateau Montelena, Domaine Serene, Fairview, Famille Perrin, Frank Family Vineyards, Feudo Maccari, Hedges Family Estate, Louis Michel & Fils, Marques de Murrieta, Michele Chiralo, Neil Ellis, Nozzole, Pazo de Barrantes, Penfolds, Retour, Thompkin Cellars, Vincent Delaporte and Tres Sabores, whose chardonnay was delivered with VIP invitations to the event.
Tastes were served on "green" palm leaf bowls and plates by staffs from 230 Forest Avenue, The Beach House, Broadway by Amar Santana, Claes Ovation, Dizz's As Is, Eva's Caribbean Kitchen, French 75, Katsuya, Laguna Culinary Arts, Las Brisas, Mosaic Bar & Grille, Mozambique Steakhouse, Starfish, Sundried Tomato, Tabu Grill, Three Seventy Common Kitchen + Drink and Watermarc.
Other participating eateries also held special events, starting March 8 at the K'ya Bistro at the Rooftop Lounge of La Casa Del Camino, with tasting stations created by Chef Craig Connole.
On Saturday, Surf & Sand served up Executive Chef Jeff Armstrong's savory bites, specialty cocktails and sweets concocted by mixologist/pastry chef Ryan Velilla and samples of select beers and Chateau Ste. Michelle wines.
Sunday's events began with a Gospel Music and Champagne Brunch, presented by Laguna Beach Live! and featuring music by Yve Evans & Co. and wine by Domaine Ste. Michelle.
Nirvana Grill presented a chef's demonstration and cooking class from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and The Deck at Pacific Edge Hotel hosted a "mixologist" completion and noshes while guests watched a paddleboarding relay race.
The day wound up at the Studio at Montage Resort & Spa, starting with a champagne reception and Executive Chef Craig Strong's garden-inspired hors d'oeuvres, followed by a four-course tasting menu paired with wines from a local California winery.
The Coastline Pilot was among the sponsors of the event.