Comments & Curiosities: So many wines, so little time at the Balboa Bay Club

May 21, 2011|By Peter Buffa

Are you a foodie? I am.

Fine wine, great food, I think about them all the time. Cannot be trusted around either of them. It's pathetic. I have no control. My willpower is powerless, every time I get on a digital scale, the little window says, "One at a time, please."

But nevermind that. The only thing that matters is Friday. If you're a foodie, that is the day that you win the lottery, you're 18 again and the IRS calls and says, "Nevermind. Your return is fine; we had the wrong name."


Why? Because the eighth annual Newport Beach Wine Festival at the Balboa Bay Club & Resort is back — bigger, bolder and better than ever, from Friday to May 29.

Is there another wine fest like it anywhere in the universe? I can't speak for anything outside this solar system, but if there is, I am not aware of it. Every year, when Memorial Day is nigh, which means close, wine lovers and foodies are jumping up and down like a Yorkie who just downed two Red Bulls and a double espresso, waiting to see what the club president and epicurean maestro, Henry Schielein, and his food and beverage master, Dieter Hissin, have conjured up for their annual wine and food rager.

In one weekend, you will meet and hear from some of the most celebrated winemakers, chefs and master sommeliers in the world, and experience wines and foods that I could try to describe but it wouldn't do any good.

We should get started. So many wines, so little time.

It all begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday with a celebration of the regional wines and foods along the rivers of Europe: the Danube, the Rhine, the Rhone and the Rio Grande. Just kidding. I made the last one up. The Rio Grande isn't in Europe.

It all happens on the club's lawn and beach, with live music, under the stars, al fresco, or as we say in The Bronx, outside. Executive Chef Josef Lageder starts things off with a bang, with an authentic paella prepared in a pan that is large enough to hold most of the seafood between here and Barcelona or be used as a radio telescope for NASA when the paella is gone, which doesn't take long.

You'll sample the marquee wines from each region, along with homemade pasta, a dizzying array of domestic and imported cheeses and desserts, which we will never speak of again, topped off with a Ketel One martini bar. Party hearty, Marty, but pace yourself; we've only just begun.

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