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Our Laguna: The best in food and wine

Our Laguna: The best in food and wine
Executive Chef Laurent Brazier, who presented last year’s Laguna Culinary Arts Wine Dinner.
(Courtesy Laguna Culinary Arts)

The Laguna Beach Visitors & Conference Bureau uncorked another tasty treat this week.

For the third year, the bureau is hosting Laguna Beach a la Carte, a festival of food and wine that promotes Laguna’s reputation as a foodie destination with world-class cuisine. Local restaurants offered prix-fixe menus, food and wine pairings, and special events that began Thursday and conclude Sunday. All events are listed at


“It’s exciting to showcase our culinary offerings with a four-day celebration, by bringing people together to enjoy inventive cuisine paired with superb wine offerings,” said bureau President Karyn Philippsen, event committee co-chair, in a news release.

The event includes the popular Laguna Beach Uncorked!, set for Saturday at the Festival of Arts Grounds, 650 Laguna Canyon Road. Guests will be offered tastes of signature dishes prepared by 20 Laguna Beach restaurants and sip wine served by 30 wineries from around the world. Gates open at 12:30 p.m. for general admission. VIP ticket holders will attend a wine seminar with Master Sommelier Michael A. Jordan, at 9:30 a.m. and begin tastings at 11:30 a.m.


“Last year’s event really exceeded my expectations,” said Sandra Hovanesian, who will be attending this year’s seminar. “It was really the best food and wine tasting I have ever been to.”

She especially liked the white wines served at the La Playa booth and the shrimp ceviche prepared by Montage Laguna Beach’s Mosaic Bar and Grill and the salmon from Sapphire.

Other locals at the afternoon soiree included former Mayor Jane Egly, Jim and Terri Johnson, Angie Miller, Mark and Miriam Singer, Laguna Playhouse Executive Director Karen Wood and Friends of the Library President Martha Lydick.

Today is the last day to purchase seminar tickets for $145, limited to 250, or general admission tickets for $90 from General admission tickets will also be available at the box office for $115. A portion of the ticket sales will benefit Children’s Hospital of Orange County.


All attendees must be at least 21 years of age. Identification will be checked at the door.

Participating Laguna Beach restaurants include 230 Forest Avenue, The Beach House, Broadway, The Deck, Dizz’s As Is, House of Big Fish & Ice Cold Beer, K’ya Bistro Bar, Las Brisas, Mosaic Bar & Grille, Mozambique Steakhouse, Nirvana Grille, OceanView Bar & Grill, ReMark’s, Sapphire Restaurant & Pantry, Splashes, Starfish Laguna, Sundried Tomato, Tabu Grill, Three Seventy Common Kitchen + Drink, Tommy Bahama and Watermarc.

Other restaurants scheduled special events.

Participating Wineries include Archery Summit, Purple Hands, Ponzi, from Oregon; Bichi Borghesi, Comparo, Giol from Italy; Canoe Ridge from Washington; Close Pegas, Domaine Caneros, Townley, Tablas Creek Vineyard, Ridge, Etude, Foley, Nickle & Nickle, from California; Tinta Negra, Ernesto Catena, Argentina; Cono Sur, Chile; Warres, Portugal; Peregrine, Veneto, Mahua, Ribera del Duero, New Zealand; Domaine des Baumard, Domaine Prieur-Brunet, Domaine Rene Mure, Domaine Santa Duc, France: Mas d’en Compte, Nisia, O. Fournier, Spain.


A sampling of events:

Laguna Beach a la carte kicked off Thursday with a dinner at Las Brisas, featuring Ste. Michelle Wine Estates wines and a reception and dinner with wine for 30 at The Loft at Montage.

Friday’s events include a five-course dinner and Etude wines presided over by certified sommelier Margaux Pierog at the Hotel Laguna. Reception is at 6:30 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m.

Seating is $125 per person, plus tax and gratuity. For reservations, call (949) 494-1151.

A Celebration of Burgundy at Laguna Culinary Arts is sold out.

The Surf & Sand had about 40 tickets left at mid-week for its Sunset & Savor: Beer vs. Wine on the Pool Deck, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

If still available, tickets are $65 to mix and mingle poolside at five stations with specially paired wines and beers. For reservations, call (949) 376-2761 or email

A quartet of diverse events are scheduled for Sunday:

•Gospel & Champagne Brunch, 11 a.m., Tivoli Too!

A champagne tasting will jumpstart the event, followed by a variety of cold and hot dishes, a carving station, fruits and pastry.

Two-time winner of the Monterey Jazz Festival’s Musicians of the Year Award, Yve Evans, her quartet and three singers will perform at 11:30 p.m.

“This event is always sold out, but some tickets may be returned and you can get on a wait list by calling (949) 715-5713 or emailing,” said Cindy Prewitt, Laguna Beach Live! founder.

•Snack, Sip, and Surf at Pacific Edge Hotel, 2 to 5 p.m. Price is $45

Local bartenders will hold a cocktail competition, while guests snack on beach fare created by chef challenge and appetizers from the Deck and feast their eyes on a paddle competition. Proceeds will benefit charity. For more information, call (949) 281-5711.

•Sustain Local Art & Cuisine by Sawdust Art Festival, 3 to 7 p.m. Price: $195 per person (space limited to 50 seats).

Three Seventy Common Executive Chef and owner Ryan Adams will cater a three-course meal, served on hand-crafted stemware, dinnerware and centerpieces created by 20 talented Sawdust artists. The artists will “meet and greet” guests and share their creative processes. Three one-of-a-kind art pieces will go home with lucky guests. Additional pieces will be available for sale before and during the event.

A portion of the proceeds from this event will benefit the festival’s art education video project.

For more information call (949) 494-3030 or visit

•Tablas Creek Vineyard Wine Dinner at Studio at Montage; reception: 6 p.m.; dinner: 7 p.m.; price: $230 per person, including service charge and tax.

The evening will include a champagne reception and Chef Craig Strong’s signature hors d’oeuvres and a four-course menu complete with wine pairings.

Limited to 50 guests. Reservations Required.

For more information, call (949) 715-6420 and indicate the Winemaker Dinner.

“Events such as Laguna Beach a la Carte would not be possible without the partnership of companies like Fiat, Waste Management, American Express, Smart Water and Rohl,” said Judith Bijlani, president and chief executive of the Laguna Beach Visitors & Conference Bureau, in a statement.

The bureau is celebrating its 26th anniversary this year.

Media sponsors include Laguna Beach Magazine, Laguna Beach Independent, Coastline Pilot, Dining Out, KOST 103.5 and KX 93.5.

OUR LAGUNA is a regular feature of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. Contributions are welcomed. Call (714) 966-4618 or email with Attn. Barbara Diamond in the subject line.