Have you heard about food and wine festivals at sea?
Let me tell you such a thing exists. For example, the Celebrity Reflection (Celebrity Cruises) will be sailing the Caribbean this November while delighting passengers who have a great interest in the culinary realm. Think about it as a food festival lasting an entire week. Wouldn’t that be incredible?
For those of us that may not have the opportunity to board a luxurious ship and eat for a week like royalty, the folks at Celebrity have an alternative closer to home.
The company is known for sponsoring and participating in local food events and festivals. The objective is easy to understand: contribute to the uplift of culinary arts and introduce the public to dishes that can be enjoyed while aboard one of the line’s ships.
I can say those objectives were met at the latest Celebrity Cruises Great Food and Wine Festival celebrated at the Orange County Great Park located in Irvine, CA.
If you are not familiar with this part of California, let’s just say the park is famous for its big orange balloon ride (btw is free to ride, the park is still under development).
The event featured more than 40 award-winning restaurants, premium wineries and other food related businesses. Proceeds benefited the LegalAid of Orange County, a non-profit organization which provides free and low-cost services to individuals and families in need.
Here are descriptions and photos of the food served during the festival.
Let me first say Celebrity Cruises made a bold move by serving lamb chops for one of their food samples. This meat is very delicate and not so easy to cook to perfection (haven’t you seen Master Chef?). Plus, there is no doubt their selection was very generous too!
They grilled and prepared the lamb (and their other samples) on site. It was fun to watch the executive chef (flown from Miami) and his staff working on the food and serving everything with a smile.
Here is a peak of how their Zatar-Grilled Lamb Chop served with Tabbouleh and Lemon Yogurt Sauce looked.
They also served a Tomato Watermelon Salad with Basil, Feta, Sourdough Croutons and Sherry Vinaigrette.
Both dishes were superb. As usual, I stopped by their booth more than once.
Celebrity’s food was great but it wasn’t just the food. They had a neat booth offering information about their trips and the opportunity to win a cruise trip. In addition, they provided goody bags full of useful stuff.
Everybody was raving about the Wahoo Poke from James Republic
Maro Wood Grill presented a Kale Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Pepitas, Parmesan Cheese and Lemon-Garlic Vinaigrette
They also had Organic Baby Iceberg Cup with Grilled Grass Fed Flat-Iron Steak and Avocado Kimchi samples.
There was Fish Ceviche from Bluewater Grill
The Ahi served with Avocado and Chipotle Sauce from Riptide was particularly good.
The staff from Clay Oven charmed us with Lamb Kebabs with Spicy Tomato Chutney.
Plus, the served a refreshing Mint and Green Pea Soup
The Seafood Salad Roll from Slapfish was to die for (the bread was delicious)
JP23 Smokehouse turned up the heat by serving Classic BBQ and Garlic-Sriracha Hot Wings.
Here is a partial list of the businesses who offered drinks to attendees. Most people I talked to during the festival were interested on this side of the event.
Benzinger Family (Glen Ellen, CA)
Fess Parker (Los Olivos, CA)
Grgich Hills Estate (Rutheford, CA)
Jackson Family (Santa Rosa, CA)
Justin Vineyards (Paso Roble, CA)
Zaca Mesa (Los Olivos, CA)
Stella Artois (St. Louis, MO)
Air New Zealand and Tourism Australia featured drinks from the countries they represented.
In my conversation with several people, I perceived satisfaction and happiness. Since the afternoon was enjoyed by the attendees, I can say the festival was a success. People who have traveled all over the world commented about the quality of the food and wines. Therefore, this is a recommended event for foodies and for those who want to spread their culinary wings.
- Visit the following website if you are interested in attending the event next year: http://www.greatwinefestival.com/
- For more information about the Orange County Great Park visit this page: http://www.ocgp.org/
Would you like to attend a similar event?
Disclosure: I attended the event with a media pass. However, all the opinions expressed here, as always, are my own.