Paso Robles Grand Tasting – Newport Beach

Paso Robles Wine Country comes to Orange County the week of February 27 – March 3, 2012 for its 2012 Grand Tasting Tour. You are invited to explore more than 150 wines from one of California’s largest and fastest growing wine regions in the heart of beautiful Orange County.

Don’t miss your chance to taste from more than 40 winemakers from Paso Robles on Wednesday, February 29, 2012, aboard the Yacht Majestic docked in Newport Beach Harbor.

During this exclusive three-hour tasting experience, members of the trade will taste wines directly with winemakers and principals as they pour wines from their own vineyards and tasting rooms. Attendees will experience Paso Robles wines as if they were visiting the region itself. The Grand Tasting Tour is a phenomenal opportunity for members of the wine-buying trade to experience a taste of Paso Robles Wine Country in their own backyard.

Register Now for this walk-around tasting, exclusive to the wine trade and media:

Register Here

Trade tasting is complimentary and open to qualified wine buyers only (including sommeliers, restaurateurs, beverage directors, wine retailers, etc.)


Trade Seminar
1:00 – 2:00 pm

Trade Tasting
2:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Aboard the Yacht Majestic  
2901 West Pacific Coast Highway, Newport Beach

Representatives from over 40 Paso Robles wineries will showcase a sample of their portfolios. Come reacquaint yourself and meet the many new brands coming out of the Paso Robles Wine Country. 

For questions about the trade tasting or registration, please contact Jennifer Simmons at Fast Forward Events, or call 619-312-1212. 

For more information on the 2012 Paso Robles Grand Tasting Tour please click here:


Lodi Largesse

The Lodi Arts Foundation (LAF) held its second annual Artisan Masters Wine & Art Auction on October 22, 2011 at Hutchins Street Square in Lodi, California.  Lodi area vintners, artists and chefs collaborated on a stunning fundraising event that included a barrel tasting, live auction, and gala dinner.

Proceeds from the auction are earmarked to support scholarships for underserved youth and promote an understanding and appreciation of the arts.

The Gala Event

The black tie evening commenced with a barrel tasting highlighting several of Lodi’s AVAs including the Mokelumne River, Clements Hills and Borden Ranch.  Lodi is known for its world class Zinfandels and superb Cabernet Sauvignon and these, along with Syrah and Carignane, made up the majority of wines barrel tasted.

The auction featured the art of Lodi area artists, wine from local vintners, and lifestyle lots. Funds raised at the event grew 30% over the prior year.

Monies will be used throughout the year to provide scholarships to local students in fine arts, culinary arts and the study of agriculture and viticulture, including classes at Hutchins Street Square and programs at San Joaquin Delta College‘s culinary program and L.H. Horton Gallery.

Melissa Phillips Stroud & Lori Ann Phillips of Michael David Winery flank Hinman & Carmichael attorney Rebecca Stamey-White.

About Artisan Masters

Lodi’s Artisan Masters Wine & Art Auction is a community based effort led by The Lodi Arts Foundation in collaboration with Lodi area vintners, chefs and artists.

Artisan Masters was conceived by Lodi vintners Dave Dart & David Lucas, City Arts & Culture Manager Deanie Bridewell, and Lodi Arts Foundation leader Ros Bollinger.

  Wine Grape Heaven

Lodi, originally named Mokelumne, is one of California’s hidden wine country gems. Or, perhaps not so hidden. It is certainly well known in the professional wine world.

Lodi has been producing wonderful wines commercially for about 100 years. As a matter of fact, during Prohibition, Lodi grape growers made a very fine living (some became rich) supplying wine grapes to home wine makers coast to coast. Most of the “California” appellation Zinfandel is grown in Lodi.

Lodi is ideal for wine grape growing. Situated just East of the “California Delta” (technically the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta),  Lodi, in the summer, is washed with cooling breezes at night, fog in the mornings, and glorious hot sunshine in the afternoons.

Mix in the perfect soils and committed growers and wine grapes thrive. Combine those grapes with passionate winemaking (and passionate vintners) and delicious wines result!

Please visit Lodi Arts Commission Web site for additional information:

Compliments to Annalisa Sharp Babich and Holly Evans – they know how to throw an event!

Gracious thanks to Russ and Kathy Munson, owners of Wine & Roses Hotel, Restaurant, Spa.                                           

                                               The place to stay in Lodi!

Original photography ©2011 Byron Vaughan

©2011 Fine-Dining Review, All Rights Reserved

The Great Delta Airlines Biscoff Bake-Off

Fine-Dining Review was there!

Yes kids,  it’s true,  the FDR crew was in attendance at the Culinary Institute of America, Greystone campus for the Delta Airlines – Biscoff  Bake-Off  finale on November 20th, 2011.

What’s it all about???

Well, submit a recipe for a BAKED Dish using Biscoff’s delicious cookies (served on Delta flights), post it online at the official contest web site(s), and see how many votes you receive.

The top three vote getters win a trip to Napa Valley to attend FLAVOR! Napa Valley and participate in the big Bake-Off, judged in a “Chopped” TV-show format, with  the Grand Prize winner winning trips to the 2012 Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival, presented by FOOD & WINE Magazine, and the 2012 Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival.

It was great fun and ALL the dishes were wonderful: Baked Shrimp, Chef Laurie Lufkin,  (the FDR team couldn’t get enough); a baked FISH – amazingly tender, moist, and perfectly seasoned, Chef Atif Chaudhry, and the best CHEESECAKE ever, Chef Meg King.

The FDR team has judged many culinary competitions, but they were all BLIND tasted. In those the judges didn’t even see, let along meet and talk with, the contestants. So this contest would have been tough for the FDR crew to judge because each dish was a winner, each contestant a charmer.  However,  there had to be a winner, the best of show, a ‘last man standing’, and so,

the Winner is . . . Meg King, from Atlanta, GA

Meg King (3rd from left) with Delta representatives & Judge Andrea Robinson (2nd from left)

Meg’s winning dish? That incredible CHEESECAKE! It was sublime, delicate, and pure YUM. We loved it, as did the Judges. (Three Judges – unanimous decision.)

Meg on hearing Judges decision! With runners' up Laurie Lufkin and Atif Chaudhry.

             Ok, it may not be low fat, low calorie, gluten free or vegan, but it’s utterly delicious.

Well Done, Meg!

Meg's winning dish: Salted Caramel Apple Cheesecake

Fine-Dining Review thanks Delta AirlinesFlyerTalkBiscoff GourmetFlavor! Napa ValleyCIA – Greystone, and Santé Magazine .

Please visit Meg’s website for more photos, fun, & banter!


©2011 Fine-Dining Review, All Rights Reserved

visit our companion site: The Culinary Vanguard

Charmed in Chelsea – Part One

Chelsea Hotel
222 West 23rd Street
New York, NY 10011-2393
(212) 243-3700

Bob Dylan wrote one of his classic songs there (“Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands“), his name sake, the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, died there, and, over its 100+ year history, a Who’s Who of literary, artistic, and musical icons have lived, created, visited, and made news there.

Welcome to New York’s Chelsea Hotel
Located at 222 W. 23rd Street, bet. 7th & 8th, the Chelsea has been hosting guests (famous, not yet famous, and never to be famous) since the 19th century.

Lobby, Chelsea Hotel

Currently home to about 100 residents, the hotel was recently sold and regrettably no longer accepts guests.  Evidently the hotel staff was let go, no new residents are are being accepted, and the Chelsea’s future is uncertain.

Lobby, with extensive artwork.

The new owner vows to keep the overall look unchanged, but the days of the visiting Bohemian, resident beatnik, and itinerant starving artist may be over. 

When in New York, even Toto stays at the Chelsea.


Hotel Chelsea:

Original photography by Byron Vaughan, ©2011
The Culinary Vanguard ©2011, all rights reserved.