Monday, January 27, 2014

Ventura County Wine Trail Food and Wine Challenge 2014

This fundraiser for FOOD Share of Ventura County showcased thirteen wineries and restaurants.  They put together some awesome pairings and it was a great opportunity to compare the best food and wine pairings in Ventura County.
I think all of the 350 people at the food and wine challenge are in this picture!
Everyone was offered a glass of bubbly as they entered the ballroom.  The Elvi Wines Cava Brut is from Spain and a "Mevushal" wine.
Team 1 - Peoples' Choice, 3rd Place
Jolly Oyster - Baked oysters bathed in a white wine cream and leek sauce. This must have been good while it lasted! 
Labyrinth Winery - 2011 Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County, Cottonwood Vineyard. Ed Schwartz and Greg Leon are always fun to talk with at wine festivals. They were pouring their Haka brand, inspired by their winemaker from New Zealand, Rick Hill.  "Haka" is a powerful, emotive gesture or dance form incorporating words, actions, rhythm, history and life force.  Yeah, that sounds about right when drinking wine!

Team 2  - Taste N Trip, 1st Place 

Austen’s Café at Wyndham Garden Ventura Pierpont Inn - Blackened Pork Tenderloin with Cantara Petit Syrah reduction served with organic Lima Beans. Awesome! (And I don't even like Lima Beans, generally.)
Cantara Cellars - 2010 Intrepid (Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc). As usual, a very nice blend! 

Team 3 - Peoples' Choice, 2nd Place & Judges' Award, 2nd Place & Taste N Trip, 2nd Place!
The Waterside Restaurant - Taco-crispy duck confit with red wine pickled onions, cotija cheese, micro cilantro and homemade corn tortilla. Can't wait to see what other fun dishes are served at The Waterside Restaurant & Wine Bar.
Rancho Ventavo Cellars - 2009 Merlot, Santa Barbara County
It looks like everyone agrees, this is an interesting, imaginative, and tasty entry and the Rancho Ventavo red wines are always good!

Team 4
La Dolce Vita - Chef Michelle Kenney made a wild mushroom and fontina blossom topped with Tuscan-rubbed pork with balsamic port wine reduction. Very good!
Vinemark Cellars - 2009 Primitivo, Paso Robles.  I always enjoy Vinemark's Primitvo.

Team 5
Coastal Grill - Pan Seared Diver Scallops on Brioche Spoon with Churassco Sauce and Herb Oil. This was probably pretty good while it lasted!
Sunland Vintage Winery - 2010 Pinot Noir.

Team 6
The Kitchen - Berry brushed chocolate tartlets, with caramel & almond brittle crunch. I heard this was pretty good while it lasted! My photograph of the remaining 'floor' model had previously fallen on the floor.
Alma Sol Winery - NV Ritual (65% 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% 2012 Syrah, 5% Petite Sirah).
Bonus taste: Reserve 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon (100% cabernet sauvignon aged in new American oak). Both are outstanding wines, and the Ritual was worth a second taste during the awards.

Hey, who are these guys? I don't know how, but I seem to run into Tom & Sandy everywhere there's wine and food!  Notice how Tom's shirt Blendz into the background.

Team 7 - Peoples' Choice, 1st Place & Taste N Trip, 1st Place

Café Zack - Beef Filet Mignon encrusted with a blend of three peppercorns (pink, green, tellicherry) and finished in a brandy crème reduction.
Magnavino Cellars - 2011 Tuscan Romance (Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot).  A very nice Super Tuscan from Magnavino!

Team 8
The Cave - Walnut feta zucchini cake with cherry tomato pepper jam. The Cave's creation was very tasty.
Four Brix Winery - 2012 Desirous (100% Grenache Blanc), Camp 4 Vineyard. I always enjoy Four Brix Grenache Blanc, but I should have had this and the Team 1 wine before sampling the reds.

Team 9
The Aloha Steakhouse - Prime Rib Chili Con Carne in a homemade cuplette.
Panaro Brothers Winery - 2009 Barbera. Panero Brothers wines seem to be getting better every time I taste them.

Team 10 - Judges' Award, 3rd Place
Twenty 88 - Roasted lamb rack, mission fig, cascable pepper sauce served with pancetta, roasted pistachio, and manchego risotto. Everyone said this was very good while it lasted!
Millésimé Cellars - 2010 Cabernet Franc, SB County may have been served with the lamb, but when I arrived the 2011 Merlot, Alexander Valley was being poured.

Team 11
Scratch Food Truck (without the truck) - Braised pork cheeks.
Plan B Wine Cellars - 2011 Petite Sirah, Paso Robles.

Team 12
Tierra Sur - Beef cheek.
Herzog Wine Cellars - Limited Edition 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Chalk Hill, Warnecke Vineyard. This was an outstanding cab!

Team 13 - Judges' Award, 1st  Place 
The Rhumb Line* Restaurant - Seared duck breast with creamy mashed potatoes and bacon corn relish, with a chocolate Merlot Beurre Rouge Sauce.
Casa Barranca Winery - 2010 Merlot, Santa Barbara County, Evergreen Vineyard.

*In navigation, a rhumb line is a line crossing all meridians of longitude at the same angle, that is, upon taking an initial bearing, one proceeds along the same bearing, without changing the direction as measured relative to true or magnetic north. Or, in wine pairing events, a Rhumb Line is a restaurant winning the Judges' 1st Place Award for their duck creation when it's paired with Casa Barranca's 2010 Merlot.

Awards Summary
A great time and lots of winners! Even those not taking home awards were winners with their fine food and wine pairings.

Peoples' Choice Awards

1st Place: Café Zack & Magnavino Cellars

2nd Place: The Waterside Restaurant & Rancho Ventavo Cellars

3rd Place: Jolly Oyster & Labyrinth Winery

Watch the Peoples' Choice Awards video here. 

Judges Choice Awards

1st Place: Rhumb Line & Casa Barranca Winery

2nd Place: Waterside & Rancho Ventavo Cellars

3rd Place: Twenty 88 & Millésimé Cellars


Taste N Trip Awards

1st Place: Austen’s Café at Wyndham Garden Ventura Pierpont Inn & Cantara Cellars (Tied with Café Zack/Magnavino)

1st Place: Café Zack & Magnavino Cellars (Tied with Austen’s Café/Cantara) 

2nd Place: The Waterside Restaurant & Rancho Ventavo Cellars

CoonToonStudios Music Awards
1st Place: Jazz guitarist Paul Weitz and jazz/pop vocalist Donna Deussen performed some very nice tunes. Watch them perform 'Nick of Time' here.

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