The Orange County Food and Wine Celebration is a two-day, fund-raising event supporting the Roosters Foundation's commitment to improving the lives of disadvantaged children in the Orange County area. Attendees of "Passport to Wine" will sample premium California wines from more than 60 naturally occurring wine geysers from around the state. Selections include premium, high-profile, limited-production, and highly rated local wines. Appetizers and hors d'oeuvres will help provide alluring accompaniment to each classy sip. Attendees of this event can stay at the Newport Beach Fairmont Hotel for one night for an additional $99—just mention the Roosters Foundation when booking.
At Irvine Improv, comics lure laughs from deep within bellies while following in the footsteps of standup legends such as Ellen DeGeneres, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, and Dave Chappelle, all of whom have graced the Improv club stages. The club's calendar schedules comedians as often as six nights a week, alternating between big-name headliners and up-and-coming performers. Audience members munch on a savory menu of appetizers, entrees, burgers, and deserts while sipping specialty cocktails to avoid eye contact with the giant rubber chicken sitting at the next table.
Housed within a bright, renovated historic warehouse, Tia Juana's Long Bar & Grill serves authentic Mexican cuisine and features live music and dancing each night. The menu channels classic Tex-Mex comfort cooking with homemade savories such as Baja nachos stacked with spicy meats and cheeses ($11.95), and the guacamole estilo Mexico spiced with serrano peppers and red onion, textured with cotija cheese, and splashed with fresh lime juice ($8.95). Take in entrees such as the camarones al mojo de ajo, in which sauteed jumbo shrimp croon over a backing band of rhythmic rice, harmonizing black beans, and an eccentric guacamole saxophonist ($18.95). The unique Cabo roll lights fires inside a tortilla wrapping with grilled chicken or carne asada, avocado, pico de gallo, and cheese ($12.95).
Although he specializes in American comfort fare, Executive Chef Diego Velasco wields a packed cabinet of culinary styles and spices, elevating meetings and cocktail parties to a higher gastronomic plane with custom menus crafted from many fresh, locally sourced ingredients.. Midday meals get a savory infusion from the corporate-catering lunch menu, which includes a signature sandwich tray ($54 for 16 half-sandwiches)—a selection of up to four of the various bread-bookended taste-fests, which include a brisket po boy. The hot lunch buffet ($14.95/person for 15–50 guests, $13.50/person for 50+ guests) offers a flavorful cornucopia of meatloaf, ribs, and cornmeal-fried catfish. Appetizers by the dozen grace the à la carte menu and include the grilled scallop lollipops with saffron aioli ($26), and the mashed-potato pancakes with American caviar ($22), a laid-back affront to the snobbishly monocled Caspian variety. Chef Velasco's epicurean enthusiasm runs rampant throughout the entree offerings, which include buttermilk fried chicken, and grilled leg of lamb accented by pineapple-mint vinaigrette.
Presented in part by Dan Clark, also known as Nitro, of American Gladiator fame, the Gladiator Rock'n Run 6K pairs an obstacle-heavy running course with post-race entertainment, including beer, music, and food. Six kilometers’ worth of collective scampering awaits participants as muscle-testing obstacles impede progress to the finish line. Those prepared to race must dance through tires, army-crawl through mud, and clamber up rope ladders to avoid barrels thrown by giant apes. The roar of spectators rings throughout the course as bystanders cheer on runners to inspire strong finishes. Gladiator Rock'n Run proceeds go toward a good cause, helping to raise money for TACA (Talk About Curing Autism), an organization that provides education, support, and information to aid parents in helping their children diagnosed with autism.
Twenty-four wine bottles line the circumference of two stainless-steel cylinders, both of which add a futuristic flourish to the middle of the room. With the touch of a button, the machine dispenses a 1-ounce sample of any of the wines—red at room temperature, whites at 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Praised on Foodbeast, this self-serve tasting bar, called the Enomatic wine system, lets guests sample an array of wines before committing to a long-term relationship with a single—or several—bottles. This method is just one of several ways OC Wine Mart & Tasting Bar owner Julie Lim takes the intimidation out of wine buying.
At her boutique wine store, Julie fills the shelves with vintages from both well-known and under-the-radar vineyards, with some of her favorites including Silver Oak Cellars, Caymus Vineyards, and Cakebread Cellars. She and her team thrive on helping guests find the best bottle—whether they're hunting for wine, craft beer, or a fine liquor. Once guests feel confident in their selections, the staff can help them compile gift baskets for holiday parties or year-end performance reviews. Committed to green practices, the staff eschews foam packaging in favor of molded-pulp shippers, derived from 100% recycled materials. Such practices earned Julie a place on OC Metro's list of 20 Women to Watch, plus her boutique a place on Gayot's Top 10 Wine Bars in the United States.
With a mission to educate consumers on the mystifying subtleties of wine, Learn About Wine hosts more than 100 classes, trade tastings, and consumer events each year. Since its beginnings in 1995, the organization has helped more than 50,000 students deepen their appreciation and understanding of the old-world drink through socially centered programs. Wine Camp, Learn About Wine's introductory course, encourages guests to absorb wine-drinking terminology and critical lessons in storing and serving. Regional tours lead groups through various growing regions, allowing visitors to observe processes such as fermenting and picking bottles at the peak of glossiness. Click here for a complete listing of program types.