Guest Wine Chix Carmen Micheli is a freelance wine, food and music writer living in Temecula Valley Wine Country. An amazing home chef, mother of two and wine aficionado she writes about those in-the-know and on-the-go. With a pulse on the latest in dining, entertainment, events and more, Carmen delivers the latest news and happenings around the city, showcasing the best that the SoCal area has to offer. All photos courtesy of Carmen Micheli Photography.
Long Beach Beer and Wine Festival delivers a delicious experience
Local Beer, Wine, Bands, and a broad range of cultural and regional cuisine brought nearly 2500 people to the Downtown Long Beach Promenade to sample the areas insatiable appetite for all things diverse and savory. The event was organized by the Downtown Long Beach Associates (DLBA) in celebration of the city’s emerging culinary presence as well as “the growth of wine bars and craft beer brewed, sold, and savored in Long Beach”. The $30 ticket included a souvenir wine glass, live entertainment, 10 food samples, and 3 oz tastings from more than 50 Beer, Wine, and Food establishments that lined the walkways to share their trademark flavors.
Hangar 24 Craft Brewery was first to catch my eye so I opted for an Orange Wheat Brew, a consistent choice of mine when I can find it. It is an unfiltered beer that boasts bold, citrus aromas and flavors with a refreshingly light mouth feel and finish. By definition, an “American Wheat Beer brewed with whole, pureed, 100% locally grown oranges added throughout the process”. This outstanding beer found love paired with a Lobster Roll and its layers of candied bacon, tomato, and cilantro from Pier 76 Fish Grill. I was blown away at the flavor and culinary execution of this little roll so I had to ask, “What’s the secret here?” It turns out that much like Hangar 24, they also see the importance of partnering with local suppliers and pride themselves on culinary technique. They gear their menu toward “people who genuinely care about the quality of food they eat…..lean, healthy, artisan, simple and familiar”.
I had a great conversation with a Long Beach resident while admiring a local art display who told me Beachwood BBQ and Brewing was the place to eat in town and I should head over to the booth for a sample. They were serving a Pulled Pork Slider and Flourless Chocolate Torte. The Pulled Pork Slider was good, but the Flourless Chocolate Torte with Jalapeno Raspberry sauce stole the show! It was pure Chocolate fudge goodness with tart raspberry sauce and a kick of jalapeno. I loved it so much I have been trying to duplicate the recipe ever since. It paired well with Pozzuli Winery’s Red Blend, but I also really liked it with Tustin Brewery’s Oktoberfest Brew.
The line for Michael’s Pizzeria was one of the longest and not letting up so I headed over to see what the hype was about. After waiting nearly 10 minutes, while sipping on a Coronado Brewing Company IPA, I hit the Italian jackpot: Cantaloupe, Tomato, Basil salad and a Meatball sandwich. I was very impressed with the freshness of the salad and the superior sauce on the meatball sandwich so I had a brief chat with the server. I found out that Michael’s Pizzeria is a division of the famous “Michael’s on Naples” and they source locally grown organic vegetables, grow their own herbs and tomatoes, and make their own sauces, dough, and cheese from scratch daily. This was my first taste of Michaels and definitely not my last. I would love to try more of their menu items and will be seeking out their new restaurant location on the Promenade next time I am in town.
The Rock Bottom Restaurant gets an honorable mention for their Salmon Slider with Yellow Tomato, Sprouts, and Garlic Caper Mayo. The Salmon patty itself was super moist, seasoned perfectly, and accented with a freshly baked butter roll. Only an edgy pair would do for this exceptional slider and I found such a concoction at the Public Beer and Wine booth: an Argentina Sparkling White Wine with a twist of lime juice. Divine. It was a typical sparkling dry white wine, but with the addition of the fresh lime it became unique and exciting. This slightly sweet and tart sparkling wine, accompanied by the Slider was the star of my evening.
As guests drank, danced and devoured the night away, games like Corn Hole were set up for added fun while local bands Paperplanes, Moonsville Collective and others cranked out upbeat, crowd-pleasing performances.
There were so many options it was impossible to try everything, but there were many such as The Lost Abbey, Ballast Point, District Wine, Southern Girl Bakery, Café Sevilla, and Gaucho Grill that also delivered delicious food, beer and wine.
The 1st Annual Long Beach Beer and Wine Festival was a big hit and the DLBA expects another successful turnout next year. The DLBA has been “The voice of Downtown Long Beach since 1937”, and is dedicated to a clean and safe downtown, local business development and assistance, and marketing and promotion of the area. They are also behind many great programs in the city like Homeless Outreach, Public Safety, Community Watch, and organize several events each year. For more information on the DLBA, their signature events such as the highly anticipated “Festival of Lights”, for downtown happenings, or a map of downtown deals please visit: http://www.downtownlongbeach.org.