Robb Report Culinary Masters: Food Festival

From caviar bumps topped with shaved truffles to night golf, my time at the Robb Report Culinary Masters Food Festival in Newport Beach was an experience dedicated to the pleasures of sensual luxury

After a lovely day of cooking, wine tasting and conversations, it was time for the main event of the day: The Robb Report Culinary Masters Food Festival at The Resort at Pelican Hill.

From the moment the Mercedes GLS SUV shuttle picked me up from the valet, I was cozily embraced with the luxury The Resort at Pelican Hill had to offer.

When I was dropped off at the golf pavilion, I relished the sunset and setting of the event.

After checking in, I made my way around the food festival, taking in the sights, sounds and ambiance.

Then, it was time to begin.

I began my evening by tequila tasting with TEQUILA SKORPIOS 1618 Tequila (Mexico).

The tasting began with the BLANCO TAHONA . This was a smooth introduction, with an ever so soft slight bite. However, in no way was the bite as harsh as a low shelf, base level tequila. It was – the best way to describe – a fire upon the tongue that awoke my sense.

Next up was the REPOSADO. Here, the fire simmered down and the smooth richness of the brand’s mark of quality emerged.

The JOVEN offered a delicious taste upon the tongue.

The star of the tasting? The award winning ANEJO. This…. *sigh* If I had this in my liquor collection, only the most excellent of friends could have a taste of this excellence.

This was closing gift after a successful multi-million dollar escrow, quality tequila.

And what I loved about the Skorpios line is that even when you’re done with the bottle, it’s still an eye-catching object of art.

I knew that in exploring the food options, I wanted to start with seafood and continue to heavier meats.

I stopped at the Nixta Taqueria’s HAMACHI TOSTADA (Sliced Hamachi, Piloncillo Vinaigrette, Avocado, Crispy Shallots, and Spring Herbs) from Chef Edgar Rico (Austin, Texas).

I had this with a generous pour of the Liber Pater‘s 2020 DENARUS wine, which echoed back to my tasting experience earlier in the day.

Next up, I ventured to the table representing the culinary offerings of NEOM’s Sindalah (Saudi Arabia). Here, I enjoyed a delicious bite of  SEAFOOD CROQUETTE (Carbinero prawns, kimchie, lime) and one of the most unique dishes of the evening – the TOMATO TARTAR (Tomato ice tea, Grand Marshall tomato powder, red tuna carpaccio, tofu hummus).

The tomato foam was an oral revelation. This seemingly simple dish was an expression of layered mastery of tastes on the tongue. Simply put, I dearly wanted to spend more time and eat two more dishes of this creation. However, I also knew there was more to explore and savor.

Making my way to the Burrata and Prosciutto Bar + Homemade Herbed Pappardelli Pasta, presented by Chef Kyung Soo Carrol (Chef of The Resort at Pelican Hill – Newport Beach)  & Chef Zack Kazmar (sous chef of The Resort at Pelican Hill – Newport Beach), (Newport Beach, California) I was presented with a selection of choices.

First, how would I like my crostini? After reflection, I chose to top my duo with CRUSHED TOMATO, BURRATA CHEESE, SLICED FIG and PROSCIUTTO.

Next up: how many turns within the Parmigiano-Reggiano hollowed out cheese wheel would I like for my PASTA WITH RABBIT MEAT SAUCE?

The answer was – as many as you like to give me, Chef. With a little bit of finishing cheese on top? Yes, please!

Both of these dishes, I enjoyed with SARATOGA Sparkling Spring Water, which was also one of the sponsors of the event.

Ready to venture into heavier fare, I made my way to the Heritage Barbecue table, presented by Chef Daniel Castillo. (San Juan Capistrano, California). Here, my mouth watered as the LAMB NECK TACO (Smoked Lamb Neck Barbacoa served on Heritage Barbecue 50/50 tallow tortillas, Salsa Borracha, and avocado) was prepared in front of me.

To say this Bib Gourmand winning barbecue was delicious would be an understatement.

William from Scott Dunn Travel, who I met earlier in the day, came over to my table. We conversed for a bit before he told me about the pièce de résistance of the evening: the caviar bump.

Intrigued, I was down to try it.

Presented once again by the Chefs of The Resort at Pelican Hill – Newport Beach (Chef Kyung Soo Carrol and Sous Chef Chef Zack Kazmar), the Hot and Cold Raw Bar table served up delights such as the FRIED LOBSTER in traditional Chinese take out boxes, FRIED OYSTERS, RAW SHRIMP FILLED WITH COCKTAIL SAUCE and pre seasoned OYSTERS.

But William and I were there for one thing and one thing only – the caviar bump. Spotting Chef Anyi of Lysée New York from earlier in the day, I pulled her in for some of the action.

Now, I had no idea what was going to happen. William said that he’d seen videos of the process all over his social media. And I’d seen it on the menu at The Lonely Oyster, a few days prior. So, when the opportunity presents itself for curiosity, one should arise to the occasion.

Gleefully, the three of us each put a fisted hand out. An area of the fleshly part between the pointer finger and the thumb was swiftly cleaned. Next, we were each given portions of BELUGA STURGEON BLACK CAVIAR from the Caspian Sea – an ethically sourced hybrid of Huso Huso (Beluga fish) and Acipenser Ruthenus a type of (sturgeon fish). Finally, each bump was topped with freshly shaven BLACK TRUFFLE.

I took it all in, signing in delight.  Then William, Chef Anyi and I licked our hands clean.

I can honestly say that it was the best preparation of caviar I’ve had. Very, hand to mouth, dare I say. The caviar was smooth, with the slightly salty taste ever so slightly muted by the creamy, mouthwatering feel of the truffle.

It was – peak.

Even better, I savored a pour of Austin Hope Wines2021 PASO ROBLES CABERNET (Paso Robles, California). Honestly, this was my favorite wine of the evening.

I finished off the experience at the dessert table, with scoops of the PEPPERCORN and AMARENA CHERRY GELATO topped with a decadent drizzle of caramel sauce.

But the night was not over. I ventured over to the night golf area enjoyed a rambunctious game of swinging golf balls to hit lit targets on the golf course. The lights lit up the night as I aimed my strokes to hit my ball at my target.

After 5 balls, the only thing I hit was a lit stick on the course. But hey, at least I hit something.

I concluded the evening with a pour of the 2022 CASTEÑADA ROSÉ from Three Sticks Winery (Sonoma, California).

Enjoying my last sips of wine, I reflected on my day at the Robb Report Culinary Masters event. From following along the cooking instructions of Chef Angie Mar to enjoying cocktails overlooking the pool, my time at the Pelican Hill resort was an investment in the pleasures of luxury, the value of conversations and the sensual delicious decadence of culinary masters while overlooking the Pacific Ocean, in Newport Beach, California.

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Robb Report Culinary Masters 2024 at The Resort at Pelican Hill

22701 S Pelican Hill Road
Newport Coast, California 92657
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