I mentioned in Friday’s blog that I grew up in Orange County, California. Specifically, the Johnson family lived on the Balboa Peninsula, part of the city of Newport Beach.
Newport has a deserved reputation as a “ritzy” area, but our family was not rich. My parents owned a bakery a few steps from the peninsula’s major landmark, the Balboa Pavilion, and while most elementary school kids were getting in a few more hours of sleep before school, I was rolling bread dough, making cinnamon rolls and frying donuts.
If that sounded like a complaint, it was not meant to be. Those years instilled a work ethic and made us a tight family. What we may have lacked in material things was more than made up for in loving life-long relationships. On the evening he passed away at age 97 years and 364 days, the last word my Dad said to me as he struggled for breath was, “Family.” He needed to say no more.
The Balboa Bakery still exists, several owners past the Johnson family and barely resembling the business my parents had built over a 20-year span. The Pavilion is still there, too, as are a few amusement rides from the venerable bayside park known as the Fun Zone.
But much of the rest of Newport Beach is unrecognizable to me today, some 35 years after my folks retired from the bakery business. The city now has a vibrant arts scene, and has become a destination for foodies. So, when I heard about the inaugural Newport Beach Wine and Food Fest, I was not surprised. Such an event makes perfect sense for my “hometown,” circa 2014.
The Newport Beach Civic Center will host the festival on the weekend of September 19-21, and a press release promises an array of local chefs serving hors d’oeuvres, celebrity chefs leading demonstrations, jazz musicians providing toe-tapping sounds, and winemakers pouring their wares.
Tickets are priced at $160 for one day or $300 for two. There also will be VIP tickets that include a launch party, a pop-up event and an exclusive grand finale event. Proceeds will benefit Project Hope Alliance.
It would have been cool to have such an event back when my folks were in the bakery business. I’m pretty sure the bread we made for two local restaurants — one of which is still in existence — would have been a big hit.
I’ll tell you more about that bread and that wine-friendly restaurant in tomorrow’s blog.
Meanwhile, you can learn more about the inaugural Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival here: www.newportwineandfood.com