Immersed In Food. Assaulted By Fashion. Diving Into A Bottle of Duckhorn.

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You didn’t have to twist my arm to get this Foodinista down the mountain on a gorgeous Southern California afternoon to attend the FIDM Fashion Council Food & Wine Pairing Event featuring Duckhorn Wine at AnQi House of An at South Coast Plaza in Orange County, California. It was an evening where passionate fashion history and Food & Wine enthusiasts came together to celebrate Fashion Council’s support of FIDM Museum. Fashion and food go together like pockets and flasks, and a lot of fashion lovers eat as well, if not better, than anybody. Bring it on..

For those who don’t know, FIDM Museum Fashion Council is a volunteer group dedicated to promoting and supporting the FIDM Museum, including exhibitions and the acquisition of important objects for the FIDM Museum Collections. Fashion Council also engages in educational outreach activities, interpreting objects from the FIDM Museum Study Collection for students throughout Southern California. As Mona Lee Nesseth, Community Outreach & Development Co-Chair states,“Being a member of the FIDM Museum Fashion Council has been an inspired journey of friendship and purpose. The Fashion Council unites our creativity, talents, contacts, and efforts to raise awareness and funds to benefit the collections of the FIDM Museum, which will conserve these momentous treasures in perpetuity.” I’m here to tell you firsthand this is one Hell-of-a-lady!

If you haven’t yet experienced AnQi, what are you waiting for? It’s a community gathering place where fashion loving owner Elizabeth An hosts fundraising events. The impressive restaurateur who along with her mother and family have created a celebrated dining experience centered around their refined Vietnamese fusion cuisine at House of An restaurants in San Francisco, Beverly Hills and Costa Mesa. AnQi also offers a private dining room and 18-seat Chef’s Table, where lucky diners may catch a glimpse into the famous, whispered-about An “secret kitchen,” accessible only to family members and chefs who have been with House of An for more than 10 years. “Mamma” Helene still remains active in the “secret kitchen” preparing the An family signature Garlic Noodles, which are sure to impress. Food Stalker promise.

Wine expert Jim Fallon of Duckhorn Wine Company was on hand to host a tasting of fine wines paired with culinary delights by Chef de Cuisine Ron Lee of AnQi. Talk about a marriage made in heaven. Duckhorn has become quite an empire, with operations under a number of brand names spanning all over California up to Washington state. Named after its founders, Dan & Margaret Duckhorn, Duckhorn Vineyards started in the 1970s in Napa. They got their start in Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with the 1978 vintage and added other vintages to their portfolio over the years. In addition to their Duckhorn wines, which focus primarily on Bordeaux varietals, they also produce the Paraduxx, Goldeneye, Migration, Decoy and Canvasback labels, several of which we sampled along with our dinner. For nearly three decades, the commitment to crafting wines of distinction has remained at the heart of the Duckhorn Vineyards philosophy. Something tells me the winery will continue creating world-class wines from exceptional vineyards for generations to come.

Seriously though, how much can one skinny girl eat? With dishes like Dungeness crab meat wrapped in wonton shell with peanut mustard sauce and An’s famous Garlic Noodles, I was thrilled my fitted Dolce Gabbana Dress had a flowing full length grey vintage organza jacket over it which was loose in style. Smart Style Spy, eh?

Chef graciously laid down the stalker red-carpet pampering our palates serving Misoyaki Butterfish which was amazing paired with a 2013 Migration Russian River Valley Chardonnay Searby Vineyard located in the Green Valley section of the Russian River Valley (Sonoma County). My first opinion of this was “helloooo oak”. This is a classic California Chardonnay and is crisp on first taste but has a lot of oak on the finish. Sweet Shoyu Beef Short Rib was paired with a 2011 Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Estate Grown – Ten Degrees. It’s a classic Pinot Noir. The nose on this takes no prisoners. (It was gone in seconds…how lady like!) This dish was like a poem that haunts. * Le Sigh * (Can you please make a home delivery asap, pretty please?) We moved on to the Crustacean Shaken Beef which was served with 2010 Duckhorn Vineyards The Discussion, Estate grown Napa Valley Red Wine. The flavor complimented the beef and chinese broccoli. And the baby heirloom tomatoes, well, those jewels had more pop than any tomato I’ve had all season.

Be still my foodie-beating heart. I could not keep up with this roller coaster of indulgence but when desert arrived, I found a tad more room to satisfy my sweet tooth. I happen to love a good vodka/Elderflower martini, so imagine my delight when I read we would be served Elderflower Parfait with pink rose meringue (I swear I thought I was eating a rose petal from the garden) sweet and sour tangerine and jasmine sorbet.

This gastronomical interlude was simply divine. AnQi was eye candy. The lounge was eye candy. The General Manager was eye candy. Hell, even  the server was eye candy! All directly linked to visual diabetes one might say.

Not too shabby for a Sunday night…

Special thanks to:

– Mima Ranson (who has an innate talent of making style look polished and classy. Enough to please Mr. Bill Cunningham himself. But forget Bill, her husband is the lucky one), Mona Lee Nesseth (if you don’t know this stunning woman yet, please tell me where you’ve been hiding or what pills you’ve been downing because I might need some for my next flight!), Tsion Chudnovsky (this girl keeps it real and I like that. #justsayin), Deborah Veady (warm heart that keeps giving), Giuseppe Accardi (GM Partner of AnQi aka Mr. GQ who gives good scent, “I’ll be on my Suit and Tie, Suit and Tie”…and all Fashion Council supporters and friends who made this event magical, with high style!

* Fashion Council  does not  have membership dues … only a true passion for fashion and our history. They truly welcome and appreciate the talents and enthusiasm brought by our council members. Check them out.


  1. Randi

    June 2, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    Sandie always has it right!

  2. Joan Beer Damask

    June 3, 2015 at 5:39 am


  3. kathyhamilton2014

    June 3, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    Hi Sandie,
    You are so funny, thanks for writing this…I agree, I agree about the wines, food, atmosphere, and especially the amazing Mona, Mima, FIDM council, Anqi (Elizabeth An and family), Duckhorn varieties (talkin bout ten degrees…), and your awesome silver jacket (stealing that idea for my gala this weekend…) THANKS, Kathy

  4. Sheri

    June 3, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    Loved the blog! It was an incredibly well orchestrated event with the perfect wine food pairings! It doesn’t get much better than Duckhorn, AnQi, great company and all in support of FIDM. Kudos!

  5. Danielle

    June 3, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    What an amazing dinner. The wine and food was delicious and well paired. I can’t wait for the next one.

  6. Winnie Zeiger

    June 3, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    Perfectly written blog, as always Ms. Sandie! I feel like I was there….actually I wish I had been there! Next year!

  7. Donna Calvert

    June 3, 2015 at 8:42 pm

    Wow Sandi, You had me at, “Diving into a bottle of Duckhorn”. Beautifully written details of the fabulous evening. Your pictures do capture the fashionably fun foodies we all were, with You and Mona taking it over the top!!
    I look forward to your next explosive blog.
    Donna C

  8. Dear Stalker
    Thank you for sharing your experiences….you do it with generosity…since I have enjoyed your wicked witty blogs, I don’t need to drive as much…just follow on your coat tail
    Valerie vonSobel

    • thefoodstalker

      August 22, 2015 at 8:42 pm

      Dearest Ms. VVS, It is you I should thank. You have inspired me in so many ways. Your sense of style is truly remarkable and your heart, well, I treasure it. Look forward to our next adventure. With appreciation of wonderful fabulous YOU! kisses, That Stalker Gal

With an Italian background, she cites her Mother and grandmother ( Mamie ) as the major influence of her love for food.  Yes, homemade pasta hung from the clothesline in the kitchen and rolling 100 meat balls for a holiday dinner was the norm.  Raised in Pennsylvania. she spent time in Atlanta, Georgia and ultimately settled along the stunning coast of Laguna Beach, Ca. Self taught in everything, she learned to appreciate the amazing flavors, scents and uses for exotic herbs and spices and applies her knowledge to cooking today. Despite enjoying other creative endeavors like painting, photography and clothing design, she realized she would never love another career the way she loves all the stories surrounding food.  And it's capturing those stories that has not only become her greatest passion but a culinary drug worth passing around!  After all, food is a shared experience and no one better to share it with than the entire world. And thus the Food Stalker was born, utilizing all that passion and her fearlessness to capture even the most impossible stories. It's one thing to write about food, but far more exciting to actually capture it and all those stories that make every scent come to life.  And once she sets out, there's no stopping her, because no one follows that scent better than her---and no telling where she'll end up next.  

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