Software salesman Andy Mouacdie wouldn't have missed the 9th Annual World of Wine and Food festival at the Ritz-Carlton for any price.
With a big smile Friday, he puffed on long, thick barrels of tobacco from the Dominican Republic and sipped on 25-year-old Macallan-brand scotch while sitting in the opulently appointed ballroom.
"My wife makes me go out to the patio when I want to smoke a cigar," he said.
"The finest cigars, the best scotch whiskey, who could ask for more?"
The four-day event, which started Thursday and runs through Sunday, is packed with seminars that carry zesty names like "Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate! And Zinfandel for Lunch" or "The Finest in Cigars Joins the Ultimate in Single Malt Whiskies."
"This is open to anyone who loves the finer food and wine, no matter who you are," said Ritz-Carlton general manager John Dravinski.
"We want to take the arrogance out of good food and wine," he said.
Each seminar carries its own price tag, and although not inexpensive, the average cost--between $40 and $95--is about the same as a good seat to a Mighty Ducks hockey game at The Pond.
Highlights of the remaining seminars this weekend include the Great American Tasting Spectacular, a gathering of wine from more than 100 California vineyards ($95) and a Tasting of Oysters and Pinot Gris ($45).
For information about the World of Food and Wine, call (714) 489-5897.