Event - Surfas Tasting Tour

Happy grand opening day for Surfas Culinary District in Costa Mesa! The place has actually been open for a little while now but the official grand opening happens today, December 15th, from 2pm-6pm with plenty of vendor tastings, giftaways, and kids' activities. Sounds fabulous. I was invited to a Tasting Tour of Surfas earlier this week and was floored by the fare and wares inside. I had been actively avoiding this place when I heard of its initial opening because I knew my wallet would cry after each visit; however, I could not pass up an opportunity to take a guided look around the aisles.

So what is Surfas? It is the newest addition to the SoCo Collection's wondrous array of foodie delights. It is the second Surfas in California (there's a third in Arkansas) with the first being in Culver City. Plenty of long-time Surfas customers were quite elated when this location opened up; wouldn't you be happy too if you didn't have to make a monthly commute up north? This cook-centric emporium of fine foods and gourmand gadgets is a financially deadly spot for the enthusiast but just another reason why you must visit the SoCo Collection. Prior to starting the tasting tour, we got to hear from partners Bryon Ward and Scott Burham (owners of the SoCo Collection) and their story on how they "strong-armed" the Surfas family into bringing their culinary store into Costa Mesa. It wasn't completely about the offerings though - as Bryon explained, there is such a correlation between design and cooking (I wholeheartedly agree) that the SoCo Collection and its tenants focus on that; Surfas has just joined the family and from what I can see, is a welcomed part.


Once inside, it was a toy store for us adults. We were greeted by lines of delectable pizzas with artisan ingredients and crisp dough. Champagne bubbled in glasses contained candied hibiscus flowers (tasted like raspberry gelee!). My tour group started with olive oil tasting presented by Clare - what a treat. I started learning as I walked around just how knowledgeable the staff is there. We tasted dishes from their on-site chefs with pasta made from their very own machines using their own flours. Talk about housemade goodness.


What sets this location apart from the other two is their grand Epicurean Center with cheese and charcuterie from every inch of the world. We only got to sample some of their products but those were certainly enough to pique our interests. I would call this spot my adult candy store. In addition to an expert curator of cheese and charcuterie on hand, this center also features an affinage cabinet above the normal glass cheese displays where they age whole wheels themselves. For your afternoon dining pleasures, they also offer cheese and wine flights, allowing customers to pick out three cheese types to take around the corner to be paired with wines. Not looking for cheese and wine only? Try their varied crostini for a crunchy snack complemented by delicious ingredients (out for that night were the tapenade with grilled eggplant and Sicilian green olives, edamame puree with Beemster wasabi Gouda and shaved green onion, and Colavolpe Mont figs with Bellweather sheep's Ricotta (3 for $10 or 6 for $19).


Around the back is a commercial center for restaurant and chef consulting. There is also a wondrous Test Kitchen area where they bring in students and also host events. We got to try a mac and cheese dish from students that attend Newport High. I love the concept of bringing world-class chefs and restaurant industry professionals to speak to and with the students. There is also an attached cafe (breakfast-dinner until 7pm + catering!) to the main Surfas warehouse section with their Executive Chef Nina who offered us tourists a crunchy and wholesome grilled cheese made with ingredients all from Surfas. I also met Pastry Chef Katie Lively with whom I spoke about her chocolate ganache tarts with their gorgeous flecks of gold (again, all Surfas ingredients). So, not only is every area in the store staffed with professionals with more expertise than I could comprehend but they also cover every need you might have for your kitchen - design, building, installation, cookware, ingredients, servingware, and so forth. Rows and rows of kitchen supplies and delights...rows and rows where I can max out my credit cards!


The evening was rounded out with some takeaways and giveaways (congrats to the winners) but also some more insight into the family who has run the Surfas stores for more than 75 years. If you are looking for quality, they should be your go-to place. Located at the SoCo Collection at 3309 Hyland Avenue in Costa Mesa, this amazing place is open every day of the week until 6pm M-Sa and 5pm Sun. For more information on them, go to www.surfasonline.com!

Photography by Minerva Thai. More photos available on Facebook.