It has been a whirlwind of a trip, first San Francisco, then Sausalito and next a stop in one of the most beautiful coastal regions of America - Pebble Beach! I was one of the very lucky ones to receive complimentary passes from Foodbuzz to attend the Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival Grand Tasting, a grandiose hedonistic affair bringing together some of the top chefs of the bay area with some of the best wineries of California. Even with the torrential rain and relentless gusty winds over the weekend, foodie extraordinaire Sherry Page from Culinary Getaways and I made the trek to Pebble Beach to experience all of the incredible food and wines. It's tough to capture extravagance of food and wines that were showcased, but I here are a few that were most memorable to me.
With so many talented chefs drawn from a region that seems to thrive on the competition of kitchen olympics, it was hard not be get excited each time I passed a table that was serving a sample of their finiest. From La Toque, a Napa Valley restaurant, Chef Ken Frank served a twice cooked succulent soy braised pork belly with gingered brussels sprout slaw.
The pork belly undergoes a laborious process that is marinated in a soy ginger sauce, slow-braised for seven hours and refrigerated overnight before it is cut into bite sized cubes and fried to produce caramelized morsels of crisp meltingly tender pork confit that is nicely contrasted with a refreshing side of thinly shaved fresh brussels sprouts and cabbage that was lightly dressed with sweet tangy vinaigrette. This was probably the best dish we ate of the entire event, which is tough to accomplish given the amazing suite of elite chefs serving.
Chef Tom Douglass of Dahlia Lounge in Seattle, WA served pork that had been rubbed with a savory house-made porcini salt, and slow-roasted for three hours at 250°F.
This was yet another magnificent and memorable tender and succulent pork dish at the Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival, as evidenced by the numerous attendees hovering around the table over the afternoon.
Chef Dory Ford of Aqua Terra served shredded pork and fresh salsa stuffed in soft corn tortillas that were deep fried creating a rustic, flavorful and substantial bite-sized taco. Surprisingly unique with bright flavors for a simple and humble taco, and tickles my curiosity of the other quality dishes that are served at Aqua Terra.
Chef Cal Stamenov of Marinus Restaurant at Bernardus Lodge, an outstanding establishment in Carmel Valley served a spicy crab & Nantucket bay scallop with rangpur lime juice, heart of palm, and fresh olive oil. The bright spicy and refreshing citrus flavors integrated with the delicate briny seafood really makes this dish pop. The supple tenderness of the hearts of palm added a sophisticated dimension to the texture of the dish, completing the intriguing combination.
Chef Richard Reddington of REDD in Napa Valley served a fun bite-sized scallop ceviche taco that was as delicious and refreshing as it was cute.
Chef Anastasia Simpson of Spanish Bay Inn served an incredible peanut butter crunch, milk chocolate bavarian, salted caramel cream cake topped with a house-made nougat, which was the best I've ever tasted.
There were several stunning wines served, and given the numerous great choices, I was only able to try a mere fraction. Of the great wines I sampled were:
O'Shaughnessy Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
This is a beautiful full-bodied and powerful cabernet sauvignon exhibiting bold blueberry, blackberry flavors, notes of creme de cassis and pencil shaving. Stunningly rich and bold, this is a wine for Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon lovers.
Cade Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
This is yet another bold and beautiful wine from the North Coast of California, exhibiting a nuanced array of ripe blue and blackberries integrated with mineral undertones. The wine is approachable at this age with soft well-rounded tannins that manifest in a wonderful velvety mouth-feel in the finish.
Hanzell Chardonnay Sonoma 2006
This is a lovely, elegant and refined California chardonnay exhibiting flavors of white peach, pear and layers of subtle mineral qualities.
Dolce Nickel& Nickel Late Harvest, 2005
This is powerful and very sweet wine that will knock your socks off at the end of an evening. Drink in small doses because you'll only need a sip of this cloying, viscous, and concentrated dessert to cap a meal.
In between nibbling and sipping on beautiful California wines, we had the opportunity to meet with celebrity chefs such as Tyler Florence. I can tell you that he is as cute and charming in person as he on TV.
Sherry Page with Chef Hubert Keller of Fleur de Lys, and a Top Chef Master. It is always a great pleasure to meet such a kind, humble and talented food soul.
We even got to take a picture with the original Iron Chef himself, Masaharu Morimoto.
The Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival is an incredible and exciting event for foodies, one that I am looking forward to revisiting again in the future. Thanks again Foodbuzz for sending me to this event!