If you have been wondering where I’ve been, I recently returned from a lovely visit to California. Why was I there? I was attending the 7th Annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival. Each year, my amazing parents gift my brother, our significant others, and myself tickets to the festival. It is the perfect Christmas gift, because instead of getting stuff we don’t need, we share a wonderful weekend together. We of course do what we do best: eat and drink. It was my intention to share recaps after each of the four-day event. However, you try drinking wine from 10am-6pm and then put together complete sentences! There were 250 acclaimed wineries pouring from their finest bottles as well as 100 chefs plating their gourmet best. A lot of the participants are local to the Bay Area, but there were a handful of celebrity chefs such as: Masaharu Morimoto, Robert Irvin, and The Chew’s Carla Hall. Throughout the weekend we attended wine seminars, grand tastings, and elegant luncheons. By Sunday, all you want to do is take a nap and never think of food again! I look forward to this festival all year long; it is incredible to be surrounded by so many talented chefs and wine makers. It would take years to travel the world to try everything I did this weekend. I am so happy to share my experience with you!
The Opening Reception at the Inn at Spanish Bay kicks off the festival and begins a weekend full of amazing events. The Reception is my favorite day; it always makes me sad that it’s over so fast. Why is it so great? It’s a gala! I not only sample world class food and wine, I get to dress up for a glamorous evening. Another reason it is special to me, is the night’s location. The Inn at Spanish Bay was where my husband and I were married only six months ago. Sharing champagne and lovely bites with my now husband made it even more memorable. We go room-to-room sampling the unique and creative plates which we pair with fantastic wines that tickle the taste buds. You would think you’d get full very fast, but most chefs serve either an amuse bouche or a small appetizer. The evening can be a bit overwhelming, at times crowded, but well worth it.
Because this is the very first event, the expectations are high and this year it was at its best. My favorite dishes were:
This is when things get serious. You wake up after gorging yourself at the opening reception to attend a 10am wine tasting seminar. Sitting down to a row of nine glasses was very humorous at first, but hey, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere! My morning class was Rhone Renaissance with Delas Freres. Sitting on the panel were various wine experts that gave great insight to the region and the beauty of the wines. I do not often have wines from the northern Rhone Valley; therefore, this experience was educational and very special.
If I had to pick my second favorite part of the festival, it would be the Friday lunch. I attended the Taste of Italy luncheon. We started on the patio overlooking the Pacific Ocean, while sampling delicious appetizers and sipping champagne. The chefs created a four-course menu of Italian inspired dishes that melted in my mouth. The lunch also features several wineries; a Master Sommelier paired each course with a wine from each winery present. It was a perfect lunch, the food was exquisite, and the wine was sublime. I am never disappointed throughout the festival events, but this lunch was the highlight of the weekend. Here is some of what we were served:
Another morning of wine, but this time with cheese! Cheese expert Laura Werlin took us on a journey of delicious cheeses and discussed how to best pair them with wine. (Tough life I know!) Along with the plate of cheese, we drank lovely wines, mainly from the Santa Barbara region. Why I don’t start every day like this is beyond me! This was the most practical seminar. It really showed me how lovely and easy it could be to entertain with cheese and wine at my next party. I cannot wait to share my knowledge with my friends.
That afternoon we headed to the Grand Tasting. Located under several large tents, there are wall to wall food and wine booths. Most years, there is type of food that for some reason everyone cooks. This year it was meatballs, and I found myself searching the tents for anything other than meatballs. During the Grand Tasting, I tend to gravitate to lighter fare, usually seafood. It is an unusual experience as you fight your way through crowds just to have a little bite of food, but it can turn out to be the best bite of your life. Below are my favorite bites of the day:
After this grand tasting, emphasis on grand, I went to yet another wine tasting. This one was very interesting, but in no way beneficial to my daily life. This particular seminar was a blind tasting where master sommeliers had to identify what type of grape they were drinking, the region, and vintage. It was incredibly daunting for them and interesting to me, especially when they got it right!
By the final day, I was exhausted but I rallied for a morning of bubbles (Again, tough life). Trying delicious and rare New World Sparkling Wines is a delightful experience, one that ends the weekend of classes off right! Afterwards, we headed for the final grand tasting. I truly know how lucky I am to go to this festival, but by this point, I lost the taste of food. I avoided almost all of the meat; I wanted fresh and light dishes. I did however taste some beautiful plates and my favorites are below.
What a wonderful weekend with my family, eating and drinking until we couldn’t move! I’m counting the days till next year’s festival! For more information about the festival and those who participated visit: pbfw.com