Who? What? Where? When?

What:  The 4th Annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine event (PBFW).  A weekend-long dining event that brought together 7,000 attendees to taste the mastery of 100 chefs and 250 wineries.  But it was much more than this.  A golf tournament early in the weekend allowed guests to share the world-famous course with celebrity chefs and winemakers.  Cooking demos and wine seminars were also part of the itinerary but more importantly, PBFW also hosted an online auction offering unique items to raise funds for three charity beneficiaries.

Where:   The beautiful Pebble Beach, California.  This place is especially close to my heart–I’ve spent almost all of my last 10 birthdays here.  It’s where I was almost married until my husband and I decided to escape to Kauai instead.  Its proximity to my home allows me to frequently visit this part of the California coastline and marvel at the magnificent views.  But this time, I was there to eat.  

When: April 28 – May 1, 2011.

Who:  There were many.  But the first “who” deserves a big thank you–Foodbuzz–for making it possible for me to attend my first major food and wine event since their very own festival last November.  I was giddy with excitement all week at the prospect of seeing, meeting and of course, tasting at the Lexus Grand Tasting event on Sunday, May 1.

Why don’t I take you on my afternoon journey of tastes?

250 wineries participated in this event (left photo from PBFW site)

What:  The wine.  Whether one might be a connoisseur or a beginner wine enthusiast, there was no shortage of offerings of world-class wine from some of the most prominent producers who came together to the central coast for this grand event.  A mere few steps would take you from the fruitiest chardonnay to the most alluring smoky cabernet.  If you prefer beer, not to worry.  Stella Artois was there to represent, as well.

Clockwise from top left: Brownie Brown Sugar Parfait, Buttered Popcorn Bisque, Wine/Berry Smoothie, Foie Gras Soup

What:  A (Virtually) Liquid Diet:  From the wine-infused smoothie to soup and dessert, a four-course tasting experience could be had from dainty little cups.  Many were bowled over by the buttered popcorn bisque but I was entranced by Chef Roland Passot’s (La Folie in San Francisco) foie gras soup garnished with a piece of smoked meat.  He’s been quoted as saying, “Cooking to me is happiness…transferring that to my guests, my family, my friends…”  His friendly manner as he served his soup made me feel like an honored guest among the throngs of food & wine enthusiasts around me.  Please, Chef Passot, may I have some more?

Iron Chef Morimoto’s Angry Octopus, crispy rice, pickled radish and meyer lemon mousse

 

The best scallops I've ever tasted and saberfish with pea purée, fennel and lemon verbena oil

What:  If you fancy seafood, whet your palate with a varied selection ranging from the ubiquitous scallop to lesser known (to me) saberfish and finally to Iron Chef Morimoto’s angry octopus dish.  Chef Morimoto’s offering was balanced to perfection in both taste and texture.  I also appreciated seeing him with his team captain hat on. As we stood hoping to snap a picture of him, we saw him cheering his staff on in a quick chant much like football players do before a game to pump each other up.  So nice to see.

The saberfish was also tender with the milkiest flavor I’ve ever experienced in a fish.  The pea purée, lemon verbena oil and fennel were fitting accents to the mellow quality of the fish.

But I must say that the scallop was one of my favorites of the afternoon.  My eating buddies and I sampled this early on and the Eastern Sea Scallop accompanied by Mango Dungeness Crab Ceviche and a Blue Corn Crisp was a surefire winner for my taste buds.  The scallop was prepared perfectly.  Tender, it’s natural sweetness punctuated by the ceviche.  Despite all the other wonderful tastes that came after, I did not forget about that scallop.

And the kicker? The scallop did not come from a brand-name restaurant.  The U.S. Foodservice Culinary team (San Francisco division) was the group behind one of my favorite dishes of the afternoon.  They’re a food service distributor offering over 43,000 national, private label and signature brand items to such varied customers as small independent restaurants to schools, universities and health care facilities.  I failed to notice this while enjoying my plate but it was a pleasant discovery while I organized my notes and cards from the event.

Clockwise from left: Iron Chef Morimoto and associate, Chefs Jacques Pepin and Roland Passot (photo from PBFW), Guy Fieri, Chef Roland Passot, Chef Ming Tsai (photo from PBFW)

Who:  Some of the most celebrated chefs today were present to mingle with their contemporaries and of course to showcase why they are considered the best in the food world.  It was a sight to behold, some of these star chefs (I did not see them all), creating their special dishes for me and my fellow awed guests.

Clockwise from Top Left: Foie Gras Ravioli w/ English Peas, Bacon-wrapped Bacon, Pork Shank Terrine with Dungeness Crab and Umbria lentils, and Smoked Lamb Breast w/ Rhubarb Raspberry Jam on Sweet Corn Cake

 

One of the first tastes of the day: Melt in your mouth beef with potatoes in a tangy dressing.

What:  The Meat of the Matter.  Sunday’s tasting event was a carnivore’s paradise.  I could have dedicated an entire post to the meat offerings alone but you get the idea with these images.

 

Did I mention there was a lot of meat?  The terrine on the top right was made of head cheese.  Yes, it was lovely.

Who:  My Eating Buddies and the Best Photo Op of the Day.  Attending the Pebble Beach Food & Wine festival would have been fun on its own but the icing on the cake was being able to share the time with some wonderful friends.

I arrived a day earlier in Carmel to make a weekend of the PBFW event.  Trish (Dish By Trish)  was already there to cover the Saturday Lexus Grand Tasting so we agreed to get together for wine and dinner.  What a treat to have been able to spend a few hours catching up with each other!

On Sunday,  our goody bags in one hand, wine glass or plate of food in the other and our cameras ever ready to snap a shot, Lisa (Authentic Suburban Gourmet), Liren (Kitchen Confidante) and I made our tasting rounds together.  We compared tasting notes and laughed all day.

The only drawback was not being able to spend more time with Sara (Caffeina) and Azmina (Lawyer Loves Lunch), two more lovely blogger friends I was so excited about seeing at PBFW.  The tasting tent was large and packed with people.  Unfortunately, after separating from Sara and a quick hello to Azmina, a reunion never happened.  There’s always next time, right, Foodbuzz? :-)  It was very nice to be able to say hello to Gina (SPCookieQueen), too!

No Wine tasting or meal would be complete without a cheese/fruit course. Kerrygold butter added here just because I love it.

My wine glass was empty at the end of the afternoon but not only was my belly full, my spirits were high from the wonderful experience.  Perhaps you are familiar with IHOP’s slogan (International House of Pancakes):  Come Hungry, Leave Happy.  Well, it was certainly true for me at the 4th Annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine!

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Comments

  1. Wow…what a wonderful weekend enjoying the company of fellow food & wine enthusiasts, amazing cuisine and the finest wines. You took fantastic images to capture the event and I luv the picture of you, Lisa and Liren with Tyler!

    Thanks for sharing… =)

  2. Great photos! Looks like you had a wonderful time.

  3. Wow! So lucky! Great photos and well written! And it sounds like it wasn’t a complete zoo(…or was it)? Thanks for sharing your PBFW experience!

  4. What a wonderful weekend you had!!! Your pictures are amazing and brought me along for the day. Thanks so much for sharing! I’ve been eagerly awaiting a recap!!

  5. Wha a marvelous event! Kind of jealous of all of you… Especially since you were able to spend quality time with some awesome bloggers!

  6. Very pretty photo of you with your blogging girls and the chef and I love the area of Pebble Beach, what a dream!

  7. What a wonderful experience! Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos…especially the Tyler Florence one ;)

  8. Wow, what wonderful coverage, Jean! Your photos are so lovely and love all the details. So glad to hear you had a great time at the tasting. I had soooo much fun with you Saturday night. We have to do it again soon. Thanks for the shout out!

  9. Fantastic!

  10. Jean – what a fantastic write up and your photos came out amazing! Such a fun day with you and Liren. It was so great to meet Sara and Gina! I was hoping to meet Azmina that same day! Too bad Trish was not able to be there on Sunday! Fun Times!!!! :-)

  11. Was a beautiful and fun event. I loved reading about your experience. I wish we crossed paths. The picture of you guys and Tyler is spot on. Gorgeous!

  12. How fun! Your photos are gorgeous, and I’m so jealous that you got to meet and shoot a photo with Tyler Florence. This makes me want to go back to CA so badly!

  13. Gosh, when I first heard that you were going I thought how lucky you were and how far away it was. Your post is just fantastic- thanks for sharing it, since feel was there with you! Looks like a fabulous experience! Great photos.

  14. So jealous! It sounds like everyone had a wonderful time and walked away with very happy tastebuds. :)
    And your photos, as usual, are just gorgeous – I’m getting hungry just looking at all those beautiful dishes, even though I just finished eating lunch!

  15. Great coverage Jean, such a pleasure seeing you again. We must do it again before November.
    -Gina-

  16. Great pic with Tyler Florence! I knew I could count on you for a wonderful story telling about this event! The buttered popcorn bisque is still in my mind: my favorite of the day!

  17. I am so with you – I agree that the scallops were the winner of the day, and the best part is that it was a product of US Foodservice – what they lacked in glitz and glamour they made up in show-stopping perfection. SO glad we got to enjoy the event together, it made a fun event even better!!

  18. Congrats on the opportunity to attend this event. From your gorgeous pictures, it certainly looks like you ate and drank well!

  19. What fun! I got to go to the festival in South Beach a few years back and it was an incredible experience!

  20. This post made me feel all warm and fuzzy! What a great event. It was lovely to see you, if only for a short while. Oh, and I totally regret not eating another cup of that buttered popcorn bisque! :)

  21. I was there!!!
    But I was around that area for my weekend get-away though,
    All the food looks delicious!

  22. Lovely pictures. Glad to have shared to your wonderful time with us.

  23. What a fun day food wand wine festival and wonderful pics letting us in!! So happy to experience the West Coast through your eyes. :)

  24. This all looks wonderful Jean. You’ve really captured the event with some great photos.
    Maybe we’ll make a golf weekend out of this event next year, although I bet there were a ton of people with all that good food and wine available;-)

  25. What a fabulous weekend!!! I love that shot of all of you with Tyler! He is one of my favorites to watch on the Food Network. As for being able to eat Iron Chef Morimoto’s food – – – SOOO jealous!!! Every time we watch him on Iron Chef America, I tell my husband, “I wish I could be one of those judges just so that I could eat Morimoto’s dishes.” :) One of these days we’ll have to head over to Napa or Hawaii or I think even NY to visit one of this restaurants!

  26. Wow! What an amazing experience! And to be able to share it with Lisa and Liren, too. Fantastic recap – your enthusiasm, photos and descriptions make me feel as if I were there…. almost :) Thanks for sharing.

  27. Sounds like an amazing event!! I love all your photo collages & hearing about the fun you had with your friends. I love when food bloggers & foodie events collide.

    Thanks for sharing with all of us…I know how much work these posts can be. I’d love to get to the South Beach Food and Wine Festival sometime…I only live 1.5 hrs away from Miami. :)

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