Embarking on an adventure up the ineffably picturesque California coast from San Diego to the Monterey Peninsula was merely the tip on the iceberg of decadent pleasure and visual stimuli that this past weekend presented. The journey culminated in a weekend filled with celebrity chefs, exquisite tastes, wines from around the world, and was marked by over-indulgence, with the renowned Pebble Beach as a fittingly luxurious background for the events of the 5th Annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine festival.
Walking the grounds of Pebble Beach (based upon its highfalutin reputation), I expected glitz and glam and pretentiousness, but was met graciously with attendees as excited as I, and the surprisingly casual and laid back attitudes I have grown so used to living in San Diego. My favorite aspect of PBF&W was that the chefs plate and serve their own dishes and were eager to answer questions, chat, entertain, and obliged to each and every oh-so-annoying photo-op….and advantage I did take!
Below are some highlights of the weekends events:
Lexus Grand Tasting:
I’m not usually one for sweets, and if I do indulge, I rarely go back for more, but Pastry Chef Ben Spungin’s beautiful little macaroons stole my heart and my soul with those crisp yet so pillow-y creations. Next time I’m up in Carmel Valley, straight to the Bernardus Lodge I will go, in search of more of his intricate delicacies. Heavenly!
Chef Craig von Foerster is probably lucky that he wasn’t at his table when I tasted his stick-wrapped Wagyu beef Carpaccio, because I probably would have kidnapped him and taken him home to San Diego. Kudos to simple perfection, Chef, kudos.
And I must acknowledge another personal favorite, Belgian-born Master Chef Daniel Joly who not only served up tasty cheese and bacon tastes, but who never fails to win my heart with beer. Joly, an ambassador for Belgian beers Stella Artois, Hoegaarden, and Leffe, is always a welcomed site at food and wine events when I get bored of wine and tired of the little siplets, and crave something refreshing and light. He taught me that beer goes better with cheese than wine – and I abide. Sante!
Of the multitudes of other events:
Caymus “Special Selection” and the Wagner Dynasty
I also had the good fortune of attending the Caymus “Special Selection” event which showcased the historic bottlings with owner Chuck Wagner leading the conversation on his special selection wines, accompanied by master sommeliers Chris Blanchard, and Jay James, as well as The Chronicle’s wine editor Jon Bonne. A tasting of eight cabernet sauvignons, bottled from 1990 to 2009 demonstrated the breadth of the grapes and the effects of the ever-changing climate in northern California.
Tyler Florence: Ultimate Dining
Start making your travel plans soon, because PBF&W will only get more extraordinary in the coming years. There are dozens of events to choose from, allowing you to customize a package specific to your desires. You won’t want to miss another one! See you next year! Cheers!