Sunday, August 23, 2015

1MB Travels: Pebble Beach: Pebble Beach Food and Wine Day 2

It was only April, but Pebble Beach Food and Wine felt to me like some superluxe summer 'glamp' for food and wine enthusiasts.  Between the gorgeous California sunshine, and our soon to be daily festival ritual of hopping on the shuttle that whisks us away from the hotel to the lush (very well manicured) nature at the Pebble Beach Resort - and the meeting and making of new friends along the way (often, eminent sommeliers or members of a celebrity chef's team happy to discuss their passion and share insights on the latest in their world), it was a 'summer' gathering that we never wanted to end.

There were several sessions happening throughout the day over the 'campgrounds'.   Here are highlights from my activities for the day:

10:00am, The Inn at Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach Resort: For our bright and early morning session, I was excited to get to attend a cooking demo Tips for a Beginner from a Star Chef featuring chef Hugh Acheson and Food and Wine magazine editor Dana Cowin.

Chef Acheson - who you know from Top Chef and some amazing restaurants in Atlanta including my fav, Empire State South - is originally from Canada, but after living in southern US for the last 25 years, he's developed a unique perspective on southern food.
A fun presentation to kick off the festival, and we got to taste from the demo: pimento cheese with bacon marmalade over brioche toast!

Chef Acheson's tips for pimento cheese is to use sharp cheese but that is yellow for color: think Vermont old cheddar or Sweet Grass Dairy cheddar from South Georgia, and mix with mayo, mustard, cayenne, pimento and yellow bell peppers.
Another of Chef Acheson's passions is pickling: he loves "hyper acidic food that wakes you up in the beginning, then get more luscious later".  At PBFW he demonstrated pickling fennel, stalks and all, and throwing them in a Ball jar with poached and chilled shrimp, to serve over a salad of butter lettuce topped with anchovy and pan crisped artichoke.



12:00pm, The Lodge at Inn at Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach Resort: Thanks to Please the Palate and her friends at Wines of Provence, we were able to get into the lunch session: Spring Break: Cooking Without Rules.

The pre-lunch reception hosted by Wines of Provence featured fantastic hor d'oeuvres, one by each of the featured chefs at the luncheon, including a Snapper Collar Roulade by Iron Chef Morimoto, Mini Arepa with seared filet and spicy chimichurri by Cindy Pawlcyn, Curried Oyster with smoked salmon caviar by Chef Roy Yamaguchi paired with a beautiful rosé (Chateau Saint-Maur Cotes de Provence).  



My favorite was probably the one created by Chef David Lefevre of MB Post (LA pride!!): shrimp and pork dumplings, in the most delicate crystal wrap, with ponzu, scallions and chili oil.









As a total wine newbie, it was exciting to see our table setting for the actual lunch.  Yep, this is what a wine-driven lunch at PBFW looks like.  Glass, anyone?

[PBFW overall was such an education for me, introducing so many amazing wines through the abundance of tastings throughout the event. (I do worry for my monthly budget though, now that I've had a taste for good wine...)]

Pre-meal, the chefs came out and spoke about each of their dishes - but Iron Chef Morimoto, ever the entertainer, and citing that English is challenging for him, stated he would rather sing for us - and proceeded to belt out an awesome tune (check out a little snippet in the video below!):


With that kick off, came the chefs' creations along with the perfect wine pairings:

Chef Morimoto: Seared Scallop with Thai curry sauce, sushi rice, roasted banana, bell pepper relish, fiddlehead ferns (Chateau Sainte-Marguerite, "Symphonie" 2014)

Chef Pawlcyn: Guinea Hen foie gras & pistachio terrine, sour cherry chutney, frisee & chervil salad, pickled spring onions (Maison Saint Aix-Rose, AIX 2014)

Chef Lefevre: Braised Lamb Neck Canneloni, rapini, bianco sardo (Chateau Roubine, 2012)

Chef Roy: Yuzu Japanese Style Cheesecake, coconut crumble, tropical mousse (Maison Gabriel Meffre Rose, 2014)

My favorite of the mains was Chef Mormimoto's, because the combination of ingredients was unexpected - and really fit the rule-defying theme the best, and of course was actually mind-blowingly delicious (who knew bananas could make such a great pairing with scallops???)!

6:30pm, Monterey Beach House: Meatopia: Meat, Drink, Fire, Music was the highly anticipated evening event on the beach, where the late (great, RIP) award-winning writer, food historian and Editor of Esquire, Josh Ozersky, who brought his hit event celebrating carnivorous appetites, and top chefs paired with primal meat + open fire in a waterfront venue, to the West Coast.

The PBFW edition takes place outside of an upscale club, right on the sand.

We arrived to incredible scents of sizzling proteins and fat before we ever spotted the meatlovers' wet dream of whole animals (pig, lamb, goat, to creatures of the sea - you name it, it's there) roasting on open spits.




Chef Jonathan Roberts of Pig Wizard outdid himself with pulled pork from a whole roasted pig marinated with Jack Daniels, PLUS the most addictive 'Porkcorn': taking the idea of caramel popcorn, but replacing the popcorn with pork rinds + stepping up the caramel by making it with bacon demi-glace, bacon bits and Firestone Walker Velvet Merlin!!!! "Whaaat???" would be the correct response.  We actually went back several times to beg and please for additional portions of the snack intended to be an accoutrement, but for us ended up being the star.

Beyond our four-legged friends, there was a fantastic selection of seafood, including live Monterey Spot Prawn fresh from the grill, head-on the way it was supposed to be eaten (the better for that treasure trove of umami to be sucked from its head... #foodpornmoment) by Chef Zakary Pelaccio of Fish & Game.

SPQR's Chef Matthew Accarrino brought the most creative dish of the night, which was definitely one of our favorites: Spit Roasted Passmore Ranch Sturgeon with salsa verde and *cracklin made with the fish skin!!! and topped with caviar!!!*

A close up shot because it was amazing, and we died from happiness after eating (three plates of, shamelessly) it.











As night fell, the strung lights, fire pits and free flowing cocktails, beer and wine around the beach created a lively, fun ambience that felt a bit like the best neighborhood block party for adults.  And, like all the other events at PBFW, part of the fun was meeting people in line or around the fire pit!

To see my previous recap of Opening Night reception, click here.  And look out for my recaps of Day 3 and 4 soon!


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Pebble Beach Food and Wine
Pebble Beach, CA
Friday, April 10, 2015
Pebble Beach Resort

If you missed this year's Pebble Beach Food and Wine: mark your calendar for next year's events March 31-April 3, 2016!


And check out the LA edition thrown by the same event organizers: Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival happening next week August 27-29, 2015.
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*Disclaimer: Tickets to these events were provided courtesy of PBFW.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

1MB Travels: Pebble Beach: Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival Day 1

If you looked up the definition of "destination food fest," it would probably simply read: Pebble Beach Food & Wine.

Held at the ultra exclusive Pebble Beach Resort within the raw-power-of-nature-flush-against-manicured-lush-luxury landscape of 18-mile drive, the event beckons food and wine enthusiasts from all over the country, and the majority of those who make the trek bunkers down for the four day marathon.

We were excited to arrive in time for a gorgeous sunset over the lawn / cliffs, and for the Opening Reception!

First things first: wine is the best form of welcome after travelling, and we made a beeline for the roses being showcased.  With all the choices of wine being featured, one of my favorites as a wine noob was actually Miraval (yes, that winery, owned by Brangelina): ripe with gorgeous color, and unexpectedly lovely (celebrity produced can be sophisticated yet accessible too :)).



With booths set up over three giant rooms of the resort hotel, it was our foodie / wino playground to explore.

For more on wine, check out Please the Palate's blog, but as for food...Roy's set a high bar in terms of tastings from the start: their Monterey Bay Abalone Raviolo, with abalone mousse and lomi lomi watermelon was divine.  The raviolo skin had a nice char and was crisp yet yieldy at the same time - reminding me of gyoza skin.


Chef Anita Lo travelled from NYC to personally serve up, at the Annisa station, beautiful Razor Clam Ceviche, pistachio, heart of palm and spring garlic.


The Plumed Horse wins for one of the best plating station displays, with what looks like handcarved wood bowls of puffed tendon, chanterelles and preserved black truffles to serve as toppings for their Italian Barley Risotto. 












Hudson Valley made me an offer I can never resist: foie gras terrine.  Yes, please.

Next stall over, was a creative dessert mixing savory, tart and sweet: Roasted Strawberries, with ricotta mousse and candied celery from The Absinthe Group.  I may have had 2 or 6 of these.















Puur Chocolate had a very popular station, with a half dozen chocolate truffles for sampling, plus some dramatic confectionary wizardry happening on the side, with liquid nitrogen clouds streaming where a chef was creating frozen chocolate pebbles infused with tea.  The texture was a bit like astronaut ice cream - fun!


All in all, a fantastic, delicious, fun first night teasing of what's to come at what I liked to call Luxe Summer Camp for Foodies.

Look out for my recaps of Days 2, 3 and 4 soon!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Eat Your Drink Pop-Up at The Fat Dog North Hollywood!!!

Ever since I first sipped his truly mind-blowing, one-of-a-kind creations at a demo at Artisanal LA, and through his days at Library Bar, I've been a huge fan of Matt Biancaniello's cocktails - which he approaches more like a chef would his food, than a mixologist would his drinks: crafting with a ridiculous amount of boundless creativity and skill to perfect flavors, textures and presentation.

You know you've spotted a bar Matt's working at when the counter is so laden with herbs, flowers veggies and fruits that you can hardly see any counter surface.  There are ingredients (whether foraged or from the farmers market) you may have never seen or heard of; infusions upon infusions, combinations of flavors you would have never thought would go together. Like Pimm's Cup with lovage, thai basil, chamomile and ginger juice.  Or his latest sea urchin drink with strawberries and majoram with tequila.

And ever since he left the Library Bar, if you see him post a schedule, don't think - just drive, as fast as you can.

I almost don't want to share sometimes because the bar, the last two weeks, has already been packed with enthusiasts - and I'll be sad to make it harder on myself to access his work. But, he's just too good not to share.  Rooting for him to get his own permanent space soon!!!


What: Matt Biancaniello is doing pop-ups Wednesdays this summer at a bar/restaurant in North Hollywood!!!  Check out his latest creative concoctions from Lobster Ice Cream Cynar Affogatos to Padron Pepper Novo Fogo Cachaca with Plums & Parsley.  He uses ingredients from farmers markets so the drinks actually taste like they are good for you ;)

When: Wednesdays through August, 6pm-11pm


Where: The Fat Dog, 11050 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601 (back bar beyond patio)

How much: No admission charge - just pay for what you order!  Drinks range between $14-$18 each?  Very well worth it - you won't be able to get these kinds of cocktails elsewhere.

Web: matthewbiancaniello.com

Anticipated drool factor: 200%!!! Don't miss your chance to experience Matt's one of a kind cocktails.  Until he gets his own place (fingers crossed for him that it happens soon?), this is the best way to track Matt and his amazing drinks down!

He'll also be at a one-day only pop-up at Sweet Rose Creamery (mid-city location) on July 19th, 4-7pm, to offer in collaboration with Chef Shiho, a kombu and white balsamic Negroni ice cream!

Catch these if you can!!!

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