Monday, October 5, 2015

1MB Travels: Pebble Beach: Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival Day 3

So, as you may have noticed, I definitely eat a lot faster than I write :P

And, the older you get, the further ahead you plan: so, I'm going to see this very belated post as an 'early' heads-up for those who are considering the next Pebble Beach Food & Wine (March 2016!) and want to see what came to pass in 2015.

This was what our Day 3 looked like:

10:00-11:15am, The Inn at Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach Resort: Chef Curtis Stone's cooking demo was one of the festival's events I most looked forward to. Maude's Seasonal Stories with Chef Curtis Stone put the charismatic chef front and center for an awesome kickoff for the day.

As with his monthly changing menus, Chef Curtis is apparently not one to do the expected, even for his cooking demo. Beyond entertaining the packed room with his simple breakfast / sweets demo, he energized us with a very interactive audience participation approach, first with two members dueling for title of Bloody Mary champ.

Then, he asked three pairs of couples to join him on the stage, who were at various phases of relationship milestones: one married for decades, one months into dating, and one pair of complete strangers.  Mixing in secret ingredients like mint and curry into chocolate, he asked one person from each couple to be blindfolded, and TASTE and try to identify the mystery chocolate by licking the chocolate painted on the other's lips!!!! (imagine the awkwardness and entertainment value of the couple who had JUST met each other for the first time on stage that day!).

A fantastically fun time, if not the traditional educational / behind the scenes insights forum that we had been expecting.

We did get to taste sweet treats from chef Curtis though, including these caramel chocolate 'kisses'...
...and sample this luscious ricotta filled crepe with strawberries and maple syrup.  Simple, but that's where skill comes in, as you can't hide behind any distracting ingredients or food styling.

12:00pm, The Lodge at Inn at Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach Resort: then it was off to the first Lexus Grand Tasting.

This being a luxury destination event, in one of the highest income zip codes in the country, there was of course lots of A-list creations to be had.

Coming from Chef Curtis Stone's cooking demo, of course I had to head to Maude's table: their Liver Parfait with Bay Leaf Pain Perdu - with its luscious dollop of foie mousse, balanced by fluffy foie powder, light crunch of onion crumble, and airy, fragrant block of french toast, was instantly addictive and one of the best of show.

Foie was also present in abundance at other tables, like The Bench at The Lodge at Pebble Beach, where Chef Aaron Burns served up foie gras mousse and red wine sauce parfaits with foie gras brownies.

Meatlovers also got their dose of elevated bites from Pork Chicharrones with pickled fresno chili powder and artichoke dip (also from The Bench)... Trippa Fritto: Beef Heart Tartare "Bolognese" with white balsamic, sundried tomatoes, dijon algrodulce and bottarga from Chef Brad Briske of La Balena in Carmel.  This was one of my favorite bites at the event: emphasis on in, many shameless repeat visits to that table.

Lightness to offset the heartiness is Trotter Torchon by Chef Eric Korsh of North End Grill in New York.

There was also plenty of seafood on hand, of course.  I loved the Creole Shrimp Dip with Pickled Shrimp Crackers from Chef Jean-Paul Bourgeois of Blue Smoke New York.

But the award for BEST DRAMA(tic) presentation goes to Chef John Cox of Sierra Mar, Big Sur, with an ENTIRE sturgeon on ice as if some local fisherman had just slung it over from the side of the boat.  Its belly sliced open, it was  STUFFED with caviar that lucky grand tasting attendees could step and and spoon right from the fish.  Know where your food comes from, right? Brilliant.

To also showcase his skills, Chef Cox also presented red abalone blini topped with the Black River Caviar.

AND, the genius marketers behind Sierra Mar also ran a live Instagram contest at the show, where those who tagged pictures of the caviar with the correct hashtag got to win a tin of the Black River Caviar...and I was over the moon to be one of those lucky winners!!!!!  (Please the Palate and I had a great time polishing off the caviar back at the hotel after the event.)

For a sweet finish, we had our pick of desserts, but one of the most memorable for me was the Stout Chocolate Trifle by Holsteins Shake and Buns, Las Vegas.

Ghiradelli also brought their A-game with a chocolate + wine tasting station, where they paired a different wine with each of their dark chocolates, in a flight of 3 - it was fun to see how the flavors in the wine brought out different elements in the chocolate and vice versa!

My favorite of the trio was Terra d'Oro Zinfandel Port + Intense Dark midnight reverie 86% cacao for the layers of complex flavor interactions.

3:30-4:45pm, The Inn at Spanish Bay: Pure Pork Awesomeness with Chef Kevin Gillespie was my afternoon event post tasting.  Chef Kevin was pure entertainment as he demonstrated how to make Pork Stroganoff with Finger Noodles.

Summary of the evening event,  Love in the Kitchen: Dynamic Duos to come soon!

To see my previous recap of Opening Night reception, click here.  Also, read about Day 2 here.


Pebble Beach Food and Wine
Pebble Beach, CA
Saturday, April 11, 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 Los Angeles edition thrown by the same event organizers: LA Food and Wine Festival happening next week August 27-29, 2015!

*Disclaimer: Tickets to these events were provided courtesy of PBFW.


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