I felt like I was movin’ on up when I got the invite to the four-day 6th Annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine food festival (April 4-7). I mean, that’s fancy pants, right? Pebble Beach, a picturesque seaside enclave, is known for events like the high-falutin car show, Concours d’Elegance, for chrissakes. The affluent residents’ median income is about a bazillion dollars (I exaggerate) and there are eight golf courses (I’m not exaggerating). So how could I say no? I love going outside my comfort zone.
This year’s premiere food event from Food & Wine magazine will showcase 250 wineries and over 100 chefs like Ray Garcia (Fig Santa Monica), David LeFevre (MB Post), Kris Morningstar (Ray’s and Stark Bar), Charles Phan (Slanted Door, SF), Masaharu Morimoto, Francois Payard and Jacques and Hasty Torres. And since wine is not really my bag, I’ll be easing myself in by focusing on the cocktails…with some wine thrown in for good measure.
Yes, even though there are can’t-miss events like the Celebrity Chef and Winemaker golf tournament, Omakase lunch with Morimoto and Yamaguchi and the Michelin 3-star Grand Finale Dinner, drinking is my priority for the weekend. Good thing there will be lots of shuttles and golf carts around.
Pebble Beach F&W Drinking Schedule
Thursday, April 4
- 6-9pm Opening Night Reception – The Inn at Spanish Bay – Lobby
Now it’s too bad I’m not staying at The Inn at Spanish Bay since that’s where this opening party will be, boasting 200 domestic and international wines! Fortunately there will also be eats from 23 of the weekend’s top chefs.
- 10:30pm-12:30am SOMM – An Exclusive Screening – Osio Theater (Monterey)
Last year when I interviewed Spago beverage director/newly annointed master sommelier Christopher Miller, that was the first time I ever heard of the Court of Master Sommeliers and the arduous process it takes to get that coveted MS pin. Yeah, I’m a poor excuse for a foodist. Anyway, the fact that there is now a documentary opening up that secretive world to the public is pretty exciting. Naturally since this is a screening at PBFW, greasy movie popcorn and supersize Coke will be traded out for truffled popcorn and Ruinart Champagne. And afterward the somms featured in the movie will do a Q&A.
Friday, April 5
- 12-2:30 PM Raising The Bar – Mixology Lunch at Restaurant 1833 – Restaurant 1833
Restaurant 1833 has made a name for itself in Monterey thanks to its tableside absinthe pyrotechnics, house-aged Negronis and artisanal bitters. And for this lunch guest chefs like Hedy Goldsmith, Abram Bissell and David Lefevre will work with the restaurant’s Executive Chef Levi Mezick to prepare a multi-course meal meant to soak up all the booze we’ll apparently be enjoying.
- 3:30-4:45 PM A Cocktail Revolution – Caviar & Vodka with Tony Abou-Ganim and Deborah Keane – The Inn At Spanish Bay – Ballroom East
Not surprisingly this event is already sold out. Cocktail legend Tony Abou-Ganim and California Caviar Company’s Deborah Keane will take lucky guests through a decadent tour of vodka and caviar pairings like Polish rye vodka with Russian Osetra caviar and Swedish vodka with California white sturgeon. The lesson of the day is to see if you can really tell the difference between the various types of vodkas and how their flavors complement the caviar.
Saturday, April 6
- 10-11:15am Secrets of a Sommelier: Mythbusters of Wine – The Inn At Spanish Bay – Ballroom Central
Like I said, I’m not savvy on wine so I figure this is the perfect way to learn more about it. This event allows guests to blind taste “a lineup of superb wines, each deemed to be an exceptional value in its category” along with a panel of master sommeliers. Nice! Along the way we’ll pick up pro tips on how to buy and drink smarter, which I so need. I’ll be a wine geek yet!
- 12-3pm Lexus Grand Tasting: Equestrian Center – Lexus Grand Tasting Tent
I’m going to the Grand Tastings on both Saturday and Sunday because with 300 wines and 30 “top celeb chefs” I figure I’m going to need both days to cover all that. The tastings will also feature booksignings and photo ops.
- 6:30-11pm Battle of the Coasts – WEST – The Lodge At Pebble Beach – Stillwater Bar & Grill
The second dinner of the coastal throwdown has top West Coast chefs like 2-star Michelin Dominique Crenn of San Francisco’s Atelier Crenn, Tyler Florence and Thomas McNaughton (Central) battling to top their East Coast counterparts. It’s up to the diners to decide who wins.