Favorite Sips & Bites of 6th Annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine

— by Caroline on Crack

Annual food event Pebble Beach Food & Wine is a haven for any well-to-do foodist (and the occasional lucky blogger). It’s where celebrity chefs from around the country show off their best dishes and acclaimed winemakers their best vino via the various dinners, parties and seminars. Since this was my first time at PBFW, I thought for sure I’d be stuffed by the end of the week. However, that wasn’t the case at all since most chefs like to show off with decadent displays of meat (one chef layered foie gras under chicken skin!), and I’m a vegetarian. Not that I’m sad about not being able to gorge myself because I still managed to find a bunch of delicious bites and sips to satisfy all my cravings at this fancy-pants Pebble Beach food fest (as well as learn a bunch of stuff as I detail on my LA Mag Digest post).

FYI, I had vegetarian versions of these dishes, except Tyler Florence’s bone marrow, which I just took pictures of. There’s just no veg version of that one.

  1. Joe’s Stone Crab‘s cotton candy with compressed watermelon, cured black salmon and Meyer lemon gel. This was one of the hits of the first Pebble Beach Food & Wine Grand Tasting. It was followed with a test tube of something called a Mystic Dragon Shot. Two fun shots of melt-in-your-mouth magic.
  2. California Caviar Company caviar pop at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas’ happy hour. This was just one of many bites of caviar over the weekend but this particular one was delivered in the best way, a love injection pop-up.
  3. Chef Anne Burrell’s grilled shrimp, chickpea fries, zucchini and almond salad. The chickpea fries made this dish for me, even though I didn’t have any part of the grilled shrimp. Just loved its savoriness, crispness and texture.
  4. Dominique Crenn‘s grains, seeds, trout roe, dashi. Fanciest hot cereal with the roe adding just the perfect amount of brininess. Wish I could start every day with this.
  5. Hedy Goldsmith‘s Pappy Van Winkle pecan brittle. I don’t care if it’s sacrilegious to use such fine whiskey in candy. I could eat this all day, and ended up pulling a Grandma by stuffing several packets in my purse for later. By the way, if you’re looking to commit more mouth-watering sacrilege, here’s Hedy’s recipe for Macallan 12-Year-Old Sherry spiced pecans. Gasp! and oooh!
  6. King of Pops Patron XO Cafe Breakfast in Bed popsicle. After I saw the 10th person walking around sucking on a delectable-looking popsicle in the sultry tent of the grand tasting, I had to get one of these myself. Naturally, I gravitated to the Patron XO Cafe pop called “Breakfast in Bed” for its coffee creaminess. However, it wasn’t til I reached the bottom of the pop that I realized the smokiness I detected earlier was due to bacon. Oh THAT’s why it was called Breakfast in Bed. And yeah, I’m a horrible vegetarian.
  7. Exotic Origins Geisha coffee. After traveling all day on Thursday to get to Pebble from L.A., I was grateful for this booth of premium coffees at PBFW’s opening reception. The EO coffee rep introduced me to the most expensive of the line, the $58.99 Geisha, right off the bat. It’s a coffee that’s only available via live auction. So smooth and sweet. Worth $60? Not sure but it tasted damn good.
  8. Madame Chocolat‘s milk chocolate-covered Ritz crackers. Madame Chocolat Hasty Torres just made up these gold-dusted babies for PBFW but I tried to convince her to sell these. Everything tastes great sitting on a Ritz cracker! Especially when it’s chocolate. The creaminess of the milk chocolate worked well with the salty-sweetness of the Ritz. How perfect would a bag of these be as a hostess gift?
  9. Restaurant 1833‘s Nutty Buck: Scotch, black walnut liqueur, ginger syrup, lemon. Maybe it was the fire pit or the fact that I had enough of wine, I was extremely grateful for this rich, potent cocktail during the mixology lunch at Restaurant 1833.
  10. 2011 Sandhi Wine Pinot Noir Sanford & Benedict: It wasn’t til this PBFW that I realized I’m a fan of Pinot Noir and this particular one by Rajat Parr (Michael Mina restaurants) was an instant favorite at the Battle of the Coasts: West Coast dinner. Full-bodied and smooth, the way I like it. So dark that, as our host pointed out, you couldn’t even read the menu through the glass.
  11. Seven Grand Mint Julep with Strawberry Pie: After I had my fill of wine, I was grateful to spend some time on a rocking chair near the Seven Grand bar along with a Mint Julep by 7G’s Luke Ford and a Strawberry Pie. Thanks to the sultriness of the grand tasting tent, it was easy to imagine I was on a porch in Georgia enjoying these goodies.
  12. Tyler Florence‘s bone marrow with short rib crust, dry aged cap, hedgehogs, asparagus, sea bean. OK, I didn’t eat this one but I appreciated the beauty of it. I’m a vegetarian but I don’t hate meat, I’m just turned off by eating it. In any case, Tyler Florence created this dish to represent death (the bone marrow) and life renewed (the greenery seeming to sprout from the marrow). “It’s like a forest floor!” exclaimed one diner. Everyone at my table seemed to love this dish, saying it’s what stood out from all the courses of the evening. Not surprisingly no one, except Josh of Food GPS, had any more appetite left to clean the bone of marrow, seeing as how this was the entree right before dessert. Meanwhile, I enjoyed the bone-free version of this dish and found it stood out for me as well, even without the meat. “People will be talking about this one for years,” said one of my dining companions.