From April 20th – April 23rd, Pebble Beach Resorts went from being thought of as the ‘golf capitol of the world’ to becoming the ultimate mecca for foodies and wine aficionados (for 4 consecutive days), thanks to the return of the annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine festival.
What made this year’s celebration even more special was that it marked the 10th Anniversary of PBFW. A decade later since this epicurean adventure started, and we’re still all reveling in the delight and enjoyment of this fanciful festival. Pretty, awesome.
PBFW Top 10 Food & Wine Favorites
From gourmet cuisine prepared by 100 celebrity chefs to indulgent wine tastings with over 250 award-winning wineries from around the globe, here are the I&C top 10 food and wine favorites from this year’s PBFW, including several local Monterey Bay chefs and wineries.
Throughout the 4-day epicurean extravaganza, PBFW hosted a variety of sold-out events, including the Celebrity Chef & Winemaker Golf Tournament at Pebble Beach Golf Links, the Opening Night Reception at The Inn at Spanish Bay (featuring Lexus Culinary Masters), Cooking Demos presented by Celebrity Chefs (such as Brian Malarkey, Fabio Viviani, Hugh Acheson, Daniel Boulud, Curtis Stone, Roy Yamaguchi, and others), exclusive dinners, and The Lexus Grand Tasting.
Not to mention – the glamorous celebrity sightings throughout the weekend (of supermodel and lifestyle expert, Molly Sims, as well as Hollywood actress and founder of Barrymore Wines, Drew Barrymore) to add to the excitement of PBFW.
Whether you’re an adventurous foodie who enjoys exploring the world through each sensational bite, or you’re a wine connoisseur who wants to indulge in the best vintages that you could possibly find, you can have your cake (and eat it too!) at PBFW.
As Dorothy Maras-Ildiz (Culinary Event Manager for Pebble Beach Food & Wine) exclaims in the PBFW Epicure booklet, “A decade ago, Pebble Beach Food & Wine was born… with great promise and the full intent to become the torch bearer of culinary excellence. What wasn’t included in those dreams and wishes for PBFW was that it would become the equivalent to an international culinary runway fashion show of trends that would soon take over the menus and palates of the dining public and home cooks as well. PBFW has given a worldwide stage for the finest chefs of our time on which to shine.”
Now that your mouth is watering, let’s dig into the main dish – the top 10 food & wine favorites from PBFW! In no particular order, here are several of the top wineries and chefs that were highlighted at this year’s event.
Wine: Joyce Vineyards
To start with, one of the best finds at PBFW comes straight from Carmel Valley, California. Winemaker Russell Joyce (featured above) greeted guests with a taste of his premium wines from Monterey County. From a refreshingly light Rosé to a rich and flavorful Pinot Noir, Joyce Vineyards is known for producing top quality wines at an affordable price point.
To help us learn more about food and wine pairings, check out Joyce’s expert advice in this entertaining guide on Inspirations & Celebrations. He shares must-read tips on party-planning, menu ideas, and more.
Food: Matthew Beaudin of the Monterey Bay Aquarium
Another fan favorite at PBFW came from Chef Matthew Beaudin of the Monterey Bay Aquarium. As shown above, he served a uniquely-flavored and whimsically-presented dish called “Duck, Duck, Goose”, which featured Duck Heart Tartare, Pickled Ginger Brûlée, and Goose Egg Bottarga.
What makes the Monterey Bay Aquarium especially influential in the food industry is their highly-recognized Seafood Watch program (that more restaurants are starting to participate in), which provides recommendations about seafood that is fished or farmed in ways that have less environmental impact.
When you attend a food & wine festival as elaborate as PBFW (boasting over 250 wineries in one location), one of the first wineries to do a tasting with is an established, premium French Champagne company. Ruinart, which is the oldest established Champagne house that has been around since 1729, is now owned by parent company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, and considered one of the premiere French Champagne brands in the world. One of their most popular tastings during PBFW was their Brut Rose, which was airy, light, and refreshing – perfect for a warm Spring day.
Frédéric Panaiotis, Chef de Caves of Maison Ruinart, says, “The highlight was without a doubt the lavish Bocuse d’Or dinner held in a private residence, with chefs Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, Paul Bartolette…. and of course Matthew Peters, from the US Gold winning team, among others. The breathtaking views, the superlative food and wines (including the new Dom Ruinart 2006), and of course the chefs and the guests resulted in one of those moments where all people are simply happy to talk, share, enjoy. This is what I like so much about the food and wine industry and PBFW gives us these unique opportunities to live them. It is a privilege!”
He continues by saying that “timeless elegance describes what Ruinart is about. Whether it is in our design with the clear Ruinart bottle (whose shape is inspired by the late 1700s bottles), our middle-age impressive Crayeres (a must-see for people visiting Champagne!), our collaboration with contemporary art, and of course in our champagnes, we always have excellence and passion in mind. Our Non Vintage champagnes (Blanc de Blancs and Rosé) show wonderful aromatic freshness, the result of the use of prime Chardonnay grapes and a winemaking process where purity of the flavors is a focus. They are very elegant, sophisticated yet delicious and easy to approach. Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs and Dom Ruinart Rosé, our prestige cuvees made from Grand Crus vineyards only, are chardonnay driven, complex champagnes which can also age for decades. They also make fantastic food companions (think of white fish, crustaceans…) and are meant to be shared with great friends. Just like we did at Pebble Beach Food & Wine.”
Food: Chef Johnny DeVivo of Porter’s In The Forest & Poppy Hills Golf Club
If there was one dish that got every one talking, it was the Yellowtail, Fried Rice, Avocado & Yuzu concoction prepared by Chef Johnny DeVivo of Porter’s In The Forest & Poppy Hills Golf Club. Among a sea of gluttonous, rich and creamy dishes was this utterly refreshing and flavorful find that tasted light and airy. Not only was this dish beautifully displayed (as shown above), it was incredibly tasty too!
Food: Chef David LeFeure of Manhattan Beach Post, Fishing With Dynamite, and The Arthur J
When you wanted to indulge in something decadent at PBFW (and who wouldn’t?!), Chef David LeFeure of Manhattan Beach Post, Fishing With Dynamite, and The Arthur J was there to serve up his incredible comfort food that reminded us of traditional Southern-inspired home-cooking. He whipped up a rich and creamy dish containing Cajun Sweet Shrimp & Cheddar, Spiked White Grits, Golden Fertile Poached Egg, Smoked Bacon & Mushrooms.
Of course, you can’t go to PBFW and not celebrate the good life with a little bubbly?! To top the list of must-try wineries, Taittinger brought their exquisite French Champagne to the table. Since Rosé has become one of the trendiest varietals to hit the wine scene in recent years, it made sense to get a taste of their Prestige Rosé – which boasts “incomparable color and intense vibrancy on the palette”.
Food: Chef Kelly McCown of The Kitchen Restaurant
Chef Kelly McCown of The Kitchen Restaurant in Sacramento, California, served up a tantalizing dish featuring Porcini “Custard Royale”, with Grilled Morels, Pickled Ramps, and Spring Favas. This unique mixture of flavors and textures made for a sumptuous indulgence that was truly evocative of what PBFW is all about.
Cocktail: Diane’s Bloody Mary
While PBFW mostly focuses on food and wine, a few of the most spirited highlights of the event are the premium cocktails being served. One, in particular, stood out among the attendees (making her station one of the most popular all weekend) – Diane’s Bloody Mary bar.
Wife of notable restaurateur, Michael Mina, Diane Mina has become a household name with her captivating Bloody Mary recipes. Her classic Bloody Mary featured heirloom tomatoes blended with fresh herbs from Diane’s garden, finished with a special combination of sweety, savory, and spicy seasonings, and Tito’s Vodka.
Wine: Charles & Charles
Upping the cool factor of PBFW, The Charles & Charles project is a collaboration between Charles Smith and Charles Bieler of Three Thieves, Bieler Père et Fils, and Sombra Mezcal, including a red blend and rosé from Columbia Valley vineyards. “With an abstract play on the American Flag (designed by the historic Nashville poster shop, Hatch Show Print)”, the labels were designed to “provoke thought of the future while honoring the past”. Their wines have received recognition from several industry publications, such as a Wine Enthusiast ‘Top Buys of 2014’ and Wine Spectator ‘Best Value’. What makes the brand especially fun is their motto, “Yes, you can drink rosé, and still be a bad ass!”.
Wine: Dr. Loosen
If you want a taste of the sweet life, then Dr. Loosen’s Riesling (from Germany) is a must-try.
Clifford B. Robben, CFO of Loosen Bros. USA shared with us his personal highlights of PBFW. “Food is social and brings people together, as does wine, so combining the two in a way that can highlight what either item does for the other really creates a spectacular experience. It’s the joining of the food with the wine that really makes it the ultimate experience (and the location, Pebble Beach, certainly does nothing to detract).
At Saturday’s Grand Tasting, we had a really fun Asian dish with coconut and shrimp prepared right next to our table. I encouraged everyone that stopped by our table to try this dish with our Blue Slate Riesling Kabinett, and it was great to see the reactions from the consumers. And Sunday, Neal Fraser’s chicken liver mousse on crostini…. it was such a simple dish, but the mousse was fantastic, and again paired quite well with our Riesling Kabinett.”
Robben continued by saying, “Dr. Loosen wines are representative of their terroir and the vintage. While certainly a cliché, we believe in the quality over quantity, and that wine-making begins in the vineyard. As such, we call it “wine-growing”, not “wine-making”.
We want our wines to be the expression of the terroir and offer the consumer a sense of place. Not every consumer may understand the classic characteristics of a German Riesling born from blue slate soils, but we do hope that those that drink our wines can recognize the authentic expression of a classic Mosel Riesling. It is important to note that the noble Riesling grape is one of the most versatile, and stylistically can produce anything from bone-dry, mouth-gripping wine to a balanced wine with great intensity and yet delicate with great acidity and residual sugar. And yet, either style can offer a great expression of its terroir.
As we like to say, ‘There’s a Riesling for everything!'”
While there were many more highlights that could be recounted from the 10th Anniversary of PBFW, as Candice Robben (Winery Operations for Beaux Frères) told us, “The highlight of the event for me was attending the Michael Mina ‘Evening of Indulgence’ – getting to enjoy some of the best wines at PBFW with an all caviar menu?! What a treat and I don’t think I shall be that blessed for a long time. Seeing the diversity in wines paired with such a unique take on caviar was really phenomenal.”
As event attendee and food industry insider, Kate Bruno (Sales & Catering Manager for Aqua Terra Culinary in the Monterey Bay area) raved, “The best bite of Sunday was by far Johnny DeVivo’s (Porter’s in The Forest) Tuna. It’s so great having local chefs shine amongst some of the biggest culinary celebrities. I also couldn’t get enough of Dr. Loosen’s Rieslings. Not typically my go-to, but with the energy and the temperature in the Grand Tasting tent, it was perfectly refreshing.”