Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival: Day One

I’m a lucky gal. And while it’s something I generally realize, there are also times in my life that smack me across the face and really remind me that I’m one lucky girl. Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival was one of those times. I had heard a lot about Pebble Beach Food & Wine, but had never been. I kind of thought it was ‘out of my league’ and never really even thought that I could get down there. Well, with a little wave of the wand by my fairy god mother (Tatiana—MWAH!), the stars aligned, and with less than 24 hours notice, I rented a car, and drove down to Pebble Beach! I had no idea what the weekend would hold, but I was excited!

It ended up being one of the best weekends I’ve ever had. And just an incredible weekend hanging out with incredible people. And everywhere you went, gorgeous views! And ummm, it was a food and wine festival. There were ridiculous amounts of food and wine all around us. Non-stop. Heaven.

On my drive down, a few thoughts came to mind. First, I miss driving. And I miss singing in the car. Second, it was one of those times when I was appreciative of where I was in life. Being independent, financially secure, and without any obligations keeping me from being able to experience this amazing weekend. There are only a few times in life when you can pick up and leave for the weekend on such short notice and do something totally fun, random and crazy!!

Some of the ‘celebrities’ that we saw? Jacques Pepin, Tom Colicchio (with a crutch!), Michael Mina, Traci des Jardin, Eric Ripert, Jean Joho, Richard Reddington, Hubert Keller, Thomas Keller, Gabriel Rucker, Nancy Silverton, Morimoto…the list goes on and on.

The people I was most excited to see/meet? (aka my new girl crushes?) Michelle Bernstein and Sherry Yard. Both were so nice, and it was great seeing them all weekend. (I can’t wait to check out Michelle’s restaurants when I head to Miami in a few weeks!)

What else? Let’s see. I kicked off Friday night with a glass of bubbly fireside at the Inn at Spanish Bay with my friend Tatiana. I was finally able to stop and relax. And that was when it hit me—I was there! We had the most amazing dinner that night at Peppoli, prepared by Chef Arturo Moscoso. One of those times when you sit down and you don’t even see a menu. (I love meals like that. I always know I’m in for a treat!)

Borrowed from Inn at Spanish Bay

We started with some of the most amazing bread (ok, so maybe I was hungry!) But then we had mussels, yummy silky scallops, and the best starter for me? Shrimp with polenta. I couldn’t stop eating it. Then we had soups. A delicious spring onion soup and then a tomato-bread soup that was like eating a hearty tomato sauce. We dipped the best foccaccia bread into the soups and it was perfect. Then it was pasta. And those that know me, know that this is my favorite course. There is no pasta that I’ve met that I don’t like. This was no exception. Chef Arturo had picked two amazing pastas. A bolognese and a carbonara. Seriously? My two favorite pastas. I wouldn’t have picked any others.

We were definitely getting full at this point. But still had a lovely whole fish to eat! It was de-boned table side, and served with a gorgeous platter of greens and roasted potatoes. The potatoes were THE BEST (yea, I’ve got a love for potatoes, I’m a simple gal!) It was so good. The wine kept flowing, and we finally ended the night with an espresso (well, not quite ended the night, just the meal!)

By then, it was time for the after party. We made our way to the downstairs ballroom that had been transformed. There were a few different rooms—an area for the Sommeliers (hint: you always want to sneak into that party…if the wine is good enough for the group of Master Sommeliers to drink, it must be good!) There was an area that was serving food (different each night, on Friday night? Ad Hoc was serving their fried chicken, and there was a gorgeous platter of Boccalone meats! Damn Arturo, I was too full to eat any of it!) There was the bar area, the beer bar area, a dance floor, and a little elevated VIP area.

It was nuts. We stayed and hung out and drank and chatted…until the wee hours. By the time my head hit the pillow that night, I was pooped.
Stay tuned for adventures from Day Two!

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