Did it work? Heck yeah!
Was I stuffed? More than you can possibly imagine!
Let's recap, shall we?
I could barely contain my excitement as I stumbled out of bed and peeked into the outside world only to be met with a gloomy overcast that made the quiet tapping of a light drizzle slightly audible on my window panes. But rain or shine, I wasn't going to let the weather dampen my mood, much less my appetite. As my hubby and I drove the 3 hours towards Pebble Beach amidst the bucolic landscape of lush, rolling hills dotted with what I later realized were sheep (except without my glasses, they resembled more of the pale brown caps of button mushrooms) and fields of fresh, seaside artichokes, I couldn't help but roll down my window to breathe in the salty crispness of the ocean air.
By the time we arrived at the event, the rain was already pounding the pavement. We hurried inside and were instantly greeted by a smiling volunteer who handed us our keepsake PBFW wine glasses. We started off by taking a walking tour of the entire venue and scouting out the different stations. Is it hard to believe that our very first stop was at the swanky Belvedere Vodka booth where the pretty bartenders were concocting the most delectable fruity cocktails of the evening. Just the right amount of pucker, sweetness and vodka dressed up with fresh sprigs of mint and muddled fruit. Wanna take a glimpse of their bar menu?
--Pink Grapefruit Yuzu Sour (with hand-squeezed lemon & yuzu juice, egg whites and a touch of honey)
--Belvedere Black Raspberry Julep (muddled on the spot with raspberries)
--Citrus Gimlet (with lime juice spiked with simple syrup)
--My Favorite: Belvedere Orange Nam Som Kun (w/fresh OJ, lemongrass, chili, mint and lime & mandarin juices)
And let's not forget the amazing food and even more amazing chefs who created them! My highlight for the evening was getting Food Network's Iron Chef Morimoto & Chef Michael Chiarello to sign my Foodbuzz apron! So jazzed and big THANKS to fellow Foodbuzz feature publishers/bloggers,The Ravenous Couple, for giving me a heads up on the apron & Morimoto..much love your way!
But note to my readers: If you want them to sign anything, they are more than happy to do so....BUT if you want to chit chat, that's another story. These guys are so busy running around, it's pretty nuts. Oh, but I did score tickets to Cochon 555 for tweeting (@foodbuzz) Morimoto's dish of steamed pork dumplings w/fresh cucumbers and scallions eventhough by the time I got to their booth, the only thing they had left were the empty bamboo steamers! Oh wells, I got to rub elbows with Morimoto and the hubby was even more thrilled than I was :)
1. Pan-seared baby lamb chop popsicles w/micro greens. My FIRST taste of lamb that wasn't gamey. This is a definite winner in my book. (US FoodService, SF)
2. Artichokes "A' la Grecque" with cured meyer lemon and aged jack cheese &Tide Pool in-a-cupwith abalone, crab, urchin roe, shellfish consommè, sea water & seaweed (Lodge at Pebble Beach)
3. Spicy Crab & Nantucket Bay Scallop ceviche with rangpur lime, hearts of palm and fresh olive oil (Marinus at Bernardus Lodge)
4. Peanut Butter Crunch, milk chocolate bavarian, salted caramel cream (Pastry Chef Anastasia Simpson of the Inn at Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach, CA)
5. Smokey Paprika Rubbed Grilled Octopus Spiedini with Olive Oil, Braised Marble Potato, Pickled Onion and Salsa Verde (Chef Michael Chiarello of Bottega, Napa Valley)
6. Smoked Braised Pork Belly, Garnet Yams and Port-Blackberry Reduction with Fresh Origins Micro Celery (Chef Mark Ayers of Pacific's Edge, Carmel, CA)
My personal favorite dish:
Northern Vietnamese-style halibut with vermicelli, fresh dill, scallion, peanut and a pineapple-anchovy sauce from a fellow Southeast Asian, Executive Chef/Owner Charles Phan (Slanted Door, SF)
--Tender morsels of pearly halibut pan-seared to perfection with aromatic dill fronds nestled on a bed of rice vermicelli...yum and yummer! I love how they cook them in small batches and plated them right from the stovetop.
My personal favorite wine:
Hartwell Vineyard's 2008 Estate Sauvignon Blanc. The darling grand-daughter of this Napa Valley family vineyard, Jennelle (pictured below), was such a sweetheart to us and even managed to insist that we take home a complimentary bottle of her wine. Clean and crisp with subtle notes of mango, passion fruit, grapefruit and vanilla. I know this wine would have been the perfect complement to a grilled chicken or seafood dish. I say would have been b/c the hubby enjoyed his fair share of the bottle right when we got home. Oh well..this is just another reason to visit this family operated winery the next time I'm in Napa.