Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Pebble Beach Food and Wine 2011 - An Amazing Way to Spend the Day!

I was fortunate enough to attend the Fourth Annual Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival this year thanks to Foodbuzz. I packed up all my gear and went and grabbed my sister for a girls' weekend. We stayed in Monterey a few miles away from the event, plus it's a town that has a soft spot in my heart.  When my Great Grandmother was young she worked at the Del Monte Cannery.  I took a quick drive down Cannery Row to see if it was how I remembered it, I was amazed at how much the area has changed.  It was bustling with shops, restaurants and tourists.

I pulled off the road in Pebble Beach to grab a couple shots of the coastline for you.

I always wonder to myself when I see people in the surf; are they from around here because that water is freezing.  I think this gal has gotten too used to a swimming pool or better yet a warm bath.

It was a crystal clear day and the sun was out in full force, it was actually a perfect day for the coast.  I was kind of wishing I had a picnic basket in the back of the car and that I could have lingered on the shore for a while.

With tickets in hand we headed to the Viking Demo Pavilion for a cooking demonstration with Guy Fieri. The demonstration was a lot of fun, how could it not be with Guy's jovial personality.  Only critique would have been that we got some samples of the food, he was making us hungry.  I looked over his new cookbook coming out "Guy Fieri Food". I was pretty impressed, there were tons of recipes I consider to be family friendly and the photos and graphics were amazing.  After all, the audience I cook for is a bunch of underage food critics.

After the demo we headed to the Lexus Grand Tasting Event, which was located about 10 minutes away.  I wish the hosts had handed out maps, but luckily we found it eventually.  Guy was signing books and when we finally found him the lady at the end of the line said, "The line was closed and he wasn't signing anymore". Guy was gracious enough to tell them to open it back up so he could sign more.

We immediately spotted one of our favorites; there he was just standing there cooking away right in front of us, Iron Chef Michael Symon.

He had a long line of people waiting to get a photo, so we decided let's try the goods first.  They handed us a lamb meatball and it was delicious and warm I might add, way to go after an Italian girl's heart.

Good looking and he can cook, now we had to get a photo with him.  He was so nice to everyone that came up to him; he stopped what he was doing and was so patient.  This cute older lady in front of us was trying to use her daughter's iphone to snap a shot and after a couple minutes I decided to help her, Michael just stood there the whole time smiling.  Afterwards she wanted to apologize for her lack of technology skills, no need sweets; I think we have all been there.

We found Josh Drage the Executive Chef for The Ranch at Rock Creek, and were very pleasantly surprised by his dish.

His plate of Bison with a Cherry Glaze and Potato Salad with Blue Cheese made for quite the pop in your mouth.  I could have eaten a whole plate of just that potato salad.

There he was my personal favorite Tyler Florence, we wanted to wait and get a photo, but his line was crazy long.  Unfortunately there were lines for everything and it got a little tiring.  I ran into Liren - Kitchen Confidante, Jean - Lemons and Anchovies and Lisa - Authentic Suburban Gourmet, they got a great photo with him, go check it out.  

At least I got to walk away with a piece of his lip smacking fried chicken.  I have to go visit his Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco soon.

There were so many wines to sample, if I hadn't had to drive three hours home I would have tried more. The tent was stuffed to the gills with people and I did start to get overheated, so I opted for a nice cold refreshing Stella Artois that was strategically located near an opening for a touch of a breeze, it must have been a sign.

There were certainly some highs and lows of the day, there were so many good things I tasted and unfortunately there were a few losers too.  I can imagine cooking in that large of scale there would be control issues, but cold dried out food is never appealing.

Several of the chefs I visited were out of food early on, so I didn't get a chance to try everything I wanted too. 

Having only experienced a small sampling of the weekend I read more coverage online, including a post from Grubstreet to see what I might have missed.  I kind of wish I didn't because I was a little peeved by a photo I saw of Tom Colicchio's team were wearing tee's that said, "Don't be a Hater" and on the back it said, "Bloggers ride the short bus".  Sounds kind of like 5th grade to me.

All in all it was a wonderful day and I'm so glad I got to spend it with my sister plus I got to run into Azmina - Lawyer Loves Lunch.



  1. Jealous, jealous, jealous. Though, I have to admit that I'm more jealous that you got to meet Azmina, who I think is amazing, than getting a picture with Michael Symon. :)

  2. Gina you are the best!
    First thank you for those shots of the ocean and then what a fabulous experience! Reading about it gave me goosebumps. I am so happy to you were able to live this and with your sister; that had to be a once in a lifetime thrill. you did a great job illustrating your trip. Merci!

  3. I am so jealous of foodies that live near, well, anything! Like The Mom Chef, I think it would be just as fun to meet fellow bloggers...better still because they had no lines!! All kidding aside, it sounds like a wonderful event and I am so happy that you were able to go.

  4. What a great trip! I'm jealous you got to meet so many people and eat such great food.

  5. Boy I'm so sorry I missed you! When I met the others they told me you were busy getting the book signed...I could not disturb you in your adventure :)
    I see you get the most out of it though and I'm glad you did. It was a lot of fun!

  6. Boo to Tom Colicchio. It sounds like he was the one who was hating. I'm pretty sure bloggers make that even very popular and help spread the word, in my opinion.
    Loved this post. Would really be great to meet other bloggers and sample some food. Oh Tyler...such a cutie!!

  7. Sounds like quite the experience! Goods and bads :) I'm sure you'll have loads of dishes inspired by some of the stuff you saw while you were there. Looking forward to it!

    Oh and massive 'dislike' for Mr. Colicchio's incredibly bad form. Pity.

  8. Hi Gina! Oh, I'm drooling over the fried chicken I missed, and so lucky that you got to snap a pic with Michael Symon (he was gone by the time we reached his table). I love how your experienced filled in the blanks that we missed - I do agree that there were certainly high and low points. I also am trying to take Colicchio's hater shirt with a grain of understanding is that they were targeting the Eater site, though my gut reaction was sadness when I saw the back message. Oh well. I was pleased to see that there were so many other "celebrities" who were kind, gracious, and humbly welcoming.

  9. I am on board with everyone else, I am SOOO jealous! It looks like it was an amazing trip! Your pictures are amazing as well. Lucky girl ;)

  10. What an awesome experience... Beautiful pictures... Great that you got to taste such awesome food and meet so many wonderful people! :) I must admit that I am more than a little jealous! :) Happy for you though!

  11. Great photos you certainly have become BFF's with your new camera. I so enjoyed reading all about the event; you had a way of making me feel like I was there!

  12. Such a fun event to attend! The food looks excellent, that bison with cherry glaze and potato salad sound really good especially.

  13. Thanks everyone, so glad I was able to share it with all of you.
    Liren, next year I say we do a divide and conquer effort.

  14. Sounds like a fun event! Great pictures too! I like Monterey and remember Canning Row quite well. I wish there are events like this one where I live.

  15. Can you see my skin turning green through the computer screen?! WOW, what fun you had! And I expect to see those delightful s'mores bars on your blog as soon as you get the recipe :)

  16. Gina - it was SO great to meet you finally in person! Loved your post and your perspective of the event. We missed Michael Simon - that is a great photo of you and your sister with him. I agree with you that Josh Drage's dish was outstanding and one of the first we enjoyed! Have a great week and hope to see you soon!

  17. Wow sounds like you a fun event with celebrities and yummy food! Thank you for sharing with us!

  18. Great job Gina, loved reading about your adventure, your perspective is appreciated;-)
    I look forward to meeting you, FYI- Wayfarer Tavern is around the corner from our office;-)
    I want to hear all about your experience while it's still fresh, kind of like that potato salad you loved, yum;-)

  19. Looks like so much fun, glad you has such a good time :)

  20. So good to see you last weekend (if only for a short while). I still feel a bit bad that I ate three cups of ice cream and you didn't get one but seeing as how I missed the fried chicken and the meatball, I think we're even :) See you soon, friend!

  21. What a fantastic way to spend the day!! ;-) Lucky girl!!

  22. Though our meeting was brief at PBFW, I'm so glad we at least got to say hello. It was a fun event and even better because I got to see my fellow bay area bloggers, including you. :-)

  23. I'm so jealous. Such a great way to spend the day and meet wonderful bloggers.
    You're so lucky Gina. Thanks for sharing these wonderful photos.