Rest at the Best
Recipes from the top PBF&W to date, lobster pierogies and a $100 picture.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Reclining in a overstuffed chair, Pebble Beach Food & Wine co-founder Rob Weakley has a glass of rather nice wine in his hand. Around him the last soiree of the best four-day Peninsula party since Bing Crosby’s day bounces along. A top chef (Cal Stamenov) clinks glasses; foxy 40-somethings drop heads back in laughter; a range of accents and interests fill out lively conversations; a hoarse David Bernahl cackles by a crackling fire.
No surprises there: Just another party at PBF&W. Only Weakley – the man who master-planned the predecessor Masters of Food & Wine for years – is asleep.
A half hour earlier, he was hoisting two tiny partygoers in perfectly proportioned PBF&W chef whites, celebrating the most successful edition to date with his twin toddlers. Four days earlier, before the official opening golf event had even cracked the first Cristal, he presided over a pre-festival Wednesday “founders dinner” at a private residence in Carmel Highlands that represented the most exclusive (and unpublicized) event of the weekend. One-time local chef-turned-L.A. legend Walter Manzke, NYC pastry ace Angela Pinkerton and some dude named Thomas Keller paired OK grub with, oh, around a quarter million dollars worth of private-collection wine brought by the guests for the incomparable communion.
Between those two timeless moments shut-eye became about as easy to encounter as a bad wine at the Grand Tastings. And the catnap would come in handy since, surprisingly enough, as soon as the next day, he’d be among hundreds charged with disassembling the towering tents that separated crowds from rains at Sunday’s Grand Tasting and nightly Belvedere-accented afterparties.
Two 2,000-person GT sellouts represent some savory numbers for an event still finding its feet a year ago, but the tastiest numbers are those that speak to the boom the bacchanalia creates for the economy. As Weakley told me in ’09: “Last year filled 2,200 room nights on the Peninsula. I talked to all restaurant people. All their places were packed. The average check coming rivaled the Concours [d’Elegance].”
This year blew out years one and two as 5,500 unique visitors attended, and the principals say they sold out Pebble’s Lodge and Spanish Bay (and I heard the Hyatt was maxed out). That’s not easy, but neither was the lobster with pan-roasted pierogi crowned with caviar and escorted by a lil’ chanterelle and morel by Spanish Bay’s own Roy Yamaguchi.
More auxiliary benefits: Groups including, say, our local Big Sur Food & Wine guys Toby Rowland-Jones and Matt Peterson networked like mad, helped coordinate tastings and took home a $500 gift card for besting the field at the sommelier blending contest. Local vendors like Spreckels’ Don and Cheryl Ferch of Contemporary Catering got cherry demo-tent placement to serve pocket size roasted red onion bisque with a blue cheese-walnut-artisan lettuce sheaf from Tanimura & Antle. A host of local hospitality folks get extra work and nearby charities like CASA and Boys & Girls Club of Monterey County get big boosts (to that end, PBF&W’s online auction to support them lasts until Monday, April 18 at www.pebblebeachfoodandwine.com).
But clearly not everyone can afford the $200 ticket to the By Land or By Sea lunch where Yamaguchi laid the pierogi on the people. And even some of my well-heeled homies weren’t able to pounce before the Grand Tastings sold out.
There is an antidote: A smorgasbord of cooking tips, recipes and photographs fresh from the event at www.mcweekly.com/edible. Don’t sleep on that.
A tasty contest continues: A $100 gift certificate to Bubba Gump (373-1884) on Cannery Row goes to the local who submits the best foodie photo. More at www.mcweekly.com/edible… Mrs. Delish’s has a storefront coming to complement her ever-popular farmers market cupcake stands. It will wedge next to Creative Images on Lighthouse in Monterey. More at www.mrsdelishs.com… Now through April 25, good deal from Jamba Juice for its 20th anniversary: buy one get one free (BOGO!) smoothies… Paluca Trattoria (373-5559) on Fisherman’s Wharf ribbon cutting 5:30-7pm Thursday, April 15. $10/chamber members includes wine and snacks, local ID means free parking in the wharf parking lot… Speaking of the wharf, Abalonetti’s (373-1851) has a good locals special going seven days a week for $12.95… Speaking of parking lots, the only lot around with peppy parakeets, homemade hummus, juicy fruit, hot churros, white socks and fresh flowers: The CHAMP Farmers Market in Seaside’s University Plaza, the area’s newest. I counted 17 booths earlier this month. Every Monday 4-8pm, rain or shine… Marina rejoice: As I wrote at www.mcweekly.com/edible, the Noodle Bar’s new location (384-6225) in the former Pizza Paradise has a bigger menu than the original, more space, less ambiance but the same familial service… Also on the blog, word on my favorite discovery of late, tucked-away treasure Element Tasting Bar & Pizza Bistro (998-7045). Great vibe, great people, great food… “I cook with wine,” W.C. Fields said. “Sometimes I even add it to the food.”