The 4th Annual Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival was in full swing as I sauntered into the Grand Tasting Tent on Saturday April 30, 2011. I had been to food and wine festivals before, but this one seemed bigger and more impressive than any of them.
Driscoll’s Berries was in very good company, being one of the sponsors of this event.
Walking in, I could see the Lexus and American Express signs everywhere, along with Departures and Food and Wine magazines. How happy was I to be wearing my jeans and Converse sneakers after tromping through raspberry fields that morning?! (I’m from the East Coast-I save my ‘tennis shoes’ for, y’know, playing tennis!) No matter! The riotous smells and the plethora of wine vendors was all anyone came for, myself included!
There were over 250 wine producers plying their wares and 75 chefs creating gastronomic glee throughout the 2 enormous tents, including Tom Colicchio, Anne Burrell and Guy Fieri. My mouth was watering as I happily stood in line for tasty tidbits ranging from beef tenderloin tamales with grapefruit and cilantro to cheesecake pops-gorgeous little chilled cheesecake balls on stic
ks, covered with a hard chocolate shell. It was tough to have only one of these, but fear of a sugar headache got the best of me.
Driscoll’s was right in there, with their berry parfaits served by attractive models, as well as having a large booth on one of the raised platforms. The colors of the various berries really stood out as people scooped up the refreshing samples. One of my favorite food samples from a celebrity chef down the aisle from Driscoll’s was a goat cheese tart with blackberry reduction. I bet they used Driscoll’s blackberries! Anything with goat cheese can win me over!
The wine tasting was a true pleasure for me. As someone who is an avid Snooth reader and who just finished a month-long wine tasting class at The Wine House here in LA, it was gratifying to use my new found knowledge to sample some of the local and not-so-local wineries. With over 250 wineries represented, I had to pick and choose. There were brands you would certainly see at most restaurants, like J. Lohr, Sequoia Grove and Beaulieu Vineyards and smaller, boutique producers like Vision Cellars. Owner “Mac” McDonald is one of the only African American winemakers in the country and his Pinot Noir is just lovely!
This was a phenomenal event and I’m proud to say I threw my healthy habits away for the day and sampled virtually every morsel offered and many of the wines, as well. Of course, there weren’t a lot of places to spit, so after about 10 tastings, I had to call it a day. But what a day it was. Want to see more on this event? Check out my friend Eric Gladstone’s take on the day. He was another one of the food writers invited there along with me: http://ecgladstone.com/2011/05/pebble-beach-it-adds-up/
I wasn’t able to get any of the recipes from the chefs at the event, so I’m giving you one of MY popular appetizers, which is what I might have offered should I have had one of those booths. I can only dream! It’s a recipe from my NEW Cookbook, “Does This Cookbook Make Me Look Fat Vol. 2-Healthy Recipes for Entertaining!” Enjoy!
Goat Cheese and Strawberry Bruschetta
- 1 whole grain baguette 8 –10” long
- Olive oil spray
- 1 4 oz goat cheese log, plain or herbed
- 2 cups strawberries, sliced
- 8 basil leaves, cleaned and dried
- Fresh ground pepper
- Heat broiler. Halve baguette crosswise, then lengthwise. Place on lined baking sheet, cut side up. Spray with olive oil. Broil on a lower rack for 2 minutes or until lightly toasted.
- Divide cheese into 4 pieces and spread on toast. Add basil slices and cover with strawberry slices. Broil on lower rack for 2 or 3 minutes, until the cheese and berries get soft. Remove from broiler and sprinkle with black pepper.
This is one of my favorite appetizers. The goat cheese and strawberries make a wonderful combo hot or cold and the addition of the basil makes it visually attractive, as well as extra tasty. Be sure to use Driscoll’s berries, of course!