I was overwhelmed by the prospect of writing this post.  I feel like a little kid who has just busted through the front door, chatting about spending a day at the zoo, unable to spit out fast enough how cool all of the animals were. You know, the super exotic ones with the bright colors. Even though a lot of what I am saying (or am about to say) may be slightly incoherent, you still get the idea that I really like animals.  Except now I can tell you that instead of animals, it’s food. Does this analogy even make sense?  I have a feeling it doesn’t, but it’s getting late and I need to get to bed so let’s just run with it.  This is my version of the [really refined] zoo.  Drum roll, please.

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I was invited to attend the sixth annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine festival aka epic foodie festival where the amount of food and wine they provide per person could easily feed a small country… for a year. Thank you Cal for bringing me along!

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Before digging our forks in, let’s talk about scenery.  Basically, Pebble Beach is not real.  It sits in a cloud in the sky, where only really good golfers can reach it.  Occasionally, they’ll allow over-enthusiastic people who care about things like terroir and cassolettes come in and mosey around for a weekend.

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Onto the braised good stuff, our days were planned out for us based on the events we had chosen a few weeks prior to heading down. Here’s what our line-up looked like:

Thursday: Opening Night Reception

Friday: Cooking Demonstration with Fabio VivianiThe Grand Tour: European Continental Cuisine (this was a 6/7 course tasting lunch with Portugese wine pairings), and Antinori’s Cabernet Around the World.

Saturday: Family Table with Danny Meyer + Carmen QuagliataGrand Tasting, and Carla Hall Cooking Demo

Sunday: Secrets of a Sommelier: Blind Tasting Sparkling Wines and our last Grand Tasting Sunday.

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Thursday night, we arrived a little late, but tried to snag as many small bites and wine pours as possible. Favorite tastes include the Ridge Geyserville and gnocchi with peas.  Highlights from Friday include Fabio, who taught us how to make fresh pasta and gnocchi, and the Cabernet tasting.  We got the chance to taste three different vintages from the same vineyard; it’s incredible what growing conditions can do to the taste of the grape.  Saturday, I nearly peed my pants with excitement after getting the opportunity to meet Danny Meyer.  Just in case you have never eaten out and haven’t paid attention to who’s feeding you don’t know who this is, here’s his bio:

Danny Meyer is the CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, which includes Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, Blue Smoke, Jazz Standard, Shake Shack, The Modern, Maialino, Untitled, North End Grill, Union Square Events, and Hospitality Quotient, a learning and consulting business. Danny, his restaurants and chefs have earned an unprecedented 25 James Beard Awards. Danny’s first business book, Setting the Table (HarperCollins, 2006), a New York Times bestseller, examines the power of hospitality in restaurants, business and life. An active national leader in the fight against hunger, Danny has long served on the boards of Share Our Strength and City Harvest.  He is equally active in civic affairs, serving on the executive committees of NYC & Co, Union Square Partnership, and the Madison Square Park Conservancy.

Our first Grand Hall tasting (we had a second one on Sunday) was pretty overwhelming as we got to walk around an enormous tent filled with chefs and wineries/vineyards sampling their goodies.  After the Grand Tastings I needed a nap.  And some water.

On Sunday during the blind tasting, I quickly developed crushes on all of the good-looking sommeliers sitting up on the panel.  By Sunday, I think everyone had had their fair share of bordeaux, so it was really nice to get in some refreshing bubbles.

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The F&W weekend passes we had did not include dinner, so we wandered over to nearby Carmel (by-the-Sea) in search of more food because not eating for a stretch longer than 20 minutes would have been absolute lunacy.

On Friday night we went to La Bicylette where we split local champignon (mushroom) and butternut squash pizzas.  After a long day of tasting super rich, complex things, sometimes you just want some cheesy bread.  Weird, but true.  On Saturday night we went to Cantinetta Luca where I practically ate an entire plate of fresh burrata cheese and heaping pile of arugula greens.  Greens and bread were necessities at that point.  #foodiegirlproblems

On Friday and Saturday night, we stopped into the Cypress Inn for drinks.  It was recommended to us by a couple we had befriended during lunch on Friday.  We sat in their front room which felt more like someone’s living room, and listened as a singer, Debbie, serenaded other Cypress Inn patrons with her sidekick pianist.  At certain points we wondered how we had ventured into the Twilight zone (some of the characters in there may have stumbled back from one too many pours of pinot noir at the tastings), but I probably could have stay there all night, drinking anything but wine in their cozy couches (specifically my beloved negroni on Friday and a manhattan on Saturday).

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Overall, this weekend kind of blew me away.  Pebble Beach is stunning, the food was incredible, and the company wasn’t too bad either.  I came away from it with a yearning for my food processor (that is currently collecting dust in New York), and a renewed desire to get back into studying wine.  Every morning I woke up excited to discover the presents that were waiting for me in the tasting room, or on my plate.  As I was walking through the tent during the final grand tasting on Sunday, debating which sparkling wine I wanted to taste next, a fellow standing behind his table yelled over to me “Merry Christmas!”  and without a second thought I returned the greeting.  If I had known the foodie weekend of my dreams could come true, I would have put this on my list for Santa ages ago.

Thanks again for bringing me, Cal!  It was certainly one for the books.

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