September 26, 2010
Not in a bad way. No no no. But for its supposed status as a little sibling to the Pebble Beach Food & Wine, this event throws even more diverse activities at its audience, from internationally touring rock talent to eco-minded finger painting to barbecue seminars to breast-cancer-battling cocktails to the West's best wines to Zagat-decorated chefs. Sheesh.
"It's almost like it takes people a couple of years to figure out how to enjoy everything," event co-founder David Bernahl told me as he hustled to (and from) Harvest to a massive Meals on Wheels benefit production with Wolfgang Puck in L.A. each night of the two-day event.
At the MeEarth Hilton Bialek Habitat area, student art from recycled and scavenged materials rocked their own (break) dance moves. Kids big and small dug in compost to check out wriggly worms (under 12 come in free)... slapped painted palms on a illustration of Earth...
This cutie got into her own unique kiddy activity come day 2, adding a little tambourine to The Gin Blossoms anthems. The 90s buzz band hit its classics but also unloaded a full dose of originals from its new CD, No Chocolate Cake, which just came out this morning.
As hard as it was to tear oneself away from the super-accessible stage, too much more inspiration lay everywhere on a field that doubles the size of the PBF&W Grand Tasting tent. Guests almost need both days (and two stomachs, and two livers) to get to the 200 wineries and 50 chefs.
Just the organizers' projects represent a small galaxy of flavors—the same Coastal Luxury Management team that founded Harvest in the wake of TomatoFest had its executive chef and chief of the Cannery Row Brewing Company kitchen Mark Ayers (right) pumping out absurdly good mini crabcakes.
The summertime melon gazpacho with awesome texture from marcona almonds, pistachios and peas knocked socks off—and bodes well for a ever-shifting seasonal menu I'm told is rounding into shape as they survive building code checks and keep assembling the redone 1833 kitchen in downtown Monterey.
It was a wowser. I could've inhaled a dozen, but there was way too much other taste to get after. Overhauser is planning collaborations with Hahn down in South County to bring the forgotten corner of the county culinary credibility it hasn't enjoyed previously. Stay tuned for word on the center they're putting together in 2011.
and mingled at Saturday's afterparty, fitting with a theme of accessible star power that lasted all weekend—where people are coming away with a full belly, dazzled palate and a story of chumming with A-listers.
Equally inspiring: word from Dory Ford that his Aqua Terra sustainable/healthy school lunch program is expanding beyond Stevenson Lower to Chartwell and All Saints. Better yet, he says he's meeting with lawmakers to discuss subsidizing the meals so more than private and charter well-to-dos can dig in.