March 22, 2011
There aren't many places on the planet where one can eat caviar and sip Champagne with Jacques Pepin, quiz Ming Tsai on his cooking tips and chum with Charlie Trotter.
Come the end of next month, one such almost-impossible place will be Pebble Beach: Here comes the fourth annual Pebble Beach Food and Wine.
That means busy times right about now for the people of Coastal Luxury Management.
That challenge for the organizers of PBF&W, their annual affliction and benediction, is to do something bigger and better than last year's six days of insane events, dozens all told, that ranged from a Wednesday founders meeting – with some guy named Thomas Keller cooking and six digits worth of wine (and several billionaires) – to a Sunday grand tasting with 200 wineries and 20 Michel Richards and Charles Phans. (Click away here for a peek at last year's celeb chef golf tournament, inspiring demos, grand tasting flavors, more tastings, Keller tips and video highlights from some of the biggest names.)
While the group’s Cannery Row Brewing Company earned Best New Restaurant in the Best of Monterey County issue out now, PBF&W remains its flagship, steaming ahead in its senior year with only another heaping serving of ambitious indugence, a year after the demos got a big boost from expanded tents and the afterparties simply blew up in their own massive tent off of Spanish Bay’s bustling ballrooms.
Thirteen different dinners is something to gawk at when there are lunches as big, bad and bold as the $200 “Don’t Mess With Texas” pulling five of Texas’ best chefs to pair with Penfolds’ nicest wines and Pebble Beach Lodge. This year’s $500 “Delicacy Dinner,” for instance, brings together Joachim Splichal (Patina Restaurant Group), Charlie Trotter (Charlie Trotter’s), Daniel Humm (Eleven Madison) and Gale Gand (TRU) with seven wineries like Veuve Clicquot, Hundred Acre and Rubicon.
Demos by Pepin, Tyler Florence and Tom Colicchio, who is also the focus of a special tribute “10 Years of Craft” dinner – represent sure-fire sell-outs, and the Grand Tastings remain a spectacle unparalleled west of Aspen: You can’t chew twice without stumbling over several Masaharu Morimotos, Tim Loves or Michael Symons or a tiny-production, huge-reputation winemaker. The key is to keep moving, but there are so many tastes and personalities and talents that pull you in that the key is swallowed along with the lobster cones and truffle terra cotta.
I spoke with appropriately ascotted CLM mouthpiece David Bernahl the other day in the shiny new CLM corporate headquarters above CRBC. He seems most excited about a “Blues, Booze and BBQ” piece with Playboy spirits columnist Dan Dunn.
April 28 will be here before we know it: 1-866-907-FOOD or www.pebblebeachfoodandwine.com.