A few years ago, we attended the Pebble Beach Food & Wine Grand Tasting event held in a giant tent at the resort’s polo field. The Grand Tasting is impressive in scale and choices, but grazing and sipping with hundreds of others is an experience that we best enjoy in moderation. About an hour seems right.
A First-Class Beginning
This year, we were invited to enjoy Pebble Beach Wine & Food the way Gentry readers might elect to wine and dine in real style. That journey began with the nice Lexus people parking a shiny new ES350h, the luxury automaker’s hybrid sedan, in my driveway for the drive to Pebble Beach. This model personifies the quiet, comfort of the Lexus brand and a lovely way to drive down the coast.
Our destination was the Inn at Spanish Bay, one of our favorite locations to visit the outdoor firepits, sip an adult beverage and listen to a bagpiper serenade the sunset. But this Friday, we were spirited to the Grand Tasting tent for the Chef’s Table Lunch, a four-course gourmet celebration prepared by Lexus Master Chefs Dean Fearing and Ludo Lefebvre and their team in an open kitchen.
Seared Lockhart Quail and Wild King Salmon paired with French white wines from the Meursault region set the stage for Buffalo Tenderloin accompanied by a lovely 2014 Heitz Cabernet. Dessert brought a Flowerless Chocolate Cake accompanied with a splash of Citrus Salad and Olive Oil and a petite glass of Montenegro Amaro. We finished mid-afternoon and headed back to the Inn to rest and change for dinner.
An Icon Dinner at The Lodge
Our sunset celebration included a glass of Champagne on the Lodge deck, perched over the 18th Fairway before our seating in the Stillwater Grille. The dinner adventure brought Chefs Kelly Jeun and Eduardo Valle Lobo with Master Sommelier Bobby Stucky from Fresca in Boulder, Colorado to join Nicolette Manescalchi, Executive Chef of San Francisco’s A-16. That’s impressive firepower!
The dinner theme was Italian with the kind of creativity and fresh ingredients that sets a high bar, even in Pebble Beach territory. We won’t detail all six courses and nine small plate servings, but the Braised Pork Shoulder paired with Planeta Nero d’Avola, a big Sicilian red poured from a Magnum, topped my list. We were invited to an after-hours party on Cannery Row, but decided to rest up for Saturday’s adventures. I know we’re wimps!
Mixology and a Michelin-Star Finish
The Inn at Spanish Bay’s Ballroom was filled to the brim with gourmets sampling great tropical drinks prepared by Mixologist Julio Cabrera to accompany wonderful hors d’oeuvres presented by Master Chef Michelle Bernstein. The cooking and mixing demonstrations were as entertaining as informative. We spent the early afternoon at the Lexus Grand Tasting tent, then rested and prepared for a very special Michelin Star dinner at Pebble Beach Resort’s Casa Palermo.
World-renowned chef, Alain Passard, has won numerous Michelin Stars (69 and counting) in his career and the opportunity to dine at his table is like playing golf with Arnold Palmer.
Champagne Billecart-Salmon, celebrating its 200th anniversary, hosted the special dinner and we not only began with its Brut Reserve in Café Palermo’s retro Spanish Colonial living room and patio, but enjoyed champagne with every one of the seven courses. Chef Passard did a masterful job of creating menu that paired perfectly with the wonderful and rare sparkling accompaniments. It’s an experience to check off my bucket list.