If you haven’t visited Carmel Highland’s Pacific’s Edge restaurant recently, you are in for a treat. It’s still perched on the granite bluff of the Hyatt Highlands Inn with panoramic ocean and Point Lobos views, but after a remodel it’s fresh and contemporary.
We had an opportunity to sample the finished product at a November winemaker dinner with Bernardus, whimsically titled “Forks. Corks. Action!” The fun began at sunset on the new outdoor patio with Prosciutto, Fontina, and Mozzarella with Rice Arancini pared with a 2017 Bernardus Griva Sauvignon Blanc. Although quite a nice start, we practiced a bit of restraint since four courses awaited inside the Wine Room.
Chef Christopher Vacca, assisted by Chef de Tournant Benoit Petel, prepared an intriguing menu to complement an impressive lineup of Bernardus wines. Our first course was Bone Marrow, the small portion delicately combined with Époisses (a legally demarcated cheese) and topped with fresh frisée. A 2016 Soberanes Vineyards Chardonnay was the perfect accompaniment.
For the second course, Chef Vacca created sheep’s milk ricotta and pumpkin gnudi topped with a dash of brown butter, radish sprouts, and mimolette to pair with a lovely 2015 Pinot Noir with grapes sourced from the Pisoni Vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands. Matthew Shea, our winery host, manages the vineyards for Bernardus and delivered lively, informative commentary. A favorite takeaway was, “My job is to deliver 100-point grapes; the rest is up to the winemaker.”
Marinus is Bernardus owner Ben Pon’s middle name and the title of his winery’s signature Bordeaux blend. Shea picked a 2012 vintage with soft tannins and delicate spice notes and Chef Vacca responded with a fresh approach to Surf ’n’ Turf. An earthy venison loin with chestnut puree, roasted sunchoke, fried parsnips, and chanterelle mushrooms was topped with main lobster. And the portion size was as perfect as the culinary creativity.
The finale was port wine-poached quince topped with ricotta gelato and accented with a bit of bee pollen and Carmel Valley honey. Its subtle sweetness was nicely accompanied by a 2012 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc.
The Bernardus Wine Dinner quickly sold out and Hyatt Highland’s Pacific Edge has scheduled five more with a variety of vintners this year. Call 831.620.1234 and ask the restaurant for details.