Fat Chance


photography by Stefanie Michejda

Next year is the last year for the annual Masters of Food & Wine event in Carmel that draws top chefs, vintners and foodies from all over the world. In anticipation of that, neighboring Pebble Beach Resorts (pebblebeach.com) this year hosted its first annual Food & Wine Weekend at Casa Palmero, two days of feasting that can’t possibly be summed up, except in these Top 7 highlights. Two more upcoming weekends will focus on the food and wines of Italy (February 2–4) and France (March 9–11).

7. A lavish Sunday brunch at Club XIX overlooking the 18th hole, featuring Alaskan king crab, whole lobsters, a raw bar and an omelet station.

6. A Kobe beef tenderloin cooked to rare perfection. The meat had an earthy smell, an almost sweet taste and a velvety texture highlighted by truffle-infused gnocchi and braised endive that had been caramelized to a tangy sweetness.
5. Listening to vintner John Shafer coach us through a vertical tasting of 10 years of his famous Cabernets. Shafer’s moral? Location is the biggest predictor of a wine’s success—he attributes his to a Napa hillside that provides “good drainage, Carneros nights and Rutherford days.”

Another 10-year vertical tasting, this one of Far Niente wines: a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Sipping the same blend produced over 10 years of differing climate and techniques with winemaker Stephanie Putnam was the best wine education you could get in one short hour. Putnam talked about aggressively thinning the fruit in 2001, and sure enough the 2002 vintage that followed was noticeably more fruit-forward than its predecessors.

3. A cod filet roasted to a golden crisp atop a smear of potatoes that had gotten the full French treatment.
2. Casa Palmero’s secluded, Mediterranean-style rooms, complete with private-patio hot tubs, wood-burning fireplaces, and trails that lead to some of California’s most breathtaking ocean views.
1. The tasting of Screaming Eagle’s 2002 and 2003 vintages. Some folks flew clear across the country just to sip this cult Cab that can’t be found in stores. One oenophile described it this way: “I feel like I just flossed with silk.”

For more photos of the event, check out the first slideshow on the 7x7sf.com homepage.
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