East Coast chefs got the spotlight first inside The Lodge at Pebble Beach.
The 2013 incarnation of Pebble Beach Food & Wine pitted West Coast vs. East Coast chefs in a two-dinner Battle of the Coasts, featuring five chefs from each coast cooking on back-to-back nights at The Lodge at Pebble Beach’s Stillwater Bar & Grill. On April 5, it was the East Coast’s turn to shine thanks to an illustrious roster that included Mark Gaier & Clark Frasier (Arrows, MC Perkins Cove and the upcoming MC Medici), Jose Garces, Jonathan Waxman, Geoffrey Zakarian and pastry chef Francois Payard. People who attended both dinners (like me, thanks to my hosts at PBFW) got to informally choose a winner.
I arrived at the tail end of the reception and experienced tastes of hors d’oeuvres like Jose Garces’ egg with several chorizo preparations, plus caviar.
Staffers greeted guests with glasses of Taittinger “Millesime” 2000, which paired well with views of a well manicured golf course, the bay and distant hills.
COURSE #1: Mark Gaier & Clark Frasier – Three Signs of Spring, including English pea soup, chilled asparagus with Dungeness crab, and warm baby leeks. Gaier said, “We were going to do five signs of spring, but figured it would take five hours to plate it.” The pairing: Sohm & Kracher Gruner Veltliner, “Vineyards from Lower Austria,” 2011.
COURSE #2: Jose Garces – Roasted Black Bass, ajo blanco, pancetta crisp, shaved Marcona almond, cape gooseberry. The Iron Chef said, “This course will definitely put the East Coast over the top.” The pairing: Pahlmeyer Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast 2010.
COURSE #3: Jonathan Waxman – Grilled Squab, shaved asparagus salad. Waxman said, “California asparagus is of course the most beautiful asparagus on the planet,” but pointed out that vegetables aren’t enough, adding, “I love vegetarians, but I don’t sleep with vegetarians.” The pairing: Flowers Pinot Noir, “Frances Thompson Vineyard,” Sonoma Coast 2007.
COURSE #4: Geoffrey Zakarian – Creekstone Dry-Aged Sirloin (aged 45 days), sweetbread & octopus croquette, pommes aligot (“the fancy word for mashed potatoes with cheese”), and black truffle-taragon jus.
It wasn’t enough to pair one glass of Opus One with Zakarian’s steak. They provided glasses of both 2004 and 2007.
COURSE #5: Francois Payard – Roasted Pears, vanilla bean ice cream, crushed pecans, and fleur de sel.