Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival 2012

Well, we are back home in Philly after a wonderful 6 weeks in the DRY heat of California (though we did experience a couple days of surprising humidity out there). We have so much to report back, but we'd like to start with the grand finale first!

On our last weekend in L.A., we were fortunate enough to attend the 2nd Annual Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival as members of the Media. The event is 4 days filled with some of the greatest food, wine, chefs, and sommeliers around. The variety of events take place in different locations throughout Los Angeles, including Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and Downtown.
We had the pleasure of attending a few of the events at the Downtown L.A. Live J.W. Marriott Hotel on Saturday and Sunday. What a beautiful place! From cooking demonstrations, to wine tastings and cheese pairings, it was an unforgettable and fun experience. To be able to describe all that took place would require quite a lengthy post. So, instead, below you will find our highlights and favorite moments of the weekend along with plenty of pictures. If you're in the area next year, GO! There are several similar events throughout the country so do a little research. Just last month Food Network hosted the Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival, but we were out-of-town and luckily able to attend this L.A. event, hosted by Food & Wine magazine. In October we are looking forward to attending the New York Wine & Food Festival, a collaboration between both Food Network and Food & Wine. Get your tickets now!

WEEKEND HIGHLIGHTS:
Burguny 101- A Study in Terroir
Learning about Burgundy Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays from 4 Master Sommeliers was quite an experience. Tasting 9 different wines and sharing some laughs with them was an added bonus! Kim Beto is the Director of Key Accounts for Southern Wine & Spirits with an impressive history of experience in the food and wine industry. Sabato Sagaria is a Master Sommelier and Food & Beverage Director for The Little Nell in Aspen. Ray Isle is none other than the Executive Wine Editor of Food & Wine Magazine. Robin K. O'Connor is on the board of directors of the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Wine & Food. He is a Master Sommelier with 30 years of experience in the industry. He was Director of Sales and Education for Sherry-Lehmann Wine Merchants and President of the Society of Wine Educators to name a few prestigious positions in the past. The overall presentation was excellent. The four gentlemen provided the crowd with some great insight, wines, tasting notes, and humor! Best of all, they helped us rediscover our love for French wine, especially pinot noir.

Laura Werlin: Pairing Cheese & Wine with The First Lady of Fromage
These are perhaps some of the greatest cheeses we have ever tried! All NINE were hand-picked by Laura, who has written five books on the topic. She has appeared on several T.V. shows and definitely proved to know her stuff. What was most refreshing during this presentation was to learn that the First Lady is not only thee cheese expert, but that she is also passionate, down-to-earth and super funny! We were unable to catch the gentleman's name who was presenting with her, but he definitely deserves to be recognized for his wine knowledge. We were able to try 4 different wines and pair different cheeses with them. The two had us laughing and enjoying our time. The whole experience was just divine and enlightening for any wine and cheese enthusiast.
    *2011 Casa Silva Sauvignon Blanc Cool Coast from the Colchagua Valley in Chile...oak free, smell of green pepper and taste of grapefruit. Fantastic. 
    *2011 Domane Wachau Gruner Veltliner Smaragd Terrassen from Austria. Our first Gruner experience- amazing. Again no oak, dry, and went well with just about every cheese. We are hooked!
    *2008 B Cellars "Syn3rgy" Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley: berry smell, but not too strong for a Cab. Very good. 
    *Lungarotti Dulcis from Italy is a dessert wine...so far, just can't seem to find one we like. Sorry. 

    1. A shot out to our favorite cheese: Cypress Gove Chevre Creamline "Lamb Chopper" (McKinleyville, CA, Holland). A sheep's milk cheese that blended both salty and caramel flavors:  To. Die. For. 
    Other cheeses we sampled:
    2. Avalanche Cheese Company "Cabra Blanca" (Aspen, CO) Pasteurized Goat Milk
    3. Quatrro Portoni Caseificio "Quadrello di Bufala" (Bergamo, Lombardy) Pasteurized Buffalo Milk
    4. Cabra Romero (Murcia, Spain) Pastuerized Goat's Milk
    5. Beehive Cheese Company "Teahive" (Uintah, UT) Pasteurized Cow's Milk
    6. Crawford Family Farm "Vermont Ayr" (Whiting, VT) Unpasteurized Cow's Milk
    7. Sartori Reserve "Espresso Bellavitano" (Antigo, WI) Pasteurized Cow's Milk
    8. Kerrygold "Cashel Blue" (Ireland) Pasteurized Cow's Milk (The only one we really did not enjoy.)
    9. A special bonus cheese not on the menu: Aged 5 year Vintage Gouda

    FAVORITE MOMENTS:

    *At the end of our Saturday afternoon events we stopped in at The Mixing Room  in the hotel lobby for a glass of wine. (Because tasting 9 different kinds wasn't enough!) We were delighted to run into two of the speakers from the Burgundy 101 presentation.  Executive Wine Editor for Food & Wine Magazine Ray Isle and Master Sommelier Robin K. O'Connor shared some drinks with us and discussed...well, what else...wine. It was a special treat to chat about growing trends, such as biodynamic and organic wines. These guys not only know their stuff, but they were very sweet and fun. Highlights of the evening: Mr. O'Connor asking about and being impressed by our website/blog and pictures we had captured and when he asked the bartender to take a picture of us with him. We're still waiting for our copy! ;)

    *In a rush to make it to our event, we were able to sneak a peak at the one and only Andrew Zimmern. He was enjoying some food in the hotel lobby restaurant and graciously taking pictures with fans. We chose not to disturb him, as we were running late to our event, but definitely a highlight to catch his cool, friendly and funny demeanor in person, much like on television. Next year we hope to attend one of his presentations.
    *In summary, the weekend was absolute fun. Next year we hope to attend a few more events, especially the Lexus Grand Tasting. Thank you to all the sponsors, special guests and celebrities, and Wagstaff Worldwide for making this such an awesome experience. Looking forward to next year!