@PBFW: Masters of the Sea

(Pebble Beach, CA) — Despite a brutal winter and lagging springtime, HeFed opted to skip this year's trek to Pebble Beach and focus on settling in at the new homestead. In his place, the irrepressible Cookie agreed to accompany SheFed to the west coast and experience all that a Food & Wine event has to offer. Two whirlwind days—filled with travel delays, In-n-Out Burger, and an 18 hole scramble on the legendary links—are followed by a serene luncheon prepared by Masters of The Sea...

She Fed:

Friday morning in Pebble Beach carries the promise of a day of foodie extravagance. My appetite is whetted at Carla Hall’s morning cooking demonstration as I sit in the back of the room taking in all the wonderful smells. After a quick meet and greet with Chef Hall we head to Roy’s, anxious to see what indulgences await us at the Masters of the Sea lunch.

We are escorted to the patio where we grab a glass of Rodney Strong 2012 Charlotte's Home Sauvignon Blanc as the appetizers make their way into the crowd. Despite what feels like a shark frenzy surrounding servers carrying trays of hors d'oeuvres, we manage to grab a bite of each. Maple glazed seared scallops with hasty pudding; beef tartare with bone marrow and crostini; hamachi with yuzu shallot marmalade and osetra caviar; and artichoke soup demitasse with Maine lobster...every bite is delicious. Truth be told, I would gladly stand on the deck eating scallops and hamachi for the next three hours but onward we go to the dining room.

Practically every seat at Roy’s offers a gorgeous view of the bay. We settle in at a table of Juliet’s colleagues and await the first course. To my delight, we are in for more hamachi. This version is served with crispy shallots, lime, and Thai basil alongside a glass of Davis Bynum 2012 River West Chardonnay. The buttery fish is perfectly balanced by the tartness of lime and peppery basil. I am admittedly not a huge fan of chardonnay, but the David Bynum is clean and light and pairs perfectly with the fish. There may be chardonnay hope for me yet!

Up next, we are served Muscovy Duck Breast with Rodney Strong 2012 Estate Pinot Noir. I want to love this dish, but the texture of the duck is mealy. Also, the description promises morel mushrooms but the dish delivers what I am guessing were black chanterelles. Fortunately the creamy peppery pasta, crispy kale, and 24 hour tomatoes go well with the pinot and are good enough to stand alone without the duck.

Our third course is breast of squab with oysters served with Rodney Strong 2011 Symmetry Red Meritage. The panko and herb-coated oysters are fried perfectly crisp; the squab is lovely when dredged through the rich sauce; and the fresh watercress balances out the heaviness of the other components. However, the star of this plate is the pigeon leg. It is salty, crispy, bursting with rich flavors, and goes wonderfully with the Bordeaux-style Symmetry. I’m not sure how much finger food they serve at Roy’s but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I picked it up and nibbled every last edible bit from the bone.

We make it to dessert with just enough room left for Chocolate-Port Xiao Long Bao and coconut panna cotta served with Rodney Strong 2008 A True Gentleman’s Port. Our group is raving about the xiao long bao, but I find it too doughy for my liking. The chocolate filling is nice with the port, but I cannot get over the flavor of raw dough. I spoon into the panna cotta and find my happy place. The texture is silky smooth and light. I abandon the xiao long bao and end a fabulous meal with light flavors of fresh coconut.

I can’t wait to see what the rest of the weekend brings!
She Fed:

I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy a few of the Friday lunches at Pebble Beach Food & Wine, but never one at Roy’s, the sushi and seafood place at The Inn at Spanish Bay. Since Jeremy’s not the biggest fish eater, we’d opt for a Belgian beer lunch or something similar in the past. But Cookie’s more adventurous so we give it a try.

One complaint about these multi-course meals is the passed appetizers never make it to the entire group. There's always a hoard of people who position themselves by the service entrance to the luncheon and then they gobble up all the goodies on the platter. I’ve seen people eat three and four of the same tidbit, clearly oblivious to the crowds behind them waiting patiently for their chance to enjoy a bite. That kind of behaviour just reeks of bad manners, though I’m biased because I’m usually one of the people at the back of the crowd trying to figure out what the hell everyone else is eating.

The weather is divine today and we are led to the expansive terrace overlooking the golf course and the ocean while we wait. Somehow Karla and I end up near front of the crowd. We get our pick of every single passed bite and I must admit, I have to fight the urge to try seconds of a few things. A cone of pale green creamy artichoke soup with a Maine lobster claw warms the belly. The beef tartare with marrow and House of Parliament sauce on crispy crostini spurs the appetite. But my favorite is the ginormous sea scallop atop creamy hasty pudding (think “grits”). I skip the hamachi with caviar for some inexplicable reason, but do have a refill on the Rodney Strong Charlotte’s Home Sauvignon Blanc, a crispy clean refresher.

We find our table and the next 90 minutes are filled with four sublime courses, each paired with a Rodney Strong wine. We begin with the Davis Bynum River West Chardonnay and the California Yellowtail with crispy shallot and Thai basil. The fish could surely win over even the biggest sushi hater.

Next is Muscovy Duck Breast with cavatelli in a morel mushroom sauce and slow roasted tomatoes. The duck is mealy and pasty, reminding me of the beef liver from my childhood. Blurgh! But the pasta and tomatoes are lovely, as is Strong’s Estate Pinot Noir. There are a few chanterelle mushrooms on the plate as well and I wolf them down, leaving the duck intact.

I’ve never been a huge fan of squab, but the Breast of Squab with Oysters in a red wine sauce with pigeon leg and watercress is absolutely divine. The roasted pigeon leg is ridiculously good as are the breaded oysters. One of my favorite wines is poured: Rodney Strong Symmetry Meritage. This is when chatting up the sommelier pays off and I find myself with a very generous refill.

Our final course is a Chocolate-Port Xiao Long Bao with coconut panna cotta, olallieberries, and an almond cookie. It’s paired with Strong’s A True Gentleman’s Port, which we actually have in our home bar. The story behind the port is quite moving and it’s hard to not get a little misty after enjoying a wine-soaked luncheon prepared by world-class chefs while overlooking the stunning coastline.

We raise our glasses to the chefs and sommeliers with this final drink. Cin Cin!

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