Wining & dining
Clear skies and warm climes set the stage for the 24th Annual Food & Wine Magazine Classic last weekend. The pleasant weather was an especially welcome respite from past Classics where rain, snow and even invasions of Cottonwood fluff were the norm. The festival weekend of sampling and savoring flavors in the worlds of wine and food was filled with private parties, panel-led seminars, cooking demonstrations, reserve tastings and more.On Friday night, Pamela Haber of ph factor events coordinated a special soiree at the Observatory House on West Hopkins for Dom Perignon. Catered by Randy Placeres, the private tasting was presented by Rob Casey of Dom Perignon who poured three different vintages of the celebrated Champagne: a 1998 current release, a 1990 Enotheque and a 1995 rose. Placeres matched each vintage with a delectable appetizer such as lobster pizzettes and seared scallops.
Throughout the weekend, oenophiles and foodies were introduced to various pairings of wine, beer, spirits, and edible delights. One pairing in particular was certainly unusual and unique: Starbucks Coffee’s de la Sierra blend, created specifically for the 2006 Classic, was offered with a wedge of Cowgirl Creamery cheese as a chaser. The cheese simulated a shot of cream with a punch and kept visitors coming back for seconds. A major highlight of the annual Classic is the presence of Food & Wine’s “Best New Chefs.” Each year ten exceptional chefs are chosen and acknowledged for their contributions and creativity in cooking, pared down from hundreds of nominees from across the country. A main selection criterion requires that each of these chefs has been in charge of a kitchen for no more than five years. They also need to inspire Food & Wine’s editors with their culinary prowess. The process begins with nominations from food critics, restaurateurs and chefs and continues with Food & Wine’s editors who then judge for themselves. Chef Mary Dumont of The Dunaway Restaurant in Portsmouth, N.H., was first nominated by food author Paula Wolfert. When the Food & Wine staff visited The Dunaway, Dumont won them over with her signature monkfish dish served with herb stuffing, braised artichokes and mahogany clams. “Being selected as one of the best new chefs is an honor and a vindication,” said Dumont who was the only female chef in the group this year. “I would say that more of us (women) need to kick some ass and get recognized.” During the festival weekend, all ten chefs cooked together for the first time at an exclusive tasting dinner at The Ritz-Carlton. To be continued… During the festival weekend, all ten chefs cooked together for the first time at an exclusive tasting dinner at The Ritz-Carlton. To be continued…
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