SF Chefs 2010
Well, for the month of August, that is quite possible.
The truth is, there are a lot of food and wine-centric events all over the Bay Area this month, and it can definitely be intense, particularly for those who spend their time professionally involved with food. Events such as Taste of the Nation Napa Valley, SF Chefs 2010, the SF Street Food Festival, and Oakland’s Eat Real Festival (to name a few) are enough to make anyone’s belly ache! I like to consider Bay Area food lovers lucky, as long as they remember to pace themselves.
Of all of these, SF Chefs 2010 is perhaps the most anticipated and celebrated. Some have called the event San Francisco’s answer to the Aspen Food & Wine Classic, and for it’s second year, the event was expanded to a week long extravaganza to celebrate the local and regional flavors of the Bay Area.
The list of participating chefs, restaurants, wineries, mixologists and sponsors reads like a culinary Who’s Who, and it’s a fantastic way for both food industry professionals and food and wine enthusiasts to share and learn their way around some of the Bay Area’s best culinary talents. It is also a great way to support the Golden Gate Scholarship Foundation.
There were industry seminars (I’ll post about one next), demos at Macy’s and Williams Sonoma, a variety of classes, SF Chefs showcase menus during Restaurant Week, happy hours and after parties. And of course, Grand Tastings.
Thanks to the folks at POM Wonderful, I was able to attend the Saturday Grand Tasting at SF Chefs. What a fete! Upon entering the massive tent, the chilly SF “summer” weather became a distant memory as I was enveloped in a what felt like a greenhouse of food and wine.
I fought the crowds to my first stop: POM Wonderful’s Double Bubble Lounge. I was really eager to see their space at the Grand Tasting, and to taste the POM-inspired food and drinks! After having so much fun contributing to the POM Summer Menu Series, I couldn’t wait to see what the experts created.
The Double Bubble Lounge was uber-swanky and draped in red velvet — a great space to hide from the massive buzz of the big food circus. POM did a really amazing job creating a hip vibe, and partnered with a few San Francisco restaurants to create some of the best tastes at SF Chefs. I promise you that I am not saying this because I am biased – I truthfully believe that everything I tasted in the POM lounge was absolutely delicious.
Chef Hugo Campos from Bar Adagio created a Roasted Pork with POMegranate Mostarda and Chipotle that was absolutely fantastic. Tender shreds of pork glistening with a glaze of POM and chipotle delivered the perfect blend of sweet and savory to your taste buds. And I absolutely fell head over heels in love with the POM Panna Cotta with Pink Peppercorn Brittle that Chef Ryan Barnett of Cafe Andree created. Velvety smooth and with the tang of buttermilk, I could have eaten a whole bowl. I will definitely be making this dessert very soon, and have included the recipes for both dishes at end of this post.
With those delicious POM tastes and potions in my belly, I was energized and ready to explore the rest of SF Chefs.
An audience was captivated by the energetic Tony Abou-Ganim.
There were delicious bites from over 25 participating restaurants. These were some of my favorites.
With over 30 wineries, and a good number of distilleries and breweries, it was refreshing to find some non-alcoholic beverages. The iced teas from Mighty Leaf provided much needed relief from the hot tent!
Now, there were, of course, some notable tastes. These were, to me, the best bites of SF Chefs 2010, in no particular order:
There were all forms of bruschetta at SF Chefs 2010, and understandably so, as crostinis are perhaps one of the easiest vehicles to deliver bites in a tasting setting. But some did it better than others. Chef Ryan Scott of Ryan Scott 2 Go (you may also recognize him from Top Chef: Chicago) offered a Pickled Cherry Tomato Bruschetta with Goat Cheese & Broccoli Rabe Pistou that set off little flavor fireworks in my mouth. The goat cheese was perfectly smooth and tangy, there was a lovely zing from the tomato, and the pistou just rounded out the flavors perfectly. Fantastic.
Sheri Tate, the creator of Silver Moon Desserts, offered the sweetest and most refreshing taste of the day: her newly released Lavender Limoncello Sorbet, served with a homemade Lavender Cookie. Her delightful sorbets and ice cream combine the freshest dessert flavors with sublime liqueurs, and she was a joy to meet, as well.
The Thai Style Grilled Prawn Salad created by Chef Darren Lacy of Luques Restaurant was perfectly balanced. The prawns were succulent, the vegetables crisp and lightly dressed, and the crisp fried shallots added the perfect crunch and smokiness to round out the plate. The team behind Luques Restaurant worked so hard to dish out their tastes as quickly and beautifully as possible.
And finally, spoonfuls of quintessential San Francisco: Dungeness Crab Cakes with Saffron Aioli by Chef Mark Dommen of One Market Restaurant. Chef Dommen assembled armies of wooden spoons carrying tender morsels of dungeness crab; the light but perfect seasoning truly showcased the crab perfectly.
Have these tastes inspired you? I do hope so! Here are some recipes that will give you a taste of SF Chefs 2010 in your own home.
Roasted Pork with POMegranate Mostarda and Chipotle
Recipe courtesy of Chef Hugo Campos and POM Wonderful
- 3-4 lbs 1 Pork Butt Roast, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup Worcestershire Sauce
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup apple juice
- 1/4 cup POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 8 oz chipotle
- 2 each, Quinces or Pears, peeled, cored & chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
- 2 cups light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup each raisins, chopped apricots and chopped figs
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
- coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Bring all ingredients except salt and pepper to a boil in a large pot. Reduce heat, and simmer until fruit is very soft and sauce reduces, about 2 hours. Let cool slightly. Refrigerate overnight.
POM Panna Cotta
Recipe courtesy of Chef Ryan Barnett and POM Wonderful
- 1 1/2 cup POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate juice, plus 3 additional tablespoons
- 2 tsp unflavored gelatin
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 each orange zest
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 1/2 cup buttermilk
- non stick cooking spray
Sprinkle gelatin over 3 tablespoons of POM, allow to set for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, reduce 1 1/2 cups POM by half with the orange zest and sugar, remove from heat. Add gelatin mixture to pot and stir until dissolved. Add orange juice, cream, then buttermilk. Strain through fine mesh strainer. Lightly spray 6 6-oz ramekins with spray oil. Divide panna cotta evenly between ramekins and chill for at least 4 hours, chilling overnight is recommended.