A tasty weekend at Pebble Beach Food & Wine
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. - Playing the par-3 seventh hole is one of the most magical moments at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
You're perched high above a tiny green surrounded by bunkers with nothing but rocks, waves and the Pacific Ocean on the horizon. The 2019 Celebrity Chef & Winemaker Golf Tournament, the opening event of Pebble Beach Food & Wine, took the experience to a whole new level last week. Stationed in a tent behind the tee, Bodega Garzon, a winery from Uruguay, was serving its finest bottles of Balasto and Pinot Noir Rose. That made the setting even more intoxicating. Pun intended.
Bodega Garzon, the New World Winery of the year in 2018, had a sizable presence at Pebble Beach Food & Wine, where the world's finest chefs and wineries gather every spring to showcase their best. In addition to the perfect perch overlooking the seventh green, Bodega Garzon poured plenty more wine during the PBFW Opening Night gala held April 11 at the Inn at Spanish Bay. Argentinian Francis Mallman - Bodega Garzon's celebrity chef - was the only chef to sell out his cooking presentations early both nights, Friday and Saturday. I sampled the magnificence of Mallman and his open-fire cooking concepts during a trip to Uruguay last fall. As I was walking in the door, I heard one woman tell her husband: "I can't believe I just met Francis Mallman!"
Celebrity Chef & Winemaker Golf Tournament
Full disclure: I played in the golf outing as a guest of Bodega Garzon. True to the event, the outing kicked off with a champagne toast near the famous first tee.
Watching the pros play Pebble Beach on TV, it's easy to forget how small these greens are until you try to hit one yourself. The fairways have been grown in significantly in preparation for the 2019 U.S. Open. Even in a scramble format, it was a accomplishment that one of our four balls found a fairway and a green in regulation.
Food and drink stations were set up near the 17th hole, where an ace won a Lexus, and between the 13th green and 14th tee. I never dreamed in my life I would be eating oysters on the half-shell while playing Pebble Beach, but that's what participants do at Pebble Beach Food & Wine.
There are some drawbacks to playing Pebble Beach in an outing. The round backed up considerably on the dramatic eighth hole, which wasn't a surprise considering corporate scrambles attract once-a-year golfers and the tee and approach shots are two of the toughest on the whole course. Whipping winds didn't make things easier.
Our group finished 3-under-par with bogeys on two famous holes - No. 8 and No. 18. We celebrated post-round, as every foursome should, with drinks and fellowship in the Tap Room inside the Lodge. With The Masters on the tube, the day couldn't have been better ... unless I had won the car.
PBFW Opening Night
The transformation of the Inn at Spanish Bay was quite spectacular that evening. People, dressed up to the nines, mobbed every public space - the lobby, banquet and meeting rooms and both restaurants, Roy's and Peppoli - to sample small plates from chefs and wines from all around the world. There was even a whiskey room for those opposed to grapes. I dined on bites of crab cake, lamb, bread pudding, pastas and specialty chocolates.
Chefs vying to qualify for the World Pasta Championship in Italy performed under pressure in one room, whipping up creations to be critiqued by judges. Spectators gathered around their kitchens in awe. I could see their every move by watching mirrors placed above their work stations.
The rest of the weekend offered the opportunity to attend smaller sessions for cooking exhibitions and intimate meals. As hard as it is to believe, there are a couple special events a year where golf actually takes a back seat at Pebble Beach. The PBFW is one of these rare instances, but for people who love both, it's beyond heaven on earth.
"For me, this is epic," said Christian Wylie, the general manager at Bodega Garzon who played Pebble Beach for the first time in 25 years.
To get a taste of the weekend, pun intended again, sample the photo gallery below.
A champagne toast kicks off a golf outing at Pebble Beach Food & Wine. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Rick Durette drains a putt on the 11th green at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
This pizza stop was one of several food stations during a golf outing at Pebble Beach Food & Wine. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Kevin Forsaith prepares to tee off on the 18th hole at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Wildflowers bloom near the fifth tee at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Kevin Forsaith tees off on the sixth tee at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Hitting over the cliffs on No. 8 is the most intimidating shot at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
The Inn at Spanish Bay turns into a celebration of wine tasting and small plates dining at Pebble Beach Food & Wine. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Uruguay's Bodega Garzon was one of the many wineries showcased at Pebble Beach Food & Wine.
Every display at Pebble Beach Food & Wine is a work of art. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Guests of Pebble Beach Food & Wine's opening night gala could also watch chefs attempt to qualify for the Pasta World Championship. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Talented chefs prepare food right before your eyes at Pebble Beach Food & Wine. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Save room for dessert at Pebble Beach Food & Wine. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor