Thanks to the graciousness of my host, the Richmond Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, I was able to attend the VIP reception and the Food & Wine Classic – both over the top events with scrumptious food by world-class chefs and outstanding food and spirits.
Upon entering the Wallis Annenberg building for the VIP reception, we were greeted by a human fresco of models in a reflecting pool dressed as – I’m not sure exactly what, but you can see the photo – with streams of water jetting from their fingertips. The trio of women were striking poses while creating fascinating patterns with their spray of water. Meanwhile the smells of tasty food, sounds of music and the tinkle of wine glasses filled the hall.
If you’ve sampled wine, you’ve undoubtedly tried cheese and wine pairings. In typical LA-style, the Food & Wine Classic jacked up this concept with the help of the Cheese Impresario. There were four stations pairing Wisconsin cheese with a variety of spirits. Our first sampling was Widmer’s 6-Year Vintage Cheddar. The pairing included High West Distillery’s Rendezvous Rye Whiskey. The whiskey sounded great to me, but since I had a 7:00 AM flight the next morning (which meant I had to get up at 4:30), I figured I wouldn’t last long if I started with whiskey sampling.
We stopped by the Malibu Family Wines table and I was soon enjoying their 2007 Saddlerock Pinot Noir. I had never heard of MFW until the Classic. The winery claims to integrate new-world technology with old-world artistry. The vines are grown at high altitude in rocky soil. Wines are aged in a combination of French and American Oak. The Pinot was smooth and rewarding, pairing well with the cheese samples. Soon after returning home I was watching a travel program about LA and, sure enough, there was a feature on Malibu Family Wines.
Other cheeses offered were a Raspberry BellaVitana, which had a Parmesan flavor and creamy texture of Cheddar. The cheese is soaked in raspberry tart ale to bring out its fruity notes. This cheese was awesomely delicious.
My third and final cheese tasting was the Vintage Van Gough. Crafted in limited quantities, this creamy Gouda is aged six months to create a golden body and rich flavor with undertones of caramel and coffee.
The Classic was an indoor-outdoor affair with outdoor food trucks (serving gourmet treats) and beer garden and the bulk of the wine tasting going on inside the California Science Center. From the Border Grill Truck I sampled a Green Corn Tamale Cone and the Butter Chicken and Channa from the India Jones Food Truck.
Some of the dishes included Mexican Shrimp Ceviche with Chipotle and Jicama, Spicy Lamb Meatballs with Pefumes of Morocco and Harissa Glaze, Kushi Katsu Skewetrs, and Burmese Melon Salad. Tourism Canada hosted a tempting Canadian Ale Trail which featured great beers such as Devil’s Elbow and Diamond Head Oatmeal Stout.
Inside the California Science Center, the party was rollicking. We avoided a table with Sutter Home wines and headed to a table hosted by the Broadmoor which was featuring wine from Infinite Monkey Theorem. I was hoping for the 2008 100th Monkey, but since it was unavailable, I grabbed an Infinite Monkey Sauvignon Blanc, which I found enjoyable although a bit subdued. I imagine it is far better than the “limited” monkey Sauvignon Blanc.
We then climbed the stairs and headed to the Sonoma County Tourism Bureau for a wonderful spread 14 different wines. I started with the Thomas George Viognier. This is a dry white with citrus notes with nice aromatics. Next was the Foppiano Vineyards Petite Sirah. This is an inky black wine with blackberry and blueberry flavors. It has a hint of spice on the finish.
We wrapped up with the Deerfield Water Dog Cuvee, this is a Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah blend. It is a full bodied wine that was enjoyable, but I couldn’t get the imagined smell of a wet dog out of my mind – so I’d really need to try this again to give it a fair trial.
The party continued to roll with the outstanding music of 50 Amp Fuse, a delectable assortment of finger foods and desserts, and some yet untasted wines. Regrettably I had to leave those wines for next year and I walked through the evening shadows and boarded the shuttle back to my hotel room.