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Foodie heaven at Eat Drink SF

Cold Maine Lobster
Cold Maine LobsterMelissa Vogt

Eat Drink SF was held this year on August 1 – 3 in San Francisco's Fort Mason Center. This epic, three day foodie extravaganza showcased the best of the best in culinary expertise, excellent winemaking, great craft beer making, and innovative mixology. Throughout the three days, events included several grand tastings—which featured mini cooking demonstrations and wine tasting seminars—as well as a host of additional activities such as mixology courses, food and wine pairing experiences, cooking demonstrations, blind wine tasting exercises, and wine tasting seminars. Foodies, beer drinkers, wine enthusiasts, and cocktail lovers everywhere would agree that Eat Drink SF is nothing short of a palate's paradise.

Eat Drink SF 2014
Eat Drink SF 2014Melissa Vogt

One of the highlights during the grand tastings was the presence of Wines of Portugal—an organization dedicated to promoting Portuguese wine across the world. Wines of Portugal has always had a presence in San Francisco with their annual grand tasting event and seeing them at Eat Drink SF couldn't be any more appropriate, given the food friendliness of many Portuguese wines—such as Alvarinho and Touriga Nacional. Alvarinho is a rich, mineral-laden white with primarily stone fruit and citrus flavors. It is a full bodied wine that tastes delicious young, but also has the potential to age. The 2012 Delaforce Alvarinho from the Duoro region of Portugal—poured for guests at Eat Drink SF—expresses minerality on the nose and bright acid on the palate, followed by flavors of grapefruit. This wine paired perfectly with the cold Maine lobster dish prepared by Srijith Gopinathan, the Executive Chef at Campton Place Restaurant.

The cold Main lobster dish, which was made with coconut, lime, and brown rice, heightens the grapefruit and citrus notes in the Portuguese Alvarinho. The creamy coconut matches the body of the wine and the lime enhances the acidity, making the wine more crisp and bright on the palate—a lovely combination.

As far as wine goes, the other producer who stood out was Calista Wines—located in Sonoma County and producing fantastic Pinot Noir made from fruit grown in several AVAs across the states of California. It is clear that the focus of Calista Wines is on high quality Pinot Noir because they source their fruit from AVAs that exhibit perfect terroir for growing Pinot Noir: Anderson Valley in Mendocino County, Russian River Valley in Sonoma County, Edna Valley in San Luis Obispo County, and Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey County. Each Pinot Noir has a distinct nose and exhibits unique flavor profiles that reflect the soil type and climate of their vineyards, as well as the barrel aging and winemaking techniques

The 2012 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir possesses warmer fruit flavors, such as strawberry and raspberry, than its Santa Lucia Highlands counterpart—which tastes of cranberry and orange zest. The Russian River Valley 2012 Pinot Noir is different from both the Anderson Valley and Santa Lucia because it is earthy with notes of cocoa and herb on the nose and palate, with darker fruit flavors and a fuller body.

Pinot Noir pairs perfectly with pork and the bacon wrapped dates from Gitane Restaurant and Bar in San Francisco were no exception. A bite of this dish with a sip of Calista Wines Pinot Noir and the interactions pops on the palate. Executive Chef Michael Zito impressed guests with this dish, which had just the right amount of balance between sweet and savory flavors. The salty, fatty bacon was an excellent contrast to the rich, sweet date—making this bite-size treat melt in the mouth.

Executive Chef Bradley Ceynowa of Pizza Antica in San Jose dished up succulent porchetta with onions and wild fennel aioli. The porchetta was delightfully tender with both sweet and savory flavors alongside a touch of lemon and herb in the aioli—add that to a soft potato roll and you've got a mouth full of goodness. Heading in the opposite culinary direction was Executive Chef Mark Richardson of MKT Restaurant and Bar in San Francisco. Richardson's salmon tartare with crème fraiche was delicate yet flavorful. The salmon tartare was incredibly fresh and when coupled with the slightly tart crème fraiche, the flavors burst on the palate. The homemade cones that this dish was served in provided great contrast in texture and made the dish easy to nosh on while walking around the event.

The corn mousse with Parmesan and buttermilk, prepared by Executive Chef Marc Tennison of Cupola Pizzeria in San Francisco, was unique and satisfying. This dish was tart, creamy, and sweet with just a touch of spice. The palate experienced a full range of flavors and the fresh, raw corn on top provided fantastic contrast in texture.

Every dish served at Eat Drink SF was a true culinary masterpiece—showcasing just how much talent chefs in the Bay area possess and how well they are able to execute fantastic flavor profiles and textures. Couple these talented chefs with the mastery of local winemaking, craft beer making and mixology, and Eat Drink SF becomes the most highly anticipated foodie event of the year.