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Pebble Beach Food and Wine 2010: April 8-11, Pebble Beach, CA

Once upon at time, there was but one major event for food and wine enthusiasts looking to experience some of the top chefs and wines of the United States. The Aspen Food and Wine Classic was the ultimate experience for epicures and wine lovers who could afford to attend the multi-day showcase of taste. Other events equally focused on bringing together fine food and wine and the people who love them have followed.

Strangely, for many years none of these events took place in California. Eventually, though, some people realized the travesty represented by this fact, and started an event pbfw_2010.jpgcalled the Masters of Food and Wine, which for several years provided credible proof of California's stature in the food and wine scene, and allowed thousands of people to experience the ultimate food and wine experience.

But through an unfortunate series of events, the Masters went away. But there were enough people who had seen, and indeed, been responsible for, the quality of experience that could be offered, and the willingness of so many to attend, to simply let that be the end of the story.

And so two years ago, a couple of enterprising young men invented Pebble Beach Food and Wine, with the goal of taking the whole idea to the next level. Which essentially means providing the country's most exclusive and remarkable dining, drinking, and learning opportunities available in the world of food and wine.

Pebble Beach Food and Wine is now in its third year and despite the lingering effects of the global economic crisis, they are still managing to put on an event featuring some of the absolute top chefs in the world cooking for groups of 150-200 people, giving detailed cooking demonstrations, and opportunities to have sommeliers pour some of the world's most sought-after wines into waiting glasses.

No matter what your yardstick, it's hard not to have this event measure up to the title of the ultimate food and wine experience of its kind. They will have Thomas Keller, Christopher Kostow, Alain Passard, Jacques Pepin, Laurent Tourondel, Rick Tramonto, Charlie Trotter, and many more giving cooking demonstrations and making elaborate meals for attendees. They will offer the opportunity to taste wines that range from a cellar selection of Sine Qua Non, to a comprehensive tasting of the BOND portfolio, to a retrospective tasting of Domaine Romanee Conti's Eschezeaux, to a tasting of all the 1990 Bordeaux First Growths. The server to guest ratio hovers around 1 to 5. The sommelier to guest ratio is around 1 to 4. And so on, and so forth, all set amidst the backdrop of Pebble Beach and the Inn at Spanish Bay in Carmel, California.

While this is certainly an over-the-top event, the organizers have incredibly made it as accessible as possible to as many people that want to attend. You can spend $175 to attend the grand tasting -- an afternoon of wine tasting where every four or five tables or so you'll find one of the country's best chefs making canapes for you to enjoy with your wine; just $100 to attend one of the smaller format tastings; or you can spend $4750 for a package that includes four days of VIP access to any of the events. Every single event is available as an a-la-carte ticket, in addition to being included in their package deals.

If I wasn't getting my remaining two wisdom teeth extracted a few days before the event, you can bet I'd be down there for the grand tasting at least, especially given the list of 250 wineries pouring (all of which are there by invite only) and 48 chefs cooking. You can see the list, and find out many more details on all the activities on the event web site.

Pebble Beach Food and Wine Experience 2010
Thursday, April 8th - Sunday, April 11th
Pebble Beach Resort
Carmel, CA 93953

Tickets should be purchased in advance on the event web site, and start at $100. Obviously, those wishing to stay for multiple days need to arrange lodging, either at Pebble Beach in conjunction with the event (it can be purchased with your tickets), or elsewhere.

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud