The 4th annual Food & Wine Festival Palm Desert’s first Grand Tasting event, “California Dreamin,” kicked off at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 22, introducing the Coachella Valley to the month’s hottest culinary accessory suitable for everyone over 21 — brilliant orange wine glass neck holsters provided by Trio Restaurant that signified access to the festival’s tents.
Throughout the day, the tribe of tasters wandered from tent to tent in a state of bliss, noshing on delicacies from more than 40 restaurants, sipping vino from some of the world’s top wineries, and sampling rum, tequila, beer, and vodka along the way.
One of the day’s highlights was watching Chef Valerie Gordon, owner of Valerie Confections in Los Angeles, as she whipped up berry pies, bringing audience members up to help stir and then sharing slices with everyone at the end of the demo. She stayed to autograph copies of her first cookbook, Sweet, while The Fabulous Beekman Boys, Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge, put together a “brunch for ladies who lunch” in front of a packed crowd next door.
Other chefs cooking and sharing their creations included the Hearty Boys; François de Mélogue (Figue Mediterranean Restaurant), Chris Mitchum (Lantana Restaurant Hyatt Regency Indian Wells), Johannes Bacher (Johannes), Deborah Scott (Cohn Restaurant Group), Andie Hubka (Cork & Fork), Jon Tice (Tinto at the Saguaro Palm Springs), Gale Gand (Elawa Farm), Alex Reznik (Ditmas Kitchen & Cocktail), and Julie Pech (Chocolate Therapist).
Sunset magazine’s wine editor Sara Schneider presented one of the most interesting and esoteric of the day’s wine seminars, pairing wines with specialty nuts from Emerald Nuts. “It seemed a bit crazy at first,” she said, “but of course everyone has cocktail hours, and sooner or later everyone puts out nuts to go with the drinks. Why not do it right?”
No matter what their culinary preferences, attendees found a plethora of gastronomic pleasures at every turn.