Sunday, April 13, 2014

pigs & pinot

A few years ago, my friend Judy, brought me to the town of Healdsburg, CA when we were out visiting her family in San Francisco. I've always loved Napa, which surely stems from my mom's love of Napa. But Healdsburg is a hidden gem of wine country (although maybe not for too much longer as they were just named the No 2 small town to visit in Smithsonian Magazine). It's a small walking town filled with great food and wine but with an undertone of community that I find magnetic. The people are friendly, and the dogs are happy. The food is vibrant. The wine is some of the best. Everyone seems to be trying to make everything there enjoyable.

When I was there with Judy and her family, we stayed at the Hotel Healdsburg and ate at Charlie Palmer’s restaurant – Dry Creek Kitchen. I remember like it was yesterday how creamy the risotto was. I talked about it for weeks—it had an egg in it too. It was a dining experience to remember. When I got back home I did what any person obsessed with food does, I googled Charlie. I had seen him on TV before but I didn’t know that much about him. His food provoked me to want to know more. When researching I read about an event he puts on every year called Pigs & Pinot. Just from the name it sounded wonderful. The few years that followed I was too sick and waiting for new lungs to try and attend this event. But as soon as I got my second lungs and was able to travel I knew one of the first things I needed to do! The first year tickets went on sale, I couldn’t believe it, but the event sold out before I hit purchase! I ended up spending a week in Healdsburg in December for my 30th birthday, that held me over, but I knew when Pigs & Pinot came around the following year I was not missing out! And thankfully I didn’t. 

We arrived on Friday night at The Healdsburg Hotel. And a few hours later we were engorging ourselves with everything pork. Each bite of pork (I think there were 60 participants) that entered my mouth was heaven. I didn’t even care about the pinot—food supersedes everything to me. I wanted nothing to distract my taste buds!

The next day we attended The Ultimate Pinot Smackdown where 16 wines and 4 sommeliers competed for the winning title of best pinot. This was an amazing concept (think basketball and the sweet 16) and event.  Each sommelier stood up and defended the wines they chose against each other. It was brilliant. And so much fun! In the end Soliste, which was fantastic, ending up winning. 

Our last event was A Gala Dinner in Dry Creek Kitchen with five courses, each accompanied by different two wines. My favorite course—Macaroni alla Norcini with pork sausage, black truffle, and parmigiano made by Frank Crispo of Crispo in New York was literally some of the best pasta I’ve ever tasted my entire life. This was a pretty fancy event, so I didn't break out the IPhone to snap any pictures. Regretfully!

We stayed an extra day just so we could enjoy dinner at Chalkboard—one of my favorite restaurants of all time. They make a pork belly biscuit that is not of this world! They are based on small bites, so you can have the chance to taste a lot. The food is incredible while the atmosphere is just easy and simple. My favorite.     


I can't wait to return next year!