We last attended on August 2013, when the event was still called SF Chefs and it was under a big white tent in Union Square. We wrote about it: Party in Your Mouth! SF Chefs 2013 Grand Tasting Tent.
This year we gathered for the Saturday Evening Grand Tasting at Eat Drink SF, which is now held at Fort Mason (we love this waterfront location with gorgeous views). We splurged on the VIP tickets; it was expensive but well worth it. Access to the event 45 minutes early made a huge difference, and the VIP lounge was OK (they needed lots more seating and in my opinion, a more relaxing/spa-like vibe so you could regroup and venture out again, instead of more food and wine booths). Still, well worth it!
It is an impressive event where you can enjoy tastings of wine, beer, liquor and more than 35 of the Bay Area’s top restaurants. Yes you can go back for seconds! Since it is all under one roof now, there are chefs & bartenders that do demonstrations on the main stage and an area for the San Francisco Wine School Beverage Classroom.
Since we were able to enter the event 45 minutes early, it does get very crowded later in the evening, it gave us a great opportunity to get a quick overview, speak with some of the Chefs as they were doing their last minute prep. We identified libations and restaurants that we knew and wanted to taste and others that we had never heard of and caught our eye.
Who knew that Ca’Momi had restaurants or that Fogo de Chao just opened in SF? Both served delicious bites. It can be overwhelming – there is ice cream and pastries (some like to start with that) foie gras, delicate bites, braised pork, delicious broths, Serrano ham, Mezzeta olives, olive oil, burgers and lots of different wines, beers, port, liquor and even Pure Leaf Tea and Pellegrio Sparkling water. We also noticed lots of “photo booths” this year from Beaujolais Wines, Taiwan Tourism Brewery dumplings and Celebrity Cruises.
We divided to conquer, and although there was no possible way we could taste everything, there were some clear standouts that the group agreed on.
Our Go-to Beer = Stella Artois, they were also pouring Cidre. I think they have been at this event every year and they are very generous with their beautiful Stella Chalice glasses (I think you can take them with you, we did) and a full pour. Also at the event was Trumer Pils and the San Francisco Brewers Guild Craft Beer bar with 5 different brewers.
Best Bite = Parallel37, Michael Rotondo, none of us had actually been to this restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton in SF, it is now at the top of our list to visit. I am sure the Chef would describe it better, but it was a delicious broth poured, as we approached, over the noodles and garnish. It was delicate and robust at the same time. Just delicious!
Touching Moment = J.Lohr Carol’s Vineyard, in all the craziness of the event, we tasted a delicious Cabernet Sauvignon, and enjoyed meeting Carol Lohr’s daughter who told us about her mother and how they donate $2 for every bottle purchased of the Carol’s Vineyard Cab and Sauv Blanc to the National Beast Cancer Foundation. We bike to their tasting room in San Jose, so will have to keep that in mind next time we visit!
Amazing Pastries = Cafe Madeleine, out of this world! The biggest compliment I can think of is that around 9:30 pm there were LOTS of Chefs in white jackets who had left their stations and were tasting these beautiful and delicious pastries. We chose chocolate and caramel and that was our last bite of the evening.
Not sure when, but we will definitely be back to this event. Now we need to “prepare” for the Lake Tahoe Autumn Food & Wine Festival