Bacon Peanut Brittle and the Pebble Beach Food and Wine Recap Part 2

by Irvin on June 29, 2011 · 9 comments

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I wrote about our first day at the Pebble Beach Food and Wine already, and the food that made me feel like I was a rich sophisticated person. I’m so NOT a rich sophisticated person. But I can pretend can’t I? Sabrina and I got dressed in our “Resort Casual” wear (this was what Pebble Beach recommended we dress in, and when I consulted with my friend Peter, the fanciest friend I know, he explained that it was what one would wear to a fancy hotel in Hawaii, so now you know). Day two was packed for us, including two fantastic breakout sessions and the legendary Tasting Pavilion. It was at the Tasting Pavilion that I got my inspiration for my plated dessert, which included the strawberry marshmallow that I previously posted about, as well as this garnish for the dessert, a Bacon Peanut Brittle that is incredibly addictive all on it’s own.

Bacon Peanut Brittle jpg

Bacon Peanut Brittle

I’m going to be honest here and tell you wasn’t completely convinced by the idea of waking up early to drive over to the Pebble Beach resort (and to try and navigate the windy roads) to eat grill cheese and drink wine at 10am. But I knew that all you readers of this blog would want to hear the blow-by-blow details, and I’m a giver that way, so I dragged myself out of bed and hopped in the car with Sabrina to go and eat cheese and drink wine for breakfast.

MELT Grilled Cheese and Great Wines with Laura Werlin jpg

MELT: Grilled Cheese and Great Wines with Laura Werlin

However, Laura Werlin, author of Grilled Cheese, Please!, made it all worth the effort of waking up. This is her second book on Grilled Cheese (with rumors that she’s working on a third book in the Lord of the Grilled Cheese trilogy) and I can truly say that these were the fanciest, best grilled cheese sandwiches that I’ve ever had at 10 am in the morning at a food festival. Actually, I jest, but they were darn good, and surprisingly different from each other. Starting with sampling plate of the cheeses that were in the grilled cheese, Sabrina and I couldn’t help but grin every time we took a bite of the cheese, and a sip of the wine. How can you not love cheese and wine, any time of the day?

Sabrina doing the food blogger thing. jpg

Sabrina doing the food blogger thing.

I had a pretty wonderful time with Laura guiding us through each of the grilled cheese sandwiches, telling us a little bit about how to build your own grill cheese and what makes a grilled cheese sandwich good. Laura was approachable, humorous and fun, leading us our morning grilled cheese journey and giving us sage advice on how to pair wine with cheese. For instance lighter cheeses go with light wine, cow milk goes well with Chardonnay, semi hard goes well with reds and salty cheese balances well with sweet wines.

Laura Werlin

The sassy Laura Werlin. Check out her guns!

Our cheese platter included Cypress Grove Chevre “Humboldt Fog”, Marin French Cheese Company “Camembert”, Entremont Vieille Reserve Comté, Kerrygold Dubliner, Holland’s Family Farm “Marieke Aged Gouda”, Bel Gioioso Creamy Gorgonzola, and an added bonus cheese, the River’s Edge Sunset Bay Chevre (which was lost the previous day but found in time for our session! Yay more cheese for us!) The four wines we tasted included a Louis M. Martini Monte Rosso Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, a Bernardus Winery Monterey County 2007 Chardonnay, a Robert Talbott Diamond T Vineyard 2008 Pinot Noir, and a Jackson-Triggs 2001 Icewine Vidal.

Wine and Cheese for breakfast. jpg

Wine and Cheese for breakfast.

The first grilled cheese sandwich, warm from the kitchen, was the California, made with all California ingredients. Sliced California almonds encrusted the top and bottom of the locally made cinnamon raisin bread held together by the Humboldt Fog and Monterey Jack cheese with chipolte chiles suspended inside the dairy goodness. Sweet, spicy, tangy, crunchy all together in one gorgeous bite.

The California grilled cheese

The California grilled cheese

Next up was the Grilled Camembert and Comté sandwich with mushrooms on baguette. Little secret to preparing the sandwich: when slicing the bread, be sure to scoop out some of the inside bread, hollowing it out and giving more room for the cheese and mushrooms to sit inside. I’m so trying this at home next time I make a grilled cheese with a baguette!

Camembert, Comté and Mushroom on baguette grilled cheese jpg

Camembert, Comté and Mushroom on baguette grilled cheese

My favorite grilled cheese came next, the double cheddar sandwich, filled with tomato jam and the outstanding Kerrygold Dubliner. The Dubliner is a pretty unique cheese. If you were to draw a Venn diagram of popular cheeses, with cheddar, parmesan and swiss all circles that overlap each other in a triangle shape, smack in the middle would the Dubliner which shares traits of all three. Why didn’t I know about this cheese before? Pairing it with the sweet bright tomato jam was like a built-in tomato soup. Brilliant.

being served Dubliner with tomato jam grilled cheese jpg

Being served Dubliner with tomato jam grilled cheese by a fancy waiter.

We ended with the hazelnut butter, creamy Gorgonzola, Gouda and honey sandwich, which matched really well with the sweet Icewine. I have a special affinity to Gouda cheese, having spent a year in Holland in high school, where I learned to love Gouda cheese. This Gouda was aged for nine months, by first generation Dutch immigrants who moved to Wisconsin from the Netherlands, about ten years ago. No wonder a bite of it transported me back to my high school years!

Hazelnut butter, gorgonzola and gouda grilled cheese jpg

Hazelnut butter, Gorgonzola and Gouda grilled cheese.

I tweeted throughout the session, making all my twitter friends jealous that I was eating fantastic grilled cheese, even giving Laura her own hashtag of #LauraWerlin before I found out that she had her own twitter handle (the appropriately named @cheezelady). Sabrina and I later had a chance to chat with Laura and she was sweet as the honey on that last sandwich I ate, conversing with us about San Francisco (she’s local!) and how much she loves cheese (well that’s obvious!). As we took off, I played paparrazi and snapped a picture of her with Jacque Pepin and his daughter, Claudine.

Claudine Pépin, Laura Werlin, Jacques Pépin

Claudine Pépin, Laura Werlin, Jacques Pépin

We bounced over to the Tasting Pavilion Tent afterwards and then ended up back at the Inn at Spanish Bay for a session on Port hosted by Ramos Pinto, but you’ll have to come back here on Friday to read about those adventures, and to see where I got inspiration for my dessert. That said, another incredibly addictive component of the plated dessert inspired by my visit to the Tasting Pavilion is this Bacon Peanut Butter Brittle. Super easy to make (as long as you are comfortable making caramel) it’s great as a topping for ice cream or a fancy plated dessert, or all by itself. I know after I made it, AJ kept on nibbling on it, until I told him he had to stop or else there wasn’t going to be any left for my dessert. I still caught him grabbing a piece while I wasn’t looking though. You’ll probably do the same.

Bacon Peanut Brittle jpg

Bacon Peanut Brittle

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosa June 29, 2011 at 5:30 am

A wonderful event! Surely very interesting.

That brittle is to die for! Peanuts and bacon, what devilish combination. *drool*




Lauren at Keep It Sweet June 29, 2011 at 6:47 am

That peanut brittle looks incredible! It would be SO dangerous in my kitchen.


Ericka June 29, 2011 at 11:31 am

Can’t wait to try this recipe! This is great!


Jen @ keepitsimplefoods June 30, 2011 at 2:11 pm

I am a grilled cheese junkie! That California grilled cheese looks mighty good. Sounds like Miss Laura needs to try out my arugula and truffle oil grilled cheese- insane!


Anneliesz June 30, 2011 at 6:58 pm

The double cheddar was my favorite too! I happened upon a Melt talk & tasting at the farmers market a while back. Yum!!!


Emmie July 3, 2011 at 2:28 am

Those cheese sandwiches sound fantastique. And how AWESOME that you met Jacques Pépin!!

This peanut brittle sounds very interesting. I think I’ll briefly ignore my vegetarian thing in order to try this.


Stephanie - Wasabimon July 5, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Um, Irvin? That first photo put me in a diabetic coma. THANKS A LOT, FRIEND.



Marina December 24, 2012 at 11:53 am

Oh my goodness, I just made this brittle as a hostess gift for my dairy/wheat allergic brother. I don’t know if there will be enough left to present to him, it is so good I just kept “tasting” it.


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