Remember how I talked about how I love my life? Well part of the reason I love it so much is that I have fantastic fabulous friends. Take for instance my partner-in-crime Sabrina of the Tomato Tart, who I presented with at BlogHer Food on design and branding (the post about our session is coming – really). Sabrina had asked me, after her first choice fell through, to accompany her to the Fourth Annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival back in April when she received tickets from Foodbuzz. I certainly didn’t mind being the second choice. The festival, in fact, inspired me to make a fairly elaborate dessert suitable for a dinner party, of which, this is just one component: The Strawberry Marshmallow.
Sabrina and I headed down to Pebble Beach on Friday, bright and early to drive down and check into our hotel in Monterey. Though the trip down was uneventful, our early arrival at the hotel didn’t quite work out as they told use it was too early to check in. So we headed over to the festival only to hit another snafu. After driving around endlessly in the gated community area (boy, it’s confusing) when we finally arrived to check in, our tickets were not there.
After much calling back and forth with Sabrina’s contact at Foodbuzz who had arranged for the tickets, we ended up missing a good chunk of the Belgian Beer Lunch that we were scheduled to attend which was located at a different part of Pebble Beach. To compensate, the Pebble Beach Food & Wine people ended up walking us into a Sustainable Delicacies from the Sea luncheon over at Roy’s.
We sat down with some fantastic people (Bill & Cindy, Jack & Stephanie) and proceeded to dine on a three course menu of Black Cod with hand pounded pa’i ‘ai from Town Kaimuki, Halibut with spring vegetables & tangerine-tamarind sauce from Passion Fish Restaurant and Hawaiian Shutome with pepeiao mushroom & pork shank cassoulet from Roy’s. The 2009 MacMurry Ranch Chardonnay, which was paired with the halibut was definitely a standout, it’s citrus and fruit notes complimenting the vegetables and tangy sweet sauce.
Of course the dessert from Mindy’s Hot Chocolate Restaurant was pretty fancy schmancy, a frozen chocolate nougat over almond shortbread, chamomile crème fraiche and honey caramel. I later tracked down Chef Mindy Segal and asked her how she made the caramel and she told me the secret was the honey mead wine that she used in it. Now I just gotta get my hands on some mead (is there a RenFaire happening anytime soon?).
Sadly after the lunch our ticket situation did not resolve itself and we ended up finding ourselves free for the rest of the day. We wandered about the Pebble Beach resort area, sticking our heads into places we probably shouldn’t have. Like a large dining room in the midst of being prepared for an event, the chef’s interview room (where I proceeded to make Sabrina sit down and pretend to be a famous chef so I could interview her), a group of very important looking people polishing wine glasses for the cases of bubbly that they were going to serve to rich people, the area where the after hours party was being staged and the staging area where they were the celebrity chefs were to do their cooking demonstrations. I could tell Sabrina was getting nervous with my ballsy behavior so we headed off to find some place to eat (because, you know, we hadn’t eaten enough).
Foodbuzz was very apologetic to us about the ticket mixup, and to make up for it, said they would compensate us for our dinner. So sweet of them, we decided to take them up on their offer and headed over to Stillwater Bar and Grill over at the Resort, which was more seafood (what can I say, Sabrina and I love our seafood). We split an appetizer of Monterey Bay crispy calamari with Haricot Verts, baby artichokes, meyer lemons and a chipolte aioli. Hello fried salty goodness, nice to meet you! I then moved on to the Main Lobster Bisque while Sabrina dined on a selection of oysters on the half shell. Finally Sabrina ended with a great abalone with cappalini and black truffle pasta while I feasted on scallops with lobster mashed potatoes (ok, fine I did lobster and lobster. What can I say? I so rarely get a chance to eat it).
Stuffed to the gills (get it? gills?!? seafood restaurant? nevermind.) we originally opted not to do dessert but the joyous and riotously loud party of eight men seated in our section of the restaurant were gracious enough to tell our server that they wanted to buy us dessert for putting up with them. We went and said hello to them and they apologized for their obnoxious behavior as they were celebrating a few of their 50th birthdays! They then proceeded to try to give us jaigermiester and tequila shots but we politely declined. We bid them adieu, and they said that they hoped they hadn’t interrupted our romantic dinner together and hoped the night wasn’t ruined for both of us. We laughed as we said our romantic dinner together probably would have been more romantic if both our husbands were with us. They guffawed and wished us well.
We left Pebble Beach for our hotel room tired, full and incredulous that we would be turning around to eat even more food at the Pebble Beach Food and Wine festival bright and early in the morning. Swing by here on Wednesday for the second part of the recap and another component of the plated dessert I made, inspired by the festival. In the meanwhile enjoy these homemade marshmallows and remember not to eat them all by themselves, save a few for the final dessert!
For Sabrina’s recap of Pebble Beach Food and Wine event, feel free to visit her blog.
Homemade Strawberry Marshmallows (these are naturally gluten free)
I’ve made marshmallows a couple of times and each time I marvel at how fresh homemade marshmallows taste versus the store bought ones, which taste stale and overly sweet in comparison. There are many ways to make marshmallows, but I prefer to make them with egg whites, which give the marshmallows a bounce and spring that you don’t get with marshmallows without them. Keep in mind that you won’t be cooking the egg whites so use fresh eggs whites that you comfortable with, or if salmonella is an issue, use pasteurized egg whites or egg white powder.
This recipe uses freeze dried strawberries. Freeze dried strawberries can be found at specialty stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.
1 large egg white
1/8 teaspoon of salt (a generous pinch)
1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar (a generous pinch)
1/2 cup cold water, divided
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin powder (1 1/2 packages)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup or invert sugar
1/4 teaspoon lemon oil
17 grams freeze dried strawberries, crushed to a powder (about 2 tablespoons)
1/2 cup or more confectioners’ sugar for dusting
1. Lightly spray a 9 x 9 inch square pan with a neutral flavored cooking oil. Dust generously with confectioner’s sugar.
2. Place egg white, salt and cream of tartar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a wire whisk. Turn to high and beat the egg white until it holds stiff peaks. Scoop out the whites and place in another bowl. Wipe the bowl and wire whisk clean with a paper towel and pour 1/4 cup of the cold water in the bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin powder over the water to soften.
3. Place the remaining 1/4 cup water, sugar, and corn syrup (or invert sugar) in a large heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a heat proof spatula, until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid is clear. Increase the heat to medium and boil the sugar syrup until it reaches the soft ball stage (a drop of the syrup in a glass of cold water forms a soft ball – around 240˚F). It should take about five or six minutes so pay attention and don’t let the sugar overcook or carmelize.
4. Once the sugar syrup reaches the right temperature, pour it into the bowl of soften gelatin and cold water and stir until the gelatin has dissolved. Add the lemon oil and strawberry powder and turn the mixer on to high and whip until the mixture turns white, thick and triples in volume, about six minutes.
5. Once the mixture has reached the right volume, turn off the mixer. Add the whites and then slowly turn the mixer on to low. Slowly beat the whites in, increasing the speed to high to incorporate the white completely.
6. Pour/scrape with a spatula the marshmallow into the prepared pan and spread evenly to the edges. I found the marshmallow really sticky, so dusted my hands and the top of the marshmallow most confectioners’ sugar and patted the marshmallows to the edges with my hands. Generously dust the top of the marshmallow and place the marshmallow in the fridge for at least three hours or overnight.
7. To remove, just use a thin knife on the edge of the marshmallow, and peel the marshmallow out of the pan, onto a cutting board. Cut the marshmallows into squares using a well oiled chef’s knife, or oil cookie cutters and cut out fun shapes. Dust the sides of the marshmallow with confectioners’ sugar as well to keep them from sticking to each other.