Gourmet cuisine, exceptional wines and a cast of culinary celebrities take center stage at this year's Lake Tahoe Autumn Food & Wine Festival Friday to Sunday.
Resort at Squaw Creek is the host resort for the festival. Tickets for the event, which start at $45 for a Friday Passport and $70 for a one-day pass on Saturday and Sunday, as well as special room rates at the Resort at Squaw Creek, are available through Lake Tahoe Central Reservations at 800.824.6348 or online at www.tahoefun.org.
Golf or fish
To kick off the festival, guests can participate in the KitchenAid Golf Tournament ($140), held on the Robert Trent Jones Jr. Squaw Creek course, shown above. Duffers will receive a welcome gift, tournament shirt, tee prizes, lunch and hospitality in the KitchenAid tent. For the rod-and-reel type, a Mackinaw fishing derby will set out at 6 a.m. Friday.
Vertical and horizontal tastings, a unique wine-blending seminar, and open tastings highlight wine events at the festival. Ferrari Carano Winery and Vineyards winemaker, George Bursick, who happens to be a drummer in a rock 'n' roll band aptly named Private Reserve, will lead a hands-on wine-blending seminar. Jed Steele, former Kendall-Jackson winemaker and now owner/winemaker of Steele Vineyards, will pour his single vineyard Sangiacomo Carneros Pinot Noir in a vertical tasting of 1995, 1996,1997, 1998 and a barrel sample of 1999.The Chateau St. Jean horizontal tasting of vineyard designated wines will be presented by Kim Caffrey of Beringer Wine Estates.
Educational presentations, grilling seminars, gourmet cooking classes - including hands-on cooking classes, are part of the culinary show.In the KitchenAid tent, 14 individual cooking stations will give participants an opportunity to cook along with Douglas Dale of Wolfdale's Cuisine Unique, and Keith Luce, former White House chef and executive chef for PlumpJack Restaurant Group.
Joseph Keller, chef/restaurateur of Bouchon in the Napa Valley and the recently opened Josef's, a French brasserie in Las Vegas, will present a seminar on how to buy, cure, smoke and prepare fish.A perennial Autumn Food & Wine Festival favorite, Lars Kronmark, chef-instructor at the Culinary Institute of America, Greystone, Napa, will present the fourth in his series of Autumn Food & Wine seminars.
This year, Chef Kronmark will lead a cooking demonstration on various Mediterranean appetizers such as Spanish tapas, Italian antipasti, tastes of North Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Syria.
Chef John Ash, world-traveler, author and culinary director for Fetzer Vineyards, presents a culinary seminar titled Market Basket Cuisine demonstrating a compete fall vegetarian menu featuring farm fresh ethically grown products. Also at the festival, the effervescent Jennifer Bushman of the Nothing To It! Culinary Center in Reno will offer techniques for year-round outdoor grilling at the Weber grilling seminar.
However, chefs are not the only culinary experts that will be present at this year's festival. Other cuisine-savvy presenters include Shirley Corriher, author of CookWise. Corriher, known as the mad scientist of the kitchen, will deliver tips on cooking techniques and troubleshooting and answer your questions on high-altitude cooking challenges, sauces that break, candies that turn to sugar and bread that won't rise.
Staff food writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, Janet Fletcher - also author of The Cheese Course - features a seminar with the same title as her book.
Creative presentations and pairings of artisan cheeses will be her focus. Jerry Anne Di Vecchio, Food and Wine Editor at Sunset Magazine, brings her broad-spectrum culinary expertise together for her timely seminar on holiday desserts. Ken Lee of Lotus Foods presents antique and heirloom rice from around the world.
Another event not to be missed at this year's festival include the vodka and caviar tasting. Ultra-premium Charbay whole-fruit flavored vodkas will be served with Dean & DeLuca's Sevruga, Beluga and Oesetra caviar.Meet Marko Karakasevic, 13th generation distiller for Domaine Charbay, and David Levine of Dean & DeLuca at this event.
The welcome reception takes place on Saturday night in the Weber Pavilion Tent and will feature live entertainment, wines from around the world, fine cheeses, gourmet products, a book store, the Weber complete line of Grills, the new BMW sport utility vehicle and the Sunset Magazine center.
On Sunday, the Culinary Competition and Grand Tasting provides the pinnacle to the festival. Over 30 of Lake Tahoe's premiere restaurants will be paired with exquisite wines. The key: each sumptuous dish is prepared to match the texture and character of the wine chosen for the pairing.Bill Ryan, retired vice president of Beringer Wine Estates, heads a panel of judges to determine the winning restaurant/wine of the Culinary Competition.Each attendee to the festival will be able to cast a ballot in the Peoples Choice Award.
A wine auction, lead by Jim Porter and Jim Simon of Truckee, features hard-to-find lots of private reserve wines including Montelena, Ravenswood, Jospeh Phelps, Far Niente, Burgess and Volker Eisle. The auction culminates with the "crying" of the prized Wheelbarrow of Wine, which features a bottle of wine from each winery.
Attendees stroll through the Gourmet Marketplace in the Weber Pavilion. Exotic, eclectic and out-of-the-ordinary goodies for the kitchen and cellar will be found in the marketplace.In addition there will be a bookstore and book signing area.
Free shuttle offered for grand tasting
The North Lake Tahoe Resort Association, producers of the Lake Tahoe Autumn Food & Wine Festival, is sponsoring free shuttle service aboard the Tahoe Trolley during the Culinary Competition and Grand Tasting. Shuttles will run between the Visitors' Information Center, located at 245 North Lake Boulevard, and the Resort at Squaw Creek on Sunday; the first trolley departs from the visitors' center at 10:30 a.m. and the last trolley from the Resort at Squaw Creek at 4:10 p.m. on Sunday. The trolley service will allow festival attendees to park in town thereby avoiding potential problems with the limited parking available at the Resort at Squaw Creek.
Ticket prices set for festival
Platinum Passport (Two Day Pass) $195
Saturday and Sunday events including two private/vertical wine tastings and Sunday Culinary Competition and Grand Tasting. Does not include wine blending or vodka and caviar classes.
Gold Passport (Two Day Pass) $125
Saturday and Sunday events excluding private/vertical winetastings, vodka and caviar, wine blending and KitchenAid hands-on cooking.
Friday Passport (One Day Pass) $45
One day seminar pass includes KitchenAid hands-on cooking, the cheese course, and the Weber grilling seminar.
KitchenAid Golf Tournament $140
Includes green fees, cart, shirt, lunch, tee prizes and hospitality in the KitchenAid tent.
Saturday Silver Passport (One-Day Pass) $70
All Saturday events excluding private reserve and vertical winetastings, vodka and caviar, wine blending and KitchenAid hands-on cooking.
Sunday Grand Tasting Passport (One-Day Pass) $70
Sunday Grand Tasting and all Sunday Events
The following events may be purchased if not included in your Passport choice:
Ferrari-Carano wine blending seminar $100 Per Person
vodka and caviar tasting $75 Per Person
Chateau St. Jean horizontal winetasting $55 Per Person
Livingston Moffeit private vertical tasting $55 Per Person
Steele Vineyard private vertical tasting $55 Per Person
KitchenAid hands-on cooking seminar $30 Per Person
Mackinaw fishing derby $60 Per Person
Golf at the Resort at Squaw Creek $65 Per Round
* all packages are priced per person, some restrictions apply