Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Pinot & Paella Festival! - Part 1 of 2 -no 3 - yes 4!

This is my first post as a "media person" (or as I like to say, "media celebrity," but I digress...) so the pressure is on! I better hit this blog post out of the park. Actually, I better not hit it out of the park as the event was held in the park (Templeton Park, that is) and well, that's where the wine is/was/& will be again so I want to make sure that I'm there :)

The Pinot & Paella Festival! Isn't the idea just fabulous??? It all started about eight years ago by a few wine & foodie folks (Marc & Maggie Windward of Windward Vineyards,  Phillip from Asuncton Ridge Vineyards & Chef Charlie to name a few...) They wanted to hold a food & wine pairing event that focused on Pinot as the wine - and they decided to go with paella for the food dishes as there are literally endless creations of paella that can be made (plus I'm sure the "pinot & paella" lingo just sounded cool...)

All of this was brought together to benefit a good cause: The Local Youths Performing Arts. Especially in this economy, can you imagine how needed this is? With schools having to cut their music & arts programs, the Pinot & Paella event helps bring funds to local kids so that they can still pursue their talents & dreams. In fact, the event usually brings in $15,000 - $20,000 - that makes a huge difference in our community. A big "Thanks!" to all who started this event. Not only do we all get to have a fabulous day out drinking perfect pinots & sampling gourmet paellas, we get to help support our local youth. Bravo!

But I must say an even bigger "THANKS" to everyone who came out to support the event. The event sold out this year - yay! Over 600 people attended. It wouldn't have been the success it was without all of the support of our local community so thanks for coming out for the kids.

Now onto the details!

Boyfriend & I were so excited to be able to go as we've heard all about how amazing the event is - and now we were finally here!

How appropriate that the first person we ran into was the fabulous Marc Windward of  Windward Vineyard, one of the founders of this event. Now Marc & his wife Maggie are some of the coolest, hippest & kindest people in the area. I've gotten to know them by hanging out with them at 15C, and then always going to their tasting room & drinking all of their wine. I think at this point they say, "Here comes Sarah again - oy vey!"

So above & to the right is a photo of me with Marc, the handsome devil. Boyfriend was a little jealous - but only because he wasn't in the photo with Mr. Hip Marc :)

Now Marc & Maggie are some of the luckiest winery owners in the area as they have Anna as their fabulous Tasting Room Manager. The first time I met Anna is when I was working at Robert Hall Winery. She & her friend Cathy from Fratelli Perata came in to wine taste - and Anna was kind enough to bring us a bottle of Windward Pinot! Of course as far as I was concerned, we were then instant friends - HA! We've always stayed in touch since & she recently became my new "Best Facebook Friend Forever."

Anna is now married to Marc Tognazzini - awesome last name, right? Mrs. Tognazzini. Say that 10 times fast :) They recently got married at Windward in front of the vineyards - simply gorgeous wedding (I stalked all of her pictures on Facebook.) Marc's family owns Tognazzini's Dockside Restaurant & Fish Market in Morro Bay. Not only do they have the restaurant right along the ocean with live music on the patio every day, they also do catering for parties & events. I haven't had the chance to eat there yet but have only heard fabulous reviews on the place. I peeked at their yummy menu - dungeness crab melt anyone?

All the folks from Dockside were there in full force to help support the pinot & paealla event. And we were lucky, Tognazzini's paella was the first that we got to sample - what a way to start the day! Here's the fabulous photo:

Look at those lobster & clam shells - wow! The fun part about the Tognazzini booth is that they served their paella in HUGE oyster shells. Check out the photo below:

What an experience! Really beautiful food, balanced with the right amount of spices & seafood. Great job, Dockside!!

I wanted to dig right in but we realized we had no pinot to go with our paella. How to solve this problem? Crash the 15C booth where they were serving Pinot Noir Cava Bubbles - Sweet! What a great way to start our wine tasting day!

Here is the gorgeous Michelle (my dear friend who helped me get into the wine industry in the first place - with her Aussie Husband, Stew in the background) opening a bottle of the Pinot Cava at the 15C booth.

Chef Robbie @ 15C is making quite the name for himself. He's been mixing it up on Tapas Nights (Thursday nights) @ 15C - coming up with items such as lobster mac & cheese. Well today, he really blew me away! Here's his interpretation of paella:

And here's Mr. Man himself, above his fabulous creation:

Robbie's paella & the 15C Pinot Cava was such a hit, there was the line in front of the both:

THANK GOD I'm a "media celebrity" (in my own mind, anyway) as well as an obsessive regular at 15C - so I got to bypass the line & get my Pinot Cava when needed. Whew. Otherwise I might have had a panic attack!

So to be honest, I had thought this blog would be Part 1 of 2 but it has become part 1 of 4 already, and who knows, it may become part 1 of 15! There is so much to cover about this Pinot & Paella Event, but it's time to call it a night. So we will start again as soon as possible - I know many folks are out there waiting for the "after party" photos!

Until we meet again.....

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