On my third day at Sip, Blog Bite at Kendall-Jackson, I woke up with a spring in my step and excitement in my heart. Why? Because every day of my trip, just kept getting better. And better. Why would today be any different? I’m sure if we had stayed seven days, our food at the end would have been etched in 24 kt gold. I’m just sayin’.
Every day, the wine was better, the food was more extravagant, the activities were more exciting, the sky was bluer, the birds were singing louder, the sun was shinier…it really was!
Anyway, after another “big breakfast” we headed off in our party bus to the very beautiful, Arrowood Winery, which is part of the Jackson Family properties. The property itself has a beautiful house on it, surrounded by a wrap-around deck with beautiful gardens…and a pool (it is California you know).
So imagine you are a food blogger (and many of you are) and you show up at this beautiful location, jumping right off your party bus like you’ve been doing it for years. You enter the home (with the wrap-around white picket fence and the pool), and as we became accustomed (we were spoiled), a team of chefs were already there preparing for your arrival. Not only were they cooking us another fabulous lunch, but they were cooking up an array of proteins, grains, and every type of garnish you could ever imagine. Why? Because Kendall-Jackson SET US UP on a play date with food photographer, Alan Campbell, and a wonderful food stylist too. Pinch me.
Stage right, there was a table with every little herb, micro-green, flower, flower petal, cute vegetable, adorable fruit…all picked from the garden and chopped into the most teeny, OCD-perfect pieces you could imagine. Stage left, was a table set up by the food stylist with every color and size plate, teeny-tiny bowls, linens in all kinds of colors and textures and silverware galore. And somewhere in the middle was every kitchen utensil food stylists use to make their dishes look appetizing, micro-tweezers, itty-bitty spray bottles, brushes…you name it. Then the photographer had white boards, black boards, LED lights, reflectors…all kinds of stuff.
And then…….we got to play. We picked our proteins…duck breasts, salmon, scallops and garnished and sprayed them to make them glisten and all that jazz. We received advice on styling, shooting, lighting…it was a food bloggers dream. We then loaded our pics onto the photographers laptop and while we had lunch, he picked a favorite from everyone and we had a little slideshow.
Who gets to do this?? Well, I did…he-he. This was truly the ultimate treat and I truly appreciated that someone would do this for me….us. I feel very lucky to have had the experience.
Here was my photo the photographer picked as his favorite from my group of photos. It was, Seared Duck Breast on a bed of Couscous served with a Micro-Greens Salad with Braised Figs. I have no idea what it tasted like. It sat out for so long and was sprayed so many times, sadly it was destined for the trash. That’s hard, but that is the world of food photography, no other way around it.
We started taking pictures of all the beautiful dishes around us, when do you ever have so many styled food plates sitting around? This was the photographer’s styled plate. I snapped a photo as it looked so good.
Here we are, bloggers taking pictures of bloggers taking pictures. It was a blast and the kitchen was in full swing.
After our photography session, tables were set outside in the beautiful garden.
Today’s lunch was served buffet style and the food was nicer than you could imagine. Healthy and fresh too!
Just look at this, straight from the garden. This is what was on the menu…it was to die for.
Roasted Salmon with Green Goddess
Roasted Whole Fulton Farms Chicken with Salsa Verde
Couscous with Cucumbers and Tomatoes
Estate Vegetable Platters (as you can see above)
Arugula Salad with Asian Pears
Cookies and Brownies
Of course lunch was served with an array of Arrowood Wines, all were wonderful.
After a ride back to the hotel, where we all contemplated the need of elastic pants and a quick nap…a short two hour break gave us almost enough time to spruce ourselves up for another exciting evening.
We began our evening in Kendall-Jackson’s wine sensory garden with the beloved, highly animated and self-proclaimed Kendall-Jackson garden gnome, Chef Matt. The garden is a superb, culinary masterpiece and referred to lovingly as the “scratch and sniff garden”. A must see if you are in the area.
Joining our small group in the garden was none other than celebrated food writer, Ruth Reichel. Some of her past achievements…L.A. Times food critic, New York Times food critic and the last acting editor-in-chief of Gourmet Magazine (wow how I miss Gourmet) and of course so many other things!
Ruth made it a point to speak to each of us individually, she knew our names, had read our blogs (gulp) and was kind enough to take photos with us and sign copies of her books. She gave a talk before dinner describing in detail her days as a food critic in New York where she used to disguise herself to mask her identity while reviewing a restaurant. It was great entertainment and we enjoyed it very much. She is truly an inspiration.
Here a few things we got to smell, touch, taste in the garden…there was some amazing stuff.
Here was the dinner menu that night. Every dish was exquisite…that corn pudding was to die for, and let me just say…I believe each of us had one whole truffle (shaved) on our plate with the squab…it was unreal. Fantastico! I’m still thinking about them. In fact, I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to re-enter civilian life after this trip and all these meals, we were really treated like royalty.
Here’s a shot of dessert…a work of art. Did you expect anything less?
Sadly our weekend had to come to an end. We had such a wonderful time and I can’t thank Kendall-Jackson enough for their kindness and hospitality.
Again, re-entry to home life was difficult after being spoiled-to-the-most-rotten-core! I had to quickly drop the notion I was a blog princess and a team of chefs would be in my home-kitchen when I woke the next morning. It was really hard to deal with that reality. However, as days have passed, I have truly found inspiration in the food I tasted there and the friends I made. We are all tied and connected by what we shared together. Hopefully we will get to see each other again in the future. Thank goodness for Twitter, it keeps us all chatting every day.
Disclosure: Kendall-Jackson paid for airfare and lodging but asked for absolutely nothing in return. Not. A. Thing. They are classy like that. But how could I not share such an amazing trip with you. I hope you enjoyed it.
Read about my other days at Kendall-Jackson:
Two Years Ago: Peanut Butter Chip Cake