Sunday, September 16, 2007

Snacks at TomatoFest at the Quail Lodge Resort, Carmel, CA

We went to TomatoFest for an afternoon of food and wine. Over 60 restaurants provided small dishes using the tomato as a main ingredient and many wineries were offering tastings of probably hundreds of wines. Overall, we were very disappointed in the quality of the food and in the poor planning of the event. Although there were 2500 attendees, each restaurant only provided 1000 portions. This means that there was absolutely no way for each person to try each dish and that if you wanted to try even some of them you had to find your way through crowds of obese guests elbowing their ways to the front of the line. It was a bit of a spectacle. Anyways, as far as the food goes, there were very few items that we ate more than a bite of. A few items were good, most were mediocre and a few were so disgusting that we had to spit it out in the garbage. For the $90 entry fee, this event did not provide a $90 experience in terms of food. It was a fun event, however, full of music and drinks, etc. And if you aren't food snobs like we are, you probably would have enjoyed the food a bit more. Full disclosure: The folks at TomatoFest were kind enough to offer us discounted tickets.

Fried Green Tomato
Sorry for the awful picture. This morsel, which was offered on trays as we walked in the gate, was actually quite tasty. It was made with a firm tomato and had a crunchy, flavorful crust.

Pulled Pork with Tomato Sauce from Chef Ted Consoli at Sticks, The Inn at Spanish Bay
Not terrible, if a bit sweet.

Tomato and Mozzerella Shooter from Peppoli at Pebble Beach, The Inn at Spanish Bay
Thick, tomatoey and refreshing.

Tomato and Fish Ball on Bread from Isabella's Italian Seafood and Steaks
Hard and just not a good flavor combo.

Tomato Salsa on Fried Wanton Skin from Millennium
A refined take on chips and salsa.

Olive with Tomato Tapenade from Chef Luis Solano at The Whole Enchilada
Not memorable.

Fried Provolone with Tomato Slice, Salad and Bread from The Forge in the Forest
Not only was this dish inedible, the chef didn't even bother to attempt to use the tomato in an interesting way, he just threw a tomato slice on a soggy piece of fried cheese.

Asagio Kashi Risotto with Marble Stripe and Brandywine Tomato Sauces from the Marriot Monterey
The tomato sauces were pretty tasty, but the combo of risotto with tomato sauce was a bit weird.

Tomato Meringue Pies from Chef Bunyan Fortune at the Terrace Grill at La Playa Hotel
While this was an interesting and inspired idea, the execution was terrible. If the chef had gone savory instead of sweet, this would have been a winner.

Ceviche from Bahama Billy's Island Steakhouse
Giao thought this was very good, as did Alexis' mom. It was fresh and the acidity and sweetness of the tomatos really added to the dish.

Shrimp Fritter on a Corn Cake with Tomato Oil and Avocado Creme Fraiche from The Sardine Factory
The shrimp was good, but the corn cake was tough.

BBQ from Willy's Smokehouse BBQ and Grill
Fatty and dry at the same time. How can that be?

Tomato-Avocado Thing with Fried Something from Chef Wendy Brodie at The Art of Food
While Alexis really liked this, she can't for the life of her remember what it was.

Tomato and Salmon Bruschetta from Farallon
Seriously, if you are going to present a dish as a part of a festival, why would you do the most common item you could think of, and then not do it very well?

Potato and Sweet Corn Vichysoisse with Concasse of Heirloom Tomatoes from Executice Chef Peter Pank of Silverado Resort
This was one of the few dishes that was memorable in a good way. It was refreshing and used the tomatoes as nice accent. The only thing that would have been better is if it were a bit smoother in texture.

Tomato Tartlettes from Chef Dory Ford of Bon Appetit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
These were tart and light. A nice little bite. One of the better attempts at a tomato tart. The filling almost tasted like lemon meringue.

Tomato Goop of Some Sort from Chef Patrick Durant of Stillwater Bar and Grill at the Lodge at Pebble Beach
Not memorable in any way. We can't even remember what it was.

Fried Olive from Chef Anthony Keene at Carmel Valley Ranch
Terrible. Fried and cold just don't go together.

Tomato Mojito from Executive Chef Phillipe Breneman at Paragon Restaurant and Bar
Yummy. An inspired use of the tomato.

Shrimp and Tomatoes on a Chip from Chef Michael Dunn at Yankee Pier
Nothing really going on here. It was edible, but that's about it.

Tomato Lasagna from Tusca Ristorante
The flavor was ok, but it was rather cold and the top was so hard we couldn't get a fork through it.

Soupy Tomatos and Seafood from Chef Christopher Caul at Christopher's on Lincoln
Ok, but not memorable.

Cold Tomato Soup from Chef Jim Gallivan at McIntosh Atlantic Culinary Academy

Tomato Sorbet from Chef Colin Moody at Asilomar Conference Grounds
Alexis loved this. And we also saw a lot of little kids who really seemed to love this.

Heirloom Tomato Sorbet with Shrimp Tartare, Avocado and Cilantro from Marinus Restaurant at Bernardus Lodge
We liked the idea of this dish, but just having eaten such a lovely sorbet, this one sort of fell flat and the fishiness was a bit weird.

We're not sure where this cam from, or what it was, but maybe that's a good thing because it was by far the most disgusting thing we tried all day. Alexis spit it out. It was semi-frozen and nutty and gross.

Crab Salad with Tomato Sorbet from Pacific's Edge
The concept of this dish was great, but the crab was way too mayo-y, which made the sorbet taste weird.

Tomato Gelatin with Shrimp, Celery and Cream from L'Auberge Carmel
Giao thought that for sure Alexis would hate this, but actually, she liked it. The tomato flavor was clear and bright.

Tomato Tapenade from Chef Christopher Dettmer at Bouchee Bistro

Shrimp Log and Tomatoes on a Cracker from Chef A. Scott Cater at Casablanca Restaurant
Pretty gross, actually.

Heirloom Tomato, Goat Cheese and Basil Sorbet on a Puff Pastry from the California Culinary Academy
This was one of the better dishes. The basil sorbet was great and all of the flavors melded well.

Lobster Roll from Edgar's
This was one of the best items we had. It was seasoned well and the lobster was tender. We ate the whole thing.

Pork Tenderloin with Tomato Jam from Will's Fargo
The pork was a tad dry, but the flavors were nice.

Peach, Green Tomato and Salmon Sorbet from the Google Kitchens

Tomato and Fish from Wine Cask
Alexis' mom really liked this, but Giao didn't.

Fried Polenta with Tomato Sauce from the Culinary Center of Monterey

Pork with Tomato Sauce from Julia's Kitchen at Copia

Tomato Gazpacho from Post Ranch Inn

Goat Cheese and Tomato with Asparagus and Balsamic Reduction from Cielo Big Sur

Ice Cream from Monterey Plaza Hotel
Tasty, and pretty, but it didn't seem to really contain tomatoes.

Goat Cheese Quesadilla from ??
Quesadillas are never bad.

Quail Lodge Resort
8205 Valley Greens Drive
Carmel, CA 93923

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Chef Fortune was going for more of a (key lime type) sweet and one seemed to get it, can't seem to get out of their own small box, and be open to a different idea. He did not want to go with the "Old" idea of herb tast.
I got it right away, and asked questions. So what was your problem and excuse?
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