Friday Night At Pigs & Pinot

Last year on Top Chef they showcased some event up in Healdsburg called "Pigs & Pinot" and Ish and I immediately Googled it and got on the email list to be notified for when it came up again this year.

The day that tickets went on sale, I literally sat at my computer hitting refresh until the screen appeared telling me I could buy them.

Photo from official website.
Quite obviously not from me, what with it being in focus and all.

This is how some people buy tickets to rock concerts. This is how I buy tickets to eat pork.  Perhaps my need to diet isn't exactly shocking.

Anyway, Ish and I had determined we really only needed to go to the Friday night dinner because that's where you walk around and taste the top 50 pinot noirs in competition with each other, and sample amazing pork-related dishes from great chefs. Like Charlie Palmer, who created the event, and like Top Chef's Bryan Voltaggio and Kevin Gillespie. And, yes, Tyler Florence.

So let's fast-forward to where we're now AT the event, and I remember that I am very, very, very bad at meeting "celebrities." This has never stopped me from walking up to them and introducing myself, of course.  The moment before I decide to introduce myself, I think it will go fine and I'll know what to say and maybe THIS will be the time I'm utterly delightful. Except then I open my mouth and suddenly I hear the things I'm saying and my meta-narrative starts so I have two simultaneous dialogues happening in my head and neither are going the way I'd hoped.

Dialogue One, spoken: Ridiculous things I'm saying to celebrity, who doesn't know me, hasn't met me, doesn't care that I have a blog or a child or grew up in Connecticut or whatever I'm babbling about...


As I was approaching Bryan Voltaggio, I realized that the only thing I could think of to say was that I thought his brother was a giant asshole on Top Chef and I was totally disappointed in the show's finale. Luckily, I had the good sense to know that "God, your brother seems like a total douchebag" is not an appropriate conversational "ice breaker." So mostly I just sort of mumbled at him and took whatever food item he handed me and skulked away.

Unfortunately for him, Kevin Gillespie was a different story. He was the one chef I was most excited to meet (yes, above Tyler Florence). Of course I thought that he would be more approachable -- probably because I adored him and he just seems like a nice guy -- and that's pretty much the death knell for Celebrities Kristy Is About To Meet.

"If this...I mean...don't take this the wrong way, I couldn't mean it's just...well, like if this were Disney World? Meeting you would be like meeting Mickey Mouse!"

Oh, yes. That actually came out of my mouth.  Mickey Mouse. The conversation didn't go far beyond that AS YOU MIGHT IMAGINE.

Later in the evening, we got to meet Tyler Florence. Now, I realize he's like SUPER celebrity chef-man, but I am not that familiar with him.  Which is probably why I referred to him as Tyler Perry all evening and Ish had to keep correcting me.  Also, wine.

So just before I got to chatting with him, I scanned my brain for what I would say, and the thing that popped up was "YOU MADE HIS GRAVY AT THANKSGIVING!"

Which is true.  The first and only recipe of Tyler Florence's I've ever attempted was his made-for-imbeciles gravy (not what it was officially called but may as well have been).  Because this was the first year I attempted homemade gravy and I didn't really know how it was done, and he had a like, two-minute segment on the Food Network for how to do it so you can't screw it up.

And that's what I thought of as I met him and AS PART OF MY INTRODUCTION to him I blurt out "...and thank you for your gravy recipe."

Who? Who says that? Even when meeting chefs, gravy is not an acceptable topic of a proper introduction.

He looked momentarily stunned but then just went with it and asked me what the fuck I was talking about, only more politely.

So then I said that I hosted my first Thanksgiving this year and had never made gravy before and so I found his gravy recipe very useful, thank you.

And then he asked, "Which one?"

I hesitated.  I was not prepared for a follow-up question.

He asked, "The one we did this year, with the pumpkin?"

I must have looked like a deer in headlights.

He went on to explain this amazing-sounding recipe involving roasted pumpkin and deglazing and I just sort of stared at his hotness with my mouth agape. Because no. No, I did not use pumpkin in my gravy. I barely used gravy in my gravy.

" I was the really simple one. For um, beginners." I said with a note of shame.

And he replied with a note of disappointment, "Oh, THAT one."


So then I felt compelled to add, "But it was so great! I really appreciated it!"


Because that gravy that you can't screw up? Oh, boy. I screwed it up alright. It was all gross and lumpy and separated. By the time it had been in the makeshift gravy boat for five minutes, the bottom half was a flour-y clump and the top half was an oily pool.

Surely it wasn't his fault. Surely the fault lay with the woman who had to rewind the uber-brief segment over and over in order to scribble the 3-step directions onto a piece of paper. Surely.

Not long after meeting not-Tyler-Perry, toward the end of the night, Ish and I had the opportunity to talk with none other than Ray Isle.  You know.  The WINE EDITOR OF FOOD AND WINE MAGAZINE. A delightful, smart, engaging man who WRITES for a living.

And do you know what I said to him?

That's right. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

I smiled and nodded and let Ish and Ray discuss the finer points of wines and food and vineyards and the wine industry and Stanford and I did NOT interrupt or call Ray Mickey Mouse or say anything about blogging or Twitter or take an awkward photo.

I met a world-class writer and couldn't think of a single thing to say.

* * * * *

Overall, the event was wonderful and the pinots were great and my diet went on hiatus (as I'd planned for it to) for the evening because I'm sorry, but a) we'd been waiting for this event for a year and

b) see those things up there? Those are warm, bite-sized maple-glazed doughnuts with bacon.


Before I end this post, I figure I should add the following -- for anyone reading this who might actually be interested in food and/or pinots as opposed to what ridiculous things I said to celebrity chefs and didn't say to a world-renowned writer:
  • My favorite single food item -- doughnuts notwithstanding -- was the "Po'Boy Slider" as prepared by the chefs from Cyrus. I have never eaten anything more amazing in my whole life.  I know it's completely wrong to celebrate weight-loss goals by eating out, but whatever. We're making a dinner at Cyrus our next big outing.

  • The winner of the Pinot Cup was Woodenhead. I loved it. Ish preferred the runner-up, Williams Selyem.  

*Hurrah! I weighed myself this morning and I weigh exactly what I did on Friday morning. Not bad, considering.  I'm still 12 pounds down.

**Special shout-out goes to Lynae, who was at the event and introduced herself to us because she reads this blog. Meeting her/hearing that was kind of the highlight of my evening. I am certain I said entirely inappropriate things to her as well, but she was delightful.


  1. 1. 50 Pinots? Yes please.

    2. Bacon and Dessert? Of COURSE. Those doughnuts would have fit right into my "smaller than usual food doesn't count" line of thinking.

    3. At least you didn't say to Tyler Perry/Florence "I loved your Applebee's commercials!" THAT would have gone over especially well.

  2. LOVE this post! Am thinking of creating my own Pigs & Pinot event... with my connections it might end up more like take out & boxed wine - but I'll take what I can get! How fun!!

  3. Sounds like a fantastic time! & uh, at least you're cultured enough to attend an event on that scale...I'm thinking of getting with Phoenix Rising for her take out & boxed wine plan, as that sounds more up my uncultured alley.

    I'm really here about the bacon doughnuts though. Last year, a friend visiting from Oregon brought a Bacon Maple Bar from VooDoo Doughnuts in Portland & I literally died a tiny bit when I tasted it. I have since been on a quest for a recipe similar, so if you come across one, please share. There is nothing more delicious.

  4. bite-sized mapke donuts with bacon. I just died a little. Wow.

    And hey, I did the EXACT same thing at BlogHer 08, when I met you and Ish, so I am entirely sympathetic.

  5. As inappropriate as it may be to tell Bryan Voltaggio that his brother is a douchebag, you would have been absolutely right and I can't imagine that would have been the first time Bryan had heard that.
    I mean, of course, good for you for keeping it to yourself.. because that would have been kind of awkward to recover from. But, still - douchebag, nonetheless.

    That whole event sounds like an amazing experience. So, so cool.

  6. Wow, what an awesome event. Don't feel bad, I made a 13 year old ass of myself when meeting the cast of Nickelodeon's old show, "The Adventures of Pete and Pete." God damn, that was 15ish years ago and I still want to kick myself in the pants.

  7. Love it! By the way, I saw ex-DC-Mayor, Marion Barry the other night and I politely said hi to him. He ignored me. Can you believe it! I wish I had said something more nutty to him cause he's a nut!

  8. Fantastic post! You are absolutely hilarious!!!!


  9. It's not weird if I write this event into my calendar for 2011 right NOW is it ?

  10. I have loved reading your blog recently but have deferred from commenting because I only have time to blog in the mornings and, as a result, am considerably more dim-witted than I will be six hours from now. Nonetheless, this post is fantastic. And I would like to say to Phoenix Rising that I would gladly join her Pigs & Pinot night (the trailer park event) and bring the pork rinds. Barbecue or hot?

  11. Sorry Kristy, I'm not a big Tyler Florence fan. My DH calls him "the Bobby Flay wannabe." Regardless, I'm sure that his perfectly captured expression of disdain has nothing to do with you and everything to do with HIM.

    I've been collecting recipes for bacon chocolate chip cookies. One involves first candying the bacon. ::::::::::sigh::::::::::

  12. I completely understand meeting celebs and blurting out ridiculous things!

    I recently met Jane Goodall, and the appropriate thing to have said to her (as she graciously posed for a picture with me and signed my copy of her book) would have been "Thank you for your amazing efforts in conservation, and for following your path. Your efforts and career have paved the way for other women, including myself, to more easily persue a career in science ..." etc.

    Instead, I half mumbled, half shouted (thanks to the wine and the crowd, I misjudged the noise level) "I loved you on the Daily Show."

    My photo with her shows me gasping in horror as I realized what I'd done.

  13. Thanks for the shout-out Kristy! That was the highlight of MY day! I'll try to not be such a lurker in the future. Hope to see you next year at Pigs & Pinot.


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