September 12, 2011
Hawks restaurant takes gold and silver at autumn food festival

2011 Autumn F ood & Wine - overview.jpgAs thunder boomed and lightning lit up the Tahoe Basin and outlying areas on Sunday, the rain held off long enough for the smiling winners to be announced at the 26th annual Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival.

The three-day event, Sept. 9-11 at the Village at Northstar ski resort a few miles from Truckee, culminated in Sunday's Culinary Competition & Grand Tasting (pictured). In it, each of 23 restaurants teamed with a winery to present the 23 best food-and-wine pairings. There were other categories, as well.

The big news for Sacramento-area foodies: Chef Molly Hawks and her chef-husband, Michael Fagnoni, co-owners of Hawks restaurant in the Quarry Ponds Town Center in Granite Bay, took medals in two categories. They won gold in the Best Food category, and silver in the Best Food & Wine Pairings category.

"We wanted to show off our housemade charcuterie," said Hawks on Sunday, as people crowded around her sampling tent on the Northstar midway. Fagnoni was away at the moment, on a nearby stage being photographed with other competition winners.

On offer at the Hawks tent were thin slices of garlic-black pepper-red wine salami, and cubes of ciccioli on crunchy baguette crostini.

"Our ciccioli is pork shoulder, thyme and black pepper, cooked together and pressed in a mold to form a rustic pork tureen," Fagnoni explained later.

The Hawks restaurant samplings were served with tastes of Scott Harvey Napa Valley sparkling pinot noir blanc, which took a gold medal in the Best White Wine category.

A panel of judges had huddled earlier in the day for an extensive tasting. From 1 to 4 p.m., more than 3,000 enthusiastic attendees went from tent to tent, tasting delicacies and sipping red and white wines, and taking notes for their entries in the people's choice awards category.

Here's the complete list of winners. For more information:

Best Food & Wine Pairings
Gold: Six Peaks Grille for smoked duck breast with camembert crostini and caramelized fig, teamed with 2008 Villa Maria pinot noir
Silver: Hawks restaurant for house-cured salame, with Scott Harvey Napa Valley sparkling pinot noir blanc
Bronze: Chocolate Bar for veal cheeks, carrots and sweet peas, with 2008 Santa Barbara Collection pinot noir

Best Pairing of Food and Beverage
Gold: Hard Rock Café for Vietnamese bahn mi sandwich, with Charbay Artisan Distillery green tea lemonade

Best White Wine
Gold: Scott Harvey Napa Valley sparkling pinot noir blanc
Silver: 2009 ZD California chardonnay
Bronze: Dr. Loosen German sparkling Riesling

Best Red Wine
Gold: 2008 Santa Barbara Collection pinot noir
Silver: 2008 Pride Sonoma cabernet sauvignon
Bronze: 2008 Renwood old vine zinfandel

Best Food
Gold: Hawks restaurant, house-cured salame
Silver: River Ranch Lodge, wild game meatloaf with mushroom jus
Bronze: Wild Goose, braised pork belly with chipotle guava glaze

Blazing Pans Champion
Longboards Bar & Grill beat out Evergreen restaurant in an "Iron Chef"-type throwdown

Best Food & Wine Pairings
PlumpJack Café at Squaw Valley Inn for plum and cinnamon braised beef short rib with mac 'n' cheese, teamed with Orin Swift Cellars 2008 Papillon red blend

Best Food
PlumpJack Café's plum and cinnamon braised beef short rib with mac 'n' cheese

Best Red Wine
Orin Swift Cellars 2008 Papillon red blend

Best White Wine
Frank Family Vineyards 2009 chardonnay

Best Other
Charbay Artisan Distillery's green tea lemonade

Best Table Presentation
Northstar-at-Tahoe and Stags Leap Clos du Val Winery

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