|Temecula Wine Country, CA|
Every once in a while someone crosses your path and makes an impression. More often than not, the impressions we remember are not as favorable as we would like... I think that's why when someone actually make you feel good, for no special reason, it's that much more special.
Last Saturday my husband and I were lucky enough to meet a few special people as we carved out an afternoon together in the Temecula Wine Country. As I stood at the Oak Mountain Winery Counter wondering which wine to taste, I heard a voice over my shoulder say "Try the Cab Franc". With the description reading "a nose of tamarind, black berry, pine needle and allspice", I wasn't quite sure, but took the advice and watched as the gorgeous burgundy liquid filled the bottom of my glass. A swirl and a sniff led me to believe that I had made the right choice and a sip assured me that I had indeed chosen well!
As I turned and thanked the voice, my husband and I struck up a conversation with John who ended up helping us plan our day. John lives in the valley and is a plethora of information on the ins and outs of the many wineries along the trail as well as the main town. His recommendations were spot on and not only did we enjoy our time with him at Oak Mountain, we ended up bumping into him at his next recommendation, Danza Del Sol, a new winery that is sure to be up and coming.
But before we left Oak Maountain, following John's advice and that of Debbie, the pourer, I took advantage of the Avocado Oil tasting table set up in the tasting room. After numerous tastes and mixings of the special oils which included Roasted Garlic, Blood Orange, Chili, Key Lime, and Tuscan Herb, and just as many flavored vinegars, I chose the Roasted Garlic and Sweet Cherry Vinegar combo to take home.
At our next stop, Danza Del Sol, we had the pleasure of meeting John one more time, and again following his advice, we enjoyed a flavorful flight of reds. He highly recommended the Cab, which my husband completely agreed with, while I slightly preferred the Merlot. John and the pourer filled us in on the new ownership of the winery and the improvements that had been done to the beautiful tasting room. After another quarter hour of easy conversation (which included a lunch spot tip!) John told us that he was going to be on his way. As we thanked him for a very enjoyable afternoon he gave me a quick hug and with a smile, pressed a bottle of the Merlot I had so enjoyed into my hands saying, "This is for you," and sauntered out the door. So John... thank you for the Merlot! I'm am enjoying it in my Danza Del Sol glass as I type and as promised, we are thinking of you!
|Scallion dipping sauce with focaccia|
On down the road, John's next suggestion for our last tasting of the day as well as an extraordinarily tasty lunch at Ponte Winery brought us to Hilary, a most delightful girl serving us in the restaurant . The reds again were robust and gratifying, and the meal, beginning with the focaccia and a most amazing Scallion Dipping Sauce followed by a shared Grilled Romaine Salad, delectable Halibut for me and a tasty pulled pork for my husband was beyond delicious. Hilary (thankfully!) highly recommended the creamy Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee which was topped with fresh berries and we smiled with pleasure at the end of our day. Hilary's first wedding anniversary is this month, and we would like to send our best wishes her and her husband (we think he made quite a catch!).
|Zinfandel grapes with my Zinfandel!|
As we headed home with full bellies, relaxed minds, and bags full of wine, oils, vinegars and 3 Scallion Dipping Sauces, we commented on the lovely people who had crossed our path this wonderful day. I don't know if we will ever see John or Hilary again, but the little things they did on this delightful day will remain with us, and as I am doing right this minute, every time I pull out my Danza Del Sol glass, I will smile and think of John, the man from Temecula with so much valuable information and a wonderful smile.
A trip to our local Farmer's Market provided a treasure of early fall (late summer?) vegetables! Heirloom tomatoes so red they don't look real, sweet onions grown in local fields, avocados fresh from the tree and an amazing red lettuce mixed together to create an fantastic side salad topped with our Temecula Vinaigrette. These amazing avocado oils and/or flavored vinegars are available on the Oak Mountain Web Site (I have not received any incentive from Oak Mountain or any of the wineries in this post, my opinions are just that, my opinions!).
2 Tbs of your favorite oil (I used the Roasted Garlic)
1 1/2 Tbs of your favorite vinegar (I used Sweet Cherry)
1 small dollop of spicy mustard
small clove of garlic, minced (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
Heirloom tomatoes, chopped
sweet onions, chopped or sliced into rounds
Sprinkle of toasted, salted peppitas
Sprinkle of Crumbled Feta or Blue cheese
Whisk oil, vinegar, mustard and garlic together in small bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Tear the lettuce into a large bowl and layer with tomatoes, onions, avocado and any other of your favorite salad ingredients. Pour desired amount of the dressing over the salad ingredients and toss lightly to coat. Top with a sprinkle of peppitas and your favorite cheese, crumbled feta or gorgonzola and serve.