Recipe courtesy Chef Mike Terry, South Coast Winery
People come to Temecula from busy Los Angeles and San Diego with a few things in mind: good food, good wine and relaxation. South Coast Winery Resort & Spa provides all three. Not only a well-appointed resort with spa and restaurant, it boasts a working winery and vineyard.
The marriage of food and wine remains foremost in the mind of chefs like Mike Terry of South Coast’s Vineyard Rose Restaurant. He works closely with South Coast Winery’s master winemaker Jon McPherson and winemaker Javier Flores in designing seasonal specialties for the menu and figuring out appropriate pairings for each entrée.
The access to fresh produce from the Temecula Valley’s surrounding farms also drives the dishes with an emphasis placed on “Field to Fork” items from the resort’s own estate garden. The ultimate expression of this comes out during the Chef’s Table Dinner, a five-course menu of fresh meat, seafood and produce with wines.
Other top restaurants to know include Sorrel Bistro, Viva Vino Spanish Tapas Wine Bar, Jalapenos Mexican Grill, La Cocina Temecula, Rusticos and Masia De Yabar Winery. In the heart of town, EAT(Extraordinary Artisan Table) is an eatery and marketplace of fine local fare that also hosts special events and classes.
One of the better ways to get to know Temecula’s best chefs is the annual DePortola Wine Trail event called Big Red Fest held every April. The DePortola trail is a collection of southern-area wineries that partner up with local chefs at the festival to come up with well-imagined pairings for each of their wines.
But there’s more than just haute fare in Temecula, with many of the more casual spots centered in Old Town Temecula. Goodies to look for include olive oil, salsa, mustard, pickles, heirloom dried beans and fruits, olives, meats and cheeses
The Old Town Root Beer Company, with its shelves of 300-plus vintage and old-time sodas, provides a cool root beer float fix on a hot day; Sweet Lumpy’s BBQ is known for Texas Beef Brisket and Brisket Cheese Melt, with fresh rolls and fresh-cut fries. Lienzo Charro Mexican Bar and Grill and Qdoba Mexican Grill reflect the region’s proximity to Mexico.
For picnics, Temecula Valley Cheese Company carries more than 100 cheeses to sample and pair with wines, including many of its own.
Favorite Farm-to-Table Finds
These subtropical trees love warm weather and moist, well-drained soils. Common varieties here include Carmen-Hass, Hass, Lamb Hass, Jan Boyce, Holiday, Bacon and Reed.
Chef Terry sources balsamic vinegar and olive oil from the Temecula Olive Oil Company, which makes inspired balsamic flavors ranging from Hatch chili to honey and pomegranate.
DeLuz Farms & Nursery in Temecula grows what they call “live herbs” with roots attached, which help them stay fresher longer. Locals particularly love the nursery’s three types of basil: Mammoth, Pesto Perpetuo and Basil Pistou.
Brew masters in Temecula Valley abound. Look for beers from Wiens Brewery, Black Market Brewing Company, Ironfire Brewery, Brew-Ligion Brewhouse and Grill, Aftershock Brewing Co. andRefuge Brewery.
- 6 to 7 ounces Alaskan halibut or your favorite white fish
- 1 piece thinly sliced prosciutto
- 2 heirloom tomatoes, any color
- 1 to 2 ounces wild baby arugula (sometimes referred to as rocket salad)
- 1 teaspoon minced shallot
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon Temecula Valley white balsamic vinegar or you favorite white balsamic
- ¼ cup Temecula Valley extra virgin olive oil or your favorite brand
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 200°F.
Slice heirloom tomatoes about a half-inch thick, season both sides with salt and pepper and lay out on a baking sheet.
Cook for about a half hour and check; they should be slightly shriveled around the edges but still juicy. Take out and let cool at room temperature.
Set oven temp to 350°F.
Lay out your prosciutto flat. Set the halibut on it and wrap the prosciutto all the way around. Season with salt and pepper.
Bake until internal temperature is about 120°F (check after 15 minutes) for medium doneness; cook longer if desired.
After tomatoes have cooled, cut in half and shingle on to your plate.
Place vinaigrette ingredients in a squeeze bottle or mason jar and shake well; if it does not emulsify that is okay, just remember to shake well every time before you use it.
In a small mixing bowl, place the arugula, add a small amount of vinaigrette and toss. Remember you can always add more vinaigrette but you can’t take it away, so start small. You just want to lightly coat your salad. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Put salad on top of tomatoes in a nice tight pile then gently lay your fish on top.
Add a small drizzle of your vinaigrette to the fish and around your plate for effect. Garnish with fresh herbs like chive or parsley. Serves 1.