Saturday, January 20, 2007

Sober Temecula

My day trip buddy, Jenn, was in town from Florida for 10 days. We couldn’t let her go home without another adventure. So today we loaded up the rental car and headed for Temecula, CA about 50 miles south east from Rancho Santa Margarita.

Now Temecula is known as Southern California’s wine capital. But since I can’t drink, due to the diabetes and a covenant I signed at work, we didn’t do any tasting.

Although if you do partake I highly recommend it. Make sure you sample the Riesling at Baily Winery and the almond champagne, served in chocolate glasses at Wilson Creek Winery. Maurice Carrie is also great for the baked brie. Get your name on the list, it is so delicious and worth the wait. I think the Temecula Valley is best known for its whites, not the reds. But that's just my opinion.

But we went to Old Town to go shopping, get some lunch and see the historic sites. We wandered up and down Front Street checking out the antique stores, boutiques and eclectic shops. We settled on Sweet Lumpy’s for lunch. We had the most delicious pulled pork. Very tasty.

Also located on Front Street is The Temecula Olive Oil Company with a tasting bar. I got to try the most delicious vanilla and fig balsamic vinegar. It was a young vinegar so it was tart and tangy. Who knew you could taste vinegar and olive oil like wine. I learned that the longer a vinegar sits it becomes sweeter. So check the year on your bottle.

Ooh a perfect snack would be to get some gourmet dipping oil from the Olive Company and head to Maurice Carrie for the baked brie with your favorite vintage or sparkling water.

Now this is not the most scenic time to visit Temecula. In January it’s pretty brown. But the rolling hills dotted with working ranches are gorgeous. The whole valley is beautiful in March during bud break or in the fall for a wedding.

The great thing about Temecula is that it is both sophisticated and casual. You can find top-class chefs and mom-n-pop restaurants. It doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously. Very little snobbery to be found, just good food, shopping and wine.

It’s a fun half day trip. Next time we hope to go check out one of the new spas and then head to Palm Springs, only another 60 miles east.

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