Food and Wine Love Affair
Food truck parked in vineyards at Lorimar Winery in Temecula Valley Wine Country

(Part One of Many... chronicling Temecula Valley's unique bounty of vineyard dining)

"If you fall in love with something, put everything into it." That's what Chef Oscar Escatel tells me when I run into him at Pairings, the gourmet food truck parked among the vines at Lorimar Winery in Temecula.  

A bit later, he proudly presents his Goat and Fig Flatbread. Crumbled goat cheese, shaved prosciutto, caramelized onions and dried figs finished with creme fraiche and a generous sprinkle of fresh arugula. I take a greedy bite. Delish! Lorimar's 2012 Chardonnay pairs perfectly, just as Chef Oscar promised it would.  

What I am doing is remarkably unusual. In most wine regions, you won't find restaurants at the wineries. When your tummy starts growling, it's time to leave vineyards behind and head into town for a bite. Not so in Temecula Valley. Restaurants abound at the wineries, 

Wilson Creek Winery's Creekside Grille serves up a Champagne Brunch every Sunday that's insanely popular, and deservedly so. I could compose poetry about the Banana Foster Pancakes at South Coast Winery's Vineyard Rose.  The pastas and pizzas at Robert Renzoni Winery's Mama Rosa's Trattoria are 'molto buona.'  

Then there's Meritage at Callaway. Cafe Champagne at Thornton. Carol's Restaurant at Baily Winery. MDO Bistro and Wine Bar at Monte De Oro. 

...Not done yet...

The Pinnacle Restaurant at Falkner Winery. The Restaurant at Leoness Cellars. Bel Vino Bistro at Bel Vino. Sangio's Deli at Cougar. 

...Still going...

Maurice's Kitchen at Maurice Car'rie. Shorty's Bistro at Mount Palomar. And Ponte has three restaurants to choose from: The Restaurant at Ponte, Bouquet Restaurant, and The Cellar Lounge.  

Back at Pairings, I sample truffle fries... they're tossed with garlic butter and white truffle oil and need no embellishment, but I can't resist dipping them in Pairing's made-on-site Merlot Ketchup. Served in an inconspicuous brown paper bag, the scrumptious side is a sublimely superior alternative to the McVersion I woofed down as a kid at certain double-arched fast food joint.  

Chef Oscar began cooking at the age of 6 with his grandmother. He clearly found something he loves, and he clearly puts his all in it. My tastebuds confirm it.  


~ Kay Syrah

Wine Country Guru Gal

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