There were choices of gumbo, jambalaya, bouillabaisse, salmon and sea bass. More traditional chicken, strip steak, king crab legs and lobster rounded out the menu. By far the most flashy presentation was the Crispy Red Snapper, an entire fish elegantly plated.
It seemed to me as if each course set a new standard, building up to the entrée. Although I was getting full, I anxiously awaited the next dish. It was Slow Braised Short Ribs. And by far the best I have ever eaten. The well-composed plate included carrot puree, pommes puree, port-braised shallots and crispy onions. I was more than satisfied.
The 60 cooks working out of 2 kitchens have noticed changes as well. There have been technical improvements and more making things from scratch. Cooks participate in tastings and have had a hand in creating new items. They are trained in the nuances of each food station where they frequently rotate.
First sniff - acidity. Had the Riedel glass allowed the acids to escape more readily? Sniff-sniff. Where are my pleasant layers? In fact where are any aromatic sensations? Now this wine is totally off-balance and I don't have the slightest desire to taste it, or even recommend it.
Verging on sensory overload I approached the final wine, a 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel. Now back in the day a good California Zin was one of my go-to favorites. I eagerly breathed in the familiar aromas of rich raspberry with a hint of cinnamon and cloves. I could picture the gnarley, twisted old vines with their earthiness and pungent leathery smells.
My recollection gets a little hazy here as I allow myself to thoroughly relax and melt into the experience. I did manage to ascertain that the Vino Therapy facial costs $75.00. It is an ideal treat for anyone after a day of Temecula vineyard touring and tasting.
The drive up the mountain can be harrowing, so allow plenty of time. The reception at the winery can be no less than frigid if you have not done your homework and made a reservation confirmed by email well in advance of your arrival. Cain is not a winery on the "party bus" tour of Napa.