The patio at Oak Mountain is the ideal setting for a small dinner party. Wife Laura and I joined Steve and Valerie Andrews and a group of other food aficionados for a wine dinner catered by Chef Michael Cragg. Cragg is a Southern California native whose culinary resumé includes the Ritz Carlton. He launched Temecula Catering this year with a wine paired dinner at Oak Mountain.

Amuse Bouche

When I heard the menu featured Lobster and Filter Mignon, what intrigued me most was the method being used to prepare the beef: sous-vide. As a fan of Top Chef, I had seen this technique and heard what a wonderful way it was to cook food. First, however, were two courses and some sparkling and still wines. Chef Michael kicked the evening off with an amuse bouche of watermelon and Ahi poke. These small cubes paired brilliantly and the Temecula Hills Frisson sparkling wine was the ideal choice to go with it. Next up was an appetizer of shrimp, chorizo, fingerling potatoes and salsa verde. This created a slight dilemma because Steve wanted to go with a Chardonnay and Valerie had her heart set on Tempranillo. The solution? They served both and asked us which pairing we preferred.  The Oak Mountain ’09 Chardonnay won by the narrowest of margins, but most of us thought the Temecula Hills Tempranillo was a great match with the chorizo.

A soup course followed, a creamy lobster bisque. Is there such a thing as too much lobster? I don’t think so, and Michael’s bisque was rich and tasty with tiny little flecks of lobster meat. This was a prelude to the main course and was served with the ’09 Temecula Hills Viognier. Chef was just getting warmed up.

I need to add here as you’ll see in the photos that the presentation was impeccable. Each plate was visually stunning and all plates were delivered to the guests promptly. The star of the evening was lobster with a Filet Mignon roast prepared sous-vide. Both proteins were moist and tender, and I’ve never had beef more full of flavor or tender. The phrase “melts in your mouth” definitely applies here. Rosemary Pomme Purée, roasted potatoes and summer veggies rounded out the plate and Steve selected the ’08 Oak Mountain Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. It seems to me that Steve is really hitting his stride as a winemaker. The Cab was a great choice for the entrée.

The finale was a flour-less chocolate cake with caramel glazed pineapple prepared sous-vide in coconut broth with strawberry coulis. Oak Mountain’s Zinfandel Port, weighing in at more than 20% alcohol, rounded out the evening’s last bites.

I urge you to attend a winemaker dinner at Oak Mountain. The setting is idyllic, the food is wonderful and you’d be hard pressed to find better hosts than Steve and Valerie Andrews. The next winemaker’s dinner is October 23rd. Chef Michael will prepare a trio of sashimi, beef tartare, endive salad, glazed halibut and sake sorbet. Reservations are required. I’m salivating already. Oak Mountain Winery – 36522 Via Verde, Temecula – (951) 699-9102

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