My preferred partner in crime Potter Palma and I don’t understand how the signature restaurants of Rancho Mirage’s four deluxe resorts remain able to fly under the gastronomic radar of so many. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa (www.hotwatercasino.com), The Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort and Spa (www.westinmissionhills.com), The Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage (www.rirzcarlton.com/ranchomirage), and Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa (www.rancholaspalmas.com) have it cooking on all four burners at their respective eateries The Steakhouse, Pinzimini, State Fare Kitchen & Bar, and bluEmber.
As we’ve mentioned before, the best way to experience the latter is to attend one of its wine dinners through the “bluEmber Uncorked” series on now through April. Just last night, Potter and I had a date with a few of our favored friends for “Marriage with Meritage,” an evening featuring Michael Mondavi Family Wines. Yes, if you’re wondering, Michael is the eldest son of Robert Mondavi.
Potter and I—alongside our fellow foodie/wino pals Robert, Barbara, Katie, Denise, and Gary—were graciously greeted not only by bluEmber’s chef de cuisine Brandon Testi, general manager Stephanie Torres, restaurant manager Javier Solarzano, and Rancho Las Palmas food and beverage manager Carlo de Leon but by Tim Holl of Folio Fine Wine Partners, who led us through the procession of grapes we would be imbibing.
Testi’s first course of monk fish with popcorn grits, winter vegetable ratatouille, emblem reduction, and carrot tops was paired with a 2010 Isabel Estate Pino Noir. His second course of barbecued quail with field greens (custom cut that morning at a nearby farm), local citrus, bacon vinaigrette, radish chips, and cracklins was served alongside a 2012 Emblem Cabernet Sauvignon. And with our main course—a perfectly done rib eye with bordelaise, potato fondant, mushroom duxelle, roasted baby beets, and garden herbs—we sampled the 2010 Animo Cabernet Sauvignon. We had our sweet finish with a 2011 Oberon Moscato accompanying a chocolate sponge cake with apricot sauce, walnut brittle, salted caramel ice cream, and whipped honey.
Robert Mondavi was the first to exclaim that the wines of Napa Valley belonged on the table alongside the greats of Bordeaux, and the family proved its mettle at “Marriage with Meritage.” Mondavi also famously said that the food and drink should come second to the conviviality at said table. Catching up with old friends at a bluEmber wine dinner was the perfect antidote for a chilly desert night, and Potter and I urge you to visit www.rancholaspalmas.com (or call 760.834.2110) to mark your spot for one of the upcoming wine dinners in the series. Next up is “Argentina Experience” with Susana Balbo, Luca, and La Posta on February 12, “A Night in Tuscany” with Marchesi de Frescobaldi Brands on March 5, and finally, “California Vs. Europe” with Louis Jadot, Tattinger, Chateauneuf du Pape, Cakebread, and Domaine Carneros on April 23. At only $85 per person, this magnificently mouthwatering evening is a relatively reasonable way to quench your every oenological and culinary craving. See you at the next one perhaps?