To borrow a phrase from Lady Gaga and Julie Andrews, two of my favorite things about living here in Rancho Mirage and the Palm Springs Valley are the Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa and the plethora of wine dinner series available to we diehard foodie winos.
Most recently, I was pleased and honored to attend the first of three dinners in “Le Serate Di Vino” (“The Evening of Wine”), the first wine dinner series hosted by the Westin. Titled “Il Meglio di Italia” (“The Best of Italy”), it was held on February 26 at 6:30 with Chef de Cuisine Juan Leon at the helm at signature restaurant Pinzimini. Featured were two reds, three whites, and a dessert wine from Marchesi De Frescobaldi and Attems Wineries, both of which are regularly rated in the Top 100 of Wine Spectator magazine.
Our amuse-bouche was a bruschetta made of artichoke pesto, walnuts, and pecorino—to die—served with an Attems Sauvignon Blanc. The first course consisted of agnolotti (small pockets of pasta filled with butternut squash, sage, brown butter, and parmesan) paired with an Attems Pinot Grigio. Then came a baby beet salad with citrus segments, fried goat cheese, and a pomegranate vinaigrette that went perfectly with a Nipozzano Chianti Rufina Reserva. Third on the menu was was pan-seared branzino (Mediterranean sea bass) served with a grilled lemon salsa verde and a Pomino Chardonnay. The pièce de résistance—a wild boat braised in Barolo, with creamy polenta and Portobello mushrooms—was accompanied by a luscious Lucente red. With the vanilla and pistachio panna cotta with amarena cherries that topped off the evening, we enjoyed a Nivole Moscato D’Asti.
I’ll be treating myself to a marvelous Mediterranean cruise later this summer, and I feel like I’ve already had an advance taste of what Italia has in store for me. Closing my eyes at Pinzimini, I could just as easily have been in Roma, Venezia, or Milano.
I can hardly wait for the next two wine dinners in the series: “Grgich Hills East” on March 26 with Executive Sous-Chef Antwon Brinson, and “Antinori” on April 30 with Executive Chef Joel Delmond.
At just $85 per person, these Bacchanalian feasts are more than reasonably priced, whether you’re celebrating a special occasion—or simply because it’s Thursday night in the desert. See you there! I’ll be the one in Pucci…or Versace…or Prada. Buon appetito!