It’s hard to imagine more enticing events than those coming up at Pechanga Resort & Casino at the end of February. Imagine gourmet food samplings from topnotch chefs. Imagine decadent, mouth-watering desserts with lots of chocolate. And to take all this over the top, imagine these culinary treats matched with stellar wines from some of the best wineries in California. This is all happening at Pechanga’s Chocolate Decadence event on Friday, February 26, and at the 8th Annual Pechanga Wine Festival on February 27.
As if it wasn’t enough to enjoy these delicious bites and wines, along with live music and a silent auction, your participation will be supporting a great cause. Proceeds from these events support Habitat For Humanity Inland Valley’s “Brush with Kindness” program that provides much needed home repairs to senior citizens and those no longer able to do such work themselves.
We were fortunate to attend a tasting of some of the treats that will be served at these events and to meet several of the creative chefs preparing them. The tasting was greatly enhanced by some outstanding South Coast Winery wines that were graciously poured and described by the winery’s renowned winemaker, Jon McPherson.
Pechanga Resort & Casino and South Coast Winery are located in Temecula, about an hour from San Diego and no more than two hours from almost anywhere in LA, Orange or Riverside Counties.
We have known for a long time that Pechanga’s restaurants are without question among the best in Southern California. So we were fortunate to enjoy tastings from these restaurants all in one room. Here is what we savored (and what you can savor too at the upcoming events):
The Great Oak Steakhouse served tender, mouth-watering bites of filet mignon with a mushroom shallot confit and also flavorful mini lump crab cakes with a chipotle aioli. The filet was enhanced by sips of South Coast’s 2011 TNT (Touriga Nacional, Tempranillo) with its deep, rich berry tastes.
Bamboo served delicious lightly battered shrimp creatively wrapped around a stick of sugarcane that I enjoyed with light, tropical 2014 Sauvignon Blanc from South Coast’s special musque clone. The flavorful Peking Duck on pita from Blazing Noodles was also wonderful with the Sauv Blanc.
Journey’s End, the upscale restaurant at Pechanga’s world-class golf course, served a lovely shrimp cocktail with a zesty white cocktail sauce and rich braised pork with fennel and a dab of carrot puree. I enjoyed both these treats with South Coast’s rich, fruity 2012 Boulder Red.
Umi Sushi & Oyster Bar is one of my favorite Pechanga restaurants and is definitely one of the best sushi spots in Southern California. The beautifully presented Salmon Tartar on a California Roll was delectable, especially with South Coast’s crispy, floral Blanc de Blanc.
We also love Paisano’s, Pechanga’s authentic Italian eatery, which was serving a variety of artistically displayed small appetizers. We especially enjoyed a heavenly lobster ravioli that matched nicely with a mellow, peachy 2014 Viognier.
The more casual Pechanga Café served flavorful, tangy mini-street tacos. Some were chicken and others carnitas, but I tried and loved the shrimp tacos which were so tasty with the 2013 Chardonnay Sans Chene.
We recently spent many hours at Kelsey’s Bar & Grill with our football fanatic adult sons. Kelsey’s is Pechanga’s recently remodeled upscale version of a sports bar with hearty but innovative American cuisine, specializing in grilled meats. At this tasting we enjoyed BBQ short ribs with southern fried, cheesy grits and also chipotle-maple glazed pork belly. If we had actually been at Kelsey’s, I might have ordered a craft beer sampling but South Coast’s 2012 Wild Horse Peak Cabernet Sauvignon’s rich, smoky, ripe fruit tastes were perfect with these meaty treats.
Pechanga’s superb Catering & Banquets department presented unique and delicious cava and cantaloupe lollipops and stuffed mini sweet peppers with Spanish sausage, shrimp and potato that were even more delicious after a few sips of spicy, ripe cherry 2012 Sangiovese.
In addition to these gourmet treats, we relished all the tempting desserts presented by Pechanga’s bakery department. These desserts will, of course, be a highlight of Chocolate Decadence on February 26. They were especially enhanced by both the Blanc de Blanc and a subtly sweet, floral Late Harvest Muscat of Alexandria.
We were pleased to meet Duane Owen, Pechanga’s Executive Chef, who is overseeing all these restaurants and is excited about the upcoming events at Pechanga. He expressed great appreciation for the excellent chefs and staff at each of these restaurants who are able to pull together such wonderful events for so many people.
While all the wines served at this tasting were from South Coast Winery, there will be many more outstanding wineries represented on Feb. 26 and 27. And South Coast will be back if you would like to try some of the wines described here.
Chocolate Decadence, to be held from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, February 26, is $55 per person and will feature more than 30 wine varietals that pair especially well with desserts. VIP tickets are $75 and include early entry, an upgraded souvenir wine glass, passed hors d’oeurves, and samples of all the chocolates and wines being served.
The 8th Annual Pechanga Wine Festival will be held from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, February 27. Tickets are $65 and include a souvenir wine glass, unlimited two-ounce samples of wine and spirits, gourmet food and dessert samples. VIP tickets are $85 and include early entry at 12 p.m. Combo tickets for entry into both events are available for $100 or combo VIP tickets are $140. Designated driver tickets are $30 for Chocolate Decadence and $40 for the Wine Festival.
For tickets or more information, visit the Pechanga Box Office, call 877-711-2946 or visit the Pechanga website.