Monday, August 24, 2009

Temecula Creek Inn

Brunch is a funny word. Technically it means a combo of lunch and breakfast, but often it is a big, bountiful, stuff yourself silly, mid-morning meal. That’s just what The Gals and I did at the Temecula Creek Inn. Overlooking a sprawling 27 hole golf course we grazed; made to order omelets, salmon in a puff pastry, seared tuna with the fixings–seaweed salad, wasabi and ginger, artisanal cheeses, eggs benedict... I’m not even scratching the surface! As for drinks, we needed caffeine, but the brunch sported a Bloody Mary bar,
Champaign and Mimosas.

The golfers in my family, Mom, Dad and brother, Michael, say Temecula Creek Inn is the golfing venue in Temecula. Mom and Dad have golfed throughout the world and they had nice things to say about the course in comparison to some others in Southern California. Michael likes a nice place and Temecula “rated” for him. Believe me, that’s saying a lot.

Us Gals aren’t golfers, but we agreed that we should take it up as we sat down with plate number TWO. That

morning eating seemed to be our sport of choice!

Friday Night Lights at Temecula Creek Inn starts at 5:30pm with nine holes of golf followed by an upscale buffet dinner. Then try your swing at an additional three

holes of glow in the dark golf ($85.00). This sounds like a blast for a girlfriend getaway, as does some of their other events and packages.

We liked the understated ranch-like feel of the Inn. Villas overlooking the course seamlessly blended with the

greens. Nice, because all too often the architecture surrounding a course can appear out-of-place, like Tiger Woods jumping horses.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Temecula Tastiness, Olive Oil

"It's begging for a tomato," said Catherine Pepe about Temecula Olive Oil Company's Fresh Basil oil. With the heady aroma of freshly cut basil filling our nostrils and the satiny feel of mission olive oil on our lips, my girlfriends and I sighed, smiled and swooned over the suggestion. Take this same oil and mix it with California Pomegranate Vinegar for a bright, tangy, peppery taste that does a cha cha in your mouth. Dress a salad of watermelon, feta cheese and basil with this oil and vinegar combo and you're transported to the Mediterranean.
The Temecula Olive Oil Company was one stop during last weekend's sojourn in Temecula, CA. The Gals and I, three pals since high school, sampled the flavors, sites and smells of this area kn
own to many as Southern California's Wine Region. We smelled and sipped wine, tasted olive oil, received foot scrubs, slathered ourselves with mud, brunched, lunched and dined–all while talking non-stop. Exercising ones jaw to near exhaustion is the happy by-product of a successful girlfriend's get-away. I'll be writing about this one for blogs to come.

But I mustn't digress from olive oil. The Temecula Olive Oil Company has been in business for
the past nine years. As you approach their retail store in Old Town you get a feeling for the
romance surrounding olive harvesting at Southern California missions of old. The store is one still life after another of everythin
g that is "olive-able." Soaps, olive wood accessories, tapanades, stuffed olives galore and creative farm to table foods.

Maneuvering toward the olive bar we were willing participants to owner Catherine's crash course in making and tasting olive oil. She passionately shared her life's work, harvesting enthusiastic oohs and awes from us. She talked of the company's olive acreage, managing other growers, a custom designed press, the cold press process and so much more. All the while we were tasting, in little tiny cups without bread, oils with names like; Citrus Reserve, Roasted Garlic, Jalapeno, Rotture di Oro and Mission. These were followed by a tasting of vinegars that just knocked my flip flops off!
Imagine, she says, this Vanilla & Fig Balsamic drizzled over vanilla ice-cream!

To paint an even more idilic vision of this family owned business, Catherine pointed out partner and grower, Thom Curry's picture. She referenced his olive credentials–certified by the International Olive Oil Council and Master Taster. Needless to say Thom became fodder for our romantic dreams of, "Hunky man of the harvest, elbow deep in olive making." (Sorry Nancy, be pleased, not peeved.)

Now, olive oil aficionados, we'll share a few oil does and don'ts:

• Skip big bottles of olive oil from the shelves of wholesale food stores.
• Don't believe extra virgin is a virgin. Know the pedigree of your olive oil and its maker.
• Stick with a tall thin bottle, minimizing the ratio of air to oil, keeping the oil fresher longer.
• Be creative with olive oil varieties–try them on everything from veggies to fish to Bloody Marys!
• Olive oil doesn't last forever. Store it in a cool dark place and use it, the sooner the better!
Photos, Brigitte Lehnert

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Surf Fashion, USA

In the O.C, Orange County, CA, where I'm from, there are several "required Cali" visits that my kids will not let us skip. One is to Huntington Beach, otherwise known as Surf City, USA. My nephew explained that you have to include the USA part or the location will be confused with Santa Cruz. Apparently, there was some frenzied politicking by both local governments to get the official name. For me, it will always be Huntington Beach, home to Huntington Surf & Sport–mecca of surfer cool stuff.

HSS is the real deal. Absent is the blaring music, fake driftwood signage, nightclub lighting, model surfer chicks and dudes out front (except for the real ones walking to or from the beach). Unlike the store, Hollister, the only way to experience a "live feed" from Huntington Pier is to walk out the door and look to your left across the street. Hollister will always be the want-to-be of HSS. Like a store bought sea shell, their products promise the California dream, but once home, they are more reminiscent of a heavily marketed brand, admittedly a successful one, conceived by suits not surfers.

HSS is a must for anyone attempting to authenticate a surfer lifestyle, or style. They carry all the great surfer brands as well as their own house brand. And if you need to pick up a surf board and not just flip flops, well they have plenty to choose from!

Huntington is a fun place to beach, shop and surf. A hodgepodge of pacific beach humanity, it has great people watching.

To find out more about this favorite Cali destination read GoNOMAD editor, Max Hartshorne's article, Huntington Beach: A Surfer's City.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Summer Cover Up, Pashmina, even now!

My daughter has been wearing a lightweight pink pashmina this summer. She loosely wraps it once around her neck framing necklaces. Worn with a tank top on top of a cami, with not-too-short shorts and sandals, it's a great look. I'm particularly fond of this outfit because it hides the multiple of straps; bra straps, cami straps, tank straps that are de regure for teens.

While in the Hamptons I saw a woman more my age (don't ask) wearing a fettuccini strap sun-dress with a very lightweight scarf. Wrapped loosely, it effortlessly made what was a bare top not too bare. The scarf was fringed and colorful.

I was the grateful recipient of a featherweight pashmina from China that has a lovely illustration of three Chinese women in traditional garb, punting. Its cantaloupe, peach, orange, sand, green and turquoise colors are mixed together in a watercolor effect that is dreamy and it too is delicately fringed. I'm wearing it a lot. The color and fabric is a winning combination with a chartreuse silk dress I have that offers a bit too much up top.

My Chinese wrap was also the starting point for packing on Friday. Its sunny colors blend well with all that is Southern California.