I mentioned in my last post that I’d attended a blogger conference in Temecula, just north of San Diego, California and talked about my take away there. This time, I want to highlight the city itself because we spent the weekend there.
I was originally going to go there by myself but asked Doug to come along because I’m still recovering from my sprained foot. I didn’t want to deal with driving and parking. We left Friday morning after the traffic had cleared and drove 2 hours from Los Angeles.
Temecula was hosting the Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival and we were told to expect traffic in the area surrounding it.
It was a smooth ride with no major snafus. We were starving when we arrived so we stopped at the Garage Brewing Company. It used to be a repair and tire shop that was converted into a craft brewery. The brewing tanks can be seen through a large window behind the bar. They were custom designed by a company in North America that’s a pioneer in developing equipment for the craft brewing industry. The restaurant is also a busy fast food pizzeria that serves tasty thin crust pizza and salads. Doug and I split a pizza and a large salad. If you’re looking for a quick bite with high quality, fresh food, and great beer, give it a try.
One funny thing I noticed in the brewery is that there was a number of older men sitting down to eat with funny tee shirts on. I’m wondering if this is a Temecula thing.
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After lunch, we checked into the Ramada Inn that’s located just a couple blocks from the entrance to Old Town Temecula. The Ramada Inn is an affordable no frills hotel. They offer a nice continental breakfast starting at 6:30 each morning and have a pool and Jacuzzi. Originally, I booked it because I was attending the conference by myself. The bed was comfortable but there was something sticky on the floor by the dresser and the bathroom looked like it could have used a remodel. Nonetheless, the staff was extremely helpful and friendly. I loved that the hotel was convenient to my event that took place in the Civic Center conference room in Old Town and it was cheap.
I would have preferred to stay at one of the winery resorts, but they were more expensive and traffic was predicted to be slow on the winery trail that led to the weekend wine and balloon festival.
Temecula’s adorable Old Town boasts specialty shops, wine tasting rooms and an array of fine restaurants. There are at least 45 wineries in the Temecula area and it’s becoming a wine tasting destination rivaling the Central Coast and Napa.
I was still hobbling on my sprained foot which, unfortunately, made it difficult for me to walk on the boarded sidewalks of Old Town. We managed to make it to Fazeli Cellars, a wine tasting room off Old Town Front Street and we each ordered a flight of wine to taste. The ladies at the bar were friendly conversationalists and the wine was smooth and delicious. My favorite tasting was their red 2012 Pandemonium.
For dinner, we decided to dine at a restaurant that was rated number 1 on Trip Advisor for the Temecula area. It’s called Trattoria Toscana and is located in a large open shopping center. It’s a tiny but attractive establishment owned by Pietro, a recent immigrant from Sardinia, Italy. Our waiter was Gino from Parma, Italy. Pietro told us he opened the restaurant only 18 months ago but we could see why it’s rated number 1.
Trattoria Toscana is truly authentic Italian. We felt like we’d been transported back to Italy with every bite. Both of us started off with the Bruschetta di tre colori. Each piece of bread had a different topping.
- Asparagus, garlic, olive oil and aged Pecorino
- fresh tomatoes, basil olive oil and garlic
- Sautéed mushrooms, garlic, parsley and olive oil.
My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
I ordered the Linguini con gamberoni (prawns) and Doug the Linguini alle vongole. (clams) Both dishes were excellent and beautifully presented. We finished off our meal by sharing a luscious Tiramisu. I never wanted to leave.
Pietro hand crafted some of the furniture in the trattoria out of carved wood. It added to the ambiance.
The next morning, Doug woke up before sunrise to drive to the festival and ride in a hot air balloon. He wanted to take pictures while he was up in the air. I attended the conference all day and couldn’t go. The balloon company wouldn’t have to let me go up anyway because you have to be able to climb into the basket. My foot wasn’t quite ready for that. After his balloon voyage, Doug spent a few hours at the wine tasting festival and then returned back to the hotel to take a nap.
That evening, we had reservations for dinner at Restaurant at Ponte at the Ponte Family Estate Winery and Vineyard Inn, that’s located on the same road as the festival. We were happy that the traffic going to the festival had died down. We sat down and dined al fresco in the garden for dinner. It was a beautiful night and we shared a plate of Paella along with a glass of their fantastic Doppietta red wine. It was full bodied and so sublime, we ordered a bottle to take home with us. We finished up our dinner with a Crème Brule Trio – chocolate cigar, candied lavender and tropical fruit. Yum!
The next morning we checked out of the hotel and went for brunch at Mo’s Egg House. It’s a hugely popular breakfast joint outside of the main part of town. I ordered the Little Italy omelet. It came with potatoes, biscuits and gravy.
The waitress also gave us two servings of their famous coffee cake for free. Like a good girl, I only ate half of my breakfast and took home the rest. Mo’s was busy when we arrived, but we called ahead and were seated almost immediately.
Temecula is a fun destination for a relaxing weekend getaway. One of the ladies at my conference made the suggestion to visit during the week to avoid the crowds. The town frequently has weekend events. Next time, I’d like to splurge and stay at one of the winery spa resorts.
If you’re out that way and love to drink wine, stop by for a day or two. I guarantee you’ll enjoy it.
If you could go anywhere in Southern California, where would you go? Please leave a comment below.