With all the wineries on the Rancho California and De Portola Wine trails some wine seekers have not yet discovered the tasting rooms popping up on every corner in Old Town. One of my favorites is Villa Di Calabro Winery & Olive Oil Co. They are located at the end of Main Street just before the new Temecula City Hall . The beautiful wine and olive oil tasting room resonates with Italian charm and beauty while the amazing garden in the back is perfect to take your glass of wine and enjoy a perfect Temecula day. As the weather is heating and grilling season is about to start, my tastes are gradually beginning to shift to whites, and although the Temecula valley is known for its reds, I don’t miss the opportunity to try some of fantastic whites that the Temecula Valley has to offer.
Mike Calabro, of Villa Di Calabro has not just created an amazing place to visit but has made some fantastic wines, olive oils and vinegars. Over the last year, I routinely made special trips into Old Town to pick up one of their specialty olive oils to create a special dish, or just for an afternoon of dipping and sipping a glass or two of wine.
The Pick And The Perk
This week, I have not only picked a wine but an olive oil that can be paired with it. This weeks pick is the Villa White, a blend of four grapes, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Chardonnay. The notes state that it has layers and layers of exotic aromas and taste and is so rich that it will even please the palettes of red wine lovers. Know this, If Mike says it’s so, It’s so! To go along with this Gold Medal winning wine, I have chosen with the help of Mindy, Mikes other half, the Meyer Lemon Olive Oil. This Olive Oil a mix of True Lemon and Mandarin Orange. I recommend doing a late lunch with a grilled fish and veggies of your choosing and a fresh loaf of Italian bread. However at the bottom of the page you will see Chef Crispin as prepared something a bit more gourmet.
Now that I have painted the picture for you take some time this week or weekend and visit Mike and Mindy Calabro and taste all of their amazing Wines, Olive Oils and Vinegars. Sit outside in the garden and imagine the things you could create with all that they have to offer and tell them Taste Of Temecula sent you. With these magic words they will gladly give you any of their Wines, Olive Oils and Vinegars in the store for 25% off from now until the end of March.
I know many fans of Taste Of Temecula will be spending every dime they can get their hands on, on as much of Calabros goods as they can afford. Personally, I don’t blame them. This is sort of like the Black Friday of Olive Oils and Wines. Come down and make a day of it and say Hi to Mike and Mindy at Villa Di Calabro Winery & Olive Oil Co. They are open 11AM-6PM, Monday-Sunday.
Hope to see you there.
Villa Di Calabro Winery & Olive Oil Co.
41955 Main St
Old Town Temecula
Chicken for a Warm Spring Day.
By Crispin Courtenay
This recipe is designed around Villa Di Calabro’s Villa White wine and Meyer – Lemon Olive Oil. Matching a wine and olive oil was a little tricky, but it worked out in the end.
Citrus marinated chicken with Villa White wine and tangelo Sauce, served over a Israeli couscous with spring vegetables and instant pickled root vegetables from the Farmers Market, served with a seedy baguette slathered in butter.
Citrus Marinaded Chicken
Before we start, a word about chicken
As this chicken is simply prepared, quality matters. For chicken, I have found no better than Kosher, the butchery is cleaner, the birds tend to be fit and healthy, yellow skin, and with the Rabi pacing the packing plant, I know there are no shenanigans going on.
Hormones, antibiotics and economics of scale are the reason why there is cheap chicken. If you have children, do yourself, and more importantly them, a favor, spend the extra money for a wholesome product and not a science experiment.
Tangelo peel and juice
Myer lemon peel and Juice
8 tbsp Meyer-Lemon olive oil
1 tsp crushed dried chili, whatever you have will do
1 clove garlic crushed, could use more but do not want to overpower the wine
1 tsp crushed ginger
4 chicken breasts, deboned, skin optional
4 tbsp virgin olive oil (any brand)
1/3 cup Villa Di Calabro’s, Villa White, to deglaze the pan
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
½ tsp sea salt sprinkled on chicken as it cooks
1 tsp corn starch and 2 tsp water to make a slurry
Zest of the tangelo and lemon to garnish, use a zester or peeler then slice as thin as possible into strips.
Combine the first 6 ingredients with chicken, let marinade for at least a half hour. Add virgin olive oil to a hot sauté pan, when oil barely smokes add chicken breast and salt the back side, develop a nice brown sear and flip over, salt this side and cook for a few more minutes then throw the entire pan into an oven (325 – 500, keep an eye on it at high temperatures) to finish cooking. Remove from oven, take the chicken out of the pan and let rest.
Add the wine and orange juice to the pan—the pan is going to be very-hot, so please be careful– to deglaze. Reduce by 2/3 then add the slurry to thicken. Whisk until smooth. Optionally stir in high quality butter at the last-minute.
Slice the chicken into thin strips and set on top of the couscous, top with sauce and orange zest.
Israeli Couscous with Spring Vegetables
8 oz of couscous
3 cups of well-made chicken stock
3 tbsp melted butter
1/3 bunch of fresh chives, minced
1/3 English Cucumber, quartered, deseeded and diced finely
1 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
To be honest, couscous is one of those simple dishes that is easy to mess up. Heat up to boiling 3 cups of chicken stock, add couscous and bring to a boil for one minute. Reduce heat to low, and cover for 5 minutes. Remove lid, stir, turn off heat, leave it alone for 10 minutes then turn out on a sheet pan to cool. Add the olive oil and salt to taste. When cold add the remainder of ingredients and check seasoning. The couscous will likely need more salt.
If your couscous tastes done but has too much liquid, there are two tricks, one is to use a chinois or strainer and drain the extra liquid, the other is to add a vegetable that will absorb water.
- Salt, always add it in stages, easy to add more, nearly impossible to remove.
- Chefs use far more salt than you can imagine, that is why their food tastes different to home cooking. The generous use of spices and fresh herbs can lesson the amount of salt required for a given dish.
Instant-Pickled Root Vegetables
I used what I had (carrots, beets and onions), feel free to change vegetables, vinegars and add pickling spices if you want. I wanted clean flavors so organic white vinegar, kosher salt, Turbino sugar and a little water to dilute the vinegar.
This pickle will keep safely for a week. This is not a temperature-stabilized pickle so do not attempt to store for a long-time, nor at room temperature.
If you are in a hurry, blanch the root vegetables in boiling salted water until they start to soften a little, then plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process.
The vegetable can be combined, however the colors are so brilliant that I wanted to keep them separate. The premise is simple, clean and slice the vegetable however you want. Cover 8/10 of the way with vinegar and top off with water. For every cup of vinegar about ½ tsp of salt and 1 tbsp of sugar will give you nice results. Let pickle for about an hour and taste. Normally it is sugar that will have to be adjusted.