It wasn't until we reached the top of the mountain and wound our way into the Big Bear Valley that I finally started to get excited. The view of the lake with moon beams lighting upon its glassy surface was enough to make me believe I was a 1000 miles away from the L.A. Basin. Although my love for those stately mountains is always compelling, there was another reason that dominated this particular trip up the mountain. Wine tasting. Yes! Rumor had it that Nottingham's Restaurant and Tavern was hosting a summer evening of wine tasting, dinner and song; and my husband and I couldn't wait to check it out.
We enter Nottingham's--an adventure in itself--to a warm and cozy atmosphere where numerous antiques of historic interest elicit curious conversation. There is the replica of a 1920's Greene and Greene designed Bolton House Stairway that leads to the Friar Tuck Tavern, and the back bar from a Prohibition-era cabaret on Rush Street in Chicago or the Coinola CX-Plus Nickelodeon from Hawaii, reportedly owned by Don Ho, to name a few. I could go on, but it's out to the Camelot Courtyard where the real fun awaits us this warm summer evening.
The courtyard is all a twinkle as festive lights don the evergreens and hosts and hostesses attend our every whim. Each table reflects the festivity of the evening with starched white table cloths and place settings fit for romance. There are crystal clear wine glasses of varying sizes, and music fills the air. Dayton Border, a local musician whose music captures the heart, has put down his guitar, and with the help of his keyboard, croons out another melody, further enhancing the mood of the evening.
Our Host for the event, Mr. David Leon, a representative from Classic Wines of California, introduces the wines and sets us on our way through the six-course menu. First, the appetizer, Ahi Cucumber, served with cilantro, ginger and soy sauce. The accompanying wine is a Bell Sauvignon Blanc. It is a fresh, crisp wine with a hint of citrus and grapefruit. The Ahi melts in my mouth, and I would be happy for the rest of the evening if the chef, Poncho, would forget the remainder of the menu and keep the Ahi coming.
It is good that I don't always get my way. After a Baby Spinach Salad to die for, and its accompanying wine, Rabbit Ridge Viognier --that went incredibly well with the raspberry vinaigrette dressing-- the first entree was served. It is an angel hair pasta topped with slipper lobster scampi; served with garlic, wine and butter sauce. It is paired with Robert Hall Chardonnay, appropriately chilled. Its hint of fresh fruit plays well with the lobster scampi. My fickle taste buds have found a new love.
This incredible fantasia of flavors continues through a second entree, Lamb Chops topped with a cilantro mint sauce and paired with Ventana Rubystone Wine; 60% Grenache- 40% Syran, giving it a spicy kick to offset the mint. Brilliant. And, ah, the third entree, a Chicken Roll, which is a healthy slice of chicken wrapped around asparagus and ham; served with a white brie cheese. The wine, Solus Sto Zinfandel, with its tart, fruity texture went extremely well with the brie cheese in particular. If you're mouth isn't watering by now, you'd best check your pulse.
At this point, I, myself, take a few minutes to sit back in my chair and savor these flavor-filled moments when I'm interrupted by a nudge from my husband. Dessert, the coup de gras of the evening has arrived. If you've never had a fresh peach poached in red wine and topped with vanilla flavored sauce, you've never truly had dessert. Pair this with a Robert Hall Orange Muscat-- flawless.
Needless to say, our Robinhood adventure was truly a night to remember, and an experience we hope to repeat many times over. We send our thanks and good wishes to the Brewster Family, who own and operate the Robinhood Resort, and to their incredible chef, Poncho. Their commitment to excellence is evident in all they do.
We understand that Nottingham's Restaurant and Tavern will be hosting another evening of wine, dinner, and song in August. Check their website for more information and get your reservation in soon!