California / Food / United States / Wines & Spirits

BBQ Class At Thornton Winery

Thornton Winery chef

Thornton Winery's Executive Chef Steve Pickell

Thornton Winery Temecula

Grilled Romaine salad

It’s amazing to think that just two months ago I fell and injured my left leg, requiring major surgery. I’m delighted to report I’m driving again and have loved rediscovering my backyard: the Temecula Valley’s magnificent wine country. This past Saturday I went to Thornton Winery  for Executive Chef Steve Pickell’s BBQ cooking class. Steve has spent most of the past two decades overseeing the kitchen at Thornton, and his easy going manner enhances his ability to impart his knowledge.

First on the menu were grilled summer vegetables with harissa dressing, a spice blend featuring coriander, caraway, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, salt and cayenne. This exotic seasoning added the perfect touch to red and yellow bell peppers,  Japanese eggplant and squash. Topped with cilantro and feta cheese, this was a great start to our afternoon. Sous chef Anthony Bartolotta displayed a huge wheel of Danish blue cheese and proceeded to make an amazing mayonnaise-based dressing with it that topped grilled romaine lettuce. Grilled lettuce? Absolutely. Try it sometime. It’s delicious. Chef Sara Costello also braved the heat, lending both of the other chefs a big hand.

With the mercury hovering in the low 90s, Chef Pickell kept the grill smoking as he assembled grilled pork tenderloin with black Mission figs, honey and rosemary. The air smelled delicious and the dish delivered what the aromas promised. A second meat dish? But of course. Our next offering was a grilled flatiron steak sandwich with roasted corn mayonnaise (whisked fresh on the spot) and grilled peppers on baguette.

Thornton Winery Temecula

Flatiron steak sandwich with roasted corn mayonnaise and grilled peppers

Thornton Winery Temecula

Grilled pineapple on flatbread with marscapone

Were we done? Not quite yet. Chef Steve had one more trick up his sleeve. For dessert he created grilled pineapple on flatbread, frosted with a creamy Marscapone cheese topping. Belly happily full, I bade farewell to our trio of chefs and Thornton winery and headed down the road to join some friends at their home overlooking lush vineyards.

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