Tasting Local at the Temecula Creek Inn with a Side of Hospitality

[UPDATED: Farm House Kitchen has had a name change. It is now Cork | Fire Kitchen.] A trip from Orange County to Temecula, southern California's "wine country," is not too far but distanced enough to be considered a relaxing getaway. We spent a short weekend out in the area and were gratefully hosted at the Temecula Creek Inn, the premier location for travelers in Temecula complete with on-grounds restaurant and expansive 27-hole championship golf course. Nestled just a short drive away from all the wineries, the resort is definitely a beauty that lets you wind down while on vacation. We heard from locals and saw from walking around that they are also quite known for the special events that many host there, particularly weddings. Why not? The greens are gorgeous, the location is perfect and the accommodations are so comfortable.

Our check-in was for the King Executive, a  room keen on catering to golf lovers as each came with a patio view of the gorgeous golf course. After we walked in, we noticed that the backside of the front door looked like a wooden barn door and that there was a bench to the side for comfortably sitting down to remove shoes. Adorned with wall and floor accents that evoked an organic feel, the entire room took advantage of dark browns, deep reds and oranges, and tans with the occasional stark contrast of black via electronics (modern tech call out?) such as the iPod dock, TV, phone, and alarm clock. There was dark brown rattan branches in the corners as well as netted on the wall and as a round side table out on the patio. The walls had a stucco look to put one in the wine country mood as if in a villa but the textured, woven design of the carpet made walking around comfortable and feel like home rather than a hotel. However, as with all hotels, there were paintings on the wall and the ones in our room were complementary to each other, a gentle two-painting image of the wine country landscape. Functional decor pieces were coppery in color such as the desk lamp with its glass squares or the decorative large glass plate on the TV stand with its silver leaf wash and dark red veins.

In terms of amenities, we spotted vanity, sewing, and dental kits which worked out well because I forgot my toothbrusth, whoops! The bathroom was enormous with two sinks and a separate toilet room. Oddly enough, most of the room's outlets were located in the bathroom so keep that in mind if you're in need of charging anything. The side closet housed an in-room safe, hangers, iron with ironing board, fluffy white bathrobes, extra sheets, and even a blanket for sitting outside on the patio. When we had come in first, our bed had a lovely long runner draped over it upon which sat a woven basket with a copy of Wine Spectator; the nightstands held Bigelow tea and Intazza coffee for making in the room; a Cuisinart coffeemaker; ice bucket; and two wine glasses. We were definitely in wine country. As for the lounging about, I loved the pattern lounge chair with its ample space and accompanying ottoman. The bed was comfortable enough for our night's sleep though the pillows a little flat, save for the dark orange accent ones that came with a ridge knit cover - those were too crinkly and dense to be slept on. If you do stay at the Temecula Creek Inn, the front desk has loads of information and guides to help you along in Temecula during your stay!

Another perk of their property and the main reason we were around is their extraordinary restaurant, Farm House Kitchen. We had actually dined there the night before right after we had checked in and absolutely enjoyed the dinner. Helmed by Executive Chef Igor Krichmar, CIA graduate and a chef who has worked with the likes of Thomas Keller and Alex Strada all over the country, the restaurant is "committed to utilizing local produce, meat and fish wherever possible. Local purveyors we use include Nikolau Family Farms, La Bahn Farms, Old Town Baking Company, Temecula Olive Oil Company, Cros Pass Farms, Heavenly Produce, Sage Mountain Farms and Vintage Natural Beef." On less faithful days, they say their stock of ingredients is only about 60% local but they strive for the 70:30 ratio or higher; after all, it is difficult sometimes for small-time farmers to supply enough crop for a full restaurant's coffers. For the bonafide food and the glorious morning view, we opted to grab breakfast here as well.

A 3 million dollar renovation of the restaurant to transform from the old Temet Grill has done the place well. The farmhouse-inspired establishment built upon a dedication to sourcing as local as possible had some of the neatest farm-to-table decor. Wrought iron, wood, and distressed metal all hung around and above us as we looked out over the championship gold course. It was easily packed in the main dining room for breakfast/brunch and aside from the view, the atmosphere was stellar as well. Every table was treated with a board of warm, freshly made biscuits upon which a slather of housemade jams was welcome. Ours was Blueberry Lemon but the chef had told us other flavors existed based on season such as their Strawberry Basil and Raspberry Cocoa. These biscuits did not need the help of any extra butter on the board either - they were fluffy and just perfect enough. I was tempted to get a breakfast cocktail that morning we dined due to how balanced and well-executed our night's cocktail had been but opted for juice instead. We weren't fond of the juices though but moved on to browse the menu that was split up into sections labeled, "The Health Nut, From the Griddle, What's Not to Like?, The Benny's, and Right Hand." The manager suggested their buttermilk pancakes but we wanted something more savory.

Cue in our choices of the 'Huevos' Benedict ($13 - grilled Spanish chorizo, cornbread muffin, poached farm eggs, chipotle hollandaise), Eagle Omelet ($13 - farm eggs, local Cheddar cheese, spinach, green onions, roasted wild mushrooms, salsa verde), and a side of Breakfast Sausage ($4 - changes weekly). Each entree also came with a side of their cheesy potato hash that was too smothered and soft for our liking. The benedict was an instant hit, using the inherent saltiness of authentic Spanish chorizo to highlight the fresh poached eggs. I enjoyed the chipotle hollandaise too as it brought the whole theme together. The cornbread muffin was a pleasant surprise, sweet and crumbly. My omelet was definitely chock-full of spinach and mushrooms but nothing too out of the box. After all, breakfast has a fairly standard taste profile so it all suited the morning munching needs.

After we filled up on the local eats, we walked around the property once again to see their outdoor pool and sauna (great for swimming when on vacation) that overlooked the golf course as well and their event space. Tucked away with a border of trees that looked purposefully planted around to create seclusion, this event area had the right set-up for a ceremony, reception, and lounging area for cocktails. Since both Duc and I have worked with weddings (he on the photography side, I on the planning and coordination side), it was happily obvious to us where exactly all parts would seamlessly happen during the special days of. A lovely spot and apparently popular too! Beneath the restaurant was the entrance to the golf course with golf cart rentals and patio furniture to sit about and chat. It certainly all seemed well thought out here at the Temecula Creek Inn, and we're looking forward to returning on our visits to Temecula. You can find them at 44501 Rainbow Canyon Rd., Temecula, California 92592 if you're looking to visit. Check out more on their website too at www.temeculacreekinn.com!

Photography by Duc Duong. More photos available on Facebook here.