A very unique but unpretentious red chair is making the rounds of small inns and B&B’s across the country. Last week the red chair traveled to the Inn at Europa Village in the Temecula Valley Wine Country. We visited with the red chair one morning and enjoyed one of the Inn’s scrumptious, gourmet breakfasts prepared by Executive Chef Dean Thomas.
The red chair’s travels are a way to raise the visibility of outstanding small inns throughout the country. In 2012 and 2013, and now into 2014, the red chair’s journeys have taken it throughout New England and across the country to the west coast. Blog sites have been telling the tales of the red chair’s journeys and it is being tracked on its own website, http://www.redchairtravels.com, which also includes inspiring and sometimes whimsical photos of the red chair in many picturesque settings, from snow-covered hills to sunny beaches to intimate inn lobbies.
The red chair’s journey all started with Woods Hole Innkeeper, Beth Colt’s, first posting on Facebook of the chair perched on ice behind her Inn. And then, as they say, the photo “went viral.” Julie Ann Cromer, a Santa Barbara photographer who saw the Facebook posting, was inspired to visit Woods Hole and took another dramatic photo of the chair on the beach. And then the idea emerged to share the chair with other innkeepers as a way to highlight small inns throughout New England and eventually all of America.
At the time, Beth Colt said, “Now it’s time for the chair to branch out. . . . It’s a barn-raising of sorts: the sharing of a piece of Americana.”
The red chair is accompanied by a small, red, somewhat battered suitcase that holds brochures and notes from the many places the red chair has visited. Chef Dean says that a guest visiting the Inn at Europa Village nominated the Inn as a site for a red chair visit. And so it came to be that we found ourselves in the congenial atmosphere of the Inn at Europa Village’s comfy dining area as we contemplated a humble red chair, took photos, chatted with friendly guests, and savored a wonderful breakfast.
The Inn is famous for Chef Dean’s creative and delicious breakfasts, which are included in the price of a night’s stay. Every morning the Chef serves different dishes, most of which he has created himself using fresh local ingredients. Our morning’s breakfast described here is just a sampling of the kind of innovative dishes you can expect.
We were first served the Chef’s version of a Swiss Bircher Muesli, which included toasted oats with almonds, golden raisins, apples, grapefruit, kiwi and raspberries, all topping rhubarb that had simmered in Europa Village wine. Lovely to behold and scrumptious on the palate, this heavenly creation was the right way to start our morning. This dish was followed by a beef and fingerling potato hash with a variety of surprising ingredients that combined to produce delicious flavors and textures. We learned that the hash had been simmered in Guinness. It was served with sautéed Swiss chard, sweet yellow tomato, a brined cucumber, and a mini rutabaga tart, all topped with a perfectly poached egg and crème fraiche. The addition of red Fresno chili spice gave the dish a tang that set off all the flavors.
The Inn at Europa Village has ten exquisite guestrooms with private balconies that overlook the vineyards and are within easy walking distance of Europa Village Winery’s charming tasting room. Rates start at about $190 a night and include a daily complimentary gourmet breakfast prepared by Chef Dean, daily glass of sangria, use of the terrace hot tub and wireless internet. And guests are minutes away from about 40 other wineries in the Temecula Valley Wine Country, which is about an hour from San Diego and no more than two hours from almost anywhere in Riverside or Orange counties. The Inn at Europa Village fills up quickly, especially on weekends, so make your reservation as far in advance as possible. The Inn is located at 33350 La Serena Way in the Temecula Valley Wine Country. For reservations, call 877-676-7047.