By Rick Riozza

As we are all experiencing—right in the middle of tourist season here—music and food & wine events are simply blasting their way through our fair valley. And in our haste to heed, eat and drink the best we can, we can kinda miss taking the time to figuratively “smell the roses”, i.e. sitting around the patio quaffing a nice & easy Vinho Verde wine and chatting with friends about some of the wonderful sounds and wine & food pairings we’ve all been enjoying.

Anytime a fantastic dish meets up with a tasty and sexy wine, we vino lovers wish to be in on it. And we also like a little story around that gastronomic epiphany. Of course this all comes at the risk of sounding or coming off a bit pompous and/or boring—but always remember, hey!—it’s just food and wine we’re having fun with. We simply wish to give a heads-up on what’s doing.

And no one is missing a beat when it comes to listening in on some venturous sounds around town. This CV Weekly publication is saturated with music info on the pages. The music scene that often accompanies the food & wine crowd is streaming live at various restaurant bars and patios—I’ll mention some below.

I recently enjoyed the tasting menu over at the BluEmber Restaurant in the Rancho Las Palmas Resort in Rancho Mirage. The outside patio is one of the most beautiful dining areas, and a place every foodie needs to visit at least a few times during the season. Drinks, Happy Hour fare, Live Music and/or enjoying a first class meal, it’s fun socially, and works well as a romantic setting. Chef de Cuisine Brandon Testi continually impresses with his inventive fare and he is available to put a wine-dinner together for you

I had the great opportunity to sit and dine with the resort’s Director of Food & Beverage, Carlo B. de Leon. He came on board last year and his food & wine program is quite progressive with wine-dinners and special events on-going. He’s a real wine guy trained both as a chef and sommelier. So as one can imagine, we talked—and I sampled, wine all evening.

In the past few months, at the bluEmber’s UNCORKED Wine Dinner Series, we’ve enjoyed the likes of Dierberg & Star Lane, Schramsberg & Davies, Michael Mondavi, and Marchesi de Frescobaldi wines to the superb meals at the hands of Chefs Nyerick and Testi. And yet we have one more wine dinner to look forward to, with the theme “California vs. Europe”, scheduled for April 23rd 2015 at 6pm that will feature the wines of Louis Jadot, Tattinger, Cakebread, Domaine Carneros (and who knows what else!?) along with a grand finale of exquisite cuisine by our wunderkind Chefs! No vino lover can miss this!

BluEmber Reception + Four Courses $85 plus tax &gratuity. Call (760) 834-2110 sooner than later for reservations. See you there!

Besides all of the wine dinners happening at Pinzimini Restaurant in the Westin Mission Hills Resort & Spa, they’ve got a cool Jazz Concert Series titled Grooves at The Westin. Consummate musical professionals such as the Smooth Jazz Allstars featuring Gregg Karukas, Jessy J, Brian Simpson and Michael Paulo, and, the acclaimed Grammy-nominated jazz ensemble group Hiroshima will be performing in an intimate setting on the luxurious lawn under the canopy of stars at the resort.

Check out the details for the Saturday March 21st 2015 concert set for 7pm. There is also a Dinner Package available that will include a 3-course dinner, one glass of house wine and the chance to oversee and listen to the Jazz Concert from your reserved Fireside Lounge Patio table. $99 plus taxes and gratuity. Reservations must be made through the host at Pinzimini by calling (760) 770-2150 or emailing

Alert! The up-coming Hiroshima concert performance is on the following Saturday, March 28th.

Last Thursday evening over at The Vineyard Lounge located at the Miramonte Resort & Spa in Indian Wells we caught up Gennine Jackson and her sultry mix of jazz vocals, R&B, and Pop favorites. It’s called Thursday Night Live! where Gennine performs every Thursday evening from 5 to 8pm.

The venue is spacious and relaxed where a couple or party can either sit at the bar, or a hang out in the lounge or outside on the patio and still be up-close to the songstress.

Gennine Jackson performs throughout the Coachella Valley and enjoys a following from her stints at Legends in Palm Springs and Sundays at Wangs of the Desert.

I asked her how she likes the new atmosphere at The Vineyard Lounge. She says, “It’s great! I love the crowd–including both those wishing to sit and enjoy my vocals and those who wish to show their enthusiasm of my song choices by getting up to dance. It certainly boosts my energy level—I really have a fun time!”

Gennine comes from a musical family who were in on professional gigs and recordings in the L.A scene back in the 70’s. She performs a wide musical portfolio with Gladys Night, Barbara Streisand and Sarah Vaughn as some of the many influences to her style.

Dinner is right next door at the famed Grove Artisan Kitchen, or, for lighter fare the Vineyard Lounge features an impressive wine selection and hand-crafted artisanal cocktails using fresh ingredients grown on property. Take in the inspiring views of the Santa Rosa mountains and enjoy great appetizers and sandwiches.

See you around town—CHEERS!