Start spreadin’ the news—I gotta tell ya, there were more celebrity sightings at the Frank Sinatra Celebrity Golf Invitational than I’ve seen in a while.  The three day extravaganza was held at Fantasy Springs Casino Resort & Spa—and well, no need to name drop but I was dining with the likes of Dick Van Dyke, William Devane, Joe Mantenga, Super Bowl Raider Coach Tom Flores, and, of course Barbara Sinatra, whose Children’s Center is the beneficiary of what is known as “Frank’s little party in the desert”.

Shout-outs to the lovely Anndee Laskoe, PR Manger at Fantasy who keeps all of us—me especially, in the loop with all of the great events held at the resort, and to the enchanting Janet Newcomb, Newcomb Media, who especially handled this Sinatra event with aplomb.

And of course, one of my favorite pisano chefs in town, Executive Chef Freddy Rieger set out a wonderful “Pasta Italiano” buffet that showcased Tuscan Roast Pork, Chicken Parmesan and the most delectable antipasti platters of cheese and Italian salumi.  No Chef Freddy banquet is complete without his famous 100 year old family recipe of hand-rolled meatballs with freshly ground Italian sausage.  Chewing on those babies that had been simmering in the perfect marinara sauce was the bomb!

It’s time to interview Chef Freddy again and have him chat over all of the restaurants and cuisines he engages himself with—from Italian Abbondanza! to Asian Joy! So please stay tuned!

The flawless red wine to accompany the meal was the free flowing 2007 Merlot from Monte de Oro Winery.   This is one of the best Merlot’s to come out of Temecula. A medium bod­ied wine with sub­tle tan­nins. It offers a beau­ti­ful brickish red color (having a bit of age) with black cherry and black cur­rants com­pli­mented by devel­op­ing spice drops, black fruit blos­soms, vanilla and oak. It ends with a dry fin­ish that long high­light­s the wine’s bal­anced acid­ity and fruit com­po­nents.

Why not enjoy this wine at the 12th Floor Wine Bar & Lounge or any of the six restaurants and bars within the Fantasy Casino Resort.  It’ll be my go-to red until it runs out.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino 84-245 Indio Springs Dr, Indio, California 92203
(760) 345-2450



For those in the know, Chez Pierre Bistro is truly one of the best French cuisine restaurants in our valley. Kind of hidden away—where it adjoins Fisherman’s Market Grill in the Trader Joe’s Market plaza in Palm Desert, this bistro serves authentic French fare with the cherubic Chef Pierre at the helm.

One of the great international dishes of all time is steak tartare.  Yes –it is a preparation of raw beef & spicy condiments, kind of a European sushi—if you will.  Now there are some great tales regarding those merciless Tartars from Central Asia who hammered Europe while sitting on saddles of raw meat which were tenderized throughout the warring day.  But fortunately, a more civilized recipe exists.

This past Valentine’s Day, we really enjoyed Chef Pierre’s concoction of steak tartare: it was perfectly prepared!  Fresh grounded prime beef tenderloin with a mix of anchovy, brined capers, Dijon mustard, egg yolks, finely chopped red onion, finely chopped Italian parsley leaves, olive oil, and whatever else Chef Pierre decides on.  It comes with a serving of hot and salty pomme frites and I recommend the Belgian Endive Salad—which is superb and a great match to the meal.

And here’s the wine treasure on their wine list to complement the steak tartare: Chateau Lagrézette. [La-grey-ZET].   Wine from the Cahors region of southwest France is one of the boldest, richest, and inkiest you’ll ever put in your mouth. It is the original source for Malbec grapes. One thing to know from the start: the French Malbec is not brutally high in alcohol like some Malbecs coming out of Argentina.

One of the oldest and yet least known French wines, the red wine of Cahors has a long a distinguished history deep from the Middle Ages.  Indeed, the Chateau Lagrézette is on the site of a 12th century medieval fortress.

This French Malbec is concentrated and well structured with smooth tannins, a long aromatic persistence, and woody vanilla notes mingling with dark berry fruits. This is a hearty, rounded, balanced, harmonious wine with a long, elegant finish.  For the reasonable bottle price of $37, or $9 a glass, I can’t imagine a better pairing with the stellar steak tartare.



By the way, on Mondays from 10:30am to 1:30pm, Chef Pierre holds a cooking class, where a full meal is prepared and enjoyed afterwards with some selected wines.  What a way to begin the week!

Allez! Allez!

Chez Pierre Bistro, 44250 Town Center Way Palm Desert, CA 92260   760.346.1818

Rick is the desert’s sommelier-about-town where he conducts and entertains at private and business wine events & tastings.  Contact