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Dining Guide for Families in Orange County

Creating the Perfect Gourmet Dinner at The Meat House

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When I was invited to attend a Wine Tasting & Food Pairing at The Meat House in Mission Viejo, it was a place I wasn’t familiar with and based on its name, I imagined it might be a steakhouse that served large sized luscious steaks and chops accompanied by big bold wines. A quick search on the internet revealed it’s actually a butcher and market. As a 10-year resident of San Clemente who frequently drives to Carlsbad and L.A. to buy meat and specialty items, how had I missed this place located just up the road? I was excited! And since I was able to bringing a guest, I immediately called my sister and partner in crime, Shan, who loves good food and wine as much if not more than I do.

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Upon arriving we were greeted by Assistant General Manager, Matt Wildermuth, who gave us a tour. Matt a graduate of The Culinary School at the Art Institute of California and former chef at The Bay Club at The Saint Regis in Dana Point is passionate about his role at The Meat House. He is responsible for brining not only, as the name suggests, a wide variety of the highest quality meats into the market including filet, tri-tip, sirloin, bone-in prime rib, dry aged beef, Wagyu beef, and hormone and antibiotic free chicken, but many additional specialty items as well. These items include select wines that you won’t find in your typical grocery aisle; a large selection of craft beers, the majority of them from California; a unique variety of cheeses and cured meats; wild caught fish and seafood; an expansive offering of wood chips for home smoking; organic produce; olive oils, specialty vinegars, and many other items to help you prepare dishes that may just rival your favorite restaurant.

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While meat may be at the heart of this market, it was immediately obvious that it offers so much more. Matt and General Manager, Cathy Martin shared their goal of making available everything you need to create the perfect gourmet meal, whether it’s simply the best ingredients, expert advice on how to prepare a dish, menu ideas if you’re feeling stuck in a rut, recipes they and their staff of chefs have developed, or even a fully cooked dinner ready to take home.

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But that’s not all… with a unique selection of wines and craft beers, Matt and his staff will help you choose something perfect to complement your dinner. And if you’d like to learn more and experience the wines or beers first hand, you are invited to attend their Friday night tastings.

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Now that we had been given the tour, we were ready for the tasting ourselves. We were treated to not only a regular wine tasting featuring three memorable wines from California winery Eponymous, but to a three course dinner which gave us the opportunity to learn about and experience first hand, the quality of ingredients found at The Meat House as well as the creative skills of their chefs.

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We began our tasting with an Eponymous Rose from 2012. I must confess, I am not a Rose fan, but this was an exception. It’s well balanced, refreshing, and bright, without too much sugar. It paired wonderfully with each of the cheeses we sampled in the first course which included a cow’s milk Mahón, Humboldt Fog, Pavé d’Affinous French double cream, Noord Hollander Aged Gouda, Petit Basque sheep’s milk cheese, and finally the Prima Donna, a mild Dutch Gouda.

The next two wines we tasted were Eponymous Macallister 2010, from Sonoma Valley and the Eponymous Cabernet Sauvignon 2008. The Macallister is a lush Bordeaux style wine with spice and hints of vanilla. The Cabernet, from Napa Valley is rich, bold, and round with hints of coffee and vanilla. We started with the Macallister and moved to the Cabernet as we were served the entrée, a Prime New York Strip with Chimichurri served on Mahón Polenta with Micro Greens and Purple Artichoke Hearts. I left the market with a bottle of The Eponymous Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, which if I am feeling generous I will share.

Rounding out our meal was a Banana Parfait with Chocolate Brownie Brittle, created by Chef Sam Becigh. You might immediately think Cabernet to go with the chocolate in this desert, but the creamy banana cried for the Eponymous Rose we began the tasting with. It was a fantastic combination. I will be purchasing my first bottle of Rose ever and serving it with this desert at one of my future summer barbecues.

Whether you are looking to taste a few boutique wines and learn more about them, in search of inspiration for your next dinner party, or simply want to grab some wonderful cuts of meat to put on the grill, a trip to The Meat House will not disappoint. It’s located at 23982 Alicia Parkway in Mission Viejo.

Dana Wilde grew up playing “sous chef” for her father as he churned out one amazing meal after the next for family and friends. She inherited her father’s life long passion for cooking and has spent the past two decades studying, reading, practicing, experimenting, and creating in the kitchen. Together, she and her sister, Shan are Simply Wilde, a small boutique catering business focusing on in-home entertaining.

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