A Lake Tahoe mountaintop, pop-up dinner

If I've said it once, I've said it a million times: The Mountain Table Dinner Series atop Northstar California is one of my favorite events around Lake Tahoe. After all, it's not just anywhere that you can take a gondola up a ski resort after hours to a multi-course dinner and wine pairing on top of a snow-covered mountain. 

Taking place atop Northstar California at Zephyr Lodge, the Mountain Table Dinner Series is an exclusive experience, pairing some of California's best winemakers with Northstar's chefs for a one-of-a-kind dinner. Each dinner, happening several times per winter, features a different winery, pairing five of their wines with five different entrees that have been carefully-crafted by Northstar's executive chefs. 

The latest dinner, taking place last weekend, featured Napa winery The Prisoner, and winemaker Chrissy Wittmann. When I mentioned this to friends visiting Truckee for the first time, they quickly perked up, sharing that the winery's namesake wine, The Prisoner, a red blend, was among their favorite wines. 

Unique to Friday's dinner, before the meal even started, was discovering that Executive Chef Aramis Torres is actually from Puerto Rico, and that proceeds from the dinner were going to benefit victims from Hurricane Maria. As such, the menu was Puerto Rican inspired, with Chef Torres sharing stories of his home, even talking about ingredients used in dishes that his mother sent from Puerto Rico for the dinner. The Puerto Rican inspiration included items like coconut arepas and Puerto Rican plantain. 

The icing on the cake, literally, was the chocolate beet cake with chai dulce de leche, paired with the 2016 Prisoner, to the sound of live music by local musicians.

Below, you can see photos from last weekend's dinner, and reserve your space for one of the last two dinners of the year. Peter Mondavi, co-proprietor of Charles Krug in St. Helena, will be the featured winemaker at the February 16 dinner, and Ryan Decker, of Healdsburg's Rodney Strong, will be the winemaker for the final dinner on March 9.

Southern born and bred, Spencer was bitten by the travel bug at a young age, flying on a plane for the first time at age five and by himself for the first time at seven. While he continues to travel around the world in search for the best whiskey, Spencer now calls Reno home, where his search is for the best cocktail (and first tracks, naturally). He has written about travel, food, and drinks for a number of publications that have included the Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, Outside Magazine, and Travel + Leisure, just to name a few. See a more candid version of Spencer on his website, whiskeytangoglobetrot.com, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.