Dining in July…

Chinook’s at Salmon Bay – located at the Fishermen’s Terminal in the Magnolia area of  Seattle.  The Terminal houses hundreds of commercial fishing vessels.  It is a favorite for those looking for an open air, light feel and the energy creates a great atmosphere.  Chinook’s offers seating on their outdoor patio as well which is exceptional during the summer months.   Although windy this time around, it still made for a good time.  Recommendation:  Half Shell Oysters, Oyster shooters, Hearts of Romaine with Blue Cheese, and the Chinook’s Cannery bread is to die for.  Paired with a brew, it makes for a tasty dinner indeed as Anthony’s and Chinook’s has a great selection of Northwest beer and wine.  I can’t recommend the other items had but can say that they have a good menu selection and in the future would like to try their Fettuccine (as I saw it on the line as we were leaving).  Chinook’s offers Happy Hour in the bar and on the patio and is a great value.  Fisherman’s Breakfast is served Saturday and Sunday mornings starting at 7:30 am.  All you can eat Fish ‘n Chips starts at 4 pm on Mondays.  Seating is taken on a walk-in basis.  Little Chinook’s is also located at Fishermen’s Terminal…take your fish and chips or other orders to go….  

Taqueria el Rincon – this is a taco truck but a taco truck at its best.  Located in the South Park neighborhood of Seattle (at the 76 gas station lot on 14th Ave S), you will find lines of those eager to get a taste of excellent Mexican cuisine.  We chose  Tacos @ $4.40 a plate…carne asada and spicy pork and finished off with a Mexican Coca-Cola (made with real sugar).  It did not  fail to satisfy.  I would like to try some of the other plates as well such as the authentic Sopas and Tortas.

All Things Wine – this isn’t exactly dining, but wanted to give it a mention.  Located in the Renton Highlands, visit All Things Wine for a great selection of wine and wine related gifts.  They have wine and beer tastings on Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons should you want to try a new or old favorite.  Wayne is a great guy and will find you what you need if not in the store (visit anytime but Wayne can be found there mostly on evenings and weekends).  They just celebrated their 3rd Anniversary – Fort Walla Walla, Windy Point Vineyards, Robert Karl, Covington Cellars, Ironhorse Brewery, Three Skulls Brewery, Masset Winery and Barrister Winery were being poured.  http://www.allthingswineonline.com/article.espx?SHOW=12263  All Things Wine also has a wine club…sign up!

Vino at the Landing – located at The Landing in Renton… Vino at the Landing carries hard to find Northwest wines  in a variety of price ranges including California and international wines.  It is a wine bar that is also a wine shop.  Order your wine by the glass, by the flight, or bottles can be purchased from the wall and opened there for a corkage fee.  They offer outdoor dining during the summer, join their wine club, seating options include bar, restaurant style seating, or lounge near the cozy fireplace, free Wifi, Happy Hour Mon-Fri 3-6 p.m., artisan beer selections (by the bottle only), wine tastings on Friday evenings, live music on Saturday evenings and enjoy the work of the current featured artist (which can be purchased), Andrea Yajko.  The menu is a treat – flavorable and nicely presented… a cheese platter, paninis, flatbreads, wraps, salad, soup…much has been tried (over a number of stops) and I can actually say I crave it.  This is a nice gathering place.  http://www.vinoatthelanding.com/

See other postings this month for others…

Olympic Peninsula…a quick trip x 2

Beautiful day in the Pacific Northwest to take a ferry!  Taking a ferry across the water to a number of different islands is a treat that any visitor to the area should plan on.  You can drive on or park your car and just enjoy the experience.  http://wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/

Harbor Square Wine Shop  – as you exit off the Bainbridge Island ferry run…definitely stop in at the Harbor Square Wine Shop.  It has a nice selection of wine as well as specialty gift or decor items for purchase.  We purchased an Encircle Cork Cage – love it!   They also have t-shirts and other gift items.  Jeff is a great one to talk to with regards to pairings and you can do that over a glass of wine (as they serve wine by the glass as well as sell wine by the bottle).

Poulsbo – known as “Little Norway”, Poulsbo has a nice selection of shops (mind you mainly nik nak/tourist gift items), a sampling of restaurants and bakeries.  We stopped by Sluys Bakery, maker of Poulsbo bread – a must stop in my opinion…enjoyed the date bars and a chocolate covered peanut butter cookie.  Top 5 in the Best of KING5’s Best Bakery poll for 2009.  Hoping to try more selections at another time.    Also stopped at That’s-A-Some Italian  http://www.thatsasome.com/italian/thatsasome_italian.htm  The personalized service from Tom, wife Maria and the in-house regular Sammy 🙂 is appreciated.  A nice wine selection can be had, outdoor dining is available, and a number of items have been tried in the past…most recently the Gorgonzola Pizza.  Voted best italian menu, best wine list, best family dinner and best waitress in the 2009 Best of North Kitsap poll.  Oh, and Poulsbo is a great place for 3rd of July fireworks on the waterfront…a great community celebration!   http://thirdofjuly.org/default.htm; http://poulsbo.net/; http://www.visitkitsap.com/cities.asp?ID=7; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poulsbo,_Washington

Another trip will include more outings…maybe Port Townsend, a stop in Chimacum Cafe or head to Quilcene for the Olympic Music Festival…chamber music in the barn (or out on the grounds) http://www.olympicmusicfestival.org/ , Sequim http://www.visitsun.com/ …visit the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge or Sequim Lavender Festival  http://www.lavenderfestival.com/  or maybe a hike at Hurricane Ridge.  The last stop on this outing was Port Angeles.   We had dinner at Bella Italia which is currently a hot spot for Twilight fans as this restaurant is where Bella and Edward had their first date.  Their dish is also on the menu…Bella’s Mushroom Ravioli though we ordered other house specialties.   http://www.bellaitaliapa.com/ .  In the future, we will include the Dungeness Crab and Seafood Festival – annually in October  http://www.crabfestival.org/  …a great time to plan ahead for.

Pick A Festival, Any Festival

75 degrees, sunny, beautiful day for Kirkland Uncorked

Another word for Summer in the Pacific Northwest = Festival.  How can you not love it?  or summer for that matter?  My guess is that the weekend of July 16th, 17th and 18th showcases more festivals than any other.  Take your pick –

– Seafair Indian Days Pow Wow  http://www.unitedindians.com/events002.html

– Sequim Lavender Festival  http://www.lavenderfestival.com/

– Kirkland Uncorked  http://www.kirklanduncorked.com/

– Bite of Seattle  http://www.comcastbiteofseattle.com/

And there are many more….Northwest Raspberry Festival in Lynden, Darrington Bluegrass Festival, San Juan Islands Lavendar Festival, Summer Beer Taste, Wedgewood Art Festival, Mill Creek Street Fair, Gig Harbor Summer Art Festival, The Best of Magnuson Park, Meet the Bainbridge Island Winemakers, Mukilteo Waterfront Festival, Winthrop Rhythm and Blues Festival, Seattle Bon Adori, Bald Eagle Days Festival, Mustang Club of America Grand National Show, Kirkland Classic Car Show, Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic, and more…

7/17 – Kirkland Uncorked – 17 wineries, Pyramid Brewery, live music, restaurant sampling, art, boat show, cook/grill off, 75 degrees, sunny, sparkling Lake Washington waters…benefiting the Hope Heart Institute –  good times!

Fireworks in La Conner

La Conner, WA (see April 2010 posting as well) – did not fail to impress once again.  Did you know that La Conner has great viewing for fireworks?  It does!  Every 4th of July, it has a small local parade…over in about five minutes mind you 🙂 and starting at 10 pm (officially), fireworks can be seen along the waterfront in La Conner which is across the channel from the tribal land where the fireworks display originates.  We were entertained for a couple hours with a variety of differing “unofficial” displays of fireworks from a number of different spots across the channel.  We purchased wine and a cheese tray from Hellams Vineyard (which has an extensive selection of  great Washington wines) and brought our own picnic which we shared with friends at a waterfront location…even better if you have a friend who can dock their boat along the pier.

Snow Goose Produce – Whether it be on your way into town, out of town, or a detour off of I-5…this is a destination spot!  Wow!  This is the place to go for good quality…specialty cheese, landjaegers and specialty meats, salmon, produce, plants, “immodest” ice cream cones, fresh berries, cherries, bread, crackers, jewelry (at certain times during the year), woven baskets, fresh fish market, worldly goods and a wine section (mostly less expensive).  We enjoyed the specialty marionberry lemon and berry drinks.  Suggestion: Stop!

DiningLa Conner Brewing Company – locally owned brewpub.  Enjoy the open air feel, cozy fireplace or outside terrace.  Colorful acrylic art adornes the walls from artist, Ben Mann, so it really brings the decor and atmosphere together.   Oh – and the art is for sale too!   The menu consists of wood-fired pizza and other local pub fare.  As an example: salads, quesadillas, panini sandwiches, etc…  along with their homemade brews (seasonal as well).  I watched the World Cup game while there.  What was had today?  Chicken Gorgonzola Pizza – to die for!  Chicken, crisp bacon, gorgonzola, green onions – fabulous!  The base and crust is made of a nice blend of various cheeses.  The seasonal brew had was Dopplebock (an amber lager style).  Other items in the past have also been enjoyed…whether it be a quesadilla or Thai Chicken Wood-Fired Pizza.  Check out the site for photos:  http://www.insidelaconner.com/LaBrew.html

Nell Thorn Restaurant & Pub – definitely a meeting place…whether it be a romantic dinner, family reunions, or maybe a gathering of old friends.   A nice menu selection – the dining room and pub offer separate menus.  The burger in the pub is worth a try.  This trip…dinner was had in the dining room – entrees recommended are:  1) Grilled Steak Salad – Crisp Organic Romaine and Grilled Coullate Beef Steak served with a Creamy Gorgonzola dressing.  This was the favorite as the salads at Nell Thorn are nicely presented (as is the side salad served with Nell’s Burger).  The steak is presented separately on the plate so it is a dish that you can almost create yourself.   2)  Clam Toscano Pasta – clams, olive oil, cheese, pepper (too much pepper but was still satisfying)   3) Braised Lamb Shank – a New Zealand Lamb Shank braised in red wine until tender, served with glazed Veggies, Buttermilk Whipped Potatoes & Lamb Jus.  The staff starts you off with crackers with herb butter and then a bread basket.  The bread is served with a plate of oil and vinegar and coarse salt on the side which is always appreciated.  The Washington Apple cocktail and bottle of Five Star Cellars Merlot rounded out the meal – and definitely recommended.  http://www.nellthorn.com/

Calico Cupboard Cafe – Hefty portions, homestyle food.  Boasts bakery items all day.  Breakfast included the Fisherman’s Breakfast and Breakfast Sampler.  http://www.calicocupboardcafe.com/laconner.cfm  A breakfast sandwich (sourdough bread, canadian bacon, one egg, and cheese…definitely satisfying) was had at La Conner Fruit and Produce Market – located on First Street as well.

LodgingHotel Planter – Hotel Planter is located right on First Street in downtown La Conner.  The original building was built in 1907, used for a variety of purposes throughout the years, remodeled and then re-opened in 1989.  The decor is a victorian style 12 room inn.  A sculpture garden is in back (as part of Earthenworks Gallery) and after hours, a hot tub is available for use from 6 pm – 10 pm.   I was originally concerned with the thin walls/doors, but the guests were considerate, so I found that it was a relaxing experience.  Good service, enjoyed the ceiling fan and it was nice that extra pillows and towels were available.  http://hotelplanter.com/

Pictures were taken of hay bales and other while on a road trip to Deception Pass (see post).  On the way back, we stopped by the Berry Barn and purchased the best Marionberry pie EVER!  and gift for a friend.  The Berry Barn has a nice mixture of snacks, antiques, and country-inspired crafts.  Berry Barn offers whole pies and petite/half pies – strawberry-rhubarb, bumbleberry, apple, marionberry, and others.  All I can say is DELICIOUS!  It is certainly worth the trip no matter where you are coming from.  http://www.lingonberry.com/  We also stopped by the Prime Outlets in Burlington and Skagit Valley Produce.

Shopping around La Conner is also fun as a sampling is available.  I usually like to make a stop in the slightly upscale Go Outside.  Culture and local art can be found here…many galleries and specialty shops.  The Northwest Museum of Art is really a must-see – the museum is recommended, but just stopping my the Museum Store is well worth it.  http://www.museumofnwart.org/  It is open daily (except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day).  You will most certainly find a gift here!  I know I did.

Located at Smokey Point in Marysville, just off of I-5, exit 206, visit The Plant Farm.  It has a wide range of plants, herbs, shrubs, trees, and a variety of garden supplies to make your yard, deck, or property look just right whatever the season.  http://www.theplantfarm.com/  Join their Garden Club and be rewarded. Oh…and their hanging baskets – love ’em!!!

Mariners Baseball and Elysian Fields

Although I have written of this before (see May 2010), I needed to add to it as the experience was again a good one.  Prior to the July 8th Seattle Mariners game vs. the New York Yankees, we had starters at Elysian Fields.  Recommendations:  1) Side:  French Fries 2) Starter: Oasis Plate – Hummus, Baba Ganouj, cucumber salad, grilled pita.  The cucumber salad is wonderful – nice chunks of tomato, feta cheese, cucumber.  So good I had to mention it.  3) Starter: Fried Goat Cheese – rosemary honey, red pepper coulis, grilled baguette – YUM!!!! It is also served with greens that has a delicious balsamic dressing.  Delectable!  4)  Men’s Room Original Red – and for the fans… it is being served in other establishments around the Puget Sound area and is now being bottled.

The weather was great for baseball in the summertime.  Did you ever hear that summer starts July 5th in the Seattle area?  It is true much of the time.  On this day, it was our hottest day yet…but still comfortable.  We were sitting behind right field where Nick Swisher was playing for the Yankees.  I am not a Yankee fan but am a Nick Swisher fan.  I was wearing my Oakland Athletics 33 Swisher t-shirt…I stood up and yelled…Hey Swish!  He looked, smiled, and tipped his hat…now that was cool!  It made my night.   A shout out must also be given to the staff at Safeco Field – my sunglasses of five years (purchased in NYC), fell from my purse and one of the clean-up crew actually turned them in to lost and found!  How great is that!

Deception Pass

Deception Pass consists of Bowman Bay, Rosario Beach, Deception Pass bridge, and Deception Pass State Park.  One of the most beautiful places on earth in my opinion…even on a cloudy day.  The Deception Pass Bridge is a scenic wonder with views of the Puget Sound and the Pass.  Deception Pass is known as a deep turbulent passage that links Whidbey Island (another future post) and Fidalgo Island which then connects to Hwy 20/Anacortes area. 

Picnicking can be had at all the stops here.  Most areas have BBQ’s and tables.  Some covered units can be reserved for larger parties.  There are many trails for walks/hikes, a swimming hole at Deception Pass State Park, and camping (tent and RV) at both Cranberry Lake (DPSP) and Bowman Bay (limited) – year round.  Rent kayaks or launch your boat at Bowman Bay, a saltwater marine park.  Fish at Cranberry Lake.  A Visitors Information stand is located at the parking area at the bridge.  At Bowman Bay, visit the interpretive center which is named (and renovated) by Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) – it provides interesting historical information about the CCC and area.

My favorite is Rosario Beach.  This beach has beautiful rocky/pebbled beaches (all shapes, sizes, styles) with tidepools to entertain – you’ll spot sea urchins and hermit crabs.   The Maiden of Deception Pass story pole is located here…and depicts a story of the Samish Indian Nation.  It’s a great place for kids to learn about marine life.  It’s a place for adults to explore …or enjoy the sites and serenity of nature.  Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory, owned and operated by Walla Walla University is also located there – offering classes and a summer camp.  


World Cup Madness

The World Cup is a great time to get into soccer (or in many parts of the world…football).  The World Cup occurs every four years.  It is almost addictive on some levels.   I enjoy that the people and teams from around the world come together in one country to celebrate their love of the sport. 

Recently I watched the movie Invictus.  It is a great time of year to do it…a history lesson and hits home with the World Cup happening now. 

We have watched the Cup at a number of pubs in the Renton, WA area.  1)  Pickled Onion – this is in the Renton Highlands area as is your typical neighborhood, strip mall pub/tavern.  Their website says they are “the Eastside’s Only Authentic English Soccer Pub”.  They specialize in dart tournaments, have a pool table, pull-tabs and TVs to watch your favorite match.  I did question whether everything I touched was actually clean though.  We tried the Freedom Dip (roast beef, swiss, onions) and the Cod and Chips.  Below average I would say considering all was too fried or too toasted.  The beer selection was very good.  http://pickledonionpub.com/  2)  A Terrible Beauty – located downtown Renton, this Irish pub has changed hands/names a number of times but it looks like they might have it right this time.  We visited for St. Patrick’s Day and it drew quite a crowd.  And for the World Cup, a nice crowd showed to view the game and grab some Irish grub.  A Terrible Beauty is currently working on their website so there is no link to provide at this time.  Recommendations: 1) Bangers & Prawn Skewers (Sausage and Prawns on skewers served with mashed potatoes) and St. Killians Cheese Bites as starters…crispy fried wedges of Camembert cheese served with homemade Cumberland sauce 2) Houligan House Dip – roast beef, swiss, homemade ground mustard on a baguette served with ATB’s Guinness gravy dip  3) The Dubliner or Belfast Burger.  A gentleman next to us ordered The Reuben “soon to be famous” sandwich – now this is a huge sandwich (2-3x the size of the norm)…just a note.  There are many other items on this menu that I would like to try.  A Terrible Beauty is also open for weekend brunch from 9 am – 3 pm.  UPDATE 1/13/11 – Macaroni & Cheese and a Guinness Stew, a nice hearty dish for these cool nights!  It was trivia night on this night, which always draws a big crowd.  Join in the fun!

“Invictus” is a poem written by English poet William Ernest Henley in the 1800’s:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

World Cup Final July 11, 2010 – Spain vs. Netherlands – Spain won in extra time 1-0