Walla Walla, WA

Although Walla Walla is essentially longer than 4 hours from the Seattle area (it is actually around 4-1/2 hours), it is well worth the drive (or you can fly).   In fact, Walla Walla is on the “Five things to do in Washington before you die” list from Patricia Schultz, author of “1000 Places to See Before You Die”.  The name Walla Walla means “many waters” and is of Indian decent.

Lodging – Marcus Whitman in downtown Walla Walla is recommended.  It is convenient to the downtown shopping, restaurants, wineries and has a good complimentary breakfast buffet.  While you are there, whether you are a guest or not, check out the art gallery on the second floor of the oil paintings that depict the life of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman.  Enjoy The Vineyard Lounge…good cocktails and nice food…try the Wild Mushroom Flatbread.  Cozy up to the fireplace or enjoy the patio (depending on the season).  http://www.marcuswhitmanhotel.com/  We have also stayed at the Holiday Inn Express and Comfort Inn and Suites which are right next to each other and provide a nice stay and good service and are close to the wineries as you enter Walla Walla from the West.  However, if you have a choice, I would recommend the Marcus Whitman.

Shopping –  If you like premium labels  (Joes, Tommy Bahama, Ugg, Three Dot and the like), visit Walla Walla Clothing Company.  It is located on East Main Street downtown, it is open 7 days a week, and offer both Men’s and Women’s wear. Willow is a great place to view local art and shop for unique items.   http://www.willow-wallawalla.com/  You will also find other boutiques, home decor, and other services to meet your needs and wants.  Salumiere Cesario is known for their fresh Salumi meats, cheese, and olive selections.   They also have wine and wine accessories for purchase.   Take a Lunchbox to go and enjoy your own picnic on the green grass of a winery like Walla Walla Vintners or from the deck at Amavi, offering an excellent view of the Walla Walla Valley and the Blue Mountains.  Salumiere Cesario is located two doors down from Willow on Second Ave. and kitty corner from the Marcus Whitman Hotel.   http://www.salumierecesario.com/  And check out Sweetwater Paper & Home, new to downtown Walla Walla on E. Alder…they have a nice selection of specialty cards and other gift items.  The Farmers Market is a great stop on Saturdays during the summer from 9 am – 1 pm.

Dining and Good Eats –  Saffron Mediterranean Kitchenhttp://www.saffronmediterraneankitchen.com/ … a must try…  and Pho Sho  is a great place to go for lunch or dinner on these cool Walla Walla days.  http://www.phoshowallawalla.com/  Both have awesome service.  Yes, I said awesome!   Creektown Cafe – closed but now re-opened and re-named the South Fork Grill, new owner is the previous head chef, so hopefully quality hasn’t changed.   Red Monkey – mainly a lunch, late night or sports bar dining place  http://www.stonehutbar.com/rmonkey.html   Stone Hut  Bar & Grill –  http://www.stonehutbar.com/shut.html  similar to the Red Monkey but offering its own unique taste… industrial, neon lighting , hang with the locals and watch your favorite sporting event  (definitely a joint I would like to go back to)  Mill Creek  Brewery–  http://millcreek-brewpub.com/menu.htm  stopped in for a game and snack…my favorite part was that I could throw peanut shells on the floor.  Next stop will be White House Crawford, which I hear is a well worth it fine dining experience.

For Entertainment…a variety of the wineries offer local music on different evenings.  On this night, we enjoyed live music at Stephenson Cellars.   http://www.stephensoncellars.com/  Others include Vintage Cellars Wine Bar  http://www.vintagewinebar.org/ and Sapolil Cellars…but Sapolil has a cover charge.  Check the local paper as various other wineries offer entertainment sporadically throughout the year.

Wineries –  The reason you came to Walla Walla…the great selection of wine!  The wineries of Walla Walla Valley are split into different sections…1) Downtown 2) Airport 3) West 4) East  and 5)South Walla Walla.  Also, you find a number of wineries in Milton-Freewater, Oregon…just down the road.                                 

Pick up a winery map and enjoy your exploration.  One thing to note is that there are wineries that are not listed on the maps or brochures as these wineries have not bought in to the Walla Walla Wine Alliance.   One of these wineries, is the must-try Balboa wines…visit the tasting room located in the space next to the Beresan tasting room.  Note:  most wineries and tasting rooms will charge you a tasting fee of $5-10.  Many will credit the tasting fee with a purchase.  Make sure you visit the Airport wineries but adjust your schedule or call ahead as many are open only on Saturdays or my appointment…many of these are small family owned wineries where you may just meet the owner/winemaker while enjoying a taste.  My personal favorite is Five Star Cellars http://www.fivestarcellars.com/

Visit during a Release Weekend or Barrel Tasting event…or go anytime and you will find a host of wineries to experience.  I have been to many of the wineries, but will let you decide what your adventure will look like.

Check out  http://www.wallawalla.org/  to get a well-rounded vision of Walla Walla…including historical and recreational options.  Walla Walla is also the location of the nationally recognized Whitman College.  View the calendar and plan your trip.  An annual treat is the Walla Walla Balloon Stampede (Hot Air Balloon) held in May.  What else?  Walla Walla sweet onions…

Waitsburg, WA

Looking for food and drink that a foodie could love (and anyone else for that matter)?  When visiting Walla Walla, drive 20 minutes north past the wheat covered fields on US-12 East to Waitsburg.  As our drive was mostly in the dark (going for dinner), I would like to visit again during daylight…after all, Waitsburg has been around since 1865.  I also would like to keep driving to Dayton at some point as well.

This evening, we went for a taste of Southern Comfort, Cajun cooking at the Whoopemup Cafe.  Our party had the Tomato Bisque soup, Gumbo, Catfish, and the not to miss Jambalaya.  Skip the salad and go for the soup or gumbo as a starter.  Reservations recommended, especially on Friday and Saturday.   http://www.whoopemuphollowcafe.com/

After dinner, we stopped in at the Jimgerman Bar.  There, Dan concocted unique cocktails and offered a bit of info about the vibe of Waitsburg.   An example of offerings are the Moscow Mule, Giving up the Gun, El Greco, and Lee Miller’s Frobisher.   You might want to start at The Jimgerman Bar for appetizers as they offer a seasonal selection of “Etruscan Snacks” …Etruscan is another word for tapas.  Check out a sampling at   http://www.jimgermanbar.com/

Visit www.cityofwaitsburg.com for more details…history, community, and tourism

New October eats…

Crossroads Bar and Grill –    Crossroads Bar and Grill is new to Bellevue in 2010 and in my opinion, a nice addition to the Crossroads Mall (and east Bellevue area).  The bar area is substantial and offers a nice option to sitting in the dining area.  The menu has a nice range of salads, burgers and sandwiches.  Most sandwiches are served on a ciabatta roll which makes a nice meal.  They have daily specials (including happy hour) and breakfast is served until 2 pm on weekends (at least this was our experience).  This location is the fifth of the Neighborhood Grills family.  Check out  www.neighborhoodgrills.com  for other locations and menu options. 

Doofers – this “rural”  sports bar will please as there are many TVs for viewing your favorite team and/or game.   Doofers is located in the east part of the Renton Highlands at 16430 SE 128th St.   The staff was nice enough to change a number of  TVs to various games so that we could have the optimal viewing experience for Sunday NFL football.   We shared the beef sliders (served on potato rolls) and wings…choosing the mild sauce (great flavor). Yelp.com has a variety of reviews…mostly good but service and wait time seem to be an issue here and there. 

Something I missed this month… Seattle Restaurant week http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/seattlerestaurantweek/  In case you missed it also, check out the next Seattle Restaurant Week in the Spring.

And something old….Elysian Fields.  Need to give a shout out to Jimmy…great service, best bartender in the city! Strongly recommending the Lamb Ragu – really good, the noodles that were used made it extra special.  Skip the Cuban Sandwich.

October Splendor

“October’s the month
When the smallest breeze
Gives us a shower
Of autumn leaves.
Bonfires and pumpkins,
Leaves sailing down –
October is red
And golden and brown.”
–   Can Teach Songs  

“The clump of maples on the hill,
And this one near the door,
Seem redder, quite a lot, this year
Than last, or year before;
I wonder if it’s jest because
I Love the Old State more!”
–   David L. Cady, October in Vermont