Taste of Washington

Taste Washington is where you will find the largest selection of Washington wines in one event.   More than 200 wineries attended the event this year.  The Grand Tasting event was held on Sunday, March 27th at the Qwest Events Center, and I do believe that getting the VIP ticket for the extra 2 hours of tasting is more than worth the extra cost, as some of the best wines and food do go quickly.  http://tastewashington.org/ provides a list of restaurants, wineries, exhibitors, and the like.  My favorite restaurant of the day was Steelhead Diner… hard to go wrong with this choice.  They were serving a tasty Bristol Bay sockeye salmon confit with pickled radish ~ green lentil salad/ dijon vinaigrette/ lemon emulsion.  The wineries were pouring wine from almost all the grape varietals grown in Washington…whether it be Malbec, Merlot, Cab, Cab Franc, Syrah, Viogniers, Rose’ of all sorts, late harvest blends, etc…  Take pleasure in the cooking demonstrations as well as the wine education discussions.  The day before, there are numerous wine and food seminars and a winemakers dinner to take in if you so desire.  And if you like to tweet, take a peek at  #TasteWA.  Taste Washington also travels to Portland, OR on May 1st…check it out! and mark your calendar for next year.

Portalis + D’ambrosio Gelateria

Have you taken a day to experience the various neighborhoods in and around your city?  This day, I spent a couple of hours in Ballard.  It was the first day of Spring in Seattle and was actually the first spring like day this year as well. 

1st stop – D’ambrosio Gelateria   Known for the best and truly authentic gelato in the area,  the Frangola  (Strawberry Sorbet) and Pistacchio di Bronte (Pistachio) were enjoyed.   The gelato is available in Frutta or Crema, in a dish or in a cone.  Cannoli is also offered.  The gelato is made from traditional recipes…the same as in any true Italian Gelateria and handmade fresh each day with natural ingredients and organic products.  D’ambrosio Gelateria…delicious! Stop by and grab a cup, cone or a pint to take home.  http://www.dambrosiogelato.com/

2nd stop – Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar  What a pleasure on a lazy afternoon, or anytime for that matter,  Jens and Gina make for great hosts at this local haunt which has also been written up in the NY Times. 

This afternoon the Charcuterie Plate was ordered (coppa, dry salumi, sicilian olives, house pate, mustard, bread) along with the day’s wine tasting selection and a Stone Double Bastard ale.  http://www.portaliswines.com/

Portalis is also a great local wine shop, Jens can help you select a perfect local or international wine for any occasion, and if you talk a little “futbol” ie (soccer) with him, he will regale you with the exploits of the German national team or the Bundesliga as well. This is a great little night spot for dinner or wine tasting.

A very satisfying stop.

Salish Lodge

The Salish Lodge is one of the most majestic and relaxing lodges to experience in the Puget Sound area….or within 4 hours reach anyway.  The Salish Lodge is located in Snoqualmie, WA which is approx. 40 minutes east of Seattle.  It sits above the raging and wonderous Snoqualmie Falls.  This experience was all of the S’s….stay, satisfying, spa, scallops, Stellar, and more…

The first European settlers discovered the falls in 1851 and began running wagons from Seattle along logging roads to open up the natural wonder to the rest of society.  The first lodge was built in 1919 as a food and rest stop for travelers.  The present day Salish Dining Room showcases the lodges’ original fireplace where you can feast on their traditional Country Breakfast that’s been the talk of the many area towns for generations.  Today, make no mistake about it…this is a place for luxury.

We had the pleasure to dine in front of this fireplace for our 4-5 course chef’s dinner…see our recommended/fine selections below:

  • Local Farm Lettuces
  • Braised Kurobuta Pork Belly
  • Halibut Cheek
  • Yuzu Poached Prawns
  • Scallops with Salish Alderwood Smoked Salt
  • Grilled Sturgeon as the Auction Block Catch of the Day
  • Braised Beef Shortrib
  • Cheese Pairing…three delectible choices served with whole grain bread and a vanilla bean-apple compote
  • Creamsicle…frozen heirloom orange curd, creme fraiche ice creams, amaretto cookie crumb, herb garden thyme-canilla foam, huckleberry coulis…so yummy!

Service was excellent, a true fine dining experience with the change of silverware between courses.  Shout out’s needed for Donna C. and Tim.  The fire keeper was certainly an expert at this as well.

Prior to the evening dinner, a duet massage was enjoyed.  A therapeutic massage for two in the fireside room.   This was one of the most relaxing and best massages I have had…the pressure, the crackle of the fire, and I especially liked the hot stones used.  Katie is highly recommended.  Afterwards, a dip in the soaking and mineral pools, sauna, all the while sipping on refreshing citrus water.  The spa area is meant to be silent and tranquil.  It was not as tranquil as it could have been this particular afternoon due to the many people getting spa treatments/taking advantage of the service this day.

And in the Attic, a Falls Cosmo and Lavender Sapphire Collins.  The morning breakfast was also a treat – a Poinsettia, Salish Infused Mary, Sumatra-Putrarimbun french press service, the Railroad Avenue breakfast as well as the Vanilla and Spice Infused Waffles.  Great service by the hostess’, Ricardo, and manager Brian.  Shout out’s to Blake at check-in and the valet.  We will certainly be back.

Check out the beautiful country store located in the Salish Lodge as well.

Overall, a really wonderful experience, a relaxing and highly rated getaway.  http://www.salishlodge.com/

You can come for all of the above or al la carte, as both the spa and restaurant can be experienced without a stay at the lodge. The restaurant is a must for all foodies, whether for dinner or the incredible breakfast.  While you are there for any of these reasons… make sure you walk around the paths to take in the breathtaking views of Snoqualmie Falls from different areas of the park – you will not be disappointed!  www.snoqualmiefalls.com

Rachel the Pig

Rachel the Pig has been in surgery to repair damages after a car accident (taxi) at the Pike Place Market in February.  The life-size bronze pig will return to the market at the end of the week.  In the meantime, Rachel is on tour as the full-time fundraiser for the Market Foundation (i.e. piggybank). Yesterday she began making appearances at some of her favorite places around town. 

Rachel’s schedule is:
March 14 – Colman Dock, 2 – 6 p.m.
March 15 – City Hall, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
March 16 – Seattle Art Museum, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
March 17 – Occidental Park, 10 a.m. –  3 p.m.
March 18 – Westlake Plaza, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. and then…back home at the Market

Good to have Rachel back on her feet!

(Picture from MinkStudios album)

Poverty Bay Wine Festival

March is Washington Wine Month.  To kick off the festivals and other tasting events throughout the month, check out the Poverty Bay Wine Festival, held the first weekend of March.  For 2011, it took place on March 4, 5, and 6th and was the 7th annual wine festival breaking attendance records with over 1,600 people.  This festival celebrates fabulous wines, cool jazz, and Northwest cuisine.  All proceeds benefit the Rotary Club of Des Moines and takes place at the Landmark Event Center.  The Poverty Bay Wine Festival has raised over $200,000 over the past six years and benefits community, educational, and international projects.  This year, there were over 20 wineries and it was great to see how many people came out to taste new wines, support their favorite wineries, and enjoy the great variety of jazz over the weekend….on this day Uncle Ernie and Michael Powers entertained.  Relationships, friendships and even a few marriages have been introduced here.  This happens to be my 4th annual trip here and I will continue to mark my calendar for this event in the future. The  http://www.waterlandblog.com/   normally has a good story to tell too!  http://www.dmrotary.org/winefestival.php

Serious Pie, West Seattle Bowl

Serious Pie … I have been waiting to write about this amazing feast for over a year now.  Hands down, Serious Pie serves up the best pizza in the area…in my opinion.  The pizza is more artisan style cooked in a stone-encased applewood burning oven.  Two locations in Seattle offer visitors and locals alike, a taste of heaven…located on Harrison & Westlake Ave in the South Lake Union area (new!) and on Virginia St. in downtown Seattle.  Just minutes away from Pike Place Market and great shopping.  This is a Tom Douglas restaurant.  The ambiance…electric and the space… very cool.  The South Lake Union site was the location for this birthday dinner with a group of 13 or so.  I had a seasonal pizza… roasted apple, gorgonzola dulce, and toasted pistacios…with an olive oil base.  So delicious!  There are seasonal options as well as a few standards such as yukon gold potato, rosemary, pecorino or penn cove clam, house pancetta, lemon thyme or sweet fennel sausage, roasted peppers, provolone or buffalo mozzarella, san marzano tomato.  Check out the menu and more info at  http://tomdouglas.com/index.php?page=serious-pie .

Afterwards, we enjoyed a game at the West Seattle Bowl.  I was really impressed…this has to be one of the nicest bowling alley’s in the area, and definitely would like to return sooner than later.  Winning!  http://www.westseattlebowl.com/

Blowing Sands Glass Studio

This month, a bridal shower was attended at Blowing Sands Glass Studio, located in the Ballard area of Seattle.  What a great event!  The host set up a table of good eats and drink.  All the while… the guests visited, the bride open gifts, and all enjoyed creating a sea float or a paperweight.  David Smith was so gracious in teaching us to create works of art.  The glass goes into an annealing oven and then can be picked up the next day.  The Laura Frost Gallery is part of the Ballard Artwalk and showcases original design.  I made a paperweight and thought it so cool that it was engraved on the bottom with name, date, and Blowing Sands.  Definitely worth it…and so fun as part of this group’s special event.   http://www.blowingsands.com/

Crocus seen today…

 “Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough.”
A. E. Houseman, Shropshire Lad

 “Today is the day when bold kites fly,
When cumulus clouds roar across the sky.
When robins return, when children cheer,
When light rain beckons spring to appear.

Today is the day when daffodils bloom,
Which children pick to fill the room,
Today is the day when grasses green,
When leaves burst forth for spring to be seen.”
Robert McCracken, Spring

Today I saw my first crocus of the season…. –  D. C.  3/12/11

Dine Around Seattle

It’s that time again, Dine Around Seattle is here for the month of March.  Check out my November post for more details on this bi-annual event.   http://www.dinearoundseattle.org/ There will likely be a number of visits this month…

1.  Barrio — Bellevue, WA  (also located on Capitol Hill).  Barrio is part of Dine Around Seattle this month but, instead we enjoyed Happy Hour.  Negra Modelo on tap.   This night, we started out with Guacamole Made to Order served with chips and salsa.  My friend made mention that she could eat it with a spoon.  I can say that it is not as good as my husband’s, but a nice starter.  Highly recommended is the Tina del Pollo taco – chipolte braised pulled chicken, escabeche slaw, avocado salsa and cotija cheese.  Really great flavor!  I think the slaw is what really made it.  Also, the Pork Loin al Pastor taco is delicious – caramelized pineapple, shaved red onion and cilantro.  Barrio in Bellevue shares a hallway with its sister restaurant, Purple Cafe, part of the Heavy Restaurant Group Concept.   http://www.thepurplecafe.com/barrio/downtown-bellevue.html

2.  Chez Shea —  Chez Shea is located at Pike Place Market…the building across the bricked drive overlooking the Pike Place Market sign.  http://www.chezshea.com/ This is the first time I have visited Chez Shea and that is a surprise considering it has been around since the 80’s (or so I was told).  I am happy that I was able to experience it as the ambiance was lovely…even when the noise level rises.  It has been voted “the most romantic” as well.  I really liked the metal sliding door, the artwork, and rustic chandeliers.  The service was good (the door hostess…fabulous!) and a nice menu selection was offered.  The party agreed on the following:

  1. Roasted Beet Salad and Lobster Bisque – good
  2. Pan Seared Alaskan Halibut Cheeks and Strip Loin Steak (really nice sauce) – both delicious!
  3. Asparagus Risotto – definitely skip it – it is mush!
  4. Pineapple Basil Sorbet – refreshing…and Chocolate Mousse Cake – yummy (I was told…great presentation…one blackberry and one blueberry sitting on top)

Overall, a pleasant experience…and really good choice.

3. Not at all part of Dine Around Seattle but wanted to make mention of Tap House Grill in Bellevue, WA – a wonderful House-Made Hummus… with toasted pine nuts, olive tapenade, broiled tomato salad, and flatbread

and Elysian Fields – I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – Hamburger with Truffle Fries…excellent!

and Jimmy’s on First – located on First Ave. South across from Safeco Field (and Qwest Events Center), breakfast has been had here (2x) as we just missed the start of the lunch menu.  The portions are quite large.  Service is good (especially by Jackie!).   The party ordered Brioche French Toast, Jimmy’s Breakfast, Great Northwest Breakfast, and the Ham & Cheese Omelet.  I especially liked the potatoes which included a salt rub. The eggs were cooked just right.  The OJ was a bit different…maybe grapefruit was added?  The bacon…yummy!  Come hungry!   http://www.jimmysonfirst.com/