A La Bonne Franquette

A La Bonne Franquette opened this last month in the Mount Baker neighborhood of Seattle.  In fact, it is on 31st Avenue South… just up the hill from Leschi.  Chef Hamed brings experience and influence from around the world to this intimate French bistro.  Not only is the food and ambiance a hit, you will have to check out the divine views of the Seattle skyline and Olympic Mountains.

The menu here is simple yet varied, comforting, with a bit of gourmet thrown in.  The food really reflects the name as A la bonne franquette means that food is homey and prepared without fuss.  Check out http://alabonnefranquetteseattle.com/  for an example of their menu.  I have personally sampled the majority of the menu.  Try the Assiette de Fromages, Pate, or others to start.  As a side (or make it your main course), the Gratin de Pommes de Terre…Gruyere cheese potato gratin (so good!).  And save room for dessert… I am not a creme brulee fan typically, but this is indeed the best I have had.  Also, try the Pot de Creme de Chocolat (a rich chocolate mousse).  There are daily specials and they have a nice wine selection, a mix of French and Washington wines.

Bring your friends, drink a drink, taste the flavors! Hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday, 5 pm – 10 pm.

September in Walla Walla

Walla Walla, WA!  Check out previous posts from February 2011 and October 2010.  Consider this an update as I found some changes in downtown Walla Walla.  Some of the long time merchants have closed or are closing, including Willow.  There are also a number of welcomed arrivals – Public House 124, Green Spoon, and Kerloo Cellars tasting room.  Walla Walla’s Farmers Market was in full swing this September weekend.  I purchased a number of photo cards that represent the beautiful work of J. Franklin Willis  http://www.jfranklinwillis.com/index.php.  I particularly like the barn and farm scenes.  Kerloo Cellars has been added to my favorites list.  A welcome addition to the Walla Walla wine community, making great tasting artisan wines.  http://kerloocellars.com/club.  Visits were made to some of my faves like Walla Walla Clothing Company, Sinclair Estates, Trust, The Marcus Whitman (ladies, you will love the full length mirrors), Five Star Cellars, and Kontos.  Oh, and I must give a shout out to the gift shop/lobby area of Three Rivers Winery.  Also, a tour and tasting (by appointment only) at Long Shadows www.longshadows.com.  Long Shadows is a real treat…personalized service, top-notch wines, and a state-of-the-art winery.  A Dale Chiluly glass chandelier hangs in the lobby as well as other pieces throughout the tasting room.  Allen Shoup, one of the founding fathers of the Washington Wine industry and founded this winery to showcase Washington wines to the rest of the U.S. as well as the world, by bringing in great winemakers from all over the globe.  Long Shadows has nine wine makers making six different main wines – Poet’s Leap Riesling (Armin Diel), Pirouette (Philippe Melka, Agustin Huneeus), Chester-Kidder (Gilles Nicault, Allen Shoup), Saggi (Ambrogio & Giovanni Folonari), Feather (Randy Dunn), Sequel (John Duval) and Pedestal(Michel Rolland).  I was fortunate to have met both Gilles Nicault and John Duval (John was here from Australia selecting the grapes for this year’s Sequel)  – both gracious and inviting.

Public House 124 – ooh la la.  We happened along this find while searching for what suited our taste buds and desire for a more easy-going evening out.  We found it to be a great place to socialize, eat, drink, and enjoy the Walla Walla scene, whether they were locals or visitors. The stylish decor is inviting and warm, with the brick walls, fireplace, variety of seating options, open kitchen, and TV’s at the bar for viewing.  An outdoor patio is a nice addition during good weather.  Public House 124 has a nice selection of cocktails and beer assortment.  The menu is a blend of small plates, sandwiches, and a few entrees thrown in.  The Pork Shoulder Torta was shared (with fries).  The starters included the special, tangy Korean Chicken Wings with Asian Pear Salad (Slaw).  So scrumptous, especially the pear slaw.  And the Scallion Crepes (almost like a wrap), included Peking style roasted chicken, cilantro, shaved Walla Walla sweet onion, and a flavorful hoisin sauce.  Highly recommended with a gracious and pleasant staff taking care of your needs.

Poverty Bay Blues and Brews Fest

The Des Moines Rotary presented the second annual Poverty Bay Blues & Brews Festival, September 10th at the Des Moines Beach Park.  Also, on this day, the Des Moines Farmers Market and Poverty Bay Arts Festival took place.  Come rain or shine.   Blues?  they got it!  Brews?  they got that too!  This year’s line up was Little Bill and the Bluenotes (excellent!!!), Rod Cook and Toast, Fabulous Roofshakers, and Left Hand Smoke.

Breweries participating were Odin, Big Al, Hood Canal, Harmon, Elliott Bay, Airways, Stone, Scuttlebutt, Georgetown, Fish Brewing, and M.T. Head.  Masset Winery poured two varietals.  My favorites (based on what style was being served) were M.T. Head and Fish Brewing Company…especially Reel Ales Starfish Imperial Red Ale and Spire Mountain Apple Cider.  This was a nice event to try new styles and breweries.

B & E Meats, as a sponsor, was cooking up their tri tip beef at the Poverty Bay Blues and Brews Fest.  If you want a great selection of fresh products, stop by (or go out of your way) for Steak, Roast, Spareribs, Ground Beef, Ham Shanks, Pork Sausage, Wieners, Fryers, Whole Turkey, Crab Cakes…and more!  http://www.bnemeats.com/  While you are making a day of it in Des Moines, be sure to stop by B & E Meats and Corky Cellars!  Both located on Marine View Drive.  Corky Cellars has an inviting decor and a varied selection of wine, beer, and gifts.  Tastings occur every Saturday 11 am – 5 pm.  Ric and Dianne are the best!  Stop by, say Hi!, enjoy a taste, and bring some home with you!  http://www.corkycellars.com/

Check out http://www.dmrotary.org/events.php  for a list of sponsors and more event info. No pets.  Age 21 and over.  Free Parking. Bring your chair and/or blanket. Located near the beautiful scenery of the Puget Sound.  Proceeds benefit Highline Music 4 Life. http://www.highlinemusic4life.org/.

Bumbershoot 2011

Do you know what a Bumbershoot is?  it is an umbrella.  Seattle hosts (and One Reel organizes) this an annual three-day music festival on Labor Day weekend called Bumbershoot…which lists both local and international acts.  It is located at the Seattle Center, which has the grounds and venues to carry it off.   The format changes a bit each year.  2011 was more indie focused with less well-known (but high quality) acts.  The headliner for Monday, Labor Day was Daryl Hall and John Oates.  This year, for the first time, Bumbershoot hosted Youngershoot…activites and music for the family.  There is also art, film, and of course, food.  The type of music often depends on which stage they are performing on…whether it be the Starbucks Stage , the Fountain Lawn Stage, the Fisher Green Stage, the EMP Level 3 Stage, the Exhibition Hall, the Intiman Theatre (comedy), or the Bagley Wright Theatre (dance, theater)… and others.  Most stages has its own sponsor.  The Key Arena hosted the mainstage acts.

I was able see a variety this year… the Trey McIntyre Project, Legendary Oaks, Quadron, Wayne Federman and The Gregory Brothers, Dennis Coffey, Charles Bradley, Fitz  and the Tantrums, and part Daryl Hall and John Oates and The Reverend Horton Heat.  All were great choices and I’d have to say my faves were Dennis Coffey (funkn’ it out), Charles Bradley (the Screaming Eagle of Soul), and Fitz and the Tantrums.  That is what is interesting (and fun) about Bumbershoot, there are so many genres and options.  There are so many choices, that you undoubtedly miss those you wish you could have seen too, especially if you only go one day.  You could certainly enjoy something each day of the festival. 

You can bring your own chair and food in, which is helpful if you’re there for all day, which you should be!  Park across the street and you’ll have access to your vehicle without much trouble.  This year mind you we had 80 degree weather… but whether rain (Bumbershoot needed) or shine, you’ll have a good time and see a band, comedy act, dance troupe, or other that you haven’t seen before.

If you didn’t get to it this year – maybe try it next year!  Cool!

A Day of SEA

A day spent visiting places or seeing things beginning with SEA.  The Seattle Art Museum, Seatown, and the Seattle Seahawks!

The current exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum  http://www.seattleartmuseum.org/   is Beauty & Bounty:  American Art in an Age of Exploration runs June 30 – September 11, 2011.  Yes, you have only one week left to see it.  This exhibit was mainly made up of oil on canvas with some photography and sculpture thrown in.  It also contained the exhibit Reclaimed: Nature & Place Through Contemporary Eyes.  Not my favorite exhibit but I did enjoy the following works of art:

  • Northwest Field Recording (2010) – ink on paper, Victoria Haven  http://www.vichaven.com/  Side A and Side B.  I would love this for my home, office or other…
  • Estes Park (1869) – oil on board, Albert Bierstadt
  • Afternoon along the Shore (1878) – oil on panel, Herman Herzog
  • Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (1878) – oil on canvas, Thomas Moran

Seatown – this restaurant is located on the busy corner of Western and Virginia in Downtown Seattle.  Just a hop skip and a jump to Pike Place Market or across the street to the park where the waters of the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains can be seen.  Seatown is a Tom Douglas creation and offers prime viewing of the hustle and bustle of a summer’s day (perfect for the tourist in all of us).  Based on the menu selection and the competition around every corner, I can recommend it for lunch or a late afternoon bite.  The not so pleasant part of the escape – our server had a nonchalant attitude and she took her time with getting us our bill.  What we did enjoy however, besides the location, was the Dungeness Crab Cocktail, Oyster combo, and the Dahlia Bakery bread (with butter and rosemary lardo).  Check out the menu here:  http://tomdouglas.com/index.php/restaurants/seatown

Seattle Seahawks –  the Seattle Seahawks played their longtime West Coast rival, the Oakland Raiders.  I have a hard time not saying Raiders without ESPN’s Chris Berman’s take on it.  They played at CenturyLink Field in the last preseason game before starting the regular NFL season next Sunday.  The sunset this evening was a beauty.  Prior to the game, Safeco Field’s “The Pen” opens for happy hour where you can quench your thirst and snack on a slice of pepperoni pizza at APizza (or other).  Good stuff!  Seahawks won 20-3.  Next up – Emerald Downs (see May 2010 post)

Art in the Garden

Bellevue Botanical Garden’s second annual Art in the Garden was August 26-28th.  It was a nice location for such an event as there is plenty of space for the showing of mosaics, ceramic luminaries, cast iron and steel sculptures, cement leaves, and copper water features, among others.  The price range for most of the outdoor art was $50 – 1000’s (with a few less than).  I especially liked Aiko Vail/Poul Erickson’s fused glass as well as Alison Hoagland’s blown glass garden ornaments.  Another favorite was John Daoura’s wine barrel furniture (Dakota Craftworks) – the quality is apparent in these pieces, whether it be the chair, table, or other.  The chair has a space for a wine glass too. 

The Bellevue Botanical Garden boasts 53 acres of display gardens, woodlands, meadows, and wetlands.  The Art in the Garden gave us an opportunity to view what was in season, which was mainly the dahlias.  The land that makes up the Bellevue Botanical Garden also hosts those looking for outdoor recreation, with trails such as the Lake to Lake trail, Lost Meadow Trail and the Loop Trail.  Stop in to visit The Trillium Gift Shop or in December, the festive Garden D’Lights.   http://www.ci.bellevue.wa.us/botanical_garden.htm  http://www.bellevuebotanical.org/fmvisitor.htm

San Juan Island

San Juan Island is just one of the 172 San Juan Islands (four are served by ferry).  You can get to San Juan Island by plane, boat or ferry.  Anytime of year is a nice time to visit.  We happened to hit a rainy cloudy day in August, but it was still romantic, still inviting.  http://www.visitsanjuans.com/ and http://sanjuanisland.org/ are good websites that will provide much of what you need to know.

We arrived to San Juan Island as walk on passengers via a ferry originating from the Anacortes Ferry Terminal.    Check out the following site to find parking rates and other info:  http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/vesselwatch/TerminalDetail.aspx?terminalid=1&CFID=803704&CFTOKEN=64308448

Friday Harbor –  take a stroll through this walkable town and see what there is to see – the marina, museums, antiques, boutiques,  a movie theater, art galleries, bookstores, community theater, wine tasting.  You can catch a whale watching or kayaking tour as well.  I particularly enjoyed the park next to the marina…featuring a pond/waterfall, picnic facilities, and artwork dedicated to the Salish people.  It was interesting to see that the leaves had started to turn on the island.  Everything in Friday Harbor is within walking distance and dog friendly.  If you want the best hot chocolate (I have ever tried) or foamy latte, visit The Doctor’s Office…a Treatment Cafe before heading back to the ferry, it will hit the spot!

Wondering how we got to Roche Harbor as it is across the island?  San Juan Transit!  San Juan Transit provides transportation, tours, charters, and connections on San Juan Island.  They have an actual schedule and place of pickup with a fee of $5 each way per person (along with other options depending on your need).  There are also other routes around the island with stops at the IMA Sculpture Park, Lakedale Resort, an Alpaca Ranch, San Juan Vineyards, Pelindaba Lavendar Farm, and others…  Our driver was kind enough to point out some of the attractions along the way, including a quick stop to see Mona (a camel), the most famous resident on San Juan Island.  🙂  www.sanjuantransit.com  Other options are taxi, bike, or moped…like Susies Mopeds www.susiesmopeds.com  The timing was perfect as we were able to walk around town and have lunch too.

Roche Harbor –   Established in 1886…A historic seaside village – see the beauty!  This former company town was built up around the Roche Harbor Lime Company back in the day.  Enjoy the museum, gardens, sculpture park, walk the pier, view the yachts in the world-class marina, or play Bocce ball.  Lodging options include hotel rooms (like the Hotel de Haro) and Gift Shop as well as cottages, condos, and village homes. Lunch was had at Madrona Bar & Grill.  Seafood, salads, and other abound.  The steak sirloin wedge salad, clam chowder, and shrimp basket were nice choices (especially the salad)…oh, and add a local Amber and their specialty Bloody Mary to the bill.  Madrona Bar & Grill is located on the bottom level of the historic John S. McMillin home.  Roche Harbor is a premier destination wedding site.  Shopping – stop in at Dominique’s House – a fine selection of furnishings and accessories for the home or boat (and personal items too). I happened to find a beautiful metal bowl made by hand (Beatriz Ball) to be used for some rocks and other natural elements collected over the years. www.dominqueshouse.com   http://www.rocheharbor.com/Home.html

As a side note, if you want convenience and some relaxation too, stay in Anacortes at the Ship Harbor Inn as it is just a short walk away from the Anacortes Ferry Terminal. http://www.shipharborinn.com/   http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/  Don’t forget to stop in Anacortes for a bite or light shopping.

One day is a good start on seeing the Island and it definitely makes for one great day!  To see more of it though…stay three!