National Park Week

It’s National Park Week and what better way to celebrate is to offer free admission this weekend (April 19-20th) to the 401 of America’s National Parks.  There are special events planned as well through April 27th.


133 of our country’s 401 national parks usually charge an entrance fee. If you’re planning a trip that includes multiple national parks, you might consider the $80 annual pass that provides entrance to all national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests, and other Federal lands (more than 2,000 in all).

Mount Rainier National Park, taken September 2006

Mount Rainier National Park, taken September 2006


The Herbfarm

The Herbfarm is one of the restaurants that are on many a bucket list.  It is a 9-course dinner that is matched with 5-6 wines.  If it’s not on your must-experience list, then you might want to consider it.

Arrive early for a tour of the wine cellar and herb garden.  Check out the library upstairs while enjoying a cup of tea. As the visit was in mid-winter and dark at this time, the pre-dinner garden tour is taken inside.  Samples of herbs and tree foliage and the ever desired black truffle is passed around for a taste, feel, smell.  The history of how The Herbfarm came about is told by co-founder (and hostess) Carrie Van Dyck.  Husband, President, and Culinary Director, Ron Zimmerman is in the wine cellar prior to dinner, talking the talk of wine.  Check out their story On the tour, we saw vintages from the early 1900’s.  It’s amazing that the two of them continue to make this part of their daily ritual.  Although it is dark outside in January, they encourage you to visit the pigs and garden between courses.

Upon arriving at your seat, you will find the table personalized with the parties name and if you are celebrating a special occasion, a small frame with greetings is presented.  The menus are presented in a booklet with information about The Herbfarm, the dining courses, the wine being paired with and staff bio’s.  Around the time of the first course, the staff is introduced, the wine being served is explained as well as information on the culinary specifics of the various courses.  Chef Chris Weber describes the dishes and where the ingredients are sourced from.  I was very impressed with the amount of local ingredients (and vendors) that are used as well as the Native American background that is preserved here.  The menus change seasonally and have a theme to the lineup. On this particular night, we enjoyed the theme “A Menu for Red Heads” (An All-Red-Wine Dinner). And as a change of course, the menu was designed around the wine selections.

A Menu for Red Heads is well-rounded.  It consisted of the following:

First Course: Rutabaga Root Soup, Weathervane Scallop Tartar, Cured Steelhead, Grilled Duck Breast Proscuitto

Second Course:  Terrine of Alaska Octopus, Fermented Garlic, Herbfarm Potatoes

Third Course:  Breast of Blue-Footed Chicken, Salad of Leek and Pellegrini Beans, Chicken Skin & Flax Cracker

Fourth Course:  Seared Pacific Albacore Tuna, Gloucestershire Old Spot Proscuitto, Turnips, Bloomed Onion-Seed Sauce

Fifth Course:  Lopez Island Lamb Marinated in Red Wine Lees, Black Trumpet Mushroom Lasagna, Rosemary-Mustard Green Pesto

Sixth Course:  Lightly Glazed Torchon of Puyallup Foie Gras, Mince of Winter Vegetables, Meringues of Olympic Peninsula Saffron

Seventh Course:  Rose Panna Cotta, Frozen Zabaglione of Citrus Herbs, Chamomile Ice

Eighth Course:  Consomme of Dark Fruits and Oak, Crispy Hazelnut Cake, Anise Hyssop

Ninth Course:  Red Velvet Canale, Bay Cream Gingersnap, White Chocolate Sour Cherry, Port Wine Fish

Dessert included:  Red Velvet Beet Canale, White Chocolate Sour Cherry, Port Wine Fish, and Bay Cream Gingersnap treats.

Alternate Dinner Sips, Tastes and Flights of wine can be purchased as well as coffee, tea, and other.  If wine is not on your list of must-haves, then a substitute will be provided.  Pricing of meal stays the same.  While dinner is being enjoyed, you’ll hear the soothing sound of guitar played by Patricio Contreras.  The staff will serve the meal as a team.  A number of wine SME’s as well as Sommelier Joey Lopaka and Tysan Dutta, pour the wine.  The wine cellar consists of over 26,000 bottles and 4,500 selections.  If the wine you wish to bring in is not on The Herbfarm Award Winning wine list, the corkage fee is $35.  And, if you would like to stay the night at Willows Lodge request a taxi, or other, they will be happy to arrange it.  Most recently, The Herbfarm was the only Washington State restaurant to receive the AAA 5-Diamond Award and as of this posting, is among the James Beard Foundation 2014 Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalists.  Many more accolades have been and will be awarded.

Overall, this is quite the production.  It is customized, unique, cozy, romantic, and a must for the foodie.

It’s April! Seattle Restaurant Week

It’s April and it’s that time again for Seattle Restaurant Week.  It’s called Seattle Restaurant Week but there are a variety of restaurants located in the greater Puget Sound area.  It starts today and goes through April 17th (Sunday – Thursday for two weeks).  Check out a new restaurant or go back to a favorite. There are more restaurants participating than ever – over 160!  3-course meals for lunch and/or dinner.  The list of restaurants and their menus can be found at  Make a reservation and savor the experience!



Art in April

April is a great month for art.  If you do one thing this month, you might want to consider a visit to a local gallery or museum, Art Walk, tour or festival.  It might be down the street or make a trip of it to a neighboring city.

The one exhibit that caught my eye is “Paintings About Trees”.  It is showing at Jeffrey Moose Gallery on 5th Avenue in Seattle  through May 3rd.  A great review can be found at

Other options in the Puget Sound area that you may want to consider are the galleries of:

And, this being April, a visit to some of the most beautiful natural art of all, the 31st Annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Art Guide Northwest has all the details you might want to find that special something, whether it be the physical or the beauty of just viewing it.