Seattle Cheese Festival 2010

The 2010 Seattle Cheese Festival took place on May 15-16th.  Good weather and my love of cheese couldn’t keep me away this year (as I had not been previously).  http://www.seattlecheesefestival.com/   The festival takes place on the cobbled streets of the Pike Place Market – Seattle.

The event offers a sampling of dozens of artisinal cheeses from producers around the world.  There is a wine garden (mostly lower priced wines), educational seminars, and cooking demonstrations.  Also, there are over 35 Seattle area restaurants that offer a “Cheese Fest Best” dish during the week of the festival (the restaurants are not at the actual Festival).  My husband and I tasted some of the cheese offered and purchased a Roquefort (most cheese was available for purchase at a discount).  My favorite was a Gorgonzola from Italy.  Also, we liked that Mt. Townsend Creamery http://www.mttownsendcreamery.com/  brought some of their specialty cheeses as well.  The festival has a lively atmosphere but I probably wouldn’t go back anytime soon as the logistics are not well executed.  Many people stood in long lines while others would walk up to their destination and take their sample.   Frankly, if you stood in those long lines (as we did at the beginning), it would make for a very long day.  But cheese is always fun – isn’t it? Sample a variety of cheese at Whole Foods, take a class or try DeLaurenti’s Saturday wine tasting (which is paired with cheese).  DeLaurenti’s is a primary sponsor for the festival.

DeLaurenti Specialty Food & Wine is a must-see when visiting the Pike Place Market (or Seattle).  Whatever your culinary endeavors are, the deli offers the best specialty foods, cheese (hundreds offered) and deli meats around!  http://delaurenti.com/ 

Macrina Bakery & Cafe offered a number of different breads at the Festival.  Macrina offers bread, pasteries, cakes, catering, wedding cakes, and a number of delicious cafes serving brunch and lunch.   http://www.macrinabakery.com/  Oh Mamma Mia!

A number of notable mentions for take-out are Piroshky-Piroshky (did not try today) and Mee Sum Pastry.  A favorite at Mee Sum is the Pork Hom Bow.   On this day, we had the Pork Hom Bow and a Pork Stick.  http://www.piroshkybakery.com/  Of course there are numerous other notable options at and around Pike Place Market.  I will leave those for another outing on a different day.  Salud!   http://www.pikeplacemarket.com/

La Conner and Tulips

La Conner, WA is a good example of a Northwest spirited town.  At approximately an hour and a half from Seattle, it is a perfect trip for a romantic getaway, a shopping trip with friends, or your own private excursion. La Conner has a variety of specialty shops – clothing, art, kitchen, antiques, jewelry, a fabulous wine shop, and a variety of pubs and restaurants.

It’s a good day trip or you can make it an overnight stay. My favorite place for lodging is the Channel Lodge but have also had a good experience at the Heron Inn (and friend Julie liked the Watergrass Day Spa). Others have received good reviews as well.  http://www.laconnerlodging.com/

A couple weeks ago I enjoyed the best Soup of the Day at The Next Chapter bookstore and coffeehouse…an Adobe Chicken Chipolte Corn Chowder – fabulous! The Next Chapter bookstore is cozy and offers a nice variety of books, cards, and treats.

Also, I can’t say enough about Hellams Vineyard. This wine shop offers a great selection of wine (and beer). A bottle or glass can be purchased to enjoy out on the deck on the Swinomish Channel. Hellams also offers specialty cheese and meat plates and other wine pairing foods. A must see is the beautiful African hardwood tasting bar.  http://hellamsvineyard.com/

Other experiences include the La Conner Brewing Company, Palmers, Seed’s Bistro & Bar, Nell Thorn Pub, and the Cascade Candy Company (hard to pass up a scoop of Moose Tracks ice cream…a once a year treat). I still haven’t tried the Calico Old Town Cafe & Bakery but see that there is often a wait (the location in Mount Vernon is really good).

Meandering through the tulip fields is a must-do event while visiting the Skagit Valley during late March through April.  A stop at Christianson’s Nursery is always enjoyed and certain times during the festival, the Stanwood Camano Arts Guild show art in the old schoolhouse located on the property.  I purchased a number of note cards.  A stop was made at the Country at Heart Gift Shop  for my favorite…Marionberry pie.  So many other events and activities to explore.  http://www.tulipfestival.org/

To finish the day, my husband and I saw a local production of Back to the 80’s at McIntyre Hall Performing Arts Center…a very nice venue for a show.  Other performances are booked year-round.  http://www.mcintyrehall.org/

P.S. The picture being used as the header for this blog currently is that of the Channel Lodge, taken from the deck outside of Hellams Vineyard