wine and pizza

Lake Chelan

As part of the Campbell Road 2009 Saint Patrick’s Week Tour (such as it was), we drove up to Lake Chelan last weekend. Chelan, which tends towards the hot and crowded in summer, is pretty calm this time of year – the hills are gray, the streets are empty, and the water level is so low that the jetties end up some distance from the actual lake. But there are still a few things to do in the area, and we did them: visit a winery, eat pizza, and hang out at the Vogue Liquid Lounge.

frozen lake

Chelan has one of the newest winemaking communities around – our B&B hostess remarked that there was only one winery when she moved there just a few years ago, now there are over a dozen. Continue reading

fish at the Fish Tale

Fish Tale Brewing

I recently returned from a short sojourn in Olympia, Washington. I was there for a conference, which involved some pretty forgettable hotel food, a lot of coffee and sugar and a surprising amount of time spent in the hotel bar. Luckily, my coworkers and I had time for one dinner on our own.

None of us knew Olympia very well, so we scanned the visitor’s guide that had come with our conference packet. The first place to catch my eye was “Dirty Dave’s Gay 90’s Pizza Parlor” – I mean, how could anyone resist that name? – but what we settled on was the Fish Tale Brewpub. I generally find that brewpubs have something for everyone, and this one was no exception. Continue reading

the winery dog tour

Two Mountain Winery

Two Mountain Winery

Six wineries, one brewpub, four espresso milkshakes, one musical performance, and a lot of dogs: we’re back from our trip! This was our annual trip to the Tri-Cities, ostensibly to play at an outdoor music festival, but mostly an excuse to go wine tasting.


Our first (very important) stop was in Ellensburg. The rodeo parade was going on, but it didn’t stop us from getting our usual round of espresso milkshakes at Winegar’s Dairy drive-thru. Who needs lunch when you can get a milkshake like that?

Two Mountain Winery

Two Mountain Winery

Two Mountain Winery

Two Mountain Winery

Our first stop, and one of our favorites, was Two Mountain Winery in Zillah. The wine was good (the Tribute was especially fabuliferous), and the dogs were adorable – especially Bentley the Basset hound (I love Basset hound ears, they’re so soft). The winery was having “Dinner and a Movie” that night, with hamburgers and fresh local corn. If it hadn’t been such a drive back from Richland that night, we would’ve been there!

Continue reading

Sycamore, Flat Branch & home-grown tomatoes


On our first day in Columbia, we had dinner at Sycamore in downtown. This is my in-laws’ favorite restaurant, and I had to promise I wouldn’t say anything mean about it – but honestly, it was wonderful. The menu is seasonal, with an emphasis on local products, the service is truly excellent, and they make a very decent martini. We started with a nicely done fried calamari plate, then we all split the green salad with goat cheese and roasted beets.


My mother-in-law got the gnocchi, which she really likes (she was very smitten by their autumn version with butternut squash). These were served with asparagus and shiitakes, and lots of garlic. I got to finish her leftovers for breakfast and they were extremely good, deceptively light and fluffy. Continue reading

the pie lady of Blackwater

Blackwater, MO

As we drove on a sweltering summer’s day from Kansas City to Columbia, Missouri, we made a lunch stop in Blackwater, a very small town near Boonville. We hadn’t really planned anything for lunch – we had eaten a lot of round things (i.e. bagels and doughnuts) with the family in K.C., but were feeling peckish while still aways out of Columbia. I saw a sign for “Blackwater historic downtown” and for some reason decided that meant restaurants, so we took the exit and wound our way through rolling hills and cornfields until we suddenly emerged in a small, unlikely frontier-ish town studded with flags.

When we parked the car the first thing we saw was a small storefront with a handmade sign informing us of the availability of sandwiches, soup and pie. We went in. The place was full of hand sewn items: aprons, potholders, baby accoutrements and pillows, and there were two tables set with napkins and placemats. On a counter sat some plates, pitchers and a number of pies.

pies Continue reading

Kansas City highlights

drink up

We spent a short, but enjoyable time in Kansas City. It was tough figuring out where to go, though, because while KC has a rapidly growing food scene of great variety, it is still a wonderful place to get hunks of meat, whether barbecued, fried or broiled. We managed to work in a fair blend – here are the three best restaurant meals that we had in town.


First stop, straight from the airport: Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ. This is the real thing, let me tell you: the restaurant is set up in a strip mall adjacent to a gas station – in fact, the gas station store is in the restaurant. You order from the vast blackboard menu up at the kitchen, then pick up your food and a drink at the cashier. Then all you have to do is find a seat, not so easy. We got ourselves some Boulevard Wheat in plastic Budweiser cups, then ended up at the bar by the window, which had a good view of the parking lot and plenty of paper towels.

ribs and pulled pork Continue reading

on the Big Island: Waimea, Kailua Kona and back to Seattle

from the Mauna Kea access road

One more Hawaii post, then it’s back to our regularly scheduled programming.

On our last full day on the island we drove up the Saddle Road to Mauna Kea, which was very cool. We got to see a silver sword plant, saw a truly great warning sign, and used what was possibly the worst bathroom on the island (in Mauna Kea State park – consider yourself warned). We just went as far as the Mauna Kea Observatories visitor’s center at 9000 feet elevation – the road up to the summit looked kinda nasty. Besides, it was time for lunch.

cinder cones near Waimea

When we came down we went straight into Waimea for lunch, at the Hawaiian Style Cafe. This was our chance to experience a real plate lunch. The menu at this place has it all: plate lunch, loco moco, pancakes substantially bigger than your head, spam, sausages, eggs, oxtail stew…I considered getting a basic loco moco (rice, two hamburger patties, eggs, gravy) but decided that it might actually kill me, so I went with plate lunch, which I figured had a half-and-half chance of killing me.

Korean pork plate lunch Continue reading

on the Big Island: Kealakekua and Captain Cook

the breakfast lanai

In our B&B on Mount Hualalai, we were woken by birdsong each morning at 6 am sharp. No roosters this time, but when we went out on the lanai to look over the garden we saw a number of kalij pheasants, a flock of wild turkeys and a number of small black pigs. Breakfasts were out on the main lanai, served with plenty of homegrown Kona coffee, and each of them was wonderful – macadamia nut pancakes, French toast with cinnamon apples, omelets, fresh papaya and bananas…good stuff.

Coffee Shack
view from the coffee shack

One day, after an exciting kayaking adventure in which one of our lame plastic tourist kayaks filled with water and nearly sank off the Captain Cook monument in Kealakekua Bay, we made our way south to the Coffee Shack for a much-needed lunch. It’s another one of those unlikely-looking spots, a small weathered building clinging to the side of a cliff. The tables on the open porch were all full, so we took a table in the enclosed porch in the back. If not for the vog, the view would have been stupendous – as it was, we could still look straight down the mountainside to the bay. Continue reading

on the Big Island: from Hilo to Kona

on the trail to 'Akaka Falls

One last soak in our beloved tub and we headed out of Volcano down to Hilo. The sun was shining brilliantly as we came into town, and we decided to try to find the Mehana Brewery, since my driving guide said they had a gift shop (we try to buy a pint glass for any brewery we visit) and after a certain amount of wandering through the Hilo industrial area we found it. No brewpub, just a big warehouse full of brewing equipment, and a tiny gift shop hidden away in the corner. It was only 10 am, but the extremely nice older Asian lady running the place insisted we taste a few of their beers. Twist our arms…

flowers at the Hilo Farmer's Market
papayas at the Hilo Farmer's Market

Afterwards we headed into downtown Hilo, parked and walked around a bit. It’s not very glamorous, but there were some nice galleries and cool-looking snack shops, plus we found the famed Hilo Farmer’s Market – it was an off day, but there were still a dozen vendors selling papaya, flowers, jewelry, bananas, all kinds of things. I wish we could have seen it on a regular market day.

Before we left town I decided I needed an ice cream. Our guidebook directed us to an unlikely-looking counter inside a decrepit empty building, where we got a scoop of fantastically good Tropical Dreams white chocolate-ginger ice cream. While we were doing that, it started to rain. Really hard. Then it stopped. Then it rained again…welcome to Hilo, I guess!

scenic drive near Hilo

We drove out of town in another blinding downpour, and turned onto a short “scenic drive” stretch of the Old Mamalahoa Highway. Continue reading