corn dogs & wine

street fair

Another street fair has come and gone. This one had beautiful weather, which made a nice change after the last few years. A lot of vendors had given up on this fair after getting blown away or hailed upon, but there was still a good turnout of both vendors and customers.

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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

drinking wine, hitting pomegranates

celebratory wine

I can’t remember now when it was that we went out to visit the Boudreaux winery. Maybe summer before last? Anyway, it’s not all that far from my parents’ house, but it takes a while to get there, being way way up Icicle Creek and over a slightly alarming bridge. We know Rob, the winemaker, from back when he worked at KOHO radio – he interviewed our band several times. Now he’s making really kick-ass wine from some of the best vineyards in the state, working out of a winery which is completely off the grid. Not bad.

Rob’s wine isn’t cheap, so we didn’t exactly stock up while we were at the winery, but we did indulge in a bottle of his 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon. We were saving it for a special occasion, and we finally decided there was no time like the present – as in, last Friday. I am pleased to announce that the wine was worth the wait – it’s definitely a fruitbomb, but it’s a fruitbomb with character and nuance. It had woodsy, charry notes along with the jam, and every sip seemed a little different, depending what food we were eating at the moment.

To support the wine, we decided on a dinner of lamb rib chops, rubbed with salt, cumin and berbere powder, alongside our new favorite side dish of chickpeas cooked with garlic, pomegranate molasses, saffron and cilantro. The combination was amazing. We did do one thing differently with the chickpeas this time: we actually followed the full recipe and added fresh pomegranate seeds. I don’t always like the fibrousness of the seeds, but it seemed worth it this time.

pomegranate

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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.

Winegar's

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!

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eating dandelions

dandelion greens

Sometimes, when shopping at the co-op, I have a bad habit of scooping up some item that is not on my shopping list, simply because it’s pretty (or because I’m hungry). This has happened with loaves of Breadfarm bread, gorgeous French cheeses, bunches of baby beets, and heirloom tomatoes – despite the fact that I have no menu plan for them and I have to haul them up the hill along with everything else I’m buying that day. This time I fell for a bunch of red dandelion greens: they were in big fat fresh bundles and looked so springy, it didn’t matter that I had no idea what to do with them. I went home and rifled through a number of cookbooks, particularly anything by Alice Waters or Deborah Madison, and came up with a few possibilities of what one should do with dandelion.

salmon and dandelion greens

While the salmon was roasting (not Copper River, but from somewhere nearby – almost as expensive) I tore up the greens and washed them – a really impressive amount of dirt came off. Continue reading

cooking class: spring food & wine pairing

olives
wine
calendula, chive and fennel

It’s a great thing to find a chef (or a wine seller) whose taste so perfectly matches your own that you know you’re going to like anything they give you. Classes with Casey Schanen of Nell Thorn restaurant and Tom Saunderson of Young’s Columbia are like that: Casey is a wonderful, very grounded cook and I tend to adore everything he makes, and Tom’s wine selections are always both tasty and interesting, and the pairings are consistently excellent (right, Tom?)

rhodie
nibbles

Last week the theme, insofar as there was one, was food for spring and summer, featuring freshly made pastas. As usual, Casey brought some starting nibbles with him: fresh crusty bread and arbequina olives that were marinated with herbs and oranges. Continue reading

a few Washington wines

whidbey island wine
corks
red wines

There was a nice little wine tasting at Gretchens last week, led by Noble Wines rep Renee Stark and featuring wines from Washington State. It was nice and relaxing for us (the kitchen help), since there were only two food platings and most of the cooking was either done ahead or very simple. Some of the wine highlights:

Novelty Hill Sauvignon Blanc 2005: Very drinkable, with good body. Not terribly acidic, but pleasant with the food.

Whidbey Island Lemberger 2006: I find straight Lembergers to be a bit one-dimensional, with very little body to the wine, but this had a nice flavor. Might be a good summer red, since it had a very clean finish.

Tamarack Cellars Merlot 2005: The star of the show. I’m not generally a big merlot drinker, but this was astonishing.

Bergevin Lane Calico Red 2005: A soft, rich, comfortable red blend from Walla Walla. Nice. Continue reading

cooking class: polenta three ways

Casey demonstrates a fish spatula

Last week we helped out at a great cooking class: Casey Schanen from Nell Thorn restaurant did the cooking and Renee Stark of Noble Wines brought the wine. The theme was polenta in different preparations, which sounds like it would be repetitive, but in fact it was fabulous. Not a surprise, of course – Casey’s cooking is always fabulous.

nibbles

We didn’t start out with polenta immediately. Casey likes to bring an assortment of nibbles with him, so we assembled a bunch of plates for the guests with marinated olives, cheesy wafers, Nell Thorn sourdough bread and butter. I think putting out the nibbles is a great idea, it keeps the guests from getting antsy while the first course is being demonstrated (the classes start at 6:30 and sometimes no food gets served until 7:30). Continue reading

experiments with shrimp & potatoes

wine by candlelight

shrimp and potatoes

This was our first month as members of the local wine shop’s special wine club, and we had two bottles of beautiful-looking tempranillo calling out to be drunk as a result. I spent a couple of weeks unable to drink wine due to various medications I was on – not fun – but I am finally getting better. So this week, more or less drug-free, I was finally able to taste them. We had one dinner (roast pork and yams) where we opened both bottles and tasted them side-by-side, then planned meals to suit each for the following two nights. This first bottle, Mapema from Argentina, gave me a strong hankering for romesco sauce – which we happened to have some of in the freezer.

saucing broiled shrimp

One of our favorite dishes from last summer was the grilled shrimp recipe from a 2006 issue of Cook’s Illustrated – we made it over and over again, and were very sad to see it go with the end of grilling season. J wanted to try it with the broiler to see if it could be had in the off season. In the original recipe, the shrimp are grilled until partially cooked, then finished in a warm sauce, so we figured it should adapt fine. Continue reading

snowshoeing and pasta

Ruth Creek

I only had a one-day weekend this week, so we decided to take advantage of it and went snowshoeing. Our usual spot is the access road to Hannegan Pass, below Mount Baker. We like it because it has parking, isn’t usually too populated and, as long as you don’t go up too far, has virtually no avalanche danger. We snowshoed up to Artist Point once and I’m amazed there were no avalanches – we were very lucky that time, and I prefer not to risk it if I don’t have to.

The snowshoe itself was nice enough, although the snow had turned to rain and we quickly overheated in our snow gear. We went just far enough to work up good appetites, then headed back down the valley to Glacier. Lunch at Milano’s, after all, is the real reason we like to go hiking or snowshoeing at Mount Baker.

milano's

If you’ve been skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing or hiking, what could be better than an enormous plate of pasta and a bottle of wine? Milano’s takes care of all your carbohydrate needs, from their delicious crumbly cornmeal bread to their homemade linguine and panini to their intimidatingly rich dessert selection. We try to go anytime we’re up the Mount Baker Highway – but we need to earn it with a little physical exertion. Continue reading