Cafe Campagne Smoked Salmon

July 31, 2008

The Smoked Salmon platter at Cafe Campagne makes a lovely, light summer brunch.

Saturday or Sunday brunch at Café Campagne (sitting outside on the narrow patio whenever the weather permits) is an oft-repeated pleasure chez Johnson. Here’s my favorite light brunch, the Smoked Salmon plate. 


Fire Barrel Cider at the Big Red Barn

July 31, 2008

Red Barn Cider and Tulip Valley Wines\' tasting room are located in a big red barn in the Skagit Valley.

Research for an upcoming article in “Pacific Northwest,” The Seattle Times’ Sunday magazine on hard cider took us up to the Skagit Valley to meet with Drew Zimmerman, co-owner and self-described “cider-culture pioneer” of Red Barn Cider. We enjoyed the bright red barn that’s been converted into an atmospheric tasting room, and the bucolic setting amid four-year-old apple orchards and vineyards planted with Pinot Noir and other Puget Sound Appellation varietals. Look for my article, whose working title is, “The Cider House Rules,” on September 21. 


Portland Pizzeria Features Nearly 100 Bottles

July 30, 2008

You just gotta love a pizzeria where you can choose among 100 different bottles of wine from Italy, France, and the Northwest, not to mention 18 wines offered by the glass along with carafe options. That’s the latest news from Ken’s Artisan Pizza in Portland, where owner Ken Forkish offers everything from Alsatian Rieslings and Rosés to several types of bubbly, Sangiovese-based wines, Brunello and local Pinot Noir.

“Our list is one of the most extensive pizzeria wine lists in the country, and reflects my personal tastes and complements our food,” explains Forkish. “Currently our list includes 17 local Pinot Noirs and we often buy the wines direct from small winemakers we know. Our wines are also priced to sell with even the more expensive wines priced just over retail and accessible to the general public.”

Open since 2006, Ken’s Artisan Pizza (an offshoot of Ken’s Artisan Bakery & Cafe) put itself on the map thanks to chef and co-founder Alan Maniscalco’s seasonal cuisine cooked in the restaurant’s wood-fired oven—from individual pizzas topped with seasonal ingredients to the roasted vegetable plate that changes with the season’s farm-fresh offerings to the house-made charcuterie. Ken’s Artisan Pizzeria has been featured nationally in Bon Appetit and The New York Times and was chosen as one of the “15 Restaurants Changing the Way We Eat” in the November 2006 issue of Portland Monthly and one of the “Top 10 Restaurants in Portland” in the November 2007 issue of Portland Monthly.

Wine in the Pines!

July 29, 2008

On Saturday, August 9, from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., food-and-wine aficionados will enjoy sipping and tasting their way through Suncadia Resort’s first-annual Wine & Food Festival. This amazing resort just outside of Roslyn (see my blog post of July 12), is quickly becoming one of Washington’s premier destinations for a weekend or a lifetime. Thirty fantastic high-end wineries have been assembled for this affordable and memorable afternoon at Suncadia, only 90 minutes from Seattle. According to an e-release, the event will start out with five open-houses from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., each featuring an appetizer paired with a boutique winery.

Live music will be offered at the outdoor amphitheater and the resort’s ballroom will house the grand tasting of all 30 wineries from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets are $30 if purchased prior to the event at or $40 when purchased the day of the event at the Suncadia Real Estate Sales Center. Special packages on guest rooms and dinner with the winemakers are also available following the grand tasting.

A TASTE-Y Tuna Melt

July 28, 2008

TASTE Restaurant at the Seattle Art Museum recently underwent a remodel that will entice even more people to enter its doors. The once cool, MOMA-like setting has been warmed thanks to plush coffee-colored banquettes; new lighting fixtures and ivory-colored lighting strips; glass panels erected in front of the cook’s line; and a new accent color for the Glassy Baby votives (still TBD, according to general manager and fellow Seattle Dame Danielle Custer).

Executive Chef Craig Hetherington offered his take on a tuna melt at a  recent Sunday Supper at TASTE.

Here’s the classy “Tuna Melt” we enjoyed at one of Chef Craig Heatherington’s Sunday Suppers. Check out the Lummi Island Wild Salmon Sunday Supper on August 3, which promises to be a good one.

Live in a Working Vineyard

July 27, 2008

A July 15 press release trumpeted the news that for only $500,000 (and up) 28 lucky homebuyers will be able to, “Step back in time to a cottage-country lifestyle that captures the joys of an era when the family gathered on the porch swing for an ice cream after a long day swimming in the lake and kicking up sand barefoot at the beach.

“Only 15 minutes from the Washington State-British Columbia border crossing at Osoyoos and Oroville, nostalgic, laid-back lakeside living can be found with the first release of Lakeside Vineyard Cottages. Sweeping views of Lake Osoyoos, the beach, and mountains combine with the pastoral charm of a cottage nestled within a working vineyard.

The single-level Chardonnay and Merlot Cottages, and the double-level Cabernet and Barbera Cottages are fully furnished with everything buyers need to complement the cottage lifestyle at Veranda Beach. This includes one and a half garages per cottage, with the half portion suited to storing a golf cart or scooter. The Cottages blur the lines between indoor/outdoor living with expansive terraces stretching into the vineyards and screened-in verandas for outdoor dining and entertaining. Access to a vineyard-vista pool and pavilion amenity area allows cottage owners exclusive enjoyment of the outdoor pool and changing rooms, a outdoor kitchen and barbeque area. 

Sybaris Bows at Beard House

July 26, 2008

Mark your calendars. On Tuesday, September 23, in a program entitled, “Taste of the Willamette Valley,” Chef/Owner Matt Bennett and Wine Director/Owner Jamel Bennett, of Sybaris restaurant in Albany, Oregon, will make their debut at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City. As with many restaurants in the Pacific Northwest, “the menu at Sybaris changes with the crops each month, spotlighting the best, freshest local foods. Its semi-rural location allows us the restaurant to work directly with the best small farms and ranches, as well as the celebrated wineries of the Willamette Valley. Sybaris also accesses the big city’s best importers and distributors for specialty items.”

The Web site states, “Our current menu is always featured on our homepage; here you can find information for upcoming special events and an archive of our past menus. The only items on the menu that are constants are the Sybaris chocolate cake and the green salad: everything else is imagined and developed for a specific month’s menu. As a result, the archive of menus can be interesting reading, as well as a great insight into the ‘Sybaris Sensibility.’”

Seductive Summer Sippers Redux

July 25, 2008

Braiden writes for Pacific Northwest and Wine Press Northwest.

Many of you know I recently started writing for “Pacific Northwest,” The Seattle Times’ Sunday magazine. You’ll be reading my take on Boxed Wines in this Sunday’s edition. But in the meantime, just in time for the weekend, here’s a link to my May 25 article, which featured 10 of my favorite summer-time wines along with a great grilling recipe by Portland cookbook author Diane Morgan. Her latest tome is entitled, “Grill Every Day: 125 Fast-Track Recipes for Weeknights on the Grill,” and the title says it all. Her Grill Every Day Spice Rub recipe is a must-have for summer, and year-round grilling.

Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining in the News

July 25, 2008

The cover of Braiden\'s latest book, Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining (Wiley, 2007).

My latest book, Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining has been back in the news lately, with blog entries in the American Winery and Northwest Noshings blogs, and a mention in New Horizons magazine. 

Yukon River King Salmon

July 24, 2008

Dinner at the Johnsons\' condo--Yukon River salmon.

Earlier this week, we sprang for 1 1/2 pounds of the highly touted Yukon River King salmon from John, one of our favorite fishmongers at Pure Food Fish in the Pike Place Market. At $25.99 a pound, it was definitely one of, if not the priciest, fish in the case. Once home, I seasoned it lightly with Australian sea salt and Shichimi Togarashi (Japanese Seven Spice) and grilled it on the stovetop. It cooked very cleanly–leeching a small amount of sweet-smelling fat–which is one of the clues to a great piece of salmon. 

Large of flake, dark pink in color, “meaty” in flavor, it went down easily with a bottle of Bergevin Lane 2006 The Princess, “Francisca’s Vineyard” Syrah from the Walla Walla Valley. The BIG wine needed to be decanted to tame its berry-rich goodness and a hint of smoke, but after some time in the glass it knit together seamlessly and was a pleasure to the very last drop. Steamed veggies and fingerling potatoes with a dollop of unsalted butter and chiffonade of fresh mint formed a lovely counterpart to the rich fish and wine.

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