Scandinavian Pasta

February 28, 2014

Scandinavian Pasta

Wine Varietal: Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio

Serves 4

I have been making this ultra-simple pasta dish for years to rave reviews from family and friends, and nobody ever guesses how easy it really is.

3/4 pound (12 ounces) conchiglie (seashell), rotini (spaghetti spirals), or farfalle (butterfly or bow-tie) pasta

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup fresh snipped dill, or 1 tablespoon dried dill, crumbled

2 packages (3 ounce each) cold-smoked salmon, such as Nova-style or lox, chopped

Dash freshly ground white pepper

1. Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain well, reserving the pasta and 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, dill, smoked salmon, and pepper and toss gently to blend. Add the reserved pasta and toss gently until ingredients are thoroughly mixed. If the pasta is dry, add the reserved pasta water bit by bit, stirring after each addition, until the desired consistency is reached. Taste and add additional pepper, if desired.

3. To serve, place the pasta on a large serving platter or divide among individual bowls and serve immediately.


Are You a Liberal or Conservative Drinker?

February 24, 2014

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Could your political party predict your propensity for partying? An intriguing new study published by the Journal of Wine Economics finds that alcohol consumption in American states rises as the population’s political persuasion becomes more liberal.

The Journal of Wine Economics, which is published by the Cambridge University Press, is the official publication of the American Association of Wine Economists (AAWE) – a nonprofit, educational organization dedicated to encouraging and communicating economic research and analyses and exchanging ideas in wine economics.

Findings from the study into the relationship between drink and politics across 50 states in the U.S. over the past 50 years suggest a direct correlation between political beliefs and the demand for alcohol.

Economists from Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University reveal that, as states become more liberal politically over time, their consumption of beer and spirits rises – while their consumption of wine tends to fall.

For example, the research reveals that more politically liberal states like Nevada tend to consume up to three times more alcohol per head than more politically conservative states like Arkansas and Utah.

The study by Pavel Yakovlev and Walter P. Guessford reviewed more than five decades of data between 1952 and 2010 and measured alcohol intake against “citizen ideology,” which was inferred from the voting patterns of congressional representatives.

“In this study, we show that liberal ideology has a statistically significant positive association with the consumption of alcohol in the United States even after controlling for economic, demographic, and geographic differences across states,” the authors say.

“Holding everything else constant, our findings suggest that when a state becomes more liberal politically, its population consumes more beer and spirits per capita, but possibly less wine per capita.”

The authors’ findings are relatively consistent with recent sociological studies in other parts of the world showing that people with more socialist views tend to engage in more unhealthy behavior, such as excessive drinking.

For example, they cite one 2002 study, which found that Russian pro-socialists were significantly more likely than anti-socialists to drink alcohol frequently. Another 2006 survey in Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine found that adults with anti-communist views had healthier lifestyles than their pro-communist peers.

Explanations offered by the authors of this latest study include the suggestion that people of a more liberal persuasion tend to be more open to new experiences, including the consumption of alcohol or drugs – or that they might feel more confident in government healthcare and social welfare to pick up the pieces of their socially irresponsible behavior.

The authors suggest that further research is needed to explore the relationship between political beliefs and other unhealthy behaviors in future.



Inspiring Photos from the 2014 Northwest Flower & Garden Show

February 17, 2014

Garden show 2014 purple shed northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Any of you who read my Northwest Notes blog with any regularity know how much I enjoy using the Hipstamatic app with my iPhone4.

Every year I look forward to the Northwest Flower & Garden Show with the proverbial bated breath, as much for a much-needed reminder of spring and the rebirth it promises, as the opportunity to experiment with my Hipstamatic app.

Above is a photo of a well-tricked-out greenhouse photographed using one (random) Hipstamatic lens combination. . below the very same shot with another randomly chosen option!

Garden show 2014 purple shed northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Held at the Washington State Convention Center, this year’s show featured 23 display gardens, more than 120 seminars by gardening luminaries, and a Marketplace with more than 350 exhibitors. After several very pleasurable hours of walking around all the display gardens and shops, we were both starved and pooped!Garden show 2014 red asian bridge northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

The theme of this year’s Flower & Garden Show was “Art in Bloom,” and the large and impressive garden displays never failed to deliver.

Asian was a big theme throughout, as evidenced by the vibrant red Asian bridge above. . .and gorgeous Asian entry gate below.

Garden show 2014 asian door northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Garden show 2014 massive asian display northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Another Asian-inspired garden display replete with oodles of glass art. The scale was massive!

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A bit of humor with an “In Case of Zombies” display.

Garden show 2014 green white art glass northwest wining and dining downtowns seattle website link

Stunning art glass designed for the garden by Jesse Kelly, glass artist and designer.

Garden show 2014 green round art glass northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Another vibrant display from Jesse Kelly.

Garden show 2014 glass gecko two northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

More glass art, but a bit less apparent. Can you spot the gecko amidst the rocks in the stream?

Garden show 2014 temple bell northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

One of the display gardens that particularly caught my eye, an “Asian contemporary meditation garden” used “flowing space, natural elements, and sculptural structures to create an environmental-art experience,” according to the F&G Show program. It was designed by Mian Iftikhar Ahmed of Treeline Designz and featured an array of prayer wheels created by Chris Moench of Axis of Hope. . .

Garden show 2014 buddha statute northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

centered by a giant buddha handcrafted from a single stone! This garden really was “an oasis of solitude allowing you to focus on the journey, not the destination.”

Garden show 2014 you & i sign northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

And while the grammar might be wrong (it should read “You & Me,” not “You & I”), the sentiment could not be lost just a week before Valentine’s Day.

Garden show 2014 asparagus northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

There were playful asparagus spears peering above the soil. . .

Garden show 2014 yellow flowers northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

More beautiful flowers of every possible type than you could believe. . .

Garden show 2014 Phalaenopsis orchids northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Including lascivious live orchids in the “50 Shades of Orchids” display. . .

Garden show 2014 glass art spheres northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

And glass globes in a gurgling basin.

Garden show 2014 exotic bird northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

An exotic bird guarded a geometric pile of eggs (note the bird feeder on the pole in the background!). . .

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While a flock of metal chickens clamored for a new home.

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Even our very own Seattle Seahawks were represented in an adorable living miniature garden by Two Green Thumbs.

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I loved the interplay of textures and colors captured in this shot of some of the live flowers that were for sale. . .

Garden show 2014 sunflowers in round basin northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

And the country-French feel of seven simple sunflowers in a terra-cotta basin.

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A cabinet full of gardening books and supplies. . .

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A table top designed for nature enthusiasts and sketch artists. . .

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And finally full circle with inspiration from the “Art in Bloom” theme just waiting to be captured.

Seattle Wine and Food Experience February 23

February 10, 2014

Wine Glasses

Buy your tickets today for  the city’s premier food and wine event, the Seattle Wine and Food Experience (SWFE)!

SWFE is back for its sixth year on Sunday, February 23, 2014. VIP tickets are sold out; general admission tickets cost $55 per person and allow entry from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m.

Throughout this unique gastronomical event guests will learn about and taste a wide offering of quality products through “experiences” and event features.

According to my friend and fellow Seattle Dame Jamie Peha, president of Peha Promotions, TableTalk Northwest, and producer of SWFE, “What makes Seattle Wine and Food Experience unique in the marketplace are the ‘experiences’ that guests encounter. Guests have the opportunity to educate themselves about beverage and culinary products from the Northwest and beyond, talk to producers, and taste samples from a variety regions and growing industries.”

Another feature that makes the sixth SWFE unique is that the event’s charity beneficiary is Les Dames d’Escoffier, Seattle Chapter. According to a press release:

This year’s beneficiary, Les Dames d’Escoffier Seattle, brings together it’s talented membership for a special experience at SWFE. Get a taste of the beverages, food, and specialty products from talented members of Les Dames d’Escoffier Seattle including Thoa Nguyen/Chinoise Sushi Bar & Asian Grill, Maria Coassin/Gelatiamo, Lisa Nakamura/Gnocchi Bar, Nancy Donier/Kaspar’s Special Events & Catering, Leslie Mackie/Macrina Bakery, Susan Neel/McCrea Cellars, and Susan Kaufman/Serafina Osteria & Enoteca.

Les Dames d’Escoffier Seattle raises funds for scholarships for women in the culinary, beverage, and hospitality industries, and also supports community-outreach programs and sustainable-agriculture projects based in Washington state.

Other Dames participating in SWFE include Rose Ann Finkel/Pike Brewing Co. and Holly Smith/Cafe Juanita.

Other featured “Experiences” to date at the 2014 event include:

*Featured Wine Region: Woodinville Wine Country – Taste wine from Washington’s up-and-coming destination wine region with more than 30 of Woodinville’s wineries (and all of Washington’s AVAs) including Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Winery, Lauren Ashton Cellars, Patterson Cellars, and many more.

*The QFC Advantage Lounge – In this lounge environment complete with leather sofas, guests will enjoy bites from Murray’s Cheese, Boar’s Head Meats, and Simple Truth Crackers and sips of luxury wine brands including Chateau Ste. Michelle Single Vineyard Designates, Spring Valley Vineyard, Col Solare, and Northstar Winery. You know it’s going to be good!

*Northwest, California, and International Wines – Get tastes of wine regions from the Northwest and beyond with sips from Washington, Idaho, Oregon, California, and international wineries (including Italy, France, Argentina, Spain, and Portugal). With more than 800 wines available to try from the world’s top producers, your palate is in for quite a tour.

*SIP Northwest Distillery Row – Take a run at Sip Northwest Distillery Row featuring many of the region’s hottest craft spirits makers as well as global brands. Sip through their latest creations and learn how grains and botanicals become whiskey, vodka, and gin.

*Tim’s Cascade Snacks Beer and Cider Exhibit – Local favorite Tim’s Cascade Snacks will be serving up its famous salty chips and popcorn that pair great with regional ciders and brews. Discover the new developments in the world of these craft beverages.

*Les Dames d’Escoffier Alley –See above.

*Washington Beef Butcher Block – Washington Beef presents a unique opportunity to “Crave, Cut, & Create” your way to a perfect beef meal. Experience and savor beef’s flavor when prepared with care and paired with complimentary flavor profiles in dishes from Andaluca, bin on the lake, BOKA Restaurant + Bar, and The Georgian.

*Top Pot Doughnut and Coffee Bar – Grab a sweet treat at the event and revive your palate, with a stop at the Top Pot Doughnut and Coffee Bar. Try a hand-forged doughnut and cup of Top Pot Coffee. For an added bonus, grab a sample cocktail from Sun Liquor Distillery.

*Chef Prepared Gourmet Bites – Guests can savor the incredible creations from more 25 of Seattle’s most accomplished chefs representing a global range of cuisines. Featured restaurants include Andaluca, Anthony’s Pier 66 & Bell Street Diner, bin on the lake, BOKA Restaurant + Bar, The Capital Grille, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Chinoise Sushi Bar & Asian Grill, Dirty Oscar’s Annex, Far-Eats, The Georgian, Gnocchi Bar, Gracie’s/Hotel Deluxe, The Hollywood Tavern, The Hunt Club, Kaspar’s Special Events & Catering, La Bodega, Macrina Bakery, Miyabi 45th, Purple Café & Wine Bar, Racha Thai, Ray’s Boathouse, Serafina Osteria & Enoteca, Tai Foong USA, Tilikum Place Café, Trellis Restaurant, and Volterra.

*Chef in the Vineyard with Ste. Michelle Wine Estates – Meet Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Culinary Director John Sarich, sample creative bites and taste through a wonderful selection of Washington’s best wines from 14 Hands, Anew, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Crest, Michelle, and O Wines. Seek out their displays in local QFCs for a special ticket discount.

*Event Feature: Stella Artois – With more than 600 years of Belgium brewing experience, Stella Artois is best known for its detailed method for pulling a pint and their “special” Stella Artois chalice. Enjoy a sip of Stella Artois and its other world-class brands including Cidre, Hoegaarden, Stella Artois, Leffe Brun, and Leffe Blond.

*Northwest Travel Magazine – Test your palate with a blind comparative tasting of the same varietal from different AVAs. Northwest Travel contributor Cole Danehower will be hosting this fun and interactive experience.

Tickets for this year’s event are on sale here. General Admission tickets are $55. New this year is an optional VIP ticket is available to guests for $65 and includes one hour early entry, custom event tote bag, wine glass and tasting plate, plus an opportunity to win a variety of prizes including a wine trip weekend for two to Woodinville Wine Country, tickets to July’s Wine Rocks event, and more. Ticket prices include access to all areas of the event. No one under 21 will be admitted and ID is required.

So please plan to attend the sixth-annual Seattle Wine and Food Experience. . .good not only for you but for the good of Les Dames d’Escoffier, Seattle Chapter.


Magical Bed-and-Breakfast Inns in Victoria, BC

February 3, 2014

Beaconsfield Inn Victoria BC northwest wining and dining website link

Visitors looking for a unique romantic getaway in Victoria, B.C., will be delighted by the number of individual bed and breakfasts tucked away in the historic neighborhoods surrounding downtown.

Seven owners of heritage-designated properties have formed the “Victoria’s Historic Inns” group, offering guests a variety of packages that they can experience at each property.

With the most romantic day of the year fast approaching, their “Dip Me Inn Chocolate” package is a tempting treat couples can enjoy together. Guests select which inn they would like to stay in, and upon arrival will be treated with a bottle of sparkling wine and two-dozen truffles handmade by David Booth, owner of the Victoria Historic Inn Humboldt House.

A bouquet of long-stem roses will be waiting in the room, along with a $100 gift certificate for a local fine-dining restaurant including The Blue Crab, Camille’s, Pescatores, Café Brio or Restaurant Matisse.

Guests can relax in the comfort of their room, or head outside to explore the local neighborhood hotspots and the downtown core.

Later, guests can enjoy a romantic 30-minute horse-drawn carriage tour of the city while sipping a glass of bubbly together. This package can be added on to any two-night stay for an extra cost of $279 CND.