Braiden Answers Where to Send Seattle Tourists

April 14, 2015

Space needle seattle city skyline photo northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Tourist season in Seattle must be about ready to hit, judging from an email in my inbox this morning.

“A friend of a friend is coming to Seattle at the end of the month,” my friend explained. “Could you give me a few ideas of restaurants and activities she and her husband might enjoy?”

The “what are your favorite restaurants and things to do in Seattle” question always amuses me. How old is the couple? Are they independently wealthy or on a budget? What kind of food do they like? Are they ambulatory?

Anyway, not having any parameters leaves the field totally open. So here, for your reading pleasure, is the list of things I suggested the “mystery couple” might enjoy.


Steelhead Diner in the Pike Place Market (“the Market”). . .not really a diner (more an “upscale diner,” although ambience is casual and fun). . .some of the best seafood in town.

Cafe Campagne in the Market. . .good for breakfast/brunch or dinner, true French bistro fare.

Place Pigalle in the Market. . French/NW food with beautiful Elliott Bay (ferry boats!) views.

Shuckers in the Fairmont Olympic Hotel. . .the best seafood in town.

RN74. . .especially if they are wine drinkers/wine aficionados as the wine list there is excellent.

Pike Place Market. . .they can just walk around on their own or take a Savor Seattle Market tour (which provides lots of walking and samples from the restos/stalls)

Ride the Ducks. . .I haven’t done this, but the trucks drive by our condo all summer and it seems wildly popular

Underground Tour. . .lots of walking in the under-the streets part of Pioneer Square, the historic part of Seattle. We’ve taken lots of people there and they love it, although it is rather offbeat!

Walk the Waterfront. . .and eat lunch at Anthony’s Diner or Six Seven in the Edgewater Hotel (where the Beatles stayed and fished out of their hotel room window!)

The Space Needle/Seattle Center/Chihuly Glass House. . .panoramic views of the region from the Needle, gorgeous art glass at Chihuly and lunch at Collections Cafe. Tell her to take the Monorail (90-second ride) to get there as that’s also a very Seattle experience.

Experience Music Project (EMP). . .also at Seattle Center. . .if they are into rock music and sci-fi (it’s Paul Allen’s pet project/museum).

Argosy cruise of Lake Union/Lake Washington which takes you by lots of interesting sites/different parts of town including Bill Gates’s home.

So next time you have tourists in town, or are asked the inevitable “what are your favorite restaurants and things to do in Seattle” question, you can crib from my list and/or use it to spark ideas/suggestions of your own.

Happy summer in Seattle!!!

May 24 Red Mountain Food-and-Wine Extravaganza

May 19, 2014

Cicchetti kitchen and bar octopus photo

Want to support Washington State University’s Viticulture and Enology Program while tasting wines from 24 Washington wineries, all expertly paired with gourmet food?

Then plan to attend Revelry on Red Mountain this Saturday, beginning at 6 p.m. Enjoy an unforgettable tasting event while enjoying gourmet food crafted by Chef Jake Crenshaw of Olive Catering and panoramic vineyard views of Red Mountain, the Horse Heaven Hills, and the Yakima Valley.

Twenty-four leading wineries will be pouring their current releases on the terrace of Col Solare Winery; the event also includes a silent auction.

Tickets are $95 and can be purchased online.

Hungry for more?!?!

The very next morning (May 25th), the extremely popular Red Mountain Walking Vineyard Tour & Lunch takes place. Join Scott Williams, Jim Holmes, Jackie Hightower, and Pete Hedges as they lead you through the new and old vineyards of Red Mountain. Sample fabulous wines along the way, while enjoying the spectacular scenery of Red Mountain. The tour will end with wines and hors d ‘oeuvres at Hedges Family Estate.

Tickets for both events–Revelry on Red Mountain and the Vineyard Tour & Lunch–are $195, and can be purchased here.


World’s Best 50 Restaurants Named

May 12, 2014

The willows inn on lummi island soup northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Late last month, Restaurant Magazine released its list of the world’s 50 best restaurants during a ceremony in London.

Copenhagen’s Noma, a four-time winner, reclaimed the title from El Celler de Can Roca, located in Girona, Spain, which came in at number two, after having knocked out Noma last year.

It is fun to look at the world’s 50 best and see how many you have eaten at (or, in many cases, even heard of)!

Seven U.S. restaurants made the cut this year, including Eleven Madison Park, Le Bernardin, Per Se, and Daniel (all in New York City); Alinea in Chicago; Coi in San Francisco; and the French Laundry in Yountville, Calif.

Here’s the complete list. I like to print it out every year and save it on my computer in case we travel to any of the world’s best 5o spots.

The willows inn smoked salmon appetizer northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

The world’s top-50 restaurants are as follows:

1. Noma, Copenhagen, Denmark
2. El Celler de Can Roca, Girona, Spain
3. Osteria Francescana, Modena, Italy
4. Eleven Madison Park, New York
5. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London
6. Mugaritz, San Sebastian, Spain
7. D.O.M., Sao Paulo, Brazil
8. Arzak, San Sebastian, Spain
9. Alinea, Chicago
10. The Ledbury, London
11. Mirazur, Menton, France
12. Vendôme, Bergisch Gladbach, Germany
13. Nahm, Bangkok, Thailand
14. Narisawa, Tokyo, Japan
15. Central, Lima, Peru
16. Steirereck, Vienna, Austria
17. Gaggan, Bangkok, Thailand
18. Astrid Y Gastón, Lima, Peru
19. Fäviken, Järpen, Sweden
20. Pujol, Mexico City, Mexico
21. Le Bernardin, New York
22. Vila Joya, Albufeira, Portugal
23. Restaurant Frantzén, Stockholm, Sweden
24. Amber, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
25. Arpège, Paris, France
26. Azurmendi, Larrabetzu, Spain
27. Le Chateaubriand, Paris, France
28. Aqua, Wolfsburg, Germany
29. De Librije, Zwolle, Netherlands
30. Per Se, New York
31. L’Atelier de J?el Robuchon Saint-Germain, Paris, France
32. Attica, Melbourne, Australia
33. Nihonryori RyuGin, Tokyo, Japan
34. Asador Etxebarri, Atxondo, Spain
35. Martín Berasategui, Lasarte-Oria, Spain
36. Mani, Sao Paulo, Brazil
37. Restaurant André, Singapore
38. L’Astrance, Paris, France
39. Piazza Duomo, Alba, Italy
40. Daniel, New York
41. Quique Dacosta, Denia, Spain
42. Geranium, Copenhagen, Denmark
43. Schloss Schauenstein, Fürstenau, Switzerland
44. The French Laundry, Yountville
45. Hof Van Cleve, Kruishoutem, Belgium
46. Le Calandre, Rubano, Italy
47. The Fat Duck, Bray, UK
48. The Test Kitchen, Cape Town, South Africa
49. Coi, San Francisco
50. Waku Ghin, Singapore

Photos by Braiden Rex-Johnson, taken at The Willows Inn on Lummi Island (Washington State), during dinner at the restaurant there, manned by former Noma employee and James Beard award-winning chef this year, Blaine Wetzel. You can read my Seattle Times review of our experience here. 

Urbanspoon Names Top U.S. Fine-Dining Dining Spots

April 14, 2014

Blueacre seafood bristol bay salmon dinner salmon gravlax photo northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

As thoughts of summer vacation start to creep into our consciousness, thoughts of where to dine while traveling the country also come to mind.

And good news! Late last month, Urbanspoon, a leading restaurant-discovery website and app that aggregates reviews from professional food critics, bloggers, and diners, released its list of the most popular fine-dining restaurants across major metropolitan cities, places where you can enjoy the finest in food, service, and atmosphere.

From perennial favorites like New Orleans institution Commander’s Palace to new hot spots like L.A.’s Hinoki and the Bird, the list was compiled based on factors including price, diner activity, and critic reviews.

How did our fair city “fare,” so to speak? Here are Seattle’s top tables, according to Urbanspoon:


— Ray’s Boathouse

— Matt’s in the Market

— Lark

— Canlis

— Book Bindery

And here’s the entire Urbanspoon listing of top-rated restaurants:


— Bone’s Restaurant

— St. Cecilia

— Chops Lobster Bar

— Bacchanalia

— Aria

— Tomo


— Neptune Oyster

— Hamersley’s Bistro

— L’Espalier

— O Ya

— Menton

— Rialto


— Alinea

— Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse

— Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab

— Topolobampo

— Blackbird

— Spiaggia

— Hamada of Japan


— French Room

— Abacus

— Hibiscus

— Fearing’s

— Eddie V’s


— Sushi Den

— Zengo

— Sushi Sasa

— Frasca Food & Wine


— Brennan’s of Houston

— Cafe Rabelais

— Rainbow Lodge

— Da Marco Cucina E Vino

Las Vegas

— Bouchon Bistro

— Mesa Grill

— Joel Robuchon

— Restaurant Guy Savoy

— Aureole

Los Angeles

— Hinoki & the Bird

— Osteria Mozza

— Ink

— Providence

— Spago

— Matsuhisa

— Nobu Malibu


— Zuma

— Il Gabbiano

— Chima Brazilian Steakhouse

— Joe’s Stone Crab

— Prime One Twelve

— Barton G. The Restaurant

— Casa Tua

Minneapolis-St. Paul

— The Oceanaire Seafood Room

— Manny’s Steakhouse

— Meritage

New Orleans

— Commander’s Palace

— Mr. B’s Bistro

— Herbsaint Bar & Restaurant

New York

— Eleven Madison Park

— Le Bernardin

— Gramercy Tavern

— Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse

— Nobu

— Minetta Tavern

— Per Se

— Peter Luger Steak House


— Alma de Cuba

— Morimoto

— Fork

— Vetri

— Little Fish

— Tashan Modern Indian


— Veritable Quandary Restaurant & Bar

— Andina

— Higgins

— Beast

— Paley’s Place

San Diego

— The Prado at Balboa Park

— Jake’s Del Mar

— George’s At The Cove

San Francisco/ Bay Area/ Wine Country

— Gary Danko

— Farallon


— Quince

— Sons & Daughters

— One Market

— Chez Panisse

— The French Laundry

Washington D.C.

— Jaleo

— 1789

— Restaurant Nora

— The Oceanaire Seafood Room

— L’Auberge Chez Francois

Photo by Braiden Rex-Johnson, taken at Blueacre Seafood in downtown Seattle. 


Take Me Out to the Ball Park

April 7, 2014

Although I’m not much of a baseball fan (Confession: I have never even been to Safeco Field to watch the Mariners), I am interested in what they’ll be serving up during the 2014 season.

Cracker jack bag northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

A recent press release quelled my curiosity, and proved that Mariners fans can opt for more than just peanuts, popcorn, and Cracker Jack.

For once again Seattle’s very own Ethan Stowell (Tavolàta, How to Cook a Wolf, Anchovies & Olives, Staple & Fancy Mercantile, Ballard Pizza Company, Rione Xlll, Bar Cotto, Mkt., and Red Cow) is working with the Seattle Mariners, and Centerplate (a global leader in live-event hospitality), a successful collaboration that has won Safeco Field a reputation for serving locally inspired ,restaurant-quality food in a ballpark setting.

Wondering what’s on the menu?

Swingin’ Wings

Located in the popular area known as The ‘Pen, Swingin’ Wings offers three takes on America’s favorite finger food, smothered in sauces that get their kick from Bonache Sauce of Ballard.

—  Classic Wings–Tossed with housemade “classic” wing sauce spiced with Bonache’s Socorro hot sauce.

—  Honey Serrano Wings–Tossed with housemade honey-serrano sauce spiced with Bonache’s Hatch hot sauce.

—  Barbecue Wings–Tossed with housemade whiskey-cola barbecue sauce.

Don’t forget about our local seafood:

A wealth of fresh, local seafood is readily available at the Sound Seafood stand, located in the Third Base Terrace Club.

—  Fish & Chips–Single plank of fresh Pacific cod, hand-dredged in Manny’s Pale Ale batter, served with thick-cut sidewinder chips and housemade remoulade sauce.

—  Oysters & Chips–Taylor Shellfish freshly shucked oysters, hand-dredged in cornmeal flour, served with thick-cut sidewinder chips and housemade remoulade sauce.

—  Salmon Sandwich–Fresh local salmon served on a brioche bun with pickled red onion, arugula, and housemade remoulade.

—  Crab Roll–Local Dungeness crab served on a soft roll with shredded lettuce, tomato, and housemade remoulade.

—  Oyster Po’ Boy–Taylor Shellfish freshly shucked oysters, hand-dredged in cornmeal flour, served on a soft roll with shredded lettuce, tomato, and housemade remoulade.

—  Applewood Smoked-Salmon Chowder–House-smoked local, wild-caught salmon in a creamy chowder.

—  Clam Chowder–Housemade classic, creamy, New England-style chowder.

Pick up some scandalous snacks:

—  Dirty Tots–Crispy Northwest tater tots topped with Beecher’s Flagship Cheddar, Carlton Farms pork belly, and Bay Valley pickled peppers.

—  Fried Cheese Curds–Deep-fried Beecher’s Flagship Cheddar cheese curds (in a light cornmeal breading) drizzled with Ballard Bee Co. honey and topped with Bay Valley pickled peppers.

—  Deep-Fried Pickles–Crispy dill pickle spears dredged in a light batter.
Sound Seafood

Don’t forget the alcoholic offerings:

Cask Ale

Wash down  the new menu offerings with cask-conditioned ale from local brewers. For those who (like me) were unsure about exactly what “cask ale” is, the press release said it is “unfiltered, unpasteurized beer that completes its secondary fermentation in the container from which it’s served. Known by some as ‘real ale,’ cask ale is gaining devotees among those in-the-know in the beer community.”

Cask-conditioned ales from brewers from around the Pacific Northwest will be served in two locations on the Main Concourse: at the Power Alley bar in the Mariners Hall of Fame and museum, which features Northwest craft beers on tap; and at a station located near Section 129, just behind home plate.

Cask ale joins an already outstanding lineup of more than 50 beers available at Safeco Field, including craft beers from area breweries such as Georgetown Brewing Company and FremontBrewing of Seattle, Diamond Knot Craft Brewing of Mukilteo, Skagit River Brewery of Mt. Vernon, No-Li Brewhouse of Spokane, and GoodLife Brewing Company of Bend, Oregon, among others.

Local Spirits

Seattle’s burgeoning craft distillery community is represented at Safeco Field with a line of hand-crafted cocktails created by Rob Roy’s Anu Apte. The cocktails, which are available at the Sound Bar, located near Sound Seafood, feature local, small-batch premium spirits from Woodinville Whiskey Company, Oola Distillery, Rogue Spirits, and Fremont Mischief Distillery.

And even:

Hot Cakes Desserts

The gooey, molten chocolate cakes, cookies, s’mores, and other desserts from Hot Cakes in Ballard, which has won rave reviews and a devoted following, are coming to the Safeco Field private-suites menu. Chocolatier/Founder Autumn Martin has created an array of cakes, tarts, cookies, and other treats for guests in the ballpark’s premium suites.

Trending across the nation:

In his Sideline Chatter column in the Sunday, March 30, edition of The Seattle Times, Dwight Perry calls out these dishes from various baseball parks around the country:

12-Scoop Sundae ($17, White Sox)–four scoops each of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice cream plus two bananas, all topped with caramel, strawberry sauce, chocolate syrup, whipped cream, and cherries, served in a full-sized batting helmet.

Bacon on a Stick ($7, Rangers)–A 3/4-inch piece of Hungarian-smoked bacon dipped in maple syrup.

D-Bat Dog ($25, Diamondbacks)–An 18-inch corndog stuffed with cheddar cheese, jalapeños, bacon, served with a side of fries.

To read more about baseball food in Seattle, check out Rebekah Denn’s recent blog post from The Seattle Times.

Willows Inn Dining Room Reopens

March 31, 2014

The willows inn on lummi island dining room northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

The Dining Room at The Willows Inn on Lummi Island reopened on Thursday, March 13, after a two-month recess.

The willows inn smoked salmon appetizer northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

You may remember I gave the property and restaurant a rave review in The Seattle Times Pacific Northwest magazine back in 2011.

The willows inn oysters appetizer northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

During his two-month break, Head Chef Blaine Wetzel was named a semifinalist for the fourth straight year for the James Beard Rising Star Award (chefs under age 30). The nomination is well deserved for the beautiful and delicious dishes he prepares day in and day out. (Photos throughout this blog post were taken during our 2011 visit.)

The willows inn on lummi island soup northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Blaine also made a visit to Europe that included stops in Copenhagen and participation in a major food event in Italy. You can read more on the chef’s blog.

The willows inn mushrooms  northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

The Willows Inn is also offering a 2-for-1 Spring Special on select dates now through the end of April.  When you reserve an on-site room during March or April you can add a second night for FREE. During your stay you can indulge in spa-therapy treatments, walk and rock-hunt along Sunset Beach, take a bicycle ride, hike the island’s wilderness preserves, or simply relax with a good book (in the hot tub, perhaps). The offer is valid until April 31, 2014, and cannot include a Saturday night.

There is even a two-day Author Series Getaway with Nancy Pearl scheduled from Wednesday, March 19 to Friday, March 21, when you are encouraged to immerse yourself in two books recommended by Nancy. Enjoy book discussions in the cozy atmosphere of Loganita, a specially-prepared dinner with Nancy by the Willows Inn sous chef at the Beach Store Cafe, and a hearty breakfast followed by a second book-club session in the Willows Inn main dining room.

Nancy is the author of the bestselling “Book Lust” and, in 2004, earned the Women’s National Book Association Award for her extraordinary contribution to the world of books. She has become a rock star among readers—the tastemaker who people turn to when deciding what to read next.

The Author Series Getaways continues in April with New York Times bestselling author Jamie Ford appearing on Wednesday, April 23. Guests will enjoy a book discussion with Jamie over his new book, “Songs of Willow Frost,” followed by a private dinner.

To register for either of the Author Series Getaway events, call the inn at 360.758.2620.

Photos by Braiden Rex-Johnson

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!

Garden show 2014 zombies northwest wining and dining downtowns seattle website link

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!). . .

Garden show 2014 giant metal chickens northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

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

Garden show 2014 seahawks diorama northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

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

Garden show 2014 pussy willows northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

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.

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

A cabinet full of gardening books and supplies. . .

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

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

Garden show 2014 art supplies two northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

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.

Culinary Tie-Ins to the Seahawks’ Superbowl Game

January 30, 2014

Although I know almost nothing about football, as a 23-year-long resident of Seattle, it has been impossible to resist catching the spirit of the Seattle Seahawks upcoming appearance in Super Bowl XLVIII.

If you are in a similar predicament, not knowing a lot about football or the Seahawks, The Seattle Times has thoughtfully prepared a cover story in today’s paper that will help fill in the blanks.

PS Cam seahawks colors superbowl tie-in 2 northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Downtown has enjoyed a lovely display of brilliant green and blue colors on the Seattle Great Wheel (as seen above on the Puget Sound Cam; The Westin Hotel sports Seahawk colors atop its two columnar buildings; the Space Needle shines proudly in shades of blue and green with a 12th-man flag waving atop; numerous local businesses proudly display Seahawks emblems.

The chance to support, and perhaps even cash in a bit on Seahawks mania, has not been lost on Seattle’s hospitality industry. A press release issued by listed the following Seahawks-themed offers and specials for dining, entertainment, and lodging. Here are some of the more interesting items, plus some other items that came into my inbox from various public-relations companies about town and even farther afield.


For the Thirsty and Hungry 12s

Start hydrating for the big game at the Art Restaurant and Lounge. Beginning January 10, Art Restaurant will show their Blue Pride with two unique cocktails. First up is the brightly blue colored “Super Bowl Sling,” which offers warship rum infused with blue skittles, Benedictine, orange bitters, and more. Next we have the “12th Man,” a bright-action green-colored cocktail that features celestial reposado infused with green skittles, Cointreau, house sour mix and a mini 12th man flag garnish to top it off. Both cocktails will be served through Super Bowl Sunday.

For 12s looking to grab some grub, Art Restaurant and Lounge will provide a special game day menu on Super Bowl Sunday. This Seahawks inspired spread sports the likes of “Seagal’s” crudité, “1984” warm pretzels, “Legion of Boom” wings, “Clink” cheese sauce nachos, “Touchback” Seattle dogs, “Feed the Beast” pizza, and “137.6 decibel” fried chicken and fries. The menu is offered from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.


Get Your Beast Brunch On

BOKA restaurant + bar at Hotel 1000 is doing a special “Beast Brunch” in its Studio 1000 space on Super Bowl Sunday from 12-2:30 p.m. The $25 buffet includes the Beast Brunch and game day bites, plus one Bloody Mary, Mimosa, or juice. Additional Bloody Marys are priced at $6 and additional Mimosas are $5. The Beast Brunch wouldn’t be complete without the room being outfitted with a 70’ flat screen TV. For those wanting to take advantage of BOKA’s usual “Seahawk Brunch” located in its regular restaurant space, prices are $25 per person. Reservations can be made at 206-357-9000.


A Super Bowl Super Stay

Hotel Monaco is offering the ultimate Super Bowl party with its “Super Bowl Super Stay” package. The package includes an overnight stay in Hotel Monaco’s Ambassador Suite, the entire top floor of the hotel rented out for your guests, multiple TVs in the suite to catch all the action, a custom tailgate menu tailored to your tastes from Chef Jason McClure of Sazerac Restaurant, and a staffed bar. Even more, if the Seahawks win the Super Bowl, the individual who booked this package wins a free night in the Ambassador Suite once a year for LIFE. The Super Bowl Super Stay package is priced at $25,000. To book, call VIP reservations at 206-516-5097.


Raise your Glass in the name of the Seahawks

For Super Bowl XLVIII, Oliver’s gives fellow 12s a chance to toast to the Seahawks. For their “Boom Town” special, Oliver’s will be offering select Washington wines priced at $7.50 a glass. For 12s wanting something different, Oliver’s will be offering a Glacier Blue cocktail with Bols Blue Curacao liqueur, gin, vodka and a garnish of lime. The Glacier Blue is priced at $8.

For hungry 12s, Oliver’s will also offer “Golden Tate r’ Tots” with garlic, white cheddar and bacon priced at $6. For something a bit meatier, 12s can take refuge with the “Roast Beast Mode” sandwich. This New York deli-style sandwich comes complete with salad, soup, or fries and is priced at $12 a sandwich. All specials will be served Feb. 1-2 from 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.


Stellar 12th Man Specials

For the big game February 2, Brave Horse Tavern will be offering game day nachos, blue and green jello shots, and happy hour all day. Doors open at 10 a.m. Go Hawks!


One Hauschka Sour, Please

A drink that personifies the Seahawks star kicker, Steven Hauschka, the “Hauschka Sour” is made of gin, lime, sage, apple liqueurs, and an egg white for a foamy texture.

This gem is crafted in the sophisticated bar called The Gerald, located in downtown Ballard, and will be served through Super Bowl Sunday.


Happy Hour for Happy 12s

Gordon Biersch at Pacific Place will be sounding off in the 12th man spirit by providing all-day happy hour specials during Super Bowl Sunday.


Quench your Thirst

For Super Bowl XLVIII, Henry’s Tavern will help quench the mighty 12th man thirst. Doors will open at 9 a.m., a second satellite bar will be available, and of course Beast Mode jello shots and touchdown shots will be offered.


A Seahawk Super Bowl

For Super Bowl XLVIII, Ivar’s is planning to meet all your chowder needs. Priced at $24, Ivar’s is offering a gallon of your favorite red or white clam chowder that serves over 20 six-ounce servings. Pick up your chowder package at any local Ivar’s Seafood Bar for the big game on February 2 and ensure your Super Bowl party truly represents the Pacific Northwest.


For the Finger Lickin’ 12s

For Super Bowl Sunday, Kickin’ Boot Whiskey Kitchen in Ballard will be running beer, whiskey and cocktail specials, along with their lip-smacking barbeque all day long on February 2.


Lab Specials for 12s

Lunchbox Laboratory will give 12s a chance to watch the big game. All three Lunchbox Laboratory locations will screen the Super Bowl on multiple TVs and will offer game-day food and drink specials in bar seating areas.


Get in the Sprit with a Beastronessey

What do you get when you mix Marshawn Lynch’s two favorite spirits with his on-field presence? Beastronessey. To create this unique cocktail, Suite 410 combines Lynch’s two favorite spirits, Hennessey and Patron, with yellow chartreuse, apple juice, maple syrup and a Granny Smith apple garnish. The “Beastronessey” will be served through Super Bowl Sunday.


The Maple Caper shows off a “Showtime Tate”

The Sun Liquor bar embodies Golden Tate with its “Maple Caper.” This cocktail is fashioned together with Sun Liquor barrel aged rum, bourbon, Grade-A maple syrup, heavy cream, and a whole egg. Enjoy this cocktail all the way up to a Seahawk Super Bowl.


Grub 12s can take Home

Volunteer Park Café wants to make sure 12s can sit back, relax, and cheer their heads off without worrying about what to cook. For Super Bowl Sunday, the cafe will be offering Moroccan-spiced organic chicken wings priced at $24 for 12 wings or $48 for 24 wings. The cafe will also offer a three-layer dip for $40 (serves 8-10) and 12th Man cupcakes for $3.50 each or $36 per dozen. Make sure you pre-order by 3 p.m. Thursday, January 30.


Tailgate party menu for the 12th man

Von Trapp’s bier hall will run special Super Bowl menu items from 12 p.m. throughout the end of the game on Sunday, February 2. Chef Pete Fjosne will serve football pretzels, chili cheese dogs and a variety of hot wings. A selection of happy hour menu items will be available and half liters of Bayern VT Lager will be $4. Fourteen TV screens will be showing the game and bocce ball courts are open for playing.


Specials for the 12th Man

World Sports Grille will be opening its doors for Super Bowl Sunday, February 2, at 11 a.m. to welcome hungry and thirsty 12s. World Sports Grille will be offering beer and drinks specials that include $20 beer buckets, a $15 “12th Man” PBR bucket, and $4 draft beer. World Sports Grille will also be offering a game-day food menu with appetizer specials.


12th man wine northwest cellars northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Of course, some of us are more into wine than beer or cocktails, and the good people of Northwest Cellars have something special to suit our tastes: 12th Man Wine. The special-label wine is available at Northwest Cellars’ Kirkland tasting room, Nectar in Spokane, and a long list of stores and restaurants in western Washington. Wines include Adagio, Viognier, Merlot, Madrigal, Intrigue, Petite Sirah, and Malbec. You can also order online (with a minimum order of four bottles) and they will ship to you. Stock up for the big game !!



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KuKuRuZa Gourmet Popcorn has created a special flavor just for the big day – Beast Corn popcorn, a colored Kettle Corn! It’s snacking delicious and will be available in-store and online now until game day, Sunday, February 2. Beast Corn popcorn is available in 1 Gallon Bags for $13 each.


Sullivan's steakhouse seahawks cocktail northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Sullivan’s best-seller and signature cocktail, “The Knockout,” has been reworked to show its Seahawks support. Renamed “The HAWKout,” the drink boasts a festive blue hue with the addition of a splash of Curaçoa. Still strong as ever, The HAWKout’s base is a simple combination of Svedka Clementine Vodka and Hawaiian Gold Pineapple. Sullivan’s will be shaking and serving it up for $11 over the next two weeks, through Super Bowl Sunday.


In honor of the Seattle Seahawks’ 12th Man, The Edgewater Hotel — Seattle’s only waterfront hotel — is celebrating the Seahawks return to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2005 with “12 Days of Super Seahawks.” Each day, for the ’12 Days of Super Seahawks,’ Six Seven and The Edgewater will have special offers to get fans in the Seattle Seahawks spirit. The campaign launched on Wednesday, January 22, and here are the remaining specials:

Golden Tini — Six Seven signature pineapple martini – offered on Jan. 30

Hawk-fries — crispy French fries with garlic, parmesan and chive — offered on Jan. 31

Hilliard’s “The 12th Can” a hometown favorite — $3 in celebration to #3 — offered on Feb. 1

Seahawk salumi plate — assorted cured meats, cheeses and grilled bread – offered on Feb. 2

*All items are $12 unless noted.

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“Champion Chips” & Salsa: Blue and green tortilla chips to support our home team! Available Friday, January 31, to Sunday, February 2, at participating Taco Time NW restaurants. On Friday and Saturday, $1.12 buys a regular order of “Champion Chips” & Salsa and $4.12 will net you a jumbo order of “Champion Chips” & Salsa (includes 100 chips and 2 large cups of fresh salsa). Guests can choose from Taco Time’s Pico de Gallo, Black Bean & Corn Salsa, Medium Salsa, or Mild Salsa. Made with local tortillas from La Mexicana, the chips are handmade daily in the restaurants and are seasoned with a special spice mixture to give them an extra hit of flavor.

And, on Sunday, dine-in guests will receive a FREE order of “Champion Chips” & Salsa.


Beast Mode Waffle Barking Frog woodinville washington northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

And Barking Frog restaurant in Woodinville has devised a Sunday brunch item–the Beast Mode Waffle–to celebrate the big game. The Beast includes Skittles in the waffle and blue and green whipped butter and sells for $12.

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