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.


Oregon Wines Fly High!

May 5, 2014

North Willamette Wine Trail

Planning a winery tour to Oregon this year? Flying on Alaska Airlines?

If so, then, you’re in luck. Because when you fly on Alaska Airlines, that case of Oregon vino you pick up flies home for free!

Beginning on May 1, in honor of Oregon Wine Month, the Oregon Wine Board, Travel Oregon, and Alaska Airlines partnered to bring back the Oregon Wines Fly Free program. The program enables visitors traveling from Oregon on an Alaska Airlines flight to check a case of Oregon wine for free.

Oregon is the first state to partner with the airline on a statewide-wines fly-free program. More than 250 Oregon wineries joined the program in 2013!

Oregon Wines Fly Free began as a two-month test last fall. The pilot program was so popular that Alaska Airlines has renewed the program for a year.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan members may check one case of wine free on their return flight out of four Oregon airports. In addition, passengers showing their Alaska boarding passes within a week of their arrival in Oregon will receive complimentary tastings at any of more than 300 participating Oregon wineries. Customers may join the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan for free.

Alaska Airlines offers nonstop service to Oregon’s most popular wine regions, including the Willamette Valley via Portland and Eugene, Ore.; the Rogue Valley via Medford, Ore.; Central Oregon wineries via Redmond, Ore.; and Eastern Oregon wineries via Walla Walla, Wash. Alaska Airlines is also an official partner of Feast Portland, the flagship food and drink festival in the Pacific Northwest that runs from Sept. 18 to 21, 2014.

“Oregon Wine’s partnership with Travel Oregon and Alaska Airlines was a tremendous success in 2013 and we’re expecting the new program will be even more successful,” said Tom Danowski, executive director of OWB. “We had more than 250 wineries participating in the program in 2013 and with the interest it generated then, our goal is to have more than 300 wineries participate in the yearlong program.”



Recipe of the Month: Wild King Salmon with Macerated Cherries and Smoked Almond Beurre Noisette

April 30, 2014

Alaskan Wild Salmon northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Wild King Salmon with Macerated Cherries and Smoked Almond Beurre Noisette

Varietal: Pinot Noir

Serves 4

This recipe from “Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining” was created by Kevin Davis, chef/owner of Steelhead Diner in Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market and Blueacre Seafood in downtown Seattle. It showcases two of the Northwest’s iconic ingredients: fresh, wild salmon and dried cherries and would be perfect to try with Copper River salmon, which begins its annual run in May. Pair it with another Northwest icon—Oregon Pinot Noir—which mirrors the lush berry, earthy, and smoky flavors in the dish. Some of my favorite Oregon Pinot Noir producers include reasonably priced versions such as Willamette Valley Vineyard’s amazing Whole Cluster Fermented Pinot Noir (which winery founder Jim Bernau characterizes as “Pinot Noir candy”) or luxury-priced Pinots from Domaine Serene and Archery Summit.

Macerated Cherries

1 cup dried cherries (Chukar brand preferred)

1 cup port or Madeira

Four 8-ounce Copper River King salmon or other wild salmon fillets (center cuts preferred)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled

Freshly grated zest of 1 orange

1 cup smoked almonds, lightly crushed (Blue Diamond brand preferred)

1. To prepare the Macerated Cherries, place the dried cherries in a heatproof nonreactive bowl. Bring the port to a boil and pour over the cherries. Cover with plastic wrap and steep for 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate if not using immediately.

2. Prepare a medium-low fire in a gas or charcoal grill. Brush the salmon with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the fillets on the grill skin side down away from direct heat. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, turn the fish, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes more (for medium rare) or to the desired doneness.

3. While the fish is grilling, melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until the butter turns brown and gives off a nutty aroma. This is called beurre noisette in French, and translates as “brown butter.”

4. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the chopped rosemary, orange zest, almonds, and Macerated Cherries (drained and patted dry) in that order, pausing between each addition and stirring gently to allow each ingredient to render it essence into the butter. Be careful when adding the first two ingredients, as the butter may sizzle and pop. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Place the salmon fillets on 4 dinner plates, top with the brown butter, and serve immediately.

Cook’s Hint: Wild king or Chinook salmon has a very high fat content and will tend to flame up if cooked too fast. It’s always a good idea to have a water bottle handy, just in case. Don’t leave the grill unattended at any time throughout the cooking process. Also, Chef Kevin has an easy way to prevent overcooking your fish. Simply turn the grill off when the fish is slightly underdone; this allows the carryover heat to finish cooking the fish.

Recipe reprinted from “Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining: The People, Places, Food, and Drink of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia” (Wiley, $34.95) by Braiden Rex-Johnson.

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

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.


Welcome to the ‘Hood: Aragona Restaurant

January 20, 2014

Aragona rendering northwest wining and dining website link

Last summer, we got wind that Thoa’s Restaurant & Lounge would be pulling up stakes. One of several restaurants owned and operated by my friend and fellow Seattle Dame Thoa Nguyen, the restaurant was located in the base of our condominium building at First and Union for an impressive period–10 years.

We wondered who might take over the large space with a bar at the front, kitchen behind glass, and peekaboo views of Elliott Bay.

Soon, word leaked out that über-successful Seattle chef Jason Stratton, the genius behind northern Italian-leaning Cascina Spinasse and Artusi in Capitol Hill, was interested.

We saw the architect’s rendering (above) and learned the concept of the new space, named “Aragona,” would be regional Spanish food. Having studied in Madrid for four months while I was in college, and falling in love with both the people of that Iberian country and its cuisine, I was psyched!

Aragona jason stratton tour northwest wining and dining website link

We watched the construction, heard the whine of the saws and banging of the hammers, and even sniffed the glue and shellac when the workers laid the floors, so felt very invested in the latest iteration at First and Union.

A few weeks before opening, we enjoyed a hard-hat tour, with Chef Stratton pointing out artistic details and the many new facets to the restaurant. . .

Aragona female chef northwest wining and dining website link

And chatting up Aragona’s Chef de Cuisine, Carrie Mashaney, who previously served as chef de cuisine at Spinasse and gained wide acclaim last fall after appearing on Bravo’s “Top Chef.”

Aragona wine guy chris northwest wining and dining website link

Behind the wine table (pouring a dry Fino Sherry and Spanish wines from small producers), we recognized a former buddy from RN74–Master Sommelier Chris Tanghe.

Aragona jason kitchen northwest wining and dining website link

Stratton took us behind the scenes in the gorgeous new kitchen, completely outfitted with new equipment including a plancha (a flat-top grill widely used in Spain and Latin America to cook fish and shellfish).

Aragona column northwest wining and dining website link

This stunning column really spoke to me. . .a modern update of the many beautiful columns and pillars one sees everywhere in southern Spain. In a press release, it’s described as “the visual showpiece of the dining room. . .created by internationally recognized Seattle mosaic artist Kate Jessup.”

The column is surrounded by a central service table that will be used for decanting wine, carving ham, and dishing out paella-like rice dishes.

Aragona food northwest wining and dining website link

We enjoyed a variety of nibbles that afternoon including savory cookies and olives. . .

Aragona food northwest wining and dining website link

flatbread and nut-covered cheese balls.

Aragona group shot northwest wining and dining website link

Here’s an overview of the main dining room taken from the private dining room at the back and looking toward the bar (with the kitchen on the left).

Aragona logo northwest wining and dining website link

And here is the lovely logo that evokes the proud traditions of España.

Just a few weeks later, after many hours of overtime work by the construction workers and staff, the restaurant opened for business on December 9.

Aragona restaurant main dining room interior northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

We were lucky enough to be included in the Family and Friends dinner the evening before, and were blown away by the glamorous transformation of the interior, which manages to be contemporary, warm, and elegant while still nodding to restaurants in Spain. Here (above) is the main dining room.

Aragona bar area northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

The bar offers a separate, more small-plate menu and multiple wine-by-the glass options, which will be perfect for theater-goers and music lovers for pre-Benaroya-hall events.

Aragona restaurant jason stratton owner chef and carrey sous chef northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Here are Jason and Carrie looking relieved that their latest “baby” is finally open for business.

Aragona restaurant octopus cauliflower puree northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

We fought over the Grilled Octopus and Cauliflower Purée with its lovely charry notes and buttery richness.

Aragona restaurant dessert northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Although we didn’t have room for dessert, here’s a photo of one of several tempting options.

Rave reviews are already starting to stream in for Aragona. Please have a look at our friend and colleague Bethany Jean Clement’s complete, and very positive review from The Stranger’s January 15 issue.

Nicole Sprinkle, in The Seattle Weekly, also weighed in with a review in the January 21 issue, while Zach Geballe praised the impressive and inventive wine and Sherry offerings.

Architectural rendering and logo courtesy of Aragona.
Top eight photos by Braiden Rex-Johnson. Remaining photos courtesy of Aragona. 

Dish of the Day: BOKA Duck and Claret Cocktail

November 11, 2013

BOKA chef peter birk northwest wining and dining website

At a  press dinner last month to celebrate the new Fall menu at BOKA Kitchen + Bar in downtown Seattle’s Hotel 1000 (just a few blocks from our condo), executive chef Peter Birk (formerly with Ray’s Boathouse and McCormick & Schmick’s) wowed the crowd with many lovely courses.

BOKA duck breast northwest wining and dining website link

This is a lousy photo due to the ever-changing rainbow of colors glowing from the wall near our table, but among his best dishes that evening was Crispy Duck Breast with Black Tea Custard, Chanterelles, and Roasted Grapes.

BOKA tea-infused martini northwest wining and dining website link

It paired perfectly not only with a Matthews Cellars Claret, but with a Black Tea Martini with Matthews Claret Mousse created by BOKA’s new bar manager and chief mixologist Cory Duffy.

Cory, who also owns Rain City Spirits (“Seattle’s Craft Vodka”), is taking the BOKA bar menu in intriguing new directions with a carefully curated collection of handcrafted, culinary-inspired cocktails.

You’ll want to try Cory’s house-made tonic water (made with Pinot Gris!) that figures “big” in the House Made (Big) Gin & Tonic.

Cory, a self-avowed “big fan of punches,” wowed the crowd with his Dark Rum Punch. It’s made from roasted figs, orange peel, brandied cherries, Dark Rum, and VSOP Cognac, among other ingredients. Full of rich, spicy flavors, the media members at our table pronounced it, “Christmas in a glass.”

You’ll want to stop by BOKA for its upcoming seasonal events, which include chef Peter’s Thanksgiving Cooking Class on November 14, Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas dinner and three Holiday Hideout Pop-Up Boutiques in December.

BOKA chef peter birk northwest wining and dining website link

Here is chef Peter at evening’s end, relieved and proud after a job well done.


Free, Interactive eCookbook Available from Visit Seattle

November 4, 2013

Fresh from seattle ecookbook cover northwest wining and dining

Visit Seattle has launched a free interactive eCookbook that highlights a range of talented chefs and signature Pacific Northwest cuisine. “Fresh From Seattle” features 26 recipes from 12 noteworthy contributing local chefs, including award winners such as Tom Douglas, Maria Hines, and Thierry Rautureau.

The 92-page eCookbook is a rich compilation of recipes, cooking and storage tips, color photos, food history, chef bios, and more.

Fresh from seattle salmon northwest wining and dining

Seattle chefs contributed original recipes, as well as personal restaurant favorites, that are designed to pique the culinary curiosity of the inspired home chef. In addition to Seattle celebrity chefs, the cookbook also features acclaimed hotel chefs.

Fresh From Seattle is available here, where it is downloadable as a PDF or you can link to Apple iTunes App Store for download. Both options are free of charge.

“Between Seattle’s creative chefs and welcoming hospitality community, we formed the perfect marriage for this project,” said Ali Daniels, Vice President, Marketing, Visit Seattle. “We are a city of gourmands, constantly exploring and finding new ways to share the inspired culinary offerings of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle’s vibrant food culture just has to be shared, and ‘Fresh From Seattle’ does just that.”

Fresh from seattle ecookbook crab cakes northwest wining and dining

“Fresh From Seattle” eCookbook contributing chefs and recipes:

Thierry Rautureau – Luc and Loulay

Northwest Wild Mushroom Salad, Toasted Hazelnut, Aged Balsamic Vinegar

Neah Bay Wild Coho Salmon with Moroccan Olive Tapenade

Skagit Valley Savory Strawberry & Red Wine Soup

Tom Douglas – Tom Douglas Restaurant Group

Tom’s Tasty Sashimi Tuna Salad with Green Onion Pancakes

Peak of the Season Crisp with Brown Sugar Oats

Etta’s Rub with Love Salmon with Grilled Shiitake Relish

Dungeness Crab Cakes

Maria Hines – Tilth, Agrodolce, Golden Beetle

Skagit River Ranch Wagyu Beef Tartare with Dijon and Grilled Romaine

Loki Fishing Vessel Seared Sockeye Salmon with Sweet Corn Salsa

Oxbow Farm Mixed Summer Squash Salad with Parmesan, Hazelnuts and Truffle Vinaigrette

Daisley Gordon – Marche, Café Campagne

Warm Potato & Salmon Roe Salad

Marché Mackerel

Pernod Mussels

Salad Marché

Sarah Lorenzen – Andaluca

Chorizo and Clam Fettuccini

Pavlova with Lemon Cream and Fresh Berries

Gavin Stephenson – The Georgian

Rooftop Honey-Smoked Salmon

The Georgian Black and White Chocolate Soufflé

Kerry Sear – ART Restaurant

Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Salad

Grass-Baked Chicken

Sean Pals – Brella’s Restaurant & Lounge

Grilled Peach Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette

Thomas Horner – Hook & Plow

Razor Clam, Local Sausage, White Bean & Kale Stew

Peter Birk – BOKA restaurant + bar

Roasted Quail with Bluebird Grain Farms Farro

Preston Hagan – Jimmy’s on First

Jimmy’s Bloody Bakon Martini

Chris Lobkovich – Bookstore Bar & Café

Fiddlehead Fern Salad

Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival October 11-13

October 7, 2013

Dungeness Crab Festival

It’s that time of year again. . .time for the 12th Annual Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival, which takes place from Friday to Sunday, October 11 to 13, 2013, in Port Angeles, Washington.

“Crabfest is the annual celebration of our region’s diverse bounty, the seafood, agriculture and maritime traditions, and the breathtaking coastal environment that is home to the Dungeness crab,” says festival producing director Scott Nagel. “The event will once again take place downtown at the Port Angeles City Pier, Gateway Center, and Red Lion Hotel overlooking the beautiful Strait of Juan de Fuca and Victoria, British Columbia.”

A nationally renowned event, the Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival was named one of the Top 100 Events in North America by the American Bus Association in 2011. Coastal Living Magazine designated it one of the Top 10 Coastal Events in 2012. The festival will also be featured in an upcoming issue of national food magazine, Saveur.

This year festival organizers are honored to host the return visit of our friend and colleague Graham Kerr, whom we’ve written about in The Seattle Times. Graham was the first television chef, known as the “Galloping Gourmet,” working with his wife and producer, Treena.

Graham will prepare his favorite crab cakes, talk about his world view of food, and have books on hand for sale and signing. Additionally, he will serve as the celebrity judge of the festival’s first-annual chowder-making competition, the Captain Joseph House Chowder Cook-off, to be held Sunday afternoon. The public will not only have several opportunities to connect with Graham, but will participate in the tasting and rating of the amateur and professional chowder cooks.

Festival hours are Friday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is FREE and the big-top tent provides covered seating.

There are several ways to get to Port Angeles: Drive route 101 to Port Angeles; fly Kenmore Air Express with connections to SeaTac and the world; and visitors from Canada will find special packages on the Coho Ferry from Victoria, which docks right next to the Festival!

For more information including transportation, accommodations, directions and the detailed program, please go to the Festival website.

Other Festival Highlights:

In the 9,000-square-foot Kitsap Bank Crab Central food tent, visitors will find an old-fashioned “crab feed,” complete with large kettles of fresh whole crabs ready to be enjoyed with fresh corn and cole slaw. The crabs are caught live locally – the freshest you can get!

At Crab Central and throughout the grounds, 15 local and regional restaurants will provide visitors with many delicious seafood dishes including crab cakes, grilled wild salmon, fish tacos, crab enchiladas, crab Rangoon, clam chowder, crab bisque, seafood gumbo, Northwest paella, fish ‘n’ chips, barbecued oysters, steamed clams, oyster stew, mussels, grilled scallops, and more. New this year is the Taylor Shellfish Farms Raw Oyster Bar!

In addition, there will be live music, Olympic-Peninsula wines for tasting, Northwest microbrews, and the Peninsula’s own Bedford Sodas.

But that’s not all! More than 80 booths will be featured on the city pier including juried crafts, merchants, nonprofit environmental organizations, and festival sponsors.

And The Columbia Bank Gateway Center will be home to the Chef Demonstration Stage, featuring ongoing cooking demonstrations by Graham Kerr and outstanding local and regional chefs, as well as a wine garden, food, and exhibits.

The Crab Revival will take place on Sunday morning from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The program includes a non-denominational service directed by Michael Rivers, gospel music from the Peninsula Men’s Gospel Singers, and other local musicians.

On Sunday afternoon all are invited to Crabfest’s first annual chowder cook-off sponsored by the Captain Joseph House Foundation, which provides respite and healing for families of our fallen warriors. All proceeds will go the House. Visitors can taste chowders from both amateur and professional cooks, and then vote for their favorite! The more tickets visitors buy, the more chowder they get and the more votes they can enter.

“Get crabbing” during the First Federal and Wilder Auto Grab-A-Crab Tank Derby, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Located on the city pier, the entire family can participate in this unorthodox derby by crabbing from large holding tanks using crab snares and bait. The $5 entry fee allows participants to crab for 10 minutes, no license or gear needed. Festival volunteers will be on hand to demonstrate how to catch, cook and clean the famous crustaceans. Purchase whole crabs to take home cooked or uncooked.

Stop by the Feiro Marina Life Center for a hands-on educational experience or to enjoy children’s activities.

The Peninsula College Athletic Department is a great Crabfest partner. Saturday and Sunday on Hollywood Beach is the Crabfest Sand Volleyball Tournament; Saturday is the Crabfest 5-K Fun Run/Walk with proceeds supporting the women’s basketball program. When visitors get their Crab Derby crabs cleaned and packed to go, the men’s basketball team does the work. And every night the soccer team cleans Crab Central.

Fresh cooked, chilled and cleaned crab will be available to take home throughout the festival (cooked crab can be taken to Canada).

San Juan Islands Great Island Grown Festival October 1-13

October 1, 2013

Crow Valley Farm Orcas Island

Bountiful farms, stunning pastoral landscapes and superb local food…that’s the San Juan Islands way of life!

The Great Island Grown San Juan Island Festival

Beginning today, and lasting until Sunday, October 13, farmers, restaurants, the Island community, and visitors will come together to celebrate this unique and coveted destination at The Great Island Grown Festival.

The Great Island Grown Festival features two weeks of events and workshops, from distillery tastings and plein-air farm painting to shellfish tours and sheepdog demonstrations to farm parades, bike tours of farms, and vineyard harvests. And, of course, farmers’ markets, harvest festival, and farm-to-table meals.

Island Grown in the San Juans is a membership organization of San Juan County farmers, restaurants, and supporters. The organization celebrates the bounty of the Islands’ rich agricultural heritage, and inspires Islanders, visitors, and businesses about the many benefits of buying locally grown and harvested products from land and sea.

The complete festival calendar and more details including dates and locations are available on the Island Grown in the San Juans website.

And here’s some really interesting historical information about agriculture in the San Juan Islands (from the media release):

The San Juan Islands are blessed with a temperate climate and were once considered to be the breadbasket of Western Washington. The local fruit industry began in earnest in the 1890s, with the introduction of Italian prune plums, and grew to include thousands of trees bearing apples, cherries, peaches, and pears.

During the early 1900s, farmers shipped boatloads of fruit from all the major islands to Salish-Sea ports, where the produce was transported by rail throughout the country. Although the islands no longer dominate Washington’s fruit industry, the legacy of historic orchards with local varieties such as the Orcas pear bear witness to the rich history of Island fruit-raising and distribution—a heritage that is still cultivated by San Juan County growers today.

Island Grown in the San Juans chose a logo with a pear in a boat as a symbol of the rich agricultural heritage of the island archipelago situated in the waters of the Salish Sea. Pears played a key role in fruit raising in the San Juans during the period from the 1890s to the 1930s.

The pear represents an Orcas pear, a delicious heritage variety that was discovered by Joseph C. Long along a roadside on Orcas Island in 1966. The Orcas pear (Pyrus communis) is listed as an American Heirloom Pear in Slow Foods USA “Ark of Taste,” and is suitable for fresh consumption, canning, and drying.

The boat was, and still is, one of the primary means of transportation in the islands. Even today, islanders are known to transport their farm produce by boat to markets on other islands.

Photo courtesy of Island Grown
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