December 1, 2007
Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining Update
Can you spell b-o-o-k t-o-u-r? For the past six weeks, we’ve been on the road promoting Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining. A weekend in Woodinville wine country, just 45 minutes outside downtown Seattle, resulted in a very spirited signing with executive chef Bobby Moore of Barking Frog restaurant at the ever-lovely Willows Lodge. Bobby’s recipe for Petite Lamb Burgers is featured in the book (page 49), and we gave away a bevy of burgers and sold almost 30 books. After a lovely multi-course dinner at Barking Frog (read more in the Resto Review, below) and a good night’s rest, we moved just down the road the next day to Columbia Winery for their annual Taste of Red event.
The following week, we took the train to Portland for three action-packed days. The Hotel Vintage Plaza (a wine-themed hotel with a sister hotel in Seattle called the Hotel Vintage Park) hosted my book-launch signing in Portland during which we sold another 30 books in just an hour (!). Wine Wednesday featured a discussion by yours truly and several leading Oregon winemakers (Bethel Heights, Panther Creek, Bishop Creek, and Matello) while guests enjoyed Chef John Eisenhart’s small plates paired with the wines. A media dinner for 10 key regional media members in the Pazzo Ristorante Wine Cellar showcased an outstanding collection of Oregon’s best farmers, fishers, and foragers. Favorite pairings included Citrus-Cured Sturgeon, Corn Pancake, Peppercress, and Red Chili with Bishop Creek Cellars 2006 Pinot Gris and Matsutake Mushroom and Scallion Risotto with Three-Day-Old Davero Olive Oil paired with Bethel Heights Vineyards 2006 Pinot Noir.
The next morning, I appeared on “A.M. Northwest,” an early-morning show on Portland’s ABC-network affiliate, with host Dave Anderson. Since I hadn’t hired a food stylist, I was up at 4 a.m. making a batch of Smoked Salmon Tartare for the beauty plate and doing dishes in our hotel-room sink!
The following week, we took the train to Vancouver for a 48-hour whirlwind of activity. First off were two appearances on City TV. One was a seven-minute segment for “Breakfast TV,” during which I chatted with host Simi Sara about the Northwest wining-and-dining scene. Next, Simi and I taped “City Cooks,” a half-hour cooking show in which I demo-ed three recipes from Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining. Luckily, I had a food stylist, media escort, and publicist in Vancouver, so I didn’t have to dirty up our bathroom at the glamorous Fairmont Hotel Vancouver.
Several radio interviews interspersed the television appearances, all followed by a major event at the venerable Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks. There the sell-out crowd of 25 people sampled recipes from four different regions in the book paired with BC wines while I spoke about “The A, B, C’s of Food-and-Wine Pairing.”
The next morning I appeared on Fanny Keifer’s long-running “Studio 4” television show, along with the Finance Minister of British Columbia and Vancouver’s most famous big-band leader, who was celebrating his 90th birthday. Fanny is a great foodie and wino, so the 18 minutes flew by. After the taping, we chatted, I signed her book, and left her with a bottle of Bishop Creek Cellars 2006 Syrah to sample.
December brings with it a fresh crop of appearances in Seattle, Mill Creek, and Lake Forest Park, Washington, including the Tom Douglas Cookbook Social (December 3), Third Place Books (December 10), and Elliott Bay Book Co. (December 16). Shortly after that, we head to New York City, where I’ll meet with my editor and the publicist from John Wiley one day for lunch, then spend the rest of the time wining and dining around the city. Can’t wait!
And articles and reviews of Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining continue to roll in. A very favorable review by venerable Seattle writer Greg Atkinson appeared in the November 18 issue of The Seattle Times Pacific Northwest magazine.
To purchase a copy of Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining, please go to your local bookseller or visit Amazon’s Web site, www.amazon.com.
Pike Place Market News
A tribute to the Market’s 100th birthday is on display in the main lobby at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in downtown Seattle, where Executive Pastry Chef Artis Kalsons and his team have created a diorama of the beloved Market entirely out of gingerbread, right down to Rachel the Pig and the “flying fish” of Pike Place Fish fame. www.fairmont.com/seattle
DeLaurenti Specialty Food & Wine, a cornerstone of the Market at First and Pike since 1946, has secured its annual stash of white truffles from Alba, Italy. But this year’s small yield coupled with the weak dollar have driven the price to an unprecedented $4,000 per pound, or $8.81 per gram. (Normally, this pungently earthy tuber sells for “only” $2,000 to $3,000 per pound.) Harvest generally lasts through December, and DeLaurenti will receive weekly shipments in half-pound portions as long as supplies last. Special orders can be made two-to-three days in advance and must be prepaid. www.delaurenti.com
New Willamette Valley Digs
In early October, on a gentle hill in northeast Newberg, Ore., a ground-breaking ceremony was held in honor of an 85-room country estate-style inn, spa, restaurant, and conference center that will provide the most luxurious accommodations in the Willamette Valley. The Springbrook Properties site, one of the largest new developments in the state, is owned by Newberg philanthropist and businesswoman Joan Austin and her family.
The 450-acre project will be built in phases over 10 years, and will include 1,200 homes and a retail village. The inn, spa, restaurant, and conference center—the first components—will open in late spring-2009. The development has won praise from some of the region’s most prominent winemakers because it is entirely within Newberg’s urban growth boundary and does not encroach on valuable vineyard land. www.springbrookproperties.com
Dine in the Fluff at Tigh-Na-Mara
At Vancouver Island’s Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa & Conference Centre, guests at the Grotto Spa are encouraged to feast at the Treetop Tapas & Grill while lounging in their chenille robes. The Treetop is reserved exclusively for robed spa guests, who can enjoy a select few spa-cuisine-inspired tapas or a stream of Endless Tapas. Featuring local flavors and snugly ensconced by views of the forest, the Treetop is a great place to sample that Seared Thyme-Scented Scallop with Roasted Red Pepper and Corn Coulis or munch on the chef’s signature Grilled Lamb Chop with Mint au Jus and Roasted-Vegetable-and-Goat-Cheese Ragout. www.tigh-na-mara.com
Heathman Hotel and Trellis Restaurant Open in Kirkland
In early October, the Heathman hotel brand expanded from its downtown Portland roots to the shores of Lake Washington when the new Heathman Hotel Kirkland opened for business. Located at 220 Kirkland Avenue, two blocks from Moss Bay on the eastern shore of Lake Washington, the Kirkland property features 91 classic guest rooms (including 15 suites), an Art-of-Sleep bed menu, the 5,000-square-foot Penterra Spa and deluxe fitness center, 2,500 square feet of meeting space, Personal Concierge service, and Trellis, a 90-seat restaurant that features food and drink that celebrates small-scale, artisan products at the height of their seasonal quality. www.heathmanhotels.com
We can’t wait to sample Chef Brian Scheehser’s creations. The long-time chef at The Hunt Club in Seattle’s Sorrento Hotel sources fresh herbs and edible flowers from his three-acre garden at the South 47 farm. A wine list with more than 200 selections features the best that Washington, Oregon, and California vintners have to offer, and signature house cocktails are created using fresh ingredients from Scheehser’s garden. Outdoor seating for 40 people will be an added attraction come warm, sunny weather. www.trellisrestaurant.net
Happy Hour at Café Campagne
In mid-November, one of our favorite places for weekend brunching/lunching or an impromptu dinner announced the beginning of a weekday happy hour on Monday through Friday evenings, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Petit plats will be available for $4 and $5 each and a selection of red, white, and rosé wines may be purchased for $6. A rotating selection of high-end champagnes will also be available to taste. With choices such as Pommes Frites with Aïoli ($4) or Grilled Garlic Sausage with Roasted Red Peppers and Mustard ($5) how can you afford not to drop by? www.cafecampagne.com
Every now and then a dinner grabs your palate and engages your brain from the first bite, and as you work your way through several courses, it holds that interest, so that by the end of the evening you realize you have discovered something unique and very, very special. Such an experience happened to both my husband and me during a five-course tasting menu paired with wines at Barking Frog in Woodinville, Washington.
Our first course, lobster bisque, is one of those decadent, yet difficult-to-make dishes that most people choose to eat out versus make at home. Chef Bobby Moore smoked his lobster shells (“on the smoker out back, over applewood,” according to our server) before pulverizing them for the stock. The result was a lovely iteration of a classic dish—dark, smoky, toothsome bisque enhanced by a cloud of Cognac crème fraîche. The Spiced Sea Scallop Beignet was sweet and earthy, a play of textures and colors thanks to its plate mates of roasted pumpkin, mâche, pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and anise honey. Both these courses were paired with Lucien Albrecht Brut Rosé, a Cremant from Alsace, and one of the best non-vintage sparklers around.
Baby Arugula Salad, paired with Chateau Ste. Michelle 2006 Eroica Riesling, was a sturdy winter salad of candied walnuts, Oregon blue cheese, and red crimson pear vinaigrette. It managed both to satiate yet stimulate the taste buds.
Our third course, Grilled Ahi Tuna with Smoked Short Ribs, Escarole, Soy, and Miso Beurre Blanc, was an enticing merging of earth and ocean, especially when paired with the “Athena” 2004 Pinot Noir from Boedecker Cellars in the Willamette Valley. My husband said he wanted a plate of the short ribs all by themselves, they were so extraordinarily tasty.
Oven-Roasted Elk Tenderloin with Beluga Lentils, Brussel Sprouts, Crispy Smoked Bacon, and Goat-Milk Latté, my husband’s main course, was a manly-man dish with hints of espresso crunch and bitterness. The substitution of Black Cod with Prawn Pasta, Snow Peas, Shemiji Mushrooms, Baby Bok Choy, Watercress Shoots, and Cashew Salad for my main dish more than pleased me. Again, intriguing textures of lush black cod and handmade pasta, and crunchy Asian vegetables and cashews with pillow-y mushrooms made for a very complex dish. Paired with a Sangiovese, I thought this dish would have better paired with an off-dry Riesling.
By dessert time, we were both ready to simply trot back to our warm bed at Willows Lodge, but pastry chef Christina Longo’s sumptuous finale was not to be denied: Northwest Neapolitan included Spumoni Parfait, Gianduja Torte, and Hazelnut Gelato. Trevor Jones “Jonesy” Port, a non-vintage Port from the Barossa Valley, was a wise pairing, the sweet wine working well with the coffee and cream flavors in the dessert.
This $75 meal ($105 with wine pairings) was professionally paced and expertly served in the warm, embracing ambience of a true wine-country restaurant, and one of the many reasons to visit Woodinville Wine Country.
Grilled Ahi Tuna swimming in Miso Beurre Blanc along with Smoked Short Ribs and Escarole was just one of the many outstanding dishes we sampled on Barking Frog’s November tasting menu.
Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House
With its central location on Robson Street, elegant dark-mahogany-paneled dining room and bar, and bursting-with-fresh-seafood-options fresh sheet, Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House was the first place we sought out for a quiet, civilized luncheon with a good glass (or two) of Pacific Northwest wine during our hectic 48-hour book tour in Vancouver. While almost two dozen varieties of oysters on the half shell, including my favorite (Kusshi) and a premium East Coast oyster that is reputed to rival Kusshi (Pickle Point and Raspberry Point from Prince Edward Island) tempted, we opted for Chilliwack Valley Trout (“caught just about 40 miles away,” according to our expert server, Tristan) and Deep Water Rock Sole, another local favorite. Our fish came simply grilled, served with steamed seasonal vegetables and perfectly herb-roasted potatoes, and a lovely basket of both “brown” (whole-grain) and white bread. Both entrées were marked with the Ocean Wise seal, an endorsement from the Vancouver Aquarium that they were ocean-friendly seafood choices. From the extensive and Northwest-friendly wine list, we chose three British-Columbia-made wines: Joe Fortes 2005 Pinot Blanc, Golden Mile Old Vines 2006 Chenin Blanc, and Tinhorn Creek 2004 Merlot. With supremely sippable B.C. wines and simply prepared fresh seafood, Joe Fortes is safe harbor for a satisfying meal. www.joefortes.ca
The sweeping stairway at Joe Fortes overlooks the bar; the year-round roof garden is closed for remodeling now, but will reopen new and improved in early 2008. According to CityFood editor Rhonda May, the rooftop patio is very popular with locals in the summer.
The Pink Door
We’ve always loved Jackie Roberts’ one-of-a-kind Pink Door in the Pike Place Market for its over-the-top Italian ambience and sense of fun (trapeze artists perform atop diners’ heads on Monday evenings!), but since Steve Smrstik came on board, the food has also risen over the top, in a very good way. Steve, the long-time (seven years) exec chef of Flying Fish who, more recently, blazed a trail at 35th Street Bistro, brings a new element to the menu at PD—a real appreciation for and artistry with fresh seafood.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, we were wowed with a new appetizer on the menu: Trio of Smoked Fishes Cinque Terre Style. “It’s the Italian answer to sushi,” the raven-haired “Padrona” explained as she sipped a glass of 2004 Amarone. “Steve, our bartender, and I ate it all over Italy.” Unlike Japanese sushi, Steve’s thinly sliced Ahi tuna was seasoned not with shiso or sesame oil, but with capers, anchovies, and cherry tomatoes. Delicate hamachi (yellowtail) fanned over the plate in a pool of red-pepper oil. And paper-thin swordfish slices swam in oregano, mint, and garlic oil. Even PD signature dishes, such as Cioppino Pink Door with prawns, clams, mussels, and calamari, seemed more intensely flavored, the tomato-based white-wine stock richer and the seafood somehow sweeter and fresher than on past visits. Oysters on the half shell with pink balsamico ice were another seafood stunner. www.thepinkdoor.net
The Pink Door’s sumptuous Trio of Smoked Fishes Cinque Terre Style. is “the Italian answer to sushi,” according to The Pink Door’s founder and owner, Jackie Roberts, a.k.a., “La Padrona.”
23Hoyt Restaurant & Bar
It was a cold and rainy night in Portland, and I had just endured a rather disappointing booksigning at a local kitchen shop, whose normal customer base and neighborhood food traffic were scared off by the bleak weather. But just down the street, the welcoming candle-lit atmosphere and the tinkling tones of the grand piano at 23Hoyt promised respite from an otherwise cruel world. Sitting in the upper level of this two-tiered resto that felt more New-York-City-sophisticated than Portland-hip, I was reminded of one of the main reasons I love to eat out: seeing and being seen by others, observing my fellow diners’ social behavior and table manners, what they drink, and what they put into their mouths. And 23Hoyt was the perfect place to do just that.
Perhaps to counteract the inclement weather, and because I was in an obstreperous mood, I ordered something from a sunny place, as well as the most expensive item on the menu, for my main: Moroccan Fish and Shellfish Couscous with Alaskan Halibut, Manila Clams, Squid, Sea Scallops, Tomatoes, Garlic, Hot Pepper, Charmoula, and Harissa. It arrived, all hot and steamy, in a round glazed bowl, carefully arranged shellfish and finfish over perfectly cooked couscous. A small ramekin of harissa sauce that I swirled over the seafood warmed me right down to my sinuses, it was so redolent of hot, sweet spices. In keeping with the Moroccan theme, we chose the Middle Eastern Cheese Tart with Orange-Rosewater Marmalade, Pistachios, and Cranberry Coulis for dessert, a perfect blend of creaminess, exotic perfume, crunch, and tartness from the cranberries. www.23hoyt.com
Moroccan Fish and Shellfish Couscous with Alaskan Halibut, Manila Clams, Squid, Sea Scallops, Tomatoes, Garlic, Hot Pepper, Charmoula, and Harissa Sauce, as served at 23Hoyt on Portland’s Upper Westside.
DISH OF THE MONTH
One of my long-time favorite dishes at Wild Ginger in downtown Seattle is the Seven Element Soup, a heady combination of the most tender poached chicken breast in a coconut-curry base with soft egg noodles and topped with coriander, scallions, shallots, chilies, lime juice, soy sauce, crispy noodles, and a final flourish of coconut cream. Because of the high turmeric content, customers are required to wear a plastic bib and half orders are accommodated since the soup is so rich and satisfying, growing spicier and more complex the farther down in the bowl you dive. . . Available only on the lunch menu, it is the perfect pairing with one of owner Rick Yoder’s amazing aged German or Alsatian Rieslings, or a Washington State Riesling, such as Chateau Ste. Michelle’s “Eroica” or Long Shadows Vintner’s “Poet’s Leap.” www.wildginger.net
Japanese-Inspired ‘Flight and Bites’ at SAM
Through January 6, 2008, TASTE Restaurant will offer a special Flight-and-Bites menu in conjunction with the “Japan Envisions the West” exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum. The menu will feature three sake tastes with three small bites. For menus and more information, visit TASTE’s blog at tastesamblog.wordpress.com.
Wine Bottles Get a Safe Journey
Since imposition of tough travel standards by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA), it’s been difficult, if nigh impossible, for air travelers to enjoy one of the time-honored traditions of wine-country travel: bringing home newfound wines to share with family and friends. To fill the gap, an Australian entrepreneur invented BottleWise Duo, the first soft-sided bag designed specifically to keep wine bottles safe during air travel. BottleWise Duo’s patent-pending, TSA-friendly design features individually padded sleeves that protect up to two 750-milliliter bottles, plus interior water-tight pouches for safeguarding luggage contents in case of breakage. Prices start at $49.
According to BottleWise Duo’s press release, all of these challenges come at a time when the appetite for culinary travel continues to grow at a rapid pace. More than 27 million travelers, or 17 percent of American leisure travelers, engaged in culinary or wine-related activities while traveling within the past three years. This according to a report released earlier this year from the Travel Industry Association, in partnership with Gourmet and the International Culinary Tourism Association. Further, with 60 percent of U.S. leisure travelers expressing interest in experiencing culinary travel in the near future, culinary travel seems poised to evolve from a niche market into a thriving industry. www.bottlewise.com
New Format for St. Nicholas Day Open House
On December 1 and 2, the wineries of Woodinville Wine Country will open their doors for the annual St. Nick’s Open House with an entirely new format. Just like the extremely popular Passport to Woodinville in the spring, a single ticket price of $50 will be offered to the public, which will provide entry to all 30 participating wineries. Only those participants carrying a St. Nick’s “Naughty or Nice” booklet will have the opportunity to taste wines from exclusive boutique wineries that are normally not open to the public, as well as special selections from a few of Woodinville’s more well-known participants. Specially prepared hors d’oeuvres will be served to complement the wines.
Twin Birth Announcements
Two popular Northwest tasting rooms spawned second locations during November. Urban Wineworks (UWW), which brings customers, “Wine Country Without the Drive,” opened Urban Wineworks East at 1411 NE Broadway, in Portland’s Lloyd District, with a week-long celebration featuring its Bishop Creek Cellars wines. UWW is featured in Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining on page 131 in a profile detailing my experience of blending wine at the original location. www.urbanwineworks.com
Meanwhile, over Thanksgiving weekend and in conjunction with Wine Yakima Valley’s Thanksgiving in Wine Country festivities, The Tasting Room: Wines of Washington opened its new Yakima branch at Wilridge Vineyards. The tasting room is located amidst the vineyards in a 1900s-era historic farmhouse with more than 25 wines available for tasting. www.winesofwashington.com
Hangover Buster Purportedly Prevents Hangovers
Just in time for the holidays, Pillar Rock USA Corp. announced the launch of Hangover Buster™, an effervescent tablet specially formulated to prevent hangover symptoms such as nausea, headache, excessive thirst, fatigue, muscle ache, and sensitivity to light and noise, according to the company’s press release. Arriving in select retail drugstores, supermarkets, and convenience stores, a package of Hangover Buster™ includes three individually foil-wrapped tablets which are dissolved in water and taken throughout an evening of alcohol consumption. Each lemon-lime-flavored tablet includes a blend of Vitamins A, C, and B12 as well as ginseng extract and other F.D.A.-approved ingredients. Available over-the-counter, the product is sugar-, dairy-, and animal product-free and claims to be, “a healthy way to take care of the discomforts of a hangover by not only rehydrating the body but also by restabilizing the vital vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that have been lost as a consequence of alcohol consumption.” Plop, plop. Fizz, fizz. www.hangoverbuster.com
Braiden signs books with Chris Upchurch, winemaker/partner of DeLille Cellars in Woodinville, Washington, during the winery’s Fall Open House in November. The three-day event is attended by hundreds of people, a festive kick-off to the holiday season.
ON THE HORIZON
Interesting upcoming events in the Pacific Northwest and beyond include the following:
December 1 Through December 16:
Braiden’s Seattle Appearances
Various Venues Throughout the City
Seattle, Mill Creek, and Lake Forest Park, WA
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Holiday Champagne Tasting
Kaspar’s Special Events & Catering
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Holiday Winemaker Dinner featuring Daedalus Cellars with Aaron Hess
The Cellar on 10th
Saturday, January 19, 2008
The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry “Science in the Kitchen: An Evening with the Nation’s Top Culinary Alchemists”
The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
Saturday, January 26, 2008
A Celebration of Washington Wines Black-Tie Reception, Dinner, and Auction
Chateau Ste. Michelle
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Fifth Annual Winter Wine Gala
Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center
Saturday, March 1, 2008:
Classic Wines Auction
Oregon Convention Center
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Winemaker Dinner featuring Cathedral Ridge Winery (2007 Oregon Winery of the Year from Wine Press Northwest magazine)
The Cellar on 10th