Why we started this idea????

A passion for food, wine, friends and entertaining is a big part of our life. This is a way for us to document our experiences, passion for food & life and also share it with others.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Holiday Date Night in Seattle

After too many disappointing New Year's Eve Bashes to remember a few years ago we started a "Stay Home New Year's Eve Celebration" tradition at our house. Some years we host a big gathering with lots of couples and great fun. One year we did a cheese & champagne tasting bar (okay mostly sparkling wine). Another year we made a fabulous steak & crab leg feast with a few other couples. Another year we made a delicious pork tenderloin sit down dinner for 14 followed by a Wii ski jumping tournament. Regardless of the theme, dinner or frolics that ensue a safe and dependably enjoyable evening has become the tradition.

This year the tradition will continue after a day of skiing and small more intimate dinner. But this year we also decided to pre-celebrate New Year's with a 32 hour date night in Seattle.
view of Safeco Field from our room

At the last minute we went on Hotwire and found a steal of a hotel room at the Stadium Silver Cloud. Great place, not the location we were hoping for, but that's what you get with Hotwire. But the room was great, they even upgraded us to a nice suite and they also had a free shuttle which was a good plus given we weren't exactly as "downtown" as we had hoped for.

We quickly checked in, checked out the cool view of Safeco Field and had the Shuttle take us directly to Pike Place Market because G had been wanting to try the Steelhead Diner.

View from Steelhead Diner

There we sat at the bustling bar for lunch. G had a 3 course special that he chose to have fried oysters appetizer, a sausage grinder sandwich with french fries and a Theo Chocolate Pecan Pie. T had a cup of the WORLD'S BEST Alaskan Razor Clam Chowder followed by the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake. G's fried oysters were lightly breaded with sweet, fresh oysters...T's crab cake had large lumps of crab and a nice sauce. The whole meal was fabulous while having a great opportunity to enjoy the view of both the sound and market crowd. T also had a super drink, a purple peril, very purple and quite yummy as well.

Steelhead Diner Clam Chowder (the world's best possibly)

We then went on to hit the after Christmas sales before heading back to the hotel to rest and get ready for our much anticipated dinner @ Poppy.

We have been fans of Jerry Traunfeld's since his days @ the Herbfarm and of course it was so exciting when he was on Top Chef masters last summer. We had been wanting to try Poppy for awhile and finally we had the perfect opportunity. We spent a lot of time the night before going through our Seattle's best restaurant magazine issues and online reading reviews. It came down to choosing between Sitka & Spruce, Anchoivies & Olives or Poppy and ultimately we chose Poppy and we were happy with our choice.

We each chose a 7 item Thali. G the Oregon White Truffle and Sunchoke Risotto. T the Wagyu Coulotte Steak with local-truffled leeks. Not that who chose what mattered as we shared it all, leaving no bites for leftovers. It was an incredible meal from every bite to bite. The pumpkin green chile soup was supple, sweet and so tasty. The pear, fennel and hazelnut salad was fresh and citrusy. But the Wagyu steak melted in your mouth.Truffled leeks were a must for each bite of the steak. It was a meal to not be soon forgotten. We enjoyed our meal with a recommended bottle of Coeur d'Alene Cellars Viognier which was crisp and a nice compliment to the many dishes we both had.

We then used the new trusty ipad to search for a great place to end our evening and found Bleu down the street about 4 blocks. The walk was great given our full tummies and the crisp air was a needed refresher. We entered the very dark Bleu to find a nice little booth tucked behind some dramatic curtains. The drink list was almost overwhelming to get through, but fun to read at the same time. We each started with a lemon drop, vanilla for G and raspberry for T. It was the perfect night cap venue to end our great day of eating in Seattle.

We purposely slept in a bit late (Winter break is quickly coming to an end here within days so mornings of leisure need to be soaked up to the fullest while possible.) We checked out and headed to our all time favorite Seattle breakfast venue Lola. We have been Tom Douglas fans since G first took me to Dahlia Lounge for my birthday 12 years ago, but about 2 years ago after a great concert at the Showbox we cured  our overindulgent evening with Lola the next morning. Ever since it's become the breakfast must. We usually enjoy the great, freshly made, doughnuts but we decided we didn't want to walk away as uncomfortable as we did after our Steelhead lunch the day before so we skipped doughnuts this time. Although we decided a bloody Mary wouldn't be too filling this morning :). We each had the Tom Douglas 2 egg breakfast with apple smoked sausage and smashed potatoes. It's is truly a breakfast to savor. And our favorite. The sausage is sweet and juicy and the potatoes are crispy on the outside soft and perfect on the inside. I believe this was our 5th Lola breakfast, if there was a Lola in Tacoma it would probably be a weekly breakfast treat. (Maybe it's a good thing it's in Seattle.)

We ended our great "date night" with a few more of G's favorites; some more shopping at University Village and picking up a par baked Delfino's Stuffed Spinach Pizza to have for dinner at home.

It was a wonderful much needed mid-holiday 'get away' for us. We came home and had our Chicago style pizza with a bottle of Alexandria Nicole Cabernet along with it. Tomorrow we'll ski Crystal Mountain and come home and make an intimate New Year's Eve Dinner, maybe steak?? We'll see how much energy we end up having. But we can depend on it being enjoyable and delicious regardless of whatever menu we ultimately decide upon.

2010 in Prosser Wine Country

Several years ago we started an annaual Tri Cities wine trip with 4 other couples (all educators,teachers, principals, instructional coaches, etc... lots of shop talk occurs while enjoying lots of great wine) going over to the Catch the Crush weekend. Over the years we realized going during the actual "Crush" weekend was far too crowded and basically over rated for the experience. The past few years we've been going either the weekend before or after the Crush and have had a better time over all.

This fall we decided to stay @ one of G's favorite wineries Tapteil that actually had two rental houses right on the vineyard to accomodate all 5 couples this trip.

We arrived late Friday night and got settled into our homes. We started off with a great breakfast made of fresh fruit crepes by one of the couples in our group. Our tasting began that day @ Goose Ridge, a few of the couples are wine members there so we always make a point to checkn  out that winery and also often take our group photo on their vineyards.

We then continued on to visit Hightower, Barnard Griffin, Bookwalter, Fidelitas and a new find this year on Red Mountain was Cooper (Yummy wines served by a friendly new wine maker.)

We returned back from our day to one of our home's for the night. Where we all contributed to make a grand grilled taco bar feast in the presence of a spectacular sunset to end our evening.

The next morning breakfast was served in house #2 by some of our other friends who made some amazing gingerbread pancakes. We then proceeded on to taste @ Tapteil as we checked out of our rental homes and then to Alexanderia Nicole and Mercer before lunch. Lunch was at the Wine O'Clock Wine Bar and Restaurant ( a usual stop for our group on this annual weekend) and then we ended at Gamache ( another annual group favorite) and we ended our weekend with a new winery for the group this year, Milbrandt.  G& I picked a great deal at Milbrandt for a case of everyday drinking wine that we quickly went through because it was quite good. (In retrospect we should have picked up a few cases for the price.) Cooper and Milbrandt were both new for the group this year and we all thought both were great new finds that we'll return to visit for our 2011 trip to the Tri-Cities.

This annual trip and this group of friends have become a valued part of our lives. We often get together to share wine, food, skiing and each other's company throughout the year. It's so great to have people who enjoy the same pleasures in life as we do.

10th Anniversary in Walla Walla

For our 10th wedding anniversary G surprised me by booking a weekend at the Abeja Inn in Walla Walla in August. Just his initiative for the surprise weekend was enough to make it a big hit. But the entire experience grounded from our stay at the Abeja Inn was spectacular to say the least. The Abeja Inn
The weekend started by arriving at the Inn met by the Innkeeper,Mary, who greeted us with a great glass of their '06 Cabernet Sauvignon. She escorted us to our exquisite suite and we were so happy to be there for a 2010 Walla Walla adventure.

Then Mary, the Innkeeper, helped us plan a special evening out to celebrate our 10th anniversary. She recommended that since we had already been to some of the few "special event" restaurants in Walla Walla several years ago that we might try something different. So we did! Upon her recommendation we drove a few miles out to Waitsburg for our dinner.
After a great day of visiting some wineries including; Trust, Northstar, Rulo (our personal 'fav' of the day), Dunham Cellars and Walla Walla Vintners we started the evening @ the JimGerman Bar. There we had an amazing Chorizo appetizer and two handcrafted, infused cocktail concoctions. The dinner after at Whoop 'emUp Hollow Cafe was a very pleasant surprise to be found in this small, old farming town.

It was a bizarrely cold August weekend the weekend that we were there in Walla Walla, but I was determined to still eat outside on the patio. We started our meal with a basket of Whoopemup Hushpuppies, light, crispy & wonderful. G had the Cornmeal Catfish and I had the Famous Jambalaya. Both of our meals were amazing. We had a bottle of Maison Bleue Syrah with our meal (another favorite first tasted during a Prosser Crush weekend). Overall it was spectacular and when the bill arrived we were both shocked how little for the whole meal given the amazing food and experience that we had that night.

We  topped off the meal back at the JimGerman Bar where the owner asked us what some of our favorite drink flavors were and he then created us each a personalized "night cap." G also tasted some of the cured ham that the owner had in the case.

I didn't even mention the scrumptious breakfasts during our stay at the Abeja Inn. Mary created 2 amazing meals during our weekend. The first was a Smoked Salmon Hash with Horseradish cream that literally was to die for. It may have been the best breakfast of my life. (Actually I tried replicating the breakfast last weekend myself, it turned out pretty good I must say, but not an equal comparison to the original.) The next day was buttermilk waffles with a lemon curd raspberry sauce. It started with a baked egg with cream sauce. "Oh my" is all I can remember saying.

  Our entire Anniversary weekend in Walla Walla was truly perfect, with exception of the uncommonly cool weather (which really could have been a blessing I suppose.) On the way out of town we hit Three Rivers and Reininger Wineries. We intended to go to one of my favorites, L'Ecole, but decided to skip it this time and drive straight through to Prosser to go to a new favorite; Mercer.

If you are going to Walla Walla there isn't one place mentioned that we wouldn't highly recommend. We can't wait to go back to the Abeja Inn and experience our next Walla Walla adventure maybe this time with some friends in tow too.

Why we started this idea????

We are a married couple in our early forties without children who love food and life in general. As educators our schedule allows enough time to get out and enjoy the Northwest. We live in Tacoma so great opportunities to enjoy food in restaurants has improved in the past few years but it is still nothing comparable to Seattle or Portland. So we often venture to both cities to get our real food fix on.

We love to eat out but we also have great passion for making our own food, entertaining and matching a great glass of wine to a  "labor of love" homemade meal.

While having a great meal out in Seattle last night we were trying to list all of our favorite restaurants we've visited in our 13 years together and we had a very difficult time creating that list. Wine accompanying many of those meals might have added to making this task as difficult as it was. But we thought it might be a great way to document some of our favorite meals and possibly share them with some of our friends and those who might be interested.

We'll give this a try and see where it takes us.
T & G