Saturday, April 29, 2017

Columbia Winery Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Franc 2014, Woodinville, WA - $35


This Columbia Winery Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Franc 2014 is a winery exclusive - can't get it anywhere else. It's rich, dark, chocolaty and dry with soft tannins and a beautiful finish. Such a fabulous wine! Love!

Now to join the Columbia Winery Case Club...

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Fajita Seasoning - Recipe

When you're stuck without fajita seasoning - make your own! Original recipe here.

  • 1 tablespoon organic cornstarch 
  • 2 teaspoons organic chili powder 
  • 1 teaspoon organic sea salt 
  • 1 teaspoon organic paprika 
  • 1 teaspoon organic brown sugar 
  • 1/4 teaspoon organic cayenne pepper 
  • 1/2 teaspoon organic ground cumin
  • mix all ingredients in a small bowl
  • seasoning can be stored in a dry glass jar
I used 1 tablespoon per pound of veggies. This recipe makes almost 3 tablespoons of seasoning.


Friday, April 14, 2017

Cantine - Restaurant Review

I can't believe that Cantine is closing. Yes, it's closing and I've just been there once.

Cantine and Asti are owned by the same folks. Makes sense, as this wine and dish are also offered there. 

The wine is a Cantina di Caldaro Pinot Nero 2014, Trentino - Alto Adige, Italy for $13 a glass or $52 a bottle. 

I ordered the Linguine Vongole (Littleneck Clams / White Wine / Garlic Olive Oil / Breadcrumbs - $21; add Ground Sausage & Tomato for $4). Compare that to Asti's Linguine & Littleneck Clams (with chili flake / garlic breadcrumbs - $23; add ASTI sausage & tomato for $4).

I enjoyed both dishes (on different nights) immensely. While Cantine is closing, luckily, we still have Asti!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

True Food Kitchen - Restaurant Review (Poke Bowl)

Poke - pronounced poh-keh; Hawaiian for "to slice or cut"

I am a total sucker for poke bowls. Seriously. I cannot pass one by without trying it. And thus, even though the Poke Bowl (wild caught albacore, avocado, quinoa rice, mushroom, snow pea, cucumber, cashew, turmeric ponzu) at True Food was $22 (really?!), I ordered it.

It was good, but not amazing. In Hawai'i, I can get fresh ahi tuna and seaweed in a made-to-order poke bowl for under $10. I know, the airline ticket to get to Hawai'i is around $1,000, so that in total makes a super expensive bowl of poke. However, remember that this Hawaiian girl grew up on the islands, so all she knows is fresh poke bowls for way UNDER $10 each, and only containing fresh ahi and seaweed with seasonings. So, while this bowl was fresh and yummy, I found myself pining for Hawai'i, reasonable poke, and a little sprinkling of fresh seaweed on top of the tuna. Sigh.

Don't get me wrong. I still like True Food - I'll just be ordering something else the next time I eat here.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Josh Cellars Rosé 2016, California - $11


Really enjoyed this Josh Cellars Rosé 2016. It's light, food-friendly, and fun! At only $11 a bottle at Western Beverages, it's also a great value.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Comforts of Whidbey - Langley, Whidbey Island, WA

There's just one word for this winery and the family that owns it - charming!

How did we find it so tucked away on Whidbey Island? Zach Comfort - the wine guy we met at the Patterson Cellars Tasting Room - his parents, Carl and Rita, own Comforts of Whidbey, and Zach grew up working at his family's winery.

Their newly-built tasting room has space for special events and houses the winery's bed and breakfast upstairs. The winery itself is located on the bottom floor of this building.

Here's the view from the balcony of the tasting room - so peaceful and beautiful. And CHARMING!

Tastings are $6 each and the average bottle costs $20. There's a little bar in the tasting room that can fit around 12 to 15 people standing up.

This winery definitely excels in its white wines. Most of them are blends that are closely related or crosses of Gewürztraminer and other whites.

This winery doesn't produce memorable red wines. I don't think that the climate and terrain are especially favorable to these red varietals. Carl said that they used to only offer white wines but got tired of folks turning away from their tasting room upon hearing "we only have white wines." I get it. This isn't their strong point and they know it.

According to the winery's website, this Siegerrebe "has distinct floral characteristics and is low in acid and very fragrant. The wine has been finished dry to complement spicier dishes. We have found it pairs particularly well with hot curries and spicy Italian dishes. Siegerrebe was created as a varietal in the 1920’s by crossing the grape varieties Gewürztraminer and Madeleine Angevine. This grape variety grows particularly well in the cool climate of the Puget Sound AVA." We liked it so much we purchased a bottle of it for $20.

If you're in the mood for a friendly, family-owned winery that's a little off the beaten path, don't miss Comforts of Whidbey!

Village Pizzeria - Langley, Whidbey Island, WA

Even at 3pm, there was a wait for a table at this popular pizzeria in the heart of Langley!

I can see why - look at this beautiful view! I mean the water! The house red wasn't bad either - it was around $5 or $7 a glass.

As all of our family tends towards vegetarianism, we ordered two veggie pizzas Neapolitan style - one with olives, tomatoes, feta cheese, and tomato sauce ($23.75 for a large), and the other with red bell peppers, artichoke hearts, feta cheese, and pesto ($24.50 for a large). Both were excellent! Highly recommend!

Village Wine Shop and Tasting Room - Langley, Whidbey Island, WA

Charming - that is the perfect word for this cute little wine shop and tasting room in Langley on Whidbey Island!

I love beautiful displays of wine and related accessories, and this shop has done it right!

Zach Comfort from Patterson had mentioned this particular wine, Pomum Cellars Upland Vineyard Riesling 2014 ($16 a bottle) and we were happy to have a chance to taste it. My sister-in-law liked it so much that I purchased a bottle of it for her.

My favorite wine of the tasting was this And Why am I Mr. Pink Rosé 2016 from the Underground Wine Project ($12 a bottle). I purchased a bottle of this to enjoy with the family.

Such a fun little tasting room - plan a visit and take advantage of their amazing selection and very reasonable tasting ($5 for 5 wines).

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Ivar's Mukilteo Landing, WA - Restaurant Review

This was our second visit to Ivar's in Mukilteo. It's a great place for a casual family dinner!

With fresh seafood, a nice wine selection, and a view of the ferry going to Whidbey Island, Ivar's Mukilteo Landing is just about the perfect place for dinner!

I am an enthusiastic fan of half bottles, especially when no one at the table can agree on a full bottle! I ordered this fabulous Nicolas Feuillatte Sparkling Brut Rosé, France ($17 for 187ml) and was not disappointed - it went perfectly with my Northwest Crab Crusted Alaska Halibut (Dungeness and Snow crab crust, Parmesan herb bread crumbs, red pepper emulsion, Yukon Gold roasted garlic mashed potatoes, sautéed spinach - $35).

Such a wonderful meal with wonderful company - our family! Can't wait to come back to Ivar's again!

The Tasting Room, Wines of Washington - Post Alley, Seattle, WA

What a charming little tasting room tucked away in Post Alley right next to Pike Place Market in Seattle! The Tasting Room has been here for 15 years. They feature Washington state wines only.

Such a great curated selection, and beautifully displayed, too!

I ordered the Treveri Sparkling Rosé Sec ($9 a glass / $21 a bottle), which our waiter mentioned was served in the Obama White House - awesome! It was fun and light, and I thoroughly enjoyed it along with the artisanal cheese plate we snacked on (one ounce each of Semi-Soft Cow’s Milk from L’Or des Dômes, France; Bermuda Triangle Goat’s Milk from Cypress Grove, CA; Cabbot Clothbound Cheddar from Jasper Hill Farm, VT - $12).

Here's to a relaxing afternoon tasting wine in the heart of Seattle!

Cafe Flora - Fremont, WA

Wow, I wanted to love Cafe Flora! A vegetarian restaurant with a fun hipster vibe, a self-serve coffee bar, and a cool fountain in the middle of the atrium room, I thought for sure the food would be out of this world!

We ordered beignets and a cinnamon roll to start. The beignets ($8 for 5) were so dense - not like the pastries of the south, which are much less dense and much lighter/full of air. The cinnamon roll ($5.75) was so dry! I was very disappointed! These are both naturally vegetarian so I'm not sure why they were so off! The Passion Fruit Mango Nog ($7) was fine, but nothing to rave about.

I ordered Vegan Biscuits and Gravy (housemade rosemary biscuits, vegan country gravy - $12), which I was so excited about. The collard greens were great, and the fried eggs were perfectly cooked, but these were seriously Ellie May Clampett's biscuits - hard as rocks. I couldn't believe it! Why offer so many delectables from the south if you can't deliver?! So sad.

While the atmosphere was friendly, our waiter also forgot several things for our table - a 5th table setting for my MIL and more water - WATER! He knew he had messed up by the time I had to ask for water refills.

Food isn't great and service is friendly but inconsistent. Cafe Flora, I want to love you - please take heed!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Columbia Winery - Woodinville, WA

Columbia, Columbia - how much do I love thee? A heck of a lot!

Instead of doing a full tasting here, I had a very small taste of their Cabernet Franc 2013, Horse Heaven Hills ($35). It was so, so wonderful! Unfortunately, they were literally on their last bottle of the Cab Franc 2013, so I ended up ordering a glass of the Cab Franc 2014, Horse Heaven Hills at $35 a bottle (after trying the Tempranillo 2013 at $35 a bottle, the Cab Sauv 2013 at $42 a bottle, and the Malbec 2014 at $35 a bottle).

The Cab Franc 2014 is wonderful - it's a winery exclusive so you can't get it anywhere else. It's rich, dark, chocolaty and dry with soft tannins and such a beautiful finish! So lovely - and I love it!

We purchased 2 bottles of the Cab Franc 2014 HHH and finished them almost immediately when we returned home. Planning to purchase another case of it - it's totally worth it!

Chateau Ste Michelle Winery - Woodinville, WA

We actually arrived too late for a wine tasting - sigh. Please note - THEY CLOSE AT 5PM!

But we want to come back next time - what a gorgeous peacock! The grounds are filled with them!

Until next time, Chateau Ste Michelle!

Hollywood Tavern - Woodinville, WA

What a pretty setting for a casual restaurant! Wish it would have been warm and dry enough for us to lounge outside by the fire! Alas, we headed inside for a late lunch.

The interior is warm and intimate. The tables are made of what looks like salvaged wood. The plates look like estate sale remnants and flea market finds.

These loaded Ancho Chili Tots (braised pork, queso, cilantro, Ancho lime crema) were the most amazing appetizer!

These Sautéed Brussels Sprouts (Thai chili, garlic, sticky soy, bacon, roasted peanuts) left a lot to be desired. I like my sprouts crispy (roasted, fried), not soft. Bacon usually solves everything, but not so in this case. Soggy, not good.

The Tavern Greens Salad (seasonal greens, carrot, tomato, cucumber, house red vinaigrette, Pecorino Romano, with hubby's bacon) was my main course, and it was plenty in addition to the tots! So yummy - I ate every bite!

Hollywood Tavern is a nice place to stop during a day of wine tasting in Woodinville. The service is friendly and efficient, the food is fresh, delicious, and well-prepared (except for the sprouts), and we really enjoyed ourselves!

Patterson Cellars Wine Tasting Room - Woodinville, WA

Patterson Cellar's tasting room is right in the middle of all of the action in Woodinville! It's a cute little shop that shares a space with another tasting room and a pizzeria. Tastings are $10 each and feature white, rosé, and red wines.

We tasted seven wines:
  • Mélange Blanc 2016 ($24) - crisp and lovely!
  • Red Mountain Rosé 2016 ($20) - strawberry and cherry flavors, dry, light, nice!
  • Sangiovese 2014 ($30) - vanilla and caramel with hints of leather flavors, long finish, less acidic but oakier than expected
  • Tempranillo 2014 ($30) - flavors of plum, tobacco, and vanilla; smooth tannins; acidic with lingering fruit
  • BDX Bordeaux Blen 2013 ($38) - tastes of blackberries, cherry, and pepper; long and firm finish with vanilla on the end; dry
  • Late Harvest Roussanne 2015 ($23) - definitely a dessert wine, pineapple and honey, nice!
  • see notes on the 7th wine below
Patterson Cellars Rosé 2016, Columbia Valley, WA - $20
I liked this wine best. It's mostly Tempranillo with a little bit of Sangiovese. It was fun and light with flavors of apple and pear, and I ended up purchasing a bottle of it to share.

Probably one of the most enjoyable moments of our visit was meeting Zach Comfort, our wine host, who grew up on a winery on Whidbey Island. We ended up going to visit the Comforts of Whidbey and had a wonderful afternoon with his parents!