27 August 2011

Fresh and Local

Morning at the local farmer's market and butcher means evening with fresh and local food (ok, except the delicious Irish butter).

24 August 2011

More Backyard Wildlife

Our resident Raccoon family came for a visit this evening and hung out long enough for a few photos...

I think it's pretty clear who keeps knocking over the rabbit...

23 August 2011

Willamette Wine Weekend

This past weekend, George and I took a little get away to the Willamette Valley in neighboring Oregon. We didn't have a particular reason for going, but I'm so glad that we did. Few and far between are the days we get to spend together...just the two of us. It was nice to have time for serious conversations, hoping and dreaming, and being completely silly. I didn't think that it was possible, but at the end of the weekend, I love my husband even more than I did last Friday.

We started the weekend at our favorite Italian restaurant: Piazza Italia. It's run by an Italian family, and each time we've been there (4 times and counting) the father has been there dancing with flirty customers and the daughter has been there running the show. We love the food, wine, and ambiance. It's a good thing that it's in Portland, otherwise our waistlines would be significantly larger.

We tasted wine on Saturday and Sunday. We usually have some reason for going to a particular winery, and I generally judge experiences based upon the surroundings, the wine, and the character of the characters at the winery.

On Saturday, we started at St. Innocent. We enjoyed a bottle of Pinot Noir made by St. Innocent at our first anniversary dinner at Canlis. Unfortunately, the same bottle of wine is not available any more, and, while good, none of the wine really spoke to me.

The folks at St. Innocent suggested that we try out Bryn Mawr after we expressed interest in Tempranillo. Bryn Mawr is a hidden gem. It overlooks a beautiful valley and produces some very tasty wine. My mouth waters every time I think about the wonderfully sweet but refreshing rose they made in 2010...not to mention their Pinot Noir. Because it was so quiet and off the beaten path, we got to spend our tasting chatting with the owner, Jon.

From there, we headed to our non-negotiable (and the reason for the trip, if there was one): Eyrie Vineyards. Our friends, Sam and Brian, introduced us to Eyrie back in 2009 while tasting over Memorial Day. That day, we met and received a personal tour from the winemaker, Jason. He described himself as just another type of farmer, and that image has stuck with me. Jason took over the winemaking at Eyrie from his father, David, who made my favorite bottle of wine to date: 2004 Pinot Noir Reserve. Of course, Eyrie was tasting some amazing Pinots and some pretty good white wines as well.

We rounded out the day at beautiful Anne Amie. The patio outside the Anne Amie tasting room may be my favorite place to spend an hour. The folks at AA make some great inexpensive table wines. They make some fancier things, too, but George and I find ourselves loving their Cuvee Pinot Noir year after year.

On Sunday, we started at Elk Cove. We dug out the menu from our wedding and discovered that we served Pinot Noir from Elk Cove with the main course of our wedding. The grounds and tasting room at Elk Cove are beautiful, but we didn't love the wine. There's a trend with this sentiment and the first taste of the day...maybe we need to skip the toothpaste before tasting - just kidding.

Then we went to Panther Creek, which is in a beautiful old warehouse in downtown McMinnville. A few bottles of Panther Creek fueled some of our wedding week festivities, so we have lots of happy memories surrounding Panther Creek. Indeed, they still make a great and peppery Pinot.

Sokol Blosser is a staple in the Valley, and it was the first Oregon wine I tasted years ago when visiting our friend, Tracy. They have a great view over the Dundee Hills and make excellent, approachable white and red table wines. I must admit that we tend to gravitate toward smaller operations, and this one felt a bit commercial.

We ended our trip on a very high note. We made reservations to taste at Soter after recalling that they made the sparkling bubbles we served at our wedding as a champagne alternative. The tasting took place in the second home of the winemaker, and I could move there in a minute. The view was spectacular: 360 degrees of rolling hills of vineyards and farms. The wine was spectacular, too. We had a lovely chat with Halle over bubbles and some bold Pinots that are going to be even better in 5+ years. Of course, we came home with some bubbles for future anniversaries.
It was hard to come home after such a fabulous weekend, but we'll keep the memories with us for a long time to come.

17 August 2011

Summer in Seattle

We (ok, I...but I like to pretend that both of us write here) have been absent from blogging on account of our incredibly busy work and social schedules. Supposedly it's summer in Seattle, though we've only had about 5 days when it's reached 80-degrees (26C)...and that's just for a few brief moments. Despite the abysmal weather, there are still a few signs of summer.

Earlier this month, I celebrated the end of my 28th year and the beginning of my 29th year. Aside from working on the exact day, I had a great time catching up with friends over drinks, sushi, burgers, and brunch...and on three separate days no less. Part of my birthday was a girls' morning out, and Kate and I headed to Lake Union to have a paddle around. I hadn't been there since the week before our wedding, and it's just as fabulous now as it was in 2009. Seattle really is hard to beat on a sunny, blue sky day.

Another great thing about Seattle during the summer is Pike Place Market. I know I've sung the market's praises before, but I'll do it again now. We ended up down at the Market both Saturday and Sunday mornings last weekend. On Saturday, I stopped into my favorite produce stand to pick up fresh ingredients for mango salsa. With fresh ingredients, it's hard to go wrong. On Sunday, I treated myself to fresh flowers. It hardly feels like a "treat" with a price tag of only $5 for a healthy bunch of flowers, but coming home to beautiful fresh flowers for more than a week is definitely a treat.