It seems as if I have been on the road more than I’ve been home this year. It’s a good thing I love traveling and I’ve had some unforgettable experiences on the road this year. One of the highlights was a June visit to the Seattle area. As is often the case, I was in the company of a group of fellow writers from the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association. In advance of a week long cruise through Alaska’s Inside Passage, we met in Seattle and checked into the beautiful Hotel 1000. Easy walking distance from Pike Place Market, the hotel was ideally located. One of the first things I discovered was that I had forgotten to bring a memory card for my camera, not wise for a 10 day trip. I stretched my legs and walked a few miles, doing comparison shopping on memory card prices and a bit of window shopping at the same time. Seattle has so much emphasis on fresh, local ingredients and of course seafood. I only wish I had a week to spend there instead of one day.
Evening one we settled into BOKA Kitchen where we were greeted with some amazing cocktails created by the restaurant’s bar manager Mi-Suk Ahn. The libations were inspired and delicious as well as gorgeous. She created some non-alcoholic beverages with fresh fruit infusions and sparkling water for two in the group who were not imbibing. Executive Chef Angie Roberts made it her mission to make sure we didn’t leave hungry. She started us off with a warm asparagus salad paired with a German Riesling, Geoduck two ways, razor clam chowder, Columbia River sturgeon, veal cheek, paired with a sensational ’09 Heaven’s Cave “Inspiration” Merlot and finished us off with strawberry shortcake paired with an Italian Moscato. Angie has a wonderfully creative flair. Every dish was artistry on the plate and a joy on the palate.
Hotel 1000’s rooms were spacious, modern and incredibly comfortable. Everyone got a kick out of the remote control operated window blinds. The story goes the building used to be a pawn shop and Jimi Hendrix’ dad bought his son his first guitar there. I settled in for a good night’s sleep and after breakfast we met for a walking tour of Pike Place Market. Every once in a while you get lucky and meet someone who is so passionate about where they live it’s infectious. Penny Truitt of Seattle Food Tours is one of those people blessed with a spark that engages everyone within her radius. Every place we went with her she was greeted like a member of the family. We stopped for tea at Vital Tea Leaf and enjoyed several different fragrant and flavorful teas lovingly prepared. I thought wine was expensive. Some of the aged teas were selling for more than $1000! We sampled dried fruit in the market and went across the street to a produce market and tasted incredibly sweet and juicy Taylor Gold pears and Rainier cherries. We stopped for tea and crumpets, oh so heavenly, at The Crumpet Shop, nibbled on all things truffle at La Buona Tavola and finished our tour with phenomenally good chowder at Pike Place Chowder. You could literally spend a week at Pike Place Market and not take all of it in.
We bade our farewells, hopped on a bus for the short ride to Woodinville and checked into the Willows Lodge. We took a tour of their magnificent gardens and then went next door to The Herb Farm, rated by National Geographic as the “number 1 destination restaurant in the world.” We had dinner at the barking frog at the Willows Lodge and enjoyed a meal prepared by the extremely gifted sous chef Joshua Delgado. Our feast included Grand Marnier prawns, buttermilk fried quail with a waffle, sea scallops and sous vide pork belly and a very tender and savory beef tenderloin. It would have been nice to see Executive Chef Bobby Moore, but sous chef Delgado did a splendid job in his absence.
The following morning after breakfast at the barking frog and a visit with Mike Stevens from Brian Carter Cellars and Woodinville Wine Country, we walked across the street to the renowned Chateau Ste. Michelle for a wine and food tasting and a visit with Culinary Director John Sarich. John has been a fixture at the chateau for more than two decades. His knowledge of food and wine is staggering and an hour and a half with him flew by. We then stopped at Hollywood Hill Vineyards for a tasting and visit with owner and winemaker Steve Snyder. It was quite a contrast going from the state’s largest wineries to one of the smallest. Steve’s wines, notably his Pinot Noir, are well crafted and some of the only wines made with fruit grown west of the Cascades. From there we visited DeLille Cellars where Catherine Hay showed us their beautiful property and led us through a wine tasting with cheese and charcuterie. We ended our Woodinville tour at Covington Cellars and had a good visit with winemaker Morgan Lee. A tip of the cap to Jake Haupert, CEO of Evergreen Escapes for providing our transportation.
Late that afternoon, we arrived at The Woodmark Hotel, Yacht Club and Spa in Kirkland. After being pampered with a pedicure at the spa (while sipping a dirty martini), it was time for dinner and we adjourned to bin on the lake for an extraordinary meal with Executive Chef Paul Hyman. I have no doubt that Chef Paul will be a culinary superstar. His presentation was top notch and the foods delicious. He started us off with an amuse bouche of ahi tuna tartare with green apples and jalapeño on a handmade potato chip. As we watched the sun set over Lake Washington we savored every bite of organic beets with goat cheese, blue prawns with almond gazpacho and crispy garlic, yellowtail hamachi with foie gras, smoked Honshimeji mushrooms and grapes, Copper River wild salmon with roasted marble potatoes, Ligurian olives, olive oil cured tomato and basil pesto. He wasn’t quite done putting the hurt on us. For dessert he served a dark chocolate “Budino” pudding cake, devilishly rich with marscapone, candied orange, citrus, olive oil and sea salt. The Woodmark offers its a guests a late night “raid the pantry” option where you can grab a snack. Are you serious? I needed a crane to lift me from the table.
The following morning we left The Woodmark and prepared to board the Holland America Westerdam for a week long cruise. There was one last stop on the itinerary: Urban Enoteca. As most of the state’s wineries are located several hours away to the East, Terry Thompson’s idea was to open a tasting room in Seattle’s SoDo district where wineries from the East could have a tasting room in the bustling metropolis. Seven wineries are pouring there now, with more to come. The library lounge is a full service restaurant serving dinner Wednesday through Friday, lunch and dinner Saturday and a Sunday brunch. It’s a great concept, well executed. This trip only whetted my appetite for more. The Seattle area has so much to offer. I hope you get the chance to explore soon. Please take a moment to enjoy the video included below.