With cousins in Ketchum, Idaho, I have visited the state several times. I’ve flown into Boise a few times, but have never spent any time there until now. I checked into the Riverside Hotel and navigated my way to my room. One of the nice things about the Riverside is its size. It’s huge and spread out over a large amount of real estate. The spacious lobby is well-appointed and there’s plenty of room for conventions as I witnessed during my visit. My Jacuzzi room was immense and extremely comfortable. The trip was off to an excellent start.
I joined a group of fellow writers and Diane Norton and Laurie McConnell from Idaho Tourism. We headed west to the small town of Meridian for a visit to Muse Creamery and Périple Wines. Scott Koritansky and his wife own and operate the creamery and their cheesemaker, I kid you not, is Louis Armstrong. The Koritanskys opened Muse so they could offer freshly made food from a menu that changes weekly. They own their own goats and make the cheese on premises. The pairing of food and wine makes perfect sense and gives both businesses more options. Périple’s winemaker Angie Shaltry’s world changed after a bottle of 1999 Sanford Pinot Noir. She didn’t get into medical school and decided she would rather make wine, so she moved to California and got a job at Alexander Valley Vineyards. She found her passion for making wine under Helen Turley and moved back home to Idaho. She sources her fruit from Idaho, Washington and California and is making Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah and a red blend. While we were there, we paired off in teams, I was with two women from the Meridian Chamber. Not only did we make our own goat cheese truffles, we blended wine and took a growler of our blend with us.
I was looking forward to dinner at Chandlers not only because they have a reputation for exceptional food, but also because I had been hearing about the legendary 10 Minute Martini they serve. Curious, several of us ordered them and waited dutifully. At the end of the evening, bartender Pat Carden joined us table side and told us the history of the drink. We feasted on true Idaho fare: Ruby Trout a la “Gravlax” as the starter, pan-roasted Snake River Sturgeon with a jade rice risotto, Lava Lake Lamb Loin with a polenta soufflé, American Kobe Beef with roasted garlic potatoes and baby carrots all topped off with a lemon curd tartlet with huckleberry sauce. Chandlers feels like it’s been around forever. The atmosphere is cozy and their wine list impeccable. Each course was paired with a different Idaho wine: 3 Horse Ranch Reserve Rosé with the trout, Cinder “Dry” Viognier with the sturgeon, Vale Wine Company Syrah with the lamb, Koenig Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah blend with the beef and Ste. Chapelle’s late harvest Riesling with the tartlet. I have gotten more than my share of raised eyebrows when I mention Idaho wine, but each wine paired beautifully with the dish it accompanied and I was duly impressed. The 10 Minute Martini? Smooth as silk. I’ll let bartender Pat tell you the story of how it came to be.
Thus our first day drew to a close. We returned to the Riverside Hotel to rest up for another busy day with visits to several wineries and a fruit farm.