I've been a bit bogged down lately, thus this post is overdue! I have many more days of our vacation to share with you.
Day II in Seattle was fantastic. We met up with my best friend from college, Mandy, and her boyfriend, Mitch. Cute couple, yeah?
We met for breakfast at a little cafe called Tillikum Place, which is right under the Space Needle. While the website (and reviewers) indicated that reservations were a must, we were the first ones in the restaurant for our 8:00 a.m. reservation, and the place wasn't even half full when we left over an hour later. We were a little underwhelmed by the food, which didn't stand up to the reviews, but my quiche was quite good.
From there, we headed back to our hotel where Bob Beekman of Bon Vivant picked us up in his stealthy touring bus to head out to Woodinville, WA!
We hadn't seen Mandy since April of 2009, when we went to Portland Oregon to visit her over my birthday. It was a significant trip in a lot of ways--she was sort of at a crossroads in her life, I had just started a new job and this was my first time being away from it, and just the gorgeousness of the Pacific Northwest made for a stunning backdrop to our visit there. Here are a couple of shots from that trip, where we also went on a wine tour in the Willamette Valley, to taste some incredible pinot noir!
As a short aside, I would highly recommend going on a wine tour with Bob from Bon Vivant. He was fantastic--laid back, not pushy, and very knowledgeable. A tour guide can make or break an experience, and his know-how and personality most certainly enhanced ours.
We started our tour at Chateau St. Michelle. Even if you aren't from Washington, you might be familiar with their wines, as they ship all over the country. They're huge--it was sort of like the amusement park of wineries. Learning the history of the place was pretty cool, and I must say, the wines we tasted there were delicious. (Somehow the wine almost always seems to taste better when you're at the winery--don't you think?)
Comedic relief shot--in their bottling room, the labeler was--yep, you guessed it--labelled....
The particular day that we were there (the Sunday before Memorial Day) they were having a number of events--food trucks from Seattle were setting up to have a food truck festival, and there were some expensive, really rare cars that were rolling in for a car show. Salmaan's eyes nearly bugged out of his head when he saw all those cars--having been into that sort of thing as a kid, and having a brother who is still a huge car enthusiast today. While Salmaan walked around taking shot after shot to share with his brother, I came up with new and inventive ways to entertain myself.
From there, we headed to a super-modern winery right up the road, which was actually two wineries in one, that share the same space and use the same equipment. Januik Winery, and Novelty Hill. It was a very neat space, with good light, and lots of interesting art and architectural detail. Oh yeah, and the wine was great, too! We came away with a very tasty bottle of Cabernet Franc from Januik. As an aside, they also had a lunch menu that looked pretty darn good.
I think they call this snake grass. It lined the walkway to the door.
Some textural art created by a local artisan.
From there we headed up a hill on a winding road that lead through a classic Pacific Northwest evergreen forest. At the top of a steep driveway was a residence whose owners had converted part of their house and garage into a winery. This place was PACKED. I have no idea what this winery was called. Feeling a bit "full" from our previous tastings, and a little overwhelmed by the amount of folks inside the tasting room, I took off by myself for about a half hour, taking photos around the little nooks that nestled against the winery.
The landscaping here was impressive. TONS of gorgeous Japanese Maples.
Salmaan and I didn't get many pictures of us together this trip (that were in focus, at least). This was definitely one of the best, and probably my favorite.
We dined for lunch at Purple Wine Bar (which was so good, we would eat there again two more times at their downtown location). It was truly upscale, but also pleasantly casual. There was one other couple with us on the tour--Miriam and Alex from Arizona, and all of us sat together and enjoyed some local wine with lunch. Best thing about Purple? Most amazing shoestring fries EVER. At a wine bar. Yep!
After lunch we headed across the parking lot to my favorite winery on the tour--Brian Carter Cellars. The winemaker actually worked for a while at Chateau Montelena, which you might recognize if you ever watched the movie Bottleshock (I highly recommend it). The specialty at this winery was blended wines, and DAMN. They. Are. Good at it. We came away with more than a few bottles from that winery, and will likely be purchasing more online.
Our last stop was at Patterson Cellars, a very different location from all that came before. In Woodinville there are basically strip malls that are comprised entirely of wineries and tasting rooms. Not big on ambiance, but a pretty cool idea nonetheless.
Patterson's wines were VERY good. In fact, the winemaker's son created probably the best wine we tasted the whole trip--Woodslake Cabernet Franc. It was incredible, and full of surprises. A strong bouquet of bourbon on the nose (yes, bourbon), with a subtle coffee/chocolate finish on the back of the palette. Very surprising, very tasty. We came home with a bottle, which made me quite happy.
Patterson also has a tasting room in downtown Seattle if you're interested in checking them out without making the trek out to Woodinville. We actually walked into that tasting room on Monday, and saw the winemaker again. Having already done a tasting, he sent us up to Market Tasting Room in Post Alley, which ended up being one of the best parts of our trip! But, that's for another post.
After Bob dropped us off at our hotel, we took Mandy and Mitch out to Wild Ginger for Mandy's birthday, which was just two days away. We split some appetizers and visited for a while longer before they had to make the drive back down to Portland, as Mandy had to work the next day.
It was a very fulfilling visit. I had a hard time saying goodbye to Mandy, not knowing when we would have the chance to see one another again. But it's pretty awesome to think that with all the ups and downs in our friendship, 12 years later we're still connected, and still look forward to seeing one another whenever we get the chance.
Looking forward to the next visit.