After a relatively quick flight from 82 degree and sunny Las Vegas, I landed in the Pacific Northwest where it was 50 degrees and rainy, but I was thrilled to be back in Seattle. Once picked up from the airport, I headed to Toulouse Petit Kitchen & Lounge in the heart of the Queen Anne neighborhood. This New Orleans-style restaurant is always busy and especially packed during Brunch hours. After having a true French Press coffee (delicious), I had placed in front of me a fantastic plate which was a Dungeness Crab, Asparagus & Chervil omelet with Mornay sauce and cheesy grits. This heart attack on a plate, was amazingly light and rich at the same time and purely delicious.
Now being fortified, we headed to Woodinville (only 20 minutes outside of the city) to experience some wine tastings and winery visits. Woodinville was always just a suburb of Seattle and farming/cattle town, however over the years, wineries that are almost all located on the Eastern side of the state, decided to start moving tasting rooms and operations closer to the big city to capitalize upon the population and ease of convenience for city dwellers. This has been a fantastic boon for the Washington Wine Industry and continues to be well received overall.
DeLille Cellars – First stop and I believe my favorite, hands down. I have been drinking their wines for many years, truly amazing flavors, consistency and varietals. I think their wines are among the best in the world, and finally, more and more people are beginning to think so. Being able to taste some of their single vineyard, Ciel du Cheval Syrah, 2008 was a true treat. I think that every time I have a chance to drink or taste DeLille, I enjoy their wines more and more.
Glad that I had a chance to visit this tasting room as I have had their wines before, but didn’t have a lot of experience with them. Overall, the room was just cold – from the people to the wines to the visit. I know that they make good wine, however with the recent vintages, this has been put into question.
This was my biggest surprise of the visit, as I hadn’t heard of them before and the with their Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and a Red Blend, the Otis Kenyon wines are definitely on the rise. Set back off of the road in a smaller wine village/tasting area, the tasting room was very quiet, however that allowed us more time to enjoy the wines, talk with the tasting room manager and one of the owners.
This winery was started by a gentleman who was and still is in the restaurant industry. He saw a hole in the wine industry that he could take advantage of and now makes some even better wines. Set in a Strip Mall, Sparkman is setup featuring a stand up bar, communal table and high-tops, more akin to a restaurant than a tasting room. My highlight of this visit was their 2008 red blend – balanced, approachable and very fairly priced.
This is a collective of multiple wineries together in a more industrial area, including an open kitchen for entertaining, plenty of room for storage and production and open until 5pm, leaving plenty of time for tasting. Their range starts at the very simple, introductory wines and goes up to bottles selling for hundreds of dollars.
Dinner Saturday night was over at RN74, a Michael Mina restaurant, to visit with a buddy who is their General Manager. This is a very well designed restaurant, right on a major corner in downtown Seattle, with a modern, yet clubby feel and is of the moment for foodies in this country. I started with a light, of the season Baby Beet salad with fine Goat Cheese Mousse and Pistachios – great flavor while not being too heavy at all as a first course. They then sent us a mid-course as a gift, Michael’s signature of the restaurant, Ahi Tuna Tartare with Scotch Bonnet Pepper, Pine Nuts, Mint and Spiced Sesame oil – a different and welcome take on this style of dish, not citrus or soy based as most usually are. For my entrée, I enjoyed some of the first Wild Halibut of the season, that had been roasted and served with a Wild Mushroom Broth and English Peas.
The next morning I had one of the best cups of coffee I had a chance to enjoy in years from Top Pot Doughnuts. I unfortunately could not enjoy some of the delicious smelling doughnuts at this Seattle mainstay, however this fresh brewed Café Americano was rich in flavor, balanced in acid and a much needed start to my morning. After walking the city, including the famed Pike Place Market – absolutely bustling on a misty and sunny, gorgeous Sunday morning, I hopped the Cascades train to Portland for a scenic ride down to Oregon and off to my next adventure…
Keep eating and drinking!