Friday, November 26, 2010

Not Exactly the South Sound But......

We did a great road trip of wine and food and I am compelled to share!

Heading to Eastern Washington but we can't drive all that way without sustenance, hmmmm what's on the way?  The Snoqualmie Falls Brewery of course!  They have great beers, we tried their Avalanche Winter Ale along with a meat and cheese platter which was nothing fancy but HUGE!  We could have had that alone, but I had my heart set on pizza.  The pizza was good with the right ratio of meat and cheese.  This brewery is super friendly, casual and the perfect pit stop. 

We arrived at the Dalles, checked into our hotel and were still stuffed from that pizza and the meat and cheese platter but I really wanted to check out a place I had heard about called the Baldwin Saloon.  Established in 1876 and just teeming with history, this saloon is an awkward mix of a huge beautiful bar, booths and a cavernous empty space in between.  A little change to the vibe with some interesting wall colors and addition of some tables to fill in the huge empty space would make this place feel much warmer.  Putting the bad feng shui aside, we had bacon wrapped dates with chevre cheese and (drum roll please) fresh squeezed grapefruit juice for the best greyhound I’ve ever had.  I think it had a little to do with the fact that I was road weary but it really hit the spot! The Baldwin is definitely worth checking out just for the art on the walls that is from the original bar and to hear the stories about the brothel that used to be out back!

The next day we headed out for the Maryhill Museum of Art.  Okay this part isn’t about food but really a museum with a life size replica of Stonehenge and the third largest collection of Rodin sculptures in the world?  A great place to spend a few hours on our way to the Maryhill Winery!  The winery is gorgeous, majestically perched on a hillside overlooking the Columbia River.  Skip the wine tasting and just buy a bottle of wine and some meat and cheese from their little deli grocery and sit outside at the picnic tables and enjoy the gorgeous view. 

Next stop was at the recommendation of one of the employees at the winery.  It’s always a good idea to talk to the locals to find out what to eat or drink next, so we headed for White Salmon just about a half hour drive from the winery to Everybody’s Brewing.  They are a newer brewery, just started about two years ago and they already have nine beers on tap.  Luckily they do distribute their beers locally and you can find them occasionally at The Parkway or The Red Hot.  I can’t get over what brew pubs have escalated to…I mean I had a Porter Braised Lamb Shank in a red wine reduction!  Lovingly placed alongside this beautiful lamb shank was a golden square of polenta and a bed of sautéed greens.  The polenta was crispy on the outside and melt in your mouth on the inside with carmelized onion happily placed within.  I carefully took turns, taking a bite of lamb, a bite of polenta and not wanting this meal to end!    

The next day our culinary adventure continued at the home of Big Horse Brew Pub in Hood River, Oregon.  This was another recommendation from an employee at Maryhill Winery so we were excited!  What a great choice.  Big Horse Brewing has a wonderful selection of beers and they don't distribute them, you have to sit at their taps so you really are having something unique to Hood River.  I had a spicy gumbo with huge fresh shrimp that was a great match to a smooth glass of merlot.  There are two other breweries within walking distance of the Big Horse; Double Mountain and Full Sail so it is a great place to taste a lot of unique beers with an awesome view of the Columbia River!
Finally back to the south sound!  Where to stop on the way home?  We remembered a wonderful wine tasting dinner we had with McCrea Cellars at Brix 25 and how full and yummy their rhone varietals were and it just so happens that they are located in Olympia so it was right on the way home!  It was a perfect ending to a great weekend; good conversation, a lovely wine and got to take home a bottle of their Syrah. 

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