Giving Thanks

Turkey

The holidays have officially kicked off and I’m considering breaking out the maternity pants like Joey on friends.  We’re gathered with family, the buzz of stories and laughter with the recordings of “Alice’s Restaurant” playing in the background. Dinner is cooking, and the house smells amazing. I can’t wait to eat everything. This year, I am grateful for my health, a good job, wonderful friends and family. Things are so good, and days like this where we talk about all that we’re grateful for remind me of how far I’ve come and how fortunate I am.

This year, we went a little crazy on the menu for Thanksgiving, and I can’t wait to eat it all and snack on the leftovers!  So what’s on tap for today?

Breakfast
Goat cheese, bacon, and leek tart with chanterelle mushrooms
Mango-orange mimosas


Dinner

Appetizers:
Deviled eggs-regular and habenero
Caprese Skewers
Cranberry Wine

First Course:
Mixed green salad with candied walnuts, pomegranates, and a raspberry walnut vinaigrette.
Beets with goat cheese crumbles and pistachios

Main Course:
Deboned, honey brined turkey
Rotisserie roasted pork shoulder


Sides:
Mashed potatoes
Pear, cranberry, and port conserva
“Green Slime”-pistachio pudding, cool whip and marshmallows
Pineapple coconut salad
Applesauce
Roasted squash medley with port poached cherries, and almonds
Chorizo spinach stuffing (gluten free)
Turkey stock gravy
Wheat bread with orange cranberry pecan butter
Rolls

Drinks:
Prosecco, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, more cranberry wine

Dessert:

Gluten free vegan cashew and date cheesecake
Cranberry walnut tart
Vanilla bean ice cream
Sandeman’s Port
Prosecco

 

There you have it!  I’m so excited to dig in and eat.  While it’s a lot of food for 8 people, we’ll all leave with a ton of leftovers. Full bellies and happy hearts, and isn’t that a great way to spend the day?

How are you spending the holiday and how do you give thanks?

Yours in food and happiness,

Raina

And then there were more!

If you’ve followed this blog long enough, you know one of my dreams is to have a big plot of land with a farm. That is still a work in progress, and will likely be for some time, so we have been making due with  city critters. We have chickens, which are amazing, but they are totally a gateway animal! After years of trying to find the right space and justify getting rabbits, my dream came true!  Enter: Hazel and Fresa (Strawberry). We adopted them from a local family whose daughter was too allergic to them to keep them. Rabbits woman and bunnies hungry bunny bunnies eating cute bunny chicken and bunny nature bunny bunny and bunny baby

We were told that they were both boys and were just shy of a year old. We played with them daily, snuggling them and feeding them treats. Izzy would squeal with joy to see Hazel greet her each morning and afternoon in anticipation of treats. We were feeling amazing about our decision to have two bunnies. Forward to 10 days after we brought them home-I came out to find this:

baby bunny

and then this:

more bunny babies

8 babies in all, in three spots. I was floored. While I was ready for two bunnies, I hadn’t planned on what to do with 10 total. I quickly posted to Facebook, looking for advice from friends who had been raising rabbits for years. In addition to laughter, I received good advice to let momma do her thing and to keep an eye on everyone. They would be fine and if not, I could either let nature run its’ course, or intervene and bring to a vet or find a donor momma (yes, that’s apparently a thing!).

I checked on them constantly the first few days, convinced that something would go wrong. After a week, I found that one had died, and we would eventually lose two more. The rest grew quickly, one more than the other, and one runt continued to thrive (we have hand fed him to help him keep up with the siblings). They quickly left their nest, venturing to the rest of their hutch, nibbling on the greens we give, or chewing on the timothy hay we lay daily, or jumping over to mom for a quick nurse. As you’ll see, one of these guys clearly had nursing down and was a big boy!

growing bunnies baby meet momma hand feeding bunny

Izzy bunny

We are smitten with them in all their furry cuteness. At some point, we’ll raise rabbits for meat, but this group won’t be for that. We’ll adopt out the babies, and then see how things go in the future. For now, Izzy and I are enjoying watching them grow and play.

People have asked what is next. For now, these guys and our chickens are all we have time, space and energy for; plus all these guys love to eat my crops, so I think I am full up on critters for now.

What would you love to have on your farm, or yard?

Yours in fuzzy cuteness,
Raina

Blue Cheese Butternut Squash Soup with Chicken and Mushrooms

soup ingredientsFall hit here pretty quickly in Seattle; cool winds replacing the abnormally high summer temperatures. The leaves are changing and starting to fall and this week promises rain. I’ve been scurrying around the gardens, picking  the last of my tomatoes, hoping that whatever is still green has time to ripen. The air is crisp and the sun is setting earlier and earlier, which means it’s time for soup. Enter: my Blue Cheese Butternut Squash Soup with Chicken!

This recipe is flavorful, easy to make, and while it tastes rich, is surprisingly low in calories. You can add more ingredients to make it more hearty, but it’s perfect in its’ simplicity. I usually make a double batch, freezing half, to enjoy late into the winter when I am too tired to make a batch of soup. Roasting the vegetables in advance brings depth of flavor to the soup, but isn’t necessary if you’re in a rush for a bowl of warm, creamy comfort.

Let’s start by gathering our ingredients:

4-5 lbs of butternut squash, cut in half with seeds removed, and roasted (see prep notes)
2 lbs chicken thighs (breasts, if you’re wanting less fat/calories), cut into bite size pieces
1 cup white wine
64 ounces chicken stock
1 lb mushrooms
1 green apple, diced
3 medium yellow onions, diced and roasted (see prep notes)
1/2 head of garlic, peeled and roasted (see prep notes)
1-2 sprigs of rosemary
1 large bay leaf
1/2 lb of bacon, chopped, drippings reserved (substitute 2 Tbspn olive oil if you do not wish to use bacon)
Salt and pepper to taste (about a teaspoon each)
Low fat sour cream, for garnish
3-4 ounces blue cheese, sprinkled on top
Optional: 1/2 lb chopped kale for more heft and nutrients

Prep:
Roasting makes everything better-the flavors become more pronounced and it brings out a richness to the squash you wouldn’t get otherwise. To do this, coat a cookie sheet with olive oil and lay out your squash, roasting at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. While that cools, roast your onion and garlic for 10 mins at 350 degrees, or until  they start to turn golden. Set aside.

Cook:
In a heavy bottomed pot, fry the bacon until crispy, removing from the oil when done. Add your chicken pieces, and cook until browned. You can avoid using bacon and instead brown your chicken in 2 Tbsp olive oil if you wish (I love bacon, but this does add fat, sodium and calories to the dish). Pull out your chicken and set aside with the bacon.

See all those delicious bits on the bottom of your pan? You want those. All of those tasty bacon-chicken bits add flavor! Add 1 cup of white wine and scrape the bottom of the pot-the finished soup (and your belly) will thank you for deglazing everything!

Add your roasted squash to the deglazed pot by scooping the meat of the squash out of the skin. Add your onion, garlic, apple, salt, pepper and stock to the pot and let simmer for 20 minutes until  everything starts to fall apart, stirring occasionally. At this point, you have a choice-you can use an immersion blender to make everything creamy and smooth, or leave it as is for a soup with a little more texture-I prefer to blend the base, personally.  If you do opt to blend, pull out the rosemary and bay leaf.

If you’re using kale, now’s the time to add it, cooking for 15 minutes. If not, move to the next step.

Add your chicken, mushrooms and your bacon and continue to simmer for additional 20 minutes, or until your chicken is cooked through (no longer pink, registering 165 degrees, if you want to get technical).

Ladle into a deep bowl, adding blue cheese and sour cream. Enjoy!

That’s it!  This soup will taste like you spent hours making it, and will fill that craving for a warm delicious soup to warm you up as the weather changes. What could be better?

Note:
Some people do not like blue cheese and I get it!  It can be strong and for some, overpowering. If you fall into this camp, substitute Parmesan, adding the rind in when you’re cooking your kale and chicken and pulling out when you’re done cooking. Top with grated Parmesan at the end.

I want to thank Foster Farms for funding this post. Their Simply Raised chicken are raised without antibiotics, hormones, or steroids, which is important to my family. Additionally, they are American Humane Certified and local to WA, OR, and CA, so there’s less impact on the environment!  Foster Farms also has organic options, which are available at most larger grocers and Costco (again, who doesn’t love Costco?!). For more information on Foster Farms, their products or their practices, check them out here. Again, this post is sponsored by Foster Farms®, the opinions expressed are my own.

Yours in delicious fall flavors,

Raina

Feast, the recap!

I’ve been back a little while from Feast now, and I still can’t get over how amazing the whole time was. Was it that I had time to myself, or the chance to see old friends? Was it the late nights, fires, food and drink? Or was it that the whole event was the perfect combination of things?

Yes, that’s it.  I keep trying to recap Feast for people, happily sharing pictures, salivating over some amazing jerk goat tacos, and I keep thinking; how do I best describe this event to someone who has never been, to convince them to join me next year. What have I come up with?

Imagine Feast as your very own Willy Wonka-leading you through a world of amazing delights in the form of food and drinks; each event more wondrous than the last. You keep eating, feeling a little like Violet Beauregarde with each delectable bite and savored sip (it’s OK, go on and have a little more, you’ll be fine!).

I went to quite a few events at Feast Portland, including, cocktail events with Bull in China, Smoked!, The Grand Tasting Events (oh, so wonderful), breakfast at Gracie’s over in Hotel deLuxe, the Brunch Village, and even managed to get in a couple of Drink Tanks to learn more about cocktails. There’s something for everyone here, whether it’s small plate nibbles, to large portions of perfectly barbecued meat. Feast is really your go to event to attend if you love wonderful food-and really, who doesn’t?! Still not convinced?? Hopefully these pictures convince you.

bbq-and-fire beets beingets bon-apetit-magazine breakfast breakfast-shot champagne-and-fruit cheese chef chicken cider cocktails cocktails-with-plants delicious eat-dessert-first kite-hill lamb lemonade pear-dessert pear-dishes pears rosemary-cocktail smoked tamales us-pears

Well, dear reader, there you have it; so many reasons for you to prep plan your attendance for Feast Portland, which by the way will be: September 14th-17th. Will I see you there?  Still want a little more info?? Check out my Feast Portland Beer Recap and an Intro to Feast as well!

Yours in adventure and oh, so delicious food.
Raina

Beer Friday: Feast Portland Edition

beer

It’s Friday and it’s been a while since we’ve had a Beer Friday post! I am less than a week away from Feast Portland (check out my recent write up on Feast for my plans), and I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to attend. Aside from the great food, there’s some stellar beer and cider that will be there and you can be sure I’ll be sipping and savoring my way through all of them.  Seriously, check out the line up here!  Here you have it, what I am most excited to have again, and what I can’t wait to try with this edition of Beer Friday: Feast Portland!  Let’s start with some old favorites, shall we?

First up is Base Camp Brewing-I won’t lie, the first time I had their beer, I only bought it because of the cool aluminum 22 ounce bottles (they also have cans). Their beers didn’t disappoint and the lightweight cans were perfect for camping. Once I had the S’more Stout, I was hooked. Later, it became the perfect beer to be used in pancakes, adding a sweet but deep and dark yeast flavor that went perfectly with a pat of butter and a side of bacon. Plus, breakfast beers are outstanding! I haven’t had a beer from Base Camp that I didn’t enjoy, but I was particularly fond of the S’more stout and the Lost Meridian  Wit.

Next up is Bridgeport Brewing-What I love about these guys is how easy it is to find their beer-whether you’re at Full Throttle Bottles, or Safeway, you’re going to spot them. Their beers are consistent from batch to batch and the price for a case is usually below $16, which is affordable. Their “year round” beers you’re likely to spot in stores are IPA heavy, but they offer some other solid non-IPA brews, too. I recently had their Stumptown Cherry Saison. It’s a good tart, kick in the lips that isn’t overly fruity. It’s a good summer beer that pairs well with lawn work and sitting in a hammock.

I’m getting crazy here y’all and including my favorite cider company, Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider -A while back, one of my close friends moved to Portland, and started posting pictures of his drinks and the amazing events at the taproom. I had to know what was so amazing about these ciders that he was there weekly (or more). SO. MANY. AWESOME. CHOICES! It’s going to be hard for me to narrow it down, folks. First up is my favorite-the Hallelujah Hopricot (yes, you read that right); the name says it all; it’s slightly hoppy, slightly fruity, and oh so good. It’s amazing as a pork marinade, or with pork in general and it’s crisp and tart enough to cut through moderately fatty foods. It’s a solid choice. Next up is the Deliverance Ginger Tonic. This is a great base for a whiskey ginger-no simple syrup needed! The Revival Hard Apple is just what you would expect from a cider-crisp, a little sweet; kind of like early fall in a bottle. I’m really looking forward to their Winter Abbey Spice next, which hopefully will be out in the coming months. I could go on and on about these guys.

Lastly, because they make some damn good beers that I both love to cook with and enjoy drinking, is Burnside Brewing. My favorite for green chicken chili is their Sweet Heat. Add a 22 ounce bottle, some hatch peppers and a ton of garlic and you have an amazing base to a solid chili. Don’t let that sweet fool you, it’s a tasty, tasty beer. Also amazing is their Oatmeal Pale, while I haven’t cooked with it, I have had enough of it to know you should go grab a few bottles! You can thank me later.

Now that you know what I love and have vetted for you (it’s a hard life, I tell ya), what am I excited to check out?

Nectar Creek Mead has really piqued my interest, particularly their Strawberry Rhubarb, which comes in at a whopping 9.8% abv. I’ll be sipping this one! As an herbalist I can’t wait to try the Clary Sage Session Mead as well.

Worthy Brewing also has a few beers I want to try-both for drinking and cooking!  Their Lights Out Vanilla Cream Extra Stout seems like something that needs to be the base for an ice cream float, or maybe added to a waffle mix with bourbon syrup. My heart also beats for a good German beer, so I’ll have to try out their Easy Day Kolsch.

Last, but not least, I can’t wait to check out Yachats Brewing. They have a Huckleberry Wheat that may be calling my name, and the Tears of the Innocent sounds delicious-a sour wit? Yes, please!

Are you thirsty yet? I know I sure am.  This isn’t all of the breweries that will be at Feast, but a good summary. You should come check out the Portland beer scene and let me know which ones are your favorites!  For those of you in the know, what are your go to breweries and which beers should I not miss?

Yours in delicious beers,

Raina

On the road to Feast Portland

I’m heading to Portland, y’all and I couldn’t be happier. 4 days solo, eating and drinking my way through Feast Portland, and visiting with friends. I can’t think of a better way to spend some hard-earned time off. I’ve been waiting for feast for months and can’t wait to drive down to Portland to enjoy all it has to offer. Not sure what Feast is?  Oh, dear reader…you’re in for a treat!

Imagine a place where you can eat and drink amazing treats prepared expertly with passion for days on end, selecting events that appeal to you.  Whether it’s classes on wine pairing, or cooking salmon perfectly, and even cooking competitions, Feast has you covered.  You have to prepare early, tickets to the events sell out quickly and are well worth the light price tag!

I know you’re curious! What will I be doing, and what should you do next time you’re in Portland? Read on!

First, off I’ll be staying in an Air BnB, close to downtown, so I don’t miss a thing. For less than a hotel, I have a full house with a kitchen and a yard to relax and entertain fellow foodies. The idea of having a true home away from home is perfect. I also get to have my car, so I don’t have to stay locked in to one area if I don’t want to (but Lyft and Uber accounts on the ready should I be drinking). I’ll be flying solo, and the idea of sleeping in a king bed without a toddler’s feet in my back sounds amazing. Mom’s, are you feeling me on this one??  Let Feast be your next get away!  Since Thursday is my most open day, I’ll be hitting Powell’s Books to grab a few new reads before chatting with friends over dinner. I’ll likely call it an early night, reading in front of the fireplace.

Friday, I’ll start my day over at Gracie’s at Hotel DeLuxe for a quick breakfast, and spend a few hours exploring downtown without an agenda. What I love about Portland, is that you’re close to so much, and it’s a pedestrian friendly city. Each block has a treasure and a new shop to explore.

I’ll be attending a few events, focusing on the Grand Tastings on Friday and Saturday, where I’ll be fawning over cheeses from Rogue Creamery, sipping amazing brews from one of my favorite’s Base Camp Brewing, and even sampling some wines from Andrew Will and others. I’m ready to chat with familiar chefs and to taste their exciting offerings, but also so excited find some new favorites. Feast is like that, you can meander through tasting as you go with this event, not having to stick to one thing!

When I am not at the Grand Tastings, I’ll be hitting various happy hours and even attending one of the Drink Tank events-witnessing chefs, distillers and brewers pair off for challenges and tastings? Yes, please!

Sunday will also have me stopping by the Brunch Village, hosted by Whole Foods Market. I’m hoping for a French 75 combo with gin from Aria Portland Dry Gin and champagne from Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte, which would be a wonderful addition to any brunch.

So many suggestions and so many stops to make as part of Feast. Get your tickets, get a place to stay and enjoy all that feast has to offer. Need more reasons to attend Feast? Check out their Instagram feed for delicious inspiration and motivation to come join me!

If you’re attending Feast Portland, what are you most excited for?

~Yours in culinary delights~

Raina

 

 

 

40 by 40

Happy 4th of July, all!  Tomorrow I turn 38. It’s not really a milestone birthday, but it is another year closer to 40. I’m pretty excited for that birthday, ushering in a new decade, closing out the old one. I’m excited to see that that looks and feels like. Every few years, I write a list of things I want to accomplish by a certain age, like this one I wrote before turning 35. I’m excited to share with you my list of things to accomplish in the next two years, my 40 by 40 list!

Before I get to that list, I have to share how things have gone so far!  This birthday week has been pretty darned good. I’ve been off seeing friends, getting things ticked off the to-do list, eating and drinking wonderful things. The highlight, however, had to be this-you know, just hanging out with these AMAZING birds! I didn’t expect when I went to a BBQ next door, that I’d get to pet a 40 day old owl and handle a falcon. I shouldn’t be surprised, this neighborhood always has magical things happening.

Raina and owl Izzy and owl falcon

The rest of the long weekend will be spent with friends, chatting about old times, sipping cold beers, and eating way too much. There will be hikes, and fireworks, hugs, and well-wishes, so much love and I can’t think of a better way to wrap up 37. I am truly lucky to have such a good life, with great people surrounding me. So, what will the next two years bring? Adventure, excitement, food and more happiness, I am sure based on how this past year has gone and by what I have planned in my new 40 by 40 bucket list!

My 40 by 40 List

1. Do something that scares me, often!
2. Go to Canlis
3. Finally get that tattoo!
4. Pay off a large bill-not super exciting, but getting rid of any bill is more cash for fun 🙂
5. Be more accepting of my body, strengths and flaws
6. Go overseas again/travel more
7. Continue to get in shape
8. Skate more
9. Learn to knit
10. Make sourdough, actually keep it alive for more than 1 week
11. Do 5 push ups, well. Yeah, I said it. 5.
12. Do more karaoke
13. Make a blood orange olive oil milkshake like the one at the Olive Pit, in California-so good!
14. Fix up the garage and make it into a studio
15. Raise rabbits
16. Make more quilts
17. Finish up my herbalism classes
18. Eat less processed foods
19. Rock climb again
20. Hunt a deer and properly butcher it
21. Write more (hmmm…check?)
22. Make cheese
23. Go clam digging
24. Set up a friend version of Outstanding in the Field.
25. Teach Izzy to fish
26. Find more happiness-actively seek it out, and hold it tight
27. Successfully grow peas and carrots, and not little dinky ones
28. Bring Izzy backpacking
29. Take a photography class
30. Dance more
31. Build the fence that has been sitting in raw materials in my garage for 10 years
32. Kayak on Lake Washington
33. Ride in a hot air balloon
34. Go to Disneyland
35. Camp on a beach
36. Buy more nice knives
37. Teach more
38. Hike to a hot spring
39. Take a train ride
40. Read more

That’s it, my 40 X 40 list! What would you add?  Any of these that you’ve already done?

Yours in finding adventure,
Raina

 

 

Make, Mend, GO!

This week I am turning Make, Mend, Grow into Make, Mend, GO!  I spent 10 days on the road with the family driving through Yellowstone, as well as taking side trips into Montana, Idaho, and other areas of Wyoming. We took our time driving to explore, do some critter watching and to eat some amazing food. Kiddo and I went on hikes, swam, and relaxed and it was a great trip over all. My car, which I bought two months ago, now has over 4,000 miles and I think it’s safe to say it’s officially broken in.

The weather was all over the map-sunny and warm, raining, hailing, sleeting and snowing often changing within 15 minutes. I am always in awe of Wyoming and Montana, how big the sky is and how far you can see, which makes for impressive storm watching opportunities. While we were waiting for Old Faithful, we watched a storm roll in-the weather changed from sunny and warm, to a light rain, and to snow, all in the short time we were there. I was quickly reminded that layers were my pal on this trip!

This wasn’t my first time to Yellowstone. Last time we were here, I was newly pregnant with Izzy and was just starting navigate the hunger, tiredness and uncertainty of what I should and shouldn’t eat on vacation.  It will always hold a special place in my heart, as it was one of our last big trips as a couple and just the two of us, but this time was by far the most special trip I have had to Yellowstone. Being able to see the park through Izzy’s eyes was amazing. We walked slowly on the boardwalks, looking at every crack and fissure in the ground around the pools, every bison had to be named, and every tiny chipmunk had to be talked to. We had to see if the snow in Yellowstone was different than the snow in Seattle (yes), and if the puddles were more puddley and jump-worthy than at home (jury is still out). Having her with me, being forced to slow down and be more mindful made me appreciate the trip so much more. I noticed so many tiny details and had more conversations about why things were the way they were, turning the trip into an educational opportunity since she was so fascinated. This kiddo, she makes every adventure so much more exciting.

I can’t wait to go back and see the park through her eyes as she gets older, but for now, I’ll cherish this trip and all of the memories we had! What is YOUR favorite part of Yellowstone?

Bison Yellowstone National Park Bison herd Yellowstone National Park Isabella Yellowstone National Park Elk Yellowstone National Park bull elk Yellowstone National Park Yellowstone National Park chipmunk waterfall thermal pool, steam, Yellowstone National Park Grand Canyon of Yellowstone National Park IMG_1491 IMG_1493 bear bear wolf wolf Grand Tetons Yellowstone National Park Yellowstone National Park Geyser Basin Yellowstone National Park hiking Yellowstone National Park chipmunk bear homestead barn

A glimpse

airforce dad

Driving home from work Wednesday, I caught a glimpse of a man who I swore was my dad. Same salt and peppered wild and coarse hair, unkempt and growing out from his usual military haircut covered slightly by a fisherman’s cap.  The same clothes too big, on a small and too-tired frame, wild-eyed and wandering with a slightly medicated walk. I slowed and came to a stop, staring. It wasn’t my dad, of course. He’s been gone 4 years later this month, but for a few seconds I found myself resisting the urge to park and run after this stranger, just to make sure.

That’s the thing with loss, especially tragic loss, years later it still doesn’t seem real.

My light turned green, and the Dad lookalike moved on, swallowed by a sea of people, heading home from their jobs or to wherever they were headed. I thought about it on the way home-was it really that he looked like my dad? Sure, there were similarities, or was it that haunting stare of mental illness that shadowed his face that made me think of my Dad? As much as I try to keep the good memories in front, the sad and dark ones creep in. Memories of pain and terror in my Dad’s face, his muscles strained, as he tried to make sense of the flashbacks that were haunting him as I tried to help him understand that it wasn’t real, that he was in his hallway at home and that I was there. Feelings of complete helplessness as he spiraled further down into mental illness, unwilling to accept help, until the very end.

I kept thinking about that man; did he have someone who was there for him? Was there a daughter like me, tired but wanting to try, expecting to finally get that call that he was gone, after so many attempts at ending his life? How was she holding up?

4 years and logically I get that he ‘s gone, but emotionally it’s still hard to accept. This time of year is hard for me. I dive into work, keep myself busy with friends and events, but it still creeps in and hits me like a punch to the gut: he’s gone and he won’t be back. I get in a good cry or two and move on, the waves of sadness coming and going. There’s nothing that makes the feelings go away, but I did learn the hard way that shoving the anger, the grief, the sorrow deep down is a recipe for disaster, coming out in the form of reflux, sleepless nights, and the inevitable crying. So I sit with my grief and think about my Dad, cherishing the good times, reconciling the bad and waiting for this to pass.  Here’s to the memory of my Dad, gone too soon; and that man, whoever he was, and him getting to where he was going.

How do you deal with grief?
Yours in love

Raina

P.S. Totally confused? You can read about that time in my life here in the lower posts on that page.

Taste Washington – A recap

I. Love. Wine. If you follow my Instagram, or have ever come to my house, you’ll see that I do not have a shortage of wine.  It’s a nice way to wind down a long day, it’s always perfect for a celebration, or a girls night.

Recently I attended the Taste Washington event held yearly here in Seattle and hopefully you did too! Wait, you didn’t?!  Let me show you quickly why you need to plan ahead and attend this event next year.
Taste Washingtoncured meat platedessertstacopearl and stone wine coB. Leighton

That’s just a quick glance, too! Taste Washington 2016 was held at the Century Link Event Center March 31st through April 3rd, and boasted 225 wineries, 65 restaurants, and various food businesses. Each row was filled with groups sampling their best products. It was a perfect opportunity to stroll through the event, learn about the wineries, meet the vintners, chefs, and taste to your hearts content. I saw old favorites, and found some new wines as well. So what did I love?

Let’s start with the old favorites:

Bartholomew Winery

In addition to being an all around nice guy, Bart Fawbush makes some wines that are solid too. Located in the old Rainier Brewery Building, the husband and wife team have an intimate tasting room where you can enjoy a tasting or a glass (or two). I love their Carmenere and the Aligote, and they even make a lovely Rose. The prices range from $17-$38 a bottle, and you won’t be disappointed.

Cave B

Cave B will always have a place in my heart, not just for the wine, but for the resort. I stayed there years ago, pre-baby and had one of the best vacations in recent memory. Located in the Columbia Valley, the winery boasts a wonderful restaurant, amazing grounds, and stellar Cliffehouses. The wine is wonderful as well, particularly the Semillion and the Barbera. The wines, like the grounds can be pricey, but I love them so it’s worth it. You’re looking at between $18-$50 a bottle.

Efeste

This is one of those wineries that has been like coming back to an old friend-reliable, fun, not dramatic. I had a chance to try their Sauvage Savignon Blanc and instantly thought of pairing it with seafood. So light and fun. Prices here will run you $25-$60.

Kestral

Oh, Kestral, you remind me of so many trips to Leavenworth with friends, and nights out on Capitol Hill. I love their port, their Signature Series Petit Verdot, and their Raptor House Syrah. It’s easy drinking backyard barbecue wine, that you can pick up at any local grocer, and the price point is also easy: $13-$60, with most coming in at or under $20 a bottle.

I could go on about old favorites (Owen Roe, Scarborough, Nota Bene), but how about something new?

Charles Smith

A recent addition to Georgetown, over by Sisters and Brothers restaurant, is a funky tasting room offering multiple wines. My favorites were the B. Leighton Petit Verdot and the Gratitude. The Secco Pinot Noir Rose was fun and fizzy, and the prices range from an easy to swallow $12 to a totally worth it $45. Some of the labels (Kung Fu Girl, for example), can also be found at your local grocer, but why not stop by their Jet City tasting room?

Pearl and Stone

Last up was a new (to me) winery that was one of the last of the night. Passionate about their wines, and excited to share, the Pearl and Stone team were a joy to hang out with. I tasted their Unemployment Beach (a rose) and Wandering (a tasty red blend). Both were nice easy to drink wines that would pair perfectly with friends and a fire on the beach. The prices were easy too, coming in at $18-$30.

There you have it! I highly recommend attending next year and making a weekend of it. You won’t be disappointed.

What Washington wineries are your favorite?

~Yours in wine~

Raina