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Weekends, Woodinville Wine Tasting & A Wonderful Walla Walla Wine

We had 3 days off! It is so rare for us to have more than one day off and usually when we do we still have too much to do, but this weekend: we mostly played! Saturday morning we were in Port Orchard by 9:15 and wandering through the farmer’s market while we waited for our friends to meet us. We took the foot ferry across to Bremerton so we could watch the Kitsap Cup regatta, though it was not something you could exactly ‘watch’. We wandered through the classic cars up on Pacific and ogled the yachts for sale down on the Marina. So many beautiful boats! You may not know that Mark and I were saving up for a boat and moorage when we bought the cafe. Now we love our lives more than we ever did before, though we are landlocked and so it was really fun to daydream amongst those yachts.

We tried to end the afternoon at the mobile BBQ truck at the P.O. Farmer’s market so we could impress our friends with the best bbq in Kitsap, though we were too late. Mr Brown (see last week’s post for more info) was sold out of everything but some pulled pork, which we gladly shared amongst the 6 of us. Mark and I headed to the cafe to finish a project that needed doing and ended up back in Port Orchard for an early dinner. The Bay Street Ale House is one of our favorite places to grab a pizza and a great beer. We will often stop in there on our way home on Saturday because it is a friendly, relaxing atmosphere and they have rotating beers on tap that are always interesting and excellent. Their pizza dough is made at the bakery down the street from them, their ingredients are good quality and fresh, and even though it is just a little conveyor belt oven, the pizza is always very good. We have had some of their odd yet wonderful flavor combinations and one of our favorite pizza combos ever was theirs originally: Pepperoni, pepperoncini and pineapple. MMM it’s good! We had a pint and a piece and took the rest home. The Sounders tied again, though their playing was much stronger this week than last, so I was happier with the outcome.

On Sunday my friends Loren & Tami picked me up and we headed toWoodinville. I haven’t been in years and I was shocked at all the wine tasting rooms there! We started at Purple Cafe & Wine Bar which is a place I have wanted to try (albeit I only knew about the Seattle location) and boy am I glad we did! Since it was Sunday they offered a brunch menu and I opted for the mimosa flight to go with the pate and cheese flight that we ordered. Orange, peach, grapefruit and apricot juices with sparkling wine. They were yummy! It was SUCH a treat to have Loren be the designated driver and not have to even think about what I tasted. We started at Brian Carter Cellars, went to J. Bookwalter and then over to an industrial area that had dozens of tasting rooms. Mark Ryan, Guardian, Page, and Patterson are all fun places that we hit and tasted. They all charge a tasting fee, though nearly all of them will waive it if you buy any wine, which Tami did and I did not. My favorite pour of the day? Guardian Cellars 2006 Gun Metal. I really liked that wine! Loren had me home by 5:30 (we stopped at Pizzeria Fondi in Gig Harbor for sustenance on the way home. YUM!)and I had an early bed time.

Monday Mark grilled some pork chops we had in the freezer and we enjoyed them with one of our better bottles of wine. Ensemble Cellars is made in Walla Walla by Craig Nelson, who was the original owner of Gig Harbor’s wine store, Water to Wine. (If you don’t buy wine from me you should definitely buy it from them!) Craig makes one wine a year. He is in pursuit of a fine Bordeaux style and he makes fabulous wine. We have a bottle of the first release and we aren’t sure where we got it, but thank you whoever gave it to us! And now we have the third release as well. It’s the kind of wine that, when I swirl and smell it makes me smile. Then I sip… and I relax immediately, knowing I am in for a treat and that It Is Good. And believe me, It Is.

So the new salad that I made this week for a catered dinner party is going on our permanent catering menu (when in season). Mom and dad went to Walla Walla to visit my grandma last week and they brought me several pounds of asparagus fresh off of the farm. For the other ingredients I went to the Silverdale Farmer’s Market on Tuesday. I am giving you this as the recipe of the week and I am happy to admit that I got the idea from my favorite celebrity chef Anne Burrell. This salad is easy, seasonal, super fresh and oh so yummy! This recipe will make a side salad for 2-3 people, just use more of everything to make more of it.

Raw Asparagus Salad

1 bunch of thin, fresh asparagus, with every bit of the tough stalk cut off. You could snap it, though cutting it in half works too. (You are eating it raw so no tough stuff is allowed at all! Don’t worry, it is fabulous!)

1 spring onion or shallot(or a small red onion, or a small bunch of green onions)

1 small bunch of pea tendrils (aka pea greens or pea vines)

1/4-ish cup Pecorino Romano cheese (aged; you could use parmesan or asiago)

excellent quality olive oil

red wine vinegar

salt & pepper to taste

Mixed salad greens (whatever you like or is fresh is just fine)

Chop the asparagus into pea sized pieces and put into a bowl. Chop the onion to match, and the pea vines as well. (If you can’t find pea vines, just leave them out, it’s ok.) Grate the cheese into the salad: add as much or as little as you like, though the flavors should balance well and nothing should be predominant except the freshness.

Pour in a drizzle of olive oil, probably 2-3 tablespoons, and an equal amount of red wine vinegar. Toss it all with the salt and pepper. Let it rest for at least 1 hour, although we liked it even better the next day than we did the first day.

Lay a handful of the salad greens out on each plate and top with the asparagus salad. It is perfect just like this. We ate ours without the salad greens and it was just as yummy. This is great for a dinner party because it seems fancy, and yet is so simple. The fresh flavors will wow everyone and no one will expect to be fed raw asparagus! It is SO good though!