Once Upon a Time in the Pacific Northwest

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The day after school was out, Megan and I jumped on a plane to Seattle to experience the Pacific Northwest and all it has to offer. I feel like we did a pretty good job getting to know the lay of the land and we can thank the McFadden Clan (Kevin, Leslie and Bob) for their knowledge and hospitality.

I am going to break our trip into three portions (Washington State with the McFaddens, Seattle and Oregon) and the portions will be slightly out of order. Stop complaining. So without further ado, let’s get started on our favorite portion of the trip: Washington State.

*At this time you may want to get a coffee. These entries will certainly be long form.

WASHINGTON STATE

For starters, I should mention that neither Megan or I had been to the PNW before this trip. In fact, this was my first experience on Pacific time. Which, I have to say the thought of turning on a Buckeyes game at home, making a Bloody Mary and a big breakfast at 9AM is too enticing to pass up. Mom, if you are reading this, Megan and I may be moving…I am sorry you had to find out this way.

Our first two nights were in Seattle and then our friends Kevin and Leslie picked us up for a five night adventure, three of which were in Washington State where we ate, drank and experienced all of the wonderful nature of the PNW.

Kevin, the Netflix and Grill International Whiskey and Bourbon Bureau Chief, has volunteered content before and I was lucky enough to have him do it again. Take it away, Kevin:

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‘Lake Chelan has been a large part of my family’s history.  A 3-hour drive from Seattle, this mile-wide, 52-mile-long lake, the 3rd deepest lake in North America, stretches far into the North Cascade Mountains of Washington and continues well beyond where any road can take you. My father was born here, lived most of his childhood years here, then returned here 10 years ago.  When he returned, he took a job working in the tasting room at Lake Chelan Winery.  He, like me, was passionate about wine and it was a great way for him to be involved in the industry.

When my wife and I were preparing to move to Washington from Columbus in 2016, I drove out ahead to stay with my Dad and took an opportunity to work the grape harvest at Lake Chelan Winery to learn about winemaking. If I wasn’t already hooked on working in the wine industry, this pretty much sealed the deal.

After we completed our move to the Seattle area, I spent a year working for another Lake Chelan region winery, Tsillan Cellars (pronounced “Chelan” – just take my word for it), that had opened a tasting room location near where we lived.  It so happens that the owners of these two wineries, Lake Chelan Winery and Tsillan Cellars, were also two of the original “patriarchs” that helped create the Lake Chelan Wine Valley in the early 00’s – now 30+ wineries strong.  So, when “Netflix & Grill” announced they were coming to Seattle, I simply had to get them out of the city to experience food and wine from these two Lake Chelan originals.

Our first night, we visited Lake Chelan Winery.  Building the winery within the remnants of an old apple packing facility, the Kludt family has maintained the historic charm of the buildings and its grounds.  It’s a very friendly and approachable place where wine tastings are still free.   The restaurant is officially, “BBQ in the Vineyard” or simply “The BBQ” to locals.  It is situated entirely outside under an old shed roof where the apple trucks used to park.  Seating consists of picnic tables either under roof, out on the lawn, or out in the vineyard. Food is cooked on large grills and smokers using apple wood and charcoal.  Ribs, chicken, steak and prawns with sides of cole slaw, beans and cornbread are prepared simply, but flavorfully.  I’ve always been a big fan of the ribs which are tender and delicate, yet meaty with a perfectly balanced sauce.  Paired equally successfully with Lake Chelan Winery Malbec or Amos Rome Vineyard Merlot.  And as you sit out amongst the vines, enjoying delicious BBQ, sharing a bottle (maybe 2) of wine and feeling the chill set in as the sun sets over the mountains, you can truly feel this place becoming a part of you, and you a part of it.

On night #2, we traveled to the other side of the lake to Tsillan Cellars and their award-winning Italian restaurant, Sorrento’s Ristorante.  Tsillan Cellars is the ground-up creation of Bob Jankelson, a former dental surgeon, in the image of a Tuscan villa.  The tasting room features massive, exposed beam architecture, with marble and tile finishes throughout.  The grounds are immaculately landscaped with koi ponds, waterfalls and lush greenery.  The location for the winery was hand selected both for the right soil and elevation conditions for the estate vineyard, but also for its breathtaking lake views.  The restaurant is situated perfectly and designed with glass doors that can be slid back to create al fresco dining.  The food is unquestionably authentic Italian and cosmopolitan as well.  Fresh pastas, pizzas, meats, seafood, antipasti and more.  But it was the pescatore that stole many of our hearts that night – prawns, scallops, Dungeness crab with fettucine in a white wine cream sauce.  Paired with Tsillan Cellars Estate Dry Riesling which brought the perfect hit of acidity to complement the seafood and sauce.  A very close second was the pistachio-crusted rack of lamb paired with the Estate Barbera.  And there we sat, watching another amazing sunset, this time from the other side of the lake, eating food and drinking wine in a style from another side of the world.

Yet, all of it, is quintessentially, unabashedly, 100% Lake Chelan.  It was a pleasure hosting the Netflix & Grill gang and sharing one of our favorite little pieces of the world with them.’

Way to show me up, Kevin. This is your last assignment.

I guess I will just add some photos.

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The top two photos are taken at Lake Chelan Winery, where Kevin’s dad Bob works (Bob turned 80 this week, so if you see him around wish him a Happy Birthday!). Like Kevin said, we enjoyed delicious BBQ and a few bottles of  Chelan Winery’s finest Malbec. The view was incredible and the weather amazing, providing an ambiance that is simply not available in June in the Midwest. Or any other month of the year.

The following photos were taken at Blueberry Hills – a locally owned and better version of Cracker Barrel – with an incredible view overlooking a vineyard and mountains. Our breakfasts truly were great, but the view enhances food by about 1000%.

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We also found some time to sneak into Manson, a touristy type of lake town located on Lake Chelan. We walked to the water, which I am told that even during the dog days of summer does not become warm enough to swim in. Now you are talking my language.

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During the afternoon we found our way to Lake Chelan Brewery were we enjoyed some flights of beer and the Eagles Greatest Hits Volume 1 (get bent, haters), which our bartender was spinning on vinyl. The only hiccup was that the McFadden’s favorite pizza joint, Local Myth Pizza, was closed for renovations. As a result, we had to slum it at Stormy Mountain Brewing for more delcious local beer and quite possibly the best nachos I have eaten in my 40s.

Nachos are the king of bar appetizers. Fight me.

 

Here are photos from the second evening and everything Kevin said about the hospitality, ambiance, quality of food AND of people is correct.

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There is not a bad seat at Sorrento’s – in fact the whole restaurant was open air (at least on the sides) and the food was nothing short of superb. If there is a better lamb dish in Ohio, I haven’t had it and us simple Midwestern folk just don’t have as many opportunities for the fresh seafood that comprised the pescatore. The photos do not do the scenery any justice, so if you see Megan tell her that me buying a good camera is a GREAT idea. Thanks again, Dr. Jankleson and Company!

On the third night, our group rested and chilled at Kevin and Leslie’s apartment. Well, Megan and Leslie chilled…Kevin and I cooked.

All of the food shown was purchased at Pike’s Market (which we will get into next entry). Megan thought I over purchased after buying a four pound Copper River Salmon along with a pound of Shrimp Cocktail and a pound of Scallops. She was wrong, it all worked out perfectly!

Night number four worked out perfectly as we headed north of Seattle to Camano Island, located on Pugent Sound, for a day in nature. On the way to Camano Island, we had every intention of hiking, but it was kind of rainy and Naked City Brewing was right there. We are only human.

The weather did clear up and then we traveled to the beach. If you haven’t been to the PNW, let me tell you…it’s MY kind of beaches.

 

Cool water, NO humidity and firewood for sale. Outstanding.

Our Airbnb wasn’t on the water, but overlooked the water. There was also no wi-fi, and no television. Disconnecting for the day felt great and this was perhaps the most relaxing part of our trip.

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Hamm’s at the beach. What’s not to like?

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After the sun went down, we retired to the inside of the cabin where Kevin took the lead and made a great dinner for Leslie’s birthday.

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Doesn’t everybody take their KitchenAid to the lake to make fresh pasta and homemade basil pesto?

Our final day with the McFadden’s saw Kevin and Leslie returning to the working world. Megan and I ubered to wineries around Woodinville (the tasting capital of the PNW – in my opinion at least) before meeting the McFaddens at Eye of the Needle Winery, where Kevin is employed, later in the evening for Leslie’s birthday celebration.

On our winery tour, Megan and I pit stopped at the Picnic Table and had the best deviled eggs the west side of the Cascades, along with some spectacular crab ravioli and rich and creamy cannoli.

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After our dinner it was time to go see Kevin at work, where Leslie’s birthday celebration awaited. Brianna even made an appearance!

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A nice touch were local musicians/husband and wife duo W Lovers honoring Megan and I with a cover of the Gillian Welch classic, ‘Ms. Ohio’. Thanks, W Lovers!

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Two more quick notes:

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If you are in the PNW, stop by Rio Vista Wines and try the Cab Franc and visit the house dog Rocky, who is literally the luckiest dog in the world. He gets to swim, climb mountains, sneak snacks and make friends all day, everyday. Good Boy.

Also, stop by Snoqualmie National Forest for some great scenery and waterfalls.

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Thanks again for everything Bob, Kevin, Brianna and Leslie! You were all awesome hosts and we can’t wait to be neighbors.

The Wetli’s Downtown Seattle entry will be published next week. Stay tuned and as always, thanks for reading!

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