Category: Personal

She’s Leaving Home, Bye Bye

August 23, 2012

I remember, long ago, telling my dad one of my dreams as he drove me to school.  I chattered on and on about the crazy images I had seen in my sleep and at the end of my long tale my dad told me, very kindly, “It’s not actually that interesting to listen to someone describe their dreams”.

I think this is why I haven’t written that much about our big move.  A bit perhaps but not a lot of what I am thinking/feeling/obsessing about.  I’m not sure that reading about my excitement, fears and sadness would be all that interesting.  This is a food blog after all.  If you visit here regularly, chances are that you are looking for healthy vegetarian food or decadent treats.  Or perhaps you like reading a bit about my life.  Moving is a personal thing but not in the same way that having a challenging child is personal.  Moving is kind of boring to talk about or read about.  It is even boring to think about, so I haven’t shared much.

But the move is imminent and here is the deal.  I think I have readied myself for the big things.  I’ve been saying goodbye to my favorite places and my favorite people for weeks now.  I feel like I have been blowing kisses to Seattle for months now.  I said goodbye to my parents on Thursday and my brothers, sister-in-law and niece and nephew on Sunday.  I’ve been going through our house room by room, getting rid of all the things that we no longer need or will not have room for in our new, and smaller, house.  Randy and I have signed paperwork to buy and sell houses and we have gotten our kids into school in Oakland.  We have mapped out our route to drive south and secured temporary housing while we wait for our new house to close.  This move has been pending since June and I feel ready.

Except that Monday night I went to tuck both boys into bed and I realized, just as I was wrapping my body around Spencer’s, that it was his last night in his room.  This room that also happens to be the one to which that we brought him home from the hospital.  The only room that has ever really been his.  Where there once was a crib and a tiny bundle swaddled tight, there is now a big boy bed with Spiderman sheets (although he prefers Batman) and a big boy who got tears in his eyes that he tried to hide from me when I told him it was his last night here.  I said, “Spencer, moving is one of the hardest things that people do.”  To which he asked, “Harder than fishing?”  I cannot tell you how welcome that smile felt on my lips, so close was I to really losing it.

It started to become clear to me in that moment and more so later on when I went in to gaze at both of them as they slept, that it is not just my family, my friends, my house, my career, and our beloved school that I am saying goodbye to.  I am also saying goodbye to my past.  I have deep roots in Seattle, having moved here when I was five years old and lived here almost ever since.  I have memories in just about every corner of this city.  I bump into people I know all the time, from all walks of my life.  I’m saying goodbye to that past but also the more immediate one.  The one where I fell in love with Randy or was newly married or my children were babies.  That past is more tangible and it is hard enough for me to say goodbye to that I held onto tiny diapers in Spencer’s room, although he weighs nearly 50 pounds and hasn’t worn a diaper in almost three years.

I am writing this post late at night.  There have been many many nights that I have sat up late writing and writing, the only time I can find in my day to get my thoughts and my recipes onto the blog.  I finish, shut everything down, turn off all the lights, and make my familiar way up to the boys’ rooms to make sure their blankets are covering their ever-growing bodies, and on into my room and off to bed.  The next day holds certainty.  Boys I will wrangle, people I will see, errands I will do, food I will cook, exercise I will endure.  Now we shift.  Uncertainty for the next bit.  Until a time, hopefully not in the too distant future, that we will settle into new routines, a new life.

We will take three days to drive south.  We will spend the morning of our tenth anniversary river rafting on the Rogue River and then sleep at a motel in Chico, California.  We hope to move into our house in the first week of September.  I am not sure when I will be back in real time, connected once again to this blog, but I have some posts planned in the interim.  I know this year has been the Year Of Blogging Hiatus.  I promise I will be back soon.

 

 



Slice of My Life – A Month in France

July 17, 2012

Hello Friends.  I have missed writing my slice of life posts.  I have missed sharing the silly little photos (and some not so silly) that represent my week.  I thought about just picking up where I left off, ignoring, for the moment, that I just spent a month in France.  But last week consisted of a 10½ hour flight back from Paris, jet lag, coming back to a house that I dearly love and that now seems palatial, and going through this house, room by room, purging us of excess stuff that we have accumulated in 5½ years.  And then an impromptu trip to Lopez Island.  It has already been a week of relief (so nice to be home), sadness (how can we leave this city and that island?), and being overwhelmed (will we find a house in Oakland? are we doing the right thing? will the moving part of the move ever be over?).  In other words, not a week to share in photos.

So, I’ll share my month is France instead.  To make it a little simpler for myself, these are all photos I took with my phone.  If you follow me on Instagram (I’m @danatreat), you might have already seen some of these.

In case you didn’t read this post, we stayed three weeks in a lovely town called Cagnes-sur-Mer.  We found our place using VRBO.  It’s the one with the red flowers.

This was the view from the tiny deck off the third floor.  (Yes, three floors, but each one had two small rooms.)

Cagnes-sur-Mer really consists of three parts and we lived in Haut de Cagnes, or high up on the hill.  There were four or five restaurants up there with a beautiful courtyard and a boule court over to one side.  The view was spectacular.  We tried a Vietnamese place (fair) and ate several times at a pizza place (good).  The boys could come sit for a few bites and then run around.  It was ideal.

Our days on the Côte d’Azur went one of two ways.  We either did a beach day in our town or we piled into the car for an adventure.  Either way, each morning the boys and I would walk down our steep hill to one of the two bakeries we liked best.  (There were at least five others in our little town.)  I would buy the days’ first baguette and they would get a treat.  Sometimes we would walk back up the hill and sometimes we would wait for the little bus to take us back up.

(This photo is actually taken at the little stop across the street from our place.)

Beach days included slathering on lots of sunscreen and then loading up our bag for the half hour walk to the beach.  It was HOT, especially the second two of the three weeks we were there.  But the breeze at the beach was lovely and the temperature of the water was perfect.  The boys would spend hours looking for sea glass, playing games with rocks and sticks, and playing in the waves.

The snack shack at my childhood neighborhood pool had things like Fudgesicles and bad frozen pizza.  This guy had crèpes, delicious paninis, freshly made salads, and amazing granitas.  When they were going to get their “drink” became a point of obsession on beach days.

Orange was their favorite.

If it was an adventure day, we walked down to the town parking lot and loaded up in our rental Peugot.  We always brought Veronique – the France friendly GPS sister to our American Veronica in our car at home.  Veronique made driving and finding our way around about as un-stressful as driving around an unfamiliar, and very crowded, region can be.  We would pick a place we wanted to visit and let her guide us there.  Mountain towns, beach towns, large cities, small villages – we saw a lot.

Vence was one of the first places we visited and it remains one of our favorite towns.  This was the only cloudy day in three weeks.

I mentioned this in my last post but this is the Matisse chapel.  No photos were allowed inside.  It is magical there.

Windy back roads and the view of Nice from on high.  Our poor boys walked with us all the way up on a very hot day but we rewarded them with this.

I had never seen a carousel as pretty as this one.

We spent a day gaping at the beauty and wealth in Monaco.  They have a terrific aquarium there but honestly, I don’t feel a need to go back.

Probably my favorite thing we did was drive to St. Raphaël and then catch a ferry to St. Tropez.  St. Tropez is on a peninsula so it is difficult to access by car.  We knew it would be ritzy and it was but it was also small and charming and very beautiful.  It was over 100ºF that day but ducking in and out of gorgeous (and blissfully air conditioned) shops made it bearable.  As did ice cream.

The ferry back.

We went to so many sweet towns.  This one was on our way to Cap Ferrat – Villefranche sur Mer.  We ate over-priced pizza and just stared at the view.

We saw a lot of art on our trip.  Matisse is prevalent throughout small towns along the Côte d’Azur and there is a particularly lovely museum in Nice.  There was a Renoir museum in our town and we loved the Chagall mueseum, also in Nice.  I had a poster of this painting on my wall throughout college, so seeing it in person was a real treat.

The boys were relatively patient on our adventures.  Not that there wasn’t complaining.  We had to keep reminding ourselves that they are 7 and 5 years old and wandering through mountain towns in search of table linens is not really what they wanted to be doing.  So in addition to the beach days, we did two days at water parks – Aqualand and Aquasplash.  If you ask the boys, this was their favorite thing we did in France.

I just have to include this photo of Spencer.  This was our view of him for much of this vacation.  Long board shorts and just a peek of butt crack.  No matter how many times we pulled up his bathing suit, this was how it looked.

On many days, the walk back up the hill, or the ride up in a hot and crowded bus, was just too much to face.  So we would pause in the town square and enjoy a  beer (or an apple juice).

After three weeks, our time in southern France came to an end.  We celebrated our last night by getting dressed up and eating dinner at our favorite place on the top of the hill.

And then we went to Paris.

Where we rode the ferris wheel in the Tuileries.

Which is right next to the Louvre.

We went to Euro Disney – the boys’ first trip to a Disneyland park.

We went to the Musée d’Orsay where the boys lasted a full two hours before staging a full-on protest.

We ate felafel.  For an hour after lunch, Graham kept exclaiming, “That was SO GOOD!”  I was a proud mama.  Even Spencer said, “I tried that brown thing and it tasted good.”

This was our view from the living room window.

And this was the last picture I took before we slept our last night in France.



From France, With Love

June 22, 2012

On Monday, June 11th, our little family woke up at the usual time. We ate breakfast and finished putting toothbrushes, stuffed animals, medications, snacks, and all manner of necessary things in our suitcases and backpacks. A lovely friend who is staying in our house while we are gone, came to get keys, information about garbage and mail, and where to get coffee and all manner of Tangletown things (that is the name of our neighborhood). And then, before we could really wrap our brains around it, we were off the airport for the long day and night of travel to France.

I realize that loving food and loving France is kind of cliche. There are a lot of Francophiles in the world. But France has been an important part of my life for much of my life, so I’d like to talk about France and what it has meant to me in my almost 42 years. I went for the first time when I was just under a year old. My parents tell the story of packing a full suitcase full of Pampers, because they were unavailable in Europe in 1971, and also of me making lots of noise in museums and eating tons of French fries. They went on to take me to numerous other countries over the course of a 3 week trip when you really could do Europe on $10/day, and I remember none of it.

The next time I went, I was 16 years old, on a bike with a group from my high school, three months riding along country roads, sleeping in tents, eating more bread and chocolate than I ever thought possible, and really truly, learning the language and also learning to love the French. We rode through the castles in the Loire Valley; the apple orchards of Normandy; startled goats off treacherous roads in Corsica (and had two solid weeks of sunshine); had snow-capped mountains as our constant companions through the Alps,; and tried to remember why it was that we chose the region of Auvergne, in the Massif Central mountains, until we came upon the Gorge du Tarn – a place so wild and beautiful that we frequently had to get off our bikes to just stare.

My next visit was when I was a junior in college and spent a semester in Paris. I decided that, in order to make the most of my 5 months and to learn the most Franch possible, I should live with a French person. My college teamed me up with a woman doctor who, for reasons unknown to me, was so depressed that she never left the apartment, had a dog named Ginger who would shit in the hallways, and who would give one sole dinner party the whole time I was there, telling me I had to stay in my room while the guests were there, and then would leave every single dish and platter in the kitchen for weeks so that, when I came in from class, I would have to cover my face with my shirt so the stench of rotting food wouldn’t make me sick. It is a true testament to the wonders of Paris, its beauty and the amazing food, that I left after that semester vowing to someday return.

Somehow, it took another 12 years for the next visit to France. Randy and I did a quick two nights in Paris on the tail end of our honeymoon in Spain. I was coming off some terrible bug that made me grateful that you can buy antibiotics over the counter in Europe. We made our way to a horrible hotel in the Latin quarter and ate the foil pouch of peanuts available in our room for dinner. That was about all my stomach could handle. But the next day, while Randy went to a business meeting, I walked the streets and eventually found myself in a brasserie, trying out my once quite-good but now-rusty French, and ordering a sandwich that had thin slices of hard-boiled egg, mayonnaise, tomato, and lettuce, on the perfect half of a baguette. I could not believe how good it tasted.

Soon after we were married, Randy and I moved to London for a year, and I went to France no fewer than 4 times that year. The last time was as we were getting ready to move back to the States. We flew to Paris, rented a car, and took our time driving down to Provence, with stops in the Loire Valley, Lyon, and my beloved and still-as-magnificent-as-I-remembered Gorge du Tarn, before meeting up with friends at a villa on a hillside covered with lavender. I was 22 weeks pregnant with Graham. I had felt his first kick sitting and waiting for our luggage in the Charles de Gaul airport. I brought a maternity bathing suit which I used daily at the pool onsite, and one cookbook, Patricia Wells’ The Provence Cookbook, and from that lovely book, I made dinners for a group of 8 every night. We all took the train back to Paris after our magical week and the group watched Llance Armstrong win his 6th Tour de France at the Arc de Triomphe on, or maybe the day before, my birthday. Randy went with me to an art gallery on the Ile St. Louis where my mom and I had seen some amazing paintings on a trip to Paris earlier than spring and, without me  knowing about it, he bought me a painting and had it shipped home. It is my favorite painting in our house, to date.

The next time I went to France, I was the mother of two, and getting ready to celebrate my 40th birthday. It was a seven year dream to go to Paris and buy copper pots and while I did buy a most beautiful copper double boiler (which I have only used a handful of times because it is so beautiful), I also got to go to Cannes on the Cote d’Azur – a region, in all my time spent in France, that I had never visited.

(Our beautiful street for 3 weeks.)

And here I am again. 3 weeks in Cagnes-sur-Mer. A small town between Cannes and Nice. Small enough that it is easy to find our way around, large enough that almost everything we need is here in our town. Including a beach. We have been here a little over a week and have already done day trips to Nice and Antibes, the hill towns of Vence and Grasse, as well as a day at the water park known as Aqualand, in addition to plenty of time spent at our town’s somewhat rocky but still totally acceptable, beach. We visited the small chapel that Matisse was commissioned to create the murals and stained glass for – a chapel I remember studying for my term paper on Matisee in senior year art history, and when my little family and I walked inside, I immediately started to cry. Seeing such works of beauty in person, when you never thought you would actually see them, can be very overwhelming.

The Cote d’Azur is warm. Hot even. Our little place is sweet and, um, little. We are almost at the top of a hill of such epic proportions that we usually opt into taking the free shuttle (the Navette) to it each day. I have been cooking dinner almost every night. It’s not so much that I am inspired by the produce, which – truly – I am not, but that it is relaxing for us to be at home and not trying to figure out whether the boys should eat pizza or pasta for the umpteenth time. At home, we vegetarians can make sure we are getting nourished. It’s not that bad for me – I am happy with salads, but my kids, especially Spencer, are having a harder time. My little kitchen has two burners and I am putting them to work, mostly making simple, but delicious, things. Polenta with cream and Comte cheese stirred into it and topped with homemade ratatouille, omelettes with sautéed mushrooms and radicchio, lots of salad, curried couscous with Le Puy lentils and chickpeas, tagliatelle with goat cheese, oil cured olives, and basil. Nothing fancy but all delicious, made even more so by the fact that we are depleted by the sun and by all the beauty we are seeing each day.

We still hope to see St. Tropez and Monaco. We need to check out the chateau at the top of our extremely steep hill because the town’s Renoir exhibit is temporarily housed there. We might get on a train for a day trip. We might not. We might go to a relatively nearby town in Italy for the Saturday market. We might not. We are going to eat a lot more pizza and a LOT more bread. Spencer has decided that he likes goat cheese and pizza with olives on it and that is more than I could have hoped for him. Graham ate most of a cheese crepe without being too sure about it and I am proud of him for that. They have already been on a 100 year old carousel and, if you asked them, them are hoping for more beach time, more carousels, and more ice cream.

Randy and I have had time to process all that awaits us when we return home. I have already freaked out a couple of times. Being far from home can sometimes make me crave home – stability and things that are known instead of unknown. We will return to Seattle and a brief lull of calm before jumping into a full blown move and throwing our comfortable worlds into chaos. There has been some second guessing, some tears, and finally, the very real thought that this move is the best thing for us at this time. How do you reconcile feelings of caution? When do you say ok, I am just feeling anxious about this big change and when do you say, this is too much for me? That question is what kept me awake for the first 5 nights we were here. Ultimately, I am choosing to move beyond the doubt and celebrate the positive. A friend asked us, as we were trying to make the decision about whether or not to move to San Francisco, if we would regret it someday if we did NOT move. I have come back to that question time and time again. When we were trying to decide whether or not to move to London, I was having a hard time with that decision. Now, looking back 9 years later, there has never been a moment when I have thought, “Wow, we should never have moved to London.” I get it – this is different, kids and schools and jobs and buying and selling homes and 3+ years vs. 1 year makes it all different. But I can’t help but think that if we don’t go, we will both regret it.

We have another week and a half in Cagnes-sur-Mer and then we head to the Nice airport and fly to Paris. We will have six nights there. I hope to do another Cote d’Azur post before we leave. I am having a heck of a time uploading photos so I’m sorry there aren’t more in this post. If you are on Instagram, I am @danatreat and I post photos each day. A bientot!



Big News

June 9, 2012

Here was my plan for this post.  I was going to tease you with a photo of some delicious artichoke hearts braised in white wine.  I have made them several times in the past few weeks and people love them.  My dad, who loves food but doesn’t really, um, connect food with recipes, remarked to my mom, “You have to get this recipe!”  I planned to give it but I’m running out of time.

You see, my little family and I are in the midst of packing shorts and bathing suits and sunscreen and lots of snacks for a very long airplane ride to France.  We leave Monday.  We will spend three weeks in Cagnes-sur-Mer, a small town not far from Cannes.  It has a beach, a big hill, and from the photos, it looks just about perfect.  We will hit the beach, drive to other beaches, go to lots of markets, buy some table linens, eat a lot, drink a lot, and ponder our next step.

Because the next step is that we are moving to the Bay area.  Soon after Randy’s company started to spiral downward, he started interviewing.  He flew all over the country and met with many different companies.  We both wanted to try and stay in Seattle but we also knew that a move was a possibility.  Randy has lived all over the place and moving is not as scary to him as it is to me.  So it is really to his credit that he was committed to finding something in my hometown.  However, early on he interviewed with a terrific company in San Francisco and they wanted him.  They told him as much and within a week they offered him a job with a very compelling package.  We hemmed and hawed.  Great job, city we love, but not the city that is our home.  So we waited.  Randy explored all his options.  At one point, he had 27 different companies he was talking to and a spread sheet to keep them all straight.  The company in San Francisco was patient.  We went down to visit in order to try and answer the question – can we really live here?  And we came back saying yes.

But of course, the decision wasn’t as easy as that.  We give up a lot by leaving Seattle.  My family is here.  I have an incredible network of amazing friends – we both do.  We love our kids’ school.  I teach cooking classes out of my home and I work in an amazing bookstore where I get to cook out of people’s books and get paid for it – there is no re-creating that anywhere else.  I love my house, we are comfortable here.  But.  I don’t pray but sometimes I do feel the need to put things out there to the Universe and this was one of those times.  While I was away at my college reunion, I did a lot of thinking.  And a lot of talking.  Randy and I spoke on the phone several times a day and then went away to sit alone with our own thoughts.  I boarded a plane to come back to Seattle knowing that, while I was in the air, Randy was going to get an email with the company’s final package.  Maybe they would sweeten the deal a little bit, maybe they wouldn’t.  But it was time to make a decision.  My plane landed, I checked my email, and they had indeed continued the pattern of generosity.  So I called Randy and said, “Let’s do it.”  He asked if I was sure and I said yes in a very small voice.

That was last Monday.  I have felt, over the course of this week, an incredible sense of relief.  The strain of making the decision was over and I could focus on the next tasks at hand, and also start to get excited about the good things coming our way with a move.  A much better climate, an incredible food scene, new friends, new adventures to have and places to explore.  I was feeling pretty good.  And then yesterday was the last day of school for both boys and I had a bit of a breakdown.  I’m feeling better now, back to being excited.  BlogHer Food is happening this weekend and I have reconnected with friends who live in the Bay area, I feel sure I will have a network soon after moving in.  I am most nervous about the school situation, but the company has someone who can help us with all of that.

Our plan is to move to Oakland before school starts on August 22nd.  We return from France on July 9th so this will be no small task.  Our mid-late summer will be consumed by packing and saying many many goodbyes to people we love.  There will be a househunting trip in there as well when the boys will see San Francisco for the first time.  I am grateful that we have this incredible trip planned, where we can sit and reflect, plan and ruminate, all in the presence of terrific food and wine, and the beautiful French language.

It is my hope that I will be able to post while in France.  Our apartment in Cagnes-sur-Mer has wi-fi and I will be cooking, eating, and photographing the whole time.  If I am silent, you will know that I am just opting for another hour on the beach rather than in front of the computer.  Onward!

 



Walla Walla, Washington

May 11, 2012

If you have heard of the town of Walla Walla, it is probably for one of these reasons:

1)  You read Tom Robbins’ Still Life with a Woodpecker in which he mentions that the Native Americans named the city and “walla” means water.  He goes on to say, and I am paraphrasing here, that if that tribe had continued on to much wetter Seattle, we might have been called Walla Walla Walla Walla.

2)  You grew up in Washington State.

3)  You or someone you know went to Whitman College.

4)  You are a wine drinker.

As a matter of fact, all four of these points apply to me.  In all the years I have lived in Washington (lots) and all the years I have loved to drink wine (lots), I had never visited Walla Walla.  It is in the southeastern corner of the state – about a four hour drive from Seattle and not really on the way to anywhere.  But it is the wine capital of our state and in the past ten years, it has grown from a sleepy farm community with a small wine community and a terrific liberal arts college, to a true destination.

Back in February, the Walla Walla Wine Alliance sent me an invitation to take part in a promotion that they were doing called February Foodies.  I could go to Walla Walla, stay in a nice hotel, go wine tasting, and choose from any number of wonderful restaurants to have my meals.  Sadly, I couldn’t go because Randy was teaching skiing on Saturdays and I didn’t want to go by myself.  They graciously offered to have me come at a time that did work and just a few weekends ago, my little family packed up the car, and set out on an adventure.

So many of our friends make annual trips to the region and we knew we were in for a treat.  My parents now drive out of their way when they go to Sun Valley so they can stay at the lovely Marcus Whitman hotel and eat well in one of the many great restaurants in town.  Now we understand why and we can’t wait to go back.

We loaded up our kids, along with plenty of snacks, some books on CD, and various video distractions and headed out on a Friday morning.  We have traveled plenty with our children but have not taken a long road trip.  We weren’t sure how they would do but they were terrific.  We listened to music, to stories, sang songs, and carried on a continuing negotiation about the snacks.  (My children seem to be capable of eating a tremendous amount when we travel.)  I won’t say the 4+ hours flew by but they went much more quickly and pleasantly than we anticipated.

We had a whole itinerary planned for us with stops at three wineries, a goat cheese farm, and two dinners, but we couldn’t resist a stop at an additional winery.  Randy and I have long loved the wines coming out of L’Ecole No. 41 – one of the original Walla Walla wineries.  The tasting room is housed in an old schoolhouse and a charming child’s drawing of the building used to be on the label of all their bottles.  Now that they are distributing to all 50 states, they have changed to a more, um, sophisticated label but Randy and I both miss the old one.  The wine continues to be lovely and fairly priced.

We literally started laughing out loud when we saw that the tasting, in which you got to try 6 different wines, was $5.  It looks like we are never going back to Napa.  They also had a little chalkboard to occupy the boys.  (Spencer has a perpetual plumber’s crack going.)

After that pit stop, we drove right into the center of town to our hotel, a beauty of an old building called the Marcus Whitman.  The lobby has high soaring ceilings and it is decorated beautifully.  It is a little on the dark side, so I wasn’t able to get a good photo of it, but I love that old style glamor.  We had a great room, a suite with both a king and queen bed in separate rooms, so the boys were able to sleep and so were we.  That first night we were treated to an incredible meal at the restaurant in the hotel called the Marc.

(Warm cookies available in the lobby along with juice and coffee.)

In all the eating out I have done in my life (a lot), I had never done a chef’s table before.  I really had no idea what to expect.  How many people would be there?  Would the food be served family style?  What does chef’s table mean exactly?  In our case, we had a table smack dab in the middle of the kitchen, just the two of us, and two completely separate five course tasting menus.  The chef made my all vegetarian and he treated Randy to scallops, pork, and beef – all things he loves.  Between the amuse bouche and the angel food cake dessert and including all the food in between, we were both blown away by the quality of the food and the experience.  The sommelier paired wines with each course and took the time to really tell us about each wine and why he paired it.  We left vowing to bring friends back for another round of amazing food and wine perhaps in the fall.

The next day was a full one.  After a delicious breakfast at the hotel (which is included in the cost – as is parking), we headed over to the beautiful Whitman College campus to take a look around.

(Waterbrook Winery.  They have a lovely deck where they served us a great taco lunch.)

There was a big bike race going on, so we got to watch them zoom by on our way.  We went to two beautiful wineries, Waterbrook and Dunham, and also went to visit a farm where they make goat cheese and got to taste all the goodies in all three places.

(Monteillet Fromagerie.  We got to taste six different cheeses and they were all delicious.)

The landscape in Walla Walla is absolutely stunning in a way that is so different from Seattle.  The Cascade mountains separate western Washington from eastern Washington and they effectively split the state into two different climates and landscapes.  West is wet, green, very hilly, and mild.  East is dry, brown, flat, and more extreme in temperature.  Walla Walla in the spring is incredibly beautiful.  Impossibly green crops against impossibly blue sky and beautiful weather.  We all really enjoyed driving along their country roads.

But for being smack dab in the middle of nowhere, Walla Walla is an impressively cosmopolitan town.  Part of that has to do with the college being there and part of it has to do with the approximately 140 wineries in the region.  Some of the best wine in the country is being made there and where there is good wine, there is good food and culture.  We had another really nice dinner the second night at T Maccarone’s.  The “T” is for Tom and he is the owner and head chef of the restaurant.  He also waited on us that night and made us feel very welcome in his bustling restaurant.  (It was prom night – that made for some great people watching.)

The next day, we hit two more wineries, Va Piano and Pepperbridge, before grabbing a quick lunch and getting back on the road to Seattle.  As we left, the boys said, “Bye bye Walla Walla!  We will miss you!”  It really was a great little trip and the boys are still talking about Walla Walla and how much they liked it.  I wondered why, what it was specifically that they liked so much.  According to them, ages 7 and 5, they liked Walla Walla because of the hotel and they liked the hotel because of the beds and the “delicious breakfast”.  Clearly, they are my children.

(Full disclosure:  The Walla Walla Wine Alliance paid for our hotel, dinners, and wine tasting at Waterbrook, Dunham, and Va Piano.  Also the goat cheese tasting.  All the opinions and enthusiasm are my own.)



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