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Walla Walla 2017: Relaxation

Day 2 – Saturday, May 27, 2017

Saturday morning Lelani and I were both up early (I mean remember I had basically slept the entire day before!), so we took a walk around the neighborhood and just enjoyed the quiet morning.

Historic Sharpstein Manor, Walla Walla

 

Historic Home, now apartments

We got back, had the hotel breakfast, relaxed some on the hotel patios, and then the whole gang wandered over to Bacon and Eggs for cocktails.  When on vacation you might as well go heavy on the relaxing!  We all enjoyed cocktails – I had a Grapefruit Mimosa – YUM!  Then we did a bit of shopping (Walla Walla has some really cool little shops), and found a shop called Trove that Paula loved, because their logo is a Fleur de Lis.  She loves Fleur de Lis, and Trove had some really cute stuff!  We also went to the farmer’s market, and checked out all the fresh produce and craft items. I got a pair of earrings and a pendant made from recycled glass bottles. They are gorgeous! Sadly, I broke one of the earrings (turns out glass earrings don’t fare too well when dropped on concrete), but I have been using the second earring as another pendant for now. Next time I am there I will be sure to get another pair of earrings – or several!

My Grapefruit Mimosa at Bacon and Eggs

We also went to the Museum of Unnatural History. It is a tiny little place, created and run by a guy named Gerry Matthews with a very strange and creative imagination. He spent his career working in the film and commercial industry.  Most notably, he was the voice of Sugar Bear, the mascot for Sugar Crisp cereal – now known as Golden Crisp.  I am sure everybody my age remembers the voice!  He then retired to Walla Walla and created this museum, a play on the many Museums of Natural History… Let me just say, Wow. There was just so much bizarre going on in such a small space…  The exhibits are – well, there are just no words.  He was there when we visited and he was happy to answer questions or dialogue about his creations…  Lelani and Joel LOVED it! Paula HATED it! Brandon and I were fairly neutral. Let’s just say I won’t be decorating my home in any of his motifs.  It just goes to show that we all have different tastes, and different creative minds.  If you want to visit, it is free (he accepts donations), worth a visit, and clearly a labor of love, but it is only open Saturdays from 10-2 or by appointment.  If you do go, I guarantee you won’t leave without an opinion! Keep in mind, I limited my photos here to the PG-13 stuff, but there is A LOT more to see.

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Saturday afternoon we went to the Morrison Lane tasting room. Morrison Lane is a family run winery, owned and operated by my friend Shawn and his family.  Shawn has been the winemaker for several years now, and the wines are delicious; I especially enjoyed the Rosé, the Syrah, and the Carmenere.  The bottles have artwork depicting the Lewis Chessmen, a group of 12th century chess pieces that were discovered at the Lewis Bay in Scotland in 1831. I love the tie in to history with the labels! Both Shawn and his parents are kind and personable, and love speaking with guests about their wine; we sat around for a while chatting and revisiting some of the wines.

Saturday evening we went over to Shawn’s house for his 50th birthday.  A backyard BBQ with amazing food; chicken skewers with peanut sauce, Thai noodle salad, pasta salad and lots of local beer and wine. We sat around talking and enjoying the hot Eastern Washington evening.  There was laughter – a lot of laughter – of the “what happens in Walla Walla stays in Walla Walla” variety!

 

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2014 Elizabeth Chambers Pinot Gris

I visited Elizabeth Chambers Cellar by accident a couple of years ago. I was looking for a different winery, which used to occupy the historic power plant building in McMinnville, Oregon.  Well, the other winery wasn’t there, and this one was, so I stopped in for a taste… And brought home a couple of bottles.

So the Pinot Gris… Amazing!  This wine is less sweet than the typical Oregon Pinot Gris; Elizabeth Chambers keeps the residual sugar levels to less than one tenth of 1% in their Pinot Gris, resulting in a bone-dry wine.

The wine has flavors of lemon and pineapple, with bright acidity and minerality. The Winemaker’s Notes say: Aromas of orange peel and passion fruit lead into zesty flavors of lemon peel and grapefruit, showcasing bright acidity and an engaging citrus and tropical fruit character.  The wine’s elegant finish reveals hints of pear and Crenshaw melon.

The finish lingers on the tongue. It is excellent.  Sadly the 2014 is sold out, but the 2015 and 2016 are still available!

If you have a chance to visit their tasting room, do!  The atmosphere is lively and fun, and the historic building has so much character!

Art Brut 2011 Blanc de Blancs

As it is just a few days before Christmas, I wanted to treat myself, so I got a lobster tail and cooked it up alongside a medley of baked vegetables.  And what goes better with seafood than sparkling wine!

The ART BRUT 2011 Blanc de Blancs is a sparkling wine made in the methode Champenoise style by winemaker Chris Berg at Roots Wine Company.  It is named after the art genre Art Brut, also known as Outsider Art, Raw Art or Visionary Art.  It is a Blanc de Blancs, made from 100-percent Chardonnay sourced from the Sienna Ridge Estate in Red Hills.

Art Brut 2011 Blanc de Blancs – Roots Wine Company

Upon first opening the wine, there was a heavy taste of yeast and I worried that I had waited too long, but it settled down after about a half hour.  It is delicious – with just a bit of tartness balanced with the creamy Chardonnay light butter flavors.  The bubbles had mellowed after years in the bottle, but it still had enough to give that sparkling wine effervescence.  It paired very well with the lobster too!

I don’t remember the price I paid, but I think this wine was about $30.  I purchased it at the Bubbles Fest sparkling wine festival hosted by Anne Amie Winery in the Willamette Valley a few years back. It’s an awesome wine event, if you have the chance to go!

If you are a fan of charitable giving with your wine drinking, you will be pleased to know that a portion of the profits from all sales of ART BRUT wines were donated to the American Art Therapy Association.  Plus, it has horses on the bottle, and that is always a positive (even if they are heavily stylized)!

This wine is sold out, and I’m not sure that the winery is making sparkling wine anymore; all the sparkling wines on their website are from 2010 and 2011 and seem to be sold out.  Perhaps it is a wine I’ll never have again, and that’s too bad!

Happy Holidays – I hope you are all well…

MAN Family Wines: 2016 Chenin Blanc

The MAN Family Wines 2016 Chenin Blanc is one that I picked up a few weeks ago at Cost Plus World Market, when I was on my way home from my business meeting.  It is South African, which is a country whose wines I haven’t explored that much.

I opened it several days ago, my pre-Thanksgiving wine to enjoy.  On the nose, this wine has aromas of pineapple and lemongrass.  The flavor is similar, beginning with a tart flavor of lemongrass, then settling into tropical fruit and pineapple, and finally, a floral note on the finish.  It certainly meets the winery description of a sweet and sour wine.

MAN Family Wines 2016 Chenin Blanc

Interestingly the winery uses only free run juice – they do not press the skins.  I don’t really know how that is supposed to make a difference, as it doesn’t seem common to have a wine made exclusively from free-run juice.  At any rate, it is a steal at only $6.99!  Delicious!

A World Tour Bucket List Checkoff!

People who follow this blog know that I have a horse.  Not only that, but I grew up with horses.  My parents were foolish enough to ask me if I wanted to go to Pony Camp when I was 7.  Umm… Yeah!!!!  It was just that quick.  The horse fever was in my blood.

Growing up around stables and horse shows pretty much guarantees you will either love country music, or you are going to die trying.  Country music is all over in the horse industry, so you are going to hear it everywhere.  And so I love it.

I first heard Garth Brooks when I was in middle school, as his first album came out in the spring of 1989.  Between 1989 and 2001, when he announced his retirement from country music, I am sure I have heard and know the lyrics to every single song…  He is now back from retirement, and has released a few new albums since 2014.  I know these albums less, but he’s still got that way of singing that draws people to his music.  It is raw and approachable, and he sings from the heart.  So many of his songs bring a tear to my eye when I hear them even now.

So imagine my excitement when a friend asked if I wanted to go see him live in concert on his World Tour!

Me waiting for the Garth Brooks World Tour!

 

Waiting for the show to start

We made a day of it with friends, leaving home around 9 am, getting lunch when we got there and then finding our way to the stadium around 12:30 for the 2 pm show.

The show was amazing!  He is such a showman.  He is funny and jokes with audience, and he has such great appreciation for his fans.  He is so high energy!  He sang mostly old songs, and rocked the house!  I sang along to all of them, and had so much fun, even though my friends were much more subdued than I was.  I was standing almost the whole time!  His wife, Trisha Yearwood, also performed, both with him and on her own, and seeing her was awesome too!

Trisha Yearwood Live

 

Garth Brooks Live!

After the show we started for home and stopped for dinner at The Beach Cafe in Kirkland.  We had the Roasted Brussels Sprouts appetizer, which came out under cooked and very firm.  We asked about the dish and they were so kind to re-do it for us and took the entire thing off the bill!  You don’t see service like that much anymore…  The second batch of Brussels Sprouts was amazing!  I also had the Blackened Shrimp Tacos and clam chowder with an Italian Pinot Grigio called Prendo.  It was delicious!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts at the Beach Cafe

 

My shrimp tacos at the Beach Cafe

I got home about 10 pm, tired but very, very happy!  This was such a bucket list thing for me!

And if you have the chance to see Garth on his World Tour – do it!  It is amazing!

 

 

German Monkey Wine

I was away at a quarterly business meeting for the last few days…  On the way home, I stopped by Cost Plus World Market to check things out.  I love a visit from time to time – candles, home decor, cute girly stuff, those awesome stuffed green olives.  And wine!  You know – necessities…

Unbeknownst to me, they had started their holiday wine sale!  What’s better than wine?  Wine on sale!!!  So I stocked up and bought a bunch of wines I haven’t tried before.

This one I bought purely based the the label.  Because well, it’s awesome.  I mean really, a gold embossed monkey wrapped around the bottle – when are you going to see that?!  Oh, and my friend told me I had to get it too.  That.

Without further ado, I bring you German Monkey Wine…

Affentaler Valley of the Monkey Pinot Noir

Otherwise known as Affentaler Valley of the Monkey Pinot Noir.  I will admit that when I first opened this wine, I was not impressed.  I was prepared to write it off as simply a cool bottle to turn into a holder for my tealight tree.  But after it had a chance to breathe for a bit, it got better.  It has flavors of dark cherry, earth and tobacco.

For $10.99 a bottle, it was a decent Pinot Noir.  At that price I would probably get it again…  If you do, remember to let it breathe for a little while…

Grapefruit Mimosa!

I have been on a little bit of a grapefruit mimosa kick…

I was at Trader Joe’s a few weeks ago, and picked up this bottle.  Not knowing what to expect, I put it in the cart…  I think it was $5.99.  I opened it early last week, and wow…  Grapefruit mimosa in a bottle!  It was a little sweet, a little tart, with that slightly bitter grapefruit kick.  Delicious!  I would absolutely get it again, for morning mimosas – easy peasy!

Pompelini Grapefruit Secco

This weekend friends were visiting from down south, so brunches!  This morning I had an amazing Grapefruit Mimosa at brunch…  Our server apologized for having run out of flutes, but I was perfectly happy to see the pint glass full of tasty mimosa goodness.

Grapefruit Mimosa deliciousness

 

What a great weekend!