Sunday, March 31, 2013

Travel Experiences - A Couple of Days in Walla Walla

Really not sure why I have never blogged about the places we travel...we always have incredible adventures and that is totally a focus of this blog. It could be that I do not take very good pictures, and it also could be that when we return we are so busy the luxury and relaxation of the vacation was thrown out the window. Do you ever feel that way?

Any way, we love traveling and though we do spend a large amount of our travels in Mexico, we have been expanding my horizons and visiting our fabulous country as well.

For many reasons we decided to head out to Walla Walla, Washington for a quick couple of days. There are a couple of things we always do upon booking a trip.

1. Where are we going to stay? Some place near restaurants, sites, etc. If we can walk, all the better.
2. Where are we going to eat? Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, have they visited? Bobby Flay, has he done a throw down? Foodnetwork locations? Where do locals eat? Where is there an amazing happy hour, brunch, late night eats? 
3. Wineries? Breweries? Distilleries? Creameries?
4. Is the town dog friendly? Can we come back and visit again with Brinks?

What stood out to me over and over again about Walla Walla was, EVERYONE was so NICE! Really, not lying, not even exaggerating one little bit.

We started out with a visit to Col Solare, a winery located in Benton City, Washington. This is a location I have always wanted to visit. It was even better than could be expected. Red Mountain is a gorgeous area and Kari, who did our tour and tasting was incredible.

Visit Col Solare's website here. They are an incredible collaboration between a 200 year plus wine making legendary family, the Antinori's, and Ste Michelle Wine Estates. Visit. Try the Wine. And, have a serious moment of Silky-Smooth-Incredibly-Gorgeous-Wine. 



They also have a second label, Shining Hill, which is also fabulous.

We then found our way to Walla Walla. With not much of a plan we made our way to a recommended bar/restaurant for a snack and some drinks. We found Marcy's.



Upon mentioning that we were from out of town and from Oregon, we were quickly flooded with recommendations on were to eat, wines to try, etc. Also, a fabulously hilarious conversation about how strange Enchanted Forest is.

It was happy hour - check out their specials, they run food/beverage specials, something different every night. We ordered the hummus and chicken tacos on the happy hour menu. Both were wonderful. We also had a couple of drinks. Scott tried a Washington beer, Manny's pale ale and I tried two different wines from Proletariat, the Viognier and Bordeaux Blend. Both were great.

After Marcy's we walked around Main St. a little more and ventured into Olive. A great upscale deli that had fresh food and wonderful drinks. The atmosphere is cozy, they have an outside patio area, and tables and couches which are great for catching up on work - there's free wifi.

At Olive I discovered a new Rose that I am in love with - Renegade Wine Companies, Columbia Valley Rose. Sleight of Hand Wine Company makes the wine. It is 76% Syrah, 20% Mouvedre, and 4% Cinsault, gorgeous fresh strawberry, cranberry fruit flavors and a dry finish.


Finally, we had dinner at a swanky little restaurant called Whitehouse Crawford. The industrial space, mixed with the warm tables was fabulous and the food was fantastic. We started out with the most amazing pierogi that was an appetizer special. Scott had the tenderloin which was cooked perfectly. I had the scallops and they were wonderful.



The next day we started out with breakfast at a multiple time recommended joint called Bacon and Eggs. Super delicious, fabulous mimosa, and quite affordable. We tried two of their house favorites recommended by the incredibly nice waitress - the Migas and Huevos Con Chorizo, they did not disappoint, not even a little. Check out their logo:



How cute is that?!!


After driving around a bit, we made it to another Ste Michelle property called Northstar. They are known for their Merlots, however, they also make an incredible Cab Franc and Cab Sav. The facility was gorgeous and I could imagine spending a chilly winter afternoon in front of the fire and a fabulous sunny summer outside on the patio.

Cozy, gorgeous fireplace inside Northstar.

Check out the mountain in the background.
After Northstar we needed a snack, so we headed back to Olive to try out the food. I again ordered the Rose and Scott got a beer. The food was amazing - we had a woodfired pizza and shared a salad. A nice little snack before we moved on to the next winery - Charles Smith Wines.


Their space in Walla Walla is incredible. Super industrial and raw.

I knew I had tried some of their wines, but discovered another tier of their wines that does not make it out much in distribution called the K Vintners line. Everything was incredible and their Syrah tastes unlike any other I have tried before. It was fruity, a little spicy and earthy like I expect a Syrah to be, but it was smooth and delicate unlike I am used to seeing out of a Syrah. Their Bronco, which is under the Charles Smith label, a rich Malbec was also a favorite. Check out the bottle:

Charles Smith fell in love so much with a trip, article, and band (I believe)
that he used the art work for the label for the Broncho
(this, if memory serves me right was the band)

Perhaps though, the best part of our visit to Walla Walla was meeting Christin at Charles Smith. She not only did a wonderful tasting for us, educating us on the brand, wines, and style, but she also provided us with an incredible wealth of knowledge on Walla Walla. Thank you Christin, cannot wait to see you again!

If you are looking for an affordable line of great wines, Charles Smith Wines does distribute nationally their Charles Smith Wine line. Here are a few:

Syrah

Riesling

Chardonnay
      
That evening we had dinner at Brasserie Four. Great atmosphere. On Tuesday evenings we learned they have fondue night. The fondue selection looked great, but the mussels were what I was there for. And, for the price, you cannot ask for a better selection - except maybe the boeuf bourguignon that Scott ordered and loved. The mussels were perfection in the spicy garlic tomato sauce (they have two sauces to choose from) and served with frites. Delicate and fresh. A great, cozy, casual, warm end to a great day.

This is a picture borrowed from their Facebook page,
it is the bar/counter area.


The next day we just made one more stop, Maple Counter Cafe, which was highly recommended. Great breakfast and knowledgeable staff. Super large portions and great service. I had the Mushroom Omelet which was light and fluffy and Scott tried one of their highly recommended eggs benedicts. A sure to not miss, plus they serve breakfast all day.


As we headed out of town, we realized just how much we liked the town. One thing that continued to stick in our minds as we finished out the rest of our week at home was how nice the people were, I mean really, How Nice The People Were! I do not remember the last time I have left a place and felt the same way.

Walla Walla is booming people - now don't all rush there at once, but the next time you are itching for a long weekend or some time drinking great wines and eating fabulous food, consider Walla Walla, pretty sure you will not be disappointed.

Where have you vacationed recently?

Was it fabulous? Why? or...Why, Not?