Even with a VIP ticket gaining me an extra hour, I barely put a dent on the selection of fine food and wine at the 16th annual Taste Washington.
The two day event is the largest single-region wine and food event in the United States, so it comes as no surprise that dilly dallying isn’t the most strategical approach.
Upon being reminded that it was occuring soon, I quickly planned my weekend excursion across the border; saying that I was eager to explore Washington’s wine and sample tasty bites from more than 65 of the top restaurants in Seattle and the Puget Sound region was an understatement.
First step: find transportation.
I had a few options in this department including renting a vehicle, borrowing my boyfriend’s car or taking the train, Bolt Bus or Greyhound.
Bolt Bus is the cheapest of the choices but it didn’t work with my schedule so I opted for the Greyhound. There was no WiFi but it was still a decent price and came with an entertaining bus operator named Thomas. For $48 after tax I had secured a ride to and from Seattle, leaving at 7:50AM Saturday and returning at 1:45AM Sunday.
It had only been six months since I was last in Seattle, however I was excited to return, utterly in love with Seattle people, the cute fish mongers at Pike Place Market, the plethora of cafes and eateries and, of course, the ultimate tasting event!
After being dropped off at the bus depot I meandered into a Starbucks to ask for directions, preferring the human guidance over the GPS guidance. When I was told to take a bus because it was too far to walk I chuckled, I’m from Vancouver, after all, I walk everywhere!
After a half an hour of walking I arrived at Century Link to discover two lines. Although daunting, they moved quickly and I was shortly equipped with a wine glass and a tray for food.
As I scanned the room from the entrance I realized that I was ill-prepared and overwhelmed. Instinctively I roved to the left of the room and found myself in front of Walter Dacon’s Syrahs, a pulled pork sandwich from McMenamin‘s, and Yellow Leaf‘s pancake ‘n’ bacon cupcake.
While many would consider this a meal, I knew my day of indulgence was just beginning.
As I wandered from booth to booth, I was enticed by Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Bordeaux blends, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. Price points of the showcased wine ranged from $9 to $89 and was sourced from many regions in Washington State. Many came from Walla Walla, a city famous for their vast wine country boasting 100 wineries and a diverse collection of varietals.There was also a slew of wines from the Columbia Valley, Yakima Valley, Horse Heaven Hills, Wahluke Slope and Red Mountain. The less represented vineyards were located in Lake Chelan, Ancient Lakes, Snipes Mountain and Washington State.
While I enjoyed many of the wines, one of my favorites was Lauren Ashton‘s 2009 Syrah.
Some wines were memorable for other reasons than their taste per se, whether for their enthusiastic Vintners or the stories behind their wines. One of these was the Vestige red blend from Newhouse Family Vineyards, a wine dedicated to the late Alfred Newhouse. While sipping on it I was let in on a “secret” that their next wine will most likely be an Aligoté: dedicated to the mother, and coined “Cottontop” in honor of her airy personality and her curly, white-blonde hair.
Thrilled by the selection of wine (more than 800 different kinds), I was blown away after overhearing a young woman say that she “didn’t really like wine”, until I heard the glee in her voice as she bit in to the Ahi Tuna Melt from Tulalip Bay Fine Dining.
While many were there for the wine, there were just as many attending for the food. Fortunately for me, I love both so with a smile spanning from ear to ear I zipped around the room, chatting with wine reps and Chefs as I drank their wine or ate what they had prepared.
Sous Chef Brent Clarkson (shown above) from Tulalip Resort Casino was particularly chatty and extremely proud of his beautifully presented marinated Beef Tenderloin Negamaki.
Out of the 65 participating restaurants and 200 participating wineries I experienced roughly 50% of them and didn’t even have time to check out the Viking Chef Stage. This was a shame because such culinary talents as Pastry Chef Kim Mahar of Seattle Restaurant RN74 and Chef Bobby Moore of Barking Frog (among many others) were demonstrating and preparing dishes for the crowd. Luckily of the 3000+ people attending I’d like to think that collectively we covered everything in the room, including these demonstrations.
When it neared 5PM I did one last lap of the room, tasting wines I passed by in haste, while also getting a chance to try some local ciders; it’s surprising how four hours flew by as I socialized, swirled and snacked. While I was sad for the event to be over, I was thrilled to walk out of the room into a beautiful, bustling city enveloped by sunshine and spring air.
For more information on Taste Washington visit the event site.
For more photos from my day of overindulgence check out my Taste Washington set on Flickr.