Oh, I’m not going to whine too much, I’m exaggerating. A little bit. But it did seem like most everything that could have gone wrong on our wine tasting trip did. On the other hand, I got to drive across the state in a pretty sweet car.
Maybe a little too sweet for my blood, actually. This Mustang that Ford loaned me for the weekend got me all kinds of attention. Driving in front of Harvest Vine (fancy and delicious food) a group of men in suits stood gawking. I pulled up at my soccer game and watched my teammates look on in awe as I stepped out. I picked up rentals and the guy loading my car, when I told him to have a great day, actually said “my day was better for having been near that car.” So maybe I let it go to my head a little. Maybe the fact that it was so fast–and so easy to start going fast loaned a little. Maybe the attention wasn’t all good. Needless to say having the fast car contributed to issue number one on the trip: What cop would not be dying to pull over a firetruck red, Michigan plated Mustang?
Moving right along, it was a beautiful, 70 degree, sunny day and the sun shined down through the glass roof all the drive long (B thought this was much less cool the next morning on the drive home, when he felt the sunlight was unwelcome in his life). And the wine. Wine tasting in Walla Walla was absolutely amazing. We hired a local student to drive us around as we loaded up the car with fabulous roses for grilling, rieslings for sipping on summer afternoons and a few heavier wines for later in the season.
I declared my favorite to be the Trust/Rollat tasting room and I bought the wines to prove it. Another great one was Spring Valley, in town. Aside from the most pleasant hostess, terrific wines and a good story, they gave us industry discount, which was amazing. Next door to that we found Salumerie Cesare, which has an awesome selection of cheeses and salumis and a very friendly policy on tasting (you could find me in the refrigerated cheese room for quite some time). Fortified with braseola, daphinoise and any number of other delicacies, we soldiered on, hitting up a few more wineries before they started to close.
6pm and the wineries are shut. We load our share of wine into the ‘stang for safe keeping. But we’re not done yet, we’re just getting to the good parts. My friend makes a call to a man she knows and next thing I know I’m hopping a barbed wire fence and scrambling across highway 12 to meet a man in the back of a truck. He sits with two bottles of wine, a red and a white and we proceed to taste through them. And by taste through, I mean the 5 of us demolish the two bottles and he brings out a third, a local Carmenere, one of my favorite types of wine. It’s delicious, I want more, but as we get to the bottom of it, he breaks to us the news that there are only 6 bottles of this left, they’re all in his basement and he’s not selling. We’re heartbroken, but leave with three bottles of the red and the white under our arms. He gives us a ride in the truck to our dinner reservation down the hill at Whitehouse Crawford.
So we arrive at Whitehouse Crawford. I can’t say enough good stuff about this place. it’s a beautiful, airy room that feels vibrant and alive. It smells like great food without overbearingly smelling like cooking. Unfortunate incidents that I won’t go into here (and were not fault of the restaurants, they dealt with them beautifully) interrupted parts of our dinner, so I’m afraid I can’t entirely claim to have had a perfect dinner, but I will say that we started with four terrific appetizers and a wonderful wine by local wintery Abeja. We only got two entrees between the four of us, and the lamb we ate many hours later–if you told me it got any less delicious in that time, I am not sure I’d believe you, as it is hard to imagine a more perfectly cooked and flavored piece of lamb.
Then there was our pasta dish. This is with out a doubt the best pasta dish I’ve ever had in a restaurant–overtaking a certain sea urchin tagliarini I recently ate. Local shrimp and squid playful twisted and tangled with squid ink black tagliatelle and paper thin slices of bell pepper, cooked till the texture perfectly matched that of the noodle. The sauce was barely detectable in texture, just a thin coating over everything, but in flavor it gave everything, a bright and rather spicy everything. The balance of textures and flavors matched up amazingly. It was fabulous.
It was a long day, and slightly stressful (the whining part of the title here) and rather expensive, especially thanks to the lovely cops in Ellensburg (still whining) and in part due to my own buying (oh, there is the wining!). But the fact is, even as a 1 day trip, wine tasting in Walla Walla was awesome. And definitely, if you are ever anywhere nearby, don’t miss a meal at Whitehouse Crawford.