ALERT: This is indeed a Valentine’s Day post. It contains references to wine, massages, chocolate dipped strawberries and other lovey-dovey activities. I myself am not the ubber romantic sort, however, I do like to indulge on this particular day. Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you…

Yes I know that V-Day was half a week ago and you are all probably sick of the superfluous amount of pink that finds its way into every nook and cranny of America around this time of year, but bear with me for this one post as I recount my love day escapades.
The boyfriend and I decided to go all out this year. Massages, dinner, the works. And what better place to have a romantic get-a-way than Woodinville, WA, home to the drink of love that is wine! If you’ve never been, Woodinville is about 25 minutes east of Seattle and once you’re there, you feel miles away from the city. This is wine-central for us Puget Sounders. Dozens of wineries call this place home and you could spend an entire weekend tasting their wares if you like.
Our day began at the Chateau St. Michelle winery. This is a must-see for winos out there, mainly due to the number of events it holds year-round. Free tours are offered daily and, if you’re feeling indulgent, you can schedule a private tasting. Visitors are more than welcome to bust out a picnic on their resplendent lawn where jewel-toned (and very friendly) peacocks roam about. During the summer, the Chateau holds outdoor concert events, which go great with an icy glass of Chardonnay I hear.

Since we had an already indulgent day planned, the BF and I opted for the free tour. This included a wine-tasting session, which proved rather informative. Did you know that a great deal of a wine’s flavor comes from the oak barrels it is stored in? And that you can only use a single barrel up to four times? Or that they burn the inside, which caramelizes due to the sugar in the wood, providing the wine with warmer notes such as toast, vanilla an d chocolate? Hurray for education!

After playing with the peacocks, it was time to check-in to our sweet digs across the street at Willow’s Lodge. My sister was married here and it is the epitome of a Northwest experience. Fireplaces abound and everything carries with it a certain rustic elegance. They even let you bring your pooch along! And they have one of their own too. Her name is Ruthie and she heads up the complaints department.
Next up was a lovely fire-side picnic lunch packed by yours truly and then some massages. Yada, yada, romance, romance, moving on to dinner.
There are two restaurants on property at Willow’s Lodge. Our venue, The Barking Frog boasts tasty Northwest fare in a sophisticated, bistro setting. I had ginger-crusted scallops with coconut Thai sauce atop lentils and toasted almonds. Oh those scallops were to die for! Melt in my mouth tender with a sauce I would gladly bathe in. Boyfriend decided to play it safe and had a New York strip steak, which was quite good as far as steak is concerned. He especially loved how it came pre-sliced.
The second on-site eatery is not owned by the hotel, but does have a few rooms reserved at Willow’s Lodge for those guests who decide to splurge. I’ve only been inside The Herbfarm once, but would describe it as cozy Euro-country chic. It’s reminiscent of a European lodge complete with long tables you share with fellow diners. But be warned, dining here is an event and not simply a meal! It involves nine courses accompanied by 5-6 different wines. The kitchen is open; offering views of the culinary masterpieces headed your way. Hmm…my birthday is also headed this way. How convenient…

I won’t go into great detail on dessert, mainly because it involved strawberries, chocolate, champagne and a tub full of bubbles.

Breakfast the following morning was another highlight. We decided to use up the rest of our dining credit at The Barking Frog and were pleased to learn they had extended brunch for us lazy V-day revelers. BF went all out on the Continental Breakfast (it was huge!) and I couldn’t resist my morning meal fave, French toast. It had been crafted with both care and Challah bread and was accompanied by the best maple syrup I have ever topped my breakfast with. I believe it had bourbon in it. Sassy!

Last stop was a first for both Tony and me, a trip to IKEA! I’ve looked longingly at its coordinated wares online but had not paid an official visit until now. I felt like I was in Disneyland…well a Disneyland created by a Mr. Disney with a strange fascination for Swedish furnishings. And while tempted to recreate the scene of IKEA frolic from “500 Days of Summer” I settled for a $10 mortar and pestle set instead.
And that, friends, was Valentine’s Day 2010.