Archives for category: Out to eat

Alright kids, this is the final Florida post from my recent Marco Island adventure. 

I know, I know. Sad day.

But look on the bright side! Now we get to move on to happy spring things like farmer’s markets and asparagus and sunshine! Okay, we might have to take a “rain check” on the sunshine ~ it is April in Washington after all. (Get it? Rain check? Ha! I kill me). I digress. Back to the beach we go…

P.S. props go to my padre for the stellar post title!

So, my last day of sun-soaked goodness happened to also be Easter Sunday. And what better way to celebrate than a crazy huge, food coma inducing meal! Okay, yeah I guess you could go to church (and don’t worry I did ~ on the beach even). But for now, let’s just stick to food. 

And so I present to you an Easter feast, courtesy of my loud and proud extended Italian family.  Read the rest of this entry »


Well dear readers, I’m officially back from the beach. Actually, I’ve been back since Monday but have been suffering from acute vacation withdrawals, hence my brief absence. I was all set to hunker down and get this post out ASAP…but then my plane landed in Seattle.

And I drove home. In the rain. Which hasn’t stopped. Until today. When it decided to snow.

Can I go back to Florida now? Please?

Yeah yeah, I know. It’s time for me to buck up, be “an adult” (cringe) and get back to work. But that doesn’t been we can’t take a brief respite from the daily grind to pretend we’re still basking in those 80 degree rays!

I did promise you a trip to Naples and an Irish pub after all.

So let’s take a drive… Read the rest of this entry »

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.

I propose a new weekend edict – all Saturday mornings shall henceforth begin with hot tea and French pastries.

My boyfriend and I decided to give this idea a whirl today and it took us to a local, bakery called The Bread Peddler. I like to think that the owner is a kind little man who rides around town on a bright red bicycle. He would be like the ice cream man; only instead of fudgesicles and shortcake bars he would sell almond croissants and mini baguettes.

Inside this modest corner store is a butter-scented wonderland full of baked treats and other French delicacies. Close your eye and you can practically hear the crackle of fresh bread. Olympia continues to surprise me with its tucked away little food oases.

You can get a good view of this cafés popularity while you stand in the never-diminishing line. The cue winds through intimate tables before ending in front of the display case, or altar to my breakfast soul as I now consider it. It’s a beautiful sight to behold, filled with joy upon joy of sugar filled delights.

But I wasn’t here for the baked goodies as tempting as they were. The shop’s website heralded a February special and I’d been waiting to try it all week; bourbon-citrus challah bread French toast. But alas, our pixie perfect baker informed me that it was not one of today’s specials. Which meant, dear readers, that I was forced to eat a delectable vanilla bean morning bun instead. Oh the injustice!

The boyfriend opted for a small feast that included the day’s frittata (lox, salmon, capers, ham and potatoes), a slice of blueberry tart and hot cider. Luckily, sharing is one of his many talents.

Watching the goings-on of a busy bakery is nearly as satisfying as eating at one. We sat tucked away near the window and were lucky enough to have front row seats for the show that is a French bakery on a Saturday morning. First, there’s the opening act featuring bakery goddesses and their magic pastry bags, then a round of applause erupts as apron clad gentlemen swoop in with trays of fresh baguette sandwiches.

An intermission allows you to jump back in line for second helpings of roasted red pepper quiche. Act II features table after table of happy regulars sipping away at their cafe au laits. They wave and shout hello’s when other familiar faces show up. All the while girls with flour in their hair rush behind the counter, somehow keeping track of the dozen or so orders they handle at once. A hot tea here a croissant there. They twirl and dip, never missing a beat or a baguette.

Though my favorite part happens as the curtain drops. The breakfasters have had there fill. They pause contentedly, sighing in a blissful haze of fresh-baked joy before continuing on with their day. I like to think they are a little happier thanks to the bit of France the bakery has put on their plate.


Sadly, I did not get to make my three-bean salad recipe last night. Instead, I attended an audition for a play. Oh what joy to have been back in a theatre! There is something so comforting to me about the backstage area in particular. For one thing, they all smell the same. A delightful aroma of sawdust, paint, and costumes wafts through the air. And then there’s that feeling of silent anticipation that comes from waiting in the wings for your cue. The world slows down during those moments yet your heart beats at the same speed as a fighter pilot (it’s true! Or so I’ve been told…). For me, that is the feeling of life itself.

I digress.

What I enjoyed instead was a meal at a new (to me) Olympia restaurant, The Waterstreet Café and Bar. My boss had a lunch meeting there and I’ve been dying to go ever since. I looked up the menu after he left that day and it promised tasty things such as tomato and goat cheese soup, Dungeness crab lasagna and a few Wine Spectator Awards.

Who knew that tucked away near Capitol Lake there is this lovely little gem of a restaurant? It is both cozy and sophisticated with antique sideboards lining the walls and farm house tables lit low with tinkling chandeliers. A homey fireplace transforms the space into an inviting nook for you and yours to sample the bistro fare.

My boyfriend had chicken breast cordon bleu stuffed with prosciutto and gruyere cheese. It was accompanied by smigi mushroom ragout and a saffron risotto cake. (Isn’t “smigi” a fun word? It’s like a nickname you would whisper to a best friend followed by a fit of giggles).

I opted for a few “lighter” options, which turned into a cup of squash and sweet pepper bisque and gnocchi braised in butter with parsley, garlic, fresh goat cheese (swoon!) and oven dried tomatoes. I have never had braised gnocchi before and I loved it! Reminded me of lightly fried mozzarella stick bites. The gnocchi have a warm/nutty flavor from the butter and feature a lightly crisped texture that contrasts with the smooth goat cheese. But just when I thought everything was calm and mellow the tomatoes surprised me with a roasted tang and all was right with the world.

Thank you Waterstreet Café, for proving that there is more to Olympia than Outback Steak Houses and Olive Gardens.