Highlights from this years fabulous Grand Tasting event of the Seattle Wine and Food Experience held at the Bell Harbor International Convention Center in Seattle.
With an itinerary of four distinctive epicurean events, the eleventh annual weekend of local feasting and tasting included Comfort (Thursday, Feb. 21), POP! Bubbles & Seafood (Friday, Feb. 22), the extremely popular Grand Tasting (Saturday, Feb. 22), and a brand new event Sunday Supper (Sunday, Feb. 23).
This annual Grand Tasting extravaganza of all things edible and drinkable included a variety of scrumptious small plates.
The Grand Tasting featured restaurants and chefs who were included in the February issue of Seattle Magazine’s list of 100 Best Things to Eat. These mouth watering dishes were a major highlight and included many top culinary talents serving delicious gourmet bites.
The Chef In The Hat, Thierry Rautureau, the talent behind Loulay Kitchen & Bar and Luc restaurants, brought a French twist to the Grand Tasting with his Hot Chocolate and Toast. Hot chocolate, made with fresh milk and powdered cocoa from Seattle’s own Theo Chocolate. Chef Rautureau’s toast incorporates pieces of brioche, grilled to perfection and served with salted butter.
Sweet sensations were plentiful and included some of the best baked goods in the Pacific Northwest. Baker Mi Kim of Raised Doughnuts was serving up some beautiful Raspberry Doughnut Holes, Seattle’s A La Mode Pies and Chef Chris Porter offered a variety of small bite pies. Chef Chera Amlag of Hood Famous Bakeshop wowed with a Ube Cheesecake and Seattle’s Wandering Goose Chef Heather Earnhardt baked up a rustic Cherry Hand Pie.
A Beautiful 2015 Columbia Valley Vineyard Syrah from Woodinville’s Damsel Cellars.
Washington and Oregon Wineries played a key role at the Grand Tasting, providing wines to suit any palate. I really enjoyed the diversity of the wines, and the conversations with the producers added to the overall experience. Event organizers hit the mark by arranging the venue in a way which allowed you to easily stroll, or taste your way through the Convention Center.
A few of my favorite sips from the Grand Tasting included wines from Silvara Cellars in Leavenworth, WA., Pearl and Stone Wine Co. in North Bend, WA., Double Canyon and Seven Hills from Walla Walla, WA., and some absolutely fabulous Mead Wines from Sky River Mead in Woodinville, WA.
The event brought Spirits front and center displaying some of the best selections of an ever growing number of innovative distilleries making handcrafted, locally-distilled spirits from local ingredients. The unique and large gathering of distilleries at the Grand Tasting included WhistlePig® Rye Whiskey from Vermont, Idaho Distillery 44° North® was pouring their flavorful Potato Vodkas, and from Snohomish, WA. Skip Rock Distillers shared their variety of spirits.
Brews and Ciders helped round out the beverages offered. Matchless Brewing from Tumwater, WA really caught my attention with their ingenious use of flavors and easy drinking brews.
Seattle Wine and Food Experience is a whole weekend filled with the best wine, food, and beer that the Pacific Northwest has to offer, with over 200 vendors. This sampling from the Saturday Grand Tasting event is just one of the reasons for you to mark you calendar and get ready to attend the 12th Annual SWFE next year! With four days to choose from there will be something for everyone.
I hope to see you there next year.
Images © Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.
Citrus, the beautiful versatility of these fruits is the result of the combinations of sugar and citric acid, which create the sweet or sour tastes. Eaten alone or used in a variety of dishes, the entire fruit can be used for various culinary purposes. The rind, zest, pulp and juice can add amazing flavor to baked goods, marmalade, salads, meat dishes and cocktails.
“Taste, which enables us to distinguish all that has a flavor from that which is insipid.”
– Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
Today I want to share two ways to enjoy the citrus season and to take advantage of this bounty while it is available in the grocery stores and farmers markets.
Bringing some sunshine to the season with a Winter Fruit Salad.
In the winter fresh fruit salads can be made with the last of the Fall Harvest fruits such as Apples and Pears along with year round fruits that are available in the produce section like Raspberries, Bananas and Kiwi. When the height of Citrus season arrives a variety of these citrus delights can be combined to complete a bright and delicious Winter Fruit Salad.
For the Salad start by peeling and chopping 4 Honey Crisp Apples and 2 Bartlett Pears. Place them in a strainer filled with water and ‘Fruit Fresh’ to help the fruit from turning brown for about 15 minutes. Then drain and allow to sit while you prepare the rest of the fruit.
Peel and slice 4 ripe Kiwi, 2 Bananas and put them in bowl. Peel and segment 8 Mandarin Oranges, and 2 Grapefruits. Rinse a carton of fresh Raspberries and allow them to drain. When your fruit is drained of excess moisture, place it all together in a large bowl. One option is to add the sliced Banana and fresh Raspberries when ready to serve.
A mild sweet dressing with a splash of Orange Liqueur.
3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed orange juice & Zest of 1/2 an Orange
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 ounce Orange Liqueur -Optional
In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients together. You may also place the ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake well.
I like to keep the Winter Fruit Salad and the Orange Poppy Seed Dressing separate and serve the two combined in single serve bowls.
“Mindful eating is about awareness. When you eat mindfully, you slow down, pay attention to the food you’re eating, and savor every bite.” – Susan Albers
With the produce section of the grocery store tempting me with Grapefruit, Mandarin and Blood Oranges, my thoughts instantly go to making a delicious citrus cocktail with the fresh squeezed juice.
For 2 cocktail:
1/2 cup fresh squeezed blood orange juice
1/2 cup bourbon
4 tablespoons Thyme simple syrup
Few dashes orange bitters
For Thyme simple syrup: Add 1 cup water and 1 cup of Raw Sugar in a saucepan bring to a boil and turn off the heat. Add 5 Sprigs of fresh Thyme, cover and let cool for 15 minutes
In a large measuring cup mix together fresh Blood Orange juice, Bourbon and Thyme simple syrup.
Add ice to 2 short cocktail glasses. Fill each glass half way with juice/bourbon mixture. Top with seltzer and a dash of bitters, garnish with a slice of Blood Orange.
Purchasing your fruits and vegetables during their peak seasons, will not only allow you to enjoy them more, you’ll save money while maximizing their nutritional value.
Images © Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.
“Cakes are like books, there are new ones you want to read and old favorites you want to reread.”
— Ellen Rose
Today I wanted to share my twist on two classic cakes a Pineapple Upside Down Cake and Carrot Cake. This special combination of two delicious cakes will be a hit for any upcoming party, or a scrumptious treat for a quiet weekend at home. The rum infused caramelized pineapple provides a glaze for the moist, classic carrot cake that is bursting with layers of flavor. With the addition of candied ginger and macadamia nuts, there is nothing ordinary about this cake. No carrot cake is complete without a cream cheese frosting, however, the icing on this cake is the addition of a cream cheese whipped cream.
This recipe has an extra step from a typical upside down cake so, give yourself a day to get the pineapple ready and leave it in the fridge overnight so that the pineapple has a chance to absorb the rum flavor.
The day before you plan to make the cake drain your pineapple rings and save the juice. To the juice combine 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 2 shots of dark rum (I used Maggie’s Farm 50/50 Dark Rum), and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Blend the ingredients and pour over the pineapple rings, making sure that all of the rings are in the liquid. Cover and store in the fridge overnight. The next day take the pineapple rings out and put them gently in a strainer to remove any excuse liquid. Reserve 3-4 tablespoons of the liquid. This recipe makes two cakes, you will need 2 cans of pineapple rings.
Ingredients for pineapple caramel layer:
Combine 1/2 cup brown sugar and 3-4 tablespoons of reserved liquid from pineapple rings.
4 tablespoons of butter softened to room temperature
1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts
Divide the butter and use 2 tablespoon in each of the two 9 inch cake pans to generously butter the bottom and sides of each pan. Place the pineapple rings in a single layer into buttered pan, 7 pineapple slices for each pan. Divide the brown sugar liquid over the two pans of pineapple rings and top each with equal amounts of chopped macadamia nuts.
For the double pan carrot cake:
1 cups all-purpose flour and 1 cup wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 and 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and 1/2 teaspoon rum extract
3 tablespoons minced candied ginger
3 cups grated carrots, lightly packed
Bake at 350°F for 35-40 minutes or until the tops of the cakes are set and a toothpick inserted into the center of each one comes out clean. Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack, and allow to cool in the pans for about 15 minutes. Once the cakes have cooled, place serving dish on top of the cake and flip the pan, place the cake upside down on the plate. Repeat for second cake.
While the cakes are cooling start preparing the cream cheese whipped cream. This recipe is enough for both cakes.
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman’s recipe.
8 ounces, cream cheese, Softened
2 tablespoons brown sugar (if you want a sweeter whipped cream double the brown sugar)
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place the cream cheese, orange zest, vanilla extract and brown sugar in a large bowl. Beat until completely smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Pour 1/4 of the cream into the cream cheese mixture. Beat until completely smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Repeat 3 more times for a total of 4 additions. Beat until smooth.
Store in the refrigerator until ready to use. If you want the cream cheese whipped cream to be soft, make sure to take out of the refrigerator for about 15 minutes and give it a good whisk before serving.
Add a dollop of whipped cream to each slice of cake and if you like add a little sprinkle of cinnamon sugar.
“No matter what the recipe, any baker can do wonders in the kitchen with some good ingredients and an upbeat attitude!” -Buddy Valastro
Today is National Soup Day! A warm bowl of soup regardless of the temperature outside can transform your day. Soup is comfort food at its best and it can go a long way in warming you and your soul. With so many soups to choose from, a creamy bisque, rich chowder, or a savory broth base soup can be a day-long simmering meal or a last-minute dinner. One thing however is for certain, soup will always hit the spot.
When I think of a thick and hearty soups like my Cheesy Potato Corn Chowder I always like to serve it with fresh baked bread. Of course the only thing better than a slice of bread with soup, is a bread bowl to fill with soup.
Soup has been traced back as far as 6000 B.C., notably it seems that Hippopotamus was the first known meat used for soups. In early Greece, Greeks sold soup in the streets of their market places, which means soup could be considered one of the first “fast foods”. Before soup makers began adding beans and other ingredients, soup was really just broth, the broth was used to pour over or dip bread into. The bread was called sop, which then became the word we are more familiar with, “soup”.
This recipe is an upgrade from a standard bread bowl recipe and incorporates layers of flavor with the addition of Dill Havarti Cheese and Garlic Infused Olive Oil. I used my bread machine to make the dough for this recipe. Also, by coating the shredded cheese in flour prevents the shreds from sticking together in the blending process.
1 cup Warm Water (110 – 115 degrees)
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Garlic Olive Oil
1 Tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
3 cups Bread Flour (or All Purpose Flour )
1 Tbsp Dough Enhancer
2 Tsp active dry yeast
1 Tbsp (Flour to coat shredded cheese)
1 1/2 cups Havarti Cheese with Dill. Shredded.
1 Egg White and 1 Tbsp Water whisked together for egg wash
Place the ingredients in the order listed into the bread machine (I layered the flour coated cheese between cups of flour to get a more even blending in the finished dough) and run the dough cycle. When finished, lightly knead the dough on a clean and floured surface. Divide the dough into 6-8 equal parts and form into the shape of a ball. Lightly sprinkle cornmeal onto a baking sheet and place balls of dough on top and allow to rise. Let rise for about 30 minutes in a warm place. When dough has risen, brush the top of each ball with an egg wash for a crisp and shiny finish. Bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes or golden brown. Let cool slightly before cutting the tops out with a bread knife or scoop part of the inside out.
You can really used any flavored cheese with this recipe or a plain cheese that has been combined with your favorite herb.
With the Bread Bowl ready to be filled, now is the time to craft the perfect Cheesy Potato Corn Chowder.
Now your ready to enjoy a Bread Bowl of Cheesy Potato Chowder. Enjoy!
“Come, let us have some tea and continue to talk about happy things.”
As much as I love a good cup of tea, sometimes I crave something unique and a little bit stronger. As so much of the United States is recovering from the Polar Vortex, I wanted to share a couple of my favorite tea-inspired cocktail recipes. Let’s face it, the only thing that can elevate a good cup of tea to new heights, is the addition of a great companion, booze.
As some of the country is experiencing 100 degree temperature swings, I decided to share two tea inspirations. My twist on hot Blueberry Tea, and also a cold tea cocktail, a Chai Tea Cream. A great thing about both tea cocktails is that they are completely adaptable to your own taste.
In classic bartender guides there really aren’t many blueberry drinks. One exception is the Blueberry Tea Cocktail, which contains no blueberry or blueberry flavored ingredients. It’s one of those cocktail concoctions that draws on a handful of ingredients to transform it into something completely different. Hence, a classic Blueberry Tea cocktail that only resembles the taste of blueberries.
This warm and delicious tea cocktail has Grand Marnier, Amaretto and Orange Tea, which gives off hints of blueberry flavor.
The history of Chai tea can be traced back to the mid-1800s in India, and has long been a favorite in cafés and tea rooms. Now drinks are being crafted with the spiced tea as a way to develop more depth to cocktails. Whiskey and Rum are two of the more popular flavor pairings with Chai tea, because of their complementary oak and vanilla flavors. This Chai Tea Cream cocktail is paired with an Apple Brandy to include a mellow apple flavor. A simple syrup has been infused with a cinnamon stick to add an additional level of warmth to the cocktail.
CINNAMON SIMPLE SYRUP: mix 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add a cinnamon stick and remove from heat, cover and let cool for 20 minutes. Pour into a glass jar and cover. Makes about 1½ cups and will keep in the refrigerator for a month.
These cocktails are sure to keep you going through all the remaining long Winter nights!