Friday, April 15, 2011

Learning to Wine, Dine and Spa in Washington

When I received my itinerary for my trip to Washington, I was surprised to see all the fine dining, wine bars and spas on the schedule.  I knew Washington was now a well-known wine destination, but I didn’t know that it was such also a great place for foodies and spa goers. I began to really experience this on my second full day in town.

After a battle with the coffee press (they are serious about coffee in this state), I started my morning with a Veggie Omelet and some incredible Corned Beef Hash on the recommendation of Tawny Papera, the hotels Director of Sales & Marketing. She then took me on a tour of Hotel 1000, located in downtown Seattle. It’s a modern accommodation with some very unusual (and desirable) amenities meant to make you feel the luxury while keeping you comfortable.

When you enter Hotel 1000, you are offered complimentary hot apple cider or sparkling wine. The Studio Lounge is warm and inviting with a center fireplace and Microsoft Surface tables (which look like a big – forgive me Bill Gates – IPhone) around the room. Everything in this hotel has attention to detail.

The Hotel 1000 has a Virtual Golf Club where you can practice your swings if you can’t make it to one of the nearby courses. There’s also a fitness center and Spahh, where was I indulged.  Nita took good care of me, massaging my back and arms with warm oil before a complete facial that included exfoliation, cleansing, mask and moisturizer on my face and neck.

Chef Angie Roberts was busy when I dined at Boka Kitchen (which is open 18 hours a day) the night before, but she and friend/bar manager Misuk sat down with me a bit before I left the hotel to talk about their use of the freshest local ingredients in food and drink, the addition of Washington wines to the menu, and how they work together to design food to go with wine and wine to go with food. They also insisted I try the Truffle Fries and -- not wanting to be rude to my hosts -- obliged, devouring every morsel in the container!

British Motor Coach sent along a driver for me to make the short trip over to the Woodmark Hotel in Kirkland. It is owned by the same group as Hotel 1000, but the Woodmark is in a more suburban setting, on a large property on the lake.  It was there I was met by Kirsten Anderson, the public relations agent that had painstakingly organized my entire trip, coordinating with each person that was to meet and take me around.  Our evening was planned at the hotel’s main restaurant, Bin On The Lake. The name does justice to the view, but it doesn’t begin to tell you about the unbelievable selection of food and wine.

Darren Nicholas was waiting for us and we started in the bar area, where the automatic pourers can not only give you a choice of 83 wines by the glass, but they can give them to you at perfect temperature in any size glass you want.  I always try to stay with local wines when on a trip and this one was no different. I started with the Delille Sauvignon Blanc & Semilon, which had a bit of a mineral nose, but the taste was more toasty and vanilla.  The 2009 Mark Ryan Chardonnay was still a bit oaky for me, though the fruit balanced it a bit more than the 2008 Chris Gorman Chardonnay, which Darren declared as a “white that wants to be red” and may appeal very well to certain drinkers.  My favorite was the Transche Roussane Viognier Blend, with a lemon nose and very light tropical flavors going down.

We had plenty more wine to go with the exquisite menu prepared by Chef Paul Hyman, whose company we enjoyed as much as his food.   It’s a menu worth repeating in its entirety here and, though I liked every bit, I have to give major shoutouts to the soup, lamb and pudding cake...

Roasted Creamy Cauliflower Soup
Beehive Cheddar, Truffle Oil and Chives
Paired with: Rombauer Vineyards, Chardonnay, Carneros, CA

Warm Cypress Grove Goat Cheese
Sea Salt, Herbs, Olive Oil, Crostini
Paired with: Domaine Thomas, Sancerre, "La Crele", Loire Valley, FR

Salt Roasted Beet “Panzanella”
Ciabatta, Red Onion, Pancetta, Almonds
Arugula, Two Faced Bleu, Balsamic
Willamette Valley, OR

Artisan Sonoma Duck Breast
Creamy Spring Parsnips, Swiss Chard
Roasted Grapes, Verjus, Saba         
Paired with: Corliss, Red Blend, Columbia Valley, WA

Martinez Ranch Washington Lamb
Lamb Loin & Ragu, Broccoli Rabe, Cipollini’s Creamy Polenta,
Mint Salsa Verde
Paired with: Long Shadows, Sequel, Syrah, Columbia Valley, WA

Dark Chocolate “Budino” Pudding Cake
Mascarpone, Candied Orange, Citrus Olive Oil Sea salt

Tiramisu Crème Brûlée
Housemade Espresso Biscotti, Organic Raw Sugar

As hard as it was to go to sleep after that huge meal, I was exhausted, so I settled into my beautiful suite at the
Woodmark Hotel Yacht Club & Spa,
which had large windows and a balcony that overlooked the lake, and got some rest for another day of wining, dining and spa treatments in Washington.
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