Monday, October 16, 2017

Billie Frank: Santa Fe Ambassador Will Be Missed

I opened my Facebook page a week ago and saw a post from Steve Collins, a dear Santa Fe friend. It read in part, "Billie died yesterday." Those words hit me hard. I recoiled. And then I thought... this is a cruel scam. But, no, it wasn't. It was real. Life, and death, had just changed my day. It was probably an hour before the shock wore off and I burst into tears.

My first thought was about Steve, her devoted husband and life partner. How could he deal with this unexpected tragedy? My heart went out to him.

Billie and Steve in Taos
I first encountered Billie and Steve when I was reading about Santa Fe in the now defunct I was considering moving to Santa Fe and I was considering writing about my experiences for I enjoyed reading Billie's narratives about life in Santa Fe. And so I contacted her.

She had decided she was too busy to continue writing the Santa Fe column for Examiner and welcomed my applying for the slot. And she became an instant friend, advising me on Santa Fe and sharing my joy as I moved to "The City Different."

And, move, I did. One of the first couples to invite me to their home for dinner was Billie and Steve. I found the house in a neighborhood in my new town. They invited me in. The decor was decidedly Southwest, and Billie's collection of pottery fit in well. Billie and I chatted as Steve cooked. Steve, an accomplished chef, usually cooked when I visited. He enjoyed making creative dishes to suit Billie's diet. And, his food suited my palate just wonderfully.

And so went our friendship. We reviewed restaurants together, took some day trips to explore the surrounding area and chatted about the ups and downs of travel writing. Sometimes Billie didn't feel very well. She had allergies and was dealing with some immune issues. But she had a zest for life and for exploring the West despite these maladies. And she inspired others to follow in her traveling footsteps with her writing.
I appreciated dining with Steve and Billie.
They never made me feel like a "third wheel!"
I enjoyed running into Billie and Steve at gallery openings, Santa Fe markets, and press events. It was always nice to see them.

I'm sure there's a good Billie quote I should put here!

We bundled up and met on Christmas Eve to walk Canyon Road. Billie and Steve took me under their wings and showed me their favorite galleries and explained the holiday traditions. And we had fun!

On one particularly memorable evening, we watched the sun set from the hilltop home where they were living... savoring the scenery and the high desert beauty. Steve bar-b-qued and we chatted. We were all living the good life in Santa Fe.

I enjoyed hosting Billie and Steve at my home too and, on my last evening in Santa Fe before moving back to Washington State, they joined other friends and me for a pizza dinner and fantastic Caesar Salad made by another good Santa Fe friend, John. It was a good send-off.

But sometimes we don't get the chance to tie up loose ends and say good-bye. It was that way for all who loved Billie Frank. Our last communications were about restaurant reviews and photographs. She was searching for photos to accompany yet another article she was working on. She was always appreciative of my "free for a friend" editing services and my photos. I followed her travels and was happy to see she was enjoying Pagosa Springs, Colorado.

Sunset from my trip to Pagosa Springs
She was always willing to share her thoughts and feelings even when frustrated with technological glitches (most always caused by Mercury going retrograde.) They say Mercury retrograde is all about slowing down and being more mindful. Communication is more difficult (but not impossible) during a Mercury retrograde period. And I never knew about this until I met Billie.

It is because of Facebook and email that I was able to have an ongoing friendship with Billie and Steve. I loved her recaps of happenings in Santa Fe. It was a great way to keep in touch... those Tidbits!
Another fun restaurant review!
I'm missing Billie. I'm missing her long black outfits and her long necklace with the turquoise pendant she wore all the time... and her red hair with the attitude to match it.

If I could talk to Billie, I'd say, thank you so much for being a friend, and sharing your passion for the Southwest with me. I am certain there is a void in beautiful Santa Fe. You were an amazing ambassador for the city and represented the Santa Fe vibe so well.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Help Cascade Locks Local Businesses affected by the Eagle Creek Fire

Overnight the Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia River Gorge exploded. People were evacuated and businesses had to close. The little town of Cascade Locks was cut off as I-84 was shut down. For two weeks now, the businesses have been shuttered. These are, for the most part, small locally owned businesses. I've enjoyed having a bite to eat at several of them after hiking or taking a ride on the Gorge Sternwheeler, captained by the mayor of Cascade Locks.

Bridge of the Gods at Cascade Locks

So now, you can help them get back on their feet. It's a virtual cash mob!

Help them rebuild their vibrant economy until they can open again. Their businesses have been closed for nearly two weeks in what should be the busiest times of the year. The Eagle Creek Fire disaster has been devastating for the businesses in Cascade Locks.

Get your gift certificate now and your ice cream later!

How can you help? Join the online Cash Mob! Buy a gift certificate, or two, or many, and make a commitment to go support the Gorge as they recover from the losses incurred due to this fire. Gift certificates can be purchased for as little as $10 and it all helps!


Taste of Tulalip Oktoberfest 2017: Bavarian Journey In Washington

I’ve enjoyed the cuisine at the Tulalip Resort Casino north of Seattle, WA so have no doubt that theses special Oktoberfest offerings will be quite a draw.

Holding true to Tulalip Resort Casino fashion, the culinary team will draw from the original Munich Oktoberfest for their first annual Taste of Tulalip Oktoberfest on Friday, September 22 from 6 pm to 9 pm at The Draft Sports Bar and Grill Patio. Sommelier Tom Thompson and Executive Chef Perry Mascitti will showcase authentic German dishes along with imported, local, and domestic Oktoberfest inspired beer at the enjoyable Taste of Tulalip celebration. Tickets are priced at $45 per person, ages 21 and over.

The Draft’s Chef Brent Clarkson carefully prepared the menu with options including hearty platters of Uli’s Famous Brats and Sauerkraut, Beer and Cheese Soup with Bavarian Pretzel Crouton, and a traditional Spätzle Bake (German Spätzle pasta lightly buttered and layered with Black Forest ham and Emmenthaler cheese topped with caramelized onions). Rounding out the selections are a Savory Bavarian Pretzel Bread Pudding with mustard caraway rye cream, Pork Schnitzel “Pops” topped with bacon and wild mushroom cream sauce, and a Cheese and Wurst Display, featuring traditional German frankfurter and classic Weiss Wurst sausages (served with an assortment of cheeses, pickled vegetables, gherkins, and breads).

Tom Thompson’s team will serve up a grand selection of beers from noteworthy breweries featuring: Backwoods Brewing, Deschutes, Dru Bru, Georgetown Brewing, Leinenkugel's, Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, Hofbräu, Paulaner, and the Hacker-Pschorr.

During the evening’s festivities, guests can take their chance with lady luck and enter to win from one of two raffle drawings. The two prizes will each include two tickets to the Robert Cray show on November 17, 2017, one overnight stay at Tulalip (some restrictions may apply) and a $100 dining credit applied to the winner’s room.

Doors open for the Taste of Tulalip Oktoberfest 2017 at 6 pm and tickets are priced at $45 per person all-inclusive. To purchase tickets, call (360) 716-1625. All attendees must be 21 and over.

The Resort didn’t think a one day celebration was enough for this beloved, time honored Bavarian festival, so they started the celebration early at the following eateries, which will feature German fare from September 5 through October 31, 2017:

Cedars Cafe will serve Bavarian style Wiener Schnitzel with warm sweet and sour coleslaw, mashed potatoes; topped with crispy onion straws, lemon beurre blanc, and blackberry sauce. Dessert includes Cedars’ Black Forest Ice Cream Sundae with chocolate ice cream, Kirsch cherry compote, whip cream, and chocolate shavings.

Blackfish Wild Salmon Grill presents their Seared Apple Marinated Duck Breast with apple-duck demi & Thuringer sausage with apple-mustard demi, along with onion potatoes, green beans, red cabbage and bacon and a dessert featuring Apple-Raisin Strudel with vanilla bean ice cream.

Carvery/Hotel Espresso makes their mark with Bavarian Ham Sandwich Black Forest ham on a fresh Bavarian pretzel roll, Munster cheese, dill pickles, and stone ground mustard.

The Draft Sports Bar will offer Pork Schnitzel Pops bite sized pork thinly pounded, skewered, breaded, fried golden brown and topped with bacon and wild mushroom cream sauce. Served with warm bacon potato salad and braised apple and red cabbage.

Tulalip Bay’s menu is embellished for the season with Spicy Sausage and Truffle Potato Fritter with stone ground mustard sauce and a dessert of Linzer Torte with beer ice cream.

Eagles Buffet will offer Amber Ale Braised Beef Brisket with buttered Spätzle in September and Bavarian Pork Ribs with braised red cabbage in October.

For more information about Oktoberfest 2017, visit Don’t forget to wear your lederhosen!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

It’s Feast Portland Week: Hold on to Your Napkins!

Culinary luminaries from across the country and the world join forces with their Northwest counterparts at Bon Appétit Presents Feast Portland, held Sept. 14–17 in multiple venues around town. Since its 2012 debut, the food festival has solidified Portland’s reputation as a culinary hotbed, challenging Portland’s chefs to continue innovating their cuisine with local, seasonal fare.
Chef Gregory Gourdet
I’ll be taking a break from Feast this year. It’s been an all-consuming week of tasting and writing for the past several years. Sometimes a writer just needs a break! 

So I’m happy to share that Wander With Wonder's Editor in Chief has arranged to keep us in the know about Feast. Susan Lanier-Graham shared, “We at Wander love the Pacific Northwest and wish we could all be Feasting in Portland. To celebrate Feast Portland, follow along on our Instagram as contributor Tracy Beard takes us through some of the highlights at this year's #FeastPDX. And be sure to check out all the other great things to do and eat in PDX on Wander.”

This year, Feast attendees have more than 40 events to choose from, including marquee affairs, jaw-dropping dinners, fun-size experiences, classes and panels. 

Chef Jose Chesa

New to the roster of “fun-size” events (read smaller) are Pizza & Burgers, serving back-to-basics comfort food; Because Breakfast, with an assortment of Instagram-worthy pastries, donuts, crepes, cocktails and coffee drinks to start the day; and Vegetables: A Love Story, Featuring Healthyish by Bon Appétit, highlighting vegetable-forward dishes from a host of collaborating chefs.
Portland's Pearl District
Hands-on classes provide insight and techniques for preparing everything from candy and confections to dumplings and steak. Meanwhile, Drink Tank lines up industry-leading distillers, winemakers and brewers to lead panel discussions on developing trends in their fields, such as the new world of American whiskey — beyond bourbon and rye — as presented in Kilts Not Required: American Single Malts.

Feast’s signature crowd-pleasing events will also make a comeback this year. The Sandwich Invitational pits 18 all-star chefs against one another, and the Latin-influenced Night Market brings 20 chefs together under the stars.

Two Grand Tastings threaten to burst out of their one-city-block boundary with food and drink from 80 purveyors, while Smoked! carries on its tradition of an over-the-top backyard cookout, and Brunch Village plies late-morning diners with eye-opening flavors. 

Smoked! was always my favorite of the larger events.
Many events are sold out.  Check for remaining tickets. All proceeds of the festival benefit Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon.

More Information

Note: Information courtesy Travel Portland. Photo credit: Elizabeth R Rose

Monday, September 11, 2017

Finnriver Farm and Cidery: Family Fun Near Port Townsend, WA

During a recent visit to Port Townsend, Washington, I had a jam packed itinerary. But there was one place that made me slow down and breathe in the country air. I visited Finnriver Farm and Cidery and enjoyed strolling around the Cider Garden, Tasting Room and into the beautiful orchards.

It's a place where they do things right, even if it takes more time and care. The orchards are organic, much of the work is done by hand and the result is a cider that appealed even to me, a person who had yet to enjoy cider.

I noticed lawn games and plenty of room for children to run and play. It's a family-friendly kind of place. On weekends they have music. The wood-fired pizza sounded good too! (Unfortunately, you can't bring your dog).

My story is on ... Enjoy!

Friday, September 8, 2017

September 20th Ninkasi Craft Beer Dinner at Altabira City Tavern in Portland

Altabira City Tavern is joining with Ninkasi Brewing Company from Eugene, Oregon, for its first seasonal craft beer dinner on Wednesday, September 20th. Guests will enjoy a four-course menu paired with craft beers from Ninkasi and prepared by chef de cuisine Luis Escorcia and pastry chef Natalie Harkness. 

Altabira City Tavern offers regional American cuisine focused on updated classic dishes with 16 taps of local craft beers, select Northwest wines and locally distilled spirits. The restaurant and bar is open for lunch and dinner in a modern setting with large floor-to-ceiling windows with sweeping views of Portland’s downtown skyline and inner eastside. 

Altabira deck overlooks downtown Portland

 Craft Beer Dinner Menu with Pairings from Ninkasi Brewing Company

Passed Appetizers
Andouille deviled eggs
Sour cream and onion chicharones
Explorateur cheese tarts with blackberries
Paired with Helles Belles Lager, a light, flavorful lager that strikes a balance between satisfyingly crisp and deliciously crafted.

Starter Course
Corn and summer squash, Aleppo chili, cheddar and beer biscuit
Paired with Dawn of the Red, bursting with tropical notes with the bright complexity of El Dorado and Mosaic hops. An assertive hop presence is carried by a subtle caramel backbone, creating a flavorful, juicy beer.

Second Course
Soft shell crab French toast, tomatoes, basil oil and microgreens
Paired with Pacific Rain, a fiercely flavorful and refreshingly drinkable beer crafted with water from Oregon’s McKenzie River and a band of four distinguished hops. This Northwest Pale is citrusy, crisp and tailor-made for easy drinking.

Main Course
Beer-braised short rib, purple potatoes, roasted cherry tomatoes, Maitake mushrooms
Paired with Oktoberfest, crafted with Oregon-grown hops married to Northwest ingredients with a traditional German style. This light-bodied beer celebrates the harvest with a toasty malt bouquet and a touch of hop bitterness. Prost! 

Peach tarte tatin with vanilla oatmeal stout ice cream and huckleberry syrup
Paired with Vanilla Oatis, a divine blend of vanilla, coffee, chocolate and roasted malt notes swirled together to create a crisp finish. The true signature of this beer comes from adding whole vanilla beans to the final stage of conditioning – the process used to dry hop a beer. This oatmeal stout is slightly sweet with a rich complexity and is decadent and delicious.

Reception at 6:30 PM
Four-course dinner 7:00-9:00 PM
25 seats available
$50 per person includes beer and food. Gratuity not included.

Reservations available by calling Altabira at (503) 963-3600.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Spring in the Skagit Valley of Washington

While working on a project for the newly launched Bindu Trips site, I came across these beautiful photos from tulip time in the Skagit Valley.

It's a time right now of wildfires and smoke in much of the Pacific Northwest. I hope looking at these photos taken under a clear blue sky will remind all of us that this beauty is just around the corner. There is so much to do and see in the Pacific Northwest. Have a look at the new Bindu Trips and start planning!

The brilliance of the tulip fields in the Mt. Vernon area and the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival are worth putting on your spring to-visit list.

Friday, August 25, 2017

High On a Hog: Portland Chefs and Cannabis Fed Pigs

Why am I not surprised. After all, Portland is home to very creative award-winning chefs. And, it also is home to legal recreational and therapeutic marijuana. So it was just announced that September 13th, 2107 will be the date for a High on a Hog collaborative dinner.

James Beard Chef Vitaly Paley welcomes Michelin-starred Chef Brad Farmerie of Saxon + Parole in New York City for an innovative High on a Hog dinner on Wednesday, Sept.13.

Join Chef Paley, Chef Farmerie, and Headwaters Executive Chef, Tim Eckard, as they explore the uncharted territory where fine dining and cannabis coincide. This six-course menu will feature a variety of cuts and preparations from pigs that were raised on a diet of cannabis their entire lives from Dave Hoyel’s Moto Perpetuo Farm

These “stoner swines” as they’re known, are fed the unsaleable remnants from marijuana plants that would otherwise be disposed of. This is an old practice that is gaining popularity as it cuts down on waste, adds a unique and savory flavor, and makes for happy pigs!

Beverage pairings will also be served with each course, with a Cannabidiol (CBD) cocktail to be served first.

The three chefs are excited to collaborate on this groundbreaking dinner, implementing fine dining techniques in an unexplored region of the culinary landscape. Guests can look forward to these world-renowned chefs letting their creativity run wild with possibility. The evening’s meal will feature the different uses of cannabis and hemp, but no products will contain THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana. 

Wednesday, September 13th
6:30 - 10:00pm

1001 SW Broadway St,
Portland, OR 97205

Tickets are $125 per person, inclusive of food, beverages, and gratuity.
Tickets are available online through
This is a 21+ event

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Things to Do in Oregon after the Solar Eclipse

The long-awaited solar eclipse will be over by noon on Monday August 21st. Many are flocking to Oregon to experience the path of totality. When that's over there are more marvelous paths to experience in beautiful Oregon. Here are some recent experiences I have written about... lots of pictures too!

Experience a Little Bit of Germany in Quaint Mt. Angel*

Dining, Exploring and Staying at Mt. Hood's Timberline Lodge

Domaine Divio Vineyards in the Newberg Countryside *

Sip Along Eugene Oregon's Ale Trail

Have fun in Florence: Sand Dune Adventures

Willamette Valley Vineyards: Tasting and Overnight Stays  *

Enjoy the Art Town of Joseph in Eastern Oregon

The solar eclipse in Oregon takes place on Aug. 21, and will begin its partial phase at 9:04 am. The phase of totality will begin at 10:16 am on the coast, and will last around two minutes.

Portland's KGW News answers questions about the eclipse. 

*in the path of totality

New! Imperfect Produce in the Portland Area Delivers Fruits and Veggies that are Fresh and Inexpensive (Coupon Code)

What's all the buzz about Imperfect Produce? I was about to find out. It was late afternoon and I was just getting ready to look in my refrigerator and see what was there to pair with my leftover chicken. There’s always lettuce and sometimes a stray carrot or two. And I have a tomato plant on the deck. So I wouldn’t be going hungry… just getting ready for a rather boring meal.

And then the doorbell rang. A young guy with an “Imperfect Produce” t-shirt on, holding a big cardboard box and smiling, greeted me… “I have your Imperfect Produce delivery!” Dinner problem solved! We chatted a bit (he was new to the Portland area) and I took the box to the kitchen.

Inside was kale, parsely, squash, cherry tomatos, a small cabbage, beets and more. My boring dinner problem was solved. In fact, I was now faced with a challenge… how to creatively use these veggies for my dinner.

Oh yes, there were five lucious large plums too. I took one to have as a snack while I thought about dinner.

A Discount Code for Your Box of Imperfect Produce
After you read through this information, you’ll probably want to try a box too. They deliver to the Portland area and across the river to the Vancouver area too. The promo code (HELLOPDX) is good for 50% off a first box for all new customers.

What is Imperfect Anyway?
Imperfect is a produce delivery company that sources ugly produce straight from farms and delivers it to your door for 30-50% less than grocery store prices. (That’s their words. I didn’t find my produce ugly, at least in the “review box.”)

From the Perfect Produce company’s FAQ:

1 in 5 fruits and veggies grown in the U.S. don't meet the strict cosmetic standards of grocery stores, usually causing them to go to waste. Imperfect works directly with farmers to find a home for this "ugly" produce, through a produce delivery subscription in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Orange County and Portland, Oregon. Since our produce looks a little funny, our prices are 30-50% less than grocery stores. Customers save money, eat healthier, support farmers, and fight food waste. Our customers keep over 100,000 pounds of produce from going to waste every week. To date we have kept over 5 million pounds of produce from going to waste.

What are the advantages of your service?
  1. Price- Imperfect offers fresh produce to consumers at a rate 30-50% cheaper than what consumers can buy in the grocery store.
  2. Environmental Impact- We help close the loop on food waste by keeping over 100,000 pounds of produce from going to waste every week. To date we have kept over 5 million pounds of produce from going to waste. Not wasting this food ends up saving wasted water, fossil fuels, fertilizer, labor, and land as well!
  3. Convenience- We make eating fresh, healthy, and sustainable produce easy by delivering boxes of fruits and vegetables right to people’s doors.
  4. Economic Impact- Imperfect supports farmers economically by helping them sell more of their produce.
  5. Social Impact- By supporting Imperfect you are supporting the fight to end food waste and hunger. We are dedicated to helping close the loop on this important social and environmental issue. We proudly partner with community food banks to help fight to end hunger. We donate thousands of pounds of produce every week to non profit organizations.
How much does a box cost?
The exact cost of a box depends on what is going in it that week and how the customer chooses to customize the box. A small box costs around $12 and a large box costs around $18. The organic boxes are slightly more expensive than the conventional boxes, however we still offer organic produce at a significant discount to our customers. 

What makes the produce “ugly?”
The reality is that 1 in 5 produce items does not meet the strict cosmetic standards of grocery stores. Because of its appearance they cannot be sold. The industry term for these items is seconds. Examples of “ugly” include crooked carrots, small squash, or an orange with scarring or discoloration. A large amount of produce goes to waste just because of its size, fruits and veggies that are too big or too small.

Examples of produce that we do NOT source are: produce that grocery stores have passed on for quality reasons, moldy produce, bruised produce, old produce, or wilting produce.

We also source surplus produce. When a farm has a larger than expected crop of a fruit or vegetable there may not be grocery store demand to meet the excess supply. Imperfect works directly with these farmers to ensure that their surplus does not go to waste.

Aren’t people less likely to want to buy ugly produce?
People are conditioned to see uniform, perfect-looking produce in the grocery store but once they realize how much food is needlessly wasted every year because of minor cosmetic quirks they open their minds pretty quickly. Honestly the most common feedback we get from customers about the appearance of our produce is "hey! This isn't even ugly at all!" 

Why do we have these standards for grocery store produce?
It’s important to remember that these standards didn’t appear overnight. If you looked at a produce market 100 years ago it would look very different than the supermarkets of today. What happened was overtime, with farms growing more and more food and produce wholesalers getting more and more competitive, grocery stores could become picky about what they would and wouldn’t buy. There’s a saying in the produce world: “pile it high and watch it fly.” Stores love produce that can stack in uniform, and physically perfect display cases. This means when they will always prefer buy fruits and veggies that are all the same size and have perfectly flawless skins and bright colors. While not all produce actually looks like this, we are growing so much food that stores can be super-selective about what they will and won’t buy. Over time, this perfection became “normal” as it was all that supermarket shoppers ever saw. The sad consequence of all of this is that tons of food ends up getting wasted in the quest for perfection.

What makes it so affordable?
We are able to offer such affordable prices because we only work with “ugly” produce that traditional produce companies don’t source. This produce currently goes to waste on farms because of minor cosmetic imperfections, such as being the wrong shape, size, or color.  By sourcing this produce straight from farmers, we can pass on the savings to consumers.  

Are you a CSA box service?
While we deliver a weekly/biweekly box like a CSA would, there are some differences between Imperfect and a traditional CSA. CSA’s source from one farm/area and are not focused on wonky/”ugly” produce. We source from a wide range of farms and focus only on “ugly”/wonky/excess produce. Fighting food waste is our number one goal and so we source a wide range of produce from a wide range of regions to make this happen.

How much produce do you keep from going to waste?
We keep over 100,000 pounds of produce from going to waste every week!

What About the Boxes Here in the Portland/Vancouver Area?
Imperfect tries to source all their fruits and vegetables from regional farmers and uses a local delivery model with different distribution hubs. They deliver their boxes as quickly as possible from farm to doorstep. Their new warehouse is located within the Portland metro area for easier distribution and quality control. Imperfect offers a variety of boxes for singles and families, and each box can be customized with just the right mix of fruits and veggies – customers chose each item that arrives in their box each week. Portland metro residents can sign up for the new delivery service and remember that my readers can use the code: (HELLOPDX) is good for 50% off a first box.

Cooking with Imperfect Produce
As I put together my veggie sauté that night, I realized that everything was crisp and fresh. I put several things together as a side for my piece of chicken and it was delicious. 

The next night I used a crisp green pepper in my salad and today…. I think I’ll make cole slaw from my little cabbage. This turned out to be fun.

Here’s More Information on Imperfect Produce:

Social: Instagram, Twitter and Facebook: @ImperfectProduce

Note: These are all my iPhone photos from that first Imperfect Produce food box.