Friday, November 17, 2017

La Fonda: Luxury New Mexico Hotel Known as Santa Fe’s Living Room

La Fonda is Santa Fe. Situated on a corner facing the iconic Santa Fe Plaza, La Fonda has welcomed travelers since the early 20’s. If you want to get a true sense of Santa Fe style and hospitality, stay at La Fonda. Or, at a minimum, enjoy a sunset with a signature margarita in hand at the rooftop Bell Tower bar.

La Fonda Santa Fe
La Fonda at night. Photo courtesy: La Fonda

La Fonda: Part of Santa Fe History

City of Santa Fe records indicate that La Fonda sits on the site of the town's first inn, established when the city was founded by Spaniards in 1607, making La Fonda the oldest hotel corner in America. It is the only hotel marking the end of the old Santa Fe Trail.

One of the reasons you’ll want to visit La Fonda is that it is an excellent example of traditional Santa Fe architecture. The hotel you’ll see today was built in 1922 and features the influence of famous architects Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter and John Gaw Meem.

Within the adobe walls of La Fonda are many treasures. When I first visited I had the pleasure of meeting the traditional Spanish artist who had painted the glass panes and furniture in the rooms. His artwork was traditional folk art and he had a workshop in the hotel’s basement.

With the recent renovation of La Fonda comes more art. Chandeliers were taken out of storage and refurbished. Recent art additions include paintings by contemporary artists Tony Abeyta, Mateo Romero and Marla Allison.

La Fonda has launched an Artist-in-Residence program. You can experience a working artist studio every Thursday through Saturday afternoon in the lobby of La Fonda.

They call La Fonda, “Santa Fe’s Living Room,” and when I lived in Santa Fe, I felt it was my downtown home. I’d take a break from the heat of Indian Market and sink down into one of the cool leather couches admiring the Gerald Cassidy (1879-1934) paintings… the dark and intriguing Los Matachines caught my eye.

La Fonda Santa Fe
Los Matachines Lobby Art.
The dance-drama of los Matachines is an ancient tradition in the Hispanic Southwest.
It is one of the very few dances shared by both Hispanic and Native peoples.
The beautifully tiled women’s room was a stop as I walked from Canyon Road, through the Plaza toward my home by the historic Rosario Cemetery. On some Friday evenings, I’d meet friends there for a drink in La Fiesta Lounge.
La Fonda Santa Fe
La Fonda lobby - a cool retreat or a place to meet.
Photo courtesy: La Fonda
For a glimpse at the art of La Fonda, enjoy this article in Western Art Collector. And when you are in Santa Fe, take a free docent-led tour of the history, lore and art of La Fonda.

Staying at La Fonda

Least you think the accommodations are creaky and historic, you need to know that La Fonda recently went through a major renovation. Rooms are state of the art while maintaining the look and feel of the traditional Santa Fe style. I’ve stayed at La Fonda twice, but haven’t had the pleasure of returning since the renovation.

I was surprised to find out that La Fonda added rooms in a newer section of the hotel. The section called The Terrace at La Fonda, a decidedly boutique hotel feel. With a separate elevator and a designated on-site concierge, the newer, and more spacious section is close to a beautiful ballroom and terrace with a view of Santa Fe’s Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis.
La Fonda Santa Fe
On the terrace outside the ballroom.
15 one-of-a-kind luxury Santa Fe suites and rooms brought a new level of luxury to La Fonda guests.

The Terrace provides amenities such as Wi-Fi, plush bathrobes, Egyptian cotton bedding and a Keurig coffee maker. The luxurious Terrace rooms offer exclusive access to your own private concierge, balcony and a private fitness center and hot tub on the Terrace patio.
La Fonda Santa Fe
Spacious Terrace suites. Photo courtesy: La Fonda
But now with the renovation, more rooms at La Fonda have the same upscale feel. Each guest room offers a different experience, featuring a plush bed adorned with a hand-painted headboard as well as handcrafted furnishings and original artwork. 
La Fonda Santa Fe
Traditional King Bed Room
Note the hand painted headboard, punched tin lamp and armoire
and local Native art. Photo courtesy: La Fonda

Many rooms offer stunning views of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis Assisi or the Loretto Chapel. Amenities you would expect of a top hotel are there, along with historic touches.

Rooms range from the basic cozy rooms to suite guest rooms. 
La Fonda Santa Fe
One bedroom guest suite with Kiva fireplace.
Note the painted furniture, Native American art and tile floor.
Photo courtesy: La Fonda

Dining at La Fonda

La Plazuela, situated in the location of the hotel's original 1920's outdoor patio, is now indoors. With a fountain in the middle of the dining room, skylights and floor to ceiling windows, you’ll have that courtyard feeling year ‘round.
La Fonda Santa Fe
I love the courtyard feel of La Plazuela
Photo courtesy: La Fonda
I found it a wonderful place to meet someone for breakfast. Ask for a table by the fountain and you’ll feel like you are outdoors. You’ll find the cuisine to be both traditional American and deliciously New Mexican. New Mexican cuisine with a modern twist is how some of the most popular dishes are described.
La Fonda Santa Fe
My favorite breakfast dish... French Toast
enjoyed by the fountain at La Plazuela
At dinner look for seasonal selections including delectable Filet & Enchiladas, spicy rubbed Wild Boar Loin and Pan Fried Rainbow Trout.

The rooftop Bell Tower Bar has been renovated and, weather permitting, offers the best seat in town for a Santa Fe sunset. They serve informal lunch and dinner. Try the Bell Ringer margarita, their signature drink. It’s a spicy drink with jalapeno.

La Fonda Santa Fe
The Bell Tower Bar is the best place to be at sunset
Photo courtesy: La Fonda


New Touches to Look For at La Fonda

There is so much to discover... the old and the new. The beautiful new gift shop called “Detours” after the Harvey House Indian Detours used to be small and tucked into a corner. Now look for the original carved wooden Indian Detours sign that is mounted behind the cashier’s desk in the new and expanded gift shop. The store now occupies the large space on the corner of Old Santa Fe Trail and San Francisco Street. It features a variety of works by New Mexico artists.

A highlight of the new lounge and bar are the wooden tables inlaid with the Mimbres designs of Mary Colter (she also used these same designs in her china patterns) and a giant 5 foot iron rabbit named Harvey which stands in the back of the bar, also the Mary Colter design which she originally used as standing ash trays in the lobby.

Learning More About La Fonda

For a quick read on La Fonda history and some great photos, have a look at the book, From Every Window – A Glimpse of the Past (.pdf).

Completed in October 2016, La Fonda Then & Now, is a beautiful coffee table book that chronicles the life of the hotel, from the early Fred Harvey years to present day.  This 224-page book is richly illustrated with vintage archival and contemporary images, many of them never seen before. 

La Fonda on the Plaza Website
100 E. San Francisco St., Santa Fe, NM 87501
Toll Free 800-523-5002 • Phone 505-982-5511
Fax: 505-988-2952

Friday, November 10, 2017

North Drinkware Launches New Blue Mountain Cobalt Collection

Launching today, North Drinkware is launching the limited edition Cobalt Collection featuring Mt. Rainier and Mt. Hood in the base of these stunning glasses. Using the accurate USGS data of the Pacific Northwest’s most iconic peaks, these 16 oz. pint and 8 oz. tumbler glasses are a new take on the classic North Drinkware Pint and Tumbler.

I first heard of North Drinkware when they were launching their clear Mt. Hood tumblers and pints. With a mountain in the bottom, looking exactly like our favorite mountain, I was entranced. 

The Cobalt Collection
 It takes more than 15 steps over the course of 2 days to make just one of their glasses. And they have added The Maroon Bells - two of Colorado’s most iconic 14'ers, California’s Half Dome from Yosemite and Camel's Hump, Vermont's most iconic peak. They also have laser-etched coasters to coordinate.

While only the Mt. Hood and Mt. Rainier glasses are available in blue, you can see the company is expanding, much to the delight of those who love our mountains and our outdoors.

Buy yours from North Drinkware or one of their retail partners.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

5 Special Holiday Experiences in the Western U.S.

The western United States, depending on the altitude and the day, can experience either mild or frigid weather. And so holiday events can range from cozy indoor dining to outdoor walks. We love the diversity of this area and have some wonderful ideas for your holiday in the West:

1. Warm Up with a Russian Tea Experience in Portland, Oregon
Russian Tea. Photo courtesy Headwaters
High Tea usually brings up images of cucumber sandwiches and ladyfingers. But in Portland, there is something new to experience on the tea scene. Noted Portland Chef Vitaly Paley and his staff add a Russian flare to tea that draws from Paley’s own Russian family heritage. The new Russian Tea Experience at Headwaters at the Heathman brings you specially formulated Smith Teamaker teas and dishes from Paley’s mother’s and grandmother’s recipe boxes.

2. Enjoy the Art and Bonfires on Canyon Road in Santa Fe, NM
Gallery windows on Canyon Road. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose
Santa Fe in Spanish means “holy faith,” and so it is fitting that Santa Fe, New Mexico is a true Christmas destination. Like other more well known Christmas destinations Santa Fe has all the magic, the lights and the joy of the season. However, the Christmas celebrations in Santa Fe are also deeply rooted in faith, history and culture. What you will experience in Santa Fe at Christmas is beautiful, authentic and spiritual. Here are some tips on how to enjoy a southwest Christmas in Santa Fe.

Full Article on Christmas Eve on Canyon Road.

3. Experience 5 Portland, Oregon Holiday Experiences

Tubas in Pioneer Square. Photo courtesy Travel Portland
Rainstorms or not, Portland, Oregon is filled with holiday spirit. Since the Pacific Northwest is known for having some damp, grey weather this time of year, the sparkle of lights and decorations is more than welcome. Here are some great places to enjoy holiday events and decorations and 5 of my favorite wow spots to experience Christmas in Portland.

4. A Favorite Holiday Event in Anacortes, WA - Winter Wonderland Walk

The Grinch. Photo by
Lara Dunning
Looking for a unique Pacific Northwest holiday celebration? At Winter Wonderland Walk in Anacortes, guests follow a lighted path to decorated campsites at Washington Park where festivities include caroling, s'mores, roasted chestnuts, campfires and the Grinch and Santa. 

5. 3 Ways to Celebrate the Holidays in the Skagit Valley of Washington

Holiday display in the Skagit Valley. Photo by Lara Dunning
The Skagit Valley has more than eagles and snow geese in winter, it also has charming small town holiday celebrations in Anacortes, La Conner and Mount Vernon. Festivities include a town crier, a prawn pot tree, sugar cookies, pixie dust, and a parade that includes lighted floats and marching bands. 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Alaska Airlines: Don't Put the Can in the Can Ever Again

How do I start? First of all, I have to say that I had an absolutely fabulous time touring Boise, Idaho for upcoming articles in Wander With Wonder and Real Food Traveler. Boise is fun, funky, clean, welcoming and absolutely beautiful in fall.

I had a great visit to Boise, Idaho
I spent my last day in Boise racking up quite a few steps on my FitBit. I walked from the luxurious Grove Hotel to the Capitol, and then all the way back down Capitol Boulevard to the historic Union Pacific Train Depot. I then Ubered to the beautiful Telaya Winery (great Mourvedre by the way) and Ubered to a late lunch at Juniper in downtown Boise. After a hearty burger lunch, I made my last visit to the alleyway, dubbed Freak Alley Gallery and walked back to the hotel.

I was photographing details of the Freak Alley murals.
What I didn't realize was that before the day ended, my eyes would
be feeling just like this!

I started packing.

Alaska Doesn't Always Fly Idaho Wine For Free

While visiting Boise I was gifted with two lovely bottles of Idaho wine. I looked forward to enjoying them with friends. As I put them in the cute green Boise gift bag, I started thinking.... wine is liquid. TSA doesn't like liquids. So I went on the Alaska Airlines website to learn a bit more. I read between the lines. They kept mentioning. "Up to a case of wine can be shipped free as baggage." Somewhere else I read that the wine needed to be packed well. They'd mark it "fragile," but it needed to be packed.

I looked at the two bottles of wine in the cute green gift bag and bade them goodbye. Knowing that they would not be allowed to "fly free," or at any cost, I left them as gifts for my host. Sigh... it was good wine!


Just about then my phone went "ping" and I had a message from Alaska Airlines. My 6:31 flight was delayed until 7:10 p.m. - not the end of the world. Since I had reserved a shuttle to the airport, I went early. And that's when everything went to heck in a hand basket, as they say.

Delay #2

After finding a quiet corner on the main floor of the airport with a plug for my phone, and almost falling asleep, I decided it was time to make my way downstairs to the gate. I looked at the reader board at the gate. My flight showed a further delay... this time it read that they would be boarding at 7:55 p.m. The light and bright gate agent announced that there had been a mechanical issue with the plane and it had not left Portland yet.

I schlepped my carry on bag (which by now felt like it weighed 50 pounds) over to the "Business Center" where I sat down at a cubicle reminiscent of my college days at the library studying for exams.

I was really getting sleepy.

Delay #3

The light and bright gate agent announced that there would be a further delay and didn't give a reason. He did, however, hand out $12 food vouchers, good for any restaurant in the airport. At that point I was hoping for a hotel voucher as I was really sleepy. My eyeballs were getting scratchy. But I recalled a pleasant looking restaurant upstairs and schlepped my now 60 pound carry-on up there.

I decided a healthy dinner would give me strength for whatever adventures the night would bring. So I ordered a salmon filet with salad. The cheerful waitress apologized... they had run out of salad. I could have another side. So I had salmon filet with french fries, not so healthy after all.

Good News, I Guess

The light and bright gate agent announced that our flight had finally left Portland and when it arrived, they would let the passengers deplane and we'd be off as soon as possible. Time passed and the the light and bright gate agent keep looking nervously out the window watching for our plane. Finally, he announced, with a smile, that the plane had landed. Eventually a throng of weary passengers came into the terminal and we got in line for boarding.

The light and bright gate agent then announced that the toilet on our flight was not working so, he said, "I suggest you use the restroom before boarding."

But Wait... This Isn't Horizon Air!

I lugged my now 75 pound carry-on all the way to the far gate. I was expecting to see a shiny Horizon Air Turbo Prop awaiting me. That's what Alaska flies on this route. Instead I saw something unrecognizable... SkyWest Airlines. And the plane wasn't all that shiny and new looking. We climbed up the ramp to be greeted by a weary but very pleasant flight attendant.
Oh oh, what's this?
Aircraft bait and switch?
Once  I found my seat, I looked around. The plane reminded me of those I experienced in Central America... recycled U.S. planes. When a plane got too old to fly in the U.S., name brand airlines sold them to little regional airlines in Central America. My reminiscing was interrupted as the Captain came to the cabin.

The Truth is Out!

Captain Tim explained why Flight Attendant Debbie was looking a bit harried. The flight was delayed a little bit coming into Portland. But that's when the real problems were discovered. The restroom toilet mechanism was ruined and had to be taken apart. This was no easy task. The problem, he said smiling, was "Someone had flushed a soda can down the toilet... the mechanism was then jammed." And, he added, "we have locked the restroom. It is not operable. If we let you use it, it will back up and flood the passenger compartment of the plane." The picture painted by the Captain was enough to hope no one needed to use the bathroom!

After the safety briefing, Flight Attendant Debbie told us that if anyone really needed to go, she would unlock the bathroom, and you could flush manually with a bottle of water. "But don't throw the bottle into the toilet, now," she added with a smirk.

The Flight

Captain Tim also explained why we didn't recognize the plane. He said that there had been such an increased demand for flights that they had run out of planes. While new ones were being built, a lengthy process, Alaska needed to use planes from SkyWest airlines, kind of like hiring from a temp agency (my words.) He added, "The planes are old but fly faster than the turbo-props you are used to."

I settled back hoping they flew really, really fast!

Indeed, the flight was 55 minutes and the plane stayed in the air just fine. Flight Attendant Debbie, the sole flight attendant, offered refreshments... water, ice (alcohol if there is any left, she quipped), red wine and beer. She added, they had no sodas. I wondered if that was because they came in cans? :)

The Aftermath

After we landed, I got home with my 100 lb carry-on in record time. Uber works great, I have found. And this morning I received an apologetic email from Alaska Airlines with a $75 discount coupon for a future flight.

Moral of the Story


Read more of my flying stories.

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.