Jan 20, 2014

September KTC: Woodinville Wines with Frank and Damian!

And then, it was September! And nevermind that it is nearly Halloween now, silly Kissers!

Oh, my dear Kissers...It is actually December. Late December. December 23, to be exact. January 14 20 here! Yes, of 2014! Happy New Year! I know I've declared that I can't work on our blog for the time being, but I found a small window to do a bit of upkeep and the majority of this post was already written. Let's see if I can take advantage of an unexpected window of free time and, as the rednecks say, "Get 'er dun!"

September brought us a new KTC format. It wasn't a weekend getaway, and it wasn't preparing dinner together. Rather, our oh-so-gallant duo Frank and Damian had planned an entire day filled with fun--and wine tastings--for us to enjoy together! Score! 

Not only that, but we would be safely chauffeured around town from winery to winery by Frank himself, our self-appointed designated driver (DD). Double score!!

Our day began at Chateau Ste. Michelle. We met in the parking lot at 10am and headed in to the tasting room. Please allow me to point out that this bright-eyed hour for wine-tasting should clearly indicate to you that Today We Would Not Be Fooling Around.
We moseyed up to the tasting counter and let Lon take care of us, walking us through the mechanics of selecting our tasting options.
William had joined us for the day as well, to our collective delight.
Sebastian didn't let a little thing like age-restrictions for wine-drinking dampen his fun:
Fernando and Shawn enjoyed having their family portrait made...
We sipped, slurped and swished to our heart's delight. Rick had remembered his notebook. and Anne regaled us with tales of how tasting wine at this early hour was actually best. She explained that, as the day wore on, one's taste buds become fatigued along with the rest of one's body, and do their job less efficiently. Who knew?
After leaving the Chateau, we piled back into our chauffeured van to head to nearby Novelty Hill/Januik.

We arrived safe and sound (Thanks, DD!), and headed inside. This space was super cool, and I had never been there before.
We were greeted at Januik enthusiastically, and shown a cluster of merlot grapes, which were being crushed that very day - we couldn't believe our luck!
Our hosts invited us outside to watch the grapes being pressed. We went outside and saw crate after crate of grapes awaiting a turn:
We'd seen this before on a MUCH smaller scale. It was so interesting to see it scaled up! Here's a video:

Sebastian was fascinated - he wanted to stay and watch more. Or maybe he hoped one of the employees would come around again with samples of the grapes for him to try!
Here are a few more action shots of the huge hopper and press:
See that big beige box at the upper right? That's one of those crates of grapes being lifted on a forklift to be dumped into the hopper.
We headed back in to get our tasting started with the lovely and knowledgeable Michelle. Here we are ooh'ing and aahh'ing over the options.
The wine tasting options at Januik were the most generous and varied of the day. As I recall, each $10 tasting fee includes a selection of 4 options to try - but from a list of a couple dozen!
We made our selections and enjoyed.
Contrary to appearances, no, Shawn is not falling asleep on Meg's shoulder. She's just enjoying a snuggle.
I was thrilled to realize that this is a one-stop place: They offer pizza! Wine and pizza. Together. On a sunny patio. We found a nice perch on said sunny patio and settled in to order some vittles and tasty beverages. Here they are now!

We chatted about a bit of everything. It was truly enjoyable to have longer-than-usual strings of unbroken conversation with our fellow Kissers, with no kitchen timer interruptions or imposed breaks due to panicked dashes to the smoking skillet on the stove. And converse, we did!

We discussed the ins and outs of fine marketing as exemplified by the waxing shop in Fremont, Wax On Spa. Have a look for yourself:
Greeting you at the front door (and providing a helpful open/closed status message) is this guy:

As we noshed and sipped, we talked about other things, too, of course...
We discussed options for our next KTC weekend escape, and kicked around options for interesting things to make/create. 
One favorite was a gluten-free granola idea - our marketing ploy would be "Gluties" - like cooties, but for those observing a gluten-free diet!
We continued to bask in the late summer sun, sipping, swishing, and smiling.
Then, it was time to move on. Next up on our list was Efeste, We piled again into the van and departed for our next adventure.
We were ushered right in and sat at a large table, a smidgen behind our planned arrival time. We were not as warmly greeted here as we had been at Januik, but we weren't worried. It tickled us to see them using their open kitchen area for canning. Look at those late summer colors!
Again, we sipped our way through these guys' standard tasting, going from the light and fruity to the rich and robust Big Papa Cabernet. 
Here, Fernando schools Rick on the proper pronunciation of "Sauvignon Blanc:"
We hung out a while longer, and enjoyed each other's company.
Sadly, in the midst of our last pour, we were unceremoniously (and rather apologetically) rushed out to accommodate a bachelorette party. Boo, Efeste.

So whatevs. That made me feel a little cranky. BUT, our day wasn't over - we had a heckuva lot more wine to taste in Woodinville, and we needed a little sustenance of the non-fermented grape variety. So all-in-all, we decided that Efeste had actually done us a favor. We were off to the next stop: The Snoqualmie Ice Cream Factory. Yay!

Before we could arrive, Sebastian reached his activity limit, and decided it was time for a snooze. He looks pretty cute all snuggled in like that.
Fernando stayed in the car with Sebastian and the rest of us piled into the cafe for a cold and creamy treat. (Don't worry, we ordered something for Fernando, too!).
We enjoyed the sun and enjoyed our ice cream...
Afterwards, we strolled the grounds of the mini-farm...
And then it was time for more wine tasting! We headed off to our final destination, Fidelitas. Again, we piled in and headed off. 

When we arrived, Fernando decided to stay in the car watching Sebas and resting a bit more, as he wasn't feeling his best. The rest of us headed in to Fidelitas and were attended by a cutie pie ex-Coast Guard guy from Texas. 
We tried several really delicious wines there, including the Champoux Vineyard Merlot, and took several bottles home with us. 
Pocketbooks a tad lighter, we were headed back out, but noticed the Mark Ryan tasting room just a few doors down. We decided to pop in for one last tasting. The Dissident Red quickly was proclaimed our all-day favorite. So nice!
We emerged into the September sun and returned to the van, voicing our collective desire to return soon to Woodinville for more wine tastings. 
Our dear Designated Driver (Guess that makes him our DDD) Frank drove us back to the Chateau where we had all parked. We did a little unloading and re-seating (read: car-seating!) and Anne and Rick graciously invited the whole gang over to their house to help them eat down their current cheese supply. So....off we went!
Look at what a lovely time we had - cheese, wine, and Actual Real Conversation. It was fantastic! Many thanks to Anne and Rick for pulling out a last-minute invitation like that - it was so nice. 
I, for one, would happily get behind a periodic KTC event during which we didn't actually cook anything. The point would be to bring a bottle of something and sit around noshing on some easy snacks or takeout - and while away the hours just catching up and visiting. All in favor?

Stay tuned for October's update - coming (probably not very) soon!

Nov 25, 2013

Orphan recipes: Polenta with tomato sauce and chili-garlic sauce over noodles

Hi Kissers! Our email server is down at work so I decided to do a little inbox cleanup of my own. I just unearthed a gem of an email from Jessica, who sent a couple of recipes to me, apparently upon my request. In either September or December of 2012. Ahem.

I have not been able to find what on earth they are from, and don't recall having eaten either one, but here are the goods:

Polenta with Creamy Tomato Sauce

Chili-Garlic Sauce (for Brenda's Noodles)

Sep 24, 2013

August KTC: More summertime fare with Meg, Shawn, & Fernando!

OK folks! Once again, reporting to you live, the Ghost of Kiss The Cooks' past! We not-so-recently convened in Fernando, Shawn's, and Sebastian's home for a summertime meal structured around late summer stone fruits and berries! Meg and Shawn organized some snacks.....
...and Fernando took some photos with his new fancy-pants camera! Doesn't that look nice? It's homemade labneh, fresh out of Meg's kitchen, served in a ruby-toned lake of summer berries-Yum!
Spiced olives...
We made a lovely Welcome cocktail: watermelon, vodka, and lime - oh, my!
Joyce and Jessica brought more home-spun summer bounty: Asian pears!
More summer yumminess...
And speaking of yumminess, here's Anne!
Green tomatoes!
Besides these pre-dinner treats, our evening's menu would include:
  • Peach gazpacho (inspirational recipes here and here)
  • Grilled salmon with berry coulis served over arugula salad
  • Peach lambic ice cream (Meg? Do you have a recipe?)
We made up a berry coulis for the salmon, with huckleberries, blackberries, and other goodies:
Lardons, yo. For the salad, of course!
Fennel - fresh and crisp, also for the salad:

Shawn asks a wise wine question: "What Would Lyle Lovett Do?"
We focused on easy, quick, non-heat-producing meal prep, so really, after an initial flurry of activity, there wasn't much to do. So we chatted! We visited! We shot the proverbial "Ess Aich I Tee!"
We enjoyed a quickly-growing Sebas:
And spied on Damian, whom we glimpsed through the curtains basking in the sun by the grill. (Frank's around here somewhere, but I didn't like the ones we took that day...Frank, you can thank us later).
Here's Rick and his very-hip new frames:
"What? You got a problem with me?!? I'll break your arm!!"
And so it was.
Not really. But it was a great excuse to show off some fancy martial arts moves.
The aforementioned grill: a birthday gift for Fernando, on its inaugural cooking adventure!
More relaxation ensued. We even put up our feet!
Sebastian decided he was ready for dinner and got settled in:
And the delights began flowing onto the table. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you grilled halloumi cheese and green tomatoes!
Why yes, those are fresh summer tomatoes with an extraordinary balsamic reduction:
Want a closer look. you say?
Our sneaker star of the afternoon: A raw peach-and-yogurt-based "gazpacho." It was super tasty!
And, of course, everything is even tastier with a smile.
We broke bread...
And posed for a group picture...
And then posed again, glasses raised...
Even Sebastian got in on the action, raising his sippy-cup to our proffered "Salud!"
This gorgeous salmon is about to go on the grill. Rick tells us that the trick is to grill fish when it's still just a mite frozen on the inside still. He says this preserves just enough moisture so that the fish does not overcook and dry out. Thanks, Rick!
A lovely arugula, manchego, fennel, and who-knows-what salad accompanied...
Where's papá? Over there!
Meanwhile, fish grills.
And then the skin side grills!
While it cooks, Sebas enjoys some "yums," courtesy of Meg...
And in a flash, the salmon is done!
Sebastian plays catch...
And then WE play catch chasing him around...
Salmon is plated...
It was just as good as it tasted! Before we knew it, it was time for dessert: A peach lambic ice cream with raspberries and gingersnaps! OMG delish!
Next up, a recap of our very-awesome Woodinville wine tasting day in September, organized by the dapper Frank and debonnaire Damian (or is it the other way around?). Stay tuned, Kissers!