State Fairs and a crazy chaotic state of affairs

What I have not been doing enough of!

This summer I have not been doing enough of this.

September is slowly killing me. I have been so busy I’m surprised I have found time to breath! The weekend of Labor Day my husband and I went on a romantic retreat, the following weekend was Wild About Game, last weekend I went to Tacoma to see my family (and go to the fair which is an annual tradition!) and this weekend is Feast.

Every day this week there are pre-Feast parties for those of us involved in the event. Wednesday night I attended one where Chef Paul Qui served up Albacore tuna and grilled pork. Last night I went to a party called Pork of Ages where there were more than 20 roasted pig heads lined up (seriously!) and I got to meet author Ruth Reichl (yay!).

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Day II on Vashon: Hiking, beaches and a lighthouse

Point Robinson Lighthouse, Maury Island

The view from Point Robinson Lighthouse, Maury Island

Yesterday was our first full day on Vashon Island. Eager to see some island scenery and stretch our legs, we drove a mile down the road to the Island Center Forest. This 363-acre forest has 9 miles of hiking trails, two ponds and is open to bikers, hikers, dogs and horses.

We passed a few other hikers but mostly it was very quiet, and besides getting a little lost we were successful in finding both ponds. Though I’ll say one was definitely more of a marsh than a pond but still, it was a fun trek.

Island Center Forest, Vashon Island

Love how green it is here!

Island Center Forest, Vashon Island

Mukai Pond, Island Center Forest, Vashon Island

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Day 1 in Seattle and Vashon: Doing what we do best…eating!

Brunch at Joule, Coulotte with eggs

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, my husband and I drove up to Vashon Island from Portland to spend Labor Day weekend away from the city. On our way up, we made a side trip to Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood for brunch at Joule. We had both heard rave reviews about their food but had never been in before. In all honesty, I went in with fairly low expectations simply because of the hype but was totally blown away.

First of all, I loved the concept of their brunch menu. You can pay $17 for a walk through their buffet and you get to order an additional entrée as well. For $12 you can do one or the other, but it was well worth the money to try both. The bonus is that you get the best of both worlds — you get to eat something immediately (and we were SO hungry after the three-hour drive) but you also get a hot dish made to order, which can’t be beat.

The buffet isn’t the basic cafeteria-style line up of eggs, pancakes and toast. Instead it’s a small table of fabulously prepared items, all based on a theme. While we were there, the dishes were southwestern inspired: peaches in habanero syrup with cilantro, jalapeño pimento cheese with homemade crackers, green tomato jam, corn salad, corn bread, pickles and more.

I filled my plate and cleared it in record time. Everything was so good, but the peaches were the winner, perfectly ripe, sweet and spicy.

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Celebrating love with an island getaway

Ferry to Vashon Island

Vashon Island is definitely not a tropical island!

Last weekend my husband and I hit our 7th year marriage milestone. To celebrate, I forced him to make my favorite dinner ever — chittara pasta with roasted cauliflower, chili flakes, bread crumbs, Parmesan and a LOT of olive oil. (Side note: This was the first time I’ve actually watched him make this dish and I have to say after I saw the sheer amount of oil in it, I almost wished I hadn’t helped him make it. My god!)

But besides a fantastic dinner and a bottle of bubbles, we laid low for the day, saving our energy for this weekend instead. My husband took a very rare Saturday off and, thanks to Labor Day, we have two blissful days planned on Vashon Island in Washington.

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Crossing Bridges for Beers

Walking Man Brewing, Stevenson, WA

A full line-up of hoppy, malty goodness from the Walking Man Brewery.

A few weeks ago it was my husband’s birthday. We didn’t have anything exciting planned so I proposed a beer tour, working our way east from Portland toward the Columbia River Gorge. (So, yes, if you’re keeping score, I chose my favorite activity for my husband’s birthday and then made him drive so I could imbibe the lion’s share of beer. I know, I know, I am a terrible wife. But he still loves me, so it’s all good!)

Anyways…Usually when we drive to the gorge, we drive on the Oregon side of the river out of convenience sake. To try something different, I suggested this time we take Highway 14, on the Washington side, instead. It was a surprisingly good choice.

Even though we were headed in the same direction, being on the other side of the river made for a completely different view. In fact there was a moment when I almost felt disloyal to Oregon, thinking, “Wow, the Washington side is a much prettier drive!” But then my husband reminded me the reason for that is because we were looking at Oregon from across the river. I felt much better (though a little slow!) after he said that.

At any rate, the scenery was so gorgeous that we pulled over near Cape Horn so I could take some pictures.

The left-hand coast is Washington, across the river is Oregon.

Columbia River Gorge. The left-hand coast is Washington, across the river is Oregon.

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Business trips are better when your business is meat!

Beef Tartare, Rain Shadow Meats Squared (Pioneer Sq)

Beef Tartare, Rain Shadow Meats Squared (Pioneer Sq)

I posted a teaser last week about my business trip to Seattle in which I promised more pictures would be coming. I have finally gotten my act together so here’s how I spent my 5 days “working” in the Emerald City! (As a side note — working in the meat industry really has its perks — we ate constantly.)

On the drive to Seattle from Portland, we stopped in Olympia to get dinner at the Water Street Cafe. The food was pretty fabulous and the pasta special was super good. I’m going to ignore the sprinkling of dried parsley on the rim.

Stinging Nettle Raviolis with Fiddlehead Ferns

The next day, my friend and co-worker Breezy and I embarked on day-long trip around Seattle doing sales calls.

We started in Ballard:

Watching our lunch cook

Watching our lunch cook at Stoneburner

Roasted cauliflower with agro dolce sauce, and an incredible pizza with sausage, olives and mozzarella.

Roasted cauliflower with agro dolce and an incredible pizza with sausage, olives and mozzarella. Oh yeah, and a bottle of rosé.

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