Northwest Wine & Food Festivals Highlight Local Restaurants, Wineries

With spectacular climate, plenty of rain, and wide open spaces, the Pacific Northwest has a beautiful abundance of fantastic food and wine producers, from northern Washington to southern Oregon and everywhere in between. Over the weekend, two great wine & food festivals took place, featuring a few of the marvelous chefs and wineries found throughout the Northwest.

While I attended the Northwest Food and Wine Festival here in Portland, guest writer Arik Abel had a chance to check out the Taste of Tulalip just north of Seattle.

Taste of Tulalip

About 40 miles north of Seattle you’ll find a small Indian Reservation town called Tulalip, where visitors congregate from all over the state of Washington to bargain hunt at the Seattle premium outlets and win it big at the Tulalip Resort Casino.

But there was a special class of visitors on Saturday and Sunday.

Over sixty winemakers, from small lots to nationally distributed hometown heroes, all gathered at the resort to share in a Dyonisian display alongside the chefs of the Casino’s several acclaimed restaurants. Dubbed the Taste of Tulalip, the atmosphere was both spirited and competitive. Arranged similar to a tradeshow, with food tables strategically placed throughout the event space, vintners up and down the aisles competed for a moment of your time to pitch their creation.

Who were the best wines on the scene? Here’s how I placed them:

Most Memorable Wine
Indomitable by Woodinville Wine Cellars.  The owner couple told me it was the wine to beat at the event, and after tulalip_fidelitastasting it, I had to agree.

Most Effective Marketing Team
The good folks at the Fidelitas booth were the only pair of the day that drew me in with a call to action of “Try all of our wines”.  Off to a good start with the proposition, their wit and charm lured my guest and I to stay and learn as much about Fidelitas as we could in one tasting.  Though I wasn’t in the wine purchasing mood, I was impressed.

Most Attractive Presentation
The wines of K Vintners out of Walla Walla snagged me with their stark black and white labels and wax bottle caps on their wine, Ovide, making me stop and wait until the absent wine pourer returned from whatever she was doing.  I stood there for several minutes just staring at Ovide’s bottle.  Nice identity work, K Vintners.

While the spotlight of the day was on the wine, great food was not hard to find.  The table that had me circling like a shark on chum featured the flavors of Chef Dean Shinagawa, of Tulalip Bay Restaurant.  I give Dean’s trio of Lobster Tempura, Pan-seared Ahi and Thai Curry Butternut Squash soup my overall vote of Best Stuff Other Than Wine.

All in all, the event gave me a great reason to make the drive north. A big thanks to Sarah at Richmond PR for the invite, to Wine Spectator magazine for sponsoring the event, and to all the winemakers and chefs that made Taste of Tulalip a success.

tulalip_crabahipoke tulalip_kvinters

~Arik Abel

Northwest Food and Wine Festival

Much like the Taste of Tulalip, the Northwest Food and Wine Festival was assembled to showcase great restaurants and wineries located around the area. Configured in the basement of the Memorial Coliseum, the event was a wonderful sampling of food and wines, including favorite Portland eateries Belly Timber, Mama Mia Trattoria, and Davis Street Tavern.nwwff_original_hotdogs

Dinerant The Original featured various hot dogs from their quirky menu, which also includes the much-discussed Voodoo Doughnut Burger, from the Portland dog with smoked salmon to the Chicago dog with chili and cheese.

Other offerings included delish bits of cookies and sweet delights from the Heathman Restaurant, lamb bites from caterer Simpatica, a yummy gorgonzola fondue from Chez Joly, a fabu fruit and vegetable display from Charlie’s Produce, and wines from a whole host of local wineries like Duck Pond Cellars, Airfield Estates, and Eola Hills.

nwwff_cheese nwwff_cookies_heathman nwwff_color

~Jennifer Heigl

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