The Tulalip Resort stands like a beacon along the stretch of Interstate 5 between Seattle, Washington, and Vancouver, British Columbia. It beckons weary travelers like an oasis in the desert, the brightly lit black and white orcas adorning the multilevel hotel beaming amongst a sea of strip malls and outlet shopping. Inside, the resort is heavily decorated in the colors and symbols of the Tulalip tribes governing the operation, beams of hand-carved wood, bears, wolves, and ravens at every turn. The four-diamond hotel rooms, with their comfort and chic décor, easily rank among some of the best in the city, providing a warm respite along the freeway corridor. Originally established as a bingo hall back in the 80s, the gambling destination now includes a 192,000 square foot gaming space, offering the ping-ping of a roaring casino miles from the more frequented Las Vegas strip. Much like its Sin City counterparts, waitresses maneuver through the carpeted great room of slot machines and card tables all day and night, passing drinks to guests taking drags off a succession of cigarettes, hoping to hit it big. It seems as though most of the weekend crowd are locals just barely over the legal drinking limit, ducking into the mPulse Lounge or Canoes Cabaret to partake of the only nightlife for miles around. Except for once a year, when there are a few more sequins and heels, when event tickets are a little pricier, and the annual Taste of Tulalip arrives in style.
Now in its fourth year, the Taste of Tulalip boasts a handful of nationally-known names each year, with emcee Leslie Sbrocco of Thirsty Girl, along with the resort’s sommelier, Tommy Thompson, and chef Perry Mascitti, anchoring the gathering. Chef Marcus Samuelsson was this year’s guest headliner, bringing stacks of Yes, Chef books for the crowd, and doling out tips on making his coconut milk-infused Red Rooster fried chicken. As a fundraiser for local hunger charity Food Lifeline, the weekend event schedule included Friday’s Celebration Dinner, and a handful of gatherings on Saturday, including a “He Said, She Said” wine tasting with Sbrocco and Thompson, Samuelsson’s cooking demo, an amazing Magnum Party, and the well-coordinated Grand Tasting.
While the wine selections were vast, including both Washington and Oregon wines as well as national and international selections, the food was solely created and executed by the staff at Tulalip Resort. Chefs from Blackfish (which Samuelsson noted was his favorite on the premise), Tulalip Bay, Cedars Café, Eagles Buffet, and Canoes Carvery all stepped up to provide bites at the events, from sushi to scallops to a “duo of duck”. A few of my favorite pours throughout the weekend included a 2006 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, a 2002 Louis Roederer Cristal, the 2008 Woodinville Wine Cellars ‘Indomitable’, and the 2010 Penner-Ash ‘Pas de Nom’ pinot noir. And, of course, there were desserts…
*Photo credit: Jennifer Heigl / Daily Blender
**Many thanks to Tulalip Resort for hosting me during the weekend! I had a marvelous time and certainly hope to visit again next year!