I had a great birthday weekend! We had planned to go to the coast but weather was REALLY bad so we had to figure out a good birthday weekend, QUICK! I decided that instead of blowing the whole budget on one dinner (a common plan that has worked beautifuly in some years), I would enjoy my favorite meal of the day (breakfast, which I never enjoy during the week) both Sat. and Sun. and get out of the house into the great outdoors on Sat.
So we started with Saturday breakfast at the Original Pancake House in SW. We needed a big meal to fortify us for a day of wine tasting! Never disappointing, if a bit expensive for breakfast, this place delivers a great breakfast everytime and is usually worth the 30 minute (or more) wait. Had a great huge german apple pancake (puffy oven baked with apples glazed with cinnamon and brown sugar) with a side of their great thick-cut bacon. Coffee here always comes with real cream, yum. Partner had a plate of yummy pecan pancakes (both in the pancakes and on top of them - lots of nuts!) with real blueberry syrup and a couple of sausage patties.
Then off we went, right down 99W (the OPH was a good location too!), to taste and purchase wine and take a romp in some of the lovely vineyards with the little dog (yes, an actual 4-legged dog). What a great time we had. Partner was a terriffic designated driver but still got to taste here and there. Little dog was patient and loved the beautiful scenery...especially the little pond on Erath's land.
We started at Rex Hill and went to several wineries/vineyards off of 99W - some places tempted us off of the beaten track, and ended at Erath. Even though I went online for info and looked at maps, nearly every place we went had a "tour the wine country" kind of pamphlet and I started using that as we were on the trail - it had better descriptions of the places and their products.
The descriptions of the wines prompted us to visit Laurel Ridge which is a bit off of the beaten track in a new (still being built) building. They make good methode champenoise sparklers and pinot noir port. The port, especially, is worth a taste. Very interesting with an almost lavendary/herbal note in it that is quite tasty.
Another highlight in a day of fabulous pinot noirs (I prefer red to white and love pinots - and you have to get choosey after a while!!) was a dessert Riesling made by Sokol-Blosser. This stuff is liquid sunshine - bright honey and outstanding, bold fruit flavors - OH so good...neat sand brushed bottle, too, although I never am wooed by packaging.
Duckpond had a nice tasting set up too (and the nicest accessory shop too, beautiful hand-made stemware and silly floating olive candles, etc.) and makes a very interesting and tasty pinot noir sparkler - red bubbly!
Most of these places had a range of wines (a few white, a few red) for complimentary (FREE) tasting as well as a listing of special or reserve wines that were available to taste for a fee. Some places, like Rex Hill, will charge you about $3-5 to taste about 2-7 wines or so - a fee for a taste of any and all on the list. Others, like Duckpond will offer a list of wines available for tastes at $1 for each wine (again, in addition to about 7 or so wines you could try for free).
We hit about 5-6 places that day in about as many hours and bought about 6 bottles of wine. I felt the effects of the wine slightly but was not drunk or even really tipsy (and because of that huge breakfast, we did not stop to break for lunch and had a great sushi dinnner later that evening!).
Next morning I wanted to try a new place for my birthday breakfast. I decided on Zell's, having heard so much about it from so many places. Wow. Really, really good food. Had a great smoked salmon scramble with terriffic potatoes. We ordered a plate of 3 pumpkin pancakes to try - soooo good!! Free scones are tasty too (but not what I think of when I think of scones). GO. TO. ZELL'S.
So, with all of that yummy food and drink and lots of women's basketball on tv and the love of a good woman and an amazing dog, I can honestly say that turning 36 feels pretty darn good! Glad to have done it in the NW, too.