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Walla Walla - Merged Topics

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Hi everyone! We are actually leaving for Walla Walla tomorrow (got our vacation dates mixed up, oops.)

I was excited to see that most of the suggestions I got from Pike and Western were similar to the ones in this thread. Here's our rough itinerary:

Sunday afternoon:

Va Piano (closes at 4pm)

Pepperbridge (closes at 4pm)

Tertulia (closes at 5pm)

These three wineries are located in the same area and are only open on the weekends, so this was the only time we could fit them in.

Monday:

Rulo

Waters Winery

Ash Hollow tasting room

We had to book an appointment at both these wineries.

Tuesday:

Amavi (open daily)

Buty (open almost daily)

Spring Valley/Patit Creek Tasting rooms

We'll have to get Abeja at Whitehouse Crawford or Creektown, as their tasting room is now closed. Unfortunately, aMaurice is closed for a few days when we're in town as they are making a trip to the fermenters, but their wines are available at Whitehouse Crawford, 26brix, and Saffron, in case anyone else is interested.

I know Abra didn't particularly enjoy Whitehouse Crawford, and Ledlund's "meat/salmon/potatoes" description kind of put me off, but perhaps they've changed the menu as this was almost everyone's top pick in Walla Walla when I asked for restaurant recommendations. I think we'll stop in for a meal there, and also eat at 26brix bar. Creektown also comes highly recommended, so we'll give that a try too and taste the wines at the same time.

Thanks for all your help!

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I know Abra didn't particularly enjoy Whitehouse Crawford, and Ledlund's "meat/salmon/potatoes" description kind of put me off, but perhaps they've changed the menu as this was almost everyone's top pick in Walla Walla when I asked for restaurant recommendations.

I think that it's the number one recommendation because it's the "fanciest" place in town. It's not bad, it's just more traditional is all.

I'm looking forward to your post trip review. I haven't been in a couple of years and am hoping to go back soon.


Edited by LEdlund (log)

Practice Random Acts of Toasting

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We'll post all our pictures as soon as we get back into town, but we found the food at Whitehouse Crawford pretty good, not great. I see how some people (myself included) would describe it as a "steak/salmon/potato" restaurant as those things were certainly on the menu, but they did have a few more interesting offerings (I got the squab with roasted cherries, for example.)

Abra--apparently the chef changed at Creektown 2 months ago (according to a winemaker we met who also works there one night a week.) Maybe we'll stop in for lunch but we'll probably do dinner at Saffron (which comes very highly recommended by locals). :smile:

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I think we're going to indeed skip Creektown as per Abra's suggestion. The locals seem to love this little market/restaurant called Luscious by Nature. It's really cute--we stopped in for a drink and I'll post pictures soon.

We ended up hitting a lot more wineries than planned--we went to 4 on Sunday, and 4 yesterday (plus we've had a bunch of Walla Walla wines in restaurants when we couldn't get into the winery.) A winemaker turned us onto a wine bar called Vintage on 2nd and Main and it's terrific. The girl who works there sold us the last of the Beekeeper's Blend out of her own private stash when I mentioned we couldn't get into Abeja. I had the Abeja Syrah at dinner--it was good, but it didn't blow me away. We also bought their cab sauv. as well. My favourite wines so far have been the Waters cab, the 2002 Pepperbridge Cab, and the cab from Tamarack (drank this at 26 brix.)

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Thanks to all who chimed in and helped us with winery/food recs for our Walla Walla trip! It was definitely a lot of fun, but the wine buying put a huge dent in my savings. I previoiusly thought I was fine with drinking bottles around $20, but the difference between a $20 and a $35-$50 bottle was really apparent at most of the wineries we visited. So I came away with 12 bottles of the slightly more expensive stuff from the following wineries: Abeja, Pepper Bridge, Waters, Portteus, Buty, and Walla Walla Vintners. Of the local wine I drank in restaurants, my favourites were the Tamarack reserve Cab and the Amavi rosé.

First, provisions for the drive at Glondo's.

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They were out of the beef jerky, but we stopped in again on our way home and picked some up, along with the landjaeger, a rather generous sample of the pepperoni and more of the salami. I liked the landjaeger the best.

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The drive:

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We got into town at around 2:30 pm on Sunday, and hit 4 wineries in the same area: Va Piano, Saviah, Pepper Bridge, and Tertulia.

Va Piano

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Saviah

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The tasting room is a garage.

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Pepper Bridge

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They charge the same price ($50) for all their Cabs from 2002, 2003, and 2004. I definitely liked the 2002 the best, and 2004 second best. I believe they lost their crop in 2004 and sourced grapes elsewhere (as did many of the Walla Walla wineries we visited.)

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Tertulia

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They have an upcoming wine dinner at Smash in Seattle in case anyone's interested.

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We stayed at a really cute B&B called Maxwell House. I'll post a photo later when I show you the breakfasts we ate there.

After setting down our luggage, we ventured down to downtown Walla Walla.

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Denied!

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We had dinner reservations at Whitehouse Crawford, which I gather is the "fanciest" restaurant in town.

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We both thought the menu was a bit strange--they have stuff like Vietnamese fried calamari, Asian "Shaking Beef" and French bistro-style stuff like steak frites and beef bourguinon on the same menu. They also had cherries as a component on no fewer than four of the dishes...I'm all about supporting local produce, but that seemed kind of excessive, no?

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I did love the open kitchen and the high ceilings. The room was very airy and open and a nice reprieve from the 100 degree weather.

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I believe the amuse bouche was spinach, cilantro, and toasted pinenuts. Heavy on the cilantro, but quite refreshing.

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Henry got the grilled quail and it came with Walla Walla sweets and some sort of rustic ancho sauce.

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I got the paté with pickled cherries and cornichons. Very heavy on the liver.

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My squab with roasted Ranier cherries and gaufrettes. This was nicely done--simple ingredients treated simply.

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Henry's tenderloin with Sysco fries? The sauce was very tasty. Actually, all the sauces at dinner were very nicely prepared.

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Henry's strawberry ginger sorbet. This was good--not quite as smooth as some of the sorbets I've had, but the flavour was nicely balanced.

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Twice-baked flourless Cacao Berry chocolate cake with vanilla bean ice-cream. The outer ring was more set, and the center was semi-runny.

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We drank the Abeja Syrah with dinner, which was good for the price (only $53 on the wine list, so I'm guessing it retails for $25-ish?) All in all, we both thought the food was above average but nothing to get excited over.

We soon noticed that there is no night life in Walla Walla. All the major restaurants close at 9pm (I guess last call is 8:45pm or so.) There was one wine bar that closed at 10pm, but other than that, most of the shops close by 6pm so there wasn't much to do after dinner.

Goodnight!

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Edited by Ling (log)

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Maxwell House sitting room:

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Charming, yes?

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Here's our breakfast on the first day: maple sausages, puffed pancakes, and berries

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Rulo

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Tasting room

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Rulo oak barrels (all French oak, except for a few stainless steel ones)

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backyard/winery (the owners live next door! The lady actually gave us a tour of her house too so we could see her kitchen--we had told her we liked to cook.)

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Waters (a boutique tasting room in town. Their new winery will be out in the same area as Va Piano/Pepper Bridge.)

Unfortunately, I only got this one picture at Waters. I wanted to get a picture of the tasting room but I guess we were too busy chatting. I thought the wine here was a great deal--the Cab was $40 and he gave us a pretty nice discount.

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At this point, we stopped by Salumiere Cesario and I got one of the BEST cured meat products I've ever tasted in my life. It comes from a place in NY and the meat was called "Petit Jesu". Absolutely delicious!

We went to Tino's hoping to get beef cheek tacos but they don't serve those anymore. Henry got a steak and onion burrito and I got a carne asada. Henry liked his but I thought these were just OK...

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So we got a 1/4 lb. of the Petit Jesus with lunch, and inhaled it so quickly we had to stop at Salumiere Cesario again AFTER lunch to pick up another 1/4 lb for our afternoon snack.

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I also had these chocolates from Bright's, an old-fashioned candy store in downtown Walla Walla. I got the Earl Grey, the lavender, an English toffee, and a caramel almond chocolate. The fudge is brown sugar/walnut.

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My carne asada...this monster must've weighed over a pound!

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Henry's steak and onion.

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Edited by Ling (log)

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Henry's tenderloin with Sysco fries?

If they are good enough for Keller at Bouchon...

Seriously though, great pictures. You reminded me that it's been far too long since I've been out there and I need to go back soon.


Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code

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At this point, we stopped by Salumiere Cesario and I got one of the BEST cured meat products I've ever tasted in my life. It comes from a place in NY and the meat was called "Petit Jesu". Absolutely delicious!

Hi Ling and Henry,

Do you happen to know which place in NY this came from - Salumeria Biellese, perhaps...

Click Herre for Biellese


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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At this point, we stopped by Salumiere Cesario and I got one of the BEST cured meat products I've ever tasted in my life. It comes from a place in NY and the meat was called "Petit Jesu". Absolutely delicious!

Hi Ling and Henry,

Do you happen to know which place in NY this came from - Salumeria Biellese, perhaps...

Click Herre for Biellese

Yes! That's the place. I couldn't remember how to spell it. Have you had it before?

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thanks Ling, we are planning to head out to Walla Walla soon, you liked you b&b I take it? would recommend it?

Yes, I liked the B&B a lot. We went Sunday-Wednesday and they had a great deal (3 nights, any room, $333.)

vengroff: heh heh, I think I had read that Bouchon used Sysco fries. Really disappointing! The tenderloin dish was $37, which is pretty spendy to be using Sysco fries, I think.

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At this point, we stopped by Salumiere Cesario and I got one of the BEST cured meat products I've ever tasted in my life. It comes from a place in NY and the meat was called "Petit Jesu". Absolutely delicious!

Hi Ling and Henry,

Do you happen to know which place in NY this came from - Salumeria Biellese, perhaps...

Click Herre for Biellese

Yes! That's the place. I couldn't remember how to spell it. Have you had it before?

Oh yeah - some of the best cured pork, certainly here in NY - I believe they even make a fine guanciale (cured pork jowl) - a classic Roman ingredient!


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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3 guesses which winery we stopped at next...

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It was, of course, the very popular L'ecole 41.

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Maybe I was feeling a bit under the weather due to the heat, but I didn't particularly enjoy any of these wines. Most of them tasted a bit watery to me.

Woodward Canyon in Lowden was next. We spent quite a bit of time tasting here, but I found most of the wines very alcoholic (hot?) That was pretty much all I could detect on the nose. The lady did pull out a special Cab for us from under the table that was pretty nice. I asked the lady about the amount of alcohol and she said their wines did used to contain less alcohol in past years, but everything we were tasting was at 14.6%.

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Reininger was next door, so we stopped in there as well.

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By now, we were ready for more Petit Jesu so we went back to Salumiere Cesario.

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We asked pretty much everyone we met where their favourite places to eat where, and Luscious by Nature came up pretty often. It's part-gourmet grocery, part-deli/restaurant.

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I had to take a nap after this to escape the heat. A few hours later, we walked back downtown to 26 brix for dinner.

The scenic route:

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There are chalk drawings on the sidewalks all over downtown Walla Walla.

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I guess Whitehouse Crawford and 26 brix are the two favourites of Walla Walla.

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I had a glass of the reserve Cab from Tamarack and Henry had the Sangiovese from Yellow Hawk.

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The server said they bake their own bread.

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We ate at the bar (open 4:30pm-9pm)

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Henry got the double cut pork chop with grits, apple, and grilled Walla Walla sweets. The pork was nicely pink, and the sauce was great. This was probably better than anything we ate last night, although I shouldn't recommend one restaurant over the other based on so few dishes.

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I got the gumbo, which was much runnier and less substantial than I imagined it to be.

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The chef de cuisine sent us some duck prosciutto too, which was DELICIOUS! I asked him if he had used the Michael Ruhlmann recipe and he said no, he just kind of came up with it on his own. He said he brined it for 7-10 days, and hung it for 2-3 weeks. I am so excited to make my own duck prosciutto after tasting this!

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Larkin was a really nice guy and spent a good 20 minutes talking to us at our table when our server told him she thought we were kinda into food. :raz:

After dinner, the only place open was Vintages, a wine bar that the assistant wine maker at Waters had told us about. It's located on 2nd and Main. We squeaked in right before 10pm, when they close.

They serve a bunch of local wines, so we got three glasses. I remember I drank something from Russel Creek and we forget the rest, sorry. (Too much wine at that point.)

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They also sell a bunch of wine. This was a really cool place that deserves to be checked out! I bought two bottles from Abeja here--the Cab and the Beekeeper's Blend (which I understand is no longer available.)

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Edited by Ling (log)

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"We both thought the menu was a bit strange--they have stuff like Vietnamese fried calamari, Asian "Shaking Beef" and French bistro-style stuff like steak frites and beef bourguinon on the same menu. They also had cherries as a component on no fewer than four of the dishes...I'm all about supporting local produce, but that seemed kind of excessive, no?"

Ling-I totally agree with you that the menu items you noted don't seem to fit together.

I get really frustrated when chefs try to get 'fancy' and go overboard by stuffing their menu with so many dishes from different cuisines. It's especially frustrating for those of us who live in the Northwest, and especially Washingtonians.

Walla Walla is literally the home to three of the world's most precious vegetables-fresh peas, asparagus and Walla Walla sweet onions. Combine that with lentils, strawberries, raspberries, huckleberries, corn, tomatoes, natural beef, lamb and pork, the list of Northwest ingredients is unending.

I'd like to see local chefs realize that getting fussy with a menu is actually not the answer. Just keep things simple and look in your own backyard.

Great, great report-especially your insight into the wines. I'm planning a drive down to Walla Walla this Fall during the harvest. Thanks.

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Breakfast the next morning was a little fruit cup with blueberries and cantaloupe, ham, a baked egg and cheese dish, and a pecan and cranberry scone.

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We headed off to Walla Walla Vintners, which is located in the same area as Abeja and aMaurice. Unfortunately, we couldn't make it into Abeja (closed for tasting) or aMaurice (winemaker's trip to the fermenters). This was definitely the prettiest area in Walla Walla.

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random cool car in the parking lot, and I'm holding my purchase, which I believe is another Cab

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This picture was taken at "Scenic Loop".

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Next up was Dunham and Buty.

The girl who poured our wine at Dunham told us she also worked at Saffron, a new-ish Mediterranean restaurant in town. The winemaker at Va Piano also told us he worked there, and so we opted to have dinner at Saffron that night.

Anyway, we've both had Dunham wines before and I like their Cab, but I didn't like it as much as the other Cabs we were tasting at the same price point, so I just got a Riesling. It is their first release and it was pretty good. (Plus, I didn't want to give the impression that all I drink is Cab. :wink: )

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Buty was our friends at Pike and Western's #1 pick when I asked for winery recs. Unfortunately, they're really popular and only had two wines for us to taste since they were sold out of everything else. They'll be coming out with new stuff in the fall. I bought a bottle of each wine--"The Beast" is a blend that's not available in Seattle. I liked it, but it was quite astringent so we'll probably let it sit for awhile before we open it.

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Lunch was at Onion World, which serves Walla Walla sweet onion sausages. I gotta say, we were both pretty disappointed by these sausages. The onion flavour was really mild, so it was basically no better than your average mildly spiced pork sausage.

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Edited by Ling (log)

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At this point, we stopped by Salumiere Cesario and I got one of the BEST cured meat products I've ever tasted in my life. It comes from a place in NY and the meat was called "Petit Jesu". Absolutely delicious!

Hi Ling and Henry,

Do you happen to know which place in NY this came from - Salumeria Biellese, perhaps...

Click Herre for Biellese

Yes! That's the place. I couldn't remember how to spell it. Have you had it before?

Oh yeah - some of the best cured pork, certainly here in NY - I believe they even make a fine guanciale (cured pork jowl) - a classic Roman ingredient!

I've had locally-made guanciale and am curious how it compares to the stuff at Salumeria Biellese. Would it be disgusting to say I'm considering ordering the 8-9lb Petit Jesu for myself, haha!

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I'd like to see local chefs realize that getting fussy with a menu is actually not the answer.  Just keep things simple and look in your own backyard. 

Great, great report-especially your insight into the wines.  I'm planning a drive down to Walla Walla this Fall during the harvest.  Thanks.

Have you been to Saffron? Those pictures are coming up soon. It was by far our favourite meal in Walla Walla, and they did seem to take more advantage of the local produce (e.g. not everything on the menu was served with Walla Walla onions and/or cherries. :wink: )

You are too kind with my very amateur comments about the wine. I do think I tried my best to consider everything when tasting--the nose, the weight of the wine in my mouth, the different flavour profiles, the finish, etc. I learned a lot, definitely.

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Did you get out to Yellow Hawk? For my money (and not too much of it) they make some of the best QPR wines in Walla Walla. Uh, the sangiovese happens to be my least favorite.

You guys made a heroic tasting effort, I must say!

Oh, and I meant to say that Cayuse is never open, so don't take it personally. Not at all, never, so far as I know. Their wine's all sold out way in advance and never hits the store. That store is more or less a cute ad on the main drag.


Edited by Abra (log)

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No, we didn't end up going to Yellow Hawk. I don't remember anyone mentioning it in the thread (I may be mistaken?), and it wasn't circled on my Walla Walla map. Next time we'll know! :smile:

I read your blog before our trip so we knew Cayuse is never open. It's a very cute storefront. We drove out to Oregon on our last day to look at the vines, which someone told us were planted near boulders...either we saw the wrong vines, or it was a little bit of an overstatement. We did see some vines planted in rows and rows of rocks, though.

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So afternoon my afternoon nap, we poked around downtown Walla Walla again. This is a little foodshop called "Rare Finds".

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That's canned, smoked Copper River.

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Waterbrook wasn't on our list, but it was open so we tasted wine there as well.

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We had 2 hours to kill before dinner, so I got some roasted cashews at Bright's Candy shop.

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They make their own chocolates and fudge, and they also sell Dreyer's ice-cream and one other brand...maybe Grand's?

old-fashioned candy jars

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decent selection of chocolate bars, including Valrhona

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We also killed some time at Coffee Perk, which I think is a local coffee shop. It was pretty empty, while the Starbuck's next to it was packed. Injustice! I don't usually drink those blended coffee drinks, but Henry got one and it was really quite good! It wasn't very icy, but very rich and not too sweet. I had my regular iced Americano but I should've gotten my own blended coffee.

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Edited by Ling (log)

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Lorna, I do so enjoy your contributions to eGullet, and its great to see you here in your usual form! You sure are a gem!

First thoughts were that you and Henry were visiting Australia. :biggrin:

Walla Walla is such an Ozzie type name but I am now a little wiser and know just a wee bit more about a small corner of Washington State. Thanks for that.

I am always interested in the variety of cured meats available and totally green with envy reading/seeing what was offered you. I remember ex hubster making bresaola 20+ years ago here in New Zealand and the reaction from the public to a non smoked cured meat. Nowadays, bresaola is everywhere but never as good as we made it! Vacuumed packed, a dab of preservative, ...you get the picture? :wink:

And the photos are quite beautiful, enough for me to include Washington in our itinerary next year. Thanks for that too!

More please!

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I can kind of see the Vietnamese and French thing going together on one menu. With the French colonial influence on Southeast Asia I would not be surprised if there were not quite a few chefs from that region or from France who are steeped in both traditions. I think it's just a matter of balance in assembling a menu.

Rocky

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Sentiamo: Thanks for the sweet comment! I had bresaola at lunch today and I love it. (We got to eat with Faith Willinger too, so that made the meal extra nice!)

Dinner that night was at Saffron. We didn't really know what to expect since I hadn't looked at a menu online or anything, but this was definitely our favourite of our Walla Walla dinners. (I was almost going to say this was our favourite meal there, but that's actually coming up in the next post. :wink: )

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housemade bread with nigella seed and roasted garlic oil

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Appetizers:

Kobe beef cheek with ratatouille

This was excellent--the meat was of the perfect soft, pull-apart texture and the ratatouille was really nicely balanced with the sweet raisins and the acidity of the tomatoes/capers.

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Sausage and Walla Walla onion flatbread

This was also very good--the crust was super crispy and there wasn't an overload of toppings.

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Henry got the agnolotti stuffed with spinach and Berkshire pork. The sauce was a super rich brodo and some grated Parm. This was DELICIOUS! Our favourite dish of the night. The only reason I didn't order this for myself was because the portion looked a little small and I was really hungry.

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This is a spiced, roasted half a pheasant. The fried thing on top is a stuffed zucchini blossom (it was stuffed with what I think is pheasant forcemeat.) On the bottom is farro, charred corn, peas, and slivered garlic. This was also very tasty.

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So there's Saffron. Probably the least fancy of the three restaurants, but you could definitely see that the chef put some thought and lots of love into the menu. The server told us the chef makes everything from scratch (yes, it's fresh pasta), including his own preserved lemons. He even said the chef butchered a pig back in February and is curing his own meat now. The steak seemed to be incredibly popular--I saw at least 8 plates of steak going out to different tables before we even got our appetizers.

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