Hunting (Location)

After a month of scouring VRBO and other vacation home sites, plus the local wedding sites, we had thoughts going two directions.

  1. Rent a big house for the week and host a multi-day party
  2. Find a more traditional wedding venue

We started out with our list; thinking this was a three-day affair. One day on the Eastside looking at big homes and the Robinswood House. Another driving around Whidbey Island, checking out a few options. And finally, an afternoon in Woodinville looking and tasting at two wineries.

The final decision: a Woodinville winery.

Before we signed the official contract, we started shopping their catering list. Bill was happy to see a friend on the list, and he had enjoyed many feasts prepared by their company before. I choked on the quotes. Yes, the frustration ran high when the first quote topped $185 a person (and the menu was lack-luster).

Time for a deep-dive on catering. He circled back with them. I reached out to a few other options, choosing the closest caterer and the cheapest for quotes. The cheapest was in our price range. The closest…well, let’s say I got sidetracked on their website. They also host weddings on site. So, we decided to both quote another location and also the on site option. It took just one review of the options to set up a visit to Willows Lodge.

An afternoon at Willows Lodge. A visit where 90% of the conversation was about the on site options.

We met with Erin, the catering manager, for a tour and review of the options. The important questions were covered – could we fit everyone outside at one long table? Was a five course sit down menu in our budget? Can we bring our own champagne?

We sat in the Fireside lounge, enjoying truffle fries and a flight of red wine as we looked through photo books for inspiration and talked about the kids playing bocce ball when they were tired of being little adults at the dining table. Our conversation digressed to kids that swim and what to give up for lent. Hopefully, it signaled the beginning of a solid working relationship. Since Erin has no clue what she signed up from with this groom. We walked away with a contract. And the numbers needed to plug into the budget one late time (I hope).

All of this fun was quickly forgotten as we started our evening at the Herb Farm. Then enjoyed an impromptu overnight stay at Willows. The bonus: our room overlooked the garden where we may decide to get married. I enjoyed peering out the window in the morning at what may become our location. And then completing the moment with the walk of shame.

Of course, we found time that next day to pencil out the options. And, by the end of the weekend the venue was settled. Willows Lodge. Now the only thing that could make us regret the decision was the Chateau St. Michelle concert schedule (as Erin warned that the area does get crazy on concert nights).

My Shoes

The most important part of wedding shopping is the shoes! Maybe its time for my first pair of Jimmy Choo’s…

The first pair was found without a dress. It started with a slip of my foot into a pair of Jimmy’s with a little crisscross strap on the toe. Then a beautiful pair of Christian Louboutin’s. That pair only lasted a few seconds – totally wrong for my arches. I really want a pair that I would want to wear again and again, not just for the main event! Luckily I found a simple pair of Badgley Mischka sling-backs, covered in silver sparkles. Comfortable, heel not to high. But after an hour wearing at home, they started to crease at the toe. Next!

Like with the dress, before investing more time in shopping, I should think more about what I want. My dream shoes would be red and strappy and perfect to peak out from under a dress on a warm summer night. Red seems to be impossible when browsing online.

Pair two also was bought before the dress. This time on a girl’s day – lunch, movies, shopping. New shoe options were in store since the pair one trip, so many new choices. None in red. I did find strappy, summer sandals fit for a wedding night. Stuart Weitzman’s with a little touch of Swarovski crystals. And my feet loves Stuart!

And now we just need to find heels for my girl…



A Menu for Red Heads

To celebrate the season of red – and a belated birthday dinner for just us – he made a reservation at the Herb Farm. This week (or maybe month), the menu is titled “A Menu for Red Heads”. And we learned the uniqueness of the menu is that first the wine sommelier (and team) choose the wines from around the Pacific Northwest to feature. Then the chef paired the food (perfectly, I might add).


  •  Rutabaga Root Soup, Quinault Steelhead Caviar, Shiso, Horseradish Cream.
  • House-Cured Copa, Egg Salas, Sea Beans, Oregon Olives, Elderberry Capers.
  • Batter-Fried Sablefish Brandade, Dill, Beet-Onion-Apple-Celery Root Remoulade.

2007 Indigo Sparkling Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon

Red Wine with Fish

  • Seared Coriander-Crusted Pacific Albacore Tuna, marinated Jerusalem Artichokes, Baby Leeks, Guanciale Vinaigrette

2010 Teutonic Wine Company “Bergspitze” Pinot Noir, Chehalem Mountains

Pig in the Patch

  • Pork Cotechino Sausage, Pumpkin Sauce, Wild Mushroom-Kale cannelloni, Cold-Pressed Oregon Koroneiki Olive Oil

2010 Palotai Kadarka, “Bull’s Blood”, Southern Oregon

All Quaked Up

  • Lavendar-Cured Moulard Duck Breast
  • Charred Pears and Turnips with Black Pepper, Oregon Black Truffle Sauce

2010 Idilico Graciano, Upland Vineyard, Yakima Valley

Long-Braised Short Rib

  • Grilled 72-hour Braised Painted Hills Angus Short Rib
  • Caramelized Cauliflower Puree
  • Pagout of Controne Beans, Cauliflower & Chickpeas, Watercress Pool

2010 Avennia Arnaut Syrah, Boushey Vineyard, Yakima Valley

Noix et Roie

  • Coco-and-Boletus-Mushroom-Coated Duck Foie Gras Torchon
  • Walnut-Prune Compote, Sourdough Waffle, Green Walnut Nocino Syrup

Red Ice. Blue Cow.

  • Rogue River Blue Cheese Chantilly Cream,
  • Wild Huckleberry-Ruby Port Granite, Rosemary Meringues
  • Oak. Smoke. Shocolate.
  • Spiced Chocolate Bavarian, Smoked-Salted Caramel, Cherry-Oak Sherbert

2010 Brian Carter Cellars Opulento (Touriga Nacional, Souzao, Tinto Cao), Yakima Valley

The location:

The Herbfarm | 14590 NE 145th Street |  Woodinville, WA 98072 | 425-485-5300 | Website

Sweet Potato Fries with Maple Dijon Glaze

In a recent weekly vegetable box, I received a handful of sweet potatoes. So it was time to find a recipe to showcase them with a salmon dish tonight. And I (we) scored! These fries are delicious with salmon (broiled with olive oil and a little salt and pepper) and a glass of white wine (Meadow from Ross Andrews).
  • 4 medium to large dark red sweet potatoes (often called Garnet or Jewel yams)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 2-3 Tbsp fresh herbs (sage, rosemary, and thyme are best; but any combo works)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 425º F.
  2. Wash garnet yams well under cold water and remove the pointy ends. Slice the yams into long thin strips about 1/4 inch thick. The best way to do this is to slice them into 1/4 inch thick “planks” first and then stack up two or three planks to cut into strips. ((I varied the recipe and cut into rounds as my potatoes were on the small side)
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, olive oil, mustard, herbs, and seasonings.
  4. Toss yam strips with glaze and spread out evenly onto a baking sheet. Be sure not to crowd them as they will steam and turn mushy.
  5. Bake for 10–12 minutes or until lightly browned. Some smaller pieces may brown or blacken a bit at the edges, but this is fine.

Serves: 4 to 6

Le Cuvier 2009 Zinfandel

A great night to grab a bottle from our wine club shipment. We choose the 2009 Zinfandel from Paso Robles.

The crazy, verbose winemaker writes:

Silk draped across a shapely thigh, trailing down fine long legs, redolent of scarlet raspberries crushed in a mortar with pungently fresh oregano & the dark red essence of a tea rose at high noon; note the scent of plum frangipane passionately wresting with Limousin clafoutis: the kind baked with cherry pits for deep flavor, touched by camphor & with a fresh grind of white pepper corns.

My notes:

Yummy. Bold. Fruity. Delicious. One adjective to count my decades.

Pairs wonderfully with Pizza. Birthday Pizza.

Recycling Recipes

Now that year 41 is coming to an end, it seems ambitious to have set the goal to try 42 new recipes. Looking in the archive, I only have about 20 blog posts. As the girl says “FAIL”!

Part of my failure comes from my lack of recipe following. I often adjust depending on ingredients in the cupboard (daily trips to the market are not in my genetic pool). So I didn’t want to post my version, but rather the original recipe as intended. But without knowing exactly how good the real recipe was, I didn’t want to publicly endorse the recipe.

Another part comes from only wanting to post the very successful recipes. Only ones I wanted to eat again. And looking though the archive, almost every recipe has been made at least twice. (Accomplishment hidden in there).

Regardless of my excuses, I know I didn’t attempt 41 new recipes. That is almost one a week. And that is a lot to fit in the weekly meal planning for me. I know I did eat more than 41 new dishes…and likely enjoyed close to 41 new dishes. I also know that as I find a recipe to share, I will blog about it (I am finding that is an easy way to also keep track of recipes).

Now, what do I do for year 42?