Category Archives: Eating Out

Chelan, WA (Part 2)

The second day of my first trip to Chelan, WA started with another beautiful sunrise. This time, I greeted the sun with almost a full 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep, and a cup of Starbucks Via Colombian coffee. It was the perfect start to my last full day at the premier lakeside vacation spot in Washington state (from what I hear, anyway).

After a quick breakfast of eggs, bacon, and a rather bland red potato hash (my only culinary failure of the weekend, I think), it was off to Blueberry Hills Farm again. This time: for their “U-pick” blueberries. Growing up in Hawaii, such things were unheard-of. Even today, as local agriculture becomes more distributed, very few places offer a “U-pick” experience. It might be the lack of land to set aside for amateur pickers (much waste). Or, it might be the lack of amateur-harvestable crops. Berries, apples, pumpkin, and pine trees really don’t grow in Hawaii. So, off to the farm for my first berry picking experience.

I was issued a bucket, and given some instructions from the kids running the counter. There were blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries. The raspberries and strawberries were supposedly pretty rare, given the season. I was also told (by my vacation housemates) that I should go back for additional buckets if I wanted to pick blackberries – something about them squishing.

Picking blueberries wasn’t as easy as everyone else made it look. Next to every good berry was another… not so good berry. Some were shriveled in the sun. Some had been bruised, possibly by the birds that occasionally burst from the rows. Others were red/purple – unripe and really sour. It was probably part pickiness, and part inexperience, but I only ended up with 1/2 a bucket full (just over 2 lbs) where everyone else had filled more than a full bucket. But, it was enough for me. I’m still using them in my cereal, and have plans to turn some into a sauce for salmon. I’ll probably have to turn some into a clafoutis as well.

While most of the group went back to the lake for some Jet ski action, I went with the resident foodie into the town of Manson to pick up some supplies for a custard-based blackberry ice cream. While we were there, we happened upon a local co-op of artisans: oil paintings, wine, and cheese – all under one roof. The cheese shop was having a tasting. Yet another new experience (or, 30 small new experiences) for me. I ended up buying a wedge of “Red Dragon” cheese from England. The woman running the tasting said it goes well with Mexican beer. This is true. My tasting companion suggested using it in a sandwich, given the main non-cheese ingredient was mustard seed. Also good.

After a quick stop at the local Red Apple Market – an interesting mix of farmer’s market, convenience store, delicatessen, and ethnic specialty store – we were headed back through Manson towards the Firehouse 5 Winery. We had spotted their sandwich board offering wine tasting and a “wine slushie” when visiting the farmer’s market the previous day. It seemed like something worth trying. We were the first ones in the bar at 3PM. We got our strawberry/peach slushies with one of their red wines, and exited past the very large crowd that materialized just minutes later. The slushies were good – mostly fruit. For each wine glass, there was probably less than an ounce of actual wine in there – just enough to get a hint of wine taste, but certainly not enough to blow even a 0.01. Even without much wine, they were really tasty – perfect on a hot afternoon. Just 15 minutes after they opened, their bar was almost full. They were probably serving as many slushies as they were full glasses of wine. It’s curious that Yelp has no review on them… yet.

Another beer-laden cookout capped my last full day in Chelan. Overall, it was a good trip. I was a little apprehensive about being well outside of my comfort zone at the start of the trip. That quickly vanished as I got more comfortable around the group. And, again, this beginner blogger forgot to take pictures of the food I cooked. Well, there will be other cookouts. I’m sure of it. Chelan was a lot more fun than I expected, and I hope to go back next year.

Chelan, WA (Part 1)

I just got back from Lake Chelan in central Washington. It was a combination Labor Day and belated birthday celebration for a friend. Technically, she’s my ex-fiancee, but that’s a story for another day. Suffice it to say that it took a few years to get to the point where we’re actually pretty good friends.

But why would I drive almost four hours to a place I’d never been, stay in a very small house with people I barely know, and push myself well beyond my comfort zone (both in terms of “beach activity” and social interaction)? Well, this blog’s subtitle says it all. Trying new things is the essence of learning and accomplishment. Earlier this year, I resolved to try new things and ACCEPT ALL THE SOCIAL INVITATIONS! as a way of getting out of my rut. Staying in a 3 bedroom, 2 bath (small) lake house with seven people was a no-brainer.

Naturally, most of Seattle decided to take I-90 Eastbound on Friday afternoon, so what would be a 3.5 hour drive turned into 6. That pushed my arrival well past dusk. Having never driven in the area before, and having never driven significant distances at night post-PRK, along with the fact that 50% of the drive is winding rural roads with no street lights made things especially difficult. Luckily, I was driving with my ex-fiancee’s old college roommate, and she was able to keep me sane during the ride. Given the amount of time we spent at a dead-stop on I-90, it was only natural that we needed to stop in Cle Elum. If there was ever a slice of 1960’s America, this was it. The bulk of the town exists along highway 903. Most of it was closed by the time we got there (around 6:30 PM). The one place that seemed to be open was the tobacco/liquor depot: Chew-N-Butts. I’d imagine most people in town know most other people, and the entire street shuts down on high school football game nights a ‘la Varsity Blues. I’d love to live in a town like this one day.

When we finally arrived, it was well past dinner. They warmed-up some leftovers (food I had prepared the previous night and sent ahead with some people who went out early), I downed a few beers, and everyone crashed early. Except me. Insomnia again. Probably related to being in an unusual situation. The two couples had their own rooms. The two other girls shared a room. That left me on a cot in the living room. After all the lights were out, I was left wondering if I had made a mistake coming here.

The sun came up the next morning, as expected. I probably had four hours of sleep. I’m usually no good with less than 8, but in the interest of trying new things, I soldiered on. Having forgot to close the blinds on both sides of the living room the previous night, I was awakened bright and early with this view:

The day didn’t start too bad, I suppose. An hour later, everyone else was up, too. We went a mile down the road to the famous Blueberry Hills Farm for breakfast (read: coffee). Having pre-Yelped the area, I determined to try something new for breakfast. The Eggs Benedict was highly recommended. Personally, I found the hollandaise sauce to be too sour. The reaction at the table was, “it’s not supposed to be sour.” Was I going to be sick? Maybe. Was I trying new things? Yes! Fortunately, I didn’t get sick – maybe it’s just the way they make their hollandaise? Sour cream based? Lots of lemon? Who knows. At least I got a good cup of coffee (three good cups of coffee). The cinnamon rolls that everyone else had seemed like the better choice – maybe next time.

The rest of the day was spent grilling, hanging out by the lake, and drinking beer. Lots of beer. It turns out that I was the only one in the group really dedicated to beer. Everyone else was having margaritas (which they assured me wasn’t a ‘girly’ drink, but I’m not convinced). I was finally acclimating to the situation. I was comfortable around the group – many of whom I had only met once or twice previously. Perhaps the alcohol and the lack of sleep helped a bit. Either way, day one was complete – and I actually had a good time. So good, in fact, that I started to wonder if my self-diagnosed introversion was correct.

In hindsight, I really wish I had taken pictures of the food I prepared for everyone. I made (as requested by the birthday girl) my famous Lemon Pepper Shrimp. I also used flap steak – a new cut for me, in lieu of my regular inside skirt steak – to create two different marinated steak dishes: a more traditional vinegar-worcestershire steak, and an Asian/SouthWest fusion steak that I’m pretty proud of. I’ll make them again before the year is out, and I’ll be sure to post the recipes and pictures here.

Part two tomorrow!