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.