It ends up that skiing is more exhausting than I’d remembered. Perhaps it’s because I turned 50 last year. Or maybe it’s because of my extended hiatus. Fortunately, Wenatchee had a cure for this: Fabulous dining and more wine. One of the many gems found this weekend was Shakti’s restaurant. Those who know me best understand my obsession with lamb. Shakti’s lamb was among the tastiest dishes I found in the valley. The presentation was striking (as any great lamb rack should be) in a sea of cabernet demi-glace. Beautifully garnished with rosemary, and coupled with the perfect amount of gorgonzola and mustard, the portion was more than generous. I’m a stickler for temperature, and found my rare-medium-rare request perfectly executed. Paired with the balanced flavors of Malaga Springs’ malbec (brought by my new-found friend Jan) the meal and the day left me pleasingly sated.
My next day had only a few plans. I’d heard from bus-mate in Seattle that Pybus Market should be on my must-see list. I still had more wineries on my passport to visit, too. The day kicked off at Pybus Market. I really didn’t expect the market to compare to places like Pike Place, Granville Island or Boston’s Faneuil Hall Market. Was I ever wrong! Pybus is loaded with unique shops and restaurants. Even on a sleepy Sunday morning, the area was bustling with vendors setting up their wares – happy to give samples of nuts and veggies and gelato and anything else that was on display. The Market itself, I found, was a public/private endeavor between the Port of Wenatchee and local orchardist-done-good Mike Walker. The Port had the opportunity to create something amazing in the shell of an old steel mill, and Mr. Walker had a dream of giving back to this riverside community. The result is nothing short of spectacular. Patios on the river side of the building (specifically designed for shade-seekers during hot summer days), give way to views onto the Columbia River. An eclectic array of vendors from butchers and bakers to olive oil makers should draw the interest of a wide variety of shoppers. Looking over their upcoming list of events, I simply cannot wait to return on my next visit to shop and snack and afternoon away. My delicious Sunday brunch surprise? Fire Pizzeria’s goat cheese pizza with fig marmalade and locally-cured ham with local brews from Deschutes and Iron Horse Brewing.
With a snowstorm brewing in the Cascade mountains, we decided to work our way down the valley with a mid-day departure to Seattle. A stop in Cashmere at the Mission District Tasting Room was akin to a child’s stop at a candy store. Distilleries, wineries and even a coffee roaster make their home in an old warehouse tucked off the central business district near the Aplets and Cotlets factory. The majority my time was spent with the friendly hosts at the Horan Estates Winery tasting room. Each bottle tells a story at this tasting room with tales from the Horan family. I chose the Mike Horan Merlot – a tasty cabernet – to take back to Seattle for a toast honoring Mike Horan’s big win in the first National Apple show. (This award, by the way, reaped him an enormous $2,000 and the title “Apple King”. The photograph of a 1910 Buick purchased with is winnings adorn the label).
With wine in my back seat, sore muscles from skiing and a lingering satisfaction of the gems found within the Wenatchee Valley, I directed my Bluebaru once again across Stevens Pass – but my mind was already planning my next visit to the area.