Eleven Winery

Here in the Rocky Mountain region, we are all a buzz with the USA Pro Challenge.  We were thrilled to host for the event for the second year in a row and welcomed over 100 cyclists to climb 683 grueling miles and visit 12 of some of our most beautiful Colorado cities and towns. Of course, I use “we” loosely as I honestly don’t follow the sport myself.  But I have made it a habit to watch the five minute special on the days events following the ten o’clock news.  Does that count for anything?  And congratulations to Christian Vande Velde for being the overall winner!  USA…USA…USA!!!

To pay a little tribute, I thought now was as a good as time as any to share with you our experience with Eleven Winery.

Why you ask?  Eleven Winery was started by Matt Albee, a former cyclist himself, and his wife Sarah.  Named after a bicycle racing term, The Eleven, Matt was determined to give it his all and use all eleven teeth of his smallest cog as he switched gears from cycling to wine-making.

Now while cycling isn’t my sport of choice, wine is my drink of choice. Preferably a nice blended white wine, Conundrum and Evolution being some favorites, or a Pinot Grigio.

Washington State is becoming increasingly known for its excellent wineries and their produced wines.  In fact, the small community of Bainbridge Island has eight local wineries alone.  Unfortunately, there are only select weekends that visitors are welcomed to tour the wineries themselves, but they do have tasting rooms that offer samples to passerbys.

We found ourselves in front of the Eleven Winery while walking through Poulsbo.  I particularly enjoyed the modified sign of Kids Welcome “with parents“.  [Apparently some of the local teenagers thought this was an invitation for free booze.  Sorry kids.  Go drink your parents liquor like the rest of us did.]  If this isn’t enough of a welcome for free wine,  I don’t know what is.  

Turns out, kids really are welcome.  There is a whole corner devoted to the young’ins with train tracks and other toys.  This buys parents at least a few minutes to learn about the wines and take a few sips before the kids realize there is other merchandize in the store that is more interesting that Thomas the Tank Engine.

Their white wine selections including everything from the Dolce Grigio, the sweet dessert port, to a roussanne for those who prefer a full body flavor.  Although I did sample their Pinot Grigio and enjoyed it, I fell in love with the La Donella.  This is their current blended vintage, which changes every year to select only the best of the best of grapes.  Three bottles were shipped to my house that day.  I won’t tell you how many are left…

The Banker prefers a red wine and generally sticks with a Shiraz when ordering at a restaurant.  This makes sharing a bottle of wine over dinner impossible.    You see, my palate cannot stand the dry, bitterness of red.  And yes, I have tried many to confirm this.  He too opted for the blend.  And as we presented this to my father as his birthday gift, I realized that Balance is an Oregon wine rather than a Washington wine.  Ooops.  Oh well, I’m told it’s delicious.

It is such a treat to step out of your tasting comfort zone and try something different.  Who knows, maybe you’ll discover a whole new love of your life.  In wines of course.  I don’t recommend turning to wine for love or friendship.

Thank you Eleven Winery for a nice visit.

sam

Lavender Shortbread

I was treated to not one, but two different lavender desserts while in the lush state of Washington.  The first was a devine lavender cookie from Blackbird Bakery located on Winslow Way of Bainbridge Island.  It was enjoyed outside sitting at an old fashioned concrete chess table under a shade tree.  The second was from Three Girls Bakery in the Post Aly of Pikes Place Market while watching the world walk by. 

Knowing I was making lavender lemonaide for an upcoming bridal shower, I immediately decided another layer was going toadded to the menu.  After all, I already had lavender flowers in the house.  A few internet searches later, I found the one I was ready to try.

Look a the beauty of the lavender flowers with the bright yellow lemon zest.  Love.

This was my first attempt in shortbread.  I was suprised at the lack of ingredients and the look of simplicity reading the instrustions.  Then I was taken by surprise by how few cookies it made and quickly decided that another double batch was in oder. 

They were so yummy, I decided that they were going to be part of my take-home treats for our guests.

Thank God for good neighbors…I was two eggs short for the last batch.  To reward her for  her generosity, she was presented with the final product.  She came back to thank me!Let me tell you why you need to make these for your next party: Rolling out the dough to make the cut outs is like playing with stress releiving playdough.  No joke.  In the midst of party planning, food prep and house cleaning, the scent of lavender and the slow, intentional motions forming perfect hearts and flowers was so calming.  And if it can calm my craziness, just imagine what it can do for you.

Eat.  And enjoy every bite.

sam

Lavender Shortbread

¾ cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp dried lavender
10 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 tsp lemon zest
1¾ cup  flour
3 large egg yolks
1 cup  sugar, for coating

  • Preheat the oven to 350° F
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  • Gently mix the powdered sugar and lavender together in a bowl
  • In a mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, lemon zest and lavender/sugar until smooth
  • Add the flour and mix until well combined
  • Add the egg yolks and mix just until the eggs are fully incorporated
  • Chill the dough in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, not letting the dough get too firm
  • Roll the dough out to 1.5cm thickness
  • Pick your favorite cookie cutter and go to town
  • Dip each cut out into the granulated sugar, coating all sides
  • Bake on the parchment lined pan for 15-20 minutes, or until slightly golden around the edges

Makes about 12-15  small cookies.

Recipe adapted from this blog post from Milk and Cookies.

Yellow Lilies

Yellow Lilies found on Winslow Street, Bainbridge Island, Washington

Poulsbo and Sogno di Vino

During our time on the Kitsap Peninsula, we found an adorable little town by the name of Poulsbo or “Little Norway.” My Scandinavian roots were intrigued…

I wanted to take my time in each and every one of the quaint little shops featuring antiques, Norwegian nit-knacks, and baked goods.  Instead, we quickly walked the streets and ushered cranky children back into the car.  But I left unsatisfied and insisted we return.

After an enjoyable afternoon roaming the streets, savoring another cup of local coffee, and dreaming of how to redecorate my entire house beach cottage style, it was time for more food.  Two restaurants were recommended: Mor Mor Bistro & Bar for fresh northwest flavor and Sogno di Vino for authentic Italian cuisine.  The Banker had  his fill of local fare and opted for Italian.

I was allowed to dine alfresco.  Our table sat under a 100 year old Magnolia tree wrapped in white lights and I was able to see the Puget Sound, marina and the adorable street all at once.  Add a glass of a local blended white wine to the mix, and I was one happy girl.

The food!  I haven’t talked about the mouth-watering food that was placed upon our firepit adorned table. Of course, every Italian restaurant will serve fresh bread.  Sogno di Vino was no exception.  The flavorful bread had a salted crust and was drizzled with what I’m assuming was infused olive oil.

The Banker ordered the Tuscan Steak with Espresso & roasted almond mascarpone that was served with fingerling potatoes, balsamic braised shallots and asparagus.  My fork may or may not have reached across the table a few times.

In typical form, I made my order slightly more complicated.  I ordered the Strawberries, Beets and Feta salad…hold the beets, add chicken.  It came with spring greens, strawberries, candied pecans, feta and a Raspberry-balsamic vinaigrette.  I practically licked the bowl.  If we hadn’t already eaten all the bread, I would have used it to soak up the left over dressing.

Should you ever find yourself anywhere near this darling town, either on Bainbridge Island or in Seattle looking for a day trip, you need to go.  Preferably without children so you can actually enjoy the quiet streets and shops in peace.