Saturday, July 24, 2010

Northwest Wine Trip, Intro and Day 1/2

For our ten year anniversary, my wife and I decided that it would be fitting to celebrate by doing what we did during our honeymoon.  Wine-taste.  The problem is that when you live in "wine-country", your options become limited in regards to new and exquisite tastes.  The answer was a road trip to new "wine country", the valleys of Eastern Washington, home to excellent Cabernet and Bordeaux blends.  The hope was that we could experience the joys of good wine on a budget, and still come home with a case or two at limited expense.  This is the trip review.

And if you are looking for an education related post, move along.

Overall Road Trip:
Day One- Ukiah - Ashland - Medford - Rice Hill - Portland
Day Two- Portland
Day Three- Portland - Columbia River Gorge - Horse Heaven Hills - Walla Walla
Day Four- Walla Walla - Tri Cities
Day Five- Tri Cities - Yakima Valley
Day Six- Tri Cities - Columbia River Gorge - Corvallis
Day Seven- Corvallis - Ashland - Ukiah

Day One:

Rogue Creamery in Medford, Oregon.
Outside:  Totally unassuming small building on the side of the road.
Inside:  A cheese lovers dream.  Samples are everywhere and the smells will drive you to buy.
Service: Excellent.  The people want you to sample and are super helpful.
Product:  Outstanding.  Love the garlic cheddar, the Oregon Blue, and the Rosemary cheddar.
Tip:  Sample as many cheeses as you want and buy those that you really like.  We bought some fantastic cheeses that ended up (with crackers) being lunches for a majority of the trip.

Peggy's Restaurant in Rice Hill, Oregon.
Outside:  Huge "Peggy's" on a small building off the freeway.
Inside:  Looks like a small diner.
Service:  Nice.  We were the only ones in there with a sweet waitress and what seemed to be a grumpy cook.  The waitress was a real sweetheart though.
Product:  Great pies and delicious Umpqua ice cream
Tip:  There's a walk-up ice cream counter outside. Warning, an ice cream cone is a huge serving.

Dragonwell Asian Bistro in Portland, Oregon.
Outside:  Downtown corner restaurant with outside seating.
Inside:  Modern Asian flair.  Clean, simple, with a nice looking bar.  Very cold.
Service:  Fine.  Food served on interesting plates and the plum sauce for the mushu pork was set on fire for a nice presentation.
Product:  Lousy. The drink was lousy, the food was average to poor, and that bad Asian flavor followed me into the next day.  Worst chow mein ever.
Tip:  Go somewhere else.

Powell's City of Books in Portland, Oregon.
Outside:  Huge city block building with a parking garage.
Inside:  The largest bookstore known to mankind.  Seriously, three floors, a block long, and you get a map for it at the door.  Not tough to navigate though.
Service:  Ok.  Some of the help desk people seemed bored.
Product:  New and used books at reasonable prices.  Picked up some good reading.
Tip:  Two blocks down the street is another Powell's that carries all the non-fiction "technology" related books.  It's big too.

Porcelli's in south Portland, Oregon.
Outside:  A small bistro in a residential neighborhood.
Inside:  Spaced out seating and a little chilly.  Kitchen is very open.
Service:  Slowwwww.   Waitress was young and took her time.  One cook and the place was basically empty.
Product:  Quite good.  Pizza with the works was great, and the mac-n-cheese was surprisingly fantastic.  Great tiramisu too.
Tip:  The bottles of wine in the case are pretty good for the price.

International Test Garden in Washington Park, Portland, Oregon.
Outside:  Beautiful park just west of downtown Portland.
Inside:  Roses of every imaginable variety in bloom.  It was mellow, stunning, and totally different.  The views of Mount Hood are cool too.
Service:  Lots of polite people are willing to answer questions.
Product:  Roses.  Duh.
Tip:  Park somewhere else and walk to the Garden.  The park is big, but the walk will be beautiful.

Residence Inn, Cascade Station, Portland Oregon.
Outside:  Standard Residence Inn
Inside Room:  Huge, and for the price, really damn good. Full kitchen, suite, huge television.  Right at the airport, but we never heard the planes.
Bathroom:  Not bad at all.
Service:  Nice and attentive.
Tip:  The MAX rail station is right at the hotel.  The ride is 30 minutes to downtown, but it is almost a push with the risk of Portland traffic, which is a nightmare!

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