Friday, January 12, 2018

Visiting Planet Bordeaux


In the Beychac-et-Caillau commune in the Gironde in southwestern France, you'll find Planet Bordeaux which is both the headquarters for the winemakers association and a recommended place for you to begin your tasting tour of the Bordeaux wine region. I visited there in the fall and was surprised to discover that behind the nondescript entrance was a unique and thoroughly modern wine experience waiting for me.
In addition to housing the association, Planet Bordeaux is also the tourist center for the wines from the Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur wine appellations. They have guides to help out visitors and can do tours in several languages. They offer attractions like educational exhibits and audio/visual installations covering a range of wine-related subjects along with wine tastings and cooking classes. The center can help with the planning of visits to local chateaux as well. It is not just for wine consumers and tourists, it is also a hub for visiting wine professionals from around the world. 


Following the tour, you are invited to an exceptional retail experience. The wine cellar at Planet Bordeaux is expansive and includes the best from the appellations, all offered at the same price as at the Châteaux. They will also box the wines for you so they are suitable to withstand the perils of travel.


You will find the hours they are opened via the link and you can email them with any questions you may have about setting up a visit at https://www.planete-bordeaux.fr/en/contact .

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Where to Eat in the Willamette Valley

My prior post on The Painted Lady is my top choice for a high end multi-course menu with wine pairings in the Willamette Valley. It was unquestionably our favorite dining experience during our stay. However, most of our meals were a bit more casual. I'm listing some of our favorite spots here along with another option for a more extravagant night out.

For breakfast, lunch or dinner -
Babica Hen Café - There are two locations of this restaurant, we went to the one in Dundee which is open everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We had a late breakfast here on the last day of our trip before driving back to Portland. I ordered the Shredded Chicken Tostada which came with two crispy tostadas topped with tinga chicken, two fried eggs, avocado, black beans, pico de gallo, salsa roja, lettuce, sour cream and cotija cheese. This was one of the larger options on the menu, it was hearty and very flavorful. I paired it with a spicy Bloody Mary which had a definite face-flushing heat, be forewarned. My husband opted for the more basic Hen
House Breakfast with coffee, simple yet well-prepared. The post-breakfast menu looked crowd friendly while the nice by-the-glass selections of local wine will ensure our return on our next trip.

For lunch or dinner -
The Dundee Bistro serves up locally sourced produce and meats in the form of freshly prepared salads, pastas and pizzas along with a few main course options that make it a solid dinner pick as well. They have a large wine list with a good range of prices affording most guests the opportunity to enjoy a bottle along with their meal. We stopped in here  for a late lunch on our first day after driving in from the airport. We wanted to eat light so we shared a salad and a pizza with pepperoni and broccolini along with a glass of Ponzi Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir. We had good service, the salad was fresh and the pizza was crisp, gooey and delicious. It is open from 11:30am to 9:00pm daily and the menu makes it easy to just get a quick snack or build yourself a multi-course meal.

For breakfast, lunch, dinner and picnics -
Red Hills Market - We went here one morning right as they were opening at 7:00am. The Red Hills Market has fresh baked pastries and breads along with sandwiches and other quick serve items, like the quiche of the day, dished out in a country store setting. We went for a quick grab and go type breakfast but my husband decided to go a bit bigger and get the breakfast sandwich. I chose the vegetable quiche so we sat down inside and enjoyed it there. The seated area in the restaurant is on the cozy side, its not a place I would try to bring a large group. We did enjoy our meal and we also enjoyed looking over the gift shop. They also sell a gourmet picnic lunch box, pictured here, which we would enjoy later on in our trip as part of our helicopter tour experience.
Stay tuned, I will be posting on that soon.

Honorable mention for a Willamette multi-course dinner with a wine pairing option goes to Joel Palmer House. Also served up in a white table cloth setting in a older house turned restaurant, the menu here is centered on the local mushrooms and truffles and gives diners both a 3 or 5 course option.


Saturday, September 9, 2017

Wining and Dining at The Painted Lady - Willamette Valley

The quintessential dining experience in Willamette Valley is to enjoy the tasting menu with pairings at The Painted Lady. I made sure to book this reservation as soon as I knew the dates of my trip. The restaurant is located in Newberg in a Victorian house which was the inspiration for the name. In American architecture, a painted lady is a term for Edwardian or Victorian homes that were painted in three or more colors to enhance their design features.

We arrived for dinner shortly before 8:00 and were immediately ushered to our table upstairs. This dining area was filled with cozy couples enjoying the full tasting experience which was perfect for us as we were there to do the same. An array of canapes immediately arrived to our table along with our water and the assurance that our first wine pairing would be delivered shortly.

Our wine selections began with Régis Minet Pouilly Fumé Vieilles Vignes 2014 which would
accompany both the mixed canapes and the asparagus-based amuse bouche.

Next up was a serving of the JB Becker Wallufer Rheingau Trocken Riesling 2014 alongside a miso custard with Dungeness crab seasoned with sesame powder and pickled red onion.

A palate cleansing pour of Billecart-Salmon Brut Réserve Champagne arrived next as the complement to a ricotta and sorrel stuffed pyramidelli with roasted sunchoke, fava pesto, honey foam, whey broth and toasted walnuts.

A local wine from the Chahelem Mountain area was up next, the Crowley Laurel Hood Pinot Noir 2011 was the savory choice for the charred eggplant which had tasso ham, patty pan squash, shitake mushrooms and umami broth.

Drinking local continued into the next course with Lingua Franca Avni Willamette Valley Chardonnay 2015 paired with Golden Halibut on top of pea puree and mushrooms with olive oil jam, scarlet queen turnips, squash pave and black garlic crumbles.

A meat centric course took us into Italy with a serving of Rocche Dell'Annunziata Barolo 2011 alongside a 28 day dry-aged New York strip steak with Roman gnocchi, fennel gratin, marble potato and nettle puree.

Our cheese course was next to arrive and included Fraga Farmstead Creamery Foster Lake Camembert with pecan puff pastry, cherries and house made yogurt garnished with rose petals. this was promptly followed by a refreshing mint granita with hazelnuts, chocolate consommé and lemon confit.

The decadence continued with Oremus Takaji Aszu 3 Putttonyos 2010 and a baba au rhum with blueberry and ginger ice cream, white chocolate cream and bay leaf anglaise followed by an assortment of mignardises with coffee.

This was our favorite dining experience that we had in the Willamette Valley. The service was exceptional and it was at the level that you would expect for a restaurant offering this type of multi-course meal. The food was both delicious and thoughtfully prepared. The atmosphere was intimate yet relaxed, we felt we were well cared for while still being able to comfortably converse between ourselves. The dinner was $110 per person with an additional $75 each for the wine pairings and we felt the value was there for the price. The portions were generous and we left feeling very satisfied.

The Painted Lady lived up to her well-deserved reputation, it is the highly recommended not-to-be-missed restaurant to visit when visiting in the Willamette Valley.