Category Archives: Washington

Formidable French Bakery in Central Washington State

French toast and strong coffee hits the spot at Anjou Bakery near Cashmere, Washington

French toast and strong coffee hits the spot at Anjou Bakery near Cashmere, Washington

An artisan bakery near the speck-on-a-map town of Cashmere in central Washington has my GPS so befuddled it sends me out to an apple orchard. Finally, I seek directions from a local, who directs me back to Highway 97/2, just west of Wenatchee, where I soon spy a big road sign for Anjou Bakery (which aptly is backed by a pear orchard). So much for high technology.

Inside the lovely cafe is a bakery, which for some two decades has been producing loaves of hearth-fired bread. But that’s just the opening act for an irresistible lineup of baked goodies one might expect in a French patisserie.

There are flaky almandines, airy meringues, mini cherry and marionberry pies. I go for a crispy slice of fruit-filled French “toast” to accompany a good, strong coffee. Formidable!

Why go for a slice of formidable pie when you have the whole thing?

Why go for a slice of formidable pie when you have the whole thing?

Other customers don’t seem encumbered by my directional challenges, as there’s a steady stream of travellers stopping for their morning treats. One simply says to the server: “Give me six of your pastries. You choose.”

Anjou Bakery
3898 Old Monitor Highway, Cashmere, Washington
Thursday to Sunday 8 am-5 pm. Closed Monday to Wednesday
509-782-4360

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Refillable Wine Growlers: What a Concept!

No, that's not beer on tap at Merry Cellars in Pullman, Washington. It's wine!

No, that’s not beer on tap at Merry Cellars in Pullman, Washington. It’s wine!

I’ve filled my share of growlers with craft beer, straight from the microbrewer’s tap. But a refillable wine growler? Never heard of such a thing, until I wander into Merry Cellars, a winery in Pullman, Washington, of all places.

Their splendid wines are made on the premises from grapes grown mostly in central Washington. You can buy regular bottles of their vintages, just like any winery. But over on the side of the tasting room are a few beer-style taps. What the hell? Continue reading

Palouse: The Perfect Little Road Trip Town

Palouse is a perfect little road-trip town to visit

Palouse is a perfect little road-trip town to visit

I don’t often come across the perfect, middle-of-nowhere town. One that’s charming, historic and revitalized, with fabulous scenery and one main drag.

Too often, such places go in one of two directions: straight downhill—because there’s nothing left to sustain them—or overrun and loved to death. Hitting the sweet spot of overlooked yet vibrant is the rarest of feats.

I might have found the holy grail in Palouse, Washington, a “city” of 1,000 and a stone’s throw from the Idaho border. Perhaps its greatest attribute is the location, along the eastern edge of the other-worldly Palouse Hills and their rich farming soils.

A broad, tidy main street

A broad, tidy main street

Continue reading

One of the World’s Grand Drives: Through the Palouse Hills

The fabulous Palouse Hills, just north of Pullman, Washington

The fabulous Palouse Hills, just north of Pullman, Washington

Anyone who’s used those AAA state maps is familiar with their dotted lines, indicating a scenic highway. I follow those highlighted routes whenever I can, because they’re a pretty reliable indicator of a fabulous drive, often on a winding, uncrowded secondary highway. But occasionally, I’m left scratching my head.

For instance, I was recently driving north of Moscow, Idaho on Highway 95. Pretty enough, I guess, but hardly worthy of its exalted dotted status.

But just to the west, across the Washington border, are the Palouse Hills, crisscrossed by a network of secondary and smaller highways. Nary a one of them has earned the precious dots. Now, this is a crime. Continue reading

Finding Marvelous Mavens to Steer Your Road-Trip Eats

At Sleight of Hand Cellars, dynamo Traci is a wealth of dining and drinking suggestions

At Sleight of Hand Cellars, dynamo Traci is a wealth of dining and drinking suggestions

I tend to heavily research my road-trip food stops. I’ll spend hours poring over Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews and Googling for dining nuggets. I end up with a script that guides me for a month of gorging and guzzling over, say, a 5,000-mile swath of the southwest U.S.

But sometimes it’s nice to just follow my nose and, hopefully, discover gems off the beaten path. It helps tremendously, in this regard, to find a local savant or two, with similar sensibilities, who can steer you to some unpublicized standouts.

So when we’ve got three days to spend in Walla Walla, Washington and no agenda to pursue, I’m happy to solicit and accept spontaneous suggestions. These leads come primarily from two winery servers, who are sharp as tacks and more than willing to be impromptu tour guides. Continue reading

When Food Is Elevated From Meal to Artistry

A grilled asparagus salad was the perfect start to a fabulous meal at Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen in Walla Walla, Washington

A grilled asparagus salad was the perfect start to a fabulous meal at Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen in Walla Walla, Washington

On a road-food trip, I generally like down and dirty. You know, cheap, tasty, brimming with character. But every so often, it’s nice to splurge on a high-end feast, perhaps topping $100 for two (especially if someone else is paying).

Such is the case at Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen in downtown Walla Walla, Washington. It’s maybe one of those “best 10 meals I’ve ever eaten”, where the chef (perennial James Beard Foundation nominee Chris Ainsworth) kills it on every detail. Continue reading