Tag Archives: Walla Walla Washington

Wallowing in Walla Walla, Washington Wines

Amavi Cellars is one of dozens of fine wineries in the Walla Walla Valley of southeast Washington

Amavi Cellars is one of dozens of fine wineries in the Walla Walla Valley of southeast Washington

It all started with a $200 bottle of wine. Actually, we didn’t know it cost that bloody much when we pulled out this dusty gift, from a generous brother-in-law, at dinner one night.

“Wow! That’s good,” is all we said. Subsequent Googling revealed the bottle’s shocking price and a bit about the wine-producing area it came from: the Walla Walla Valley of southeast Washington. A week later, we were booked into a Walla Walla airbnb, with plans to tour the area’s wineries. Continue reading

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Wallowing Through Wonderful Walla Walla, Washington

Good breads, pastries and sandwiches at the Walla Walla Bread Company

Good breads, pastries and sandwiches at the Walla Walla Bread Company

Here’s what the wine industry can do for a place. As recently as the late 1990s, Walla Walla was a relatively sleepy farm town that produced wheat and its signature sweet onions. Oh, and it had maybe three wineries.

Fast forward to today, when the number of area wineries has exploded to more than 200. You can tour a good number of them over a few days. Or you can take the more efficient route and stumble through a dozen tasting rooms in a couple of downtown blocks.

Walla Walla has a few other things going for it. Like gorgeous surrounding farmland and an impressive, well-kept downtown, with wide, shaded streets and lots of restored, historic brick buildings. It thus attracts not just wine sippers but also a growing number of retirees.

Dog sculpture in Walla Walla's lovely historic downtown

Dog sculpture in Walla Walla’s lovely historic downtown

Where there’s good wine, there’s invariably good food (you have to pair those merlots and chardonnays with something!) And while the wine crowd tends to prefer haute cuisine, enterprising road trippers can find some great, creative eats at most reasonable prices.

Could you resist this fresh fruit pie at Walla Walla Bread Company?

Could you resist this fresh fruit pie at Walla Walla Bread Company?

Besides the places I’ve been writing about the past week, I would add Olive Marketplace and Cafe (try the wood-fired pizzas) Walla Walla Bread Company for pastries and sandwiches and the unique Walla Walla Worm Ranch, serving good Mexican inside a bait-and-tackle shop. Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a streetside dog at Walla Walla Sweet Onion Sausage.

Beautiful deli display at Olive Marketplace and Cafe

Beautiful deli display at Olive Marketplace and Cafe

Overall, I’d rate Walla Walla a top road-trip food destination for a city its size (population 32,000) in the Pacific Northwest.

The Sandwiches are the Bomb at Graze in Walla Walla, Washington

 

Graze serves up some bountiful, well-aged meat sandwiches in Walla Walla, Washington

Graze serves up some bountiful, well-aged meat sandwiches in Walla Walla, Washington

I look up at the menu in *Graze, a cheery little sandwich shop in downtown Walla Walla, Washington. “What’s the Latronka, and what does the word “bomb” mean in the description?” I ask the server. “It means a lot of pastrami.” Eight ounces, in fact.

Thinking I’ll go for something lighter, I order the warm flank steak torta. Flank steak can be chewy, to be charitable, but here it is surprisingly tender, no doubt because it is seared, then finished in the oven.

There is a lot of flank steak in my torta, along with generous slices of avocado, provolone and tomato, all tucked inside a nicely toasted, local bun that doesn’t deteriorate after significant gnashing of teeth. Yes, it’s $10, but it’s one of the better and certainly one of the biggest steak sandwiches I’ve enjoyed.

A loaded, tender flank-steak torta

A loaded, tender flank-steak torta

Here’s part of an interview with Walla Walla Lifestyles that sums up co-owner and chef John Lastoskie’s approach to his restaurant and catering business:

“What is your favorite ingredient?”
“Time… When we do turkey, we brine it for 24 hours. When we do prime rib, we salt and tie it for three days. Everything we do has days in front of it, whereas a lot of people just pull something out of the fridge and throw it on the grill. Our pastrami takes, on average, about 22 days.”

Graze
5 South Colville and 213 South 9 Avenue (drive-thru) Walla Walla, Washington
Daily 10 am-7:30 pm, except 3:30 pm closing Sunday
Graze on Urbanspoon

Going Off the Breakfast Map at Bacon & Eggs in Walla Walla, Washington

 

Bacon & Eggs in Walla Walla, Washington looks after all the details

Bacon & Eggs in Walla Walla, Washington looks after all the little presentation details

It’s just five minutes after the 8 am opening of *Bacon & Eggs, in Walla Walla, Washington. Already, 10 tables of people are tucking into brimming breakfast plates at this popular locavore eatery. Obviously, they know how to keep folks happy.

As the name suggests, I order…. Texas eggs? I like a switch from the usual, especially at breakfast, and this dish delivers: Cumin-spiced black beans, brown rice, shavings of sharp white cheddar, fresh pico de gallo and a wedge of excellent, crumbly jalapeño cornbread. Oh, there are a couple of eggs, too, over easy to nicely moisten all the goodness in my deep bowl.

A delicious, healthy bowl of Texas eggs

A delicious, healthy bowl of Texas eggs

I eschew a long list of eye-opener cocktails for a bottomless cup of the “best coffee for 243 miles,” meaning Stumptown beans from Portland.

Bacon & Eggs
503 East Main Street, Walla Walla, Washington
Thursday to Tuesday 8 am-2 pm. Closed Wednesday
Bacon & Eggs on Urbanspoon

Though I might have found better coffee five miles away, beside the local airport no less. There, amidst a collection of small buildings hosting wine-tasting rooms, sits Walla Walla Roastery. I grab a lovely patio table, flanked by lawn and tall shade trees, and enjoy a flavourful, smoky espresso. Before hitting the road (not the runway), I pick up half a pound of freshly roasted beans.

Walla Walla Roastery, near the local airport, is a great place to savour a coffee

Walla Walla Roastery, near the local airport, is a great place to savour a coffee

Walla Walla Roastery
290 A Street, Walla Walla, Washington
Weekdays 7:30 am-5 pm, Saturday 9 am-4 pm. Closed Sunday
Walla Walla Roastery on Urbanspoon

Gassing Up For Great Food at Andrae’s Kitchen in Walla Walla, Washington

Kevin tends the grill at fabulous Andrae's Kitchen in Walla Walla, Washington

Kevin tends the grill at fabulous Andrae’s Kitchen in Walla Walla, Washington

This can’t be right, I’m thinking, as I drive around and around a gas station in Walla Walla, Washington. Finally, I go into the attached convenience store and there, just off to the cashier’s side, it is: *Andraes Kitchen.

Andrae’s is serving up no convenience store snacks, let me tell you, but scratch-made breakfasts and lunches, produced in a little, open kitchen. And diverse to boot. How about a pork schnitzel sandwich, halal-spiced chicken, short-rib tacos or grilled corn salad? They even sometimes slow-roast pigs and goats out back.

Andrae's Kitchen is inside a Walla Walla gas-station convenience store

Andrae’s Kitchen is inside a Walla Walla gas-station convenience store

It’s the brainchild of Andrae Bopp, a French-trained chef who migrated to Walla Walla and eventually set up this gas-station kitchen, along with a roaming truck.

“I wanted to cook, not just open bags,” says Kevin, who’s running the early morning grill. “I’ve learned more here in three months than I did in five years at other places.”

He flips my perfectly over-easy eggs onto a toasted biscuit, melts some topping cheese under a lid. Voila, I’ve got a first-class breakfast biscuit ($5), which I scarf down at a plastic table.

A great, inexpensive breakfast biscuit

A great, inexpensive breakfast biscuit

It seems Andrae has made a convert of the convenience store cashier, too. “You’ve got to try the Voodoo fries (with pulled pork),” he calls out to me as he’s rings up a gas purchase. “I never knew French fries could be a meal.”

Andrae’s Kitchen
706 West Rose Street (Co-op gas station), Walla Walla, Washington (check the web site for truck locations)
Daily 6 am-6 pm, except 6 am-4 pm Sunday at the Co-op
Andrae's Kitchen on Urbanspoon