Thursday, April 19, 2007

Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman On the Run

Just a few thoughts before I head out in the world of vacation-land:

Hey Tiny (reader from Alaska)! I understand you were in Walla Walla doing some wine tasting, but you didn't leave a contact number for me (please send me your email or comment if you read this)! I wanted to thank you for the excellent gift of coffee beans! What a wonderful surprise and what a wonderful treat! The winery was enjoying the wonderful smell of the fresh roasted beans and almost didn't want to give 'em up! Many thanks again!

Last week, a group of friends and I dined at the new Italian restaurant at the Walla Walla Airport. Caravaggio is owned by Walla Walla Catering Company - partners, Carissa Bossini Meliah and Laura Price. The name Caravaggio comes from a small municipality located in Northern Italy about 30 miles northeast of Milan, which is also the birthplace of Carissa Bossini Meliah's great grandfather. Carlo Bossini arrived in the United States at Ellis Island and settled in Walla Walla in 1919 where he began farming. The Walla Walla Sweet Onion played an important part to the Bossini farming. Today four generations of Carlo's family still live in the Walla Walla Valley. And that --- is the origin of the name. This is one of the many threads of family history that makes Walla Walla so great.

So how was the food? Delicious! How was the service? Very attentive! I ordered Nick's Pasta Florentine Diavolo. A spaghetti in a creamy garlic sauce with spinach, mushrooms, pancetta. I am assuming that diavolo (devil) was the red pepper flakes that gave this pasta a spicy kick. A delicious house salad dressing was served with lots of rosemary, but I also used it to dip the fresh warm bread in.

Caravaggio has a great local wine list. Did you know that you can "hop a flight" at the airport without even leaving the building? The lounge at Caravaggio is offering flights of local wines. Guests can choose the "destinations" of their flights from more than a dozen local wineries. The wine list features 26 different varietals from local wine country. Wine flights start at $14 for five two-ounce pours and customers may choose their "itineraries" that highlight different regions in the valley, or create their own flight selections. Very clever idea.

This morning I noticed the lilacs are in bloom and local asparagus is in the stores --two of my favorite spring things. I never get tired of our local 'gras and I will prepare it a variety of ways until the last of the local spears are gone. I found a new and EASY asparagus recipe to use for appetizers:

Take 8 or 9 asparagus spears, depending on size, and snap off the tough ends. You will need about a 1/2 (16-ounce) package of thawed phyllo dough sheets. Unwrap the phyllo and cut the stack in half lengthwise (save the one stack for later use). It is important to cover the phyllo with a damp towel to keep it from drying out. Take 1 sheet of phyllo and brush lightly with some melted butter (over all you will need about 1/4 cup butter, melted ). Sprinkle grated Parmesan over the brushed butter (you will need about /4 cup finely grated). Place 2 to 3 asparagus spears on the short end of the sheet. Roll up, jelly-roll style placing each piece, seam side down, on a baking sheet. Brush with more melted butter and sprinkle with more Parmesan. Repeat until all the asparagus spears are used up. Place baking sheet in oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

This asparagus appetizer definitely calls out for a glass of crisp Sauvignon Blanc or lightly oaked Chardonnay. Lots of good local whites out there from Waterbrook, Forgeron Cellars, and Three Rivers to name a few.

Starting this evening at 5:00 pm, and most of next week, I will be taking a much needed vacation. My plans? Nothing exotic. No villa in Mexico. Just "mi casa" in Walla Walla and I will be away from all things that resemble computers and cell phones.

I plan on staying home for a few days and no, it won't be all lost days of "Wine and Roses." I hope to catch up on spring house chores. New window screens, re-painting the front light post, planting some herbs and flowers, tidying up the rock garden, and new soil in the wine barrel planters to name a few of my chores. One day will be spent experimenting with recipes on the new grill/rotisserie and one evening I am hosting a casual dinner party with other wine lovers and some local winemaker stars.

A road trip to visit some of the new Washington state appellations is also on the schedule. But my biggest thrill will be waking up with no alarm (I'll miss you Bob and Tom, Kristi Lee and Chick McGee) and later sitting on the deck drinking morning coffee (thanks to Tiny) with no care or schedule. Later in the afternoon I will start the deck ritual all over, but this time with a glass of wine. See you in about 10 days!

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