A Romp Through the Seattle Food & Wine Experience

The Seattle Food & Wine Experience has got to be one of my favorite local events. Picture this: under the shadow of the Space Needle, one entry fee gets you access to 25 restaurants, 20 specialty food purveyors, 20 brewery/cider/non-alcoholic vendors, and 85 wine vendors from 10 countries...featuring close to 800 wines. No surprise...this event is an annual sell out.

Is it worth a trip to Seattle? Absolutely!

Seattle Magazine with copies of their latest issues on hand. Doesn't that cover shot look amazing?

Celebrity chef Kathy Casey at the Foster Farms Chicken booth. Kathy signed copies of her book, The Northwest Table, and when I arrived, the line was 50 people deep! She's both a cook and a cocktail master who travels around the world launching upscale cocktail bars for the likes of Marco Pierre White and the Fairmont Hotels. Dubai? Abu Dhabi? Been there, done that!

Good times, people! Good times...

Would you like a taste? Yes, please! {repeat}

Earth & Ocean's sliders: BBQ beef sliders with sesame pickled vegetable slaw. The tangy slaw cut the unctiousness of both the braised meat and buttery brioche. Love the contrasting black sesame seeds. Rustic slate serving platters made the food visually "pop."

Look who I caught up with, walking the floor? Earth & Ocean's Executive Chef, Adam Stevenson (R) and his sous chef, Ben Closson (L). Drinks? Later. For now, it's espresso by Cafe Vita.

One of my favorite bites, served by Taste of Tulalip's Eagle's Buffet. Hey chef! What's the name of this dish?

He grabbed the sign and said, "Here you go!" Pancetta wrapped barbecue prawns with cornbread stuffing. I won't lie. There was some recipe begging involved here.

Tulalip Resort and Casino is located about an hour north of Seattle. (I wrote about them here.) With five restaurants under one roof, they formed their own wing at the Seattle Food & Wine Experience. Here we have Blackfish & Torch's house smoked sockeye salmon with a chevre-caper stuffed cucumber tower.

An event like this takes dexterity...and determination! She's juggling two wine glasses and dessert in one hand. The nosh? This is bit of heaven is Tulalip's warm sticky bacon-toffee pudding cake with Devonshire cream and bacon.

I bumped into Ryan, who's launching a new online magazine. He's sporting a dark chocolate lollipop with house made bacon salt from Tulalip.

Nikol Nakamura, Pastry Chef for Tulalip Resort and Casino

Pastry chef, traveling in style. (That's an immersion blender sticking out of her bag.)

Purple Cafe and Wine Bar's director of marketing and public relations, David Yusen.

Purple Cafe's White chocolate and lemon mousse with raspberry coulis and poppy seed shortbread

Poached marinated Penn Cove oyster with Vietnamese coriander, Thai basil, and lime, offered by Ray's Boathouse.

Salty's mini Maine lobster rolls - house-made buns, lobster aioli, micro veggie bites topped with American Salme caviar.

Chocolate caramel pecan pie by A La Mode Pies. I really liked their display, which showcased both their recent media coverage and examples of their whole 9" pies. They sampled both the chocolate caramel pecan pie and a luscious double-crusted spiced apple pie.

Meet Chris Porter, A La Mode Pie's CPG (Chief Pie Guy). See these beauties? Those are A La Mode's trademarked "LolliePies" or...pie on a stick.

A closer look at A La Mode's LolliePie. This tasty creation is their Blue Hawaiian - Pineapple, Coconut and Blueberries.

Terri Ann Johnson, social media & marketing guru for Bill The Butcher. "LolliePie. You want it, don't you?"

"I've got mine, where's yours?" Rose Ann Finkle of Pike Brewing Company, Northwest microbrew pioneer.

Wild caught Alaska salmon from Finest Kinds Seafoods.

It's all about the flavor, baby!

One of my favorite wine discoveries: Three Sticks, a small-lot boutique winery out of Sonoma, CA. What's the story about their name? The founder is Bill Price, III. Third generation = Three sticks.

I spotted this guy's tattoo from across the room. Curious minds want to know, what's up with your tattoo? Dylan Henrick says, "It's sign language for 'I love you.' " Near the palm are the initials K., D., and A. Dylan tells me, "Those initials represent my siblings: Krystal, Dylan (me), and Angie. All the kids in my family have the same tattoo."

Here's a bit of genius....a leather holster for your wine glass! Note to self: must get one! I was leaving my glass all over the place....

Maybe it's the name...or the straw hats they gave out early in the day, but I was sold on Menage a Trois wines long before we opened the bottle!

A fine bit of eye candy to go with your Menage a Trois....

Generous pours too!

Sliders were very popular this year, but something about these beauties made me pause. Chef had me at "Porchetta sliders with pickled goat horn pepper aioli," but a chat with Bin on the Lake's chef de cuisine, Paul Hyman, revealed a few of his secrets. "The aioli is made with pickled goat horn peppers. For the porchetta, we used whole Kurobuta Berkshire Pigs, deboned and seasoned with fennel and rosemary. They were smoked for 6 hours on alder wood for a mild sweet smoke. Then I slow roasted the pork for 8 hours, let it rest for 1 hour, and hand chopped the meat." Yeah, it's like that!

Show us your love! Chef Hyman is a hard core pig lover...all the way down to his socks.

Chef Paul Hyman from Bin on the Lake in Kirkland. What 'cha got there?

More pig love!

Raising a toast to Ninkasi, the Sumarian goddess of beer and wine.

This tower of goodness deserves more investigation...

Check it out. Frost Doughnut's signature maple bacon long john.

Spotted. Hey there chef Wayne Johnson! He's celebrating 12 years as the Executive Chef at Andaluca restaurant.

By the time I stumbled on Go Girl, I could definitely use a boost. Marketing energy drinks to women, at the top of the can, it says "Beautiful energy." For an energy drink, this was the tastiest I've tried.

Sampling treats from the Cookie Box, a boutique retailer who developed a line of cookie flavors to pair with beer, wine, and cocktails. This deserves further investigation. Read more about that here.

Meet Cookie Box co-founder, Marcia Sisley-Berger. The title on her card says, "Cookie Baker | Magic Maker." Indeed!

Capitol Grille's serving it up! Kona crusted petite tender with shallot butter

Lissa Grumman, the mastermind behind Dine Around Seattle, and PR guru for many of Seattle's top restaurants. (Cafe Juanita and Spinasse, to name a few.)

Look what we have here...Woodchuck Hard Cider made with Washington state apples, shipped to Vermont for production.

Tasting my way through a flight of hard ciders? Perfect for a Sunday afternoon. Brian Halloway, District Manager for Green Mountain Beverage (representing Woodchuck, Wyder's, Strongbow, and Woodpecker brand hard ciders), gave me the lowdown. I was intrigued by the Woodchuck hard ciders, which offer seasonal variations. Amber (my favorite of the ones I tasted) is made with red apples and offers a depth of flavor that was truly memorable. Woodchuck also has a Granny Smith variety.

Watch for Woodchuck's limited release hard ciders:

Spring: maple & brown sugar

Summer: blueberry-infused apple cider

Fall: cinnamon, nutmeg, apple cider

Winter: Oak aged with a hint of vanilla

Brown food is not pretty, but this was one of my favorite dishes: Red wine braised chuck cassoulet with garlic and parsley persillade by Copperleaf Restaurant at the Ceadarbrook Lodge. No wonder I liked it so much. Chef Mark Bodinet spent five years at Thomas Keller's esteemed French Laundry restaurant. Now at the helm of Copperleaf, it's been lauded as one of the "Top 10 New Restaurants in America," by GQ and Gayot.

Copperleaf Restaurant's sous chef.

Science project? At a wine event? That's The Georgian's Executive Chef, Gavin Stephenson, smoking cheese on site.

A closer look at the cheese smoking operation. That silver apparatus on the right is the smoker and the flame is lit from the top. (See the previous picture.)

Crowds flocked around their booth, and snagged slices of this beautiful smoked Pecorino, drizzled in honey.

The hand off. The finished dish: Peppered flat iron steak skewers with savory tomato jam, mounted with a slice of honey smoked Pecorino at the base of the skewer. So good!

(L-R) Brian and Executive Chef Gavin Stephensen from The Georgian restaurant. Do you know The Georgian? It's tucked inside the sumptuous Fairmont Olympic Hotel.

Tom Mehren and Connie Adams of Seattle DINING! magazine. (Sign up for their newsletter, it's terrific!)

Well hello there! Terri from Bill the Butcher and Betty Frost--real estate agent by day, food lover extraordinaire 24/7.

Last but not least, take a look at Coho Cafe's Korean BBQ pulled pork slider. Chef says, "I like texture in my food," which makes sense when you notice elements on this dish: braised kalbi shortrib, julienned green onion, and crunchy pickled cucumber, highlighted by a thick drizzle of aioli.

Ah...another delicious day, preserved for posterity.