Saturday, July 26, 2008

Passport To Pinot is NOT on Saturday

We were hard at work today at Farmer's Market this morning, distributing samples of a delicious smoked salmon, fennel and apple salad to the masses and poking fun of Kenny and Zuke's Ken Gordon as he went on and on and on and ON about pastrami and bagels on the Chef Demo stage across the way, when super cute brother Elias strolled up and offered to trade us six magic beans for our last cow, which of course, we eagerly accepted. Oh wait, that's another story, something about a beanstalk. Actually, Eli offered us something better: his tickets to the International Pinot Noir Celebration's Passport to Pinot, occurring THIS VERY AFTERNOON! 

There was a wee tear in Elias' eye as he told us that alas, he had to slave behind the stoves of Castagna today and could not attend Passport to Pinot, but wanted us to go in his place and have the times of our lives and find rich, dashing, winery-owning husbands so we never had to climb that dumb beanstalk again and steal the giant's gold to replenish our stock of 1947 Cheval Blanc. *

Naturally we accepted his kind offer, and a few hours later Michelle, sister Georgia, nieces Alexis and Aleathia, and myself were all sailing down 99E towards McMinnville's Linfield College, and the wine tasting of all wine tastings. Our progress was momentarily halted by an impromptu trip to one of the most fascinating places on earth. 

It is possible that Slurpees were purchased. And some cheese. It sounded good.

We arrived at Linfield College and Michelle donned her best Sunday hat, the one she wore to the Kentucky Derby.

The crowd was small, and oddly subdued as they clustered around a few rows of tasting tables. Conversations were being conducted in normal voices, and there was no obvious staggering. Snoooo-ooooze, we thought privately, but we were willing to give it a chance. "Is this Passport to Pinot?" we clarified with someone with an official looking shirt. "That's tomorrow," she said slowly, with a look in her eyes that screamed "idiots!"

A jaw dropped. Mine maybe. Michelle muffled a scream. We pulled the tickets out. Yup. 
There was a small scuffle as blame flew through the air like wineglasses at an Italian wedding. Some people were pinching other people, and someone was accidentally scratched but only because she was pinching people.   

I was really sad.

Michelle said to cheer up or she'd flip my dress up and show everyone my underpants. I knew she'd do it too, because she did this very thing immediately following our last Table For Twelve dinner as I stood saying goodbyes on the sidewalk outside Le Pigeon and I've never fully recovered. So we did what anyone in our situation would do.

First, we stopped at the skeeviest minimart we could find, and bought Powerball tickets. Fate had brought us to McMinnville on the wrong day for SOME reason. 
Determined to drink some Pinot, we drove around looking for wineries that were still open, and came upon Vista Hills Vineyard and Winery's (open until 5 pm) Treehouse Tasting Room, nestled in the hills with a spectacular view of the valley. We felt a little better as we tasted their 2006 Estate Pinot Gris, a very nice white wine with crisp apple notes and nice acidity ($18/bottle), then four of Vista Hills' Pinot Noirs, my favorite being the 2003 Pinot Noir, which had a heady blackberry and cherry nose and a very intense cinnamon flavor ($35/bottle).

Onward to Dobbes Family Estate Tasting Room, on SE 5th Street in downtown Dundee, open until 6 pm.

We tasted the 2006 Wines By Joe Pinot Blanc, a nice light white wine. Our Hospitality Associate Jennifer, told us that winemaker Joe Dobbes calls this his Monday through Thursday drinking wine, a "serious wine with no attitude." So in other words, Michelle's polar opposite. We were fans of the 2006 Joe's Rose, a pretty light-bodied wine with a creamy strawberry flavor and grapefruit notes. The price was right too, at $10 a bottle.  

All this tasting made us hungry, so on we went to Crush Wine Lounge and Bistro in Newberg, a beautiful little restaurant with a Victorian feel and a "Cheap Date Night" Saturday Special, 3 small plates for $21.

We tried the Vintner's Cheese Plate ($11), a nice spread that included a delicious creamy blue cheese, a sharp Gouda, and a Manchego, served with sweet sliced apple, a cluster of red grapes, salty Marcona almonds, and two raspberries. Yes, I said two. They were good. 

We also tried the BBQ Pork, two saucy tender pork ribs with mini cornbread muffins and a corn, black bean, and cherry tomato salad that could have benefited from more aggressive seasoning. The pork was delicious though. 

We finished with the brownie dessert, which was pleasantly moist and studded with hazelnuts and white and dark chocolate chips, and one of the brownies was cut into some sort of curious flower shape, which was unusual for a brownie, but why not? Brownies don't always have to be square, or triangular, they can get crazy too. The brownie had three raspberries on it. 

So I cannot tell a lie, while Crush is darling and very comfortable and we enjoyed the pork and our porch seating, the food was a little underwhelming overall, which means we needed a second dinner. And what were we craving after our exhausting day of ups and downs? Comfort food, that's what. We pointed the car towards:

There's nothing like a DQ cheeseburger and dipped cones to make you forget all about the fact that you drove all the way from Portland to McMinnville on a flower-brownie-shaped cloud of joy, thinking you were going to get to go to Passport to Pinot only to end up buying lotto tickets and tasting wine in a treehouse and eating Dairy Queen dipped cones instead. Come to think of it, it wasn't an unhappy ending, though. And, as I type, Michelle is downstairs honking the horn on the Miata to indicate that I should get downstairs pronto, so we can actually drive back out to McMinnville RIGHT NOW to experience:The Real Passport to Pinot. We will keep you posted on how that goes, and we will let you know if we won the lotto. Dairy Queen dipped cones for all our readers if we did!

*Just kidding Brian! Michelle specifically said she does NOT want a rich, dashing, winery-owning, husband. To which I said, "Suit yourself, but don't expect me to share mine!"


1 comment:

  1. Hello Jen and Michelle,
    I found your blog via Portland Food and Drink, and I really enjoy your writing style and fun food antics! I would like to sign up for the newsletter, but the link doesn't seem to be working. Could you let me know how to sign up?