To nourish your mind as well as your body

Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.

-Mahatma Gandhi

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Moon and the Stars

If you haven't heard me pontificate on the wonders of the Herbfarm Restaurant in person, you'll get a taste of the glory now.

The Herbfarm is a lovely little restaurant hidden in Woodinville, Washington. It's a one dining room experience, with maybe thirty tables maximum, and their food is to die for. One of the reasons I love their restaurant so much (aside from the charming atmosphere and the wonderful service) is their theme: that no meal is better than its ingredients, and that the best ingredients are usually local - a sentiment I agree with whole-heartedly. Every one of their gourmet, tasting dishes features items made from the provisions of local farmers, foragers, cheesemakers, wineries, and fishermen - and what they don't get from the locals, they make themselves from their extensive gardens and their very talented chefs. Every bite and taste is like a little journey through the northwestern country side for your taste buds.

This evening, my parents, my grandmother, and my cousin Kelly went for the dinner themed "The Moon and the Stars" which was a celebration of the new year through culinary art. I do not use the word "art" here lightly. As always, I was impressed not only with the delectable (and original) morsels the chefs laid before us, but also with the incredible aptitude of their sommelier (Michael Kaminski), who can find the most unlikely of local vineyards and create pairings that leave your tongue simmering.

There were three wines this evening that stood out above the pack, which I feel honor bound to share with whoever might read this:
The first was a delicious little Gewurtztraminer from Phelps Creek Vineyard, Columbia Gorge (2008). The vineyard is in Washington while the winery is in Oregon. Never have the two states collaborated so nicely. If you're familiar with Gewurtztraminer, you know that it usually has a very big bite to it. It's nose is usually rather sour, and its taste makes you want to blink repeatedly. Not in a bad way just in an "ah, I've just been attacked by something indiscernible" way. Not so with this little gem. With a warm, enveloping nose and a smooth finish, this wine is a delicious addition to light pastas, breads, probably anything in a cream sauce. It had a scent like peaches, apricots, and a mild tangerine and a taste that reminded me of warm summer days, despite the cold of the northwestern evening outside. Fantastic.
If you know me, you know I love sweet wines. So it shouldn't surprise you that my next two "wows" go to dessert wines. The first of these was a superb "Night Harvest" viognier from the RoxyAnn Vineyard in Rogue Valley, Oregon (2008). This, I declare, truly is a nectar from the gods. Sweet, but not sickeningly so, with a overhanging aura of freshly cut pineapples that literally transport you to another realm entirely. I can't really describe it better that that, so if you have a chance to taste this awesome accomplishment, do.
I have saved this last simply because it downright odd. A recent winner of the World Wine Championships Award, this selection, entitled ChocoVine, is literally a blend of Dutch Chocolate and a fine French Cabernet. It sounds disgusting, and we ordered a small glass of it out of curiosity alone... and then proceeded to get more for the table. It was rich, subtle, with a sweet little zing of an afterburn, and a delicious warm coating feeling for the tongue. We had it simply in a glass at room temperature, but the literature speaks of using it more like a chocolate liqueur than a wine. Take your pick.

I will not belabor each section of the meal - every dish was fabulous and unique - but I will add one more comment on the front of imbibition.

If you have not had Madrona Bark tea, I implore you to try it. Herbal coffee replacements are few and far between. Dandelion tea is one, which is very good, but can be bitter if not watched carefully. But Madrona Bark, which is a west coast tree (Arbutus menzesii), when made into a tisane is simply lovely. Dark, woodsy, with that slight zing that I, as a coffee lover, always look for. It's decaffenated, but the taste is slightly energizing, even as it centers you. Very pleasant.

That's all for now.

Happy New Year! Go on, have a peace. :)


  1. Okay, how far is this place from Seattle? Because I'm going there in Feb. and I want to try this restaurant!!

  2. The Herbfarm Restaurant is about 30 minutes away from Seattle, in Woodinville. You can get more specific directions/information by going to their website:

    Be warned, dinners there are very expensive - $170-200 per person. That said, you get what you pay for. Nine courses, plus an extensive and very select wine flight. I couldn't afford to go on my own, but if you've got the coin, it's well, well worth it.