lavender’s blue, lavender’s green, when i am king, you shall be queen. who told you so? who told you so? twas my own heart that told me so. call up your men! set them to work! some with a rake, some with a fork. some to rake hay, some to thresh corn, while you and i keep ourselves warm. lavender’s green, lavender’s blue, if you love me, i will love you. let the birds sing, let the lambs play, we shall be safe, out of harm’s way. i love to dance, i love to sing, when i am queen, you’ll be my king. who told me so? who told me so? i told myself. i told me so.
lavender flowers are one of the truly wonderful parts of summer. during this nasty, rainy, straight from winter to fall weather, our tomatoes won’t grow, our flowers mold, and summer vegetation is generally unhappy. but the lavender’s going wild!
i had lunch with an old friend a few days ago. she’s a master gardener who keeps a fantastic and wonderful garden. despite the lack of sunlight this summer, her garden keeps trudging along. at lunch she gifted me with a bouquet of fresh, wonderfully smelling, lavender. one of my favorite gifts!
i use lavender for all kinds of things. obviously it is great in lotions, soaps, etc. i keep sachets of it is my closet and bathroom. i have lavender sugar and lavender pepper for cooking with. lavender sugar goes well with almost anything (especially citrus!) and the pepper is really good on pork! i use lavender syrup in champagne cocktails and to drink in sparkling water. and my favorite cupcake of all time is lavender! a local tea shop carries lavender earl gray tea–amazing! i once had a lavender-honey cheesecake at a lovely high-school friend’s dinner party. it was fantastic! i’ve added lavender to my lemon tea cakes.
lavender is wonderfully diverse…and yet many people don’t think about eating it! upon giving me the lavender, my friend also sent me a recipe for lavender shortbread. i can’t wait to try it out! even without the sun, i can sit at home on a rainy july afternoon sipping tea and munching on lavender shortbread..and still at least taste summer if i can’t feel it!
when my husband first suggested we try this little winery on the coast, i was skeptical. he had mentioned that as a nod to the wildly popular “twilight” series (set in coastal washington) the winery had named one of its red wines after the main character–bella–and further set that proceeded from each bottle of “bella” would benefit the american red cross society (an allusion to vampires). like i said–skeptical.
but, after tooling around the fishing village of westport for the morning–wandering in and out of its little shops, buying salt-water taffy, and eating freshly made (amazingly delicious) hot raspberry fritters at little richard’s house of doughnuts, the winery looked like exactly the kind of place i wanted to go to round out the afternoon.
it was certainly lovely. the first thing we noticed was the sculpture garden all the way around the grounds. for each variety of wine, a local artist was contracted to make a sculpture. a blue, abstract, blown-glass wave stands in for surfer’s last syrah, as a large fender guitar made of drift wood represents pinot noirvana. they also have a lot of outdoor seating for lovely days, as well as lawn games, including croquet. there is also a large, fluffy, friendly, ginger colored dog who visited us.
when we walked inside, we entered the tasting room–a bar with a long row of wines, and a refrigerated section where we could purchase and pair cheese, crackers, chocolate, and charcuterie with the bottles we purchased (if we were inclined to partake immediately). then, through the open doorway, one could wander into a large room with heavy tables and chairs, a popcorn machine, and two couch areas. one, in the front of the room, boasted a large flat-screen tv playing old surfing documentaries. the other is housed inside the lighthouse build out–with super comfortable, over stuffed chairs and fun magazines–coastal living, and bon appitite, incase you want a little restful time between wines.
tastings were $5 for 5. as it was, my husband and i were able to share, so we really got to taste 10 wines, and then our sommelier threw in 4 additional tastes, so we tried 14 wines in all. mostly delicious. and generous pours. of the 32 wines, we tried 4 whites, 4 reds, 4 fruit wines, and 2 dessert wines, with popcorn to cleanse our pallets. the winery donates a certain amount of the proceeds to local charities and organizations–and try to pair the donations to the name and theme of the wine.
- shorebird chardonnay: a very nice, dry chardonnay, much nicer than mass produced californian varieties. still a little oaky for my taste. benefits grays harbor audubon society.
- fleur de lis pinot gris: a lot of fruit, again, not super sweet. benefits 7th street theater.
- captain grays gewurztraminer: i usually like dry whites, but i also like very fruity whites with a lot of flavor/fragrance, but no sweet after-taste. this was a great example of the kind of “sweet” whites i like. benefits the grays harbor symphony.
- going costal sparkling gewurz: this was my number one wine out of this winery. they ferment the gewurztraminer champagne-style and it is delicious. fruity, easy to drink, and not sweet. with no cheap-sparkling-wine aftertaste or afterheadache. and no need to add juice! benefits ocean shores interpretive center.
- charterboat chick’s cabernet sauvignon: cabernet has long been one of my favorite reds. it’s big, i know, and full of tannins. this cabernet was milder, and the tannins were soft, with an almost woody flavor and currants. benefits the westport charterboat association.
- surfer’s last syrah: the winery’s young syrah, which is pretty jammy, actually. benefits the south beach ems.
- swimmer’s last syrah vinter’s reserve: this syrah was delicious and amazing. more oaky, and much less jammy, it had a more sophisticated flavor. i definitely prefer this of their syrahs. benefits the children’s advocacy center.
- boom runner reserve merlot: i am not typically a merlot drinker. it’s just–blahish. this merlot, though, was very spicy–and would be great mulled. benefits the polson museum.
- rapture of the deep: being as we were at the cranberry coast, i was eager to try this 100% cranberry wine. it was intense! like pure cranberry juice. it would be great mixed with sparkling water! benefits the driftwood theater.
- dawn patrol: another fruit wine with berry–this time raspberry. this wine was a base of riesling–and it was ever tart! also intense–also would be great mixed. benefits general james. g. dolittle vfw post 3057.
- duckleberry grunt: another berry wine, but in a base of gewurztraminer. it is a blueberry and huckleberry wine, and very sweet! very sweet–with no alcohol tint–like juice. another that would be great mixed. benefits grays harbor ducks unlimited.
- little wild blackberry riesling: a blackberry wine on a riesling base this wine had a really intense and strong blackberry flavor. i loved it, blackberries being my favorite berry–but again, probably better mixed. benefits grays harbor and pacific county master gardeners.
- shelter from the storm: this is an amazing port! it’s a blend of blackberry, blueberry, and cranberry. i like port–and this port isn’t super syrupy–and doesn’t have any inkling of cough syrup flavor. my second favorite wine. benefits the grays harbor hospital foundation.
- red sky at night: this is one of their signature wines–raspberry chocolate. and it really does taste like chocolate! it would be great over ice cream, though i wouldn’t recommend drinking more than about an ounce straight. benefits the westport timber library.
after we did all the tasting we picked out some snacks and bought a bottle of going coastal. we had taylor’s sausage–which has been in business since 1924. we had the jalapeno pepper cheddar sticks–which had a strong fennel flavor that went well with the wine and cheese. we also got a piece cranberry havarti from willamette valley cheese company, and the mount townsend creamery off kilter–a semi-soft cheese made with scotch ale. it was all delicious and went well together.
westport winery has been recognized as the “best northwest escape winery” for 2010 by evening magazine. they were also just written up in washington tasting room magazine . i highly recommend–and worth the drive even for a day trip! but better paired with a night at the bayside bed and breakfast!
photos courtesy of westport bayside bed & breakfast
my husband and i celebrated our third wedding anniversary with a trip to westport, washington, right on the pacific coast. it was a long drive! but when we pulled off the road into the westport bayside bed and breakfast, it all seemed worth it. the owner, beth, created this restful place in her own home and is dedicated to serving all local, organic foods, as well as creating a restful, and eco-friendly oasis from city life.
the first thing i noticed when i walked in was the tea and coffee service. a coffee pot and electric water kettle with a huge variety of spiced apple ciders, gourmet hot chocolates, and amazing organic teas of every variety you could think of, paired with colorful fiesta ware mugs. after a long drive, a hot, creamy chocolate was perfect to rejuvenate myself. we sat in the cozy common area and sipped in delighted silence.
anticipating the breakfast was one thing (beth offers a number of delightful breakfasts made from local farm produce–lily lane farm, local bakeries–arlan’s oven, and the local sausage maker–bay city sausage), but we went in to check out our room. there are five rooms to stay in, each based on a theme. for example, the captain’s corner has nautical themed furnishings, while the north woods room has a wood cabin flavor. we stayed in the serenity suite, which has a restful, natural, and eastern feel. each room has a matched library to compliment the room’s theme, and ours featured books about philosophy and world religions. we came into chocolate truffles on our pillows, and turkish cotton robes. we shrugged on the robes, and ate the chocolates. our bed had a most luxurious feather topping, and we sank (literally) into it after we kicked off our shoes. we had a view of the horse pasture (the b&b can also accommodate horses) and a view of the bay. we saw the resident deer wandering around.
westport bayside bed and breakfast also has a very friendly, rather needy, resident cat named opie. opie is one of the sweetest cats i’ve encountered–and one of the cleanest. everything was amazingly, spotlessly clean. before heading out to dinner, we toured the grounds, out into the meadow by the bay, and around into their harmony garden. there is a library of videos in the common living space, and upstairs is another library and sitting area. the deck also offers comfortable chairs and an amazing view.
the first night we were the only guests in the entire place, so we had everything all to ourselves. the ocean is literally a 5 minute drive away, and so we went searching for dinner on the docks. we went out for dinner at the “one-eyed crab”–a restaurant locally known for its award winning clam chowder and wonderful fish and chips. the only thing i thought was lacking was draft beer–especially a stout. completely stuffed, we came home and had herbal tea, and picked out a movie from the wide variety available, and lounged until we fell asleep.
in the morning we had breakfast at 9:00 (which we got to choose since we were the sole guests!). breakfast always starts with fresh coffee, tea, cocoa, or cider. as soon as we woke up we could smell the fresh coffee brewing…it was fabulous. we wandered out and were treated to an amazing yogurt parfait: creamy, rich, yogurt, layered with strawberries, blueberries, grapes and kiwi fruits, and the most perfect, delicious granola. and that was just the first course! after we finished our yogurt, we were brought fluffy belgian waffles, topped with strawberries and whipped cream.
we spent most of the second day at the amazing westport winery–across the street from lily lane farm. and then we hit up the beach to hunt for agates and drink wine. after a long day of wine tasting, and eating, we stopped for dinner, and went home to have hot showers, shrug on turkish cotton robes, and read–just for fun.
the next morning, we met another couple staying upstairs. we started out with the same amazing array of drinks, and yogurt parfait (still delicious!), and then moved on to french toast with cranberry sausages and apple sauce. the french toast was just right–crispy and creamy. the sausage was to die for (so we stopped at bay city sausage on the way home to buy some cranberry sausage), and the apple sauce was perfect for a rainy fall morning.
we had made a lot of plans–go to the cranberry museum, go to the 9-midnight blues festival dance, take surfing lessons, tour the maritime museum and aquarium–but really, what we did was just perfect, a relaxing, wonderful way to celebrate, reconnect, and slow life down–just for the weekend–so we could catch our breath.
It’s said that the pizza that made Naples world famous is the Pizza Margherita in Italian or Pizza Margarita to the rest of the world. It was first baked in 1889 by a local man and the town baker called Esposito. He created the pizza in honour of a visit to Naples by the Queen of Italy, Queen Margherita. —rachel webb
as a little girl, i did not like pizza. when my family moved to sacramento, my best friend’s father owned a pizzaria–ricco’s. ricco’s was filled with arcade games and egg-machines, and we always got a handfull of tokens to use as we wanted. i still didn’t really like pizza, but i tolerated cheese pizza. i did like to dip the crusts in melted butter, which came in plastic cups. through grade school and middle school i really only liked pepperoni pizza and my parents ordered pizza for dinner on special occasions when we were allowed to eat in front of the tv. when i started high school, the local pizza hang out had a “highway man” combo–which had italian sausage with mushrooms and olives–which was my favorite at the time.
the first evening i spent in italy on a family vacation my brother and i ordered pizzas and were interested to see that they came paper-thin, and individually sized. we were careful not to order pepperoni–which came topped with peppers. however, probably the most amazing pizza i’ve ever had was margherita pizza in naples. i haven’t been back to italy since this family trip–but i did take the feel of an amazing and perfect pizza.
i tried many kinds of pizza trying to recreate the cracker thin, perfectly balanced, light pizza. i’ve eaten frozen trader joe’s pizzas that are made in italy. i’ve been to tutta bella pizza which makes their pizzas in the Neapolitan style–and has delicious nutella espressos. my farmer’s market features a wood-fire pizza stove on a cart–verachi pizza which fires the pizzas right in front of you out in the street–and on the right day, topped with cured meats from mario batali’s family’s deli, salumi. pagliacci pizza, our favorite order-in pizza, makes an amazing margherita pizza with the crust dusted with sea salt–addictive. but none of these pizzas really had the feel of that pizza in naples. while delicious, all these pizzas have a distinctive northwest feel to them–they lack something intrinsically italian.
in fact, i’ve had no success finding an authentic margherita pizza in my city. but that’s ok, because the wonderful combination of fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, and baked fresh tomatoes is delicious regardless of whether or not it has the distinctive feel of my city, or an intrinsic italian feel. i feel that to some degree, there can’t be a recreation of eating margherita pizza in naples–unless i am in naples eating a margherita pizza.
what i do know is that i can eat a pizza i create in my home that has a distinctive feel of home. and so, my husband and i picked the four tomatoes that our little potted plants have produced, picked basil on our italian basil plant (barely hanging on!), and sliced through fresh mozzarella cheese that we bought at the market down the street. we cheated–pizza dough was purchased with sauce–and we pre-baked the crusts. with little regard for the effect of roundness on the taste of a delicious pizza we rolled out the crusts in whatever shape they wanted to be. paper-thin. cranked the oven up to 500 degrees, and warmed our pizza stone.
northwest margherita pizza
divide store-bought pizza dough–roll out paper thin
pre-bake on a hot pizza stone for 1/2-1 min
the dough will be puffy, flatten with a cutting board
spoon 2 tablespoons of sauce and spread
layer rounds of cheese and tomatoes
sprinkle sea salt to taste
bake for 3-5 mins or until the crust is crackly and the cheese is bubbly
remove and sprinkle whole basil leaves on top
it’s not super authentic, but it was made with our fresh ingredients–and it’s not sitting in a pizzeria in naples. but it’s our own–and special in that way.
Shall I not have intelligence with the earth?
Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mould myself.
– Henry David Thoreau
both of my parents are very good gardeners. over the years they have turned their back yard into a gardening mecca. my mother has an greenhouse that reeks of the mediterranean, with brick lined floors and comfy rattan furniture–piles of italian terracotta pots, and decorative tiles. my father constructed the the green house out of vintage windows that were being thrown away. on the brick pathway around the front and back yards, my parents pass through vegetable garden beds, hundreds of flowers of all types, vintage garden furniture, and a lovely outdoor living space on their deck–complete with cozy chairs and a chandelier.
on the summer nights we spend as guests at my parent’s house, my mom makes a nightcap of mint tea–fresh mint from her garden pressed in a french press. it smells amazing. from my bedroom window i can smell the stargazer lilies, and the neighbors across the street play exotic music.
so–while i can’t rival my parent’s garden, my husband and i do keep a tiny, urban, container garden. this year we decided to foray into the world of fruits and vegetables–aside from our usual assortment of herbs–thyme, lemon thyme, lemon verbena, oregano, parsley, chives, mint and lavender.
in a nearby neighborhood, there is a gardening store that specializes in urban (read: apartment living) gardens: the copper vine. we bought native peas and strawberries and several kinds of herbs. the peas grew huge and sprouted adorable white flowers before giving way to elegant pea pods. we never did get a chance to cook with them, because we ate them directly off the vine every time we saw new ones ripen.
we also planted a native variety of strawberry–which produces small, sweet and concentrated flavored strawberries. from a local grocery store, we picked out some frost-resistant tomato plants–but planted too early. though they had a bit of a rough start, we are now super proud of the 4, small, but daily reddening tomatoes on our plant. we plan to use them for margarita pizza.
now that the peas have died down–we are thinking of adding something else for the summer. my fuchsia starts and geraniums are overloaded with blooms–but we are thinking along the lines of something edible. nothing really tastes as good as the food you grow yourself. and even in our little home in the city, it’s gratifying to serve something that we produced.