Archive for June, 2011

San Juan I Lavender FestPelindaba Lavender, just outside of Friday Harbor, Washington, hosts the San Juan Island Lavender Festival for two mid-summer days every year, on our 20-acre organic farm. For ten years, thousands of friends and lavender-lovers from around the world have come to enjoy the fragrant fields at their “peak of purpleness,” and you’re invited to join us. This year, the featival will be held July 16 and 17.

For the lavender connoisseur we have it all. Those who aren’t yet that excited about it leave as enthusiasts for this amazing plant, once they’ve taken a tour and surveyed the entire process, from field to finished product. The Gatehouse Farm Store is open for visitors to browse and sample many of the 250 different handcrafted lavender products. Workshops and demonstrations cover lavender cultivation, harvesting, essential oil distillation, and cooking with lavender (bring your appetite!). Kids and adults can make beautiful wands, San Juan Lav Festivalwreaths, crowns and more at the craft tent. You can pick your own bouquets of lavender from the many varieties in bloom in the Cutting Field, and take stunning photos in the Production Fields. Or just stroll and relax, taking in the colors and scents.

When you get hungry after all this lavender immersion, head over to the food tent, where island-style picnic lunches are available for purchase. Be sure to top your picnic off with our popular Lavender Rhubarb Apple Pie and Lavender Ice Cream. We’ll also have Lavender Lemonade, Lavender lavender fieldsIced Tea, Lavender Coffee, and assorted tasty baked goods. Local marimba bands will be performing in the fields, and you’ll likely see people dancing. Do join in; after all, it’s a party and a summer celebration!

Parking and admission are free. Be sure to bring your sunscreen and camera. The festival is open 10 am – 5 pm, July 16 and 17, 2011.  Here are directions to Pelindaba Lavender Farm.  

(Thanks to guest contributor Amelia Powell.)


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Five Woodinville, Washington, wineries are among the sponsors of the NW Travel NW Totem CellarsWriters Conference, “Travel & Words,” this spring. I knew their wines would be good, but I didn’t expect anything this special.  At Willows Lodge, half an hour east of Seattle, tables are set up under a shelter in the garden and a small crowd gathers, glasses in hand. We’re in for a treat.  First I head for the NW Totem Cellars table because I’m drawn to the label on the bottle (such are the whims of a less-than-serious wine drinker). Mike Sharadin has a small, family-owned winery that produces hand-crafted wines–Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and various blends, including a new one called “Potlatch.” It’s a tasty blend of Syrah, Tempranillo, and Petit Verdot. All the winery’s bottles of red wines are sealed with attractive glass toppers rather than with corks.

Next I move on to Covington, where they’re pouring praiseworthy Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah and inviting one and all to visit the winery, where the event schedule is lively.  wine tasting tablesYou can have appetizers or dinner on Friday evenings, lunch Saturdays and Sundays, and/or attend a series of classes, tours, and tastings. Their big Summer Bash features live music, food, and wines. David Lawson is the enologist here, and his wife Cindy covers the culinary front.   Now, on to Patterson Cellars. The table is serving a few of their consistently high quality wines, several of them well-crafted blends, and all made with grapes from eastern Washington. Father and son Jack and John Patterson began their winery in 2000, with the first release in 2003. They say their wine “follows the new world wines in its style.” There’s a tasting room in Seattle, below Pike Place Market, as well as at the Woodinville winery. And there are summer tastings in various places around Seattle.

distefano cellars winesAt the DiStefano Winery table, the whites and reds are made from classic varietals: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Viognier, and Sauvignon Blanc. The grapes come from Yakima Valley, Columbia Valley, Wahluke Slope, and Horse Heaven Hills. DiStefano was established in 1983 by Mark Newton, in honor of his wife Donna DiSteano, as one of the first wineries in the area. Now there are some 90 tasting rooms in Woodinville Wine Country.  The DiStefano tasting room is open afternoons except Mondays; for 4-6 wines, the cost is $8. In summer, 5-course wine dinners are offered, and in July there’s a party that sounds like great fun, involving Latin jazz, a pig roast, and wines.

Sipping a Semillon at the Davenport Cellars table is pure pleasure; it suits my palate as a last taste, ending on a happy note. Mostly, Davenport uses blends from different areas toWine tasters at Willows Lodge produce complex wines, such as the one that layers Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. The winery, owned by Jeff and Sheila Jirka, offers tastings on Saturday afternoons or by appointment. I’ll plan to stop in not only for a sip or two but to see whatever art is on display. Currently they’re showing the work of Gary Gibson, who paints remarkable, colorful  designs. And he does it with toothpicks.

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Rose Festival City FairHere at the Portland Rose Festival City Fair (in former years, “Fun Center”), I’m sloshing through a lot of mud, thanks to more rain than anyone needs to start a summer. Good thing I wore grubby shoes. The sun is shining, though, off and on, and folks are having a great time on wild rides, eating heart attack foods (fried ice cream, corndogs, deep-fried candy bars and cookies–and what are funnel cakes, anyway?) and shooting baskets for prizes. Jamie, age 15, and I wander through, soaking it in. JamieShe throws darts at balloons and wins stuffed animals and a picture, but loses at getting rubber rings over bottles. When I ask the guy behind the counter if anyone ever wins this game, he says two players have. Definitely not good odds.

City Fair covers a huge area at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, by the Willamette. Tents cover some stalls, but rides like the Sea Dragon, the Starship, and of course the ferris wheel, are open to the sky. ferris wheelVendors hawk their wares. a guitarist plays on the outdoor stage, riders scream as they hurtle through the air and turn upside-down.  What’s not to like? The KATU-TV website has several comments about “weirdos” who come to the fair. That’s offensive and not what I’m seeing. Granted, it’s not an upscale crowd. But there’s great diversity and many families, ordinary folks having fun in a festive, friendly, carnival atmosphere.

Jamie and I check out the games, rides and vendors, and by far our favorite is snakethe exhibit of exotic animals. There are iguanas, an albino Burmese python, other snakes large and small, a huge Sulcata tortoise, a bobcat, a serval, and a big, gorgeous tiger. iguanaThese creatures couldn’t survive in the wild, where they belong, because they’ve been (mostly) illegally kept as “pets.” At one cage people stand in line waiting their turn to get inside, where they can play with an 8-week-old Bengal tiger. Such a cute kitty! Who will soon grow to 700 magnificent, dangerous pounds.  The animals belong to “Walk on the Wild Side,” a non-profit corporation that aims to care for displaced exotic species and increase interest in preserving their diversity.

City Fair is open these dates and hours:  June 2 & 3, 3 pm-11 pm.  June 4 & 5, 11 am-11 pm.  June 9 & 10, 3 pm-11 pm.  June 11 & 12, 11 am- 11 pm. The cost to enter is $5; children 6 and under are free. Entrance is free June 9-12 to active members of the military, vets and reservists, with one guest. You can enter as many days as you wish if you buy a $5 souvenir pin, available at Fred Meyer, Dennis’ 7 Dees garden centers, the Rose Festival Store in Washington Park, and Rose Festival office on Naito Parkway.

Bring cash and don’t wear high heels.

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