20120403-184354.jpg

Wine events come in all shapes and sizes, and last weekend Seattle hosted one of the biggest annual wine and food events in the Northwest, Taste Washington. This was my first time to attend Taste Washington, and I spent the majority of the day Saturday serving guest some of Chef Frank Magana’s mind blowingly delicious goodies. The Chorizo Stuffed Prawns wrapped in prosciutto that sent aromatic vapors of spicy sausage and crustaceans wafting into my face all day taunted me throughout the event, and I will admit to succumbing to temptation a few times to sneak off and throw back a couple of the delectable prawns.

For all of the great wines that the event had, and there were some great ones, my favorite part of any big event is the people that I get to spend time with. I really didn’t have a lot of time to taste wine as I was feverishly serving epicurean delights, so the opportunity to spend time with some great people was an even bigger part of the experience. Working with Chef Magana and his wife Tricia is always a fantastic experience. Tricia and I worked frenziedly trying to keep up with the rush of people there to taste the beautiful Almond Crusted Salmon with Mango Salsa, the afore-mentioned prawns, and the Crazy for Cabernet cupcakes from D’Vine Cupcakes.

Following the show on Saturday, I went out for a great dinner at Poquito’s Mexican Food with my good friend Drew Lazorchak. Drew was at the show demoing his great bottle-top aerator, the Soiree. I enjoyed some delicious ceviche and a cerveza while catching up with Drew. The ambiance at Poquito’s was a great setting for visiting with friends, and they have a really interesting menu of cocktails (which I will talk a bit more about in a minute.)

Sunday I worked in the Alexandria Nicole Cellars tasting room in Woodinville. The tasting room in the Hollywood Schoolhouse is one of my favorite tasting rooms in Woodinville, so working there was a wonderful experience. I have also decided that there needs to be a game made of finding all of the various occurrences of our iconic “A” logo around the tasting room. The logo is creatively displayed in a variety of different mediums, and the overall feel of the room is tastefully eclectic.

After finishing up the day in the tasting room, I met back up with the gang at Taste to help with loading up the van with all of our equipment, and then headed out for drinks with friends. Frank, Tricia and I met up at Jimmy’s with Victor Palencia, head winemaker at Jones of Washington, who was recently named Wine Press Northwests winery of the year for 2012, and Shane Collins from Tsillan Cellars. Getting to hang out with some great winemakers is always a treat, and Shane and Victor are also two of the nicest guys that I have met in the industry. Victor is remarkably humble for a guy who just lead a winery to being named winery of the year. Victor shared some of his delicious Sauvignon Blanc with us, as well as a yet-to-be-released Malbec that seems destined to grow up to be another fantastic wine. As a side-note, if you find yourself at Jimmy’s, you MUST try their Calamari Fries, which might well be the best squid I’ve ever stuck in my face hole.

Following our drinks with the young gun winemakers, we made our way to Revel for dinner with our friends Sean Sullivan, of Washington Wine Report fame, and Annie Hong. Although I always enjoy meeting new friends, meeting up with old ones always feels a bit like coming home. Sean and I have been friends since we met at the 2010 Wine Bloggers’ Conference in Walla Walla, and Annie is quite possibly one of the warmest and kindest people on the face of the planet. It is hard to imagine a better experience than enjoying great food and wine with friends, and Revel offers fantastic “Urban-style Korean comfort food”, some good wine pairing options, and a great aesthetic, which only leaves you to take care of the friend part.

Although fatigue was starting to set in after an already full weekend of activity, I decided to meet up again with Drew, who had returned to Poquito’s with a group of Seattle wine and food aficionados, lead by journalist Chris Nishiwaki, SIP Northwest Publisher Kristin Ackerman, and Seattle’s Best Restaurants founder Stacee Edwards. There were a number of intriguing items on the cocktail list at Poquito’s, but I chose the Black Tea & Lychee Caipirinha, which turned out to be a great decision, as the black tea turned out to be a wonderful fit for the spirits and lychee. My stay at Poquito’s was short-lived, and we quickly set out for my new favorite bar, Canon.

20120403-183503.jpgTo begin, Canon is absolutely silly with atmosphere. When you walk into the bar you feel like you are walking through a time portal and are being transported into a classic speakeasy. The fine spirits that are stacked to the rafters behind the bar serve as the palate that mixologist Jamie Boudreau paints his libation masterpieces with. I enjoyed a truffle bourbon drink that was beyond divine. When you go in, do yourself the favor of telling Jamie to surprise you. You will be glad that you did. Canon is the absolutely perfect setting for getting to know new friends and spending time with old ones, the kind of place where longterm friendships are born and grow.

Drew, Stacee, and I had such a great time that we closed the bar, which of course meant embarking on a search for some good food cart action. We ended up finding a great hotdog place, the name of which is lost in a fog of truffle bourbon and other assorted whiskey cocktails. All I know is that you can find the place outside of a Shell (or was it a 7-11?) in downtown Seattle. All of the dogs had a perplexing dollop of sour cream cream cheese (thanks to Jameson for the correction in the comments) in the middle, that somehow seemed to work with the most unlikely dog varieties. Even my German dog included the sour cream, and our experience elicited a long and innuendo-laden conversation about the cream filled dogs.

All of the best experiences in life are enhanced by sharing them with friends. With all of the great things that Taste Washington has to offer, perhaps the best is the opportunity that it provides us to spend time experiencing some of the best things in life with friends. You can wander the convention floor and taste some of the best in Washington food and wine, and then when everyone has adjourned, you can enjoy the company of interesting and fun people in one of the many fantastic restaurants and bars that Seattle has to offer. It is the perfect recipe for revelry and hedonistic bliss, and really, what more could you ask for?