Tag Archives: Seattle

How to get your mom drunk for $1

Kidding, Mom!

If you have out-of-town guests coming to Washington and they enjoy a relaxing afternoon of imbibing, take them to Woodinville, a 30-minute drive northeast of Seattle. There are close to 40 wineries out there, with many offering daily tours and tastings. (Seattle Metropolitan magazine has a great article on local wine country weekends that helps narrow down the options.)

When my family visited this past weekend, we did the winery-brewery combo package: first, we stopped at Chateau Ste Michelle for a 35-minute tour of its wine-bottling/fermenting plant. The grapes aren’t grown on this property – that happens farther east in the Columbia Valley – so the tour guide has to make do with maps and pictures. But she has a lovely French accent, so that helps. The tour ends with a tasting of three of their Columbia Valley wines and a quick lesson on sniffing and swirling. As long as your brother doesn’t shout that he smells hints of Cream of Wheat, then drain his glass and ask for another, you can pretend to be sommeliers for the afternoon. Or, you too can chug your vino. I won’t judge, and they won’t either.

Cost: Free. Tours run from 10.30am-4.30pm daily.

After Chateau Ste Michelle, wander across the street to Redhook Brewery, which offers tours on the hour, Sat & Sun, noon-5pm, for $1. (Note: After Labor Day, tours are at 1, 3, and 5pm Sat & Sun, and 2 and 4pm Mon-Fri.) This dollar goes a long way. It gets you a souvenir tasting glass, a “tour” (you stay in one room and turn around a couple times), and five samples of beer. Those are the basics – but what does that really mean?

It means that you enter a room that smells a bit like college, manned by a tour guide who used to study opera and could double as a stand-up comedian. You hear about the history of Redhook – then try a beer! Look at the brewing tanks – now have a beer! Answer a trivia question right? Win a beer! It’s informative and entertaining, and by the end of it, you’ve had 2 pints of beer for the cost of a Snickers. I would have paid 20 times that just to hear my mom say “I love Washington!” again, giggle, then ask for another glass of the porter.

Cost: $1. http://www.redhook.com

For information on the other Woodinville wineries, go to http://www.woodinvillewinecountry.com.


Follow-up on fun

I wrote recently about the indie pop band fun (yes lowercase, yes one word, yes confusing). Just saw them in concert tonight at Chop Suey in Seattle, and they definitely lived up to their name. Despite some early sound trouble and hideous feedback, they played an energetic set that got a better response from the crowd than headliner HelloGoodbye‘s act. Single “Walk the Dog” is about as charming as it gets. They’re clearly not used to the fame yet — they mentioned several times that it was their CD debut night, and that they cracked the top 20 on iTunes, “beating Black Eyed Peas” — but their insecurity only supplements their earnest showmanship. Check out their album Aim and Ignite or their live show in a town near you.

New finds

Happened upon a couple things worth mentioning this week:


Glenn Martin, DDS: This new stop-motion animated comedy from Tornante Animation (Michael Eisner’s company) is a fun, clever addition to the Nick at Nite lineup. The titular character (a dentist voiced by Kevin Nealon) takes his family on an RV trip across America in an effort to bring everyone closer together. Silliness ensues, thanks to a witty script and an impressive cast that also includes Catherine O’Hara and Judy Greer. The show has its sight gags for younger viewers, but it’s definitely geared towards an older crowd. Case in point: Last night’s premier episode featured a visit to the Amish, and a horse with a long, blond mane joining in a “Sex in the City”-style knitting circle. Get it? All I ask is that they get rid of the distracting laugh-track.

This week, watch episodes every night at 8pm, or catch all four on Friday from 8-10pm. Comedy Central will re-air the previous night’s episodes at 6pm. Regular season shows air Mondays at 8pm on Nick at Nite.

In Seattle…

Bang Bang Café: No, it’s not a gentleman’s club – it’s a haven for anyone living in Elliott Bay Plaza on an otherwise desolate stretch of Western Avenue between Wall and Battery streets in Belltown. This café, which opened across the street just four days ago, now ups to the ante of shops on this block to three, in addition to a meager convenience store and “Beauty is Pain” hair salon.

Pretty, chipper sisters at Bang Bang serve coffee, affordable paninis (all in the $5-$6 range) and – get this – an assortment of breakfast burritos all day. Not just a breakfast burritos – five kinds! Be still my stomach… The setting is just as welcoming, light and airy, and to top it off, they have a backgammon set for customers to use. This might be my new favorite place. Poor Macrina – if you were only one block closer…

Hempfest: This is my Sunday morning drill: get up, go for a walk from Olympic Sculpture Park to Elliott Bay Park, rehydrate with coffee. But this past Sunday, my boyfriend and I noticed that there were a lot of people — a lot of people — doing the same thing we were doing. As we got closer to OSP, we also noticed it smelled…different. And there were security guards at the entrance. Eh? Welcome to Hempfest, the 18th annual gathering of 200,000 people celebrating weed in all its glory, right in our backyard. Two. Hundred. Thousand. Judging by the crowd, it looked like Michael Jackson had come back from the dead and was doing a free benefit concert. Don’t ask me how we didn’t notice the throngs all weekend — I just thought traffic was bad because of tourists. In-TUITIVE.

We wandered around for a while (we’re curious!) and were impressed by how many different kinds of people were there. Young, old, hippie, yuppie skinny, not so fat (surprising considering the accompanying munchies). No age limit since no alcohol was being served — it must be the first Seattle fest this summer without a beer garden — so people were there with their kids. There were war protesters, vegans fighting for animal rights, a member of the ACLU trumpeting marijuana’s economic benefits. Yes, organizers tout Hempfest as a “protestival,” but it’s about as heated as a company picnic.

There were booths on medical marijuana clubs — it’s legal in 13 states, including Washington. A band dressed as vampires played in 85 degree heat. People sold paraphernalia of every sort: bongs, pipes, vaporizers, gas masks with bongs attached. Some sold homemade glass out of shopping carts. There was organic clothing, artwork, virgin margaritas, burrito stands, books signed by Ken Kesey. One poor guy was trying to sell windows — easily the loneliest booth at the fest.

By the time we left, we had walked the length of the park, eaten a monster burrito, listened to a great ’20s band from Oregon called the Shangai Woolies, and people-watched to our hearts’ content. I’m kicking myself for not having my camera, but maybe it was best if I didn’t. Even a picture wouldn’t do Hempfest justice.