After Friday evening’s big Celebration Dinner, the Taste of Tulalip continued with a series of events throughout Saturday. As part of the All Access Pass ($225 per person), we attended “He Said, She Said” VIP Wine Seminar, Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s cooking seminar, a private Magnum party at the very cool mPulse Lounge, early entry into the Grand Taste, and the Rock-n-Roll Challenge cook off, where I was one of the judges voting for best culinary dish (secret ingredient: lobster!).
“He Said, She Said” brought together Thirsty Girl Leslie Sbrocco and Tulalip Resort Sommelier Tommy Thompson. Leslie’s an award-winning author, TV host, and founder of the Thirsty Girl multimedia company.
Five featured winemakers each poured a taste for sampling at Canoe’s Cabaret.
Ron Penner-Ash, Penner-Ash 2010 ‘Pas de Nom’ Pinot noir, Newberg, Oregon
‘Pas de Nom‘ is a flexible food wine, with rose petal notes, and a nice lingering on the palate.
Brett deLeuze, ZD Founders Reserve Pinot noir, Napa, California
This is a vineyard planted on volcanic soils, holding water longer, and helping to produce a meaty character in this medium-bodied pinot with a deep plum colour.
Sean Boyd, Woodinville Wine Indomitable 2008 Bordeaux blend, Columbia Valley, Washington
75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Cabernet France, 12% Merlot – This wine sits in 100% new French oak for 20 months, its grapes grown on mostly fractured rock and sandy soils from two vineyards. It’s powerful and sumptuous, and the best representation of a Bordeaux style wine.
Marc Perrin, Chateau de Beaucastel 2009, Rhône Valley, France
13 different grapes go into this wine, giving it both complex and unique character. It can cellar for 40-50 years, as well as be enjoyed now. Marc recommends pairing it with lamb, beef, and game. There are no rough edges around this wine.
Lucio Gomiero, Vignalta Alpinae Fior d’Arancioi, Veneto, Italy
Lucio allows the grapes to shrivel for four and a half months inside the winery, during the cold winter months. The grapes are crushed in January, and fermented in barrel for a couple of years, as this wine starts out ‘as thick as honey’. It’s reminiscent of orange muscat, and has spicy notes in the back of the palate. It’s a great dessert wine without being presumptuous. I think that goat cheese would be marvelous with this wine.
What’s even better than Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s rock star wardrobe is his cooking. Ethiopian born, French trained, and inspired at an early age by his Swedish grandmother’s comfort food, this high profile chef has won three James Beard Awards, rubbing elbows with President Obama as he’s presented meals at state dinners and DNC fundraisers. His Harlem, NYC restaurant Red Rooster builds on Harlem’s rich culture, serving up comfort food inspired by the roots of American cuisine. While he prepared fried chicken with collard greens for the seminar, I was interested in his story about Ethiopian coffee culture.
Ethiopia is known for buna (coffee). A coffee ceremony at an Ethiopian home takes nearly an hour, including selecting the beans, toasting them on medium heat, then passing to guests to make sure the scent is to their liking. The beans are then pounded with a traditional tool called a mokecha. It’s put into a jebena, boiled with water, and poured into espresso-size cups. Popcorn is also served as a snack either before the coffee is ready or with it. Depending on the country’s region, various ingredients are also added, such as kebbeh, a type of clarified butter. Salt is the key ingredient in the region where he’s from. Coffee is truly a terroir in Marcus’ homeland.
At the beautifully designed mPulse Lounge, Christopher Chan, a Seattle wine expert, was on hand to help guests experience some of the most elite wines in the world at the Magnum Party.
Chef Marcus Samuelsson created a few appetizers to go around, but I was impressed with two wines in particular: ZD Wines’ Abacus XIV Cabernet Sauvignon, and Reynvaan Family Vineyards‘ ‘The Unnamed Syrah‘.
If you’re ever able to get your hands on a $525 bottle of Abacus XIV, feel privileged! Needless to say, this wine was not a spitter. It’s a solera style multiple-vintage blend of every ZD Reserve Cab Sauv ever produced, held in barrel until bottling.
‘The Unnamed Syrah‘ has a gorgeous vanilla aroma and rounded taste, with crushed fig, raspberry, and a long finish.
With an all-access pass, we were able to head over to the Grand Tasting areas before they were open to general admission ticket holders at 2:30.
I visited the food stations, featuring everything from local and imported cheeses, to sushi, Wagyu tenderloin, smoked scallops, and beautifully prepared desserts by Tulalip Resort’s Pastry Chef Nikol Nakamura.
The Oasis Pool hosted an array of craft beer samples along with sausages, bacon-wrapped chicken, sauerkraut, tamari almonds, and a party mix reminiscent of Chex cereal mix, that I kept going back for, this version adding macadamias, pistachios, and hazelnuts.
There is no way to describe the Grand Tasting, other than immense. The scene included 65 Washington wineries, 20 Napa “Highway 29″ wineries, 20 Oregon wineries, 20 Italian wineries, 20 French wineries, craft beers, a wine shop, food stations, spread around a ballroom, meeting rooms, and a lobby.
The Grand Tasting wrapped up at 7:30. I started with food, moving to Chardonnays, then breaking for craft beers, and later to the reds. I was awestruck at this particular event’s food selection.
The Rock-n-Roll Challenge paired off two teams each with a sommelier and a secret ingredient for the dish. Each of the two sommeliers had to create a wine pairing for the dish. Head-bangin’ music filled the party tent while host Leslie Sbrocco, Chef Marcus Samuelsson, Ray’s Boathouse Chef Wayne Johnson, and Mauny Kaseburg got the crowd cheering to help decide a winning dish.
Team Bun Jovi had Robin Leventhal of Local 360, Jeff Euteneier of Seattle’s Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, and Gerry Schultz, Tulalip Resort Catering. Team Appetite for Destruction was Brian McCracken and Dana Tough, both of The Coterie Room, Spur, and Tavern Law, and Brent Clarkson from Tulalip Resort’s Cedars Café.
I was invited to be one of the judges, and while my feet were badly in need of a break by this point, I was happy to be part of it. Team Bun Jovi won (my vote too) for their dish of lemongrass poached lobster, saffron ginger pearl couscous, Yuzu beurre blanc, and apple hazelnut salad.
Next year will be the 5th Annual Taste of Tulalip, and I’m already wondering how the organizers could possibly top off a weekend like this one! What a great way to enjoy it all under one roof. Taking a quick breather was a matter of an elevator ride up. More photos of the weekend can be found here. I’ve also posted separate features on both the Tulalip Resort and the Hibulb Cultural Center.