Oregon Travel: Visiting the Adelman Peony Gardens

If you love peonies, you should not miss visiting the Adelman Peony Gardens located in Salem, Oregon, just an hour south of Portland. The peonies are in bloom generally from May – June. During this bloom time the Adelman Peony Gardens has an open house daily 9 AM – 6 PM to allow you to visit their display gardens, their peony production fields, and they have an indoor display showroom. Their open house is also free!

Visiting the Adelman Peony Gardens just north of Salem, about an hour south of Portland is free and open generally from May-June during bloom season Visiting the Adelman Peony Gardens just north of Salem, about an hour south of Portland is free and open generally from May-June during bloom season
[Read more…]

Signature

Tesoaria Wine and Vegan Food Pairing

I admit I’ve been a wine club member and even longer a fan of TeSóAria wines. Recently they have started offering vegan tapas on their daily tapas menu to accompany their dozen or so wines that are available at any one time to taste or purchase by the glass, in flights, or in bottles, and many of those wines are award-winning. At the time of the brunch, they were up to 97 medals!
Award winning wines at Tesoaria Award winning wines at Tesoaria

And now, starting today they have set aside every Thursday for what they call Vegan Thursday: Shut Up and Eat Your Vegetables night where all the tapas will be vegan – the menus are available starting at 5 PM. They also will be offering a vegan brunch with wine pairings by reservation only (one seating)  every few weeks. It’s not often that you see vegan food paired with wines, and it’s worth highlighting for my vegan friends out and there – and even if you’re not vegan, the Tesoaria Wine and Vegan Food Pairing is so good you will want it anyway.
Tesoaria Wine and Vegan Food Pairing at a vegan brunch - owner and winemaker John Olson describing the wine Tesoaria Wine and Vegan Food Pairing at a Vegan Brunch - yes pairing vegan food and wine- owner and winemaker John Olson describing the wine
The name for TeSóAria Vineyard & Winery comes from combining Terra (earth), Sol (sun), Aria (air and music) which are three important parts that make their wines so unique. Owner and winemaker John Olson and his family love music, and it is part of the TeSóAria experience. At their wine members pick up parties I’ve often enjoyed hearing his children play music and sing, and they host live music in the Portland Tasting Room on Saturdays. While aging the wines in the barrels, TeSóAria plays music through Bose speakers to keep the wine moving – as well as possibly imparting a little extra terroir.
Music is part of the Terrroir of Tesoaria Wines

The TeSóAria Wine and Vegan Food Pairing Brunches will be offered every few weeks as a special event  – aka, they will not be weekly so check their events listing on the website and sign up for their mailing list to be in the know. The next Vegan Brunch at the Portland Tasting Room is Sunday, July 24th, 11am $45, tout compris. Limited seating, RSVP required to events @ tesoaria.com

The food is inspired newly each time so expect to see new creative additions all the time by Chef Max Germano and Sous Chef Daniel Escalle (seen here preparing the Vegan Cassoulet during the vegan brunch) for what will be on the menu.
Tesoaria Vegan Brunch - Sous Chef Daniel Escalle preparing the Vegan Cassoulet.

Here’s a look at the inaugural vegan brunch I attended to give you an idea of what the experience could include with the 4 courses with the wine pairings.

Tesoaria Wine and Vegan Food Pairing: Vegan Brunch

1st course

Chicory Salad with Roasted Apricot Vinaigrette and croutons paired with 2015 Vermentino Secco and 2014 Field Blend #1. The greens in this salad included endive, frisee, arugula and interestingly some wasabi greens to add a hint of spiciness.
TeSóAria Wine and Vegan Food Pairing Brunch 1st course Chicory Salad with Roasted Apricot Vinaigrette and croutons paired with 2015 Vermentino Secco and 2014 Field Blend #1 TeSóAria Vegan Brunch 1st course Chicory Salad with Roasted Apricot Vinaigrette and croutons paired with 2015 Vermentino Secco and 2014 Field Blend #1

Candied pepitas with radishes and macerated apricots add additional texture and flavors to the plate that I thought were best brought out by the Field Blend #1 since each dish gave me a chance to go a White vs Red: Who Did It Better comparison.

The Field Blend is the red wine that is a tribute to old school wine making where winemakers are more focused on the flavors then getting hung up on specific varietals. TeSóAria, by the way, cultivates more than 25 different varietals from the Southern Oregon Umpqua Valley, Celestina Vineyard in Medford Rogue Valley, riesling from Willamette Valley, and some from Northern California.

2nd course

Homemade Cashew Cheese Stuffed Peppers with Tabouleh, Sweet Romanesco and Mint Oil paired with 2015 Riesling (sourced from Willamette) and 2014 Bull’s Blood (a Hungarian style red wine). He has a specific way he tells the inspiration story behind the Bull’s Blood name though rest assured there is no bull harmed in the story or in the wine making. One new trivia I learned though is that the Kadarka grape they use for this red were smuggled vines from Hungary that he inherited (he’s a rebel, but didn’t smuggle them in himself, phew)!
TeSóAria Vegan Brunch 2nd course Cashew Cheese Stuffed Peppers with Tabouleh, Sweet Romanesco and Mint Oil paired with 2015 Riesling and 2014 Bull's Blood TeSóAria Wine and Vegan Food Pairing Brunch 2nd course Cashew Cheese Stuffed Peppers with Tabouleh, Sweet Romanesco and Mint Oil paired with 2015 Riesling and 2014 Bull's Blood

With the surprise spiciness from the peppers I thought the Riesling was the winner of this pairing to balance out the dish, though normally I like drinking the Bull’s Blood on it’s own!

3rd course

Vegan Cassoulet with Fava Beans and Maitake Mushrooms, Chickpea Croutons, Roasted Vegetables, White Miso, and Tahini paired with 2015 Bella Rosa and 2012 Vindetta Reserve.
TeSóAria Vegan Brunch 3rd course Vegan Cassoulet with Fava Beans and Maitake Mushrooms, Chickpea Croutons, Roasted Vegetables, White Miso, and Tahini paired with 2015 Bella Rosa and 2012 Vindetta Reserve TeSóAria Wine and Vegan Food Pairing Brunch 3rd course Vegan Cassoulet with Fava Beans and Maitake Mushrooms, Chickpea Croutons, Roasted Vegetables, White Miso, and Tahini paired with 2015 Bella Rosa and 2012 Vindetta Reserve

Cassoulet is traditionally a peasant dish with beans and meat, and I enjoyed here how the use of mushrooms and miso really gave an extra thickness to the cassoulet to make it meaty like without actual meat. For me the Vindetta Reserve red wine was my preferred pairing of the two.

4th course

Dessert came as a Rosemary Shortcake with Apricot Jam, Apricots, Lemon Olive Oil, Fried Rosemary and Muscat Agave Nectar. The apricots are macerated in the Bella Rosa that here is also paired with the dish (2015 Bella Rosa Secco).
TeSóAria Vegan Brunch 4th course Rosemary Shortcake with Apricot Jam, Apricots, Fried Rosemary paired with 2015 Bella Rosa Secco and 2015 Sparkling Moscato TeSóAria Vegan Brunch 4th course Rosemary Shortcake with Apricot Jam, Apricots, Fried Rosemary paired with 2015 Bella Rosa Secco and 2015 Sparkling Moscato

The other wine pairing here is the 2015 Sparkling Moscato, showing off their recently started TeSóAria Sparkling Wine Program – this particular Moscato just won a Silver Medal at the 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and they were confused/surprised when he entered the wine in a growler! You see, the sparkling wines of TeSóAria are on tap and you can purchase them by the (refillable!) growler here in the tasting room.

Other Excuses/Rationalizations to stop by the Portland Tasting Room:

  • On Tuesdays the Portland Tasting Room hosts Pizza Tuesdays where every Tuesday, housemade pizza is complimentary and certain wines are on special. Open house from 6 – 9 PM or until they are out of pizza.
  • They also hold Hangry Hump Day every Wednesday at The Portland Tasting Room. Chef Max’s complimentary yummies and Wine Specials vary based on the week which in the past can be as varied (and making for fun wine pairings!) as from fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, lamb gyros, chicken teriyaki, to chicken tikka masala or smoked chicken biscuits with mac and cheese and more. Open house from 6pm to 9pm or until the food is gone.

The vegan only nights are only on Thursdays, but they have also added vegan options to their always available tapas menu that includes choices like
Tasting Boards with the Tesoaria Sparkling Wine at the Sparkling Wine Release Party

  • the vegan Olive Tapenade made with Castelveltrano and Kalamata olives with herbs and toasted bread;
  • Cheese Board with house baked bread;
  • Charcuterie Board that includes Ghost Pepper Salami and housemade charcuterie items;
  • the vegan Mezze Board with Hummus, Lebneh, Marinated Olives, Roasted Almonds, Cucumber and Flatbread;
  • Focaccia Pizza (including vegan pizza option);
  • Smoked Salmon brined in TeSóAria Bella Bianca wine before being cold smoked;
  • House cured ham sandwich with brie and house made mustard, greens and lemon chive vinaigrette
  • TeSóAria Housemade Candy Bars with salted almond shortbread and vanilla caramel topped with dark chocolate and Maldon sea salt!

On the Thursday Shut Up and Eat Your Vegetables Vegan Takeover day, a recent visit yielded for me choices like

  • Samosas with curry cauliflower and potato with a spiced tomato sauce, suggested pairing 2015 Riesling but you can try whatever wine you’d like, I prefer red wine to white myself and there are plenty to choose from, many are award winning as you can see from the 100 medals Tesoaria has won with their wines
    Tesoaria's Thursday Portland Vegan Takeover Menu - Shut Up and Eat Your Vegetables, Samosas with curry cauliflower and potato with a spiced tomato sauce, suggested pairing 2015 Riesling though you can do whatever pairing you choose - I prefer red wine to white myself and there are plenty to choose from, many are award winning as you can see from the 100 medals Tesoaria has won with their wines Tesoaria's Thursday Portland Vegan Takeover Menu - Shut Up and Eat Your Vegetables, Samosas with curry cauliflower and potato with a spiced tomato sauce, suggested pairing 2015 Riesling but you can try whatever wine you'd like - I enjoyed a red because I prefer red to white wine
  • Portobello Sandwich with house made that day ciabatta, romesco, pickled peppers, roasted fennel greens, suggested wine pairing 2014 Bulls Blood though here I tried the 2014 Primitivo which was just as excellent!
    Tesoaria's Thursday Portland Vegan Takeover Menu - Shut Up and Eat Your Vegetables, Portobello Sandwich with house made that day ciabatta, romesco, pickled peppers, roasted fennel greens, suggested wine pairing 2014 Bulls Blood though here I tried the 2014 Primitivo which was just as excellent!
  • Som Tam Salad Rolls with a charred peanut and black garlic sauce, suggested pairing 2015 Vermentino or 2015 Bella Bianca; the charred peanut and black garlic sauce provide a savory and funky taste to mimic fish sauce but in a vegan way
    "Tesoaria's
  • Lemon Rosemary Olive Oil Cake with macerated apricots, strawberry rhubarb compote, and fresh cherries, suggested wine pairing sparkling muscat, one of the sparkling wines of Tesoaria that you can get to go in a growler!
    "Tesoaria's Sparkling muscat in a growler bottled for you from the tap at the Tesoaria Tasting Room on North Williams

Their tasting menu also includes 5 flight options that include tapas paired with three glasses of wine – cheese, charcuterie, the wine maker’s flight with chef’s choice (1 of the wines will be the live barrel), or a library wine flight with chef’s choice of tapas to pair with the wine.
Open house at Tesoaria with a dozen wines to taste Open house at Tesoaria with a dozen wines to taste

Suffice it to say you will not lack for choice for types of wine to try at TeSóAria. Usually there are a little more than half a dozen white wine and a dozen red wines to choose by the glass or to make a wine flight, plus 2-3 sparkling wine you can try. Purchase a bottle of wine from the live barrel and they will hand bottle for you and write a custom message.
TeSóAria offers live barrels in their Portland Tasting Room for you to taste and will hand bottle if you puchase a bottle TeSóAria offers live barrels in their Portland Tasting Room for you to taste and will hand bottle if you puchase a bottle

TeSóAria wines are only available directly from the winery through their tasting rooms, mailing list, and wine clubs.

Locations of TeSóAria Tasting Rooms:

  • The Portland Tasting Room: 4003 N Williams Ave, Portland, OR 97227
  • The Roseburg Tasting Room & Winery: 512 N Curry Road, Roseburg, OR 97471

Tesóaria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Signature

Cheetah Stroll at Wildlife Safari

As a gift, F made reservations for us to go to Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon (Southern Oregon – not far from Umpqua Valley wine country) to take part in one of their animal experiences, a Cheetah Stroll. After our visit, we then went on various winery visits. I wanted to share this activity as something to do besides or as for us, on addition to winery visits in the area.

The description on the site explains that the Cheetah Stroll animal encounter is the following:

Take a stroll with one of our cheetah ambassadors. These strolls are the closest you will get to these magnificent cats inside the park. They will come within 5 to 6 feet of the animal, close enough to hear them purr and marvel at their lean athletic bodies. The keepers will share their knowledge of these cats during the stroll. This adventure includes one 8 x 10 photo with the cheetah for you to take home.

Price $80 per person (Pech note: sometimes there are Groupons or Living Social Deals – we used one ourselves)

Minimum Age Requirement: 13 years

We made our reservations for our walk to be early in the day – in fact the first walk of the day. This is because we have found that generally animals are active early on when everyone first comes in because it’s a bunch of activity (also not as hot so more likely to not be napping in shade), and then the only other times you can count on are when they get fed and for many animals, at night (many are nocturnal).

The two trainers had our cheetah friend Cayenne on a leash, with each person holding a leash.
On the Cheetah Walk at Wildlife Safari. The two trainers had our cheetah friend on a leash, with each person holding a leash. We would follow behind a couple yards away On the Cheetah Walk at Wildlife Safari. The two trainers had our cheetah friend on a leash, with each person holding a leash. We would follow behind a couple yards away

Then, F and I walked behind them a few yards. As we walked, a trainer would sometimes plop a small piece of meat in front of the ambassador cheetah to reward him for his good behavior and probably keep him walking since he wanted to flop down and relax even though it was 9 am.
On the Cheetah Walk at Wildlife Safari. Our Ambassador Cheetah was a bit tired/lazy and often did a Cheetah flop!

Then, every time he found the piece of meat, he got into this low crouch like this… so it was often a constant up and down because of how he wanted to lie down flat and eat instead of stand and eat.
On the Cheetah Walk at Wildlife Safari. One of the trainers would sometimes throw out a piece of meat, and each time he would crouch down like this to eat, and then have to get back up to continue the walk. Cheetah crouch as he snacks on some meat

He also would often stop and stare out into the woods, listening – probably for deer the trainers explained, and there was even one time we saw a deer about 30 feet away.
On the Cheetah Walk at Wildlife Safari. Our Ambassador Cheetah is looking at a deer to the back left in the woods... On the Cheetah Walk at Wildlife Safari. Our Ambassador Cheetah is looking at a deer to the back left in the woods...

Pretty much all of us got into the habit of everytime he stopped to stare, we would be staring too, to see if we could spot if he was looking at another deer, or bird, or what… What! What’s out there!?
"On

Our walk occurred along a trail in the woods and because it was early, it was very quiet and peaceful. We just heard the wind through the trees and our cheetah purring, if the trainers were not giving us information (most of the information came early on, and then based on questions we had, they are very knowledgeable). We loved watching him walk as he is very slinky (if you have a cat, you know exactly what this is like – F kept comparing him with his/our own cat Lobo) and the cheetah’s tail was constantly twitching back and forth with curiosity.
On the Cheetah Walk at Wildlife Safari. Our Ambassador Cheetah tail is twitching with curiosity and interest

One of the fun things we learned is how he and his sister are very close, and how when they call to each other they sound like chirps!

In fact, here’s a video of the brother and sister waiting to be reunited- and one of the trainers explaining how they get anxious and jealous when one gets to go out, but how they always take turns (in the video, the ambassador cheetah brother is the one waiting for his sister’s return).

Recently the Wildlife Safari got a friend for a cheetah cub they have (the cheetah’s name is Pancake…) – a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy named Dayo. So if you and your kids (or just you, no kids) want to see real life unlikely animal friends, consider visiting Wildlife Safari soon to catch the latest ambassador duo in their cubhood/puppyhood. You can find out more about this couple and the very successful cheetah breeding program at Wildlife Safari that they have had since the 1970s at their Web page on cheetahs.

Other photos of some  animal friends at Wildlife Safari Village, which is FREE to visit. The fees are for the animal encounter experiences they offer (for instance feeding giraffes or bathing an elephant) or their main experience, the drive thru Safari (drive in your own car, can drive through twice, there is an area to kennel your dogs as no pets allowed) and the feeding areas (available in the village or an area on the Safari drive).
Other animal friends at the Wildlife Safari Village Other animal friends at the Wildlife Safari Village, like Flamingos Other animal friends at the Wildlife Safari Village Other animal friends at the Wildlife Safari Village, like a silly goat Other animal friends at the Wildlife Safari Village, like this lemur Other animal friends at the Wildlife Safari Village, like this lemur Other animal friends at the Wildlife Safari Village, like this lemur Other animal friends at the Wildlife Safari Village

To finish off this Travel Tuesday post, I’ll show you the other sights we saw on our trip back from Winston up to Roseburg, which is where we were staying for the night in this Umpqua Valley region. As a side note, I love the reds from this area – our visits included Becker Vineyards, Abacela Vineyards and Winery, Girardet Vineyards & Winery, Hillcrest Vineyard, TeSóAria Vineyard & Winery, Glaser Estate Winery and Distillery and Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards. You can grab an Umpqua Valley wine tour map (or print one out here) to map your path, and if you visit 5 and get stamped, you can wine a little gift and entry to win a prize!

If you don’t have any plans for Memorial Day weekend this weekend, this holiday is always a great time to visit the wineries as many are doing special events in their tasting room (including more food and perhaps live music) and open houses.
Umpqua Valley visit, View of Becker Vineyards Umpqua Valley visit, View of Becker Vineyards Umpqua Valley visit, Abacela Winery was peaceful Abacela Winery, view from the deck of the tasting room Girardet Winery. Excellent tasting room. Hillcrest Winery Tesoaria Winery Reustle - Prayer Rock Vineyards Reustle - Prayer Rock Vineyards

Have you ever visited the Umpqua Valley area that includes Winston and Roseburg? Have you heard of Wildlife Safari and their cheetah ambassador program, or about Pancake? What are your plans for Memorial Day Weekend?

Signature

Blue Scorcher Bakery Cafe in Astoria

Are you traveling to the Oregon Coast? Going to or passing through Astoria?

Let me share one of my favorite places in Astoria: the Blue Scorcher Bakery Cafe. If the parking lot for Pig ‘N Pancake is full and there is a line out the door, consider going down just 5 minutes further to this gem. You can gaze at all the goodness of the menu on the chalkboards and the baked goodies lined up like treasures in the L shaped case as you approach the register, where you will order, pay, and get a number to get your food and drinks delivered and then bus your own table. Here’s what we had on our Saturday morning visit (same morning as the Fort George Festival of the Dark Arts, but that’s a future post).

exterior of Blue Scorcher Bakery Cafe in Astoria Some of the baked goods you can ogle as you approach the register of Blue Scorcher Bakery Cafe to order

Yes, the banners do say Pastries to Die For and Bread to Live For. We had 3 different pastries while we were there in Astoria for Valentine’s Day weekend/FODA and they were all moist, flavorful, and could easily use the adjective “to live for”. Let’s take a look at what’s behind the case. Is that a Savory Croissant that includes pesto, caramelized onions, cheddar cheese, asiago cheese, and egg? Did that not even last 24 hours in my possession? Yes.
Some of the baked goods you can ogle as you approach the register of Blue Scorcher Bakery Cafe to order Some of the baked goods you can ogle as you approach the register of Blue Scorcher Bakery Cafe to order. Including a Savory Croissant that includes pesto, caramelized onions, cheddar cheese, asiago cheese, and egg

What, Cubes of Deliciousness (gluten-free, it uses tapioca starch and potato starch, but contains hazelnuts)? F and I agreed after devouring one that the name is completely correct. And holy moly look at the size of the scones and rolls (ranging from mini  to regular size Cinnamon Walnut to Cardamon Almond) and Almond Bear Claws…
Some of the baked goods you can ogle as you approach the register of Blue Scorcher Bakery Cafe to order. Including these gluten free Cubes of Deliciousness

Don’t worry, they have plenty of beverages for you to enjoy with your food, including various caffeines from $2-6 or smoothies, various lemonades and ice tea, kombucha, even beer or wine by the glass. Seating includes tables as well as a children’s play area with little couches and toys, and also some seats at a counter by the window to gaze out at the sea just a couple blocks downhill.
All the beverages at the cheery and homey Blue Scorcher Bakery Cafe are written on the chalkboard above the register Interior of Blue Scorcher Cafe

Our breakfast included Almond Milk Mocha, fresh rosemary lemonade, and OMG this super moist merely $3 Chocolate Chip Applesauce Cake, SO good. So DELICIOUS.
Almond Milk Mocha in all it's beauty at Blue Scorcher Bakery Cafe in Astoria, Oregon This super moist chocolate cake made with apple sauce at Blue Scorcher Bakery Cafe in Astoria, OR. SO good. So DELICIOUS. This super moist chocolate cake made with apple sauce at Blue Scorcher Bakery Cafe in Astoria, OR. SO good. So DELICIOUS.

And oh, just this lil plate of French toast with brioche, homemade whipped cream, and local boysenberry and a dusting of powdered sugar served with maple syrup.
Blue Scorcher Bakery Cafe, French toast with brioche, homemade whipped cream, and local boysenberry and a dusting of powdered sugar served with maple syrup Blue Scorcher Bakery Cafe, French toast with brioche, homemade whipped cream, and local boysenberry and a dusting of powdered sugar served with maple syrup Blue Scorcher Bakery Cafe, French toast with brioche, homemade whipped cream, and local boysenberry and a dusting of powdered sugar served with maple syrup

We’ve only been to Astoria twice, but both times we stopped at Blue Scorcher Bakery Cafe, and I’m pretty sure every future trip, we will also be stopping in. Blue Scorcher is open every day, 7 AM – 3 PM. To give you fair warning, this is a worker owned co-op so the people who serve you may vary on the knowledge of what’s in any of the food item if they were not involved in making it.

Everything here is sourced to be organic and mostly local. Everything is also vegetarian, so even on their pizza of the day or reuben, there will be no meat (the reuben is made of tempeh). If you are looking for big portions at a good value, you should go back to wait in line at Pig ‘N Pancake. It is a cafe so it might be hard to accommodate big groups, and there are times, just like any cafe, that you may be sitting at a 4-top and share the space communally (it’s seat yourself).

If you are in Astoria, definitely consider stopping in!

Blue Scorcher Bakery Cafe on Urbanspoon

Signature