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New Year’s Eve Itinerary

Posted on: December 19th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
The kitschy, yet regal McMenamins Grand Lodge is a perfect mix for New Year's Eve dancing.

The kitschy, yet regal McMenamins Grand Lodge is a perfect mix for New Year’s Eve dancing.

Let the countdown begin—we’re mere days away from saying hello to 2015. With all the holiday hullabaloo going on, it’s easy to let New Year’s Eve plans fall through the cracks. But not this year, friends! We’ve taken the busy work out of the equation—you can simply use our New Year’s itinerary for a sure-fire good time and good New Year.

First, check into a room at the McMenamins Grand Lodge or one of our other standout hotel options. Just be sure to make reservations ahead of time!

Afternoon Bubbly Excursion
Before the sun sets, hop in the car to search for some sparkling wine to pop open come midnight. Though, you won’t have to search very hard—simply head to Shafer Vineyard Cellars for the Shafer Cuveé. Open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., the winery produces its sparkling wine in the traditional French champagne method, Methode Champenoise. Very classy, indeed.

Dinner: Small Plates on a Big Night
We’re looking into your future—near future that is—and we see dancing. Lots and lots of dancing. So make dinner light, yet delicious at small plates at 1910 Main. As the name would suggest, you and your dinner companions can share delicious morsels of creative cuisine. It’s a celebratory meal that doesn’t require a post-feast nap!

Party Time!
Back at the McMenamins Grand Lodge, a night of good music and revelry will kick off at 9 p.m. with  New Year’s Eve at the Grand Lodge. Boogie to live music from three different bands. Choose from Americana, rock or Motown beats.

Welcome to 2015!
Start the year off on the right foot, literally, with the ranger-led America’s State Parks First Day Hike at beautiful Stub Stewart State Park. Here, you’ll find fresh air and a fresh perspective.

Now that you’ve properly worked up an appetite from your hike, chow down at the Ironwork Grill. Using seasonal ingredients from local growers, your meal will fill you with meaningful sustenance for the first day of the New Year.

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Holiday Wine Pairings

Posted on: December 12th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey 1 Comment
Pop open some bubbly from the Tualatin Valley when celebrating the holidays.

Pop open some bubbly from the Tualatin Valley when celebrating the holidays.

The holidays are all about excess. And hey—we’re not complaining. With all the decadent cheese plates, buffet spreads, and candy-cane treats, you’re going to need a plethora of drinking options to pair with the best holiday grub. Below, see our suggested beer, wine and cider pairings for each course of your most extravagant holiday meal.

Appetizers
During this time of year, the appetizer course can linger for hours as something delicious slowly roasts in the oven. So drink something smooth, easy and of which you can have a few. Enter, Two Kilts Brewing Company’s Belgian Brune. The Oregon craft brew taste good with just about anything (especially stinky cheeses) and it’s hard to tire of it.

Additionally, amp up your bread and olive oil game by adding Cooper Mountain Vineyards’ 12-year barrel-aged balsamic vinegar to the mix. The vinegar is made from the winery’s organic and biodynamic Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes and, point blank, it’s fantastic.

Toasts
Cin! Cin! Cheers to family and the coming new year with Kramer Vineyards’ 2013 Celebrate Müller-Thurgau. The tropical notes of hibiscus, banana and kiwi will bring a little summer pep into your winter grumbles. Kramer Vineyard’s Celebrate Rosé of Pinot Noir is a cheery choice, too.

Main Course
Let’s switch it up this year. Why not try cider with your honey baked ham? A nice, crisp one like Bull Run Cider’s Powerhouse Dry Cider can also be used in the cooking liquid for a truly tasty dish.

Dessert
We recently re-discovered the greatness of port after dinner. The rich digestif is the perfect send-off to a great meal. Try one of David Hill Vineyard & Winery’s two delicious ports. Sweet lovers sip on the 2008 Estate Muscat Port, while those who prefer a bit more spice will enjoy the 2008 Estate Pinot Noir Port.

Next Day Brunch
After a night of merriment via food and booze, you may need a little hair of the dog in the morning. For a great Bellini, mix a bit of bubbly Provincial Vineyards 2013 Estate Nova Sparkling Pinot Gris with peach purée.

Happy holidays! Drink well and responsibly during this festive season. Cheers!

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DIY Gift: Coffee Body Scrub

Posted on: December 10th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Using local beans, our coffee scrub is the perfect way to wake up without actually taking a sip of coffee!

Using local beans, our coffee scrub is the perfect way to wake up in the shower!

Coffee aficionados never leave a trip to the greater Portland region without a few bags of coffee tucked into their carry on. After all, we do have the best coffee and a pound of freshly roasted beans make a perfect holiday gift. Our coffee is so good, in fact, that it’s worthy of more than just mere morning joe for a solely in-your-cup consumption. We like to take it a step further, jumpstarting your coffee addiction to your shower time, as well. For a thoughtful gift, whip up a batch of coffee body scrub. It’s a caffeinated exfoliation that will perk anyone up for the day ahead.

Ingredients:
1 cup coffee grounds from BJ’s Coffee Company, Insomnia Coffee Company or Longbottom Coffee
½ cup brown turbinado sugar
1 cup coconut oil
2-3 drops of essential oils  or a dash of cinnamon (optional)

Directions:
Mix all of the ingredients together until well combined. That’s it!

Store in an airtight container. Use within 2 months.

To use:
Take a small scoop of the scrub and massage into wet skin, followed by a rinsing with warm water. Hello, soft skin!

P.S. In lieu of scrubbing on local coffee, you can of course just sip it instead! Learn more about Tualatin Valley brews by reading our Buzz on Coffee.

Love Language Gift Guide

Posted on: December 5th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Find the perfect gift in the Tualatin Valley.

Find the perfect gift in the Tualatin Valley.

What’s your love language? By love language, we mean the way that you prefer to express and experience love. Do you connect with those you love via heartfelt words, actions, gifts, time spent together and physical touch? No matter how you express how you care this holiday season, you can best celebrate it in the Oregon’s Washington County: the Tualatin Valley.

Words of Affirmation
Words matter. Tell your honey how you feel over a romantic dinner at decarli (just say whatever you have to say before eating the polenta fries with gorgonzola butter). You can also have live theater express feelings of love for you as Bob declares his love for Betty in the production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.

Acts of Service
For some, actions speak louder than words. Don’t just give a gift—make one! The glass blowers at Live Laugh Love Glass offer classes where you can create one-of-a-kind pieces in their studio. Even if your piece comes out a bit wobbly, the recipient will love it even more for its imperfections.

Receiving Gifts
Big or small, a gift wrapped in a bow is a lovely thing to receive, especially when that present is one-of-a-kind. Support local artisans and boutiques with a shop small mentality while visiting the Tualatin Valley, ranging from sweet little shops to vibrant holiday markets.

Quality Time
In the whirlwind of our busy lives, there is a love language that is spoken through not minutes, but hours and even days. Get in the car for a day of wine tasting on Sip47 Wine Route, complete with 17 purveyors of Oregon wine, saké and cider. Beyond driving the scenic roads, you’ll savor the time spent leisurely sipping locally made libations.

Physical Touch
For many, we have an innate need for touch. With adrenaline pumping after an adventure at Pumpkin Ridge Zip Tour, feel your partner’s heartbeat as you hug each other in congratulations. For a more low key endeavor, there’s always a couples massage at the Ruby Spa at the McMenamins Grand Lodge.

No matter your love language, we hope you have a joyous season of gift giving and gift receiving!

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Holiday Events in the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: December 3rd, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

Happy ho-ho-holidays! December is a prime time for travel, ranging from family getaways to visiting friends and family. Whatever brings you to the greater Portland region this winter, you’ll find that holidays are especially warm-and-fuzzy when celebrating with Oregonians! Beyond the holiday tree lightings and tax-free shopping events in the Tualatin Valley, we’ve rounded up a gaggle of other festive outings.

beaverton holiday decorations

All I Want for Christmas: Toy and Dolls We Remember
Runs through January 3| Washington County Museum | 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.| $4-$6
Remember when all you wanted for Christmas was a dolly? This museum exhibit showcases iconic dolls through the years, from Scarlett O’Hara to Barbie.

Helvetia Christmas Festival
December 5-December 14| Helvetia Christmas Tree Farm | 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. | free
Celebrate the holidays like they did in the good ol’ days with a warm drink to hold while you wait for your marshmallow to roast over the fire. The holiday tree farm’s gift shop smells of more than evergreens, but homemade lavender gifts, too!

Annual Holiday Market at Cornelius Pass Roadhouse
December 7 | McMenamins Cornelius Pass Roadhouse | noon to 5 p.m. | free
Wander the perimeter of the charming octagonal barn while sipping mulled wine and you’ll feel as festive as all get-out. Then up the ante even with holiday treats, décor and presents. Look out for the Dickens Carolers in Victorian garb!

Breakfast with Santa at Cornelius Pass Roadhouse
December 13-14 | McMenamins Cornelius Pass Roadhouse | 8 a.m. & 10 a.m. | $13-$18
Who wants to have breakfast with Santa? That’s just what the kids can do at this relaxing event, sharing a hot and toasty meal with the big guy in the red hat.

Storytime with Mrs. Claus
December 13 | Al’s Garden Center in Sherwood | 10:30 a.m. | free
Mrs. Claus loves to read to the elves—so she’s taking storytime to kids in the Tualatin Valley next!

The Nutcracker Ballet
December 13-14 | Forest Grove High School | 1 p.m. & 6 p.m. | $8-$12
Ballet Forest Grove presents its annual production of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker. Delight in the a classic story, magical sets and whimsical costumes.

Holidays on the Hill
December 13-14 | Plum Hill Vineyards | 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. | free
What’s the holiday season without a little wine? This tasting room transforms itself into a quaint holiday shop for the weekend.

Live Theater

A Christmas Survival Guide
December4-21 | Broadway Rose New Stage | 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. | $20-$35
A light-hearted revue takes playful jabs at holiday traditions and holiday stresses.

Miracle on 43rd Street: A 1940s Holiday Radio Massacre
December4-23 | Venetian Theatre & Bistro | 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. | $22-$32
The Christmas classic gets a seedy makeover, complete with a mob boss!

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas
December5-21 | HART Theatre | 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. | $11-$17
Be transported to the world of a bygone era, filled with the music and heart of the 1940s.

The Wines of Christmas
December 21 | Renaissance Wines | 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. | $20
Enjoy a tasting of local wine and food pairings while enjoying the merriment of a holiday-themed reading.

Choral & Orchestra Events

Live Nativity Scene and Musical Open House
December 4-6 | Tualatin Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints | 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. | free

ISing Noel: Christmas in France
December 5-7 | Bethel Congregational United Church | varying times | donations welcome

Hillsboro Community Youth Choir Winter Concert
December 10| Liberty High School | 4 p.m. | $2-$8

Spirit of Christmas: A Time for Joy
December 13 | Sherwood High School Performing Arts Center | 2:30 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. | $6

Oregon Mandolin Orchestra Annual Holiday Concert
December 19 | Walters Cultural Arts Center | 7:30 p.m. | $15-$20

Selections from Handel’s Messiah and Judas Maccabaeus
December 19 | St. Matthew Catholic Church | 7:30 p.m. | $25

That’s a whole lot of holiday cheer for you—and we didn’t even include everything! For a full listing of holiday events, check out our events and festivals page.

Ask a Local: Lee Farms’ Annie Lee-Bartelamia

Posted on: December 1st, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
The Lee siblings prep for the holiday season. From  left to right: Erika, Kara, Annie, Teagan and Tommy.

The Lee siblings prep for the holiday season. From left to right: Erika, Kara, Annie, Teagan and Tommy.

When it comes to vacation planning, nothing is more valuable than the local scoop. So, we turned to Anne Lee-Bartelamia, Farm Manager of the charming tree farm Lee Farms. Born and raised in Oregon’s Washington County, she has the ultimate tips!

What makes Lee Farms so special?
We are a family-run business that is a seven-generation farm! Our ancestors planted their roots in Tualatin in 1869 and we have been here since.

What do you love most about interacting with visitors?
In addition to our farm store and operations we are a kid-friendly attraction. We get to see excited kids come out and enjoy the animals all year! We have an amazing customers that we have grown up with and who are now bringing the next generation to our farm.

What’s your favorite part of the holidays?
During the holidays I feel like I get to connect with our guests on a more personal level. For each person that comes, I feel like I get to be a part of their holiday tradition, which gives me those warm fuzzy feelings that I’m sure a lot of people also get around the holidays.

What’s one can’t-miss attraction?
Well, now we have Cabela’s World Forestry Outfitter; that is a pretty exciting given for a lot of people coming into Tualatin.

Describe a perfect day in Washington County with them.
When we have guests, the first thing we do is tour some of the amazing wineries. We are big fan of Blakeslee Vineyard Estate!

What’s a favorite “hidden gem” of the area?
When we are looking for a break from farm, we love to head out to Hagg Lake and go fishing.

Where do you go when you want some seriously good grub?
Whenever we can’t settle on a restaurant, we head down to Bridgeport Village and see which smell pulls us in. I also vote for Pastini Pastaria so that I can some tortellini gorgonzola.

What should every visitor take home as a souvenir?
Every visitor should go home with an amazing bottle of wine, hazelnuts (covered in chocolate, preferably), Marionberry jam and honey.

Describe Oregon’s Washington County in 5 words or less.
Four seasons of paradise.

Other tips from locals:
Curiosities Vintage Mall’s Travis Diskin
Maggie Buns’ Maggie Pike
Clean Water Service’s Sheri Wantland
SakéOne’s Steve Vuylsteke
Bag&Baggage’s Scott Palmer
Vine Gogh’s Jenny Schildan
Cooper Mountain Vineyards’ Barbara Gross
Abbey Creek Vineyard’s Bertony Faustin
Urban Decanter’s Rebecca Kramer

Hostess with the Mostess Granola

Posted on: November 24th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Your home will smell amazing as our granola recipe cooks in the oven.

Your home will smell amazing as our granola recipe cooks in the oven.

A few years ago, my mom put the kibosh on Thanksgiving pre-meal snacking. Who could blame her? My family would eat so many little finger foods that we’d be too stuffed to fully partake in the turkey and cranberry main event. So instead, Thanksgiving morning has the new tradition of making a big batch of spiced granola. A small bowl in the morning keeps the Thanksgiving crowd held over with a decadent treat until dinner. Plus, a make-ahead batch is a sweet hostess gift for any Thanksgiving dinner that you attend—especially if you use local ingredients from the Tualatin Valley!

Holiday Granola
Adapted from Heidi Swanson’s “Super Natural Every Day”

Ingredients:
4 cups rolled oats
1 ½ cups walnut halves from Duyck’s Peachy-Pig Farm
1 ½ cups raw hazelnuts from Oregon Orchard Hazelnuts, halved or crushed to your liking
1 cup large-flake, unsweetened shredded coconut
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup dried cranberries
Zest of two oranges
2/3 cup butter (can use 1/3 cup for non-decadent days)
½ cup and a tablespoon of maple syrup or warmed honey from Smith Berry Barn

Directions:
Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper

In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, walnuts, hazelnuts, coconut, salt, cinnamon, cranberries and orange zest.
(If you can only find roasted hazelnuts, then omit here and add them post-roasting)

Melt butter on the stove or in the microwave, then whisk maple syrup or honey into the butter until well combined.

Pour the butter mixture into the oat mixture and stir until the oats are well coated.

Divide the mixture between the two baking sheets, spreading it all into a thin layer.

Bake for 45 minutes, stirring the granola every 15 minutes.

Remove granola from the oven and let cool completely before serving or packaging.

Enjoy!

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Photograph Gratitude in the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: November 19th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

What are you thankful for this year? Here in the Tualatin Valley, we’re oozing with gratitude for our rolling mountain ranges, bountiful farms and the way in which this fertile land creates some of the best food and wine in the country. That’s a lot of gratitude right there and we think it’s worth expressing in more than words. In fact, show us why you’re thankful for the Tualatin Valley by entering the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest

Thanksgiving weekend is also the last weekend to enter the contest (submissions close November 30!). With so much festive hullabaloo happening throughout Oregon’s Washington County, there will be last-minute photo inspiration everywhere you look:

A good turkey gobble is best followed by vineyard views at the Thanksgiving Wine Weekend. Wineries open their doors for wine tastings overlooking post-harvest vineyards. With your camera in tow, try and capture the fog twirling around the vines or dew drops dangling off the fence posts.

Fall vineyard views by Joel Zak

Fall vineyard views by Joel Zak

For photographers with a sense of humor, head to Alpacas of Oregon for the annual Alpaca Open Barn & Holiday Sale (November 28-29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Here, you’ll find goofy subjects—alpacas!—who are always curious for cameras.  

Alpacas are the best photo subjects. Photo by Joel Zak.

Alpacas are the best photo subjects. Photo by Joel Zak.

The autumn-themed photo contest can still have some wintertime flair with entries from one of our holiday tree farms or at the Helvetia Christmas Festival (November 28-30 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Noble and Grand firs stand majestic, ready to be photographed in their green glory.  

Holiday Tree Farm by John Gaudette.

Holiday Tree Farm by John Gaudette.

As if these attractions aren’t reason enough to hit the town with your camera, then maybe the photo contest prizes will nudge you of the door:

Drool-worthy photography gear are the prizes for the photo contest.

Drool-worthy photography gear are the prizes for the photo contest.

 

1st Place:  Canon EOS 70D DSLR Camera, plus UV filter, camera bag, Canon Pixma Pro-100 printer and more (provided by The Shutterbug), plus onOne Perfect Photo Suite 8 Premium Edition software (total value $2,500)
2nd Place:  Binoculars from Leupold Optics and onOne Perfect Photo Suite 8 Premium Edition software (total value $555)
3rd Place:  $100 Visa Gift Card and onOne Perfect Photo Suite 8 Premium Edition software (total value $280)
Honorable Mention:  onOne Perfect Photo Suite 8 Premium Edition software (total value $180)

Enter the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest now!

Five Best Peanut Butter Treats

Posted on: November 12th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey 2 Comments
Find the best peanut butter treats in the greater Portland region.

Find the best peanut butter treats in the greater Portland region.

Important question: crunchy or creamy peanut butter? It’s a polarizing question, we know. Whatever side of the peanut butter debate you fall under, you can satisfy your peanut butter cravings—and celebrate National Peanut Butter Month!—right here in the Tualatin Valley. We’ve rounded up five spots that are just as nutty about peanut butter as we are.

1. Peanut Butter Cream Cone from Moonstruck Chocolate Co.
Portland’s premier chocolatier is not messing around when it comes to its peanut butter cream cone, which weighs in at an impressive 8.64 ounces, filled to the brim with peanut French butter cream.
Moonstruck Chocolate Co.: 11705 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, Beaverton; Monday-Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

2. Peanut Butter Cupcake from Sweet Story Bakery
We’re partial to the peanut butter cupcake in all its decadent glory, but you can’t go wrong with any of the peanut butter desserts at this cute shop. Adorable peanut butter cake pops show great restraint, while the heavy-duty peanut butter bars could almost qualify as a meal.  
Sweet Story Bakery: 16227 SW 1st Street, Sherwood; Tuesday-Friday from 9 am. To 7 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

3. African Peanut Stew from the Native Foods Café at Bridgeport Village
Peanut butter can be used as a key ingredient of a main course. Enter the healthy, nourishing and oh so savory African peanut stew. Though if you have room for dessert, go ahead and order the peanut butter parfait—its layers of whipped peanut butter and banana bread crumbs are irresistible.
Native Foods: 7237 SW Bridgeport Road, Tigard; Daily 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

4. Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake at the Hillsboro Pharmacy
This old-school soda fountain has been making milkshakes for over a century! So, they really, really know what they’re doing and it shows in the thick and perfectly sweet chocolate peanut butter shakes.
Hillsboro Pharmacy: 243 E. Main Street, Hillsboro; Monday-Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

5. Red Wine Truffles from…us!
Instead of a PB&J, we go for a PB&P. That is peanut butter and Pinot, of course! Try our easy recipe for red wine truffles, made with peanut butter chips and David Hill Vineyard’s Pinot.

Now try all five options and report back with your favorite!

Candy & Wine Pairings

Posted on: October 31st, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

Now, be honest—how much Halloween candy do you steal from your kids’ stash? When stocking up for trick-or-treaters, we somewhat shamefully know that the mixed bag of goodies will inevitably turn into a one-for-you-and-one-for-me sort of situation. Making peace with you Halloween candy addiction, you might as well take it up a notch by pairing it with good Oregon wine. See our favorite pairings below!

david hill vineyard Candy: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
Wine: David Hill Vineyard and Winery’s Farmhouse Red
Reese’s peanut butter cups are a prized trick-or-treater score. But keep a few for yourself to pair with this $12 per bottle stunner. The candy’s sweet peanut butter mixes delightfully with the soft and jammy red blend, making for a grown up PB&J experience.

 

Abbey Creek VineyardCandy: Snickers
Wine: Abbey Creek Vineyard’s 2012 Baco Noir
A Snickers has a lot going on with it chocolate, nuts and caramel deliciousness. Its decadence needs to be matched by the similar heavy hitter of the Baco Noir. The wine’s earthy medium body and caramel nose complements as many bite-size Snickers as you can get your hands on.   

 

beckham estate vineyardCandy: Three Musketeers
Wine: Beckham Estate Vineyard’s Pinot Noir 2012
Balance the fluffy nougat filling with something a bit more grounding. Enter, Beckham Estate Vineyard’s Pinot Noir. The straight forward Three Musketeers doesn’t interfere with the nuances of Pinot’s subtly rustic flavors.

 

blakeslee vineyardCandy: Twix
Wine: Blakeslee Vineyard Estate’s 2012 Chardonnay
From aging in French oak, this wine carries toasty caramel and vanilla bean notes, which creates a harmony with the silky caramel of Twix.  

 

montinore estateCandy: Starburst
Wine: Montinore Estate’s 2012 Reserve Gewürztraminer
Sometimes, sweets go with more sweets. Such is the case here. The Gewürztraminer delivers bouncy notes of honey, Mandarin orange and rose petal…if only Starburst came in these flavors, too!

 

sakeCandy: Kit-Kats
Wine: SakéOne’s G Joy Genshu saké
Kit Kat’s are wildly popular in Japan, which inspired us to pair the candy with saké instead of wine. The wafer-like texture of the candy is balanced by the rich punches of this premium saké.

 

Now, tell us your favorite candy and we’ll find a wine to pair with it!