Special to Sip Northwest, nationally acclaimed author, researcher, TV personality and sexologist Dr. Pepper Schwartz gets out of the bed and into the romance of food and beverage. Orders from the love doctor herself, this expertly advised round-up of local libation destinations is sure to lock in the romance.
I love Valentine’s Day: you can call it commercial, I call it a reminder to be romantic. As a tenured relationship expert and sexologist, I have spent my adult life and career studying love, and I know for certain that romance matters. I can speak from professional experience that going after romance with all the right ingredients — great getaway, a solid or budding relationship, fine food and drink — is really important. Here are a few suggestions in my native Northwest to bring you closer together.
Mountain Magic at the Salish Lodge
Start on Feb. 13 with Aphrodisiac Cocktails at the Salish, the Snoqualmie, Washington, lodge at the edge of a magnificent water fall. I’ll be there giving romantic tips while you try out sips like Cupid’s Arrow, Aphrodite and Bee Mine. As the official Romance Concierge at Salish Lodge, offering a variety of services to guests, I recommend making this into a mid-week getaway and stay for the prix fixe dinner the next night. Add a short hike to beautiful Twin Falls just a 10-minute drive away. Then marinate together in the Lodge’s soaking pools after a couple’s massage. Romance guaranteed.
Vashon Island Romance
Never underestimate the romance of a erry trip, plus Vashon cider and eats. Make a dinner reservation at the Bramble House on Washington’s Vashon Island, masterfully headlined by Chef Lia Bardeen. Known for her time on Bravo’s “Top Chef,” Bardeen is revered for sous chefing under the famous Jean George in Manhattan. Before you eat, drive to Nashi Orchards and warm each other up with Royal Perry, a slightly sweet pear brandy, aged two years in French oak, or a number of the cidery’s apple or perry ferments.
Head for the Sun and Snow
The most romantic way to get to dinner is by horsedrawn sleigh — and what a dinner it is at the Trail Creek Cabin in Sun Valley, Idaho. First, have a cocktail at the clubby Ram in the recently renovated Sun Valley Inn. Afterward, snuggle under the blankets of the sleigh together for the 20-minute drive to the Trail Creek. The large log cabin is adorable inside, just what you’d hope it would look like, and offers a truly delicious prix fixe dinner — don’t miss the buffalo tenderloin when it’s offered. The wines are reasonably priced with great choices by the glass. You can also drive to the restaurant, which would allow you to linger at the bar afterward. It’s a jovial, informal place and there is a varied list of beers as well as cocktails.
Visit Wine Country in the Off Season
Wine Country in the winter has its charms, from the Dundee Hills to Yakima Valley. Not all tasting rooms are closed for the season, with downtown Walla Walla, Washington, sporting great restaurants next door to happening wineries. Spurge for a suite at the wonderful Abeja Winery and Inn, gourmet breakfast included, or stay at the Marcus Whitman Hotel and snag a dinner at the Chef’s Table in an alcove right in the kitchen.
If you’d rather head to the Willamette Valley, the Allison Inn & Spa, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, offers its fifth annual Cuvée Weekend for those wanting to stretch out this romantic holiday. On Feb. 22-23, the main event is an exclusive walkaround tasting event with bites from more than 20 artisan food purveyors and a dozen local wineries, benefiting the Yamhill Enrichment Society. Plus, the palatial and opulent rooms make it one of the idyllic love destinations around.
For more lovey-dovey drink and dining destinations to check out this month, click here.
And what if you’ve forgotten to book anything in advance?
Run over to your closest Metropolitan Market or New Seasons. Get the best sparkling wine you can afford — I like the well-priced Oregon bubbles from Sokol Blosser or Argyle. Buy some strawberries and chocolate sauce and have a picnic in your living room. Believe me, this is a very romantic plan B.