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Aged ribeye at Nick's Italian Cafe

Aged ribeye at Nick’s Italian Cafe

WILLAMETTE VALLEY – From our bed & breakfast’s wonderful muffins, scones and entries to a fabulous farm-to-fork dinner at Newberg’s Recipe our Oregon wine trip proved to be just as much about food as wine.

While not really reviewing each meal, I want to share how we ate during a week focused on wine where dining nearly stole the show. I have lots of photos to be added in next couple days.

Our first stop was at Lange Estate Winery and it was a perfect way for the group to get to know each other, enjoy a wonderful time in the Lange winery with a winemaker, and enjoy the artisan foods of Dundee’s Red Hills Market.

Our lunch spread featured cheeses, sausage, olives, hazelnuts, wonderful sandwiches on artisan bread and huge cookies. The lemon/lavender cookies had everyone talking.

But that was just getting started. That evening we dined at Nick’s Italian Café in McMinnville, perhaps the oldest spot known for fine food. I expected good but Nick’s was simply incredible. The chef prepared a three course meal with appetizer and dessert just for our group. They also provided an Oregon and Italian wine with each course.

We started antipasta plate of meat and cheeses then we all went crazy for savory custard of green garlic with pickled spring onions and seared shitakes. It was one of two dishes of the week! I’ll get to the other. The wines were an Archery Summit Pinot Gris and Italian Vermentino.Manigle

Our Second course was a delightful pasta/sausage dish in olive oil and parnmesan sauce. Next came the most tender in-house aged ribeye you can ever imagine. We finished with a cheese plate.

Lunch at Winderlea Winery the next day held its own prepared by former Tina’s chef Abby McManigle. While consuming the vineyard views we nibbled on a crostini with a goat cheese mousse, cherries, cracked almond and mint. The lunch’s second dish was the other most-talked about one of the week.

Our second course was seared prawns in a Tomatillo with a fresh corn basil relish. It rocked with sips of Winderlea’s Chardonnay – one of the region’s best for my palate. We enjoyed coffee-chile crusted beef, purple potatoes and baby greens. The finish was a vanilla crumb cake, fresh strawberries and buttermilk citrus sauce. It was pretty rockin with Winderlea’s vineyard-designate Pinot Noir.

The grand meal wrapping up the week was at the heralded Recipe – A Neighborhood Kitchen – restaurant in Newberg. After onion tart and escargot appetizers, the group feasted on duck and an array of yummy desserts.

Every bite was a highlight at Recipe but the big hit might have been a drink. We had a bottle of 2000 Eyrie Vineyard Pion Noir that just might have been the best glass of Pinot in my seven years of wine writing.

So the trip might have been billed as a Pinot Noir trip – and it certainly was -but future trips will also emphasize the incredible cuisine of the Northwest. Check back frequently for dates on the 2015 Drink & Eat Oregon experience!