January 2009

Planked Salmon

Planked salmon is one of those things that seems to be very much a feature of Northwest cuisine. I remember a Washington resident friend telling me, in tones of absolute gustatory delight, about the preparation rituals; selecting the plank of alder, soaking it in water or wine for at least two hours, then grilling the fresh wild salmon on the plank, so that that the salmon picked up some of the slightly smoky flavor of the wood. I'm not sure about who, when, or where the planking tradition begin; I'd assumed it was something from the native First Nation peoples, and the tradition was adopted by settlers. It's a salmon-cooking method favored in British Columbia, Washington, and Alaska.

Wines on the Cheap

When I moved to the Northwest from California, I deliberately looked for and bought "local" wines. Before I moved, most of the wines I bought were California, Australian, or South African, with a smattering of German and Italian wines. Consequently, I thought it would be fun to try Northwest wines, so I have been assiduously buying and thoroughly enjoying lots of Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Shiraz, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. I have a confession to make: my wine purchases are typically under $15 a bottle. Mostly, they're under $10 a bottle. And I'm not buying the Gallo Rhinegarten or Riunite Lambrusco I grew up with as "table wines." I'm buying local Washington, Oregon, and Idaho wines.

Northwest Sparkling Wines

You'll note that that title reads "Sparkling Wines," not "Champagne." There's a reason for that; the appellation "Champagne" is mostly reserved by law, and international treaty, for sparkling wines produced in the Champagne region of France. There are some exceptions, in the U.S., but generally, you'll see Champagne reserved for French imports.