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Concerts (and Dinner) on the Green

One of my favorite summer activities is attending concerts at Ste. Michelle Winery.  The winery is in Woodinville, WA, a little less than 15 miles from my house.  Throughout the summer they have a variety of acts who perform on an outdoor stage beside the winery buildings.  The stage is situated at the lower end of a slightly sloping field, so that all seats have a pretty good view.  There are reserved seats up front but I only sit there when I have to (I’ve been lucky enough to be comped a few times and then it’s sort of obligatory to use your seat…)  Most often you’ll find me spreading my blanket in the open field. 
After several years of attending summertime concerts at the winery (held rain or shine!) I have my set up down to a science.  The gates always open two hours before the concert.  Shortly before the gates open you’ll find me parking and getting in the queue.  When the gates open I head to one of several areas that I’ve found offer the best viewing and easy access to the restrooms (always important!).  :-)  We spread a  tarp and then a blanket, set up the chairs (only low, sand chairs allowed), a little collapsible, canvas table and position the rolling cooler and picnic basket on the corners of the blanket to stake our area out.  This set up is actually the envy of many concert goers (I always get comments on both the gear and the food…) and, although there are others who really out do my set up – real glasses, tablecloths, flowers and candles on their table, etc – I have to say I’m normally in the top 5% or higher of great setups!  Plus, I have it down to such a science, if need be I can handle it all on my own and with two people it’s easy as pie to haul it in and out. 
Once all that is in place, we head into the tasting room to purchase wine.  They actually sell wine and all manner of food within concert grounds but the types of wine are limited and the lines are pretty long.  I prefer selecting from the entire range of varietals in the tasting room.  In addition, it’s always nice to use the inside restroom prior to the building closing when you are forced to use the porta-potties. :-(  Although, they are kept in very good shape.  And, generally, I think it’s a lot more fun to bring your own food rather than purchasing, although the selection and quality of the food available is pretty good. 
Having purchased our beverages for the evening we head back to our little blanket, set up the Wineglass Steady Sticks (these are the best invention), pull out the acrylic wineglasses, fill them and  sip a glass of wine while enjoying a few nuts or crunchy snacks and just enjoy the glorious sun and scenery.  (Okay, I have been to several concerts in the rain and I’ve developed a pretty good method for coping with that but we’re not going to focus on that!) About an hour before concert time, we open the cooler and picnic basket and pull out the full feast.  We spend the next hour or so munching through the treats.  If there are two acts dessert normally comes out during the break. 
My profile picture was taken at the winery a few summers ago.  I was going to update that photo on Friday night but while they were checking the cooler and the picnic basket at the gate for contraband alcohol, they asked about cameras and for some reason I told them I had one!  I have no idea what came over me since I know that technically they aren’t allowed.  But I also knew that where I had it they wouldn’t check, and once inside as long as your aren’t blatantly taking photos of the band, they aren’t overly zealous about enforcing the rule.  I have no idea what came over me but it meant I had to take the camera back to the car, leaving M with all the gear but I did get back to the line prior to the gates actually opening.  Phew! 
As for my photo, I don’t think you would have seen much difference between that one and the one I would have taken.  My hair is still pretty much the same, the chairs are better now, the wineglass is probably the same so it wasn’t going to be a big update.  However, it also meant that I couldn’t take pictures of my little feast that night! :-(  Dang it. 
Luckily I did have leftovers of the main attraction and I had those for lunch today and snapped a few photos to share.  Here is the actual menu: 
Dinner at Ste. Michelle Winery
Mixed salted nuts
Cucumber and Avocado Soup with Fresh Crab (recipe below)
Spinach Salad (with bacon, red onion & blue cheese)
Smoked Salmon with Herbed Cream Cheese
Crusty Country Bread
Fran’s Chocolate Coated Almonds

The Horse Heaven Sauvignon Blanc is one of my all-time favorite warm weather wines.  Crisp and clean with lots of melon, a little citrus and a bit of grass, it goes with a wide variety of foods or is lovely on its own.  It comes chilled from the cooler inside the tasting room and stays at a perfect refreshing temperature in your cooler.  Horse Heaven has fairly recently been approved as an American Viticultural Area (AVA).  You will also see it called Ciel du Cheval or,  if you are drinking a Mark Ryan wine, Dead Horse!  Which is a very beautiful wine despite the name.  But back to Friday night…
It was very warm on Friday night – 88°F/31°C – when we arrived at the winery at 5:00 pm.  I wanted something that would be refreshing and yet very tasty, so I decided to make a cucumber soup. I had also purchased a fresh Dungeness crab for the picnic and thought it might go well with the cucumber.   The recipes I found all seemed a bit boring.  I love cucumber but they don’t have lots of zing on their own.  So I started with a basic recipe and then added several elements for a bit more pizazz! 
The soup was really good, although I would make a few changes next time around.  I thought there was a bit too much salt, although M disagreed with me, and I think instead of the Rice Wine Vinegar I might use a white balsamic.  I’ll have to think about that a bit. 
Here’s the recipe that I used. 
Cucumber and Avocado Soup with Fresh Crab
4 servings
Cucumbers (3 1/2 pound total), peeled, sliced and seeded (I used a combination of "regular" & pickling cukes)
1/2 cup cold water
2 to 3 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons kosher salt, (reduce to 1 tsp?)
1 ripe California avocado, peeled and pitted
1/2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 (8-ounce) container plain yogurt
1 tablespoon Lemon-Wasabi Sauce
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
Freshly ground white pepper
Hot sauce

1 1/2 cups ice cubes

Garnish: 1 pound of crab meat – set aside whole leg pieces
Finely diced red onion

Puree cucumbers with water, vinegar, and 2 teaspoons kosher salt in batches in a blender until smooth.

Mash together avocado and lime juice until smooth. Whisk in yogurt, Lemon Wasabi Sauce, chives, several drops of hot sauce and pepper, to taste.

Just before serving, blend soup with ice in batches until smooth. (I actually did this about 3 hours prior to serving and it was fine.  Just whisk  before serving as the soup tends to separate a bit. )

Divide soup between four bowls.  Place a heaping tablespoon of avocado cream in the center of each bowl.  Sprinkle the red onion over the avocado cream and the soup.  Place a generous portion of the crab meat over the avocado cream in each bowl.  Add a couple pieces of leg meat to each portion.  Garnish with chives, if desired.   

Soup (before blending with ice) and avocado cream can be made 1 day ahead and kept, separately, chilled and covered.


Friday night’s concert was really wonderful.  The opening act was Children of the Revolution, a locally-based band showcasing world music and Salsa and Flamenco dance!   They were followed by the marvelous and entertaining Pink Martini, a band I fell in love with a year or so ago. 
The weather was great, the bands had high-energy, the food and wine were perfect for a summer night.  All in all it was a pretty wonderful night!

  1. Unknown permalink
    23-Aug-2005 1:05 pm

    Wow. Our pass cross again, sort of. First the Yakima Wine Tasting and then the Pink Martini Concert. We even had the same wine. (Well, one of them. Our group of 6 went through a few). I\’m starting to think I need a blog. All the Seattle food bloggers I read are doing the same things I am!Fabulous concert. Children of the Revolution was an unexpected bonus.

  2. Culinary permalink
    24-Aug-2005 5:56 am

    Good to hear from you again, Sandra! The nice thing about a larger group is that you CAN sample more wines – not such a good idea for just two! :-) And I guess you know how to live right! Now you just have to decide if you\’d like to write about it… let me know if you decided to jump in! ~ B

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