A farm-to-fork escape in the heart of Washington
Reason to Rev
Planted smack in Washington’s geographic center, the Wenatchee Valley, with its prodigious orchards, verdant farms, and 300 days of sunshine, also sits at the heart of the state’s culinary scene. Popular Seattle restaurants like Tilth and the Herbfarm source their menus from this lush valley where, flanked by the Eastern Cascades, even the Columbia River slows down to admire the striking landscape. Self-reliant citizens baking their own bread, pressing cider, and tending fertile backyard gardens aren’t mere Little House on the Prairie–inspired fantasies here. It’s just the way things have always been done. And Wenatchee’s crisp fall days are an ideal time to sample the bounty of the harvest. Sure, the five-hour drive here is nothing to sniff at: fortunately, the dramatic mountain passes en route give plenty of opportunity for distraction. And, trust us, once you’ve arrived at this gastronomical gem, your stomach—and your Flickr account—will thank us.
»Four miles off of I-90, the thunderous 270-foot Snoqualmie Falls promises a postcard-worthy place to stretch your legs before the push over stunning Snoqualmie Pass.
»Learn the secrets of cheese mongering in a hands-on class ($80) from Vermont-born Catha Link, who has been churning out handmade raw-milk sheep cheese from her picturesque Alpine Lakes Cheese farm for 10 years.
»Richard Kitos spent 20 years chefing in LA before opening the IvyWild Inn with his wife in 2006. You’ll taste Kitos’s experience each morning in heavenly shirred eggs and impossibly fluffy omelets stuffed with chicken and mozzarella. Better yet, learn how to make your own mouthwatering meals at his bimonthly Tuesday cooking classes.
»Tucked into a tiny space on N Mission Street, Farmhouse Table is a feast for the eyes—and soul. Initiated four years ago, this indoor farmers market of sorts sells fresh fruit and produce from local farmers, like Tiny’s Organic Farm in East Wenatchee (private tours available), five days a week.
»Wake up your appetite and your senses with a cup of locally roasted Caffe Mela coffee and a fresh-baked scone at Pretiola Bakery. Situated on the banks of the Columbia, this snug space bakes its organic goodies fresh every day and recently started serving dinner.
»A different kind of dessert awaits at the top of the steep 1.5-mile climb to Saddle Rock in the Wenatchee Foothills: a 360-degree vista of the laconic Columbia River S-curving through the valley while the white-capped triangle tops of the Cascades guard the western horizon.
»The kitchy Bavarian town of Leavenworth registers as one of central Washington’s weirdest tourist attractions, but you’ll want to pull over for pure novelty’s sake. And to pick up some of the decadent chocolates handmade at Schocolat.
»Three waterfalls dot the northern route (Highway 2) back to I-5. Your best bet: Wallace Falls, where the 2.75-mile trek (one-way) to a three-tiered torrent will help burn off some of those vacation calories. —KC
If Lemolo Café and Deli’s (509-664-6576) sunshine-yellow exterior doesn’t draw you in, the scent of fresh-baked bread and the locally grown ingredients they pack between slices certainly will. Two blocks away, the upscale Shakti’s pairs its hand-cut meats and seafood dishes with produce sourced largely from Farmhouse Table and an extensive local wine list.
Five miles from Wenatchee and a mere seven from Mission Ridge Ski Resort, Past Thyme Farm’s (from $225) four-bedroom house presents the perfect marriage of town and country, especially if you opt for one of its farm stays, where you’ll help owner Tony with the chores required to keep this organic, self-sustaining farm going.
Embrace your inner Dionysus at Château Faire le Pont, during a one-day crash course seminar in winemaking ($25). Or sample how the experts do it at Tastebuds, a café and wine shop with an extensive collection of local labels, including many of the 20 or so wineries in close proximity to downtown.