Saturday, February 23, 2008

Winter Beach Day

After a long hard winter, full of 133 miles per hour winds, weeks on end of overcast weather, and the most rain I have seen since I moved here, we are having a fantastic February. This past week we have been treated to clear skies, a fantastic lunar eclipse, and warm (for winter) weather. The weatherman is forecasting 50's and sunny for the next few days, and we are taking advantage of as much sunshine as we can get our hands on.

As an added bonus, the end of winter and beginning of spring means the start of shorebirding season. I am looking forward to seeing what kinds of birds the recent clearing at the Links site might bring, as well as the changes made a Bottle Beach State Park. Today, we enjoyed the sandpipers on the beach here in Westport.

Entertaining the Family in Westport

People always ask me what there is to do in Westport. It's a pretty simple place, after all. So, I thought that I would share my family's list of our favorite things to do. We have a almost-2 year old, and a 2 year old cousin, a 4 year old cousin, a 6 year old cousin and an 8 year old Cousin.

(1) Visit the playgrounds at one of Westport's many public parks. Here is a shot from the Westport City Park, which is behind Anchor Bank off of Montesano (look for the green sign). There is also a great playground at the Ocosta School (you can see it from the parking lot) as well as behind the lighthouse (I'm not sure if this one is supposed to be private for the Coast Guard housing, but it's not locked). Also a small playground for those staying at Westport by the Sea is convenient for smaller children.

(2) Go to the beach. No tools, no toys, no equipment required. Kids love the beach. And Westport and Grayland are special because the auto traffic is low compared to the North Beaches. My son and his cousins can spend hours, in the warm and cold weather, combing the beach, finding treasures, chasing birds, running from the waves, digging in the sand.

(3) Maritime Museum. There is a special discovery room for small children with learning toys and games on all things nautical, including a full size whale skeleton. The Historical Society also runs the tours to the lighthouse, but note if you have children shorter than 40", they won't be allowed to climb.

(4) Fish off the pier, go clam digging, drop a crab pot, anything to bring the kids a little closer to their dinner. Even if you've never done it before, if you go to Angler Charters on the marina, they will set you up with everything you need to drop a hook and tell you what you might be finding at that particular time of year (all for about $40). Clam guns can be purchased at the Red Apple for about $12. Crab pots can be rented up and down the marina. Licenses are also available at various locations on the marina, but often times, the kids don't need them. There are few things more satisfying to most kids than cooking and eating something they helped catch.

(5) Bike or walk along the Westhaven State Park path. Park either at Westport Light State Park or Westhaven State Park, and bring out your bikes, skates, or feet for a nice mile walk (2 miles round trip). For more exercise, you can walk from Westport Light State Park to the Marina, but that is about 5 miles round trip. This provides some interesting signage, deer sighting, I've even seen eagles out there. There are typically not a lot of people out there, this is not the Burke Gilman Trail, so bring your slowest family members, and don't worry about having folks yell "on your left" as you take the time to smell the beach grass.

Other things that are fun include kite flying, paddle boats (on the marina), watching the surfers, shopping in the Marina, and bowling. Of course, in the summer time, just getting a ice cream cone from Whale of a Cone and sitting out in the sunshine is a treat in itself.

See you at the beach!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Crack Crab for Kids

The 11th Annual Ocosta Schools Booster Club annual Crab and Spaghetti Feed is taking place this weekend, Feburary 23, from noon to 8PM at the Ocosta Rec Hall. Tickets are $20 for those over 13 and $10 for those 6 - 12, and free for kids under 5. All proceeds will be used to provide scholarships, sports uniforms and equipment, camps, and provide support for various programs of the Ocosta Jr/Sr High School.

Go get some yummy fresh crab and support local students at the same time!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Valentines Dinner, by the light of the ... destruction island lens

It's not too late to get take your sweet someone out for a romantic evening they will not soon forget. The South Beach Historical Society hosts a Valentines Dinner, with a 4-course meal and a bottle of wine for each couple, set by the light of the Destruction Island Lens, in the comfort of the lens house. Wine and dine your special girl or guy and help support the mission of Westport south Beach Historical Society all at the same time!

For tickets, call or visit the Westport Maritime Museum at 360-268-0078, they are $90/couple and include dinner and a bottle of wine.

March 2008 Clam Digs

Since the weather was so bad at last month's digs, the WDFW has decided to open a very long March Dig at Twin Harbors - March 7 - 12, 2008. March 7 and 8 will be morning digs, and 9 - 12 will be evening digs. Make your reservations now.

On a separate note, spring has sprung and its a beautiful 50 and sunny today at the beach! The weatherman is predicting a beautiful President's Day Weekend (sunny and 50's)! Hooray! Come visit us!

See you at the beach!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Westport Winery Debut, March 22, 2008

On March 22, 2008, 6:30 PM, the Roberts will be debuting their wines at a special Winemakers Dinner at the Half Moon Bay Bar and Grill.

Wines that will be available for tasting include the Grays Harbor Gewurztraminer, Elk River Riesling, Compass Rose, Surfer's Last Syrah, Shorebird Chardonnay, Mermaid's Merlot, Charterboat Chuck's Cabernet, Ancient Mariner's Asian Pear, Red Sky at Night (Raspberry Wine with Chocolate flavor).

The wine will be accompanied by a four course meal including such delights as baked brie, grilled pear, and cabrales crostini; procuitto wrapped scallops, seared prawns with braised leeks; hazelnut crusted wild salmon with beet risotto and butter roasted parsnips; grilled new york steak with sauteed wild mushrooms; and tiramisu and candied citrus.

Entertainment will be provided by the Electric Park Jazz Band, along with wine tasting notes by Kim and Blaine Roberts and their winemaker Dan Wood.

It should be a night to remember, and a great way to welcome the Westport Winery to our little town, so don't miss it! The dinner, including the wines is $75 per person. Reservations are required, and can be made at the Islander front desk at 360-268-9166. The address is 421 E. Neddie Rose Drive, Westport, WA 98595. Josh Wood, the Half Moon Bay Bar and Grill manager can answer any questions you have, and he can be reached at 360-268-9166.

Westport Winery 2008 - 2009 Releases

The Westport Winery is expected to open near the end of March, depending on Construction. They will also have a 90-person gathering room and 250-person display garden for events. I have been watching their 40' tall lighthouse go up over the past several weeks, which I believe will also be open to the public as part of their winery tours.

Sneak peek at wines expected in the next year from the Westport Winery:

Rapture of the Deep: A cran-boggling bubbly. Divers call it nitrogen narcosis. Oh how those little bubbles change everything. Fortunately, our sparkling wine doesn't negatively affect your central nervous system. In fact, you can forget nerves all together as you relax and drink to the mysteries of the deep blue sea. This is your celebration. A portion of the proceeds from this wine benefits the Driftwood Theater.

Pinot Noirvana: Grays Harbor is known for its creative souls and none have left greater footprints than the band Nirvana. This wine is created to honor their impact on the community. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this wine benefits the Kurt Cobain Memorial Committee.

Any Port in a Storm: Imagine stormy seas and howling winds. All you want is a safe harbor and healthy repast. This is it. In our book - and anyone else's - a fine port is well-suited to accompany a deep, dark chocolate. Together these foods have more antioxidants than... well anything we can think of, so enjoy. You only go around once.

In 2010, we can expect the Maritime Muscat, Bordello Blonde, Smoky Nor'wester Pinot Precoce, Seashell Selgerrebe.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Half Moon Bay Bar and Grill Winemakers Dinner

Well, this past weekend's clam dig was a bit of a bust, as the weather was cold, gray, and rainy - basically miserable weather for digging in the sand. But it was perfect weather for warming up with a glass (or 5) of wine and a fantastic meal.

I was lucky enough to get to hang out in the kitchen at the Half Moon Bay Bar and Grill's Winemaker's Dinner on Saturday night, and it was a quite a scene. Chef Donny Silver reminds me that his restaurant has consistently received 100% marks from the health department, which makes me feel a lot better about the numbers of meals I eat there. The "back of the house" as those in the know call it, provides an amazing show when they are serving as many meals at one time as they were on Saturday (51 entrees in 25 minutes).

They served a 6 course dinner, which was paired with a selection of 6 different spanish wines - starting with an apertif of marcona almonds and chorizo sausage, a seared scallop on what looked like something yummy, followed by calamari (half moon bay style), a baked goat cheese dish, and then the entree was a choice of (1) seafood paella, (2) new york strip with some kind of creamy blue cheese on it, and (3) rack of lamb. Dessert was a choice of rice pudding, almond flan, or chocolate cake. Mmmmm.... the sights and smells in the kitchen were amazing. Chef Donny and his assistants Jose and Patricia are like artists, putting their special touch on every dish. It was a great experience, and I didn't even have to wash any dishes!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Crush Me, Squeeze Me, Make Me Wine At The Beach

Mark your calendars!

The First Annual "Crush Me, Squeeze Me, Make Me Wine At the Beach" festival will take place at the Westport Winery on the first weekend of October 2008. The Westport Winery and Vineyards by the Sea will host a grape-stomping-good-time with free music, chowder, and wine tasting, as they harvest our grapes.

More info to follow as it becomes available!

Friday, February 8, 2008

February 9 - Winemakers Dinner at the Islander

If you can find a babysitter on Saturday night, do not miss the Half Moon Bay Bar and Grill's Winemaker's Dinner. It will feature a tour of Spain, through a 5 course meal and tasting of Spanish wines imported by Casa Ventura.

The menu presented by chef Donny Silver sounds great, with spanish almonds and scallops as appetizers, paella and lamb as choices for the main dish, and an almond flan for desert. There are others, but I don't have the menu handy. Donovan told me today that they are almost sold out for tomorrow night's dinner. Sounds like a great Valentine's dinner for your sweetie.

Tickets can be purchased at the Islander Front Desk at 360-268-9166.