Update: Romance in Leavenworth

February 4th, 2014

Snowy Mountains surround Leavenworth WA

Snowy Mountains surround Leavenworth WA

Valentines Day will be here and gone before you know it. Leavenworth WA is the best place to romance your sweetheart. This post is an update to a post from past years. I’ve refreshed it with some new dates and new links.

Several downtown Leavenworth hotels and inns offer romance packages with options like couples’ massages, in-room champagne service, and late check out. Icicle Village Resort has a Sweet Indulgence Getaway that includes plush bathrobes to take home with you.

Dream House Suites sometimes has limited availability for Valentine’s Day but they often have last minute availability, so call if you’re still looking for accommodations. If you can snag a suite here, do it. We’ve stayed here and loved the clean and comfortable room. With only four suites you’ll enjoy your privacy. The service was friendly but non-intrusive. Every suite offers mountain or Front Street views.

Alpen Rose Inn has customizable romance packages. The Wine Country Tour includes a guided tasting tour, by limousine, to three lovely wineries. This Valentine’s Day you can ask about booking a snowmobile tour or a romantic sleigh ride.

Or check your favorite hotels for their romance packages. Some with packages include: Bavarian Lodge and Obertal Inn.

Pine River Ranch is the ultimate in luxurious romance. Featured in The Best Places to Kiss in the Northwest: A Romantic Travel Guide the beautiful suites have fireplaces and Jacuzzi spas. The hosts deliver a gourmet breakfast to your suite for the ultimate romantic breakfast in bed. It’s 14 miles outside of Leavenworth for a true getaway. As of this writing, Pine River Ranch has a few openings for Sunday and Monday of Valentine’s Day weekend. They offer several winter packages that include romantic sleigh rides, and activities like snowshoeing and skiing. Pine River Ranch is also a beautiful and romantic wedding destination.

We have several favorite romantic dining spots in Leavenworth. The Alley Cafe has been featured in “Best Places to Kiss.” It’s intimate Italian dining.

SOUTH is fun, fresh Mexican dining. They offer a casual atmosphere and original recipe cocktails that change with the season. They’re now offering breakfast on the weekends. Try the Molé sauce. It’s fantastic.

What’s a romantic getaway without delightful sweets? Looking for chocolate? (And really, who isn’t?) Try lovely hand made Belgian chocolates at Schocolat. Fresh and unique flavors such as ginger, pink sea salt, and rum raisin along with lovely caramels and fruit creams.
Or stop at Visconte’s Via Dolce for gelato and espresso. Mix the two and you have an affogato. Yum! You’ll think you’re in Europe again.

Take time for a romantic walk after dinner. The crowds of Christmas Lighting Festival have passed but the glorious lights still decorate Front Street.
You’ll want to have your cross-country skis or snowshoes along. If the snow is fresh and deep, find your way to Blackbird Island in Waterfront Park, a birdwatcher’s paradise, just two blocks from the shops of Front Street. Hiking boots will usually do if snowshoeing is not your thing. Don’t forget your camera.
If you’re staying at one of our favorite hotels, the very romantic Enzian Inn, you’ll enjoy complimentary use of their Nordic skis, boots and poles. Take the air all around Leavenworth, then come back to your room at Enzian Inn to warm up in your jetted tub or walk-in shower. Snuggle by your own fireplace or join other guests in the lobby next to the roaring fire and antique grand piano. The next morning you can sleep in and stroll to the 4th floor breakfast room for a delicious breakfast with made-to-order omelets and freshly baked pastries and bread. Enjoy your breakfast with brewed Starbucks coffee and an amazing view of the surrounding mountains.
Valentine’s Day Weekend, February 14-17, 2014 is the date for the Leavenworth Wine and Chocolate Festival. Wineries throughout the Wenatchee Valley will celebrate the wonderful pairing of local red wine and fine chocolate. Check back with our TNBT page to find out the latest on this new Festival for Leavenworth.
For more ideas for your romantic getaway visit our Romance page. We’ve listed a lot of ideas for couples. You’ll also find links to many more places to stay.

Trip Advisor Ten Romantic Leavenworth Hotels

Leavenworth is only a short drive or train ride away from all major cities in Washington State. So close and yet it seems so far from your everyday life.

Leavenworth WA represented at 2014 Winter Games

January 28th, 2014

Cross country ski tracks in the snow

Cross country ski tracks in the snow

When the 2014 Winter Games open on February 7, the northwest will be well represented. Athletes from around the northwest will compete on the short speed skate track, in snowboard and free-style events and on the cross-country ski course.

Leavenworth Washington native, Torin Koos, was named to the US Olympic Ski Team in January after winning the US Sprint championship. Koos is an Olympic veteran, having competed in the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, where he finished 26th in the individual sprint classic.

Torin lists his hometown as Leavenworth WA. He was a member of Leavenworth Sports Club (still listed as his home club in some press sites) and began competing at the age of 12. He’s still active in the Washington State nordic ski scene. You can view a an instructional video filmed by Icicle TV, wherein Koos demonstrates his signature double polling technique known as a kangaroo hop with local youth athletes. Torin has also been involved with the Icicle Middle School running program as a volunteer coach.

Koos is active with the community outreach program In the Arena which has a vision “to leverage the uplifting power of sport to effect lasting and meaningful change in today’s youth, with the aim of giving all young Americans equal access to the highest caliber role models and the best chance at success in the long-term.”

You can read Torin Koos’ blog here.

Check out some video from Icicle TV featuring Torin.

You can find out more about Torin Koos at these links:

Team USA profile

NBC Athlete’s profile

Torin’s Facebook page

Video US Sprint Championship from Jan 6, 2014

Joining Torin Koos on the USA Ski Team are siblings Erik Bjornsen and Sadie Bjornsen from Winthrop in the Methow Valley.

You can meet the entire USA Olympic Cross-Country Team and follow their progress at the NBC Olympics website.

Congratulations, Torin!
Go Team USA!

Christmas in the Rockies

January 10th, 2014

We love the mountains! With both of us having grown up in the mountainous northwest, the mountains are our favorite place to be. (Right up there with Walt Disney World and home!) This year we had added incentive to travel to the Colorado Rockies for Christmas: our third grandchild, Alan Hollister Meredith, arrived in mid-December. We flew to Denver International Airport early on Christmas Day where we were met by our son, Andrew. It was good to see him. Our last time with him having been in August for Scotte’s parents’ 60th wedding anniversary.

Andrew and his wife, Patricia, make their home in the small Colorado town of Buena Vista in the Collegiate Mountains of central Colorado. It’s a three hour drive from Denver. In spite of his new-parent sleep deprivation, Andrew was cheerful and talkative. A great chauffeur.

It seemed no time at all and we were arriving at Spring Canyon Camp where Andrew lives and works. Spring Canyon is an Officer’s Christian Fellowship Camp. Located in the heart of the Collegiates at 9200′ elevation. The camp serves military families from all branches. In the winter and summer, families gather at Spring Canyon to reconnect and restore. The camp is beautiful, situated as it is at the foot of several “fourteeners”.

The highlight of the trip was, of course, seeing our kids and meeting baby Alan. We spent loads of time holding the cuddly little bundle, changing diapers (at least Renae did), burping him, comforting him and just getting to know his sweet little self.

As a family we played games (including one that Andrew is developing), watched Christmas movies, ate wonderful cheese fondue, got caught up on Sherlock, and shared dinners with the military families at camp. New Year’s Eve dinner was corned beef and cabbage, potatoes, and black eyed peas. The incredible dessert buffet was prepared by Andrew’s sister-in-law, a CIA (Culinary Institute of America, NY) trained pastry chef and a baker in downtown Seattle, at Yellow Leaf Cupcake Co. Catie served up cannoli, peppermint bark cheese cake and a gluten free cake with caramel Italian cream icing.

Our week with Andrew, Tricia and Alan was wonderful, but too short. Too soon we had to leave for Denver and our Southwest flight home. Before he took us to the airport, Andrew wanted to make sure we had a great lunch. Neither of us have eaten at Chick-fil-A®. Our son was on a mission to make sure we did before we left for the Chick-fil-A desert of Washington State (our nearest is 282 miles away in Meridian ID.) I have to say, “When, oh when, will Chick-fil-A® come to Eastern Washington?”

We’re home now, looking back on our photos and our memories of time shared with family over Christmas in the Rockies.

Magic of sauerkraut, updated

January 10th, 2014

This is an update of a post that appeared first in October, 2011. Winter is a perfect time to eat sauerkraut, though we haven’t found a season where we don’t require a little bit of sauerkraut to make our Leavenworth visit complete. It seems a good time to take another look at one of our favorite Leavenworth treats: sauerkraut.

From the original post: One of the things we look forward to in Leavenworth is eating sauerkraut. We rarely eat it at home, with the exception of using it to top a hotdog at a local baseball game. But when we get to Leavenworth it only takes one whiff of sauerkraut in the air coming from one of the several restaurants serving German cuisine and we’re planning when we’ll get our first bite. And if you walk by München Haus when you’re hungry? ….Forget about it!

What is sauerkraut?
Noun: Chopped cabbage that has been pickled in brine.

“Sauerkraut is a great source of iron, vitamin K and vitamin C, which is another reason it was popular on seafaring vessels. It also helps the good bacteria in your body stay healthy and, in turn, keep you healthy. It is a great food for people taking antibiotics to eat because the medicine kills both good and bad bacteria.” Read more at eHow.

There are many other vegetables that are preserved by a similar process.
Korean kimchi
Japanese tsukemono
Chinese suan cai
Filipino atchara

“Sauerkraut is made by a process of pickling called lacto-fermentation that is analogous to how traditional (not heat-treated) pickled cucumbers and kimchi are made. Fully-cured sauerkraut keeps for several months in an airtight container stored at or below 15 °C (59 °F). Neither refrigeration nor pasteurization is required, although these treatments prolong storage life.” Wikipedia

Some of the 101 ways to eat sauerkraut from the Accidental Bavarian Eat page:

  • On a brat!
  • A little bit with each bit of whatever bit you’re eating
  • With scrambled eggs
  • A sweet sauerkraut with pork roast
  • With a dollop of fancy mustard
  • Mit Deutsch Kartoffelsalat (potato salad)
  • Mixed up with spatzle
  • On a corned beef sandwich
  • On dark Bavarian rye bread
  • Straight from the jar
  • On pizza
  • Twirl vs slurp?
  • On waffles
  • Maybe a sauerkraut milkshake?
  • Under mushroom sauce
  • With onions
  • Under melted Swiss cheese
  • Winekraut and Schweinshax’n

Still unconvinced? Rather than eating sauerkraut plain, try it as part of a sandwich or on a delicious German sausage. One of our favorites, a grilled Reuben sandwich. This classic pastrami sandwich layered with swiss cheese, thousand island dressing and sauerkraut on rye bread and served toasty hot, can be found at a number of eateries in Leavenworth. We’ve had very good versions at Ducks and Drakes and The Soup Cellar. At Andreas Keller you can get a Bratwurst Reuben at lunch. A bratwurst is substituted for the pastrami and the delicious house-made Weinkraut is in place of the typical sauerkraut. You can also find sauerkraut on breakfast plates, and on pizzas in Leavenworth.

How do you like your sauerkraut? Have you eaten this classic German side dish in unusual ways?

A weekend in Leavenworth, part two

November 20th, 2013

Lazy Saturday morning

Lazy Saturday morning

This is the second post about our recent trip to Leavenworth during the Washington State Autumn Leaf Festival. For the first post, which includes a full description and photos of our accommodations at the beautiful Bavarian Mountain Suite, click here.

We woke up Saturday morning to a steady rain. The neighborhood was quiet. The table and chairs on the deck looked like an inviting place for morning coffee and a muffin. But this morning was unusually cool and wet for September in Leavenworth WA, so I started up the gas fireplace and got comfy in the living room. Scotte was up soon after I and we spent a leisurely morning planning our day.

The street outside the condo was soon blocked off from traffic, as the festival parade would be staging right outside our door. I also spent some time watching a city worker hanging festival banners from the street lights. We were loving staying right downtown in the heart of the village.

After breakfast we set out to explore the village. The weather was still cool and rainy. We dressed in layers and warm socks. We saw others throughout the day carrying umbrellas, but in spite of the steadiness of the rain, it wasn’t really coming down hard. We walked first up the alley to Front Street. It was fun to stroll the familiar sidewalks, check out some new businesses and scout out a spot from which we’d watch the parade later.

One of the places we stopped in was the Twisted Cliff Gallery. Owner Dominic Urbano was in and we had a great visit. Dominic’s photos are stunning. He has them beautifully printed and displayed on the gallery walls. Scotte and I enjoyed talking with Dominic about his passion both for photography and for teaching others about it. He offers photography classes on the weekends. Are you looking for something to do on a weekend getaway? Dominic’s classes are small (limited to eight persons) and topics cover a wide range of topics. Check his website for topic schedule, pricing and to register. Visit Dominic’s website to check out the other products he carries in his gallery, and especially to see samples of his work.

From the gallery we headed back to Front Street and enjoyed seeing all the visitors like us, getting the lay of the land. The street had been blocked off from parking the evening before. There wasn’t nearly the crowd there might have been, had the weather been drier, but there was a good crowd gathering and people had already staked out spots for watching the parade. We were fortunate to find a prime spot, under a cover out of the rain and at the end of Front Street where the parade would be turning to travel up toward the highway.

How long has it been since you watched a small-town parade? It’s been years for us. Boy is it fun! The Autumn Leaf Festival Grand Parade has it all… local and regional marching bands, vintage automobiles, horse drawn wagons, floats from far and wide, local civic leaders and beauty queens. In spite of the drizzle the crowd and the parade participants all seemed to be in good spirits. We were even able to sit for awhile while watching, thanks to some generous neighbors who gave up their spot on a bench to us. We had a wonderful time. If you have the opportunity to be in Leavenworth for the Washington State Autumn Leaf Festival Grand Parade, we highly recommend making time to take it in.

After the parade we made our way back to the condo to get the car and headed out to Snowy Owl Theater at Icicle Creek Center for the Arts. Since Renae is a theater professional in Spokane, and Scotte is a developer of theater management software, we were both eager to return to the theater and get a behind the scenes tour. What an amazing facility! We really enjoyed our tour with the technical services manager, Cameron. He very proudly showed us around the beautiful state-of-the-art facility. Snowy Owl seats 240 in a warm and inviting auditorium equipped with flexible seating and high tech sound and lighting equipment. The theater is optimized for live music and dance performances and can be used as a movie theater. It’s also designed to show live satellite feeds from the Metropolitan Opera’s Live HD broadcasts. It was easy to see how the Snowy Owl will become an important community center for arts performances in the Leavenworth area. You can read more about Snowy Owl, and its place in the arts community in this Seattle PI article. And check out this YouTube video for more photos of the theater and some information about the design and designers.

Andreas Keller

Andreas Keller

After our visit to Snowy Owl we ended our day with dinner at Andreas Keller. Scotte and I both love the schnitzel there. Scotte gets the traditional Schnitzel Weiner Art, breaded pork cutlet served with lemon (Scotte asks for extra lemon) and a side of German potato salad. Renae’s favorite is the Jaeger Schnitzel, a grilled pork cutlet served with brown mushroom gravy, spaetzl and red cabbage. You can ask for the breaded and fried cutlet in place of the grilled if you’d rather. Andreas Keller has live German music and has a traditional Rathskeller atmosphere. They feature imported German and local beers on tap. We were happy to be joining Andreas Keller in celebrating their owner, Heidi Forshemer, as Leavenworth’s Royal Lady of the Autumn Leaf. The Festival is celebrating its 50th year, and Ms. Forshemer has been representing Leavenworth all over the region throughout the community festival season. On this weekend Andreas Keller was offering drink and dessert specials to celebrate Heidi’s accomplishments.

By the time we finished dinner (with dessert to go) we’d had a full day and were ready to head back to our cozy condo on the edge of downtown. We started up the fireplace and put on our jammies and settled in for a quiet evening in our favorite home-away-from home.

The next day started leisurely. We had coffee and breakfast at the condo, then checked out and headed into the village to do a few more errands before we headed home to Spokane, via Wenatchee’s Pybus Market. We had a wonderful weekend in Leavenworth. Can’t wait till next time.