Friday, February 17, 2012

Explore - McMinnville!

To help the slower off-season pass by and to become more familiar with the array of things to do in and about the Willamette, we have taken to becoming 'guests' on Wednesdays.  One of the best parts of this idea, is we act like guests...we sleep in, eat a leisurely breakfast (except we have to make it!) and then decide what to do based on the weather and our mood.

Our first adventure took us to McMinnville.  We had not yet visited Panther Creek winery, so that was the first stop.  They have a nice tasting room off of downtown in a beautiful old warehouse type structure.  We tasted through some lovely wines and stocked up on a few bottles.  From there, we walked into town and visited Fino in Fondo - a new salumeria with 4 kinds of housemade salami and an array of italian culinary compliments.  Open Thursday - Sunday 10-7, guests can enjoy a tasting of the salamis as well as small bites.  Le Puy features their salami in our Taste of Willamette packages.

McMinnville has a wide array of shops and food offerings.  On Saturdays, the farmer's market is a year round destination for locals and visitors alike.  If you are looking for more wine tasting, McMinnville has a dozen or so tasting rooms within walking distance.  If beer is more your style, try Golden Valley Brewery or make an appointment at Heater Allen.

For food, there is Spanish style tapas at La Rambla, casual rooftop dining at McMenamins, French style cuisine at Bistor Maison or city chic at Thistle.  Mac's most popular lunch destination is the Crescent CafĂ©.  But, we wanted to try something new, so our destination was Community Plate.  We had heard about its mantra of fresh and local and wanted to try it out.  The atmosphere is swanky industrial casual.  Don't expect to get anything other than local NW here including the beverages.  I was impressed with that level of detail!  We had a thick chili soup and I had one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches ever!  A great atmosphere and nice price, it is now one of our favorites.  Scott Cunningham has taken a great concept and made it real!

Community Plate
We then enjoyed a walk down 3rd to the large city park to exercise off that cheese sandwich.  A lovely 20's library sits at the entry to the park and the multi-level green space has a creek running through it and some nice spots to sit in the sun.  The neighborhood north of the park is filled with beautiful craftsman homes and we wandered around these streets for a bit admiring the architecture and gardens.
McMinnville City Park

Our final destination was the McMinnville Antique Mall.  It is also a short walk from the main drag.  If you are not a professional 'antiquer' - which we are not, then try playing this game.  Decide, before you go in, on something really specific - best if it is a small item.  Then it becomes like a scavenger hunt!  We were looking for the individual table setting salt&pepper crystal shakers.  We looked through what felt like miles of shelving and ended up with 4 sets for the inn!  We also stocked up on some more DVD's for the inn's library at great prices.

On the way back to the inn, we stopped at the Lafayette School - another antique wonderland.  With 3 full floors of 'stuff', it is an antique fan's dream.  We did find 3 more salt & pepper shakers here after looking at every single shelf in the place!  So, tired but happy, we headed back to the inn for that glass of Pinot!

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