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Writer’s Kitchen: Words and Wine During Travel

Harbourside Seafood Grill Bar Area

Developing a writing ritual or routine is a feat to be celebrated. So what happens when one travels, and as a result uproots all of that progress for a moment in time? For me, traveling is a time of suspension, a hiatus of sorts when all of the routines of life get put on pause and one simply focuses on enjoying the experience. Finding time for things like writing becomes a treat rather than a necessity, and as a result those times of engaging in that activity are often more profitable and enjoyable than they otherwise might be.

Sauvignon Blanc at Harbourside

While traveling to New Zealand earlier this month, I found little time to write. On a whirlwind trip for a travel story I’m working on, there was little opportunity to open my laptop for any purpose aside from planning the next day’s schedule. However, I did manage to slip away to a lovely little bar attached to a fancy seafood restaurant in Auckland’s Viaduct Harbor area for some wine tasting and writing. It was totally by accident; I had caught a cab to the area to meet up with the group I was traveling with, but finding that the event had been canceled due to weather, I found myself with a free hour and a half until dinner. I climbed the stairs up to the Harbourside Seafood Bar and Grill and settled in for some reflection. Harbourside Sign Harbourside Seafood Grill

I always carry a notebook and pen with me, which is a practice I’d encourage every writer to do without fail. Because of that, I was able to find what felt like stolen moments in which to write. I opened the notebook with no expectations other than to allow words to flow freely onto the paper. I chatted with the bartender about New Zealand wines and ordered a Sauvignon Blanc to try. He brought out my glass plus a sample of another of his favorites, and noting my interest in the wines he printed out for me a guide he uses for training the staff on the country’s grape-growing areas. I made notes of the Sauvignon Blancs I had tasted thus far in the trip, marking them on the map the bartender had given me, and I wrote in my notebook.

Harbourside Seafood Grill Stairwell

Nothing I wrote that day–neither the wine notes nor the words that flowed on the pages of my notebook–will make it into published works. Rather, I took the opportunity to synthesize thoughts that have been swirling around in my head and I processed them through the act of writing. The result was the beginning of a weeks’ long journey into discovering my ideals of the writing life and how I might begin to execute them upon returning home.

Those unanticipated moments can be as productive as the ones that are scheduled, if the writer allows him- or herself to take notice. The time I spent that afternoon are still guiding my thoughts as I work through how I want to orchestrate my schedule and time this spring.

How do you utilize those unanticipated moments when they occur? What comes out of them as a result?

Harbourside Seafood Grill Bar

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Destination Inspiration: Full Sail Pub

Full Sail Brewing

By the time our beer-tasting weekend in Bend, Oregon, came to a close, none of us was ready to leave. Our husbands, babies, and the two of us had had a wonderful weekend together, and heading home just didn’t seem right. So we took the long route, heading toward Hood River, which would guarantee a scenic drive with a great destination–Full Sail Brewing Co. That was a perfect consolation to the fact that we weren’t ready to return to normal life back home.

Full Sail Brewing


From classic pub fare to more original summer delights, Full Sail is a sure shot when you are unsure where to eat. Here’s what we enjoyed that day.

Summer Vegetable Pesto Pasta zucchini, broccoli and cherry tomatoes tossed with rigatoni in our housemade pesto sauce. Topped with parmesan cheese.

Salmon Fish and Chips Session Lager battered wild Alaskan salmon with house made coleslaw and lemon caper tartar sauce.

The veggie salad was perfect on such a hot day! Fresh, firm (not overcooked) vegetables had the perfect coating of pesto. The pesto was light and had just enough flavor to be noticeable but not take over the flavor of the veggies.

The salmon is just what you’d expect. Strong, juicy flavors let you know that the pub didn’t skimp on quality. The Session Lager batter lightly coated the salmon almost more like a tempura than a beer batter. We both appreciated that they didn’t overdo the batter. It’s not uncommon to get a fish and chip plate where the fish is outweighed by the batter. Not at this place!

It may seem strange this far into our brewery trip to not get a beer, but we felt that the best accompaniment to our selected meals would be a glass of wine. And since we are in Oregon, why not try some of the local fare?

A personal favorite part of this meal definitely was the wine.

2008 Winemaker’s White Blend by Maryhill Winery, Goldendale, WA

2008 Peace, Love & Chardonay by Springhouse Cellar, Hood River, OR

Both wines were cool, crisp and refreshing with slight, but not overpowering fruit notes.

Full Sail Brewing

Location and Atmosphere

Overlooking Hood River, the location is definitely part of the restaurant’s charm. With windows for walls in the main dining area, the sweeping view of Hood River is breath taking. The atmosphere is busy, however, and seating can be snug. So come with an expectation that you might make some new friends!

Full Sail

Writeability and Purchased Presence

Come with a notebook and a pen–and ideally a writing partner. You could bring a laptop, but come with a fully charged battery and we suggest doing this only during the off hours as it gets really busy during the rush. This is a great place to gather and brainstorm with friends while enjoying tasty food, quality drinks and a beautiful view of Hood River.

Price: $$

Expect to pay around $5 – 11 for a shared plate, or $10 – 15 for an entree. This is pretty typical of this style of pub and the portions are more than reasonable. This is a brewery, so keep in mind that the drinks are most likely where your money may disappear to.


Street parking is often available along Columbia Street. But be warned, the street is on an incline, so depending on where you park, you may have an uphill hike ahead of you.

Full Sail


Writer’s Tip

There are some restaurants that are great for writing and some that are great for resting. While we always advocate having a notebook on hand, this is one of those restaurants that can be a nice place to just relax with friends, food and a nice drink. A rested writer is a productive writer!

Find It

Full Sail Tasting Room & Pub
506 Columbia Street
Hood River, OR 97031

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A 2012 Retrospective

Wow, it’s already 2013. The first day of the new year is always an exciting time, and we’re looking forward to what’s ahead. But before we get ahead of ourselves, we’d like to take a moment to look back on a wonderful 2012.

2012 was the year of Nooks & Cranberries, to us. We had gone on hiatus for a while, but when we returned last summer, there was no looking back! We’ve been posting daily for months, giving you writing prompts and inspiration, glimpses into the writing life, and, of course, some fantastic Destination Inspiration. The latter is the backbone of Nooks & Cranberries, so we want to take you along on a look back to some of our favorite recent destinations.
For a Seattle writing space, we love Belle Epicurean. Tip: Order a brioche and take a seat at one of the marble-topped window seats.

Belle Epicurean Brioche

We also got out of town quite a bit, giving you some Destination Inspiration from some other great Northwest places, including Walla Walla’s Brasserie Four

Brasserie Four Macarons

Monteillet Fromagerie in Dayton, Washington, …

Monteillet Cheese

…and Whoopemup Hollow Cafe in Waitsburg.

Whoopemup Hollow Gazpacho

We also had a great trip to Bend, Oregon, with our husbands and sons, where the focus switched from wine to beer (as seen from our sampler, below, at 10 Barrel). There’s nothing like getting out of our natural preferences to expand our palates–and our inspiration!

10 Barrel Sampler


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The Gift of Experience: Painting Classes

Corks and Canvas Events Wisteria Painting

If there’s one activity we love almost as much as writing, it’s painting–especially if there’s a glass of wine right next to our palate! Perhaps it’s natural for creative types to be drawn to art forms across genres and across media. It certainly is for us. There’s something freeing and rejuvenating about sitting facing a blank canvas with a palate of glistening paints in hand, ready to be used for beauty. So, if you have a friend who’s hard to shop for, if she’s anything like us–a writer perhaps, or just a creative type in general–why not consider giving her the gift of experience this Christmas and treat her to painting class?

Art classes abound in a city like Seattle, which is home to as many artists as coffee-drinking intellectuals. But unless the recipient you have in mind is a serious painter, we suggest you check out one of the social painting classes offered in the area, many of which offer refreshments such as wine, hors d’oeuvres, and little snacks. We’ve checked out a couple of them lately, and have two recommendations as starting places.

Corks and Canvas Instructor

Corks and Canvas Events

Described by the owner as offering the Nordstrom of paintings, Corks and Canvas Events are the ultimate in a girls’ night out (not, of course, that they have to be limited to women).

For these classes, the wine is just as integral as the painting, so they’re held at wine-related places like wineries, wine bars, etc.

The instruction at these events is wonderful. The instructor makes an effort to walk around with her canvas, painting as she goes so you can see clearly what she’s doing. It’s really nice not to have to crane your neck to see what’s going on. In addition to the wine, this was something we really appreciated about the class. She also encourages you to follow your own strokes and not focus so much on sticking to the example painting. Very liberating!


Corks and Canvas Group Shot

Painting on the Vine

Classes by Stani Meredith of Painting on the Vine have recently relocated from West Seattle to the Seattle Creative Arts Center. A big feature of this class is that the participants are encouraged to paint whatever their heart desires. If you feel like painting pink flowers instead of yellow, or a landscape instead of a vase–run with it! Stani will help you through the process.

And Stani really knows her stuff! She focused on the craft of painting and gave instruction on different techniques and even taught us a bit about the origin and history of certain styles and strokes. We not only walked away with beautiful paintings but also with a bit of art knowledge we didn’t have before.

Photo from Painting on the Vine.

Painting on the Vine

Our evening at Painting on the Vine was courtesy of Stani Meredith at Painting on the Vine.

Some photos taken by Daytona were previously used on The Flying Salmon, her blog at Wanderlust & Lipstick.