By Margaret Backenheimer and J.D. Brown, Special to Tribune Newspapers
8:00 PM EDT, September 5, 2013
Just a few years ago, the executive chef of Tulalip Resort Casino in Washington was heard to muse, "My vision is to make Tulalip Resort a wine and food destination." Today, Perry Mascitti's dream has become a reality, as visitors flock to Tulalip not only for the gaming but also for the wide array of dining spots, from casual to gourmet.
Nowhere is his vision more clearly realized, however, than at the resort's annual Taste of Tulalip Nov. 8-9, now in its fifth edition.
Located along Interstate Highway 5 about 40 minutes north of Seattle, Taste of Tulalip draws on a savvy international audience with sharp palates. The event opens with the Taste of Tulalip Celebration Dinner, a somewhat formal repast in the resort's ballroom. Influenced by guest chef Lois Ellen Frank, from Santa Fe, N.M., this year's edition features Native American fare matched with the wines of Oregon's Domaine Serene, California's Hanzell Vineyards and Washington's Betz Family Winery. The lineup of creative entrees, elegantly served, adds up to an indulgent dinner that more than merits the "celebration" in its title.
The second day marks a return to the classroom, where celebrity chefs and winemakers dish out tastes and tips. Past editions have included a DIY Bordeaux-blending session with Marc Mondavi and a "yard bird" (fried chicken) demo with chef and author ("Yes, Chef") Marcus Samuelsson, a Swedish-raised Ethiopian who shared hints from his grandmother Helga. No doubt this year's featured chef, "Top Chef" winner Kristen Kish, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago, has similar treats in store.
The highlight of the day, however, is the four-hour Grand Taste. Overflowing from the ballroom into several side venues, the Grand Taste is not for the fainthearted, as only those with real stamina can keep pace with the sample sips poured by 120 wineries. In tandem with the libations, hot and cold delicacies are served at dozens of food stations staffed by the Tulalip culinary crew.
For those who prefer suds to syrah, some 20 craft breweries roll out their barrels at the adjacent Oasis Pool, while this year coffee producer Emilio Lopez of El Salvador brews up a special Taste of Tulalip 5th Anniversary Blend, a fine and sensible way to cap the day.
Tulalip Resort Casino is at 10200 Quil Ceda Blvd., near Marysville, Wash.; 866-716-7162; tulalipresort.com. For the Taste of Tulalip, see tasteoftulalip.com. As of press time, tickets were available.
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