A Night of Self-Indulgence at Salish Lodge

I'm not very good with keeping secrets and Kristin knows this. It's not that I spread a lot of gossip, but rather that I get excited about things and just have to tell someone. For the first time, however (and much to Kristin's amazement) I managed to keep my plans for our anniversary totally concealed. In fact, I even added an extra layer to the mystery by telling Kristin to make sure she stopped for gas on the way home from work Thursday afternoon so we wouldn't need to stop on the way to our destination. She drives a hybrid and told me it still had half a tank (about 260 miles worth of gas). I pretended to do some high-math calculation in my head and asked her to stop anyway, just to be sure. So, armed with a full tank of gas, an overnight bag, some dress clothes, and arrangements for Erik's wife Steph to let the dogs out (thanks again!), we ventured out. As we drove out of the neighborhood, I debated aloud to myself whether it was best to take the Interstate or the backroads and try and avoid traffic.

I faked right, turned left and drove 2 miles down the road to the Salish Lodge & Spa resort on the cliffs above Snoqualmie Falls. Kristin couldn't believe the ruse and got a very good laugh out of it all.

Since we seldom do anything for our anniversary -- no gifts and a bite out to eat at better-than-normal restaurant is typically the extent of our "celebration" -- I figured I'd go ahead and do it up this year big. After all, she deserves it. If not for the everyday stuff, then for putting up with me. And if not for putting up for me, then definitely for the support she's provided on my trip on the Kokopelli Trail and at the 24-hour race this past spring. Anyway, I arranged for a couples' "duet massage" at the spa, a late dinner in the dining room, and a very nice breakfast in the morning. We had some time to kill so we headed upstairs to the Attic Bistro, where we had an incredible charcuterie platter with three of the best meats from Salumi's. If you watch Anthony Bourdain's show No Reservations on the Travel Network, you've heard of Salumi. The place specializes in cured meats and has a line around the block (literally) every day at lunch hour. This platter was incredible and since I know some of my readers are big foodies, I'll go ahead and post the description from the Salish website.

Salumi Charcuterie, Savor Seattle’s Best
Coppa, finnichiona, oregano, cullatello, ligurian olives, marinated artichokes, rosemary grain mustard, first pressed extra virgin, artisan cheese, sea salt focaccia.

We barely finished our late afternoon snack and drinks before having to get to the spa for our 5pm massage. The spa was on the same floor of the lodge as our guestroom so we slipped on the robe and flip-flops they provide and sauntered down the hall to meet the two masseueses we had been assigned. The room we were in was hypnotic. Dim lighting, soft semi-electronica music, with a nice eucalyptus fragrance and the sound of a small fountain. I was going to schedule a massage before TransRockies anyway, so this killed two birds with one stone -- and if you've never had a professional one-hour massage, you have no idea what you're missing. It's extremely self-indulgent, but it feels great. And there's also a reason why professional endurance athletes get massage 2 to 3 times a week: It works. If I could afford a massage more than once every couple months, I certainly would get them. But I digress...

The masseuses left Kristin and I in the room to "wake up" after the massage and to give us some privacy while we slipped back into our robes. The massage was part of the package I got for us, so all we had to do was take care of the tip and then it was back to the room to finally exchange anniversary gifts. Kristin insisted on going first, which I was glad to hear. Ten years ago, I had given each of my groomsmen a pewter engraved flask with their initials and a little comment or two. But I never got myself one. I never thought anything of it, but Kristin thought it was time I had one, so she got me a very nice pewter flask with my initials engraved on it. She also gave me an incredibly cool titanium neckchain. There's about 1000 different neckchains out there that I wouldn't be caught dead in -- mainly anything somebody from, say, Staten Island would wear -- and perhaps a small handful that I would consider wearing. This one is perfect. It actually looks like one of the coral beaded necklaces I used to wear when I was younger (and surfing more often) except its titanium. I doubt I'll ever take it off. Last but certainly not least, she wrote me a poem. A damn long one too that put the 14 years we've known each other into rhyme. And she even made it into a little book with -- and I'm not sure she thinks I noticed this -- with ribbon the same color used in the decorations at our wedding. She put in a small tin case. After all, she tells me that 10 years is the anniversary of "tin". Okay...

As for me, there was no doubt that it was time for me to get her some nice jewelry. Other than an amber bracelet and necklace, I hadn't really bought Kristin any jewelry in ten years. It's not something I usually think about, to be honest. I tend to be a bit more practical with the gifts I give and, besides, her parents and grandmother have kept her jewelry box well-stocked with some very, very nice pieces over the years. That said, I recently found out the diamond earrings she's been wearing for what seems like forever were in fact fake. That settled it. As part anniversary gift and part "thank-you-for-staying-up-all-night-as-my-support-crew-in-Spokane" gift, I got her a little turquoise box -- you female readers know what this means -- with platinum and diamond earrings in it. I was really proud to be able to give her something I know she'd cherish and besides, it is the pla-TIN-um anniversary, right? Normally I hate how expensive and ritzy everything in the Bellevue Square Mall is, but it's certainly nice to have such an array of high-end boutiques so close to home for special occasions. The earrings were part of Tiffany's Lace Collection, which based on the sudden disappearance of them from the Tiffany website must have recently been discontinued. Oh well.

As an aside, if there are any single guys out there who are looking to find a woman, I'll consider auctioning off the Tiffany bag the jewelry came in. Based on my experience that day at the mall, nothing attracts a cougar like that little turquoise bag. Dress nice, stick a little tissuepaper in the bag to complete the just-bought-something-expensive look, and simply walk around with a smile. I guarantee you will get more women eyeing you up and down and hitting on you than ever before. Of course, this could lead to a very dangerous situation, one which I am glad to have narrowly avoided.

Skipping ahead... the night concluded with a late dinner in the main dining room overlooking Snoqualmie Falls. We had a table by the window in a small private room off the main area. The service was exceptional, the staff very friendly, and everything was delicious. The Salish Lodge boasts an award-winning "Wine Loft" that contains 1,800 different types of wine catalogued in a 60-page wine list. The somellier tells us they stock 12,000 bottles of wine. Kristin was going to have the lamb and I was having pheasant so we decided on a Riesling, of which there were about 40 to choose from. We decided to stick with a Washington winery, and then went with my standard wine-bottle-ordering-rule-of-thumb. Don't pick the cheapest. But do pick the second or third cheapest. We decided to go with a Columbia Valley Riesling called "Nefarious" because I liked the name. It was very good. As for the food... We each had the following for an appetizer, from the menu:

Spicy Tomato Consommee
seared hawaiian ahi, blue prawns, spicy caper tapenade

And it was absolutely delicious. The plates were brought out covered and simultaneously revealed to show the ahi and prawn. The server then poured the consomme in around it. Very fancy, but more importantly it was delicious. I know I'm making my chef-friend Eric very hungry right now. For the main course we shared a roasted barley risotto and had:

Alder Spring's Lamb "Noisette"
roasted piquillo peppers, lamb shoulder confit, polenta “nicoise” basil pesto, natural jus

McFarlane Farm Pasture Raised Pheasant
summer tomato fava bean vinaigrette, celeriac puree,young vegetable filling, red grape confit, verjus reduction

The portions were generous and, again, the service and presentation were befitting the quality of the food. For a couple of people who find nothing wrong with peanut butter & jelly, pizza, and the various Zatarains prepared foods, this was a treat. We don't need to eat like this and we seldom do, but it was damn tasty. Despite barely being able to finish the main course, we insisted splitting their "Valhrona Chocolate Bombe with Soft Truffle Filling, Cherry Sorbet" for desert. Also, they have a menu of various coffees you can choose from. The coffees are served in individual french presses and almost worth the eight-bucks-a-person cost. And you thought Starbucks was pricey... ha!

We headed back to the room to conclude our romantic evening and although I thought it would have been funny to do so, Kristin declined the opportunity to place a "pillow order". Yes, that's right, the Salish Lodge has a freaking pillow menu. I kid you not. But, alas, we both recognize the border between self-indulgence and obnoxiousness and slowly backed away from the ledge. That said, the jacuzzi and nest-like down-everything bedding was heavenly.

This has run long enough and, I'm sure the only one reading this far is my mother, so I'll just end it by saying that the overnight package I chose included a $75 allowance for breakfast. It was almost enough to include everything we had (including a bloody mary and mimosa) and the tip. It was the most expensive frittata and huevos rancheros ever. The food was tasty, but the bill gave me indigestion. The Salish Lodge is known for their breakfasts -- and even sell their pancake mix in grocery stores -- but it's certainly not priced to move.

I'd say that for very special occasions -- like once every 10 years special -- then the Salish Lodge is well worth visiting. It's a beautiful historic building, with great service and great comfort and food. But it's pricey as hell. If you're looking to just enjoy the feel and take an occasional splurge, I would suggest coming for the day, having a massage, and then heading to the Attic bistro for a drink and lunch... all with a pretty fantastic view.


Anonymous said...

That sounds great Doug. Glad you've been in the family for 10 years, and many more to come.


PS. Us ladies call it a "little blue bag" hehe

Doug Walsh said...


I would have thought such fanciness would have warranted eschewing the general "blue" terminology in favor of something a bit more, umm, fancy like "turquoise". Oh hell, what do I know. That's what the ladies in the store called it though. ;-)

Thanks for reading, Er.