An evening of Southern Comfort, food that is

It was a peaceful day, relaxing with family that we rarely get to see for a couple of hours, and reservations at the Whoopemup Hollow Cafe in Waitsburg that evening.  Waitsburg is a small town northwest of Walla Walla with almost as much history as W2 and a few fun places to wile away some time; like this restaurant named after a ‘Hollow’ where locals have been known to host some ‘legendary parties’.  We had not been there before, but we made our reservations and had the Christmas gift certificate from my generous employers Casey & Vicky McLellan of Seven Hills Winery, at the ready.  Crazy weather brought our family back to us for a slightly longer visit as the Blue Mountains were closed to traffic due to a tremendous multi-semi/vehicle pile-up; ever so grateful they weren’t caught up in that mess.

The twenty-minute drive in the dark, mist and fog passed quickly and we were ensconced in a cheery, open dining room with 1930’s lighting and minimalist decor and the heavenly smell of good food; southern ‘comfort’ food.

I was in Louisiana in my early teens as my family meandered across the country during a major move from Long Island to Arizona.  It was early May and blissfully warm.  Serendipitously a Cajun family had standing reservations for that week and within hours of our arrival we were part of their family vacation.  Each of three brothers worked on fishing boats; the freshest (largest) shrimp and   fish in huge coolers sat outside their trailers.  Apparently blueberries were in season and the most incredible dumplings with blueberry sauce was the first food I recall them offering.  Our overnight stay became three nights; it was all about food and swimming at the campground pool.  I could have lived just like that forever and been very happy.

Cornmeal breaded catfish, green bean with carrots, red beans and rice were my dinner.
Cornmeal breaded catfish, green bean with carrots, red beans and rice were my dinner.

Back to this charming little restaurant in a small town in Eastern Washington where jambalaya, file’ gumbo and catfish were top billing on the menu.  Hubby had the jambalaya and I had cornmeal breaded catfish, a Cajun burger was also ordered – no sense in missing an opportunity like this.  We were three wine drinkers and a beer drinker, so a bottle of wine, 2013 Syncline Grenache (54%) Carignan (46%) which doesn’t seem to be out on the web despite being in distribution as the link is for the 2012.  My sister-in-law prefers her red wines on the fruity side and this wine was fruit forward, a bit of spice with a finish reminiscent of leather.  It was nicely complex and, like an amenable host, managed to get on well with all of the meals it was paired with.

Mississippi Mudpie as a shared dessert was heavenly.
Mississippi Mudpie as a shared dessert was heavenly.

In good southern tradition we finished our repast by sharing a Mississippi Mud Pie for dessert.  It wasn’t a mushy mess of semi-coagulated pudding and cake, it was a marvelously bittersweet double layer of dense chocolate with whipped cream, thin flakes of semi-sweet chocolate and melted chocolate ice-cream.  Just as my memory of three days outside of New Orleans many years ago goes directly to food (music wasn’t available to me as a young teen, but I hope one day to visit and explore that avenue as well) this visit made lasting memories as the company and food were fantastic.

Long before the sun rose the next morning our house guests made a second attempt at driving home – this time successfully.  By midday my hubby was also on his way as he had a business meeting to drive to.  I felt fortunate to have had a few hours off of my studies the day before and I was refreshed for another round of homework and reading.

Syncline is fairly well-distributed, you might find this bottle, or one of their many others, somewhere on your local wine shop shelves or on a restaurant wine list.


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