Thursday, January 26, 2017

Leavenworth, Washington, No Prison Here

I had to see Portofino for myself after an episode of the Bold and the Beautiful shot on location in 2002 and this Christmas lights loving girl had to see Leavenworth in person after reading about it in Debbie Macomber’s When Christmas Comes in 2009.  Although it took me only 2 years to stand in the exact spot Brooke Logan arrived via rowboat wearing the showstopper in Portofino, it has taken me 3 ½ times as long, over 7 years to finally see this winter wonderland and walk the streets that Emily Springer greeted locals in town or when curmudgeon Charles Brewster realized he was in a town more like Santa’s Village than the prison town of the same name in Kansas he envisioned.   

Seven years later, a 2 hour flight and a subsequent 2 ½ hr drive from Seattle, I finally arrived in Leavenworth Washington and I have to say good things come to those who wait.  Just like Solvang, CA reflects the styles of a Danish town, the architecture of Leavenworth’s town center is modeled after a Bavarian village and in my opinion more organic and less kitsch than Solvang.  With annual festivals year round including but not limited to the IceFest, Spring Festival, of course Oktoberfest, and culminating with the Christmas Lighting Festival on the weekends throughout December leading up to Christmas, there are plenty of opportunities to experience this charming town. 


I of course longed to see those 100,000+ lights that they are generous enough to keep lit until mid-February, allowing me to really take it all in without the crowds.    


Alpen Rose Inn -

I was debating between Alpen Rose and the Innsbrucker Inn above the bookstore A Book for All Seasons. 

Staying above a bookstore would have been most fitting since Leavenworth was placed on my radar because of a book setting and having the lights right outside my front door would have been a big bonus. I did stop by and bought what else but a combo Debbie Macomber and Sheila Roberts book

where Roberts' Leavenworth based Icicle Falls novel even featured owner Pat as one of the characters and a dedication. 

I had a wonderful talk with the owner’s son about a possible future stay and a peek at the Sherlock Room and Wine Suite the next day after their guests checked out.  The literary themed room was so quaint that any book lover like myself would appreciate it that if I did not already have a room for the night, I would have immediately checked in. 

However, the discounted lift tickets for my husband to break in his ski boots but thankfully not his ski helmet at Stevens Pass Ski Resort,

tea or coffee service delivered right to your door each morning,

a hot breakfast like potato strudel,

French Toast,
and sausage egg casserole

that really makes me feel like I am in a B&B, evening dessert of cherry cheesecake
and chocolate cheesecake
and the fireplace in the room made it worth the almost 1 mile trek each way to downtown and back and a great way to work up my appetite. 

Speaking of appetite, taking advantage of this Bavarian gem in the Northwest, German food was definitely in our plans. 

Munchen Haus - – With a choice of different German sausages including but not limited to the 1/3 lb Big Bob all pork Bratwurst,  

the Curt’s pork Currywurst,
Oma’s veal and pork Bockwurst, Dirtyface pork Beerwurst made with Icicle Brewery’s Dirtyface Amber Lager, all at ¼ lb each
and a condiments bar that looks like a buffet,

we ended up here 3 meals in a row, trying all of the previously listed at least once.  Famous apple cider kraut, housemade German curry ketchup sauce, about 15 different mustards including ones infused with ales or champagne and honey, it was tempting to try it all on different bites, which I was close to succeeding if I did not get hooked on the champagne honey mustard and housemade curry ketchup sauce.  Still hungry or need a little something extra with the rest of your pint of local Icicle Brewery beer on tap?  The answer is a warm Bavarian pretzel served with a delicious cheese sauce made from Beecher’s Cheese

to offset your ice cold beer that definitely stays ice cold throughout your meal since it reached only a high of 30 degrees. 

Of course a Dark Persuasian Ale reminiscent of a German Chocolate Cake may just be the perfect indulgent ending to the meal.  

Tip:  With the exception of the Housemade Curry Ketchup Sauce, you can find most if not all of the remaining mustards available at Munchenhaus next door at A Matter of Taste (  I had to pick up my two favorites.


Andreas Keller Restaurant - – With live music on the weekends and Mondays, Andreas Keller is the hot spot for German food. 
Goulash, schnitzel, spatzle noodles, oh my!!  With intentions of going for dinner to get the full experience of the live music, closure of Stevens Pass from Coles Corner to Leavenworth coming back from the ski resort threw a kink into our plans so we ended up here for a late 3 PM lunch where the pro was no wait and the option of both the lunch and full menu.  We decided on the Pork Schnitzel Cordon Bleu with housemade spatzle noodles from the regular menu
and the Kessler Melt smoked pork sandwich with German potato salad from the lunch menu
giving us the best of both worlds.  The Pork Schnitzel with spatzle was in my mind the quintessential German comfort food and even inspired me to try making my own Pork Schnitzel upon returning -

Watershed Café - - If you are looking for a break from German food, Chef owned, locally sourced farm to table Watershed Café is the perfect choice for a taste of the Pacific Northwest.  Starting with a raw Hama Hama Blue Pool oyster with mignonette and lemon,
followed by a Mad Hatcher Chicken Mole soup with black lentils,
then a cross between an appetizer and salad with the Oregon Buffalo Carpaccio, seared and thinly sliced with crostini and served with baby arugula, fennel, and radish. 
Although the elk sliders and meatloaf was not available the night we went, probably because they have been spotted hanging out on the median of I-90 during the winter months, we were not short of delicious choices.  We indulged in a Grapeleaf Wrapped Pork Tenderloin served with a truffle potato croquette
and Yakima apple relish and a perfectly cooked Thyme Roasted Wild PNW Cod with a Mediterranean couscous.

Gingerbread Factory -
Recently I have been seeing articles referring to hygge, which with food on my mind I thought was a Danish dish I need to try.  I just realized literally today that it is a Danish philosophy and way of life to find contentment in the simple things and the importance of slowing down and taking the time to unwind.  I definitely found my hygge on a Monday afternoon at the Gingerbread Factory reading a book while savoring a freshly baked gingersnap with the sun streaming through the window and the snowcapped Cascade Mountains in the background. 


Icicle Outfitters - – With my husband spending most of our full days alpine skiing at Stevens Pass Ski Resort,

I was left to my own devices.  I spent some of it exploring Downtown Leavenworth on an early snowy morning before most shops open and a few hours later practicing hygge yet again, back at the Alpen Rose all nice and cozy in front of the fireplace watching the movie Holiday with snow steadily coming down outside our balcony like a White Christmas. 

Having experienced rain the first day, snow the second, I took advantage of some sun the third and spent it with Fred and Wendell from Icicle Outfitters for a 30 minute sleigh ride

gliding across a meadow by a fish hatchery,

along Icicle River and returning with the perfect view of the Sleeping Lady. 

Although it is January and therefore probably not appropriate to be Ho Ho Ho’ing as the sleigh is dashing through the snow, our guide Fred left us all Ha Ha Ha’ing with his jokes.  Hot apple cider or cocoa at the end of the ride, you will not have to worry about tepees (check them out and you may find out what I mean).  With pickup and dropoff within Leavensworth if you have no transportation like me, it is the best $20 + tip you would have spent.     
Liberty Orchards - - This was my one and only unplanned stop this trip but after discovering this in the guest directory and seeing how close we were to the Liberty Orchards Factory (15-20 minutes away in Cashmere), I had to squeeze in at least a stop by the store even though I did not have time for the factory tour. 
My dad is a huge fan of Liberty Orchards products requesting Fruit Festives and/or Aplets and Cotlets when available locally during the holiday season.  So I felt like a kid in a candy store on behalf of him

as I picked up 11 boxes of 5 different varieties with a second set for his upcoming birthday. 

Just scratching the surface of all Leavenworth has to offer, I hope to return and extend my stay next time so I can experience both the Innsbrucker Inn and return to my Alpen Rose home because like a Debbie Macomber holiday novel, Leavenworth is meant to be enjoyed again and again.  


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