At a conference I attended recently, Julie Johnson who works for Visit Rainier (the mountain) told me about a plethora of things to do in Enumclaw, which is the last major town (on one of the highways) before you head up to the mountain. You can approach the mountain from several sides.
With my daughter and grandchildren we set out looking for some of those not-well-known places in Enumclaw. In the past the town has been called “Enumscratch,” it smelled of dill pickles through and through until Farman’s moved its operations and it was home to the King County Fair in mid-July. I never thought of this rural community as a place to spa, sip wine or martinis and shop in boutiques.
Today we discovered two of those places that made the 25-mile ride totally worth it. We liked the choices on the menu posted outside Café Panini (1537 Cole St.) so we decided to lunch there. Fantastic pick. Their Italian cuisine rocked. The minestrone soup was brimming with chunks of vegetables, but also a variety of different meat slivers and pasta. If you choose any of the salads, you can add egg, chicken breast or shrimp, so I ordered the House Pasta Salad with chicken and I was not disappointed. Filled with diced roma tomatoes, black olives, toasted pine nuts and creamy pesto, it soothed my hunger. The portions were large so we had boxes to take home.
Café Panini also has a large selection of homemade pies, created and baked right on the premises. I got a taste of the cherry pie and it was mighty fine. Only one of us had room for pie, so we walked up the street and got some dessert to take home.
Julie had told me Sweet Necessities (1215 Griffin St.) makes their own caramels and I’m a caramel fanatic. And then when they come with coarse sea salt and fresh out of the pan – words fail me. Melt in your mouth seems so mundane and overused – these candies flavored your mouth and glided down like water down a slippery slide.
Sweet Necessities also has more than 100 flavors of loose tea, Kookaburra licorice and Snoqualmie Ice Cream.
Enumclaw has become much more than cowboys and biker bars, although they still have those, too.