By Mary Ellen Psaltis
Two of Thurston County’s hidden gems can be discovered on the main street of Tenino. My friend Diane, who lives in the suburbs of Tenino, suggested a mini-field trip to partake of Aunt Kate’s Chocolates and Scatter Creek Winery. The businesses are across the street from each other. Parking was abundant and free; however, there are no lines to demark spaces. This makes parallel parking a breeze.
The Scatter Creek Tasting Room and Gift Shop makes its cozy home in a high ceilinged, vintage building with warm bricks and comforting colors. The couch by the front window invites you and your friends to linger over a glass Peach Breeze or the new Stonecutter Red Blend. Owner Andria Keary designed the space with this in mind. The Kerrys have gone to great lengths to create a place that not only makes everyone feel welcome but also results in a memorable experience. You can stand up and have a taste of their wine collection or you might take a seat and relish a Washington microbrew. Hungry? The appetizer plate will hold you over until you wander down the street for dinner.
Vintner Terrill Keary creates his wine with grapes from Eastern Washington. All varieties are bottled in Tenino, and all but two varieties are pressed there. Scatter Creek wines can be purchased in numerous locations around the county, as diverse as T Brothers Liquor Lodge, Lucky Eagle Casino and Offut Lake Resort. Now that they have settled into their space, it’s available to rent for parties, anniversaries and other occasions. Accommodations can be arranged for a sit-down meal of up to 60 people or up to 130 people for a standing party. Food can be catered from one of the local restaurants.
Look both ways before you cross the street to visit Aunt Kate’s Chocolates. Kate Donoghue has been making chocolates for fifteen years and delights in filling your special orders. At any given time there are turtles, truffles, peanut butter cups and fudge plus a variety of non-chocolate candies including ones made with agave syrup.
Donoghue declares, “I want to offer healthier varieties of chocolate to the world.” She does this by offering single-origin high cocoa chocolates. For example, she carries chocolate from Colombia with a high cocoa content – 65-70%. Each chocolate growing region has its distinctive flavors. In the mouth these chocolates melt smoothly – butter-like but without any dairy products involved. Flavored varieties have chilies or green tea. The aptly named Silk and Fire could be grated onto enchiladas or, as Donoghue suggested, onto roasted chicken.
If you are looking for ideas for pairing chocolate with foods, coffees and wine, Aunt Kate’s Chocolates will arrange an intimate chocolate tasting for two. Part education, part eating, and part dipping fruit into warm fondue – this makes learning fun.
As you hone in on your favorites, you can order exactly what you want. Maybe you want the Miko Matcha wrapped around a healthy serving of Adam’s crunchy peanut better. No problem. Your favorite chocolatier will custom sizes, shapes and flavors.
Aunt Kate’s Chocolates also houses shelves of teas, including ones for medicinal uses. I picked up her seasonal concoction, a fragrant brew called Pumpkin Spice Chai. Teas are loose and purchased by the ounce.
Donoghue told me she had twenty to thirty kinds of fudge “dancing in her mind.” That means every time you go, you will probably find something that wasn’t there the last time. I saw that Aunt Kate’s business card said, “Home of the famous Chocolate Dipped Potato Chip.” Darn, I missed that. I guess I’ll have to go back!
Driving directions and hours of operation at Scatter Creek Winery can be found here.