Summer 2018

Curated sojourns offer personalized exploration of fine dining, wine

Traveling is an art. To stay for a time in another place, and not just blow through it like so many lines on a “to do” list, takes the ability to slow down, sometimes just for an afternoon, and ferret out special qualities of the destination.

In 2017, the Stephanie Inn in Cannon Beach introduced Sojourns, a series of curated experiences that go beyond the farm-to-table movement. At the Stephanie, they don’t just source local products. They track down local producers.

Because of the inn’s enviable oceanfront location, they don’t have to go far to reel in the area’s artisans. As on any journey, Sojourns allows travelers a chance to escape the day-to-day and rejuvenate with activities and experiences outside normal fare. Being a premier coastal destination that continues to hone its methods for anticipating the desires of its guests, the Stephanie also leaves participants with souvenirs of their travel. Aside from memories and time spent with fellow travelers, those memories may include a recipe or two, a cookbook or a handcrafted, fired cocktail glass.

In offering four Sojourns a year over the past two years, the Inn begins each one at check-in, where visitors receive a welcome letter that outlines the complimentary services included in any overnight stay at the inn. An afternoon wine gathering in the oceanfront library, turndown service, an evening nightcap, morning coffee delivered to each guest room and a sumptuous chef’s breakfast buffet in the oceanfront dining room are the highlights.

A personalized itinerary, including a detailed menu of the five-course dinner to whet your appetite, is extended. By the end of the adventure, these items can be accompanied by Stephanie Inn signature recipes like Oregon Hazelnut Liqueur and Limoncello (two of the nightcaps often served in the library) or Salted Sea Foam, Salted Caramel Ice Cream and Graham Shortbread Cookies to re-create the Stephanie Inn’s Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sandwich.

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Last year, the Inn featured a plethora of purveyors from up and down the coastline during its Harvesting the Coast Sojourn. It began with a three-course lunch by Chef Aaron Bedard and Ben Jacobsen, owner of Jacobsen Salt Co. As Jacobsen explained how he harvests salt straight from the waters of Netarts Bay — a mere 45 miles south — guests indulged in a three-course lunch featuring those salts, heirloom tomatoes, sea-salt encrusted canary rock fish and the Stephanie Inn’s signature, house-made salted caramel ice cream sandwiched between two shortbread cookies. That was only the beginning.

A private shuttle whisked participants off to Sleepy Monk Coffee Roasters where they received a first-hand look into how coffee is roasted and finished with tastings; front-row seats were reserved at Icefire Gallery while artists tag teamed in an exquisite and intricate glass-blowing demonstration; and Mike Selberg, owner of Cannon Beach Distillery, presided over a spirits tasting and tour.

After time to freshen up in stunning, oceanfront rooms, guests came back together beachside for scratch cocktails made by Selberg himself and oysters shucked by Chef Bedard. The night was rounded out by a five-course wine-paired menu at which diners were surprised to be seated with artisans from the day. It is these thoughtful placements that the Stephanie Inn staff has spent the last 25 years perfecting that has earned them their luxury boutique hotel status.

Northwest wine is an integral part of the Inn’s focus and another area where local producers are valued. Approximately 95 percent of the wine list is Oregon- and Washington-sourced. The inn has a partnership with Adelsheim Vineyard, featuring a bottle of their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay available for purchase in every room. In October, guests will be able to delve deeper during the Inside the Mind of the Winemaker Sojourn.

For three hours, wine fans will be joined by Sam Schmitt, certified wine educator, certified sommelier and chief trade and vice president of education for Adelsheim. He’ll take attendees on a journey of sorts through the Willamette Valley, touching on soil types, what those consistencies and variances bring to the glass, how a vintner interprets those attributes and a multitude of other aspects of grape growing and winemaking.

With their newly acquired expertise, guests will have the opportunity to blend their own wines, opening up a completely different perspective of the entire process. Two bottles of the final product will be a souvenir of the Winemaker Sojourn. True to all Sojourns, the evening ends with a chef-driven, five-course wine pairing dinner.

Earlier this year, the Stephanie welcomed four-time Food Network’s Cupcake Wars winner, Kyra Bussanich, to host the Deconstructed Dessert Sojourn. In collaboration with Chef Aaron, she led attendees on a culinary adventure that included how to make the perfect lemon meringue, savory salmon bites and dessert décor.

Participants candied herbs and flowers, created infused syrups, received a crash course in cocktails and were able to eat the fruits of their labor. As a follow up, Chef Kyra and Chef Aaron took their skills back into the kitchen to prepare a gluten-free, five course dinner for the 13 lucky participants.

Most recently, the North Coast Craft Ale Trail Sojourn satisfied a brew crew led by Will Leroux, head brewer at Public Coast Brewing in Cannon Beach. For five hours, participants toured and tasted at Buoy Beer Co., Pelican Brewing and Public Coast. Insight into the process included cooking with beer and pairing beer with food, complete with a practical demonstration at the night’s beer-pairing dinner.

A traveler can skim the water or take a deep dive. Each Sojourn allows for intimate encounters with a community that fosters connection through creating. It’s an idea whose time has come.

This story was originally published May 23, 2018 12:00 AM.

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