February 1, 2008


Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining Update

Early in January, we received the very welcome news that Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining had gone into its second printing after only nine weeks, a truly thrilling development. Also early in the month, we enjoyed a 35-minute ferry ride across Elliott Bay for a book signing and my presentation of a new speech at the venerable Eagle Harbor Book Co. on Bainbridge Island. In business for 40 years, this independent bookseller supports the island population’s book needs, and offers an impressive line-up of author appearances.

In mid-January, I spoke with Liane Hansen of National Public Radio in Washington, DC. Situated before a microphone in NPR satellite station KUOW in Seattle, I spent a very enjoyable 30 minutes discussing the wonders of the Pacific Northwest food-and-wine scene for a segment that was ultimately condensed into 8 minutes and 59 seconds. After Weekend Edition Sunday aired multiple times on Sunday, January 13, I received congratulatory e-mails and phone calls from all over the country (thanks, family and friends!).

That Sunday afternoon, the Amazon ranking for Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining soared from 135,000 to 180, and the ”bump” from the NPR interview, NPR’s subsequent e-mail blast about the interview, and the popularity of the interview link on the Internet helped boost the book’s Amazon ranking for weeks afterward.

The same day as the NPR interview aired, I taped an episode of the Secret Ingredient Video Blog at Whole Foods Market in Seattle. Theme of the weekly-changing series of Vodcasts is a chef’s “secret ingredient,” and I chose dried Northwest cherries as my secret ingredient. I used the cherries to demo one of my favorite recipes from Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining: Wild King Salmon with Macerated Cherries and Smoked Almond Beurre Noisette, from Steelhead Diner in the Pike Place Market. I’ll keep you posted on when the weekly-changing Vodcast is available on the Whole Foods Market Web site, YouTube, and iVillage—sometime in February, March, or April. Here I am chatting up the book with host Scott Simons (photo below).

February promises a fresh crop of appearances [appearances link], including booksignings and slideshow presentations at one of my favorite events of the year—the Columbia Tower Club Platinum Dinner (sponsored by Wine Press Northwest) on February 1; Molbak’s on February 9; and the Bellevue Regional Library on February 22.

To purchase a copy of Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining, please go to your local bookseller or visit Amazon’s Web site,

Pike Place Market News

January and February are historically quiet months in the Market, when farmers take well-deserved holidays, and farmland lies fallow until spring. During these quiet months on the farm tables, make time to revisit the highstalls (the Market’s seven permanent fruit and vegetable stands), fishmongers, and specialty-food shops (such as DeLaurenti Specialty Food & Wine, The Souk, and Oriental Mart). Get to know the owners, ask questions, and discover some new, exciting ingredients to brighten your winter menus. Or pick up a copy of the Pike Place Market Cookbook or the Pike Place Public Market Seafood Cookbook for fresh recipe ideas from the Market’s leading farmers, fishmongers, restaurateurs, and chefs.

You can also turn winter blahs into winter “aaahs” with greenhouse-grown flowers now available on Market farmtables in the North Arcade. Alm Hill Gardens, a family-run operation that has been selling at the Market for more than 30 years, offers mix-and-match tulips in rainbow shades, along with aromatic hyacinths in stark white, vibrant pink, and periwinkle. Market farmer Ted Jonkheer of Jonkheer Greenhouses brings his tulips and other flowers from the fertile Skagit Valley, where he’s farmed since 1963. Winter bouquets add brightness to any desk or table, whether for a special occasion or daily “pick-me-up.” And fresh-cut flowers form the perfect solution for what to get your sweetie for Valentine’s Day!



Joule is a Jewel

Chefs Seif Chirchi and Rachel Yang have been on the radar screens of local foodies since serving as opening chefs at Coupage restaurant in Seattle’s Madrona neighborhood. During their first three months in the kitchen there, they garnered three-star reviews from both the Seattle Times (January 2007) and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (January 2007). Due to “creative differences” with Chef/Owner Tom Hurley, the couple departed Coupage in May 2007. In November, they realized a long-held dream—to open their own restaurant—and christened it Joule, named after the scientific unit of energy. This warm, small (35 seats in the restaurant and eight seats at the bar), darkly inviting restaurant is located in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle on North 45th Avenue, which is quickly becoming something of a mini-Restaurant Row, with Tilth (see “Tilth Brunch” article, below) and Smash Wine Bar just down the street.

Yang is a Culinary Institute of America (Hyde Park) grad and cooked her way around New York City at white-tablecloth places such as Per Se and Alain Ducasse at the Essex House, where she and Chirchi met. They tag their resto as “eclectic American,” with heavy influences of Korean and French ingredients and techniques. The menu is divided into sections such as Tossed (Salads), Crisped (Small Appetizers), and Sparked (Entrées). We enjoyed a delicately flavored salad of chilled seafood with daikon and sweet chili vinaigrette that was poetry on the plate. Joule already has a steady following for its Spicy Beef Soup with Tender Leeks and Crème Fraîche (listed under the “Simmered” section of the menu), although we opted for the AMAZING Cornbread, Preserved Garlic, and Smoked Gouda appetizer (save your calories for this one—it’s worth it!), as well as the Crispy Kalamata Olive Gnocchi with Toasted Almond and Sweet Pepper. Appetizers are visually stunning, arriving in small ramekins, iron pots, and glass bowls composed over large plates and serving vessels.

Seafood lovers will thrill to the choice among THREE whole fish of the day, such as Branzino, Mackerel, Anchovies, or Dourade on the Bone, specimens whose flesh falls sensuously off the bone thanks to perfect oven roasting. Among other enticing entrée choices are Bison Hanger with Garlic Chive Chimichurri and Preserved Garlic or Veal Sweetbreads with Tomato Sauce and Pickled Sweet Pepper. Don’t forget to order something from the “Pickled” section of the menu, such as the Cucumber Kimchi with Shiitake Mushrooms, which arrives in its own miniature Mason jar.

The small, well-thought-out wine list includes reasonably priced selections from Washington, Oregon, and around the world, as well as sake and beer. We were particularly impressed to see beverages by the glass such as Viento Riesling from the Columbia Gorge, Wash., and Hou Hou Shu Sparkling Nigori Sake.

Tilth Brunch

Tilth restaurant, the heartfelt operation of long-time Seattle chef Maria Hines, started offering brunch on Saturdays and Sundays a few months ago, but we didn’t have a chance to sample it until early January. I’ve always love the sunny-bright dining room, located in a small house decorated with light and airy furnishings. I enjoyed a simple lunch of Butternut Squash Bisque and Baby Red Butter Lettuce Salad with Blood Orange, Blue Cheese, and Hazelnuts (photo below). Spencer loved the Croque Monsieur. The ham and Gruyère sandwich was napped in creamy Béchamel sauce and topped by a still-quivering, perfectly poached egg fresh from the nest. A glass of Sparkling Beaujolais tempted the taste buds and perked the palate. You’ll find Maria’s recipe for Golden Beet Carpaccio with Herb Vinaigrette in Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining on pages 20-21.

Flying Fish

Owner/Founder/Chef Chris Keff keeps dishing up her long-time menus standards, along with new delights, at Seattle’s venerable and ever-popular Flying Fish. Tried-and-true favorites, such as Fried Oyster Caesar Salad and Grilled Fish Tacos with Charred Tomato Salsa, Guacamole, and Hand-Made Tortillas are always a comforting delight—classics we love to revisit time and again. Meanwhile, an entrée of Neah Bay Steelhead with Five-Spice Marinade, Noodles, Mushroon Stir-Fry, and Black-Bean Vinaigrette (photo below) shows off Chris’s prowess with southeast Asian/fusion cuisine. With its spicy components and rich textures (soft wood-ear mushrooms, steaming noodles, and lush salmon-like steelhead), this dish made a perfect pairing with the 2005 Holloran Vineyard Wines Chehalem Mt. Vineyard Riesling from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The wine exhibited lovely petrol notes in the nose and fresh pear and tropical-fruit flavors in the mouth along with a slight sweetness, all backed by just the right amount of acidity and a resounding finish.



West Taps New Exec Chef

Warren Geraghty, one of London’s leading chefs, will make his Vancouver, BC, debut at West restaurant in South Granville early this month after the departure of Chef David Hawksworth last December. Geraghty was most recently chef at L’Escargot restaurant in Soho. Prior to that, he manned the stoves at Aurora, The Orrery, Chez Nico, and Pied à Terre in London. In Cannes, he worked alongside master chef Richard Neat as head chef at Restaurant Neat. While there, the London Evening Standard noted that Geraghty was “instrumental in obtaining the Michelin star.” You’ll find my thoughts on West, and a recipe from former chef Hawksworth, in Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining (page 202).

Salty’s Good Ciao Dinner

In mid-January, under piercingly clear skies, and with the skyline of Seattle as a backdrop, a room full of foodies and wine lovers welcomed Italian chef Roberto Russo to Salty’s on Alki’s third annual “Under the Alki Moon” dinner. Rosso was in town to debut his new cookbook, Good Ciao: Recipes Embracing the Flavors of Tuscany, Umbria and the Pacific Northwest. Co-written with Salty’s co-owner Kathryn Kingen, the book is a beautiful four-color production containing 57 recipes from Russo and 12 from the chefs at the three Salty’s locations in Seattle and Portland. Recipes we sampled that evening included Chef Russo’s Tagliatelle with Chickpeas and Shrimp (paired with Alexandria Nicole Viognier) and Tuscan Soup (Fielding Hills Merlot). Salty’s on Alki Chef Jeremy McLachlan gifted the crowd with an outstanding Orange-Flavored Duck with Brussels Sprouts Salad, which award-winning Sommelier Tim O’Brien paired with Walter Clore Reserve Red. Sea Bass Three Ways (in the styles of three of Salty’s top toques) paired nicely with Chelan Estate Pinot Noir, and Chocolate Surprises by Salty’s on Alki über pastry chef Jane Gibson made a sweet match with Barnard Griffin Syrah Port (dessert pictured below).

Award-Winning Hotel Vintage Plaza

Portland’s Hotel Vintage Plaza, which hosted me during my book-launch tour of the Rose City back in November, made the top-500 list in both Travel + Leisure’s 2008 World’s Best Hotels and Condé Nast Traveler’s 14th Annual Gold List. Not only was the hotel selected as one of the world’s best hotels by both publications, it was the only Portland hotel to make both lists. Known for its wide variety of unique luxury suites – including two-story townhouses and garden suites with outdoor hot tubs – the Kimpton-managed Hotel Vintage Plaza is an Oregon wine-themed boutique hotel that evokes the romance and adventure of wine country, offering packages like “Pinot in Portland” and “A Love Story.”

Be Chef-for-a-Day at Salish Lodge

Salish Lodge & Spa, located in Snoqualmie, Wash., has introduced a new component to its Culinary Adventures program: the Chef-for-a-Day series. These events enable guests of the luxurious hotel and spa to experience the craft of winemakers, cheese makers, and foragers by “walking a day in their shoes,” then creating their own artisan products. Each “adventure” promises to be an exhilarating and unique experience, a good way to get up-close-and-personal with local food and wine producers to taste of the bounty and rich beauty that is the culinary side of the Pacific Northwest.

Saint-Germain Becomes La Côte Crêperie

February 18 is the debut date for La Côte Crêperie, in the former Saint-Germain space in Seattle’s Madison Park neighborhood just outside of downtown. Owner Laurent Gabrel, who also runs Voilà! Bistrot a few doors down, announced that his casual crêpe-themed resto will be open for lunch and dinner every day except Monday. The menu includes soups and salads, in addition to savory and dessert crêpes. I’ll be ordering La Baltique, which is stuffed with smoked salmon, crème fraîche, and scallions for dinner, and La Madison, brimming with vanilla ice cream and chestnut spread, for dessert. Suggested beverage pairings? Les Cidres—hard cider. Mais oui! You’ll enjoy reading more about Voilà Bistrot in Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining, pages 6-7, and trying Gabrel’s sumptuous recipe for Blue Cheese Mussels. Or check out La Côte’s menu at

Dishing on UrbanSpoon

Seattle-based offers users basic information about restaurants in major North American cities, along with interesting features such as the ability to compare reviews from mainstream restaurant critics alongside those of bloggers; maps of host cities at night, lighted by pinpointed restaurant locations; and the ability to create a list of friends to compare respective restaurant likes and dislikes. Among the cities on the UrbanSpoon network are Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Portland, Seattle, and San Diego. The site, which celebrated its first anniversary in October, gets over two-million page views per month.



Frank’s Veggie “Meatloaf,” one of chef/owner Kevin Davis’s signature dishes at Steelhead Diner in the Pike Place Market, appeals to vegetarians and meat-lovers alike thanks to its bold flavors, “meat-y” texture, and wide array of perfectly cooked eggplant, tomatoes, and several types of squash. The picholine olives, warm goat cheese, and broken tomato vinaigrette add additional enticing flavors and textures. Pair with a lighter, less tannic red wine, such as Shooting Star 2005 Blue Franc (a.k.a. Lemberger), from Washington State. Chef Kevin describes this wine as, “light, soft, and slightly fruity, which will compliment the acidity and richness of the dish.”



Mission Hill Family Estate Named as Top Canadian Winery

In December, one of the Northwest’s most beauteous wineries, Mission Hill Family Estate, was awarded 2007 Canadian Winery of the Year by Wine Access Magazine, Canada’s most respected wine publication. Mission Hill beat out 300 competitors for this honor. There is a lengthy profile and several dramatic photos of Mission Hill in Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining, pages 242-246. There you will also discover winery chef Michael Allemeier’s recipe for Roasted Halibut with Shellfish Cioppino. Chef Allemeier is a Chef de Cuisine, Canada’s highest culinary honor.

Wine Perception Linked to Price

In mid-January, Randolph E. Schmid, a writer with the Associated Press, reported that, “Apparently, raising the price really does make the wine taste better.” In his article, he goes on to suggest that, “The part of the brain that reacts to a pleasant experience responded more strongly to pricey wines than cheap ones—even when tasters were given the same vintage in disguise.” This comes as no surprise to this writer, because when wine writers are blind-folded or use black tasting glasses, they are sometimes unable to guess even if the wine is white or red! Read the article here.

Only in Seattle!

The “Insider” column on the Business page of the Seattle Times recently reported a story that is so “Seattle,” I had to share it with you. For only $89,000, EA Brevita Cooperative Association, based in Camano Island (about a 45-minute drive north from downtown Seattle) will sell you an eight-foot-by-14-foot drive-through coffee stand that the company will deliver on a flatbed truck anywhere in the lower 48 states. Presto-chango. Your own instant business! And good news, you can purchase your own coffee stand—lock, stock, and barrel—on Seattle’s own There, the Web-site page promises, “Complete, self-contained business. Just pick your site and we’ll provide everything else you need to start your own espresso business.” Sign me up!

Chipotle Chocolate Cake

February 1, 2008

Chipotle Chocolate Cake
Varietal: Lemberger

Serves 8 to 12

This intensely chocolate-y cake will remind you of the ones your mother and grandmother used to whip up at a moment’s notice, it is so easy to make and foolproof. Serve it to your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day with a bit of crème fraîche and extra cocoa powder sprinkled on top. And of course, don’t forget to crack open a bottle of Lemberger, whose bright fruit and spicy finish pair so well with the red wine, chipotle pepper, and cinnamon in the cake. Leading Washington producers of this rather obscure wine varietal include Paradisos del Sol (whose winemaker/owner Paul Vandenberg shared this recipe for Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining), Kiona Vineyards, Latah Creek, Covey Run, and Thurston Wolfe.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa, plus extra for sprinkling on the cake
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups water
3/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
3 tablespoons red wine
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling on the cake

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, salt, chipotle, and cinnamon. In a small mixing bowl, mix together the water, oil, red wine, and vanilla.

2. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredients, and stir just until combined. Do not overmix, or the cake will be tough.

3. Pour the batter into an ungreased 9 by 12-inch baking pan and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick or wooden skewer inserted in the middle comes out with just a few crumbs remaining.

4. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, loosen the sides of the cake with a knife, and turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and additional cocoa just before slicing and serving.