March 1, 2008


Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining Update

Exciting news. Wine Enthusiast chose Coriander-Crusted Albacore Tuna with Spicy Buckwheat Noodle Salad as its March Recipe of the Month! The recipe, along with a four-color plate shot, appeared on page 17, and included a photo credit for the book’s talented photographer, Jackie Johnston.

On February 1, I debuted a slideshow presentation based on text and photos from Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining at the fifth annual Platinum Dinner. Sponsored by Wine Press Northwest (where I’ve been food-and-wine-pairing columnist for the past eight years!) the dinner took place at the venerable Columbia Tower Club. I also presented the show at Molbak’s garden center, the Bellevue Regional Library, and to the Seattle Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier.

On March 31, the Secret Ingredient Video Blog that I taped in January will air. 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. The Vodcast is available on the Whole Foods Market Web site, YouTube, and iVillage. I’ll post the actual link in next month’s edition of Northwest Notes. Here I am on set prepping the recipe (photo below).

While I don’t have any appearances scheduled in March, I’m really looking forward to Taste Washington (April 5 and 6), where I’ll do a booksigning or two, and the International Association of Culinary Professionals International Conference in New Orleans in mid-April, where I will appear at the annual Cookbook Expo.

With the book successfully launched, I’m back to writing, with a fresh book proposal in the works, and a new writing gig for the Seattle Times Pacific Northwest magazine. About once a month, I’ll write the magazine’s weekly Taste column, focusing primarily on the Northwest beverage scene (wine, beer, hard cider, etc.), but also occasionally turning my attention to food and travel. First bylines will appear in May.

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

March signals the start of spring in the Market, and nothing epitomizes this more than Daffodil Day. On Thursday, March 20, look for dozens of Market employees around downtown and in surrounding neighborhoods passing out 30,000 bright yellow daffodils to wish shoppers and pedestrians a “Happy Spring!”

Other Market-related activities are picking up as well. The fourth annual Care for the Market luncheon, which benefits the Market’s four human-service agencies, will take place on March 6 at the Paramount Theatre. Beloved Seattle celebrity chef, cookbook author, and radio host Tom Douglas is the keynote speaker. Tom Douglas Catering will prepare lunch, with a minimum suggested donation of $150 per person.

Speaking of charity, Starbucks, whose first store is located in the Market, generously donated $5,000 per year for the next five years, earmarked for the Market’s Farmer Relief Fund. The Farmer Relief Fund was created in 1999 after a hailstorm struck the Puget Sound area, destroying the crops of many Pike Place Market farmers.

On March 30, barbecue experts will once again invade Pike Place for the annual Pike Place Market Barbecue Competition. This year’s event is a state competition, and will draw the best cooks from all around the region. Come around lunchtime and chow down on a pulled-pork sandwich! All proceeds from food sales benefit the Market Foundation.

Now that spring has officially sprung in the Market, why not 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?



Treasurable Txori

I’ve dined twice at Txori (pronounced CHOR-ee), Joseba and Carolin Jimenez de Jimenez’s smaller sibling to the Harvest Vine, located in Seattle’s trendy Belltown. And each time I’ve had one of the most joyful experiences of my life! Perhaps it’s because, during my sophomore year in college, I was an exchange student in Madrid. Txori immediately whisks me back to open-air meals in student cafés, where I inevitably ordered jamón con queso (a ham-and-cheese sandwich) while sipping agua tónica con hielo (tonic water with ice) and discussing how best to save the world with my Spanish counterparts in my sloppy Spanish. At Txori, the “small plates” are truly that, perfectly imagined and crafted nibbles presented on a lovely array of ceramics and glassware. Pulpo a la Plancha (Grilled Octopus) is a tender tentacle or two drizzled with fresh olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. Piquillo con Brandade is one smoky, scarlet piquillo pepper stuffed with creamy salt cod and potato. Be sure to order anything containing gulas (baby “eels” that are somehow, almost magically, made out of hake, a traditional Spanish finfish). The version with garlic and olive oil is reminiscent of Baked Escargots, but a lot healthier. Either the coffee flan or nut tart makes a lovely choice for a sweet finale. Or order both, along with extra spoons, for sharing.

Toast for Two

Melissa Nyffeler’s heartfelt venture, Dinette, located in Capitol Hill, is a welcome roost on a cold night, for it offers a selection among nine different grilled toasts, which may be the world’s most delicious comfort food. A couple of toasts we enjoyed on a recent Sunday evening included Gorgonzola Dolce (blue cheese with toasted walnuts and balsamic syrup) and Broccoli Rabe Pesto (pesto with Fontina cheese and Tuscan salami). Bowls of Steamed Mussels with Green Apple, Smoky Bacon, Mushrooms, and Calvados Cream and Handmade Ricotta Gnocchi with Braised Beef Short-Rib Ragu sent us back into the cold air with warm, happy tummies.

Only in Seattle!

We were so happy to share the long-running party that is the Pike Place Market’s Pink Door restaurant with our good buddy Debra Prinzing, a garden and design writer from Los Angeles, when she flew in for the Northwest Garden & Flower Show in February. Our langorous dinner included two bottles of Northwest wine (Novelty Hill Sauvignon Blanc and an Oregon Chardonnay), sautéed calamari, perfectly cooked risotto with pancetta, a whole grilled branzino, and the fish of the day—striped marlin. Another bonus of eating at the Pink Door is the daily entertainment. On Sunday and Monday evenings, you can watch the gorgeous trapeze artist twist and twirl overhead while you enjoy dinner, as attested to in the photo below.



The Farmer-Chef Connection
In early February, a crowd of 150 people attended the fifth annual Farmer-Chef Connection, a conference sponsored by Seattle Tilth. The conference seeks to join local producers (such as farmers and fishers) with buyers (such as chefs) so that they can conduct business face to face. Agri-culinary tourism was a hot topic, explored by a panel of experts including Fernando Divina (chef at Tendrils restaurant at SageCliffe), Susan Ujcic (Helsing Junction Farm), Charles Finkel (The Pike Brewing Company), Janet Leduc (Washington Wine Country), and Fred Fleming (Shepherd’s Grain). Conference organizers wisely waited until after the gourmet lunch (featuring dishes devised from many of the participants’ fresh fruits and vegetables, grain products, shellfish, and finfish) to schedule Chef Tamara Murphy’s demonstration on how to break down a whole pig (see photo, below). Attendees also learned about winter crops and value-added products, and how to conserve and share precious water resources. During the late-afternoon closing reception, conference-goers mingled and networked while sampling local cheeses, smoked seafood, and beverages, such as Pike Pale Ale, Red Barn Cider, and wines from Kiona Vineyards and Winery.

Dine Around Seattle in March
Dine Around Seattle, formerly the 25 for $25 promotion, is back on the menu March 2-31. All month long, Sundays through Thursdays, 30 select Seattle-area restaurants will offer prix-fixe dinners for $30, and many will also offer prix-fixe lunches for $15. This price will not include beverage, tax, or gratuity and menus will not be available on Easter Sunday, March 23. One exciting change for March will be the addition of the Pike Place Market’s own Steelhead Diner, which replaces Cascadia Restaurant in Belltown.

Kudos to Mission Hill’s Terrace Restaurant
In the February 2008 issue of Travel + Leisure magazine, Mission Hill Family Estate’s Terrace Restaurant was named one of the top five winery restaurants in the world. In an article entitled “Top Winery Restaurants,” the publication refers to Mission Hill Family Estate as “the centerpiece of the Canadian wine tourism industry” and the Terrace as “one of the most glorious dining experiences around.” Terrace Chef Matt Batey, under the direction of Winery Chef Michael Allemeier, has developed a signature cuisine de terroir which highlights the palette of flavors and ingredients unique to the Okanagan Valley. Guests at the Terrace enjoy culinary creations al fresco with breath-taking views of the winery’s courtyard and vineyards and the spectacular Okanagan Lake. You’ll find Chef Allemeier’s recipe for Roasted Halibut with Shellfish Cioppino in Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining, page 245, and a photo of the Terrace graces the book’s cover. The photo below shows Chef Allemeier’s ode to spring—Scallop and Spring Ragout.

Photography by Hamid Attie



Trellis, in the new Heathman Hotel in Kirkland, Washington, hits the mark on many levels, thanks to the dedication of long-time Seattle chef Brian Scheehser (The Hunt Club), who grows many of the baby greens and herbs featured on his menu. We loved his beet, sliced orange, and frisée salad, kaleidoscope spheres of red and orange beets with a ruff of curly frisée and fried leeks; the impressive Grilled Flat-Iron Steak; and the silky peanut-butter cookies on the Trellis Cookies plate. But of all the dishes we sampled, most warming was his Pacific Seafood Soup, served in a sturdy Staub cast-iron pot, and brimming with fresh shellfish of the season (clams, mussels, and prawns), along with salmon and whitefish, and a not-too-saffron-y, not-too-tomato-y herb broth, as well as crostini and rouille, for a combination that let the simple goodness of the seafood shine through and through.



Washington Wine Month Special Events
Throughout the month of March, several Seattle restaurants will honor Washington Wine Month with special dinners and wine pairings. Started in 2000 by the Washington Wine Commission, Washington Wine Month helps foster connections between the state’s culinary community and wineries.

From March 4-28, Tuesdays through Fridays, Rover’s, located in the Madison Valley neighborhood, will serve a four-course tasting menu paired with Chateau Ste. Michelle wines. Rover’s celebration of Washington Wine Month culminates on March 26, with an exclusive wine dinner co-hosted by Rover’s chef/owner Thierry Rautureau and Chateau Ste. Michelle CEO Ted Baseler. Last September, we enjoyed my birthday dinner at Rover’s. Here’s a shot of one of the memorable seafood dishes from Chef Thierry’s nine-course tasting menu.

Qube, located in downtown Seattle, is launching a “Candlelight and Wine” series during Washington Wine Month. On Saturday nights in March, from 9:30 p.m. to midnight, fusion-style hors d’oeuvres and a flight of four wines will be served in the wine bar and lounge. Leading Washington winemakers, such as Brian Carter of Brian Carter Cellars, will be on hand to discuss their creations. To reserve, call (206) 770-5888.

Jason Wilson, chef/owner at Crush, located in Seattle’s Central District, is offering a five-course tasting menu and wine pairings. In a twist on the norm, Wilson is serving one set of wine pairings for the first two weeks of the promotion, and another for the latter two weeks. His rationale? To expose diners to “more excellent Washington wines,” according to a press release. Meanwhile, on March 9, Crush hosts Mark McNeilly of Mark Ryan Winery and Trey Busch of Sleight of Hand Cellars for an “over-the-top” winemaker dinner.

Northwest Wine Academy Spring Release
On March 21 and 22, South Seattle Community College’s Northwest Wine Academy will hold its Spring Barrel Tasting, which is open to the public. The Academy’s 2007 Rosé and 2007 Riesling will be released; the 2006 Petit Verdot, 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2006 Late-Harvest Sauvignon Blanc will be for sale; and several barrel samples will be available to taste.

James Beard House Welcomes the Northwest
In the next two months, the Northwest is going to be well represented at the venerable James Beard House in New York City. On March 3, Nick’s Italian Café, a long-time Northwest favorite located in downtown McMinnville, Oregon, will pair with award-winning Oregon winemaker Rob Stuart for an Oregon Winemaker Dinner. Chef/Owner Nick Pierano’s recipe for Dungeness Crab and Pine Nut Lasagne appears in Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining on page 138. And Joie Wines, whose recipe for Claybank Farm Lavender Biscuits appears in the book on page 232, will partner with Chef Angus An of Vancouver’s Gastropod Restaurant for dinner at the Beard House on March 15. The dinner is entitled, “Modern Canadian Gastronomy.” Next month, Portland’s Andina restaurant will prepare a “Novo-Peruvian Dinner” for James Beard attendees on April 28. Finally, a special out-of-House event will take place in McMinnville, Oregon, on April 2, in conjunction with the Portland Indie Wine Festival Celebration.

GoldLeaf Breakfast

March 1, 2008

GoldLeaf Breakfast
Varietal: Pinot Gris or Sparkling Wine

Serves 4
I first enjoyed this light, yet elegant breakfast dish during a Christmas-time train ride from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Banff, Alberta, aboard the Rocky Mountaineer. While a winter wonderland passed by our windows as we traversed the Canadian Rockies by rail, we sipped Sumac Ridge Pinot Gris and savored our lightly scrambled eggs wrapped in wild British Columbia smoked salmon, drizzled with dill crème fraîche, and topped with paddlefish caviar. Finely crafted British Columbia sparkling wines, such as Sumac Ridge Steller’s Jay Brut, Summerhill Pyramid Winery Cipes Brut, or Blue Mountain Brut Sparkling Wine, would also make for festive pairings.
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons buttermilk
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill, plus extra sprigs for garnish
1/2 pound thinly sliced cold-smoked salmon (Note: Use cold-smoked, as opposed to hot-smoked, salmon for this dish.)
12 large eggs
Pinch of kosher salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 ounce domestic (trout or paddlefish) caviar
1. At least 1 day before you plan to serve, mix the cream with the buttermilk in a small, clean glass jar with a lid. Let stand at room temperature (about 70°F) without disturbing for 8 to 24 hours, or until the cream thickens. Stir well, cover, refrigerate, and use within 10 days. Ten minutes before serving, remove the crème fraîche from the refrigerator and stir in the minced dill.
2. Line the inside of 4 small ramekins or custard cups with plastic wrap. Line each bowl evenly with the smoked salmon, covering all areas completely, but being careful not to layer the salmon too thickly. Cover the ramekins loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Whisk the eggs, salt, and pepper together in a large mixing bowl. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat until it foams. Add the eggs and cook, stirring frequently to allow the eggs to cook, until medium-firm, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat. Immediately fill the salmon-lined ramekins with the eggs, pressing down firmly to mold the eggs.
4. To serve, place a dinner plate over each ramekin, hold the plate firmly over the ramekin, turn it over, and unmold, removing and discarding the plastic wrap. Drizzle each with 1/4 cup of the crème fraîche and 1/4 ounce of the caviar. Garnish with a sprig of dill and serve immediately.
Cook’s Hint: If you do not want to make your own crème fraîche at home (although it is a fun “science project” that every curious cook should try at least once) simply substitute the store-bought variety.
Recipe reprinted from Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining: The People, Places, Food, and Drink of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia (Wiley, $34.95) by Braiden Rex-Johnson. Available at Amazon.