Scandinavian Salmon

April 30, 2011

Scandinavian Salmon

Varietal: Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Melon

Serves 6 to 8

I was skeptical when the owners of Panther Creek Cellars in Oregon’s Willamette Valley suggested Scandinavian Salmon could be paired with Pinot Noir, but the earthiness of the dill and in the fish (be sure to use wild salmon not farm-raised!) works well with similar notes in the wine. Pinot Gris and sparkling wine are other suggested pairings, although Melon—the same grape as France’s Muscadet, also known as Melon de Bourgogne—is a more intriguing possibility. According to the winery’s Web site, “The dry, yet fruity wine finds a passionate following among lovers of shellfish and seafood. In the nose of this varietal you’ll often find pear, citrus, and peaches. On the palate, it’s richly textured, with flavors of pear, peach, and apricot, and just a touch of sea salt.” The wine’s slight salinity helps it pair perfectly with seafood, especially the Northwest’s own native fish, salmon.

1 English cucumber

3 pounds wild salmon fillet, rinsed, drained, and patted dry

2 lemons, very thinly sliced

1 large bunch of dill

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. With a vegetable peeler, peel the cucumber in long strokes and save the skins. Cut the cucumbers into thin rounds and reserve.

3. Line a large baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil, placing one sheet of foil crosswise across the baking sheet, allowing enough excess foil on both sides to be folded across the fish. Run another sheet of foil lengthwise, again allowing enough excess foil to fold over the fish. Place the salmon skin side down in the center of the foil. Cover the fish with the cucumber skins, placing the white portion of the skins toward the fish.

4. Cover the cucumber skins with half of the lemon slices and top with half of the dill. Bring the ends of the lengthwise foil up around the top and bottom of the fish, fold neatly to seal the fish, then repeat with the other ends of foil until the fish, cucumber, lemon, and dill are completely enclosed.

5. Place the baking sheet on the center oven rack, and cook 50 to 55 minutes, or until the fish is opaque throughout, depending on the thickness of the fish and the desired doneness. Remove the packet from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Open the foil carefully to allow the steam to escape. Scrape off and discard the cucumber skins, lemon, and dill. Using a long, thin spatula, position the side edge of the spatula against the fat layer between the salmon flesh and skin. Move the spatula through the fat layer so that the flesh comes away from the skin. Transfer the salmon to a large serving plate and discard the skin and foil.

6. Just before serving, season the salmon to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with the reserved cucumber slices and the remaining lemon slices and dill, and serve family style.

Cook’s Hint: If desired, the salmon can also be cooked on a gas grill over medium heat.

Recipe reprinted from “Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining: The People, Places, Food, and Drink of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia” (Wiley, 2007, $34.95) by Braiden Rex-Johnson.

URBAN enoteca: Seattle’s New Wine Center Debuts

April 26, 2011

My latest Northwest Edge column for the for the spring issue of Wine Press Northwest features URBAN enoteca, a totally cool new “wine center” just south of downtown Seattle.

My Fave App: The Hipstamatic

April 21, 2011

A couple of months ago, I started to become interested in plastic cameras, inexpensive cameras that offer unusual effects when you take pictures with them.

I was going to get a Holga or a set of Lensbaby lenses that diffuse the light, produce light leaks and color shifts, and shoot off center.

But, recent convert to Apple’s amazing iPhone4 that I am, instead I discovered an app called Hipstamatic that automatically creates these rather wonky images.

At first I thought I’d use the Hipstamatic iPhone app only to take photos in my other life. But one Saturday afternoon, over lunch at Bambuza Vietnamese Cuisine in downtown Seattle, I started playing around on some food shots.

Here’s one of the first ones I took. A simple shot of our tea cups and pot, striking against the vivid grains of the bamboo tabletop. And you just gotta love the 1960s-era ivory edges!

Below is my Vietnamese Crepe taken in a lot of natural light with the regular iPhone4 camera.

Same photo taken with the Hipstamatic! I love the way the crumpled napkin in my lap becomes part of the photo. . .like some sort of weird white sculptural element.

Over dinner at Vito’s on First Hill that evening, I took a photo of my Angel Hair Pasta with Calamari using the regular camera.

And the Hipstamatic, which created a warm and romantic shot, like something from another era.

Sunday evening, during dinner at the ever-romantic and long-running Andaluca in the Mayflower Park Hotel, I couldn’t resist playing around with the Hipstamatic once again.

Here’s a shot of our wine bottle and glass. . .love the frayed edges and rich, warm, crimson tones created by the seemingly magical Hipstamatic app.

I’m continuing to experiment with this very HIP(stamatic) app, and will post more food shots from time to time, so please stay tuned!

Signs of Spring at Il Bistro

April 19, 2011

A gorgeous appetizer offered up at Il Bistro in the Pike Place Market was one of the most satisfying treatments of fresh asparagus I’ve ever eaten.

I’m guessing the handful of stalks were first lightly steamed or blanched, then sautéed quickly in good olive oil with capers and a hint of garlic. Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and a coddled egg made for the perfect toothsome touches.

Signs of spring continued with a dish of perfectly floured and seasoned, then sautéed, halibut. The fish is normally served atop mashed potatoes, but I asked for, and was graciously served, a side of spaghetti in marinara sauce instead. Buonissimo!

With asparagus and halibut back on the menu, can Copper River salmon be far behind?!?!

Happy Soils Festival on the Red Rooster Route

April 14, 2011

Looking for something fun and different to do with the kids (big or small) this weekend? Something that says spring is in the air?

Then venture out to local farms and pick out this year’s bedding plants and garden starts for your garden. This spring on the Red Rooster Route, Garden Treasures Nursery & Organic Farm is introducing its newest farm festival–The Happy Soils Festival–on Saturday, April 16, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Happy Soils Festival allows youth and adults to learn about the key ingredients to building up tilth in the soil.

Free demonstrations on the farm show how adding compost and the right fertilizer creates an organic space that defends itself from disease and predators. Farm walks will also be organized throughout the day, allowing visitors to learn how a system of food production and distribution promotes healthy living and nurtures the environment.

“Our farm is committed to organic food production and promoting a sustainable lifestyle,” owner and farmer, Mark Lovejoy says. “The goal of our Happy Soils Festival is to take the mystery out of organic gardening and natural soil health.”

Not only does Garden Treasures Nursery & Organic Farm celebrate spring with a variety of nursery items and organic vegetable garden starts, but a host of seasonal produce such as spring mix greens, asparagus, and spinach are available. The farm also features a gift shop, garden center, nursery, CSA box program, and organic-only farm market stand.

This third year of the annual Red Rooster Route will also host a variety of upcoming spring and summer festivals including The Flower Festival during Mother’s Day weekend on May 7 and 8 at Foster’s Farm, The Strawberry Festival on June 18 and 19 at Biringer Farm and Garden Treasures Nursery & Organic Farm, Red Rooster Route Days on July 16 and 17 at all the farms on the Red Rooster Route and The Blueberry Festival on July 30 at Bryant Blueberry Farm & Nursery.

Offering a self-guided tour through the greater Arlington area, the Red Rooster Route is rich with pastoral views and plenty of recreational and u-pick opportunities. To learn more about the farms on the Red Rooster Route and to download a tour map, visit the group’s website.

Additional Information:

Happy Soils Festival, April 16 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Free Admission (donations gladly accepted).

Garden Treasures Nursery & Organic Farm located at 3328 State Route 530

Open Daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Red Rooster Route, off Exit 208 on I-5, is a non-profit association of small, family-friendly farms in the Arlington, Washington, area of Snohomish County. The farms are open to the public during the harvest season.

For more information and to learn about individual farms visit the website.

Photos Courtesy of The Red Rooster Route

Fried Chicken & Champagne Gets Two IACP Nods

April 11, 2011

My latest blog post for’s Al Dente blog features Seattle chef and caterer Lisa Dupar’s new book, “Fried Chicken & Champagne: A Romp Through the Kitchen at Pomegranate Bistro.”

This terrific tome has been nominated for two International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) awards: First Book and American.

It includes Lisa’s recipe for Fried Chicken, which she’s been making since her high-school years.

North Willamette Wine Trail Weekend April 9 and 10

April 7, 2011

In the mood for a little weekend travel?

The third annual North Willamette Wine Trail Weekend is set for this Saturday and Sunday, April 9 and 10.

The self-guided weekend tour is hosted by North Willamette Vintners, a nonprofit organization comprised of wineries, vineyards, and other wine-tourism partners in Oregon’s North Willamette Valley.

With stops on the tour in and around Washington County (just minutes from Portland), the weekend’s events are designed to appeal to wine enthusiasts of every level.

Twenty-four wineries will host tastings exclusive to the Wine Trail Weekend, including offerings of reserve labels, new releases, and barrel tastings. And in keeping with Oregon’s food (and foodie) culture, wine pairings with food will be a major emphasis of the event.

Just a few of the many event highlights that will occur alongside wine (and food) tastings include: an exhibition of canvas paintings by Robert Schlegel at Apollini Vineyards, concerts by “Portland’s French Troubadour” Eric John Kaiser at Montinore Estate, “Mystery of the Bottle” discussions at Oak Knoll Winery that discern why certain bottles are used for different varietals, and cooking demonstrations at Helvetia Vineyards hosted by Chef Dave Clark.

The event is priced at $45 ($10 for designated drivers). All guests will receive a reusable wine tote filled with a commemorative wine glass and a variety of special discounts and offers. Designated drivers will receive the same tote–with a stainless steel water bottle instead of the wine glass–along with snacks and non-alcoholic beverages.

Tickets for the North Willamette Wine Trail Weekend are available online at the North Willamette Vintners website until the event sells out, and in the tasting rooms of participating wineries through March 28. When purchasing tickets, guests are asked to decide at which winery their tour will begin, and then are instructed to bring their receipt to that location on April 9 or 10 to pick up their ticket, wine glass or water bottle, and their map/brochure.

Click here to download an online brochure, the perfect starting point to help plan your weekend journey.

Photo courtesy of North Willamette Vintners

Heads Up for April 5: Find it on First Urban Scavenger Hunt

April 4, 2011

A recent press release touted an interesting sounding concept: Find it on First, a new urban scavenger hunt created in partnership by BOKA Kitchen + BarFonté Café & Wine BarJaponessaTASTE Restaurant and The Pike Brewing Company.

The five restaurants united to showcase a revitalized First Avenue in a fun and tasty challenge for Seattleites.

“Find it on First” began on Tuesday, March 1, 2011, and will continue on the first Tuesday of every month.  Participants who complete the challenge will earn free menu items and exclusive discounts available throughout the rest of the month.

Upcoming hunts will take place on April 5, May 3, June 7, and July 5, 2011. Here’s how it works:

Pick up a “Find it on First” Stamp Card at all participating restaurants or download from any participating restaurant’s website. Here’s how to begin…

1.       On first Tuesday, visit any of the Find it on First restaurants.

2.       Answer fun trivia questions or find hidden treasures to earn a stamp. (No purchase is required to participate.)

3.       Collect stamps from all five restaurants to receive exclusive discounts and FREE menu items.

  • April 2011: Enjoy $3 off cocktails and $1 off beer
  • May 2011: Complimentary dessert with purchase of entrée after 6 p.m.
  • June 2011: Enjoy $1 Bloody Mary cocktails before 1 p.m.
  • July 2011: Complimentary appetizer with purchase of entrée after 6 p.m.

In addition, those who participate in “Find it on First” are invited to take part in a monthly drawing for a grand prize that will be announced at the end of each month. Prizes will range from dining certificates to hotel stays and other prizes from participating businesses. For March, the grand prize was a “Spa Lunch for Two” at Spaahh at Hotel 1000.

Welcome to the ‘Hood: Patterson Cellars

April 1, 2011

We have been VERY remiss in welcoming a lovely new tasting room and event facility to the Pike Place Market neighborhood: Patterson Cellars.

Grand-0pening events took place the last week in January, when we finally marched ourselves down the hill to sip some wine and sample some apps from Volterra Restaurant.


Folks in our ‘hood, lucky locals and travelers to the Puget-Sound region no longer have to venture to Woodinville, where Patterson Cellars is based and still operates a second tasting room. For now the winery is bringing its value-priced, award-winning wines to Seattle!

With wines such as 2010 Rosé and Chardonnay, 2008 Forbidden Red, 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2007 Syrah, there’s plenty of good stuff to choose from!

Cheers, Patterson Cellars, and welcome to the ‘hood!


Patterson Cellars Seattle Tasting Room

1427 Western Avenue, Seattle (on Western Avenue below Pike Place Market adjacent to the Pike Street Hill Climb)

More about the winery: Patterson Cellars offers two exciting places to try their wines, an urban tasting room located near the Pike Street Hill Climb, on Western Avenue, below the famous Pike Place Market in Seattle, and at the Woodinville tasting room and winery in the wine warehouse district. Both venues offer a unique space and experience for tasting their approachable new world style wines, and for parties and events. Crafting wines for over 12 years, from crush to cork, Patterson Cellars focuses on producing wines as unique as the grapes themselves sourcing grapes from Washington State’s Columbia Valley, Red Mountain, Lake Chelan, and Horse Heaven Hills AVAs.