Strawberry-Nut Bread

August 31, 2012

Strawberry-Nut Bread

Wine Varietal: Sweet Dessert Wine

Makes 2 loaves

A light-brown nut bread bursting with cinnamon, this recipe is great to make when local strawberries are available in the late spring and summer, as well as around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays using frozen, sliced berries. It originated from Dianna Biringer, co-owner of Biringer Farm. The Biringer family first had a farm table, then a retail outlet, in the Pike Place Market. Nowadays, they hoss an annual Strawberry Festival and other festive events throughout the year, at the farm on the Red Rooster Route in Arlington, Washington.

3 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 cups granulated sugar

4 large eggs

1 1/4 cups light vegetable oil, such as canola, corn, or soy

2 cups fresh strawberries, prepared as described in the Cook’s Hint, below, or 2 cups frozen, unsweetened, sliced strawberries, thawed

1 1/4 cups chopped hazelnuts or pecans

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly grease two 5-by 9-inch loaf pans or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, and sugar, then whisk until the cinnamon is dispersed throughout the flour. In a separate large bowl, whisk the eggs, then mix in the oil, strawberries, and hazelnuts with a fork.

3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients, stirring just enough to moisten the dry ingredients. Divide the batter between the prepared loaf pans and bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

4. Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. Turn out the loaves, slice into 8 slices per loaf, and serve as desired (see Serving Suggestions, below).

Cook’s Hint: If using fresh berries, make sure they are very ripe and juicy. Halve or quarter the berries, then gently mash them with a fork to start the juices flowing. Let the berries sit at room temperature for 1 hour before adding to the wet ingredients. You can also substitute frozen, sweetened berries, but reduce the 2 cups of sugar to 1 1/2 cups.

Serving Suggestions: Once baked, slices of Strawberry-Nut Bread make a scandalously rich base for strawberry shortcake or strawberry sundaes. To serve, just put a slice in the bottom of a deep dish and add a scoop of strawberry ice cream or frozen yogurt, additional sliced strawberries or strawberry syrup, whipped cream or whipped topping, and top with a whole strawberry.

Photo Courtesy of Biringer Farms


Visit Vancouver App Available

August 24, 2012

Our friends at Tourism Vancouver have released a new destination iPad app designed to be an inspirational trip-planning tool and travel companion for visitors from around the world.

The Visit Vancouver app – available for free download from Apple’s iTunes store – is interactive, fun to use, and developed to take full advantage of the iPad platform by showcasing bold video and imagery that inspires travel to Vancouver.

The app includes information on dining, accommodations, activities, transportation, events, and weather. It also allows users to take photo tours of the city, book hotels, peruse online videos, read travel articles, bookmark and share “Favorites,” and search a continually updated calendar of Vancouver events and festivals.

Visit Vancouver is differentiated from other city travel apps in that it is free of advertising and was designed to provide optimized experiences both online and offline. Users who don’t have a wireless internet connection, or who are concerned about data-roaming costs while traveling, will find that the majority of content is available offline.

In addition to this new app, Tourism Vancouver already has a strong online-marketing program that includes the award-winning Inside Vancouver blog, an active social-media presence, and the Vancouver Specialist Program (an online travel-agent training tool). And, the organization will soon launch a mobile website.

Sooke Harbour House Honored

August 21, 2012

Sooke Harbour House

Our friends Sinclair and Frederique Philip, co-owners of Sooke Harbour House on Vancouver Island, have been raking in an impressive number of awards lately. And as always, they are very well deserved.

Sinclair and Frederique Philip

According to a press release, “This year Travel and Leisure Magazine Readers’ Poll has dedicated a category exclusively to Canadian properties for their World’s Best Awards. In the last decade Sooke Harbour House has been rated close to the top several times in this poll for continental North America.

“Today, Travel and Leisure has recognized Sooke Harbour House as Canada’s #2 best resort for 2012, and on its list as one of the World’s Best Hotels and Resorts. This recognition comes with a ‘budget’ annotation signifying that the resort offers rooms under $250. Vancouver Island was selected as their best island travel destination.”

In a previous edition, Travel and Leisure Magazine described the 28-room Sooke Harbour House as a “charming clapboard inn overlooking a dramatic Pacific beach and the Olympic Mountains, 45 minutes from Victoria.” The cutting edge, as stated in the T+L 500, is the “inventive Pacific Northwest cuisine that has made this a legendary food and wine destination.” Two of the highlights mentioned were “bald eagle-spotting on the nearby protected Whiffen Spit” and the “Blue Heron Room, for its large balcony and panoramic ocean views.”

You may remember that I profiled Sinclair and Frederique in “Pacific Northwest Wining and Dining: The People, Places, Food, and Drink of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia,” and included their recipe for Coriander-Crusted Albacore Tuna with Spicy Buckwheat Noodle Salad in the book.

Sooke Harbour House also took home two awards at Taste: Victoria’s Festival of Food and Wine. The Best Showcase of Island Wines award recognizes the wine list that best showcases the wines of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. It has a diversity of producers, styles, and price points – and innovative pairing with the restaurant’s menu.

Sooke also won for Best Overall Wine Program thanks to its wine list, which “offers a fabulous selection of quality producers that complements the menu in price, size, and style. The wine program is innovative and promotes wine knowledge and appreciation through by-the-glass offerings, seasonal features, and special tastings and events.”

Congratulations to the Philips on all these coveted awards.

Isn’t it time we all planned a trip to our neighbor to the north (British Columbia and Vancouver Island) and, specifically, Sooke Harbour House?

Happy 100th Birthday to Julia Child!

August 15, 2012

Many years ago, when I had been writing about food for just about five years, I attended The Symposium for Professional Food Writers at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

The Symposium was like the holy grail for food writers, as much because of the quality of speakers and attendees as for the difficulty of getting from just about any place in the country to the small, bucolic town where the world-class resort is located.

I remember the journey involved a red-eye flight from Seattle to Pittsburgh on U.S. Airways, an early-morning connector flight to Charlotte, then a puddle-jumper that finally brought a bunch of white-knuckle flyers, including me, to our hallowed destination.

I attended The Symposium several times, finding that I always learned a lot of new tricks of the trade. Plus, it really helped me feel less isolated as a solitary cookbook author and food and wine writer.

But no year matched the very first time, when Julia Child was in attendance. The first day our group convened for class, under the able guidance of writing coach, mentor, and (now) long-time friend Don Fry, I was (understandably) more than a little bit nervous.

Cookbook-author greats were seated around me; food writers whose bylines I recognized from years of reading were reading over their syllabuses; Julia Child seated right down the row from me.

Don used passages from actual writing samples the participants had submitted prior to convening. One of the first ones he read was mine, an excerpt from an article I wrote about a professional tea tasting for Northwest Palate.

As he read passage after passage from my story, I began to get even more nervous.

How would my writing be received by this august group?

I needn’t have feared. Perhaps because they put themselves in my (now) quaking shoes, they praised the passages, with only one rather disparaging comment from a smart-aleck Los Angeles food columnist who said my article (because I made use of fiction-writing techniques) wouldn’t have been suited to his newspaper audience.

I was most shocked and humbled when Julia herself raised her hand and said how much she liked my writing. It was one of the pinnacles of my career, and did so much to instill in me a feeling of confidence moving forward.

Above, you can see the menu from one of the lavish dinners we  enjoyed at The Symposia. It featured five courses from famous “foodies,” including Lynne Rossetto Kasper, Anne Willan, Dorie Greenspan, Shirley Corriher, Andy Schloss, and Julia.

Her unique autograph, which begins with an outsized, loopy “J,” stands beside the course designed in her honor: Ragout of Duck with Twenty Cloves of Garlic paired with a Rombauer 1996 Zinfandel and Chimney Rock 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Ooh-la-la. She really knew how to live large! Cheers to August 15, 2012, which would have been her 100th birthday.

A New Seafood Café Along the Seattle Waterfront

August 14, 2012

Elliott’s Seafood Café during construction

Over the past several months, we’ve enjoyed watching the old, outdated Steamer’s Cafe space on the Seattle Waterfront transform into the sleek, new Elliott’s Seafood Café.

Designed as an energetic sidewalk oyster bar, the new Café offers a casual complement to Elliott’s Oyster House.

Elliott’s Seafood Cafe Oyster Bar

Elliott’s Seafood Cafe features an outdoor oyster bar where guests can sit or stand, a full-service bar, and happy-hour offerings. The menu comprises casual and fun seafood dishes; table service is available all day. Take-out food and retail items are also for sale.

Interior of the new Elliott’s Seafood Cafe

The restaurant’s interior features copper and wood with a “warm pier look.” Outside, guests can enjoy patio dining with a view of waterfront boating activity.

“Elliott’s Seafood Café brings a new look and culinary offering to the Seattle waterfront neighborhood. We’re especially eager to introduce the outside oyster bar, which we believe is a first of its kind in Seattle for guests to enjoy the freshest, local seafood at the peak of the season,” said Robert Spaulding, Executive Chef at Elliott’s Oyster House, who will oversee the Elliott’s Seafood Café kitchen as well.

Chop Chop Salad

A sample of menu items featured at Elliott’s Seafood Café includes:

*A rotating selection of fresh Washington Oysters: Penn Cove | Calm Cove | Eld | Mystery Bay with Horseradish, cocktail sauce, mignonette.

*Fresh Shucked Clams | Cape Cod little neck.

*Shellfish Ceviche I Bay scallops and shrimp, calamari, citrus marinade.

*Surf and Turf Slider | Seared scallop, root beer braised beef, preserved lemon cream.

*Halibut Tostadas | Grilled halibut, avocado, pancetta, tomatillo salsa, flour tortilla.

*Smoked Apple and Bacon Oysters | House alder smoked apple, bacon, red onion.

*Fried Oyster Wilted Spinach Salad | Yearling oysters, spinach, hot bacon-potato dressing, red onion, mushroom.

*Seafood Salad Brioche Rolls | Dungeness and Jonah crab, bay scallops, Oregon shrimp, celery, onion, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, waffle-cut fries.

We’ll weigh in with our thoughts on the new Seafood Café just as soon as we can get down there to sample these delicious-sounding items. May be time for another spin on the Seattle Great Wheel, the café’s cool neighbor.

Construction photo by Braiden Rex-Johnson; other photos courtesy of Darren LaMarr

Willamette Valley Paella Party and Gazpacho Recipe!

August 10, 2012


Our friends Penny and Will Durant, owners of Red Ridge Farms, Oregon Olive Mill, and Durant Vineyards in the Willamette Valley, are planning an after-hours paella party on Sunday, August 19, that promises to be an extraordinary event.

You may remember the Durants, who were profiled in my seventh book, “Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining: The People, Places, Food, and Drink of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia.” Their products have also been featured in Food & Wine magazine, O magazine, and EveryDay with Rachael Ray.

And who could forget the tasty recipe they submitted for my book, Garden-Fresh Gazpacho with Garlic Croutons, that would be perfect to make this time of the year?

During the couple’s first-ever paella party, which takes place on August 19, from 5 to 8 p.m., guests will enjoy authentic Spanish tapas and traditional paella prepared onsite by chef Scott Ketterman of Crown Paella.

Founded in the fall of 2011 by husband and wife team Scott and Emily Ketterman, Crown Paella is an event company focused on traditional Spanish cooking that specializes in giant paella and tapas. Ketterman will prepare a lively outdoor meal on special cookware imported from Spain and utilize fresh, local ingredients including Oregon Olive Mill’s Arebequina olive oil.

Guests can wander through the extensive Red Ridge gardens and take in valley views from the new tasting room as they nibble on tapas and paella.

For dessert, guests will enjoy Salt & Straw’s Arbequina Olive Oil ice cream made with Oregon Olive Mill olive oil, which was featured in the April issue of O Magazine as one of their favorite new ice creams.

Durant Vineyards Estate Wines will be available for purchase by the bottle or glass.

Tickets are $35 per person or $30 for Red Ridge club members. Reservations are required and can be made by calling (503) 864-8502.

On the menu:


Blistered Padrón Peppers with Oregon Olive Mill Arbequina Olive Oil and Sea Salt

Heirloom Tomato Tarta with Moroccan Olives, Basil, and Manchego

Lamb Meatballs in Romesco


Crown Royale Paella: Rabbit, Mussels, Clams, Prawns, Chorizo, Saffron, Piquillo Peppers, and Sofrito

Verdura Paella: Artichoke Hearts, Sweet Peppers, Foraged Mushrooms, Green Beans, Saffron, Garrafón Beans, Sofrito, and Fresh Herbs

Vino (Durant Vineyards Estate Wines)

2011 Pinot Gris $6/ glass $18/ bottle

2010 Chardonnay $7/ glass $25/ bottle

2009 Pinot Noir $9/ glass $28-$35/bottle

El Postre (Dessert)

Salt & Straw’s Arbequina Olive Oil Ice Cream: As the ice cream melts and the rich and spicy Arbequina Olive Oil settles on the palate, the spiciness of the oil, sweetness of the cream and faint hints of salt all contribute to a complex flavor experience.


Dish of the Day: Shuckers Whole Roasted Dungeness Crab

August 7, 2012

Every now and then I get a hankering for Dungeness crab. And one of my favorite places to indulge my craving is at Shuckers in The Fairmont Olympic Hotel in downtown Seattle.

I love the restaurant’s ambience, the kind of bustling, clubby sort of place place you’d want to claim as your own personal watering hole. Rather surprising to learn that the space–all beautifully carved oak paneling and pressed-tin ceiling–served as a haberdashery in the 1930s.

Shuckers is a good choice for just about any type of seafood–oysters on the half shell, the superlative Lusciously Loaded Louis Salad with shrimp or crab, daily-changing catches of the day that are simply, but perfectly, grilled. (Ruby trout and steelhead are two of our particular favorites).

But the Whole Roasted Dungeness Crab with Rosemary Potatoes and Grilled Asparagus truly stands apart from any other seafood dish in town.

The thing that sets this crab apart is the use of fresh sprigs of rosemary in the roasting process. It’s a truly brilliant use of this aromatic, pine-y herb that works a particular magic, making the crab more hearty and savory tasting than it usually is.

A bit of butter gives the dish richness, but not enough to overwhelm the crab. The dish usually comes beautifully roasted potatoes; since I’ve been trying to follow a low-carb diet lately, I asked for extra asparagus and was entirely sated (and even took half my and asparagus crab home for next-day nibbling).

Whole Roasted Dungeness Crab is a Fairmont Lifestyle Cuisine option–“dishes created using fresh and nutritionally balanced ingredients that are natural and organic so that they contribute to optimal health and wellness”–so you can feel good about eating it while you pick and pile the sweet crab nubbins.

For all of these reasons, Shuckers Whole Roasted Dungeness Crab more than merits our Dish of the Day.

Food Tours in Vancouver

August 3, 2012

There’s nothing like a good tour to get the travel juices flowing.

And food- and fine beverage-loving visitors to Vancouver have it better than ever, thanks to a plethora of tours that offer a “taste” of this glorious city.

Whether you prefer to tour and taste under the guidance of a professional chef or catch and cook your own meal, Vancouver’s diverse array of culinary tours offers something for everyone.

• Experience Vancouver’s world-renowned street-food scene on the Tour Guys’ Eat Your Cart Out Tour. Sample tasty bites like southern pulled pork barbecue, Japanese-inspired hot dogs, pan-Asian tapas and more. The two hour tour costs $35 per person (plus tax).

• Don your headset for Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts’ “Plugged In” Market Tour of Granville Island. Led by a chef-instructor, guests explore and taste what’s been grown, fished, and cooked fresh in this bustling public marketplace. Participants learn historical tidbits and recipe tips along the way. The 1.5-hour tour costs $40 per person (plus tax).

• Taste your way through Vancouver’s Chinatown neighborhood – the third largest in North America – with Edible Canada’s Chinatown Tour. During this two-hour tour, guests learn about the neighborhood’s rich history, while sampling authentic eats like barbeque meats, exotic fruits, teas, and baked goods. Tour costs $40 (plus tax). Add on a mouthwatering dim sum lunch for an additional $25 (plus tax).

• Thirsty? Explore Gastown’s explosive craft-beer scene on the Gastown Craft Beer ‘n Bites Tour, hosted by Vancouver Food Tour. Led by a passionate beer educator, the tour allows beer aficionados to enjoy tastings at four destinations – each offering a unique aspect of beer – along with tasty, hand-picked food pairings. The three-hour tour costs $75 (per person).

Swallow Tail Tours’ Catch and Cook Crab Tour is the perfect option for those who want to catch their own dinner. Led by a fishing guide and chef, guests learn how to catch and cook Dungeness crab and are rewarded afterward with a mouthwatering beachside lunch. The three-hour tour costs $139 (plus tax).

• Tantalize your taste buds on Taste Vancouver Food Tours’ Gastown Tour. Led by “Gassy Jack,” guests learn about the history and culture of this historic neighborhood while visiting 10 of Gassy’s favourite eateries. Highlights include lobster mac-and-cheese, West Coast crab cakes, pulled pork, and more. The two-hour tour costs $39 (plus tax).

• Taste your way through Vancouver’s diverse neighborhoods by bike with Cycle City Tours’ Food Tour. Highlights include tasty eats and historical tidbits in neighborhoods such as Granville Island, Yaletown, Chinatown, Gastown, and Coal Harbour. The four-hour tour costs $99 per person.

• Experience five of downtown Vancouver’s popular eateries with Vancouver Foodie Tours’ Guilty Pleasures Gourmet Tour. Led by a passionate foodie, the tour includes gourmet tastings accompanied by wine, beer, and sake pairings. The three-hour tour costs $69 (plus tax).