Welcome to the ‘Hood: Aragona Restaurant

January 20, 2014

Aragona rendering northwest wining and dining website link

Last summer, we got wind that Thoa’s Restaurant & Lounge would be pulling up stakes. One of several restaurants owned and operated by my friend and fellow Seattle Dame Thoa Nguyen, the restaurant was located in the base of our condominium building at First and Union for an impressive period–10 years.

We wondered who might take over the large space with a bar at the front, kitchen behind glass, and peekaboo views of Elliott Bay.

Soon, word leaked out that über-successful Seattle chef Jason Stratton, the genius behind northern Italian-leaning Cascina Spinasse and Artusi in Capitol Hill, was interested.

We saw the architect’s rendering (above) and learned the concept of the new space, named “Aragona,” would be regional Spanish food. Having studied in Madrid for four months while I was in college, and falling in love with both the people of that Iberian country and its cuisine, I was psyched!

Aragona jason stratton tour northwest wining and dining website link

We watched the construction, heard the whine of the saws and banging of the hammers, and even sniffed the glue and shellac when the workers laid the floors, so felt very invested in the latest iteration at First and Union.

A few weeks before opening, we enjoyed a hard-hat tour, with Chef Stratton pointing out artistic details and the many new facets to the restaurant. . .

Aragona female chef northwest wining and dining website link

And chatting up Aragona’s Chef de Cuisine, Carrie Mashaney, who previously served as chef de cuisine at Spinasse and gained wide acclaim last fall after appearing on Bravo’s “Top Chef.”

Aragona wine guy chris northwest wining and dining website link

Behind the wine table (pouring a dry Fino Sherry and Spanish wines from small producers), we recognized a former buddy from RN74–Master Sommelier Chris Tanghe.

Aragona jason kitchen northwest wining and dining website link

Stratton took us behind the scenes in the gorgeous new kitchen, completely outfitted with new equipment including a plancha (a flat-top grill widely used in Spain and Latin America to cook fish and shellfish).

Aragona column northwest wining and dining website link

This stunning column really spoke to me. . .a modern update of the many beautiful columns and pillars one sees everywhere in southern Spain. In a press release, it’s described as “the visual showpiece of the dining room. . .created by internationally recognized Seattle mosaic artist Kate Jessup.”

The column is surrounded by a central service table that will be used for decanting wine, carving ham, and dishing out paella-like rice dishes.

Aragona food northwest wining and dining website link

We enjoyed a variety of nibbles that afternoon including savory cookies and olives. . .

Aragona food northwest wining and dining website link

flatbread and nut-covered cheese balls.

Aragona group shot northwest wining and dining website link

Here’s an overview of the main dining room taken from the private dining room at the back and looking toward the bar (with the kitchen on the left).

Aragona logo northwest wining and dining website link

And here is the lovely logo that evokes the proud traditions of España.

Just a few weeks later, after many hours of overtime work by the construction workers and staff, the restaurant opened for business on December 9.

Aragona restaurant main dining room interior northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

We were lucky enough to be included in the Family and Friends dinner the evening before, and were blown away by the glamorous transformation of the interior, which manages to be contemporary, warm, and elegant while still nodding to restaurants in Spain. Here (above) is the main dining room.

Aragona bar area northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

The bar offers a separate, more small-plate menu and multiple wine-by-the glass options, which will be perfect for theater-goers and music lovers for pre-Benaroya-hall events.

Aragona restaurant jason stratton owner chef and carrey sous chef northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Here are Jason and Carrie looking relieved that their latest “baby” is finally open for business.

Aragona restaurant octopus cauliflower puree northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

We fought over the Grilled Octopus and Cauliflower Purée with its lovely charry notes and buttery richness.

Aragona restaurant dessert northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Although we didn’t have room for dessert, here’s a photo of one of several tempting options.

Rave reviews are already starting to stream in for Aragona. Please have a look at our friend and colleague Bethany Jean Clement’s complete, and very positive review from The Stranger’s January 15 issue.

Nicole Sprinkle, in The Seattle Weekly, also weighed in with a review in the January 21 issue, while Zach Geballe praised the impressive and inventive wine and Sherry offerings.

Architectural rendering and logo courtesy of Aragona.
Top eight photos by Braiden Rex-Johnson. Remaining photos courtesy of Aragona. 

Food and Beverage Trends for 2014

January 13, 2014

The Spontaneatini is a hot new cocktail at BOKA in downtown Seattle northwest wining and dining website link

Would you pay $55 for a cocktail that boasted five different flavors of infused ice cubes?

According to JWT, the world’s best-known marketing communications brand, infused ice cubes will become one of 2014′s top trends.

The company has just released its ninth annual forecast of key category trends that will drive or significantly impact consumer mindset and behavior in 2014.

Some topics of interest include:

Beer in Church: With church membership declining across the U.S., some churches are using beer as a focal point for gatherings, making the leap from communion wine to kegs. Some brew their own, while others hold services in pubs to attract curious bargoers. In addition to attracting newcomers, bringing beer to the church or the church to the bar can also build stronger relationships between congregants, improving retention. Examples include Beer & Hymns in Portland, Ore., The Pub Church in Boston, and Church-in-a-Pub in Fort Worth, Texas.

Cocktails on Tap: We’ve seen wine moving into taps, and now cocktails are being mixed and stored in kegs. It saves bartenders time and can lower the price tag for imbibers, who get the added bonus of being able to ask for sample tastes. With many cocktails, premixing doesn’t compromise quality—and may enhance it by enabling ingredients to mesh over time—though it only works well for some concoctions.

Orange Wine:  The result of using red-wine techniques with white-wine grapes, an ancient technique from the Caucasus region, orange wine offers the best of both worlds, according to its proponents. (The color isn’t exactly orange; it’s more in the range of light gold to amber.) While this wine will likely remain a niche product, we’ll be seeing it more often thanks to the efforts of vintners in Italy, France, California, and beyond.

Infused Ice Cubes: Taking cocktail culture to yet the next level, mixologists are starting to push the flavors of their concoctions with infused ice: cubes of different shapes and sizes that are made with juices, fruits, syrups, and herbs. They enhance the look of the beverage, and as they melt, rather than dilute the cocktail, the cubes add complementary flavors. They also up the cost. At Chicago’s Trump Hotel, for instance, the signature Opulence 5 includes five differently flavored ice cubes and can be had for $55; reportedly the taste changes completely by the last drop.

 

Tavolàta Sunday Feast: Wagyu Beef

January 1, 2014

Volunteer Park Cafe Beef Stew northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Want to start the New Year off with a unique dinner treat?

Then how about signing up for Tavolàta’s first Sunday Feast of 2014?

Chef Brian Clevenger has planned a robust meal of Wagyu beef for the first Sunday Feast of 2014 on January 5.

The meal begins with Beef Tartare and moves through three more preparations of the sumptuous beef.

Dinner is $90 per person and, as the Sunday Feasts often sell out, reservations are highly recommended.

So here’s the beef. . .it’s what’s for dinner!

First:

Beef  Tartare with white anchovy, radish, and champagne vinegar

Veal Consommé with baby turnips, carrots, and celeriac

Mixed Greens with chioggia beets, hazelnuts, and ricotta salata

Second:

Strozzapreti with beef cheeks, red wine, and oregano

Third:

Roasted Kobe Coullote Steak with wild mushroom, Brussels sprouts, and croutons

Fourth:

Bay Leaf Panna Cotta with winter fruit compote and orange tuile

I’ve written about Sunday Suppers for The Seattle Times Pacific Northwest magazine in an article entitled, “Family-Style Supper’s on at Seattle Restaurants.”

At Tavolàta’s Sunday Supper in January, dinner will be served family style at the communal table (tavolàta) where seating is limited to just 26 guests.

Dinner begins at 6:00 p.m., and the cost is $90 per person.

Reservations are required. Please call 206.838.8008 to reserve your spot.

And if (like me) beef isn’t our thing, here are other options for Sunday Feasts in 2014.

2014 Sunday Feasts – SAVE THE DATE!!!

February 9 – Roasted Duck

March 9 –Strictly Seafood

April 6 – Cuisine of the Mediterranean

May 4 – Suckling Pig

June 1 – Wild Mushrooms & Garden Vegetables (Vegetarian)

Enjoy Trapeze Acts This Week at The Pink Door

December 16, 2013

The pink door aerialist northwest wining and dining website link

Are you thinking of doing some holiday shopping downtown or at the Pike Place Market this week?

Want a truly unique place to enjoy a very special holiday lunch?

Then how about making a reservation at The Pink Door, 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., today (December 16) through Saturday, December 21?

Not only will you be able to enjoy Pink Door perennial favorites such as the Antipasti Plate or the Vegetarian Lasagne, but while lunching you can watch the PD’s holiday aerial show–a seasonal spectacle not to be missed!

The Pink Door will feature trapeze performances in the dining room to entertain and delight midday lunch guests, frenzied last-minute shoppers, and children of all ages.

While the highlight of the lunch hour may be the holiday performance overhead, The Pink Door also dazzles on the table.

The restaurant’s lunchtime panini party features five satisfying sandwiches priced from just $11 to $12. And while The Pink Door’s ciabatta bread is a favorite, gluten-free options are also available.

For dessert, don’t miss the luscious Butterscotch Budino (recipe below, generously shared by Pink Door “Padrona,” Jackie Roberts), which is back by popular demand. This incredibly rich and creamy Italian pudding–laced with Dewar’s Scotch!–is sure to satisfy and delight any sweet tooth.

You’ll discover The Pink Door at 1919 Post Alley behind, of course, a pink door!

The Pink Door's Butterscotch Budino northwest wining and dining website linkThe Pink Door Butterscotch Budino

Serves 6

Enjoy The Pink Door’s luscious Butterscotch Budino throughout the holidays for $7. Made in-house, with real Dewar’s Scotch and only the freshest ingredients, Butterscotch Budino is layered in a parfait glass with Chantilly cream and garnished with a Pizzelle crisp vanilla waffle cookie.

1/4 cup milk

3 cups heavy cream

6 oz Dark Moscavado Sugar (Or Dark Brown Sugar)

2 oz light brown sugar

1 oz cornstarch (by weight)

1/8 tbs. salt

Combine above ingredients in a heavy bottom sauce pot. Whisk well. On medium heat, slowly bring up to a boil. Boil briskly while whisking 5 minutes or until very thick. Turn off the heat.

Whisk together:

5 Egg yolks

1/8 cup milk

Temper hot pudding mix into the yolks and then back into the pudding.

Add:

1.5 oz. vanilla

1 oz. Top Shelf Scotch

3 oz butter, diced in 1/2 inch squares

Whisk vigorously for one minute or until the butter has melted.

Strain through a fine sieve.

Cool in an ice bath.

To serve, layer in a parfait or other glass with Chantilly cream. Serve well chilled with a vanilla cookie (Pizzelle).

Cook’s Note: While I haven’t had a chance to test this recipe in my home kitchen, I can attest to how wonderful the pudding tastes. It was our designated dessert a year or two back when my BFFs and I were at The Pink Door for a birthday celebration. Incredibly rich and satisfying, there were a few spoonfuls left, which I took home to a VERY appreciative husband.

Photos courtesy of The Pink Door.

Les Dames Online Culinary, Wine, and Travel Auction!

November 25, 2013

Victoria British Columbia Horse and Buggy Christmas Holiday photo

With holiday gift-giving much on everyone’s minds right now, may I suggest an easy way to get some incredible experiences for those you love by going to the Charity Buzz website and choosing an auction item or two?

By following this Charity Buzz website link, you’ll discover 13 unique and phenomenal auction packages, live now through December 10!

The packages were put together by Chapters of Les Dames d’Escoffier International (LDEI), a worldwide philanthropic society of professional women leaders in the fields of food, fine beverage, and hospitality.

Beginning in late October, I started my one-year term as Second Vice President of LDEI, so this organization is very near and dear to my heart.

So please take a moment to have a peek at the fantastic auction items for sale.

Packages include Four Tickets to the International Pinot Noir Celebration and a $100 Gift Certificate to the Joel Palmer House in the Willamette Valley (donated by my very own Seattle Chapter); a Three-Day Napa Wine Experience for Four at Cakebread Cellars (San Francisco Chapter), and Lunch with Carla Hall and Four VIP Tickets to “The Chew” in New York City (Washington, D.C. Chapter).

So please go to Charity Buzz and start bidding today!!!

Dish of the Day: BOKA Duck and Claret Cocktail

November 11, 2013

BOKA chef peter birk northwest wining and dining website

At a  press dinner last month to celebrate the new Fall menu at BOKA Kitchen + Bar in downtown Seattle’s Hotel 1000 (just a few blocks from our condo), executive chef Peter Birk (formerly with Ray’s Boathouse and McCormick & Schmick’s) wowed the crowd with many lovely courses.

BOKA duck breast northwest wining and dining website link

This is a lousy photo due to the ever-changing rainbow of colors glowing from the wall near our table, but among his best dishes that evening was Crispy Duck Breast with Black Tea Custard, Chanterelles, and Roasted Grapes.

BOKA tea-infused martini northwest wining and dining website link

It paired perfectly not only with a Matthews Cellars Claret, but with a Black Tea Martini with Matthews Claret Mousse created by BOKA’s new bar manager and chief mixologist Cory Duffy.

Cory, who also owns Rain City Spirits (“Seattle’s Craft Vodka”), is taking the BOKA bar menu in intriguing new directions with a carefully curated collection of handcrafted, culinary-inspired cocktails.

You’ll want to try Cory’s house-made tonic water (made with Pinot Gris!) that figures “big” in the House Made (Big) Gin & Tonic.

Cory, a self-avowed “big fan of punches,” wowed the crowd with his Dark Rum Punch. It’s made from roasted figs, orange peel, brandied cherries, Dark Rum, and VSOP Cognac, among other ingredients. Full of rich, spicy flavors, the media members at our table pronounced it, “Christmas in a glass.”

You’ll want to stop by BOKA for its upcoming seasonal events, which include chef Peter’s Thanksgiving Cooking Class on November 14, Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas dinner and three Holiday Hideout Pop-Up Boutiques in December.

BOKA chef peter birk northwest wining and dining website link

Here is chef Peter at evening’s end, relieved and proud after a job well done.

 

Free, Interactive eCookbook Available from Visit Seattle

November 4, 2013

Fresh from seattle ecookbook cover northwest wining and dining

Visit Seattle has launched a free interactive eCookbook that highlights a range of talented chefs and signature Pacific Northwest cuisine. “Fresh From Seattle” features 26 recipes from 12 noteworthy contributing local chefs, including award winners such as Tom Douglas, Maria Hines, and Thierry Rautureau.

The 92-page eCookbook is a rich compilation of recipes, cooking and storage tips, color photos, food history, chef bios, and more.

Fresh from seattle salmon northwest wining and dining

Seattle chefs contributed original recipes, as well as personal restaurant favorites, that are designed to pique the culinary curiosity of the inspired home chef. In addition to Seattle celebrity chefs, the cookbook also features acclaimed hotel chefs.

Fresh From Seattle is available here, where it is downloadable as a PDF or you can link to Apple iTunes App Store for download. Both options are free of charge.

“Between Seattle’s creative chefs and welcoming hospitality community, we formed the perfect marriage for this project,” said Ali Daniels, Vice President, Marketing, Visit Seattle. “We are a city of gourmands, constantly exploring and finding new ways to share the inspired culinary offerings of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle’s vibrant food culture just has to be shared, and ‘Fresh From Seattle’ does just that.”

Fresh from seattle ecookbook crab cakes northwest wining and dining

“Fresh From Seattle” eCookbook contributing chefs and recipes:

Thierry Rautureau – Luc and Loulay

Northwest Wild Mushroom Salad, Toasted Hazelnut, Aged Balsamic Vinegar

Neah Bay Wild Coho Salmon with Moroccan Olive Tapenade

Skagit Valley Savory Strawberry & Red Wine Soup

Tom Douglas – Tom Douglas Restaurant Group

Tom’s Tasty Sashimi Tuna Salad with Green Onion Pancakes

Peak of the Season Crisp with Brown Sugar Oats

Etta’s Rub with Love Salmon with Grilled Shiitake Relish

Dungeness Crab Cakes

Maria Hines – Tilth, Agrodolce, Golden Beetle

Skagit River Ranch Wagyu Beef Tartare with Dijon and Grilled Romaine

Loki Fishing Vessel Seared Sockeye Salmon with Sweet Corn Salsa

Oxbow Farm Mixed Summer Squash Salad with Parmesan, Hazelnuts and Truffle Vinaigrette

Daisley Gordon – Marche, Café Campagne

Warm Potato & Salmon Roe Salad

Marché Mackerel

Pernod Mussels

Salad Marché

Sarah Lorenzen – Andaluca

Chorizo and Clam Fettuccini

Pavlova with Lemon Cream and Fresh Berries

Gavin Stephenson – The Georgian

Rooftop Honey-Smoked Salmon

The Georgian Black and White Chocolate Soufflé

Kerry Sear – ART Restaurant

Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Salad

Grass-Baked Chicken

Sean Pals – Brella’s Restaurant & Lounge

Grilled Peach Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette

Thomas Horner – Hook & Plow

Razor Clam, Local Sausage, White Bean & Kale Stew

Peter Birk – BOKA restaurant + bar

Roasted Quail with Bluebird Grain Farms Farro

Preston Hagan – Jimmy’s on First

Jimmy’s Bloody Bakon Martini

Chris Lobkovich – Bookstore Bar & Café

Fiddlehead Fern Salad

Dames Auction Offers Up Dessert “Dash,” Signature Cocktails, Amazing Cuisine, and More!

October 28, 2013

Les Dames, Seattle Chapter 2010 Italian Ceramics Fundraiser

Readers of my Northwest Notes blog and the Northwest Wining and Dining website love great food, wine, cocktails, and travel–in short–the storied “good life!”

And one sure way to enjoy an evening of the “good life” is to attend the upcoming Les Dames d’Escoffier, Seattle Chapter’s  biennial fundraiser entitled, “There is Nothing Like a Dame.”

I’ve been a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier, Seattle Chapter (LDES) since 2004, serving in many positions including President, Vice President, Secretary, and International Liaison, my current role.

Our chapter’s 70 members include such food- and wine-industry luminaries as Renee Erickson (Boat Street Café, The Whale Wins, The Oyster and the Carpenter, Barnacle, the Narwhal oyster truck, and Boat Street Pickles), Fran Bigelow (Fran’s Chocolates), and Kay Simon (Chinook Wines).

In 2012, I stepped onto the International Board, serving as Chapter Board Liaison. Later on this month, I will become the organization’s Second Vice President!

So you can bet that LDES’s auction/fundraiser is an event for a cause VERY near and dear to my heart.

This year, the popular, 200-seat auction will take place on Tuesday, November 12, 2013, at the Women’s University Club (Sixth Avenue and Spring Street) in downtown Seattle. Doors open at 5:00 for the silent auction; dinner starts at 7 p.m.

“There is Nothing Like a Dame” will feature our chapter’s signature Dessert Dash, when guests bid on their favorite desserts created by LDES members, and then race to claim them. This year’s 20 offerings include Flower-Power Cake (Dame Sue McCown), Dark-Chocolate “Royal” Ruffle Cake (Dame Lisa Dupar), and New York Bye and Bye Cheesecake (Dame Rose Ann Finkel).

Dame Kathy Casey of Kathy Casey Food Studios—Liquid Kitchen fame will once again serve as Master of Ceremonies. And, for the fifth time in a row, Kathy has designed a special cocktail in keeping with the theme of the event—South Seas Sparkling Punch.

The menu also tempts, with Sushi Rolls provided by Dame Thoa Nguyen of Chinoise Café; Salumi Artisan-Cured Meats courtesy of Dame Gina Batali; Salade Verte with Mustard & Hazelnut Vinaigrette provided by Dame Joanne Herron of Le Pichet and Café Presse; and Braised Wagyu Beef Cheeks with Celeriac Crema & Pomegranate from Dame Holly Smith of Café Juanita. Dames Leslie Mackie, founder/co-owner of Macrina Bakery & Café, and Kristi Drake, co-owner of Le Panier Boulangerie Francaise, will supply the evening’s artisan rustic breads.

Auction items include an overnight stay at the five-star Four Seasons Hotel Seattle and dinner for two at ART Restaurant & Lounge; dinner and wine for six people at ARAGONA restaurant, the latest creation by über Seattle chef Jason Stratton; and Willis Hall wine tasting in your home for 10 lucky people!

John bell willis hall photo northwest wining and dining website link

Speaking of Willis Hall and its super-talented founder/owner/winemaker John Bell (above), Spencer and I purchased a similar auction package at an American Institute of Wine & Food (AIWF) event and enjoyed a tasting with John and two other couples last month during my birthday weekend.

John bell willis hall winemaker group photo northwest wining and dining website

The photo above shows John “holding court,” as he likes to call it, explaining his philosophy of making “Old-World wines with New-World grapes.”

John bell willis hall wines photo

John makes all sorts of wine (including dessert wines such as Razzmatazz, a luscious, not-too-sweet raspberry wine that pairs perfectly with dark chocolate) but he specializes in Merlot (his favorite grape and what he feels is Washington State’s best varietal).

Among our favorites that day (an entire mixed case of which made its way home with us!)? John’s 2002 Syrah, Willis Hall 2005 Merlot, and Willis Hall 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon.

The chance to buy unique auction lots such as tastings with winemakers; dinners prepared by LDES members; and travel opportunities, such as a romantic San Juan-Island getaway for two people on a private yacht, with lodging and dinner in Friday Harbor, make the LDES biennial auction a not-to-be-missed experience!

Monies raised through the Dessert Dash, Silent and Live Auctions, Raise-the-Baguette direct-donation of funds, and the Cork Pull will be used to fund scholarship endowments for women, Green Tables grants, community-outreach programs, and sustainable-agriculture projects. All of LDES’s efforts are based in Washington State. To date, the organization has raised $482,000 toward these efforts.

Tickets, which cost $125 per person, are available on the LDES website.

 

October Events at the Pike Place Market

October 14, 2013

Arcade lights pike place market logo northwest wining and dining website

Friday, October 18, marks one of the Pike Place Market’s most fun events of fall–Arcade Lights.

Seven p.m. to 10 p.m. that evening is the time to join your fellow foodies, locavores, beer lovers, and wine enthusiasts in the Market’s historic Arcade to taste handcrafted savory and sweet bites, handcrafted beer, local wine, and nonalcoholic drinks by more than 60 local artisan food and drink purveyors. Adults (over 21 years of age) only, please!

This after-hours event, which benefits all the good works of the Pike Place Market Foundation, provides the perfect setting in which to taste the latest creations of Seattle’s famously innovative food and drink purveyors.

The Pike Place Market Foundation, a non-profit organization supporting the following human service agencies at the Pike Place Market: Pike Market Child Care and Preschool, Pike Market Medical Clinic, Pike Market Senior Center and Downtown Food Bank

More than 60 local food and drink artisans will be showcased at Arcade Lights, including Drummin’ Up Wontons, Mt. Townsend Creamery, Ellenos Real Greek Yogurt, Sweet Iron Waffles, Whidbey Island Ice Cream Company, Finnriver Farm and Cidery, Naked City Brewery, Naches Heights Winery, Patterson Cellars, and more.

Pair your favorite must-have tastes with a glass of seasonal ale, Washington wine, or bubbly fruit soda in what has become known as the ultimate tasting event of the season!

Advance tickets, which cost $28, allow advance ticket holders to enter the event at 6:30 p.m. Day-of tickets are limited, and cost $35.

Ticket price includes 10 tokens, a tasting glass, and a cloth napkin. Additional tokens can be purchased at the event entrances.

Market pumpkins northwest wining and dining website

A more family-friendly event takes place on Saturday, October 26, when the Market offers up a Halloween celebration presented by the community’s very own Orange Dracula.

Kids and parents can snap photos with friendly witches, explore a spooky kiddie haunted house, and find the perfect carving pumpkin.

Pets in costume can join in the fun too! Trick or treat through the crafts market and participating Market businesses.

The fun begins under the Public Market clock and continues to Orange Dracula, which has Halloween decorations, costume,s and a Dracula pinball machine. Orange Dracula is located on the third lower level of the Market.

So, all in all, October is shaping up to be a VERY fun time in Seattle’s venerable Pike Place Market.

Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival October 11-13

October 7, 2013

Dungeness Crab Festival

It’s that time of year again. . .time for the 12th Annual Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival, which takes place from Friday to Sunday, October 11 to 13, 2013, in Port Angeles, Washington.

“Crabfest is the annual celebration of our region’s diverse bounty, the seafood, agriculture and maritime traditions, and the breathtaking coastal environment that is home to the Dungeness crab,” says festival producing director Scott Nagel. “The event will once again take place downtown at the Port Angeles City Pier, Gateway Center, and Red Lion Hotel overlooking the beautiful Strait of Juan de Fuca and Victoria, British Columbia.”

A nationally renowned event, the Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival was named one of the Top 100 Events in North America by the American Bus Association in 2011. Coastal Living Magazine designated it one of the Top 10 Coastal Events in 2012. The festival will also be featured in an upcoming issue of national food magazine, Saveur.

This year festival organizers are honored to host the return visit of our friend and colleague Graham Kerr, whom we’ve written about in The Seattle Times. Graham was the first television chef, known as the “Galloping Gourmet,” working with his wife and producer, Treena.

Graham will prepare his favorite crab cakes, talk about his world view of food, and have books on hand for sale and signing. Additionally, he will serve as the celebrity judge of the festival’s first-annual chowder-making competition, the Captain Joseph House Chowder Cook-off, to be held Sunday afternoon. The public will not only have several opportunities to connect with Graham, but will participate in the tasting and rating of the amateur and professional chowder cooks.

Festival hours are Friday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is FREE and the big-top tent provides covered seating.

There are several ways to get to Port Angeles: Drive route 101 to Port Angeles; fly Kenmore Air Express with connections to SeaTac and the world; and visitors from Canada will find special packages on the Coho Ferry from Victoria, which docks right next to the Festival!

For more information including transportation, accommodations, directions and the detailed program, please go to the Festival website.

Other Festival Highlights:

In the 9,000-square-foot Kitsap Bank Crab Central food tent, visitors will find an old-fashioned “crab feed,” complete with large kettles of fresh whole crabs ready to be enjoyed with fresh corn and cole slaw. The crabs are caught live locally – the freshest you can get!

At Crab Central and throughout the grounds, 15 local and regional restaurants will provide visitors with many delicious seafood dishes including crab cakes, grilled wild salmon, fish tacos, crab enchiladas, crab Rangoon, clam chowder, crab bisque, seafood gumbo, Northwest paella, fish ‘n’ chips, barbecued oysters, steamed clams, oyster stew, mussels, grilled scallops, and more. New this year is the Taylor Shellfish Farms Raw Oyster Bar!

In addition, there will be live music, Olympic-Peninsula wines for tasting, Northwest microbrews, and the Peninsula’s own Bedford Sodas.

But that’s not all! More than 80 booths will be featured on the city pier including juried crafts, merchants, nonprofit environmental organizations, and festival sponsors.

And The Columbia Bank Gateway Center will be home to the Chef Demonstration Stage, featuring ongoing cooking demonstrations by Graham Kerr and outstanding local and regional chefs, as well as a wine garden, food, and exhibits.

The Crab Revival will take place on Sunday morning from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The program includes a non-denominational service directed by Michael Rivers, gospel music from the Peninsula Men’s Gospel Singers, and other local musicians.

On Sunday afternoon all are invited to Crabfest’s first annual chowder cook-off sponsored by the Captain Joseph House Foundation, which provides respite and healing for families of our fallen warriors. All proceeds will go the House. Visitors can taste chowders from both amateur and professional cooks, and then vote for their favorite! The more tickets visitors buy, the more chowder they get and the more votes they can enter.

“Get crabbing” during the First Federal and Wilder Auto Grab-A-Crab Tank Derby, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Located on the city pier, the entire family can participate in this unorthodox derby by crabbing from large holding tanks using crab snares and bait. The $5 entry fee allows participants to crab for 10 minutes, no license or gear needed. Festival volunteers will be on hand to demonstrate how to catch, cook and clean the famous crustaceans. Purchase whole crabs to take home cooked or uncooked.

Stop by the Feiro Marina Life Center for a hands-on educational experience or to enjoy children’s activities.

The Peninsula College Athletic Department is a great Crabfest partner. Saturday and Sunday on Hollywood Beach is the Crabfest Sand Volleyball Tournament; Saturday is the Crabfest 5-K Fun Run/Walk with proceeds supporting the women’s basketball program. When visitors get their Crab Derby crabs cleaned and packed to go, the men’s basketball team does the work. And every night the soccer team cleans Crab Central.

Fresh cooked, chilled and cleaned crab will be available to take home throughout the festival (cooked crab can be taken to Canada).

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