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The Breadfarm

07-Oct-2013

 

Pumpkin Cupcake

 

Edison, Washington is a tiny town located in the Skagit Valley. It’s not on any major roadway and is easy to miss if you are not focused on looking for it. I guess with GPS it would be easier to find but years ago my first few attempts at getting to this place were thwarted by missed turns. Once you figure it out, it’s actually easy to find, so just have patience. Now, I make sure I swing through “town” anytime I’m within 20 miles.

The most recent census lists the population as 133. But of those 133 citizens a large number love food and share it with the rest of us. There are several places I like to stop when I’m in town, but the one that really draws me is Breadfarm. I make sure I arrive in town sometime after they open and well before they close.

 

Breadfarm

 

It’s always hard to decide exactly what to purchase. Sometimes I stock up and put a few things in the freezer when I get home but mostly I try to stick with what I can consume in just a few days. My favorite bread, one that I purchase every time, is the Sour Cherry Lemon Bread. But everything else is up for debate and I often take advantage of seasonal offerings. This time it was a pumpkin cupcake with a light ginger cream frosting and pepitas. It barely lasted long enough for me to take a couple of photos. One year I got lucky when friends brought me a Pan d’Oro, available only a short time during the winter holidays.

The seeded baguettes have a fragrant and interesting mix of seeds; the various shortbread and biscotti cookies are a perfect sweet treat; I’ve tried various pastries and always leave with a smile on my face.

I just noticed that they now sell some of their cookies through Etsy!

At the shop they only accept cash and checks – no credit or debit cards – so plan accordingly.

Breadfarm
5766 Cains Court
Edison, WA 98232
(About 15 miles north and a little west of Mt. Vernon)

BreadFarm on Urbanspoon

Assembly Hall Juice and Coffee

24-Sep-2013

 

Assembly Hall Latte

 

Located on the ground floor of the Via 6 apartments, Assembly Hall Juice and Coffee is a cozy and comfortable space.  A large fireplace divides the seating area and calls you to curl up in a nearby chair.  There are large tables for working groups or for sharing with other laptop toting patrons. Smaller tables surround the perimeter near the bookshelves, with cookbooks and magazines available for browsing. I found a new recipe from an older magazine while I was hanging out, enjoying my beverage.

The beverages and pastries are provided by Tom Douglas and company. The latte I had on the day I dropped by was good, if not great. That might have been at least partially due to the new barista manning the machine when I arrived. As I waited for my drink his mentor showed up anxiously offering help, which was declined but could have made a difference. It was too close to lunch for me to grab a snack but nearly everything that comes from the Tom Douglas bakery is a worthy nosh. They also offer close to a dozen breakfast plates, which sound very appealing.

Between Tanakasan, the Home Remedy store and this coffee shop I really am envious of those calling Via 6 home.

Update 29-Sep: Visited for breakfast this morning. I had tea this visit but my friend had a great coffee! And we both enjoyed our breakfasts – mine was a hand pie, she had the Tanaka family bacon fried rice. Nothing fancy just good food.

Assembly Hall Juice and Coffee
in Via 6
2121 6th Ave
Belltown
Seattle
206.812.8413

Assembly Hall Juice & Coffee on Urbanspoon

First Look: Bar Cantinetta

18-Sep-2013

 

Tagliolini

 

One of my favorite restaurants, Cantinetta, has opened another location and I’m very excited about it. Currently, there is a Cantinetta in Wallingford and Bellevue, and a pizzeria, Mercato Stellino, also in Bellevue. This newest place is a mini-version of the original Cantinettas and they are calling it Bar Cantinetta.

Located in Madison Valley, Bar Cantinetta is very cozy, as in petite. (The website does not yet show this new location.) There are several seats along the kitchen bar, a few along the beverage bar and then (maybe) ten tables round out the seating.

The menu is similar to a “big” Cantinetta but is limited. There are a handful of appetizers, three or four pasta options, and one main dish. However, like the other locations, I’m sure they’ll be changing the menu often so I doubt you’ll get tired of the menu. In fact, I would be happy enjoying the current menu if it never changed. One difference with this location is they will be open for lunch during the week and brunch on the weekends. Lunch and dinner will share a menu; the brunch menu will be rolling out in a week or two.

They’ve barely been open a week but we stopped in Sunday afternoon to check out the place.

 

Cheese-stuffed figs wrapped in speck

 

We started with a grilled octopus and chickpea dish which was okay but not my favorite. It was actually tasty but the server ruined it for me when she tried to explain the preparation. I’m going to let it go at that so that you have an opportunity for a different experience than we had. Our next dish, cheese-stuffed, fresh figs, wrapped in speck and served with lightly dressed arugula was delicious! Super rich though. Plan to share a plate.

We finished with handmade tagliolini, that had a creme fraische “sauce” and was finished with black pepper and a fresh, fresh, egg. Soul satisfying. Especially since we were dining while the thunder and lightning were rolling through Seattle.

I’m looking forward to going back. And back again.

Bar Cantinetta
2811 E Madison St
Madison Valley
Seattle
206.329.1501

Bar Cantinetta on Urbanspoon

Storyville Coffee

12-Sep-2013

 

Storyville Coffee

 

There’s a new coffee shop in town and I think it might just knock your socks off. Located in the former Chez Shea spot on the top floor of the Corner Market building at First & Pike, it’s a great spot to take a break from the hustle and bustle of Pike Place. Storyville Coffee has come to town and I’m guessing it will be a hit.

It’s a large spot, with handsome wood walls, cozy couches, an assortment of tables. The windows look out to the renowned, neon Pike Place Market sign and clock, and over the rooftop to the Puget Sound beyond. I was there early in the morning so it’s my memory tricking me into thinking the sun was streaming in – it couldn’t have been. But the large windows and subtle lighting gave me that impression.

Oddly enough, they only have one blend of coffee, although you can have it with or without caffeine. And, of course, all of your normal coffeehouse beverages are available. I tried tea the morning I was there but my friend said her latte was good. I would love it if they added teapots but you can’t have everything. Currently the menu is limited (they are in pre-opening mode) but what there is, is delicious. We tried the puff pastry filled with Black Forest ham and cheese, and a cinnamon roll. Both were light and flavorful – one savory, one sweet – but not too sweet.

As I mentioned they are in pre-opening mode. It’s an extended pre-opening and you can be invited to check them out, too. Go to storyville.com click around until you see “Request a Passport” or “Request an Early Invite”. Fill in your details and you’ll receive an invite. I think mine came the day after I requested it.

Open to the public October 1.

Storyville Coffee
94 Pike St #34 (top floor)
Pike Place Market
Seattle
206.780.5777

 
Storyville Coffee on Urbanspoon

Mixed Berry Crisp

02-Sep-2013

 

Mixed Berry Crisp

 

I stopped at Pike Place Market on Saturday to pick up fresh, local berries. The season is coming to an end so I’m taking full advantage of it while I can. The fruit is super ripe right now. I should have kept that in mind but my eyes were a little bigger than my stomach and once I had the berries home I was afraid they would go bad before I ate them all.

I didn’t want that to happen so I made a few cups into a Mixed Berry Crisp on Sunday morning and just pulled another one out of the oven.

I love making crisps. Really quick and easy to make – especially if you already have the topping made up, as I normally do. (It keeps great in the freezer.) You can use almost any sort of fruit and any amount of fruit. You just need to find the right size baking dish and use an appropriate amount of topping, which is really personal preference anyway. The one thing that may take a little practice, but is not the end of the world if you get it wrong, is judging if the fruit needs sugar and/or a thickening agent like flour or cornstarch. When using sugar I suggest you use a light hand, sprinkling just a little between layers of fruit. With a thickening agent you’ll just need to judge by the fruit you’re using and how juicy it is. You can always look up a pie recipe for the same sort of fruit and use it as a guideline.

Once you remove the crisp from the oven, let it cool at least a few minutes but really an hour or so is best. Eat it as is or, for an especially delicious treat top it with ice-cream or whipped cream.

Il Corvo

30-Aug-2013

 

Ruby Queen Corn, Sage and Conchiglini

 

I’m jealous of all of you who work downtown or in Pioneer Square. You can drop into Il Corvo for lunch any time you’d like! Located in a rather non-descript location, Il Corvo opens only for lunch Monday through Friday, at 11:00 am and closes at 3:00 pm. That means there are only 20 hours each week to enjoy the rustic, handmade pastas topped with market-inspired condiments.  Although you can purchase a bag of dried pasta to take home.

Il Corvo is Mike Easton’s labor of love. Running the kitchen with minimal help he cranks out three types of soul-satisfying, handmade pasta daily. Sauces range from traditional to fresh-from-the-market creations. You can substitute a couple of basic sauces if you’re not feeling adventurous. He also offers a short list of side dishes like focaccia bread and a charcuterie platter. While the daily options are limited the menu is expansive as the pasta and sauce combinations change every day. Menus are posted daily on their website – although they aren’t posted until very close to opening.

 

Bucatini with Cacio e Pepe

 

Wednesday we arrived at 11:00 placed our order and sat down to wait for our bowls of pasta to arrive. By 11:30 the line stretched from the order counter at the back of the store nearly to the door. The good news is with a limited menu, orders come out pretty quickly. And seating didn’t seem to be too much of an issue as many folks were taking their orders to go.

We shared generous bowls of Ruby Queen Corn, Sage and Conchiglini, and Bucatini with Cacio e Pepe. We didn’t fight over them but each of us kept watch to make sure we got our fair share!

If you are anywhere near 2nd and James during the week give yourself a treat and plan a lunch at Il Corvo.

Il Corvo
217 James St
Pioneer Square
Seattle
206.538.0999

Il Corvo on Urbanspoon

Rick Bayless and Tom Douglas

24-Aug-2013

 

Working the room

 

On Thursday I was invited to attend a luncheon hosted by Negra Modelo featuring Rick Bayless cooking with and pairing their beer with food. You are probably familiar with Rick from his Chicago restaurants; his cooking show, Mexico – One Plate at a Time; his cookbooks; the Frontera line of foods; or even his foundation. I follow and am a fan of Rick’s so I happily accepted the invitation.

He’s generally known as the American expert on creating authentic Mexican fare. In fact, he’s been awarded the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle, an award that honors foreigners for their contributions to Mexico and its people. I learned a couple of new things about Rick at this event. He started visiting Mexico when he was 14, loved the place and returned annually throughout his school years.  At some point he began cooking with locals to learn traditional Mexican techniques and flavors.  He still returns to the country at least once a year, studying different regions each trip. In fact, every summer he takes a group of his staff (this year it was about 35 people) with him so they can also experience the flavors and techniques of Mexico.

Rick was in town to promote Negra Modelo as an ingredient and kickoff a national Chef Challenge encouraging recipes that complement Negra Modelo, or maybe that should read, are complemented by Negra Modelo.

 
A crowded plate
 

Since this is Seattle, on Thursday Rick shared the stage with Tom Douglas, who has his own line of restaurants; a radio program; cookbooks; products and tools; and actively supports Food Lifeline, as well as other local causes.

Each of the chefs made a signature dish for us and TDoug’s team provided several other menu items for our lunch.

The constant banter between Tom and his friend and sidekick Thierry Rautureau (the Chef in the Hat), who emceed, made this enjoyable event even more fun.  Tom and Thierry are the Seattle version of Anthony Bourdain and Eric Rippert.  One classically trained to create beautiful palate pleasers, the other using experience and intuition to gain kitchen cred.  Successful in their own ways, yet recognizing the value of the other’s.  They approach nearly every situation with their own unique perspective and continually give each other a bad time about just about everything.  Add Rick Bayless to the mix and you have an entertaining hour of banter and debate.
Read more…

More Garden News

21-Aug-2013

 

Triplet

 

Last year I grew eggplant for the first time and wasn’t really successful. I planted late and we had a cooler than normal summer. My plants had tons of little baby eggplants but nothing grew big enough to harvest. This year not only are my plants loaded but I’ve already picked the first few fruits. I planted two varieties, Little Finger and Fairy Tale. Both are miniature Japanese style eggplants. The Little Finger are the solid purple and the Fairy Tale are variegated.

They both grow in groups of 4 to 6 fruits. As you can see three of them grew very close together! I used these to make a version of moussaka.

I’m not sure if I’ll grow them again. It turns out eggplant needs a lot of water and since I grew them in pots I sometimes water them twice a day. I like the idea of having them though, so maybe I’ll just need to reconsider my plan.

Tomatoes continue to ripen and peppers are in full swing, too. And the blueberries are going crazy. It’s a delicious time of year!

Summer Brunch Menu

17-Aug-2013

 

Matermelon & Mint Salad

 

In the last couple of posts I’ve alluded to a brunch I recently hosted. In case you’re interested here’s the full menu.

 

Buttermilk biscuits

 

Make the tomato soup and quinoa salad the day ahead.  The watermelon salad and the mixed berries with yogurt take just a few minutes to assemble.  The sausage could be oven-grilled making it easier to watch while you are working on something else.  The biscuits come together pretty quickly and can be baked a couple of hours before brunch.  And, as you’ll see in the soufflé post, you can even assemble the soufflés then hold them in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake them.  As you sit down to the table for the soup course pop them in the oven and they’ll be ready soon after you’ve cleared the soup bowls.  If you don’t plan to serve in courses, put them in the oven after the majority of your guests arrive.  You want them to finish so they go straight to the table from the oven.

Oh, a big bottle of rosé or Prosecco doesn’t hurt, either!

 

Mixed Berries & Yogurt

 

Fresh Tomato Soup

16-Aug-2013

 

Tomato Soup with Cucumber Panna Cotta

 

I’ve picked a few tomatoes over the last few weeks and now the balance has tipped and lots are ripening all at once. It’s that time of year when I switch from yearning for a juicy, sun-warmed tomato picked fresh from the vine to starting to tear my hair out figuring out how to use them all before fruit flies take over my kitchen! Yes, full-on tomato season has finally arrived at my house and I couldn’t be happier.

I have tons of ways that I use tomatoes but here’s a new (to me) idea. I made this soup for a brunch I hosted last weekend. It’s a cold soup and you only barely heat the tomatoes to get the juices to run freely so it retains that beautiful, fresh tomato flavor. Delicious, refreshing and perfect for a warm, August day.

The recipe is from Tom’s Big Dinners by Tom Douglas, one of my favorite cookbooks. In the photos you’ll notice a pale green “island” in the soup. It’s Cucumber Panna Cotta which is part of the recipe as presented in the cookbook. While the panna cotta is good, it didn’t really contrast well enough with the soup, for my taste. So I’m not going to include the recipe for it.  Back in 2009 Tom shared the soup recipe on CBS’ The Early Show.  At that time he simply served the soup with garlic toast and fresh ricotta. I think that’s a great idea and it’s what I’d do next time!

 

Fresh Tomato Soup

 

Chilled Tomato Soup with Basil Oil

Makes 8 first-course servings

Soup

  • 2-1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 pounds ripe tomatoes, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 peeled shallot, roughly chopped
  • 8 fresh basil leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.

Add the tomatoes, shallot, and basil and simmer, stirring, just until the tomatoes are warmed through and releasing their juice, about 2 to 3 minutes.   Remove from the heat, transfer the contents of the pan to the bowl of a food processor, and puree until smooth. (Note: I have an old Cuisinart DLC-8F, which was the original “medium” size. I believe it has an 11 cup bowl.  When I started processing the soup, some leaked out the top.  I’d probably divide the soup into two batches next time.)

Pour the puree through a fine sieve set over a bowl, pressing on the solids with a rubber spatula to get as much of the tomato through the sieve as possible. Discard the solids.

Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.  Allow the soup to cool to room temperature.

Basil Oil

  • 1/3 heaping cup roughly chopped basil leaves (lightly packed)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt

Combine the basil and olive oil in a blender and puree until smooth. (Or chop the basil in a mini-food processor and gradually add the oil while processing.)

Strain through a sieve, pressing on the solids with a rubber spatula to extract as much oil as possible.

Season to taste with salt.

To serve, divide the soup into 8 bowls, then drizzle with the basil oil.