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February 21, 2013 6:00 AM

New farmers market coming to Pioneer Square

Posted by Rebekah Denn

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Did you get the memo about the coming revitalization of Pioneer Square?

In addition to Matt Dillon's Bar Sajor, officially opening Thursday night, and the upcoming branch of Rainshadow Meats and the upcoming London Plane bakery/floral/grocery project, and the soul-satisfying new Il Corvo Pasta and (I could go on).... add on a summer farmers market, scheduled to start June 19.

It'll be run by the Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority, in the same model as its other "Express Markets" at City Hall Plaza and in South Lake Union. The market's scheduled to run 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesdays, through at least Sept. 25. The project came through a partnership with the Alliance for Pioneer Square, which was enthusiastic about a weekly market, said Emily Crawford, a Pike Place spokeswoman. It seemed like a promising bet: Last year's "farm fresh lunch" in Occidental Park was a popular success, and the two other satellite Pike Place markets have done well and are coming back this season as well.

"We're always looking for fun things to do that will activate Occidental Park in the summer... when it's so fabulous and marvelous to be in the park," said Leslie Smith, executive director of the Alliance for Pioneer Square, who began talking about ideas with the market staff after the impressive pop-up lunch.

"It's both for the people who work there and the people who live there, and I think it'll be a great addition to the neighborhood, and is in alignment with all the goals we work on for Pioneer Square."

File Occidental Park photo from The Seattle Times

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February 21, 2013 12:05 AM

What we know now about the next Top Chef

Posted by Rebekah Denn

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Women fared well on Wednesday night's first part of the two-part 'Top Chef Seattle' finale. When the winner of Last Chance Kitchen emerged to join finalists Brooke and Sheldon, there was a sense of wrongs being righted when Kristen strode back on stage. Here's our penultimate weekly roundup of the show's highlights and lowlights:

Passage of time: We learn that months have gone by since the previous episode. Sheldon has staged at a high-end restaurant to sharpen his skills. Brooke, who owns two restaurants with her husband -- her former sous chef -- has kept the businesses running and bemoans how paperwork and logistics have kept her farther than she'd like from the kitchen.

Adorable child quota: We see Sheldon with three darling young daughters, picnicking on the Hawaiian beach, compared with Brooke watching cutie son Hudson at play and dropping him off at school.

Seattle spotlights: For the fourth week in a row, we get bupkis. The finale is in L.A., following three weeks in Alaska. Sheldon did pick spot prawns to cook with, at least, although we don't know their origins. Can we imagine that Kristen's coconut curry chocolate dessert was an homage to the Theo coconut curry bar featured in an earlier episode? Can we at least get the Canlis brothers back?

The challenge: Echoing the season premiere, the contestants were told to cook a meal at judge Tom Colicchio's L.A. restaurant, Craft. "My customers are really demanding. They expect a lot. Please just don't screw this one up," said Colicchio, who psyched them all out by working as kitchen expeditor for the evening.

TMI award: "I am sweating in places I didn't know I could sweat," said Kristen, followed shortly after by the exclamation that "Tom expediting is frightening. I peed in my pants."

Game plan: Sheldon prepares quail for his main dish, wanting to go outside his comfort zone to show the judges "how much I've grown." Brooke is slow to plan her menu and get all her ducks -- braised short ribs, really -- in a row. Kristen's goal, starting out with a chestnut veloute and duck rillette, is that "I'm just going to go in cooking my a#$ off and win this thing."

The results: Sheldon's plan badly tanks. Everyone recognizes he is trying on a new style. No one likes it. "This is not Sheldon. This is another chef who put on Sheldon's hat. I want the old Sheldon," said judge Hugh Acheson. "He's been brainwashed. I don't know where he went," said judge Emeril Lagasse. Brooke's food was well-received, from her crispy veal shortbreads appetizer to her short ribs to a dessert of brown-butter cake, but she lost points for her failure to properly prep. Kristen's food won praise, except for her dessert, but she "played it a little safe," Colicchio said.

Packing knives and going home: Sheldon. I hated to see the nice guy go, but he's right that he's doing it "with my head held high."

What we know now about the next Top Chef: We know it'll be a well-qualified woman, which will be a pleasure to see after ten seasons and nine male winners. "Congratulations, lady," Kristen said to Brooke. "Congratulations to you," Brooke replied.

Drinking game: Before checking out this excellent article on the state of food TV, guess which Top Chef figures author Anthony Greenwald is referring to when he describes "that stoned and regal puma," "a Wookie in winter," and "a Renaissance master of kindly bemusement."

Taking any last bets on the winner?

Photo by David Moir/Bravo TV

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February 20, 2013 11:58 AM

Thaiku and its 'unforgettable' bar re-open on Phinney Ridge

Posted by Rebekah Denn

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After a year's hiatus, Thaiku and bar Fu Kun Wu are re-opening in a new location. The popular 10-year-old Ballard Thai restaurant (in yet an earlier incarnation it was the Fremont Noodle House) and its nationally celebrated, "unforgettable" apothecary bar, just re-opened on Phinney Ridge. They're in the building at 6705 Greenwood Ave. that once housed Gaspare's Italian restaurant. Check out the "Mai" (new) Thaiku for herb-infused cocktails and what they're calling "an even more authentic experience of Thai cuisine," including seven different kinds of green papaya salad. General manager Unchalee "O" Ayucharoen is still on the scene, and the owners remain the same.

Photo by Michael Matisse courtesy of Thaiku/Fu Kun Wu

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February 19, 2013 12:49 PM

Seattle chefs named James Beard semifinalists

Posted by Rebekah Denn

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Seattle-area chefs and restaurateurs won spots in several national categories of the James Beard awards, traditionally known as the Oscars of the food world.

Two Seattle restaurants are among the 29 in the running for Best New Restaurant -- Shanik in South Lake Union (a surprise pick to some), run by part of the same team behind Vij's in Vancouver, B.C., and The Whale Wins in Fremont, the third venture from Renee Erickson of Boat Street Cafe and The Walrus and the Carpenter. (I walked into The Whale Wins at 5:40 p.m. on Sunday and there was already an hour-long wait for a table -- and it really is that good. Don't miss the sardines on toast.)

In other national categories, Canon was named a semifinalist for Outstanding Bar Program, Maria Hines is in the running for Outstanding Chef, William Leaman of Bakery Nouveau is on the list for Outstanding Pastry Chef (this is a category where I often feel Seattle gets shorted), Canlis for Outstanding Restaurant, John Howie of Seastar and John Howie Steak for Outstanding Restaurateur, and Cafe Juanita in Kirkland for Outstanding Service. Three Washington chefs are contenders for Rising Star Chef of the year -- Chris Weber of the Herbfarm, Blaine Wetzel of The Willows Inn on Lummi Island, and one other talented guy whose name might be lesser-known for now -- Mark Bodinet of Copperleaf Restaurant at Cedarbrook Lodge, an unlikely farm-to-table oasis near SeaTac Airport.

Washington state chefs have 7 of the 20 spots for the Best Chef: Northwest category -- Oregon also has 7, with the remainder split between Montana (two), Idaho (two), Alaska (one) and Wyoming (one). The Washington candidates are Chris Ainsworth of Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen in Walla Walla, Renee Erickson of The Whale Wins, Jason Franey of Canlis, Nathan Lockwood of Altura, Ethan Stowell of Staple+Fancy, Jason Stratton of Spinasse, and Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi of Joule.

Finalists will be named March 18, and the awards will be given in May.

Photo of Meeru Dhalwala and diners at Shanik by Greg Gilbert/The Seattle Times

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February 14, 2013 4:44 PM

Seattle's most romantic restaurants?

Posted by Rebekah Denn

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Eating out on Valentine's Day? Wondering if you'll have company?

Facebook's number-crunchers say the most popular restaurant in Seattle for V-day romantics is Palisade, followed by The Metropolitan Grill and The Pink Door.

There are big caveats surrounding that data, of course -- the company looked at users who checked in at restaurants on Facebook last Feb. 14 using the words "Valentine's Day" or "V-Day," so you're only looking at (1) Facebook users (2) Facebook users who bother checking in when they're at restaurants, and (3) users who checked in using those specific words. Some restaurants offer incentives to diners who use social media as well, which could further skew the picture. But for what it is, it's still good to know if you're looking for last-minute reservations. (Popular Valentine's picks #4-10, by the way, were Benihana, Il Fornaio, AQUA by El Gaucho, Six Seven, Umi Sake House, Ruth's Chris, and Chandler's Crabhouse.)

I wondered how a similar check might work for users of Urbanspoon, which by nature has a seriously food-loving clientele. Looking at its list of 10 most romantic restaurants in Seattle as rated by its users, only one restaurant appeared on both lists -- The Pink Door, which won the top rating from Urbanspoon users. It was followed by Canlis, Wild Ginger (the Seattle branch), Terra Plata, Serious Pie's downtown location (really?! I love the pizza, but never thought of it as romantic), Matt's in the Market, Bookbindery, Joule, Ray's Boathouse, and Cafe Campagne.

By nature, the lists aren't apples to apples comparisons. Far more people would have rated Canlis, for instance, as a romantic restaurant than would actually have gone there on Valentine's Day. But it's still interesting information to have.

Are you going out, or did you go out, for Valentine's Day? I treat it like Mother's Day -- dining at home.

Ah, romance! Photo of The Pink Door dining room by candlelight courtesy of The Pink Door

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February 14, 2013 12:00 AM

A baby and lots of mush on 'Top Chef Seattle'

Posted by Rebekah Denn

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A lot of emotion came forward on Wednesday night's episode of the show that is still technically labeled 'Top Chef Seattle.' In the third straight episode set in Alaska, contestant Josh must compete while his wife is in labor far away, celeb judges prepare lunch and share inspiring words with the remaining three candidates, and chef Brooke's low-key cover is blown as former boss Roy Choi outs her as a kitchen prodigy who "blew up the scene" when they cooked together in L.A. Oh, and the contestants get to mush on sled dogs through the breathtaking Alaskan landscape. Here's our weekly roundup of the show's highlights and lowlights:

"I just want you to be here": Even those of us who never warmed to Josh felt bad for him as his tearful wife called him in distress in the middle of her labor pains. He still told Brooke and Sheldon that he didn't want to go home, though.

Pledge: After baby Georgia was born far away (and introduced via Skype), Josh was more determined than ever that he had to win - now, for his wife's sake. "I don't want any of that to be in vain."

The quickfire: A helicopter ride and then a dogsled ride before cooking for the crew at an iditarod training camp. Brooke not only conquered her claustrophobia, but won for her pan-roasted halibut with panzanella salad and red currant vinaigrette.

High point: The aerial views of glaciers and mountains were as breathtaking as the awed contestants said. Anyone watching would want to visit Alaska.

Low point: Wasn't this show called 'Top Chef Seattle?'

Elimination challenge: An unusually contemplative one, asking contestants to cook a meal from the time they first realized they wanted to become chefs. It was a tough one for Brooke, who said she grew up watching Julia Child instead of cartoons, and doesn't remember ever wanting to do anything else. Josh talked about bulking up for wrestling, sitting in a sauna on an exercise bike and reading about foie gras in Food and Wine. Sheldon said seeing Sam Choy cooking his native cuisine on TV "kind of validated what i wanted to do in life." (I bet some kid is watching him now and getting some inspiration too.) The meals were served in the governor's mansion, and the governor turned out to have rather strong opinions about food.

Clear winner: Brooke, who combined chicken and quail to represent her mother's teachings and her evolution to a polished chef. "This is Brooke on a plate," said Choi, who called her cunningly simple-looking dish "almost like an origami." Brooke, who had been underestimated early in the season, remarked politely after her win that "I'm not here to gloat." Then she giggled. "Although it feels good."

Unclear loser: The judges had an unusually long debate about whether to sack Sheldon for the salty broth on his otherwise perfectly prepared fish, or Josh for his ambitious stretch of trying to prepare a foie gras torchon without time for it to properly set. "You cannot make a foie gras torchon in one day," judge Tom Colicchio said. "This has nothing to do with how good a chef you are. You just can't do it."

Packing his knives: Josh was asked to go home. "I came here to be Top Chef. Anything short of that is a failure," he said. Mixed blessing: He doesn't actually get to go home to baby Georgia just yet, because he gets a shot at coming back to the game in Last Chance Kitchen.

Next week: Part one of a two-part finale. Judging from the preview, it looks like it's in L.A.

Photo by David Moir/Bravo TV

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February 13, 2013 11:08 AM

Where can humans find those 'dog-found truffles'?

Posted by Rebekah Denn

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Did you catch Hal Bernton's story in the Sunday Times on 'dog-found truffles,' learning how harvesters like Alana McGee use trained canines to sniff out the ripest, premium fungi? Here's a little bit more about where you might find them for your own fragrant dinner:

While McGee has several outlets in B.C., in our area she supplies The Cheesemonger's Table in Edmonds. "We just gave him a bunch of whites yesterday to see if anybody might want some for Valentine's Day," she said Wednesday morning as she headed out with her dog on a hunt for black truffles to supplement them. The truffles retail at $40 per ounce, said Cheesemonger's owner Strom Peterson.

"Even if I didn't sell them, I'd probably get some just for my own decadent truffle butter," he said.

Look for the truffles soon at La Buona Tavola at Pike Place Market, McGee said, but they're not there yet. She also sells to a Port Angeles-based wild foods distributor who supplies various Seattle restaurants in season. The folks at Seattle-based Marx Foods say most of their black Oregon truffles are dog-found, and they're currently selling online at $139 for four ounces.

If you go for a high-end splurge, The Herbfarm in Woodinville sources McGee's truffles, where they were recently featured in a "Menu for Truffle Treasure" in preparations like a Celery Root-White Truffle Tart with Apple & Shiso and a black truffle ice cream. Herbfarm co-owner Ron Zimmerman said in an email that that the 'dog-found' truffles are optimal because the dogs, unlike the human rakers, only search out ripe specimens.

"Part of the problem with our native truffles in the "early days" ('90s and '00s) was that many if not most of the truffles were not harvested at optimal ripeness. Since the truffle creates aromas that mimic mammalian pheromones, ingested, and have its spores spread, that great aroma is only in the ripe truffle.

"By the way, here in the Northwest, voles and flying squirrels are the historic transporters of truffle spores. They love to hunt them. Indeed, I can tell that I have truffles in my back yard by the vole scratchings around the base of the Douglas fir," he wrote. (Most of the original knowledge about Northwestern truffles, he notes, came from Eugene, Ore., home of the North American Truffling Society.)

Not sure if you'd like the taste of true truffles? Here's how McGee describes them: Black ones tend to be fruitier, while white truffles are earthier. But the overtones depend on where she and the dogs find them, with some patches of black truffles tasting of mango and pineapple and others more of vanilla; some whites with a garlicky tone and natural umami.

"We're finding it's an issue of terroir, much like you would find with grape varietals." Do dogs have a nose for those too?

Photo of Alana McGee and her truffle-hunting dog by Bettina Hansen/The Seattle Times

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February 13, 2013 6:00 AM

It's love and marshmallows for husband-wife team

Posted by Rebekah Denn

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It's sweet, how the marshmallow-makers got their start.

Their story began when Brian Freeman, now one half of Mallow Artisan Marshmallows, walked into a friend's birthday party.

"I thought he was kind of cute," Kyra Freeman said.

They talked all night, but she was 20 and he was 33, and he figured he was too old for anything more. But at a second chance meeting, "she actually asked me out," he said.

"I knew within two weeks of dating that this was the woman I wanted to marry, but I wanted to give her time. Everyone had always said, 'You'll just know.' I thought, 'Whatever -- you're just overly romantic or got really lucky -- but that's just what it was. I just knew."

They've been together now for nine years and married since 2010, a computer-aided drafter and printer (her) and a data analyst and former Navy man (him) with a talent for cooking and a wife who offhandedly mentioned one day that she wished she could find chocolate-covered marshmallows in the store year-round.

Money was tight when Kyra made that comment in 2011, and her birthday was three weeks away. Brian thought the perfect marshmallow would make a romantic gift. He got a recipe and started experimenting -- and experimenting some more, and some more, and some more.

"I'm a nerd, and a chemistry nerd. It was just endless obsession," he said.

She walked in their South Lake Union apartment on her birthday and he called her into the tiny kitchen. "Wow!" she exclaimed.

That's when they decided that fresh mallows, made without artificial ingredients or flavorings, were an entirely different species from the machine-made variety--which they describe as "sugar and lies."

"I said, 'Oh, we should take out cupcakes! They've plateaud!" Brian remembered. "It was completely tongue in cheek, but the analyst side got ahold of the idea. I thought, maybe this might actually be something."

Renting space in a Renton commercial kitchen and coming up with snazzy packaging and flavors, they set up a sideline business together. They went for creative combinations and homemade additions like butterscotch and caramel. Friends lent ideas and taste-tests until they'd developed specialties like "French toast" and "black forest cake" and a s'mores "s'mallow' with real graham cracker crumbs, toasted at their farmers market booth with a little butane torch. Their current pride is a marshmallow take on Bananas Foster.

"I really didn't expect to get it right the first time. I didn't take notes or measurements, and it was dead on the very first time. It took me seven iterations to get back to correct. We use fresh organic bananas in it, really a puree that's been caramelized," Brian said.

They set up a table at the Fremont Sunday market with prettily wrapped packages of their super-sized mallows. Companies and individuals started ordering from their online store (where the mallows start at $5 for a four-pack). Whole Foods in South Lake Union began carrying their line. Calling in family members, they made 6,000 mallows by hand for the Bite of Seattle, as well as working their full-time jobs.

It was an untenable workload, so, in January, Brian left his analyst job and became Mr. Mallow full-time.

"He was just running himself ragged," Kyra recalled. "He was going to his day job and working at the kitchen from 5 p.m. until 11, midnight, for weeks and weeks and months. He started doing that to the point where I actually had to tell him to stop and sleep."

Kyra, who still works full-time, heads to Renton after work when he needs her help with tasks like hand-cutting hundreds of plump powdered squares. On weekends, they make and sell marshmallows together.

It's a partnership all the way.

When she met him, after all, "I think for the most part, it was finally (finding) someone I could be around where I could be me, and who would push me forward a little bit in life, being encouraging, and just -- he gets me. I think I get him pretty good too," Kyra Freeman said.

For him, it was the same.

"You're one of the first people where I haven't felt like I had to put on a big show, that doing the best I could in real terms was the best thing I could do," he told her.

They won't be celebrating Valentine's Day Thursday, except to fill orders together for the couples who crave their sweets. Instead, at the end of February, they celebrate the day that they met.

Together she said, they leapt into the opportunity "to do something we're both passionate about."

Photo of Brian Freeman at work by Mark Harrison/The Seattle Times

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February 8, 2013 6:00 AM

Oh, boy! Local beef jerky wins taste test

Posted by Rebekah Denn

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Beef jerky from Kent-based Oberto Brands came out on top of a taste test in the March issue of Consumer Reports. It ranked #1 of the ten brands listed, beating out Costco and Target's store brands in the "very good" category.

"The best jerkies have a just-right chewy texture. Oh Boy Oberto Original is a tad spicy, with well-blended smoke, brown sugar, garlic, and fruit flavors," the article said.

Seven other brands won a "good" rating, with 7-11's at the top and Whole Foods and Trader Joe's at the bottom. The bottom two were "too soft and have an organ-meat or metallic note."

While it's not exactly good for you, beef jerky is at least low in fat, the tasters noted. But the tested brands were all "loaded with sodium," with Oberto's salting in at 410 milligrams of sodium per serving. That was less than Costco's Pacific Gold (520 mg) or Target's Market Pantry (540 mg), though the levels went as low as 270 mg per serving for the Whole Foods and Trader Joe's brands. Oberto ran $1.39 per serving, compared with 69 cents per serving for Costco's brand and $1.20 for Target's. Whole Foods, with an organic jerky, was the priciest overall of the tested brands, at $2.33 per serving.

Here's the complete writeup and ratings chart for beef jerkies and meat sticks.

New to town or not familiar with Oberto's local roots? While a lot has changed over the years, including a 2011 recipe shift, here's a story we did years back on the company's hardworking, delightfully quirky, family-centric history. The company plans to open a new factory in Tennessee mid-year.

File photo by Harley Soltes/The Seattle Times

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February 6, 2013 11:57 PM

'Top Chef Seattle' gets chum-my

Posted by Rebekah Denn

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Contestants on 'Top Chef Seattle' got their pick of salmon fresh from an Alaskan fishing boat on Wednesday night's episode. Faced with a silver-and-pink sea of about every possible variety (do all those salmon runs really overlap?) ukulele-playing chef Sheldon choose to cook with sockeye and chum.

"Why did you use chum?" asked judge Padma Lakshmi. "The locals use chum to feed the dogs." (Not all chum.)

Sheldon said the chum "seemed pretty cool to me." And his pea soup with salmon was cooked well enough to keep him going into next week's show, which will be the third one in a row set in Alaska. (At what point do we rename it 'Top Chef Northwest?') Here's our weekly roundup of highlights and lowlights:

The quickfire: Idyllic shots of Juneau scenery set the stage for a crab-shack cookoff using simple preparations of fresh Alaskan crab. Sheldon won with his creative miso soup using crab innards.

The reverse-carpetbagger: Fourteen episodes in, I should be accustomed to guest judges who have no connection to the season's theme, but I still wondered what Southern James Beard award-winning chef Sean Brock of Charleston, S.C., was doing up north. "Crab meat is such a treasured ingredient here," he told the contestants on the Juneau dock. There wasn't an Alaskan or (cough cough) Seattle James Beard award-winner to tell them that?

The ingredients and the absent dad: The chefs got some fine and appropriate ingredients this time -- salmon and sourdough, the latter involving tubs of a 30-year-old starter. A sourdough starter is "like a child," said Josh. "You just have to take care of it." This grates a little, as we hear throughout the episode how Josh's wife is about to go into labor back home with their own child, and he has chosen a reality TV show -- albeit a potentially career-making one -- over being home for the birth.

Elimination challenge: Preparing dishes with that salmon and sourdough for 300 Juneau locals at a salmon bake. The contestants are unusually -- dare we say it -- chummy; all seem to truly enjoy heading out to the boat to glory over and then gut the the super-fresh fish. All did relatively well with the challenge, so it came down to the details.

Winner: Brooke, for her delicately poached salmon in seafood broth with mustard seeds, serving dill sourdough on the side. The other three looked quite tense as her name was announced. Any of them could have reasonably hoped to win, so the 1/3 odds of elimination felt especially grim.

Noooooo! Lizzie, my own favorite, was sent home. While she was the only one to bake a beautiful crust on her sourdough, the judges thought her salmon sliders on little rolls were too tame and also too bready. She also admitted that she only tasted the individual components of the dish, not how everything worked together.

Seattle highlights: None. But if you need to see our city on food TV this week, watch these outtakes of Anthony Bourdain's "The Layover" season finale in Seattle, featuring lots of well-known and lesser-known great eats from Calf & Kid and Paseo to Rainier BBQ and Little Uncle and Rob Roy.


Photo by David Moir/Bravo TV

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February 6, 2013 6:00 AM

Winter tips for finding your favorite farmers market vendors

Posted by Rebekah Denn

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There's no way to replicate the sun-ripened peach, the heaps of heirloom tomatoes, the harvest-time feeling of strolling through the booths at the summer farmers markets.

But there is some hope for those missing their favorite vendors and even some of their favorite farmers. With a little diligence, beloved jams, sauces, meats, chocolates -- and even some fruits and vegetables -- can be found despite our generally fallow winter fields.

For instance, when it's warm outside, I stock up on my favorite smoky-sweet barbecue sauce from the Bluesman BBQ table at the Lake Forest Park farmers market, which runs May through October. But proprietor Mike Mallams now distributes his sauces to the Made In Washington stores, to Double DD Meats in Mountlake Terrace, to some Ace Hardware locations, and a handful of other retail outlets. Mallams, who makes the sauce from a recipe handed down from his dad, expects to be in more grocery stores later this year, though he still has a day job and is keeping the expansion "relatively small on purpose."

At Picnic, a specialty shop on Phinney Ridge, co-owners Jenny and Anson Klock's stock includes an ever-growing array of local market favorites, from Rachel's Ginger Beer and Bluebird Grain Farms to Holmquist Hazelnuts and McSweet pickles to Fishing Vessel St. Jude tuna. Specialty shops are generally good bets for finding local producers, though the Picnic proprietors have a closer connection to the markets than most: Popular jam-maker Rebecca Staffel of Deluxe Foods -- who produces flavors like Pear Cabernet and Blackberry Tarragon using local ingredients -- originally made her jams in the Picnic kitchen, and the shop still carries her jars. "Most of our relationships with vendors are just that, relationships -- friends, friends of friends, cooks we know working on a product line," Jenny Klock said.

Here are a few other ways to search out your favorite farmers-market flavors in the offseason:

Peach Pit: The Martin Family Orchards sign is a familiar sight under market tents, but now it's also prominently displayed at the Peach Pit Produce Market, 12230 Aurora Ave. N., which the Orondo-based orchard owners opened seven months ago. "All of our apples are still here, the Fuji's and Red Delicious. Our d'Anjou pears are still here," as well as produce from neighboring Eastern Washington farms, said the market's Michael Nelson. Being winter, plenty of the other produce comes from farther afield, but the market also sells cider pressed from its own apples, local products like CB's Nuts and Middle Fork Roasters coffee and -- an import from Kitsap County farmers markets -- small-batch Hummingbird Hill sodas. With three truck loading bays, Nelson said the shop's also a good home base for the orchard's sales to local Thriftway and Red Apple markets.

Home Delivery: Tiny's Organics and Full Circle Farm are both ubiquitous at area farmers markets -- but both also offer doorstep delivery. Wenatchee-based Tiny's, which supplies dried as well as fresh fruits, supplies produce either as one-time orders through Amazon Fresh, or through a weekly CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) delivery. Full Circle, with a 450-acre farm in Carnation, offers a weekly CSA box mixing its own harvest with that of small organic farmers as far south as California. Now, in the dead of winter, local produce makes up just 10-15 percent of its offerings, but this week's options still included Carnation-grown carrots and parsnips. Full Circle also allows subscribers to add on local groceries like Bluebird Farms grains and Link Lab sausages and Hot Cakes chocolate goodies.

Continue reading this post ...


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