Category Archives: Northwest character

A Great Get-Away: Portland

Much as I like to think I’m an organized person, inevitably there are trips when I realize too late something that I failed to pack. Usually remedying the problem just takes a trip to the drug store for some toothpaste, or relying on the room’s alarm clock rather than my favorite travel version. But last weekend when I unpacked at the hip and wonderful Hotel Modera in Portland, as I was hanging up the cute tops I’d brought for dinnertime outings, I realized a more significant omission: the pants I’d planned to wear them with. And no, the casual blue cords I wore on the train just wouldn’t cut it.

Off to Nordstrom we went, where I scored a great skirt that filled the bill, plus a couple sets of fun tights to go with it.

So despite the fact that I don’t seem to have born with that love-to-shop gene that many women have, I ended up doing some prime tax-free shopping while in town. The extent of shopping I do while in Portland is usually inspired by  the great spirits available. Previous trips it’s included Aviation gin or one of the amazing eaux de vie from Clear Creek Distillery. This trip was no different, I also picked up a bottle of Ransom Old Tom gin at a downtown liquor store.

Instead of the shopping, what’s been drawing me to Portland most in the past few years has been work-related events. Preparing for and attending the annual conference of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Teaching a class at In Good Taste. Doing a bit of promo for a cookbook, like my recent Gourmet Game Night event at Cafe Nell.

But last week’s trip was intentionally different. No work, all play. Finally a tourist in this city I so adore. At oh-dark-thirty the morning after Thanksgiving, my husband and I boarded the Amtrak Cascades train down to the Rose City. And we packed those couple days with great meals, meeting with friends, exploring the city in a relaxed fashion.

Little surprise that meals served as the foundation of our itinerary. Friday, after dropping our bags at the hotel, we walked across downtown to have lunch at Kenny & Zuke’s. I had once popped in here a couple of years ago, to pick up a bagel for the train trip home, but never sat down to try their famous housemade pastrami. Lunch was well worth the 30 minute wait, I tried the reuben made with that pastrami (instead of the traditional corned beef). It was outstanding, as was the simple potato salad alongside, light and flavorful, not drowning in mayo. Bob loved his PLT (pastrami-lettuce-tomato) sandwich, which showed off the pastrami even better.

Our post-lunch stroll took us through the Pearl District, where we found the Museum of Contemporary Craft, one of the new things I got to do on this visit. The small museum currently has a very cool exhibit featuring creative interpretations of “the book,” not to mention a really great gift shop with wonderful arty items. Our museum entry was gratis, thanks to the coupon in the Portland Perks booklet we were given when we checked into the hotel. There’s a special promotion going on now through December 20 at a couple dozen hotels in the area, with a 2-night stay you’re given the coupon book–to spur some of that tax-free shopping!–along with (believe it or not) a $50 bill to get you started. Details on the offer are here.

Dinner was a treat, a long-overdue trip back to Nostrana where Cathy Whims and David West have created a warm and welcoming room for enjoying comforting food that showcases Northwest ingredients with Italian sensibilities. Given that bounty of chanterelles the Northwest is experiencing this year, we tried the chanterelle trio: with farro and borlotti beans, in a leek sformato and baked with Scarmoza cheese in the wood-fired oven. All delicious. I recall in the pre-Nostrana days the degree of research and experimenting Cathy was doing to perfect her pizza prowess, so we couldn’t let pass a taste of her margherita pizza. I’d like to do that “Bewitched” wrinkle-wiggle of my nose to make one appear on my desk right now….. Outstanding grilled leg of lamb with tapenade and celery root gratin, scallops with rapini, a very delicate and rich lasagne verde, the entrees all shined. With little room left for dessert, we sated ourselves with the butterscotch budino (pudding) and a small scoop of vanilla gelato with Faith Willinger’s Tuscan chocolate sauce. Perfetto.

Saturday’s meals took us to Pok Pok for lunch and Paley’s Place for dinner. What’s not to love about Pok Pok? Aside from perhaps the chilly wait outside this time of year. But it made warming up at our table in near the bar that much more delightful. We skipped the beloved chicken wings, instead opting for some items new to me: muu sateh, Carlton Farms pork marinated in turmeric and coconut milk then grilled; the Northern Thai herbal salad; wide rice noodles with Chinese broccoli, pork and egg. So flavorful, bright, delicious. I’ve loved every meal I’ve had at Pok Pok.

Dinner was a little step back in time, I hadn’t been to Paley’s Place in ages, over ten years. I love the setting, the cozy house-turned restaurant on a quiet corner in the Northwest of Portland. Vitaly and Kim Paley have been taking great care of Portland diners for over 15 years, unstuffy and personable, focused on regional products cooked with a light hand, letting the ingredients shine. Carrot soup, local oysters, a sampler of charcuterie started off our meal with friends. I set with a classic for my main course, Paley’s rabbit ravioli served with chanterelles, bacon and butternut squash. Both husbands had the seared tuna, the fourth opted for beef tartare.

Oh, and carless in Portland? No troubles at all. We took a free MAX ride from the train station to the hotel, no more than 2 blocks to walk at either end. Dinner at Nostrana and lunch at Pok Pok made me think the Tri-Met system plans routes around the city’s top restaurants: no transfers needed from downtown and we landed no more than a block from either. (Major plug here for the Google Maps app I’ve got on my Blackberry, not only a great map tool but the “directions” option includes public transit, with reliable bus numbers and departure times…. LOVE IT!) The Portland Streetcar took us directly to the corner where Paley’s Place is found.

The only problem with this great weekend in Portland was that it was simply too short. But we’ll return before long to hit places we missed on this trip, like dinner at Country Cat, a stroll through the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry, cocktails at Beaker & Flask. And maybe some more of that shopping!!

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Filed under Northwest character, regional treats, travel

Salmon with Cardamom-Peach Chutney

I can tell by my watch that it’s salmon season! Well, okay. Not exactly by my watch. But by the fact that the harbinger of the seasonal openings–Copper River–has launched and that means that commercial openings begin peppering the region, bringing in freshly-caught wild salmon from throughout the Northwest. What a happy time of year! I have yet to have my first bite of Copper River’s 2010 vintage but surely it won’t be long now…..

Another timely salmon note is that a sandwich I helped create for Burgerville has just launched in all 39 of their restaurants this week. The Grilled Wild Coho Sandwich will be on menus until July 5 (or as long as supplies last), the simple and tasty item sandwiches herb-sprinkled and grilled coho fillet on a Kaiser bun with lemon aïoli and frisée. They tell me it’s already selling “gangbusters”!! Which is GREAT because proceeds from each sandwich go to support eat.think.grow, a program in Portland that’s working to establish an edible garden at every school in the city. No small task! But one that I’m thrilled to support. I met the founding director Linda Colwell at the IACP conference in Portland last month, we both attended the highly inspiring Urban Farm Mini-Symposium. So glad to have met her there and learned about eat.think.grow, just in time to be able to support them through Burgerville’s generous program. And Linda and I discovered we both went to La Varenne too! Small world.

So the third confirmation of salmon season came this morning by way of email from a fan! She said that one of her favorite recipes of mine is the Grilled Salmon with Cardamom-Peach Chutney and she’s misplaced the recipe. And with salmon season upon us, wondered if I couldn’t share a copy of the recipe with her so she could recreate it a few more times this summer. Not only will I do that, but I’ll go ahead and share it with all of you! Hope you like it. And if you might be in the mood for grilling a whole salmon, here’s a post I did last year on that subject.

I seem to have a thing for chutney. At a book signing recently for my latest book, Gourmet Game Night, the folks at Metropolitan Markets had whipped up the Aged Cheddar with Dried Cherry-Almond Chutney recipe to entice passers-by. Everyone loved that chutney! So much so that every other person asked where they could buy it. (Sorry, ma’am, I’m just a cookbook author; you’ll have to make it yourself. Though now that you mention it….) And in that book, too, I made a rhubarb chutney that goes with sliced pork tenderloin for a little open-faced sandwich.

So this recipe below only proves that I may be in something of a rut when it comes to falling back on chutney as a complement in many of my recipes. But what’s not to love? I’m usually not a fan of fruit or sweet things meshing with savory, but chutney (the way I like it at least) has such distinctive savory tones with spices and onion and vinegar, that I’ll forego my savory-fruit prejudices. This recipe doesn’t actually come from my Salmon cookbook, but instead my Stone Fruit book. In fact, I bet this preparation would be delicious with any of the stone fruits. Mmmmm, plum in particular. I may have to try that one myself here soon.

Grilled Salmon with Cardamom-Peach Chutney

(from Stone Fruit in the Northwest Homegrown Cookbook Series)

4 salmon steaks or fillet pieces, 6 to 8 ounces each

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Cardamom-Peach Chutney

14 green or white cardamom pods

1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 large ripe but firm peaches

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup finely chopped onion

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1/4 cup white vinegar

Pinch dried red pepper flakes

Salt

For the cardamom-peach chutney, combine 8 of the cardamom pods with the coriander seeds and cumin seeds in a small, dry skillet and toast them over medium heat until lightly browned and aromatic, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the spices to a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle and finely grind or crush them (the cardamom pods are flavorless and are perfectly okay in the spice blend). Set the spices aside. Peel and pit the peaches, then cut them into 1/2-inch pieces.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant and the onion is beginning to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle the spices over and stir to evenly coat the onion. Add the peaches with the vinegar, red pepper flakes, and remaining 6 cardamom pods.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the peaches are tender and the chutney is thick and aromatic, 25 to 30 minutes. Don’t stir the chutney so much that the peaches become a purée; the pieces should hold their shape somewhat. Season the chutney to taste with salt and set aside to cool. The chutney may be made a few days in advance and refrigerated, but let it come to room temperature before serving.

Preheat an outdoor grill.

Rub the salmon pieces with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Lightly brush the grill grate with oil, set the salmon on the grill (flesh-side down first, if using fillet pieces), and cook until just a touch of translucent pink remains in the center, about 3 to 4 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the fish (or longer, to suit your taste). Set the salmon on individual warmed plates, spoon some of the peach chutney alongside, and sprinkle the cilantro over all. Serve right away.

Makes 4 servings

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Filed under Cookbooks, Northwest character, regional treats, seasonal eats

Vancouver Island Trip: Part Two

Ok, so where was I? Ah yes, lounging in my Victoria hotel room on a lazy Saturday. This was the view at one point inVIharbor the morning, typically Victoria: incoming float plane and a Black Ball ferry heading in from Port Angeles. Outgoing whale-watching trip (that bright orange boat center)  and a tugboat on some mission or another. It was late morning by the time I was done with that previous post and I was powerful hungry. We quickly headed off for lunch. (Breakfast consisted of hotel room coffee and the few lingering ginger snaps in the car-snack-supplies bag.)

A quick stroll to circumnavigate the harbor, and we were down on a pier joining others at a very popular lunch spot, Red Fish Blue Fish. This place is all about sustainability, down to the converted shipping container in which the tiny, efficient, friendly restaurant is housed. Sunny, a bit of a breeze, it was a good day to visit the no-frills spot with its outdoor-only seating. You can grab a stool at the bar-type seating toward the back of the pier, but we opted for the squat backless chairs along the pier’s edge, one doubling nicely as a table for two. It was a severe temptation to over-order, but we honed selections down to include the Pacific Rim Chowder (fish, coconut milk, redfishcorn, garlic, hints of chipotle), a 1-piece salmon and chips (huge portion! their hand-cut, twice-fried chips are outstanding, as is the homemade tartar sauce) and spicy Pacific fish sloppy joe (small pieces of fish in a light sauce, with aïoli and lemon pickled onions). Notice the wood utensils offered, definitely no effort spared to keep the environmental footprint to a minimum. Can’t wait to return to try the tacones, barbecued oysters and other selections.

A nice stroll back to the hotel to retrieve the car and we were off for the day’s explorations. Never too early to consider gin, one of my favorite subjects (I’m a big believer in the idea that it’s 5:00 somewhere!). So our first stop was Victoria Spirits, makers of Victoria Gin. They’re located out on the Saanich Peninsula to the north of town (where you also find Butchart Gardens and Sydney, with its busy ferry docks from US and mainland Canada). The drive, once we got off Highway 17, was really lovely, winding through the trees, lots of lovely old homes along the way, sometimes opening up to a field where horses graze. At the end of many of the driveways, we saw tables laden with garden fruit, fresh-cut flowers, garlic,VIgin eggs — with honor-system prices noted. So charming!

Victoria Spirits‘ tasting room is housed on the Winchester Cellars property, a very pretty setting surrounded by trees and garden. Ken Winchester added the gin to the business’ portfolio last year, but he has moved on to new things. The new owners, Brian and Valerie Murray (with a fun-loving bunch of colleagues), carry on the gin tradition, also making a pinot noir eau de vie (loved it! smooth and flavorful). They’ll start work on whiskey later this year, though product won’t be debuted for at least a few years, since it will take an element of aging. And bitters are on the agenda as well! Will look forward to checking in with them again as the months go by.

After a couple judicious sips at Victoria Spirits (while my non-drinking hubby took in the garden surroundings), the next stop was Sea Cider. Just a bit further up the peninsula, almost an apple’s throw from the water, this is one lovely setting for whiling away a good hour of a lovely Saturday afternoon. It’s a new-construction building that looks to have been here for years, though the youthfulness of the apple orchard that spills down toward the water is a give-away that the property’s been in place for just a few years. VIsea2Those trees are able to produce, now, about 30% of the cider-making needs, the rest coming from other sources in British Columbia. Over the years, as the trees mature, the goal will be that Sea Cider will become an “estate” cidery, with all their apple needs coming from this property.

This isn’t a tasting room, per se, where you belly up to the bar and sip little samples of selected products. Instead, the scenario is table-service. Of course, as a first-time visitor looking to take it all in, I couldn’t not order “the long flight,” a generous pour of all nine ciders currently available. My favorites of the ciders were Kings & Spies (made with Kings and Northern Spies apples, brought a bottle home) and Pippins. For an afternoon nibble, we chose the platter for two, a delicious array of things to snack on, including locally made sausages, cured salmon, eggplant salad, and some Moonstruck cheese from Salt Spring Island. Such a pretty, enjoyable setting.VIfox Little surprise they were shooing customers out a bit early that afternoon to get ready for a wedding, a lovely spot to tie the knot.

Sunday morning, and I wanted to venture beyond the hotel for breakfast. A little sleuthing quickly turned up Blue Fox Cafe as a locals’ favorite at this hour of the day, confirmed by the front desk gal who helped us verify where it was on the map. It wasn’t too hard to find Blue Fox, thanks to the small group of folks clustered on the sidewalk in front. It’s a bustling, cozy, colorful little no-reservations place; and they don’t take names on a list, so you just hang out and wait your turn as a pretty regular stream of folks vacate their tables. Our wait was only about 20 minutes; when we left, after noon, the line was at least twice as long.

Bob opted for the lunch side of the menu, a great club sandwich with a generous and flavorful salad alongside.  Huevos Rancheros always jumps out at me from breakfast menus, I went with that for morning sustenance that day. Great staff, friendly and efficient. And they get major gold stars from me for brining a small pitcher of frothed hot milk when I simply asked for milk for my coffee. I can see why this is a Victoria favorite; we’ll surely return on another trip.

VIfeast1Our time on Vancouver Island was capped off in grand style with a Sunday  afternoon at Feast of Fields. I’d been hearing about this annual local-foods indulgence for a number of years, from my friend Mara Jernigan who helped found the event. The fundraiser–in its 12th year–is put on by FarmFolk/CityFolk each September, held on a different Island farm (this year was the only repeat, the event returned to Providence Farm where it had been held in 2003). Check out the cool wine-glass-friendly “plates” on sale for a mere $5: planks of local cedar. Brilliant. And aromatic!

It was one of those perfect mid-September Northwest days: sunny, blue skies, light breeze, warm. About thirty restaurants from various spots in the area were on tap, not to mention a few dozen or more wineries fromVIfeast2 throughout BC. And Victoria Spirits with their gin, some local breweries and a teamonger. No trouble sating ourself with (sometimes return visits for) late summer gazpacho with vodka-pickled Manila clams (Marina Restaurant); blackberry-walnut baklava (Providence Farm); local Red Fife wheat blinis with Cowichan Bay smoked duck (Fairburn Farm); grain fed beef burgers with ale-braised onions (Spinnaker’s Brewpub); pastry cones with wild mushrooms and smoked goats milk crème fraîche (Sooke Harbour House) and even lovely little mini gluten-free wedding cakes (VinCoco Patisserie). Man alive, it was a lovely afternoon of grazing on the farm. So pleased to finally make it to that celebrated event; I highly recommend trying to plan a mid-September trip to the Island to partake.

After the Feast, we settled in at Fairburn Farm for a last night of the trip. Powerhouse Mara was busy at the event for a couple more hours, we sat out on the big porch with another couple from Seattle, shooting the breeze, talking about life and travels and food. Dinner was simple and delicious, family-style pasta with a perfect bolognese-style sauce. And sleep was blissfully sound. Breakfast the next morning was temporarily interrupted by VIbuff2the chance to watch the farm’s herd of water buffalo parading from the field up to the milking barn. We walked up later to visit with some of the young’uns who are still housed in the barn until old enough to join the others. Before long, we were off, heading back to Nanaimo for the ferry trip back to the “real world” on the mainland.

This trip to Vancouver Island had been a long time in coming, more than a few years had slipped by since our last visit–and countless short-lived efforts to work it into the schedule. It was a full and wonderful time. We packed a lot into those five days, maybe a bit too much. For such a relaxing, unwind-inducing place, we didn’t do a whole lot of relaxing and unwinding. But next time. It won’t be five or six more year. And we’ve already got a list going of things to do that trip that didn’t fit into this itinerary.

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Smith Tea: Return of an Icon

Welcome back, Mr. Smith! I was wondering what had come of you…..

About this time last year I was working on a feature article for Horizon Airlines Magazine recounting the lives and times of Northwest tea companies. It’s a story impossible to tell without the name of Steven Smith coming up. The one-time manager of the first natural foods store in Portland went on to co-found two powerhouse tea companies: Stash (1972) and Tazo (1994).  He’d moved on from both businesses by the time I was doing research (Stash was sold in 1993; Starbucks purchased Tazo in 1999, but Smith stayed on until 2006), though  I read plenty of historical perspective on his work at Stash and Tazo and found a great radio interview online (the link for which seems to have died).  The best I could do in terms of learning where Smith was at that moment insmith1 time, however, was the speculation of “somewhere in the south of France” from one of the tea folks I spoke with.

So what appeared on my front porch this week but a small box from Portland announcing the return of Steven Smith to the world of Northwest tea, with a couple lovely boxes of tea to boot. Back home in Portland, he’s once again scouring the world for the very best tea resources and crafting wonderful blends.

Smith Teamaker represents a core mission of “developing a tea line where I can take people as close to the ingredients’ origin as possible,” Smith explains in the press release. Twelve signature teas launched the enterprise (though many more show on the Web site), each blended in small batches with careful attention to the exact provenance of individual teas incorporated in each blend. To the degree that inputting the batch number found on the bottom of the tea box into the “Batch No. Lookup” spot on the home page brings up specific details of that box’s components.

smith2Based on the panache of the packaging and the pedigree of the founder, I instinctively reached for the fine mesh tea strainer I was going to use to brew a sample cup. Loose-leaf is the purist’s path to a perfect cup of tea, right? (I’m saying that as a coffee drinker, mind you, as in “I think I heard that once…”) Surprised was I to find the teas in these boxes come in individually sealed sachets. I had to laugh when I read this clarification on the side of the box: “Our roomy, relaxed fit [!!] sachet encourages greater full leaf expansion to give you better flavor.” So apparently it’s the best of both worlds–loose leaf tea that just happens to be corralled in a tidy pouch of delicate mesh.

The Northwest is well blessed with outstanding tea purveyors (Remedy Teas, T, Barnes & Watson among them), not to mention a wealth of interesting, varied tea shops and salons in which to enjoy them. So did we need one more elegant, selective, high-end tea to now make those choices tougher? Well, perhaps not “need” exactly. But I do think the region surely benefits by having one of the industry’s gurus return to the fold, helping ensure the Northwest remains the envy of tea lovers everywhere.

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Summer Camp for Foodies

I always loved summer camp as a kid. For many summers my folks dropped me off at Camp Killoquah north of Everett for a week of canoeing, swimming, archery, making sand candles, singing camp songs. I can’t remember much about what I did last month, or the name of someone I met at a meeting last week, but I can remember those darn camp songs. Why is that?

The food? Well, not much sticks with me about the food. Aside from one delicious recollection. Some mornings we’d build a camp fire (we were Camp Fire girls, after all) and toast slices of bread on sticks held precariously over the flames. Then came the fun. A virtual smorgasbord of toppings we could add at will: peanut butter, jelly, chopped nuts, raisins, coconut, brown sugar, cinnamon sugar. Man, that was some amazing toast, I’ve thought about it more than a few times over the years. But never had the nerve to try recreating it. Maybe one of these days.

Short of going back to relive the bug bites and lumpy cots, the early reveille and KP duty — there’s a better option for us grown-ups to enjoy a taste of summer camp right here in Seattle. Make that a surprising, delicious taste of summer camp. Summer camp, done up Tom Douglas style. Which means your breakfast might just be a bowl of pho made by Eric Banh from Monsoon, as was the case on the morning I joined Summer Camp last year.

Some of last year’s highlights included making breads and pizza at Serious Pie, learning cake decorating techniques, wine tasting challenges, a demo with Armandino Batali from Salumi and an outing to Pike Place Market followed by cooking together in the Palace Kitchen. Oh, and loads of demos by local chefs, such as John Sundstrom from Lark and and Mark Fuller from Spring Hill.

It’s a busy week, five full days. But the pacing’s great, lots of different things going on throughout the day, great conversations and interactions, the guests clearly having a lot of fun together, and intently interested in the subject at hand: great food and beverage, shared in a convivial and engaging setting. Think about going back to camp this summer. It’ll definitely be delicious. Maybe I’ll share that toast recipe with Tom, for old time’s sake.

I can’t promise that there are still spots available, they go QUICK, many guests from previous years jump right on board again. But they have added a second week this year, so it’s possible! To find out more, check out this link on their web site.

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A New Treat at Theo

Like I needed one more decadent treat to have on my list of favorite vices…. But I found one anyway.

I had an errand to do at Theo Chocolates in Fremont yesterday (honest, I really did). While there, couldn’t help reliving a couple of my favorite bites from a previous trip. I’d picked out my PB&J, gianduja, cardamom caramel and lavender-jalapeno caramel to take home in a plain little brown paper theobig1bag.  Just about to pay and my eye spies two boxes of treats I hadn’t seen before:  Big Daddy confections that were introduced during the holiday 2008 season. The marshmallow version features a square of the white fluffy confection atop a layer of homemade graham cracker crust and rich caramel, the trio coated in both dark and milk chocolates. I’m not a big marshmallow fan, so I opted for the peanut butter version, with peanut butter praline where the marshmallow would be. There are three individual (generous) pieces in each package. Not individually sealed, however, so there’s a distinct risk that you might be compelled to eat more than one. Try theobig2to have friends around when you open the box, to avoid that temptation. I managed to stop at two. Just barely.

Oh, and for your earth-loving peace of mind, know that these Big Daddies are among the organic confections made by Theo. And Fair Trade as well.

The Big Daddy items are not in wide distribution right now, available only at their Fremont shop-and-chocolate-factory and online. Worth a visit, either way. What a delicious indulgence.

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Capturing Seattle, in words and photos

It’s a fun surprise when I hear a friend’s name mentioned as part of the “coming up next on KPLU we’ll be talking to….” teaser during my daily dose of NPR radio. This morning, that friend was Joel Rogers, a Seattle photographer and writer whose book Seattlewas released last year. It was a project long in the making, encompassing a lifetime of experience in, and visual impressions of, Seattle.

Not just architecture and ferries and Pike Place Market (though all are included, of course), this book highlights many more layers of Seattle’s character. WTO riots. The Torchlight Run that closes lanes of the Alaska Way Viaduct. The Gay Pride Parade. Swearing in of new citizens on July 4. Locals reading books while waiting in line for a movie during the Seattle International Film Festival.

There is plenty of personal reflection in Joel’s writing. I love the story about his grandfather, of Swedish-Finnish background, who “had his own idea of church–renting a skiff at Ray’s Boathouse [back when it really was a boat house] and communing with the salmon of Puget Sound.” Joel taught me something new about this city in writing that Seattle ranks second only to nearby Portland in major American cities that has the least number of church-goers. At least “church” in the traditional sense. Joel goes on to draft his conjuring of what might constitute Seattle’s own set of Ten Commandments, including “thou shalt garden with native species,” “thou shalt partake of local microbrew,” “thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s Subaru,” and–my favorite–“thou shalt love hiking in the rain,” which I do very much.

I always find it a bit odd to be on the receiving end of an interview rather than the one spitting out the questions. Joel contacted me while working on this book to get some perspectives on our Seattle-area cuisine. In his “The Northwest Table” essay in the book, I get to riff on one of my favorite subjects, what it is that constitutes “Northwest cuisine.”

While a Seattle coffee table sporting a Seattle picture book may seem a bit cliché (especially for non-conformist Seattle), this really is a book that locals will want to devour themselves, and have on hand to share with visitors. A view of the city through the compelling and studied lens of a native.

P.S. On a side note. A small grievance I just can’t contain any longer. A pet peeve that makes me crazy. It’s Pike Place Market. Not Pike Street. Not Pike’s Place. Just Pike Place Market. We walked by a parking garage downtown last night advertising that they served “Pike’s Place Market” customers. I vote for a law that fines Seattle businesses that can’t get the name of the city’s hallmark gathering place correct! OK, I feel better. Rant’s over.

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