ANY DAY NOW, one of those glossy food mags is going to latch on to the craze for eating local ingredients and do a nationwide investigation (read: stuff their faces from coast to coast) to determine which city has the best supply of regionally grown and produced goods. When we open up that glossy mag and see Seattle at the top of the list, none of us will be surprised. From gorgeous Hama Hama Hood Canal oysters to plump red Whatcom County raspberries and farmstead cheese made from just-milked cows in Carnation to tender veal raised on Vashon Island and ears and ears of sweet Yakima corn, we enjoy a true embarrassment of riches. And boy do we enjoy it. With some of the best kitchen-supply stores, a rich and diverse supply of imported ingredients, thriving farmers markets, and talented chefs and food gurus generous enough to share their knowledge, opportunities abound for augmenting our area’s bounty with world-sourced goodies to get the most out of every bite. Our Food Lover’s Guide was designed to showcase the beauty of local products and the genius of local purveyors. You’ll find out who slices the best house-cured bacon, and you’ll read about bakers from around the world. You’ll learn how retro this whole local-eating trend really is, and you’ll be seduced by images of uncommonly beautiful local and locally available goods. One warning: You’ll also become very, very hungry.
To Market, To Market
Farmers market specialties every day of the week
It’s official: You can’t afford not to shop at your weekly neighborhood fresh market. In May 2007, Seattle University professor Stacey Jones and her business statistics students compared the going price of 15 organic ingredients sold at the Broadway Farmers Market, QFC, and the Madison Market co-op. Their pound-for-pound analysis shows the better value is on the streets—not, as was widely assumed, in the grocery store aisles. And it’s still every bit as valid to support local farmers in the name of sustainability, local economics, community, and the greater good—they’re the number-one source of fresh food donations at local food banks. To help you save money and the world, we’ve lined up six days’ worth of stall-shopping opportunities (on Mondays you’ll have to hit Pike Place). The following are just a few of our area’s farmers markets.
WHAT TO KNOW Go hungry; this market has the best selection of prepared- and hot-food booths.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR Taylor Shellfish Farms’ “Oyster Bill,” who can tell you everything you need to know about selecting and preparing bivalves.
WHEN TO GO In the dead of winter for delicious surprises when Ballard is one of only two (U District is the other) markets going. Open 10 to 3 year-round. Market St near Ballard Ave
WHAT TO KNOW The neighborhood’s largely carless population packs this postage-stamp-size produce stand and gives Linda’s Tavern a run for its money as the Hill’s best spot to cruise for dates.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR Persian naan from a student of South Seattle Community College’s pastry program who calls herself the Gypsy Baker.
WHEN TO GO May 10–Dec 20 from 11 to 3. Behind the Bank of America at Broadway and E Thomas St
WHAT TO KNOW The over-the-bridge nabe truly feels like the busiest of small towns on market Sundays as shoppers shuttle between the stores on California Avenue and the stalls behind them.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR From Stoney Plain Organic Farm’s just-plucked potatoes to Sea Breeze Farm’s Vashon Island–fermented syrah—it’s all here.
WHEN TO GO From 10 to 2 year-round. Alaska Junction, California Ave and Oregon St
WHAT TO KNOW Crossroads indeed; with the already famous world-sourced food court inside the mall and the diverse crop of farmers selling in the stands, the area is becoming the Eastside’s International District.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR Asian greens from Carnation’s Hmong farmers.
WHEN TO GO June 17-Oct 28 from 3-7. Bellevue’s Crossroads Mall parking lot at 15600 NE Eighth St
WHAT TO KNOW It’s a small world after all; the farmers and shoppers at this market prove Seattle to be a diverse and vibrant city. As Amando Barzalo-Hidalgo, an Olympia-based sauce master puts it, “If the entire world were like the Columbia City farmers market, it would be a peaceful place.”
WHAT TO LOOK FOR Barzalo-Hidalgo’s Tierra Bonita garlic sauce—just be sure you’re ready for two days of solitude after you enjoy it.
WHEN TO GO April 29–Oct 21 from 3 to 7. 4801 Rainier Ave S
WHAT TO KNOW Thanks to a great selection of jams, jellies, sauces, and fresh-from-the-fields ingredients, this one-year-old trading post is quickly becoming a destination.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR Tangy honey mustard made in Renton by Sam McCanless of Zane & Zack’s World Famous Honey Company.
WHEN TO GO May 20–Sept 30 from 3 to 7. Wallingford Center parking lot at 1815 N 45th St
WHAT TO KNOW The fat heirloom tomatoes from Rich Ness’s Kittitas Valley Greenhouse are among the best in town.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR The Café Piccolo stand; the Maple Leaf family who runs it brings fantastic foccacia bread, rosemary lemonade, and gluten-free fettuccine and flatbread.
WHEN TO GO June 4–Oct 29 from 3 to 7. NE 127th St and 30th Ave NE
WHAT TO KNOW You’ll no longer find the Madison Street market near Mount Zion Baptist Church; it’s now just outside the Grocery Outlet’s massive parking lot.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR One hundred varieties of peppers from the Yakima Valley peddled in late summer by Alvarez Organic Farms.
WHEN TO GO May 15–Sept 28 from 3 to 7. Corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Way and E Union St
WHAT TO KNOW This is the ridge-top’s rookie year in the outdoor grocery game; watch for bases loaded with fresh figs, stone fruit, and root veggies.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR Thin-crust, wood-fired pizza from Veraci, a sort of mobile Little Italy.
WHEN TO GO May 29–October from 3 to 7. Phinney Neighborhood Center, 6532 Phinney Ave N
WHAT TO KNOW Nearby Des Moines Beach Park is the perfect place to spread your just-purchased picnic.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR Spelt breads, grain nuts, and pancake mixes from Lentz Spelt Farm and organic produce from all over the Puget Sound region.
WHEN TO GO June 6–Oct 21 from 10 to 2; also open Wednesdays from 4-7 starting July 22-Aug 19. Des Moines Marina, 22307 Dock Ave S
WHAT TO KNOW This year-round emporium has new summer neighbors; a nearby open-air food court offers vegan goodies from Chaco Canyon, fresh-from-stands veggie quesadillas, and more.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR Local chefs, because the best produce growers in the area gather at this central location on what is the busiest restaurant day of the week.
WHEN TO GO From 9 to 2 year-round. NE 50th St and University Way NE
An Apple a Day
Seven great Washington-grown varieties keep the doctor away.
JUST PICKED In September and October.
FIND THEM In tarts and baked goods.
ENJOY THEM BECAUSE This ultracrisp baking apple is a native species; it originated in the Wenatchee River Valley.
Cox’s Orange Pippin
JUST PICKED In mid-September.
FIND THEM At Little Wing’s Farm stand at the Columbia City farmers market.
ENJOY THEM BECAUSE This tart, green native of England makes the perfect apple cider. You could even call it orange juice.
JUST PICKED In late October.
FIND THEM In pies and sauce, and under the brand name Pink Lady.
ENJOY THEM BECAUSE The tangy-tart Cripps is the last apple of the season; when they’re gone, local apples are gone. A product of Australian breeding, these crunchy, sweet beauties are a cross between Golden Delicious and Lady Williams varieties.
JUST PICKED In October.
FIND THEM In salads and on cheese plates.
ENJOY THEM BECAUSE Washington’s cool late-fall temperatures are perfect for these crunchy, juicy Japanese natives.
JUST PICKED In September.
FIND THEM In an afternoon snack.
ENJOY THEM BECAUSE They start sweet and finish tart and are about as complex as apples get. Developed at the University of Minnesota about 20 years ago, the Honey Crisp has been enjoying a steady rise in popularity in the last few years.
JUST PICKED In September and October.
FIND THEM Just about everywhere.
ENJOY THEM BECAUSE The Red Delicious is Washington’s signature apple; since the 1920s we’ve been the world’s best bet for these sweet, crisp, red beauties.
JUST PICKED In September.
FIND THEM At the Anderson Acres stall in the West Seattle, U District, and Columbia City farmers markets.
ENJOY THEM BECAUSE They’re so darn sweet. Teachers have told the Andersons that this syrupy, rare variety is the only one students eat all the way through; diabetics have said they bake with them because they don’t need to add sugar.
Surf and Turf
Where to find specialty meat and seafood.
Many selections are Northwest-raised and natural at this neighborhood mainstay, but it’s the housemade bacon that’s the star. With a higher meat-to-fat ratio than most commercially produced varieties and a perfectly subtle yet strong smoke flavor, it’s our choice for best in the city. A & J Meats, 2401 Queen Anne Ave N, Queen Anne, 206-284-3885
We’ve heard you complain about the lack of good Mexican food in Seattle, and we’ve come up with a solution: Make your own! For tender, succulent carnitas—broiled pork shoulder braised in pork juices—this small south-end Mexican specialty shop can’t be beat. Carniceria El Paisano, 9629 15th Ave SW, White Center, 206-767-5526
Who says national chains don’t have heart? Well, okay, so Whole Foods is an exception to the rule. We love their fine-textured, robust, always-available free-range birds from Rosie Chicken in Petaluma, California. Whole Foods Markets, www.wholefoods.com
If you’ve driven through the lazy, rolling hills of the Skagit Valley, you know how the Vojkovich family’s organic Angus beef tastes. Their cattle spend their entire lives on those green fields, and the meat they yield is slightly sweet, slightly herby, and wonderfully tender. It’s freshest during harvest months, May through December, and can be purchased at the farm store, through Pioneer Organics home delivery, and at the University, Ballard, Columbia City, West Seattle, and Bellevue farmers markets. Skagit River Ranch, 28778 Utopia Rd, Sedro-Woolley, 360-856-0722, www.skagitriverranch.com
The go-to source for all culinary things Spanish and Portuguese offers no fewer than three varieties of jamón serrano—the sweet, salty equivalent of Italy’s prosciutto. Get it in thick slabs for cubing, in thin slices for snacking, or, by special order, still on the bone. The Spanish Table, 1426 Western Ave, Pike Place Market, 206-682-2827, www.thespanishtable.com
How Pino Rogano came from Calabria in Italy to a little blink-and-you’ll-miss-it storefront on Rainier Avenue we’ll never know, but why he came is obvious: to handcraft charcuterie and cure lamb prosciutto. To take advantage of this, you must plan ahead. Much of his meat goes to Lampreia and other restaurants, and Pino Rogano is just one man. Da Pino’s, 4225 Rainier Ave S, Columbia City, 206-356-8502
The glass case at Bob’s has held Seattle dinners since 1911; James Ackley has been manning it for 10 years, his parents for 35 before that. Just about everything he puts inside butcher paper is locally raised by honest folk, but it’s his hickory-smoked beef-and-pork landjager, a handheld snacking sausage that goes for a buck apiece, that really pulls us in. Bob’s Quality Meats, 4861 Rainier Ave, Columbia City, 206-725-1221
Before eating became an intellectual art, folks didn’t frown on teriyaki. But in the post–Food Network landscape, it’s almost become a dirty word. Don’t let that you keep you from picking up the marinated tri-tip at one of these south-end butchers. Lightly sweet and nicely tangy, the teriyaki marvelously tenderizes the relatively low-cost, relatively lean cut so that what you get is an absolutely perfect meal. B & E Meats and Seafood, 15003 Ambaum Blvd SW, Burien, 206-243-1900; 22501 Marine View Dr S, Des Moines, 206-878-3700
The little wedge-shaped meat shop has been serving everything from veal brains to lamb chops since 1969, but don’t go looking for grass-fed beef there. These meat men don’t like its lean taste. They’ll send you home with what they call natural beef, which has been grass-raised for most of its life and then finished on grain in the final weeks. Don and Joe’s Meats, 85 Pike St, Pike Place Market, 206-682-7670, www.donandjoesmeats.com
Mike Jensen learned to smoke salmon from his father in Bremerton and has brought his skills to Seattle, where he is meticulous in selecting the spices for the brine and the hardwoods for the smoker. He does cold-smoked Nova lox as well—or if you prefer, bring in your own fresh catch and Jensen will take care of it for you. 10520 Greenwood Ave N, Greenwood, 206-364-5569, www.jensenssmokehouse.com
If we had to choose just one slice of just one meat behind the glass at this legendary deli, we’d ask for a hunk of Fra’Mani soppressata. Spicy and complex, this rustic pork salami could easily pass for an Italian import, but Paul Bertolli, formerly of Chez Panisse, makes it in Berkeley. DeLaurenti Specialty Food and Wine, 1435 First Ave, Downtown, 206-622-0141, www.delaurenti.com
Fishing is in Mark Johansen’s family; his Norwegian relatives have been catching dinner for generations. For fresh, spot-on prawns, visit Johansen’s Cora J on the docks in the late spring and summer months; good-quality, flash-frozen-at-sea shrimp are available throughout the year. Fishermen’s Terminal, 3919 18th Ave W, Interbay
The Knutson family hauls wild salmon from south of Alaska and all over the Puget Sound, freezes it onboard the Loki and the Njord, and then ships it to Seattle within 48 hours. You’ll find it at PCC markets and various neighborhood farmers markets, but most weekends you’ll find it on the deck of the Loki from 10 to 5. Loki Fish Company, Fishermen’s Terminal, 3919 18th Ave W, Interbay, www.lokifish.com
Sweet and savory baked goods from around the world, right in our backyard.
If you’re a longtime local yearning for the Seattle of yore, a trip to Larsen’s Bakery can assuage any nostalgic pang. While it is famous for its authentic Danish kringle (a pretzel-shaped pastry with a flaky crust and rich almond filling), an endless variety of confections lurks behind Larsen’s long countertop. Delicacies range from old-school American classics (black-and-white cookies, red velvet cupcakes) to Scandinavian specialties like savory-sweet cardamom bread, featuring poppy seeds and a dusting of crunchy sugar. 8000 24th Ave NW, Ballard, 800-626-8631, www.larsensbakery.com
The Brits know rainy days, so it’s fitting they’d invent crumpets—the comfort-food cure for wet-weather blues. In 1976, Crumpet Shop owners Gary Lasater and Nancy McFaul brought their just-right recipe to the Pike Place Market, and soaked Seattleites have been raising their teacups to the spongy griddlecakes ever since. Discover warm refuge in the nooks and crannies cradling butter, pesto, or melted English cheese—or try one Seattle-style, with smoked salmon and cucumber. 1503 First Ave, Pike Place Market, 206-682-1598
INDIAN BAKED GOODS
Savor a couple of gulab jamun (breaded milk balls drenched in rosewater syrup) or jalebi (swirl-shaped dough dipped in orange sauce) and you’ll see why hordes of loyal customers trek to Punjab Sweets in Kent. “Usually when you come into a bakery everything’s kind of brown, but ours is very vibrant, colorful,” says Harpreet Gill, whose Indian family recipes are responsible for all that gooey goodness. “It makes you want to try something new.” Yep, and then try something else. And then something else after that… 23617C 104th Ave SE, Kent, 253-859-3236
Infuse ho-hum mornings with fusion flair at Fresh Flours. Asian-inspired breakfast treats like earthy, nutty-sweet green-tea muffins with azukis—the squishy red beans used in many Japanese sweets—might be an acquired taste, but the learning curve is quick. If tea doesn’t balance your chi, go for an azuki-cream brioche or some yuzu-and-cream soy pudding. Sure, Fresh Flours bakes basics like croissants and scones, but save the mainstays for your afternoon trip to Starbucks and let the new-to-you noshes wake up your taste buds. 6015 Phinney Ave N, Phinney, 206-297-3300, www.freshfloursseattle.com
Iranian custom calls for sweet treats on almost every occasion; you’ll want to adopt the practice as your own after visiting Minoo Bakery, where spun-honey confections, rice-flour cookies, cardamom-spiced baklava, and other treats are so reasonably priced you might order one of everything. 12518 Lake City Way NE, Lake City, 206-306-2229, www.minoobakery.com
The Salvadorian Bakery in White Center is famous for its wallet-friendly pupusas, those cheese-stuffed masa-dough tortillas, and customers enjoy them so much that they never get around to the desserts. See that you don’t make that mistake; the pineapple- and custard-filled empanada is a fruity indulgence worth every supersweet calorie. 1719 SW Roxbury St, White Center, 206-762-4064
Here’s how nine of our favorite locally made cheeses stack up.
Made in Seattle with black and green Madagascar peppercorns, Beecher’s Marco Polo cow’s milk cheese is perhaps the perfect snacking cheese. Find it at Beecher’s flagship in Pike Place Market as well as better grocery stores. Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, 206-322-1644 ext 26, www.beechershandmadecheese.com
Wynoochee River Blue
Estrella Family Creamery in Montesano makes a tangy, rich cow’s milk cheese that tastes as green—fresh and local, that is—as it does blue. Find it at farmers markets in Redmond, U District, Ballard, Phinney Ridge, and Columbia City. Estrella Family Creamery (farm store open Saturdays 10–4), 659 Wynoochee Valley Rd, Montesano, www.estrellafamilycreamery.com
From Quillisascut Cheese Company in Rice (north of Spokane near Colville) comes this ash-coated raw goat’s milk cheese. Sign up for Quillisascut’s CSA Adopt-a-Goat program or visit Madison Market, Whole Foods, or PCC stores. Quillisascut Cheese Company, www.quillisascutcheese.com
Port Madison Farm’s Blue Moon is made on Bainbridge Island with goat’s milk. The soft and slightly crumbly cheese can be found at farmers markets in West Seattle and the U District. Port Madison Farm, 206-842-4125
Vache de Vashon
Sea Breeze Farm’s Vache de Vashon is a hard, nutty, mold-ripened, gruyére-style cow’s milk cheese that ages for about four months on Vashon Island. Look for it at farmers markets in Columbia City, U District, Ballard, West Seattle, and on Vashon. Sea Breeze Farm Stand, 10730 SW 116th St, Vashon Island, www.seabreezefarm.net
Mt. Townsend Creamery’s cow’s milk Seastack is soft-ripened in Port Townsend under a vegetable-ash and sea-salt coating. Look for it at farmers markets in Ballard, Capitol Hill, and West Seattle. Mt. Townsend Creamery, www.mttownsendcreamery.com
River Valley Ranch’s savory chévre is made with sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and garlic. You can find it, and other flavors of the farm’s goat cheese, at markets in Carnation, Rainier Square, Bellevue, Magnolia, and Snoqualmie. 34920 SE Fall City–Snoqualmie Rd, Fall City, 425-222-5277, www.rivervalleycheese.com
River Valley Ranch’s raw, aged goat’s milk cheese is slightly nutty and crumbly with a mild appeal. 34920 SE Fall City–Snoqualmie Rd, Fall City, 425-222-5277, www.rivervalleycheese.com
Samish Bay Cheese’s herb Gouda is made with cow’s milk in Bow in the traditional Dutch style using parsley, chives, and garlic. It’s available at markets in Redmond, U District, Ballard, West Seattle, Capitol Hill, and at Pike Place on Saturday and Sunday. Samish Bay Cheese, 360-766-6707, www.samishbaycheese.com
Eight sweet and savory breads.
A dark, anise-laced loaf full of sticky chunks of fruit, Tall Grass Bakery’s cherry pumpernickel bread adds a touch of black magic to inky espresso or smoky Indian tea. Tall Grass Bakery, 5907 24th Ave NW, Ballard, 206-706-0991
Columbia City Bakery’s baguette is a dipper’s delight. The absorbent center—“crumb,” in baker-speak—holds onto the heartiest stews and sauces, while the crust maintains a satisfying crunch. Columbia City Bakery, 4865 Rainier Ave S, Columbia City, 206-723-6023
No surprise that Seattle’s best-known kosher bakery puts out its best-loved challah. Leah’s bakes loaves of the sweet, braided egg bread on Thursdays and Fridays only, so pick up an extra for Sunday morning’s French toast. Leah’s Bakery & Catering, 2205 NE 65th St, Ravenna, 206-985-2647
A crunchy crust, a soft center, and sharp rosemary essence. Sprinkle the whole thing with sea salt and you’ve got Essential Baking Company’s rosemary diamante. Essential Baking Company, 2719 E Madison St, Madison Valley, 206-328-0078; 1604 N 34th St, Wallingford, 206-545-0444, www.essentialbaking.com
One of Seattle’s first artisan breads, Grand Central’s rustic baguette remains one of its tastiest. A hint of malt explains its slightly sweet flavor; the chewy consistency demands a soft dollop of local butter. Grand Central Baking Company, 1616 Eastlake Ave E, Eastlake, 206-957-9505; 214 First Ave S, Pioneer Square, 206-622-3644, www.grandcentralbakery.com
Engineered to soak, sop, and scoop up the rest of your meal, this Ethiopian bread has a slight sourdough taste. Amy’s Grocery, 2922 E Cherry St, Central District, 206-324-2527
Start things off right. Tangy green olives and aromatic herbs make Macrina’s Olivetta an ideal base for meze-style apps. Top with tapenade or toast lightly for showstopping goat cheese crostini. Macrina Bakery & Cafe, 2408 First Ave, Belltown, 206-448-4032; 615 W McGraw St, Queen Anne, 206-283-5900; 19603 Vashon Hwy SW, Vashon Island, 206-567-4133, www.macrinabakery.com
At just two bucks a loaf, Old Country Bakery’s puri loaves are the Eastside’s best carb secret. The traditional, all-purpose Georgian bread goes with everything from chicken soup to morning tea. Old Country Bakery, 900 160th Ave NE, Bellevue, 425-649-2171, www.oldcountrybakery.net
The Straight Scoop
The sweetest local frozen confections.
French-Style Ice Cream
“It’s just one of those things that brings a smile to everyone’s face,” says Eats Market Café’s Toby Matasar of ice cream. For the French-style stuff she makes at her West Seattle eatery, butter, not cream, is the prime ingredient, giving it uncommon depth and texture. Eats Market Café, 2600 SW Barton St, Unit B13, West Seattle, 206-933-1200, www.eatsmarket.com
Dulce de Leche
Latvian-born pastry chef Artis Kalsons wants his desserts to wow you, so artful individual-sized blackberry pies are topped with sour-cream sorbet. Guests of the Fairmont hotel and its restaurants can also have the locally sourced frozen desserts alone; the otherworldly dulce de leche ice cream stands on its own. The Georgian at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, 411 University St, Downtown, 206-621-1700, www.fairmont.com/seattle
Maria Coassin comes from a long line of Italian bakers and is committed to honoring their trade. “I hear compliments from customers saying that her gelato is just as good as Italy’s or better,” says Gelatiamo manager Skyler Engberg. For our money, Coassin’s coconut gelato is the most delicious embodiment of that flavor on the planet. Gelatiamo, 1400 Third Ave, Downtown, 206-467-9563, www.gelatiamo.com
Jerry Perez and Ana Orselli, a husband-and-wife team from Argentina, keep their frozen desserts under wraps. Sealed stainless-steel containers keep Mora’s ice creams and sorbets at optimum temperature until they top your cone. “Our challenge is to make the ice cream like your grandmother would have made it,” says Ana. Our grandmothers never made anything like their goat-cheese-and-fig sorbet, but we’re glad Orselli’s did. Mora Iced Creamery, 139 Madrone Ln, Bainbridge Island, 206-855-8822, www.moraicecream.com
Locally Frozen Treats
Pick up a pint of Snoqualmie at your neighborhood gourmet grocery and you’ll forget about Häagen-Dazs forever. But the best place to enjoy their ice cream, gelato, and frozen custard is atop a stool at their factory and farm café near Woodinville, where you have a complete picture of Barry and Shahnaz Bettinger’s mindful process. Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream, 21106 86th Ave SE, Maltby, 360-668-8535, www.snoqualmiegourmet.com
Theno’s serves one-mile ice cream; that is, the milk that makes it comes from cows just down the road. You can taste that distinction in flavors like mountain huckleberry and pumpkin. Theno’s Dairy, 12248 156th Ave NE, Redmond, 425-885-2339