Critic's Notebook

The Herbfarm Brings Back its Tree Feast

The Woodinville culinary legend goes all forest-to-table.

By Kathryn Robinson February 20, 2012

Doug Fir…it’s what’s for dinner.

Readers of a certain age will remember Euell Gibbons’ immortal phrase, “Ever eat a pine tree? Many parts are edible!” from a TV ad for Grape Nuts. For years I wondered which “food” was meant to benefit from that comparison, Grape Nuts or pine trees; to this day I’ve ingested plenty of one and none of the other. Thanks to The Herbfarm, however, I have eaten fir tree, in a Doug Fir sorbet memorable for its bracing resiny vapors. It was like swallowing a Northwest breeze.

That was back in the days of the charming original Herbfarm, an only-slightly-upgraded shed alongside a mom-n-pop garden business in Woodinville. Now again in Woodinville but considerably more than a garden shed, the Herbfarm jumps back into the tree-gnawing game with a nine-course feast (through March 4, Fridays through Sundays) built around our woody friends and their derivatives.

Applewood-smoked wild steelhead with acacia, ash, cherry, oak, and chestnut balsamico-mustard. Virginica oysters in pine-smoked sea weater gelee. An Oregon sparkling wine with your choice of tree elixirs: fir or juniper.

(Choose the fir! Isn’t juniper elixir just…gin?)

And that’s only the first course, off a menu that unspools across intrigues like sumac-crusted Pacific albacore, acorn-fed pork with chestnut spaetzle, Bartlett pear ravioli with Douglas Fir consommé—and all manner of other Northwest winter fare cooked, smoked, or seasoned with wood, then flavored with fruits, seeds, nuts, flowers, leaves, needles, berries, sap, and bark from regional trees.

Foodies will be dazzled; Northwest foodies beside themselves.

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