Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Fabulous Night Out

Let me tell you about the meal I recently enjoyed at The Art of The Table, a cozy super club on N 39th Street in Wallingford. For 65 dollars, including tax and tip, Dustin Ronspies, the chef and owner, paired five courses with seven different wines. Carumba…what a night!!! Here’s the story…

Once a month Vine Tales, a local wine club, hosts a meal at Art of The Table featuring a winery or region of winemaking. The owner of Vine Tales, Nancy Patterson, loves introducing new wines, wines at their best - served with food. The structure of food paired with the structure of wine. A lucky day, the day Nancy met Dustin, cause man can Dustin pair.

This evening’s collaboration featured Willis Hall Winery. Winemaker John Bell, a one man show up in Marysville, was on hand to expound on each varietal. We started with his sold-out 2006 Viognier. Viognier, a cutting edge grape for Washington, is a complex blend of fruit, spice and floral flavors. All Willis Hall wines are made from Washington grapes…yummy.

Served with a Smoked Trout, Poached Pear & Watercress Salad with a Citrus Vinaigrette, the Viognier and salad played off each other perfectly. “Estoy satisfecho. Gracias.” But there was more.

The next course, Winter Vegetable Ravioli with Truffled Brown Butter arrived with another cutting edge wine, a 2005 Sangiovese. Hands down everyone’s favorite, the wine shone bright with cherry fruit, and a smooth medium body. Nancy loves John’s wines for their fruit forwardness. I love Winter Vegetable Ravioli for it is soooo good.

Three more courses to go and five more wines…a 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon a 2003 Merlot a Pepper-crusted Pork Belly with Dried Cherry Sauce and Sunchoke Puree sent waves of delight though all the diners. To be honest people were squealing. I know, the pig the squeal but it is true, the dining room got noisy. Pork belly is the rage these days in Seattle, the whole pork deal. I recently watch a pig butchered and left rubbing my belly saying my bacon my bacon my belly my belly - one is cured and the other, fatty and tasty and man, Dustin has got the subtleties down with the flavor combos.

NEXT a Roast Leg of Lamb with Wilted Winter Greens and Roasted Garlic-Rosemary Demi Glaze and Dustin the Demi God and John the Willis Wizard poured a 2004 Cabernet Franc and a 2004 Syrah. Well. It was quite something and then the Dessert was announced, Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Dried Apricots and Carmel Sauce served with a 2006 Late Harvest Viognier. No one had ever had a cheesecake made with goat cheese and besides that, the cheese maker dined amongst us. (River Valley Cheese) It was a treat…so light and perfectly baked. The wine received massive applause. Fruity, slightly sweet but not thick, it rocked the goat.

Vine Tales Nancy, throughout the meal, informative and fun, her knowledge of wine vast.

Lucky for me I’ve eaten at Art of The Table six or seven times since it opened last July 2007 and I’ve always walked away a tad stunned by Dustin’s finely tuned palette and seemingly endless repertoire of unusual recipes. John Bell mentioned over and over Dustin’s ability to understand the pairing of the food with the wine and Nancy of Vine Tales, she’s a believer.

Check it out when you can. They are open Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights for a $48 prix-fixe dinner and Monday nights starting at 5 for Happy Monday Happy Hour and yes it is happy. I’ve taken the book club, had the volunteer appreciation party there, snacked on I mean with my man, and also had my birthday party at Art of The Table. Good times, cutting edge and local….Dustin buys directly from the producer more often than not.

Enjoy…Ciao….Cheers to local food and fun.

Art of the Table in Seattle

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Suddenly I am all things food and want to inspire it in you. The perfect protein salad is an endless opportunity for creative combinations. A bean and grain salad with lots of vegetables and a dressing, it lasts for close to a week and never fails to satisfy. Perfect.

This salad is perhaps a familiar one for those who purchase deli items at the Seattle PCC coops, where it has been featured for 20 years. I know this because my friend Terry arrived from Minneapolis with the recipe.


Back in 1980, Terry, a woman I’d worked with at The Seward Café in Minneapolis, (which was run by the “Sunshine Collective”…. hippies, yes I made trays of granola) Terry split the Café and started The Goodness Shows Deli where she developed the salad, later bringing it to the Kirkland PCC in 1987.

Teresa, the dark skinned Sicilan girl from Brooklyn who grew with her mother constantly calling for her to “get out of the sun” for fear she would darken and be mistaken for a, god forbid, Puerto Rican.

The Salad

Today I whipped up a batch, from memory - I too left the Seward Café for Goodness Shows but first cooked a stint at the “Real Good Karma” in San Francisco. THESE business names, ”It’s all good”.

The Recipe

2 cups of cooked garbonzo beans
3 cups of cooked wheatberries
1 diced red onion
1 diced green pepper and ½ red pepper
1 diced cucumber
1 diced carrot
1 stalk celery
1 bunch of chopped parsley

½ cup of mayo
3 tablespoons of cider vinegar
2 tablespoon lemon juice
3 cloves of garlic
3 teaspoons of dried basil
1 teaspoon of dried dill
makes around 8 cups


Although delicious, I love the chewy wheat berries and all the veggies diced small like the beans and the berries, this salad could be dressed in oil and vinegar - made with rice instead of wheat, black beans white beans kidney beans fresh beans fresh herbs chard cilantro jalepanos olives is an open palette. Need I say more?

Just this -

I highly recommend the classic grain bean and vegetable combo. Cheers to the plants, now start chopping.

P.S. Cooking wheat berries takes a long time. I pressure cook them for 45 minutes. They don't absorb all the water - drain and rinse.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Holiday is over

Woke up February the 13th to Mark Bittman making short ribs as a gift of love for Valentines Day. Mr. Bittman is a food columnist for the New York Times and once a week or so he cooks something up on the Times home page video spot.

I could not wait for the big 14th love day and cooked up the ribs that night. Indeed just as he said - they were “rico” …sensual and tasty.

Brown the ribs on at least four sides, remove from pan, sauté an onion and some garlic, add one large cup of strong coffee, a glug of wine and a dried chili of some kind…I used guaillo...put the ribs back in the pan and cook at low low simmer for at least 3 hours…beef falls of the bone. Thank you Mark Bittman. I love you. Be mine.

Now it really was Valentines day and no reservations have been made. Why? I’ve never embraced the Hallmark holiday. Heard on the radio today that 17 billion dollars was shelled out of pocket for love. As dinner time approached though I got in the spirit and stopped into whole paycheck, which I have renamed, more than whole paycheck and here is what I bought.

Fresh pappardelle pasta and a fresh tomato vodka sauce, both produced by Cucina Fresca which is located in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Not cheap but easy, and, as I've thought of myself as such, it was fitting for the day.

Steamed up an artichoke, which is love food to me.....especially when it comes out of my garden.
Did the spinach salad again but this time with the poppy seed dressing and a fresh tangerine and it was much better than the raspberry dressing. When I find something I like I eat it again.

So the pasta, the salad, the artichoke..oh yes, picked up a small bagette from “The Baked Fresh” La Brea bakery in Los Angeles.
So "French". So delicious. Next time I am in Los Angeles La Brea is on the list. The owner Nancy Silverton goes way back in the artisonal American bread revival.

Thank you Nancy and yes WE have ton's of locally baked fabulous bread. I do love and eat them all - to name a few
Essential, Tall Grass, Macrina, Grand Central, Columbia City.....check them out and look for others at a grocery store near you.

There were two left over short ribs if I needed extra and for the day of hearts I opened a bottle of Pinot Noir I’d bought for Thanksgiving but never drank. A Domaine Serene, Yamhill Cuvee from the awe inspiring Willamette Valley. A splurge for me, I rarely spend 36.00 on a bottle of wine. And lastly, a special drink for Carson, seventeen,....Dry Soda, made in Seattle. Rhubarb.

Good lord I also bought a bag of Doctor Kracker, which is not local but organic from Texas. Very whole grain. I feel nourished eating them. A flatbread. HAD to pick up a smoked salmon spread to go on top for an appetizer.

No calorie counting going on for Valentines day. No budget either. Guess I did dive right on into the Hallmark card.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

patti pan squash cook off - fall 2007

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

My first time posting.

My book group took a weekend holiday out to the Oregon Coast.
Home today I threw together the leftover salad makings and relived the yummy and healthy salad I chowed down on Saturday night for my late lunch.

Talk about fast cheap and health, here it is.

A classic spinach salad.

Organic Baby spinach out of a bag from Trader Joes, sliced red onion from my garden, Trader Joes sweet and spicy pecans, blobs of goat cheese all mixed up with Brianna’s Raspberry dressing. The original was dressed with Brianna’s Poppy Seed and frankly the two dressings taste almost the same which worked for me. For a bottled dressing Brianna’s is not bad.

I like eating greens and this salad is a good one. Greens, nuts, goat cheese, onion and spices. Add orange slices or apples for fruit and or throw on leftover chicken. Don’t over dress it and don’t eat five servings and it is a sublime and happy lunch. It does incite the desire for wine though…so still better at dinner when one can more acceptably indulge in the mighty red.

February in Seattle and it is almost time to plant spinach seeds. I do have a bed of arugala that wintered over and I certainly could have made a similar salad with it. Next time.