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August 17, 2009

Slugfest 2009: The Herbfarm serves 100 Yard Slugs at 100 Mile Dinner

Photo courtesy Ron Zimmerman                

It all started so innocently.

Ron Zimmerman, the owner of The Herbfarm Restaurant commented on twitter one day that he had been asked to serve slugs by a diner with reservations for the 100 Mile Dinner. We have had days of fun watching as the idea moved from request to talk of preparation to wine pairing. Along the way some of the twittier twits suggested dishes like popcorn slugs, slug pate, and slug jerky (an idea Ron quickly squished due to health concerns). One person came up with an entire slug menu in a single tweet.

The story of the slugs took a dramatic turn the evening before they were to be served when Ron sent this missive:

Argh! Slug shortage! Slugs for guest's "Escargot Experience" tomorrow escaped overnight. Died in salt minefield. Out searching for more

Continue reading "Slugfest 2009: The Herbfarm serves 100 Yard Slugs at 100 Mile Dinner" »

October 01, 2008

Lamp-lit Dinner on Grays River Covered Bridge

Grays River Covered Bridge

The Willapa Hills have a bit of a magical out of time quality to them. My friend, Kathleen, laughs at me when I invoke Brigadoon, but there is a certain…something. One example of this is Grays River, smaller even than evenTinierTown, and just a few miles west of here.

Its major claim to fame is the Grays River Covered Bridge, the last bridge of its kind in Washington that is still in use. Built over 100 years ago to let farmers on the south side of the river to get their products to the steamboats on the opposite shore, the bridge is a visible reminder of the times when this county was accessible only by boat.

Suitable for a starring role in the Bridges of Madison County, the Grays River bridge was rehabilitated in the 1980s - essentially rebuilt and refaced with original and additional local timber - and now looks much like it did when it was first built.  Wood walls, wood floor and a tin roof of the type that was installed to help protect the original bridge from the inevitable decay that is the fate of wood in the fog valleys.

My friend, Robert Michael Pyle (an award-winning author acclaimed as one of America's leading nature writers), who lives in an old Victorian farmhouse (built by H. P. Ahlberg, who drove the original bridge project to completion) perched above the bridge has said "The bridge symbolizes Wahkiakum County... it joins people together and links the present to the past."

The bridge will be dressed up and on display this Saturday when for one night, Washington State's last covered bridge will be closed to vehicles and open for dinner.

Continue reading "Lamp-lit Dinner on Grays River Covered Bridge" »

September 10, 2008

Dish up literacy! Dine out for a good cause

Eat out on Thursday, September 18, at a Dish Up Literacy restaurant and they will donate a at least 20% of their proceeds to help provide new books and reading resources to children in need.  Dish Up Literacy, a benefit for Page Ahead Children’s Literacy Program, allows diners to put books in the hands of kids simply by going out to eat.

There are a number of great restaurants participating: Julia's, Macrina Bakery, FX McRory's, Ten Mercer and others.  If you aren't in Seattle, there are options for you, too. One of my favorite local breakfast cafes, The Place Family Restaurant is even involved. Must be my excuse to eat Northwest Eggs Benedict (made with crab cakes instead of Canadian Bacon).  Check out who's participating at Dish Up Literacy.

March 31, 2008

A Taste for Reading benefit lunch (Seattle)

Food and books, two of my favorite things, come together next week in Seattle at A Taste for Reading(pdf), a benefit luncheon for Page Ahead. Even better, there is entertainment from an as yet unannounced school group, so you get your dose of cute kids too. Page Ahead is a children's literacy program that distributes books to kids and encourages parent and community active involvement in reading with children.

A Taste for Reading happens next Wednesday, April 9, at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center on Seattle’s Waterfront. Lunch will be served at 11:30, with the entertainment at noon. They are even promising that it will end "promptly at 1" so you can all scurry back to work. A donation will be requested (the meal is valued at ~30) and contributions over 250 will be matched.

To make (required) reservation, drop them email or call 206.461.0123.

October 26, 2007

Dine around Seattle: 25 becomes 30

first, let me say hi to all the new people - I guess writing about PETA is an attention getter, huh? color me surprised!

If it's November in Seattle, it must be time to go out for dinner, or lunch, or both. The dining out ritual that was 25 for 25 has become 30 for 30, same basic deal: 3 course dinners for $30, lunch for $15.

This year you can choose from places like:

The complete list, with links to the 30 for 30 menus is available at Dine Around Seattle.

Having read the list, I am realizing that this is also the time of year when I remember how many restaurants I have not yet been to. From this year's list, I have had the pleasure of eating at...well, almost nowhere. Man, I gotta get out more often!

Speaking of getting out, and almost totally off-topic, I need a nice place to go to lunch in Olympia on Sunday. Suggestions?

November 02, 2006

Dine Around Seattle - 25 for 25

If it's November, it must be time for me to look wistfully northward through the rain squalls and remind my readers that it time to go out to dinner, or lunch, or both. Repeatedly. That's right kids, it's 25 for 25 time again!

I just looked over the list and it's truly sad: I've been to exactly two of them. God, can that really be all? That is sad! Tragic, in fact. I have to get out more.

Although, to be totally honest, I've looked at one of them and thought, "looks like it might be interesting..." half a dozen times when I was on my way into a much nicer spot next door. And we went to the Third Floor Fish Cafe on one of those oh-so-wonderful expense account dinners with our publisher and our acquisitions editor who lived in Indiana, (dubbed the "ripply state" as we discussed the lack of mountains over the second bottle of wine...or was it the after dinner coffee and brandy?) and really wanted fish. It was years ago, and I don't recall the specifics of what we ate —  other than that there was a lot of truly wonderful seafood (two seafood starved guys from the mid-west at a fish place are fun to watch), rollicking conversation punctuated with laughter that broke across us in waves, a window table to watch a glorious peach and pink streaked sunset, and something with chocolate at the end. It was a much more memorable meal than that description credits, but we were taking a break from a last minute push on a book and I was basking in the moment, not committing it to memory. The evening had a gasp-worthy tab, if I recall correctly. But it was expensed...and on someone else's expense account.

but i digress

Back to 25 for 25. If you'd like an excuse, go somewhere and eat a meal in my honor. I'd do it for you, but you see...ummm, the restaurant options out here are...well, let's just call it limited. Speaking of which, evenTinierTown's got empty waterfront buildings (one goreous and new, one old, funky and inexpensive), a restaurant and a bakery on the main drag for sale, and a decided need for someone to come in and do something! We've got a decent tourist base, lots of bed and breakfasts, close enough to cities and a lifestyle to die for, but not from. You could own a house on the beach for less than your place in the 'burbs and there are even local food producers.

ummm, errr...i am, therefore i digress...?

Where were we? Oh that's right. Justifying going out to eat. Do lunches. They are only 12.50 so you can go to lunch at two places, then go out to dinner with the 25 bucks you saved. What? That's not how math works? (can I toss my hair and quote Barbie's "math is hard!") Anyway, I didn't say we were doing math. We're doing justifications. Not the same thing at all!

Speaking of justifications and book deadlines. While I am supposed to be sitting here at a keyboard putting words on a screen, they are not these words and I doubt that a publisher would buy me a nice dinner because I wrote this. And those publisher-bought dinners have potential. Serious potential.

August 15, 2006

Being irregular...uh, a regular

An article (and posts about the article, whatever they are called..."antePosts" maybe) is making the rounds purporting to hold the secrets to becoming a regular at your local eatery. The theory here is that if you act a certain way you will become a regular and then you will get special treatment. (The writer that lurks in my head wants to know why it's called a being a regular if the goal is to be treated irregularly.)

Sure, it's nice to be a regular at Cheers, I guess, if you want everyone to know your name, but what's really in it for you? 

Urban Monarch lists a few benefits of being a regular thusly (my comments inline):

  • Ability to order special items (out of season, non menu) (this strikes me as a pain for the staff and I can't see doing it without calling ahead.)
  • Immediate seating (oh, so you are those jerks who like cutting in line? I don't want to be a regular at a place that does this to new customers)
  • Complimentary drinks / desserts (As a small business owner, I can see how this works. I comp work for people on occasion.The moment it looks like someone expects it, I am done.)
  • Discounts (see above)
  • Recognition and social proof (OMG the ego... I had to look up social proof and once I did I decided that it's not something I'd ever claim as a's got two bullets for common applications: marketing and seduction)
  • Dependable location to entertain guests / meet up with friends (I'll give them this, but only to a certain point; get a new waiter or a cook having a bad night and all that dependability goes away)
  • Warmly received and well respected by staff (Maybe the first, don't count on the second. I once worked at a place where the biggest tipping regular was greeted with smiles while we tried to hand him off to someone else through our clenched teeth, because he was a self-enitled snob who had very high expecations of what his "big tipping regular" status bought him)
  • Having the server bring you the ‘regular’ (how much trouble is it to order something? Besides, the only place I order the same thing often enough for it to be my regular is an espresso place)

Moving on to the "how to" portion...   

Continue reading "Being irregular...uh, a regular" »

July 24, 2006

Dish up literacy!

Remember the old line: Reading is fundamental? Seems that the idea of literacy as a foundation for life in a post-industrial society has been losing ground since they (whoever "they" are) decided that kids need Ritalin and Game Boys rather than books, so I really have to applaud any group that's still working on literacy as if it mattered.

As you might imagine, I was delighted to hear about Dish Up Literacy, a project of Page Ahead, a children's literacy group in Seattle, which offers one of the most pleasant ways of giving to a good cause: go out for a meal. Food+books, what could be better?

On August 3rd, a range of restaurants in six Washington counties, all corporate-owned Denny's in Washington will donate a portion of their sales to Page Ahead, which will distribute books to school-age children with the proceeds. You can choose anything from a nice dinner to a quick lunch, or maybe both!

Unfortunately for me, no restaurants down my way are participating, so I am counting on my readers in the state to go out to dinner for me. Call it a favor to me if you need the excuse. Your assignment: eat at a participating restaurant on August 3, 2006. Tough job, I know, but I think you can handle it.

November 16, 2005

Dinner at the Herbfarm (part 1)

The fire in the Herbfarm's parlor fireplace danced as we escaped the misty rain into its warmth. In one corner Carrie, one of the restaurant's owners, explained the various herbs that would be used in tonight's dinner while guests passed around scratch-and-sniff sprigs including rose geranium, english thyme, and sage — both green and tangerine. We found a spot in the back of the group, next to the dining room doors — closed at the moment, but not hiding a couple hundred small candles, dangling in mini-lanterns from old-fashioned candleholders set on each table. The half-dozen wine glasses at each place reflect the flames until the entire room glows. As Carrie wraps up, people turn towards the closed door and murmur with a bit of anticipation.

A dark-haired man perches on a stool in a corner of the dining room and picks up a guitar, the doors open, we're seated...right next to the guitar player! someoneElse, who is an excellent guitarist as well as the oh-so-wonderful person who invited me to this dinner, quickly suggests that we sit so that I am facing the kitchen while he's facing the guitarist. I can see the entire place from my comfortably uphosltered perch — this is going to be fun! A smiling man offers a selection of herbs from a basket of plants, we're to pick one to infuse our sparkling wine. One of us had rose geranium, and I can't recall the other — which is sad because it was mine. I think it was lemon something, maybe verbena...maybe thyme.

That was 7:00. I turned on my cellphone to check the time when we got into the car. It was 12:35. Between those two dots on my personal timeline: nine courses, six wines 12:35. Five and a half hours, nine courses, six wines, a dozen or so staff on each side of the kitchen counter around which they all gathered to plate and serve each course, two cookbooks (I bought), one classically trained guitarist (who had slipped in at least one Led Zepplin tune by the time dessert and the 90 year old madeira arrived).

As you might guess, this is a story in several installments. Especially since I am being descended on by a horde of twenty-somethings for a multi-day reunion in a couple of days and have lots of prep work to do.

But here's my single photo (sorry, this was a romantic dinner — no cameras allowed) to hold you over until part 2. Our post dinner treats, which we — and quite a few others brought home and ate later.

Clockwise from upper right:
chocolate-hazelut macaroon
lavender-dark chocolate truffle
raspberry gel
orange-thyme madeleine
lemon-geranium white-chocolate truffle

As an idea of the size, the macaroon was maybe an inch across, yet somehow I managed to make it into several bites.

(to be continued)

November 11, 2005

fog valley photo and a happy mage

Ahem, I'd just like to respectfully say, "Neener, neener! I'm going to the Herbfarm for dinner tomorrow night and you're not!"  (Unless of course you are, in which case we should meet!)

And today's occasional fog valley photo.


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