Summer raspberries

Every summer when we went to Seattle, the first thing we always did upon arriving at our grandparents’ house was to run to the backyard and eat the raspberries off the bushes growing in the backyard.  To this day the smell of fresh raspberries brings back that memory, and I don’t know if I love raspberries so much simply for what they are or because of the connection in my mind.

I’m happy to see my sons building the same associations, both picking berries at their own grandparents’ house, and at their great-grandmother’s.

My parents planted these raspberries just last year.   Last year they were tiny clumps of leaves, this year they are dripping with berries.

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Like mother like son, I suppose.  They don’t even make it in the house.

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My grandmother is still growing raspberries.  But this year the star crop was the marionberries, similar to a blackberry.  My grandmother always reminds me she planted them at my request.  I’ve nearly only ever had them from her backyard.

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Seattle Eats: The Original Bakery in West Seattle

The main attraction of the West Seattle Fauntleroy district may be Lincoln Park along the shore of Puget Sound, but it’s also a busy hub for commuters whose cars line up during the day to board the eponymous ferry out to Vashon Island.  Otherwise, it’s a quiet area, with small businesses nestled in among residential areas.  One such corner just a short walk up from the park is shared by Endolyne Joe’s (“Endolyne” referring to the fact that this was once the “end of the line” for the now defunct tram system) and The Original Bakery.

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One of those “neighborhood businesses”–and in this case just as friendly and neighborly as you’d imagine such a shop should be–is The Original Bakery, open since 1936 and run by a father-daughter team, Bernie and Anna Alonzo.  Light and open, charmingly decorated with Delftware-inspired tiles, and drawing in plenty of foot traffic and lots of folks who are clearly “regulars.”

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Now admittedly my father has a fondness for bear claws (by which I mean, he is most certainly a regular) but I was still a bit surprised when we visited and we were greeted by Alex, the guy behind the counter, with a  “Hi Jim!  These must be your daughter and grandsons from Boston!”  My dad then told me that Alex was studying economics, which led to what would have been a discussion about law school excepting that my sons, looking in the display case and getting more and more excited, couldn’t wait any longer before placing their order.

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Frosted donuts with sprinkles (including patriotic red white and blue, as this was just before the 4th of July) were their order of the day (as anything with frosting is always a hit with my boys who then get to lick it off their fingers), but there’s plenty of other flaky pastries, cookies, muffins, and of course bear claws.  And plenty of varieties of bread, from sourdough to rye to french to challah.

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At little bakeries like this, I am usually prepared to pay a bit of a premium for something that is not mass-produced or shipped from some far-off industrial oven.  But I was surprised at the reasonableness of the prices–on our way out we took home a loaf of glazed cinnamon swirl bread for $2.99 (pre-sliced at our request!)–something the fancier bakeries in Boston (and just as likely Seattle!) might be charging $6 dollars for.

Per the owner, “We like to try to keep our prices low where we can.”

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The Original Bakery

9253 45th Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98136
(206) 938-5088

http://www.theoriginalbakery.com/

The Original Bakery and Endolyne Joe's

Other “Seattle Eats” posts on Three Clever Sisters

Bakery Nouveau

Marination Ma Kai

Salumi

Original Bakery on Urbanspoon

Seattle Eats: Marination ma kai

One of the fun parts of planning our annual trip to Seattle is that my uncle always knows the newest places in the Seattle food scene.  Last year he took me to Salumi, this year we all went down on a remarkably sunny Seattle Saturday to Marination ma kai–originally a food truck, now a bricks and mortar restaurant.

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Marination ma kai has an enviable location on Seattle’s Alki beach in West Seattle–“ma kai” means “by the sea.”

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And you couldn’t pick a more appropriate spot for a Hawaiian-inspired restaurant to be located.

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Hawaiian is only part of it though:  This is actually a Hawaiian-Korean place, as the generous application of kimchi will make immediately apparent.  But there’s plenty of surprising items on the menu as well:  an unapologetic use of SPAM, so-called “sexy tofu,” sliders and tacos, and Marination’s signature secret recipe Nunya sauce (what Food and Wine calls “the next Sriracha”).  If you aren’t going to be in Seattle, you can still get a taste of Marination by having Nunya shipped to you.

Between all of us, we sampled a good portion of the menu–I had kimchi rice bowl with a fried egg, Karen got the sexy tofu, and there were orders of pork sliders, fried fish, and lots of crispy fries with Nunya sauce.

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While parking is not always easy at Alki, there’s no better place to enjoy the meal.  We claimed some picnic tables near the restaurant (funnily enough, next to the showering-off station for scuba divers, whose bulky amphibious get-ups were quite entertaining for my sons) and looked across Elliott Bay to downtown Seattle.  There’s plenty of indoor seating for those more than common overcast days as well.

But on a sunny day, no nicer way to finish off a meal than by dipping your toes in Puget Sound.

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(Aunt Karen and Little H, with the Space Needle in the background).

Marination ma kai

Alki Beach – Seacrest Park – West Seattle Water Taxi Loading Dock
1660 Harbor Ave SW, West Seattle

http://marinationmobile.com/locations

Marination Ma Kai on Urbanspoon

Updated to add:  I haven’t tried this recipe, but it’s what Flourishing Foodie reports to be a successful go at recreating the Korean Tofu Tacos at home.  I’ll be giving it a try myself!

Seattle Eats: Salumi Artisan Cured Meats

If you have read Bill Buford‘s Heat, a few passages are certain to be impressed in your memory.   Some, perhaps, if only for their sheer lunacy–Buford somehow lugging an entire pig, head and tail included, to his NYC apartment to butcher at home.  (I seem to recall he didn’t attract too much attention, further proof that New Yorkers really have seen it all).  Others, for the eccentricity of the personalities Buford meets along the way, such as the Tuscan butcher, Dario Cecchini, who declaims Dante while expertly breaking down beef carcasses.  But of course the whole thing started with Buford’s profile of Mario Batali for the New Yorker which led him down his food-crazed road.

Salumi sign

Part of that Batali profile includes Armandino, Mario’s father, whose own father ran an Italian grocery that was eventually shuttered when Armandino became a Boeing engineer.  I suppose when your son is Mario Batali, however, you might be more than wistful about revisiting your family legacy, and so with surely a not insignificant amount of son-father advice, Salumi was opened in Seattle.  Now Armandino runs it with his daughter, Gina and her husband, and funnily enough Mario’s name is nowhere to been in the store’s bio.

In line at Seattle's Salumi

I filed this bit of information away as I read, with vague plans for a future trip to Seattle.  But it only coalesced into more than a passing thought thanks to an email from my Uncle John  (who introduced me to the concept of pesto in the early 90s and 8-hour bolognese sauce, so we’re trusting him):  “hey Sara, I just found this great salami place when I was on jury duty–ate there every day–we should go!  By the way it’s got something to do with that famous TV chef!”  That’s one way to make the best of jury duty.

Obviously, a new stop was cemented into the itinerary for our next trip to Seattle.  My uncle (who is, incidentally from Boston) took the day off from work and we trekked from West Seattle to what my other aunt called “the bowels of Seattle”–or more specifically, just between Pioneer Square and the International District.  Though Salumi opens at noon, we left planning to arrive closer to 11:30–for, true to my uncle’s prediction, a line was already forming.  And yes, it was drizzling a bit, which deterred no one.

Fortunately for all of us porcine-obsessed, Salumi does a brisk business, moving the line quickly.  It’s such an efficient operation, special orders have to be phoned in:  while you can get a whole sausage “to go,” you need to call ahead if you want them to slice it–they simply don’t have the extra capacity during business hours.  (And if you remember, you should:  the paper-thin cuts enhance intense tastes that  might otherwise overwhelm–just as thinly sliced prosciutto is almost heavenly,  you’d never want a thick cut of the stuff.  But if you forget, you can just cut it yourself).  Nor is there much room for leisurely loitering once you’ve had your sandwich made–the shop is deep but narrow, with a few tables protected by red-checked cloth.  A side room can be reserved for larger parties, but we’re definitely in a fast food sort of place.  Except, I wouldn’t be writing about this, nor would my uncle have taken a day off from work to take me here, if it were anything like what we normally think of as fast food.

At Salumi you can try classic and more unusual twists on cured meats.  I of course went for agrumi, a citrus-cardamom sausage, but you could also try the dario (which I suspect is named after that Tuscan butcher profiled by Buford, but which in any case is spiced with heady nutmeg and mace), the finocchiona,with fennel, curry, and black pepper, or more unusual cured meats such as coppa, culatello.  Or, if you’re tired of hearing about all this pork, even lamb “prosciutto.”  Something for everyone, except vegetarians.

The sausages are so fresh as to be meltingly tender–a welcome change from most jerky-like cured meats, where I often feel like a cavewoman trying to chew my way through a piece.  Save your jaw muscles for the good crusty Italian bread, and enjoy your sandwich with pickled onions or other toppings.  Salumi is fast paced, but you’ll have no trouble downing your meal quickly.

For those of you who don’t expect to be in Seattle anytime soon, you’ll be pleased to know you can order via email.  For those of you do, here’s their address.

Salumi Artisan Cured Meats

309 Third Ave South Seattle, WA 98104

http://www.salumicuredmeats.com/

Salumi on Urbanspoon

Seattle Eats: Bakery Nouveau

Finally…a post about some of the great food places we visited in Seattle! 

Bakery Nouveau West Seattle

My mother’s family isn’t just from Seattle, but from West Seattle.  While officially it’s part of Seattle proper (in fact, it’s the city’s birthplace), physically it’s separated from the rest of the city, jutting out as it does into the Sound on its own peninsula.  Perhaps for that reason it has a bit of a different sensibility about itself.  And people are loyal.  My Boston uncle resettled there with my aunt, my mom has brought my dad back after 30-something years away, and our extended family even includes a diplomat whose career took her to France, India, Japan, and China who retired just a few blocks away from my aunt.

Bakery Nouveau West Seattle

West Seattle has its fair share of natural beauty from Lincoln Park to Alki Beach.  Meanwhile, the “Junction,” one of the area’s main business districts, continues to explode with a host of  charming and unique stores.  A year-round farmer’s marketEasy Street Records, a tiny corner store where Pearl Jam once had a concert; a book exchange, an artists’ collective, the Beer Junction, and lots of coffee shops (this is Seattle after all).

Bakery Nouveau West Seattle

Of course, one of my must-sees every time I visit is of the culinary persuasion:  Bakery Nouveau–a bakery-cafe so well regarded that, my family tells me with pride, people come from all over greater Seattle for their breads, pastries, and coffee.  My aunt remembers darting in to pick up croissants for work colleagues when it had just opened.  The baker-owner’s wife, Heather Leaman, was running the counter and also tending to their young baby, while her husband William churned out croissants in the back.  My aunt resolved then and there to support this new business, and it was easy:  her co-workers begged her to go back over and over again and bring them more.  Since then, of course, the staff has increased and the bakery has become an important part of the community–starting programs with the local community college  and donating generously to school auctions.

It’s not just Seattlites who have recognized this place:  Leaman led his team to victory at the 2005 Coupe Du Monde de la Boulangerie–the World Cup of Baking.  Besides the recognition, the winner is awarded a large trophy.  Bakery Nouveau’s arrived cracked, which some like to speculate may have been intentional, the French organizers not being too keen on the fact that an American bakery beat out the local competition.  In any event, an unblemished trophy was soon sent and is proudly displayed on the wall behind the counter.

Bakery Nouveau West Seattle

It’s hard to tell you what to try first.  The twice-baked croissants are perhaps the shop’s signature pastry:  a croissant soaked in syrup, split nearly in half and filled with either almond or chocolate cream.  The croissants, as is true for all the puff pastries, are impossibly flaky and baked to a deep golden brown.  There’s candy-hued bombes of mousse, fruit bejewelled tarts, a currant-studded carrot cake.

Bakery Nouveau West Seattle

But you can also order the French classic sandwich of a baguette split and layered with ham, cornichons and emmentaler cheese, quiche, and an assortment of artisan loaves to enjoy.

Living as I do on the opposite side of the country, I don’t get to Bakery Nouveau as often as I like, but at least when I do visit my family, I don’t even have to leave West Seattle to taste some of the best the city has to offer.

Bakery Nouveau West Seattle

There’s plenty of reasons to visit West Seattle–add this to the (top of) your list.

Bakery Nouveau

West Seattle at the Alaska Junction
4373 California Ave SW
Seattle, WA  98116

Website: Click Here

Blog: Click Here

This post was originally published here on Honest Cooking.

Read about our earlier trip to Seattle here!

Bakery Nouveau on Urbanspoon

Mason Bee Hatching

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So this post is a bit of a departure from our standard fare.  It’s not about food.  But yet it is.  Because of course, without bees, all those delicious fruits and vegetables we rely on would be a lot fewer and farther between.

Colony Collapse Disorder is not news at this point, but it’s still disturbing, especially its implications for the food supply.  Our Aunt Barbara’s response was to try to nurture back nature–so she was excited to invite us over the day after we arrived in Seattle to help “hatch” her newest project, a colony of mason bees.

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Mason bees don’t produce honey or beeswax–but it turns out there are a lot of upside to this.  Our aunt did her resarch and learned that they are  “super-pollinators”–because every female lays eggs, there is no queen bee to collect honey for.  They do of course collect pollen, but since there’s not so much hoarding involved, much more of it gets distributed among plants to pollinate.   Which of course means fruits, vegetables, and generally helping nature do its thing.

And since they don’t have honey to make or a queen to protect, they don’t tend to attack like the typical honeybee.  They can sting, but it’s rare, and if it happens, it typically doesn’t hurt as much as other bee stings.

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Obviously (hopefully obviously at least) I wouldn’t be offering up my sons to a hive of potentially skittish, nervous, and therefore liable-to-attack-en-masse insects.  Meanwhile, what four year old boy wouldn’t jump at the chance to play with bugs?

So how do you hatch mason bees?  The kit came equipped with paper tubes, and our task was to insert one cocoon into each (though we discovered a few had already hatched when we opened the package!)  We then slid the tubes into the little wooden hutch (also supplied) that we then hung from our aunt’s porch.  Think of each little bee as getting a studio apartment to start its independent life, and the hutch as a sort of apartment complex.

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If they like their digs at my aunt and uncle’s in West Seattle, they’ll stay, but otherwise they’ll move on, finding their own new homes in hollow twigs or excavations left by other insects.  In fact, as a precondition to getting the bees from the Washington state extension service, our aunt had to research the food supply in her neighborhood and ensure it was adequate.

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They don’t just let anyone into the club, it seems.  But our aunt and uncle are pretty hospitable folks, so hopefully these new “neighbors” will stick around.

You can link to more information, provided by the extension service, here.

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