Thursday, June 18, 2009


This last Monday night, Foodista collaborated with Michael Hebb of and Foraged and Found Edibles in the Caffe Vita Loft for a "Friends of Foodista" dinner. What came together in the kitchen was beyond extraordinary. If you have followed Michael Hebb lately, you'll notice that the guy is involved in a variety of projects all over Seattle and making the rules up as he goes.

As part of the evening's experiment, I showed up to the Vita loft around 11:30 am and set up my laptop at the edge of the kitchen counter right next to Chef Conor Donahue, from San Francisco who was busy slicing butter clams and began to document recipes directly into Foodista as each recipe was created in front of me.

The dinner wasn't completely thrown together by the seat of their pants- over the weekend, chef and co-founder of Foraged and Found Edibles, Christina Choi and Chef Donahue met with Hebb and decided on a menu inspired by seasonal and foraged ingredients from the area. The menu would be about the ingredients. Every recipe on Monday night's menu was either foraged wild or locally harvested. Even the butter clams for the Butter Clam Fritter Appetizer was foraged by Foodista co-founders Barnaby and Sheri over a long weekend near Hope Island.

Chef Choi showed up at the loft carrying ingredients freshly picked only 24- 48 hours prior and set to work baking off Elderberry Shortbread to go with the local strawberries with elderberry syrup that we would later eat for dessert. As I was attempting to write precise recipes into the Foodista site, I received less than standard responses to measurements, techniques and even ingredients for most of the recipes. Not to anyone's fault, it's just that chefs don't often use measurements while they are cooking, chefs cook by feel, taste, touch and smell. So when I ask for the recipe on how to make their specific court bouillon, they're recipe suggestion was to "use what you have lying around," only half joking of course. For example, while Hebb was preparing the octopus, I asked, "Okay, so what is the next step?"

“Use a sharp knife and cut head from tentacles," he said.

“And then what do you with the head?"

“Say... give it to your cat."

"Michael, can you tell me what is in the spice rub for the elk shoulder and what the amounts were?"

His response was, “Open your pantry, use a variety of spices that appeal to you. We used juniper berries, fennel seeds, chili flakes, cumin and corinander guajillo chili peppers."

Over the course of the day and into the evening I watched the three experienced chefs create stunning dishes out of simple, but high quality ingredients and all inside a fairly basic kitchen set up. The dishes were beautiful, delicious and made with respect to the ingredients. I kept thinking as each gorgeous dish was passed around the table, I’ve seen these ingredients before, I can do this at home. When you buy fresh and local, the ingredients speak for themselves and don’t require too much work on your part. Plus, you are supporting local farmers and foragers who didn’t fly your produce from half way around the world to get it to you. If you need a little inspiration for turning your farmer market seabeans or garlic scapes into a great meal, check out the recipes created by Onepot on Foodista.



butter clam fritters with wild sorrel aioli

lemon balm leaves with raw porcini salad and chive flowers.


local scallop crudo with sea beans and shiso

Octopus with fingerlings and wild onion blossoms

elk shoulder with porcini, farro, and garlic scapes

wood violet and miners lettuce salad


local strawberries with elderflower syrup and cream

farm direct vita sumatra gayo river coffee

Butter Clam Fritters With Wild Sorrel Aioli on Foodista
Octopus With Fingerlings And Garlic Scapes on Foodista
Braised Elk Shoulder on Foodista

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Back at the Herbfarm

I took a little time off from the Herbfarm in order to move, change jobs and help put on the IFBC. It's been the nuttiest April-May I can ever remember, all in very positive ways. I'm working for Foodista now, an online encyclopedia of all things food. It's a total blast and such a refreshing change from what I was doing previously. While needed work is being done to our new house, Mark and I are living with my brother, in Edmonds. New to us that is- it's a 101 year old house which means it thousands of dollars of repairs, but the cool thing is we get to work with good bones, a clean slate if you will. A kitchen design, all my own.Even as busy as I get, each time I go back to the Herbfarm, it's like walking onto a good friend's property, a neighborhood bar or a familiar elementary school playground. It's become a place that I feel at ease with, the heighten sensitivity of being "the new kid" has finally worn off and I can make my way around the chickens and pigs. I have gotten to know the place quite well, but there are still so many things that I need to learn.
We've gotten baby quail and buck-eyed chicks from the Midwest, their baby chirps make me think of early February when the teenage chicks were exactly that. Now, they're practically adults and fitting in quite nicely with the lady hens.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Ghetto Pasta, My Brother Jesse's Cooking Show

My biggest cooking influence in my life is my mother. Her inventive cooking and taste for quality has not only affected my emotional opinions about food flavors, but learning to identify quality ingredients has also affected my brother, who I believe to be a true consumer of all the finer things in life. Instead of investing in culinary school however, Jesse takes his research on the road. Any time I am looking for Seattle's best burger, taco truck or finest cut of rib-eye, all I have to do is text my brother and he'll respond with at least five options for me. Besides knowing about all the greatest places to eat, good places to buy good ingredients, he can also make some mean barbecue, and he is hilariously funny.
Like anyone else, Jesse and I also have our moments when the need to satisfy hunger simply takes over anything creative, leading us to scanning the pantry and making something "that will do." I know all of us can think of a time when we've resorted to some wild creation, due to lack of time or ingredients on hand and made something ultra random. Like soup made out of leftovers or a microwaved plate of Chinese food next and yesterday's potato salad. Like many bachelors, Jesse has an abundance of condiments in his pantry and fridge, which can lead to some inventive creations. He started filming a cooking series with random bits and pieces in his kitchen. Here is the first of many, I hope! Ghetto Pasta Check it out!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Heirloom Tomato Lover

I am a tomato lover.

I’m not alone in the tomato lust department. I’ve stood behind several devotees at farmer’s markets or at checkout counters who have happily paid $6.00 for their oddly shaped, wrinkled and rainbow colored heirloom tomatoes. $6.00 for one tomato?! Are we crazy? Why do we do it when there is a perfect pyramid of Roma or beefsteak tomatoes everyday without fail in the produced department for half the price? We’re not trying to be Gucci, we do it for flavor.

Tomato lovers consider it crazy to pay for mealy, tasteless tomatoes, simply because the store sells these disappointing replicas called “tomatoes” year-round. I’m one of these people who wished that tomatoes tasted the way they do in the summer 365 days a year, but I have come to the realization that in order to experience the flavor of summer tomatoes all year round, I’ll need to get busy canning when tomatoes are at their peak.

American’s have gotten used to pumpkins only being available in the fall, so why can’t we teach ourselves that when things are at their seasonal peak- they taste better! And guess what else? They are in seasonal abundance and therefore cheaper!

For tomato lovers, summer is a long awaited treat and even more so if you happen to be a gardener and you are growing your own heirloom tomatoes. Seeing the first signs of fruit is that much sweeter and sooo worth the wait! And just reading the names of the heirloom tomato varieties from a seed catalogs is like reading through pages of children’s book characters, and you know there is a story behind each one! “Green Zebra,” “Bloody Butcher” and “Chocolate Stripes” to name a few!” One heirloom tomato seed website offers more than 600 heirloom varieties to choose from.

I just recently moved into my very first house and it looked to have a little bit of a yard, no trees, but a perfect spot with lengthy, direct sunlight- perfect for tomatoes! Months before we bought the house, I noticed a left over tomato plant marker, “New Girl” just lying in the dirt bed; perhaps one of the neighbor’s tags flew over the side or it was dropped by a curious crow, as there was nothing growing there, it seemed out of place. No one had lived in the house for 2 years, but it was like my thoughts were illustrated in front of me, this is where I wanted to plant tomatoes.
The day we showed up with our moving van something green and gorgeous was planted in the dirt bed. A brand new “New Girl” tomato starter plant was planted right in the plant marker spot, freshly watered and surrounded by its own little wire cage.
The seller, the only living brother who was born in the 101 year old house, had left us a house warming present- a tomato plant. Something that was obviously important to him, something that must have grown well, in the same spot for more than 70 years.

I’ll be adding another 10 heirloom varieties to join the “New Girl,” perhaps a move I’ll regret later, as I’ll be up to my ears in tomatoes by summer’s end, but as a devoted tomato lover, that is exactly where I’d like to be.