Posted: May 3, 2013 Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: fried bologna sandwich, toby keith
Photo by Kurt Hegre (kurthegre.com)
Posted: November 8, 2012 Filed under: About Ed Murrieta
This site is a portfolio of my journalism, blogging and multimedia work, covering food, marijuana, travel and cultural reportage.
My work has appeared in the Seattle Times Magazine, the Sacramento Bee, the Tacoma News Tribune, the San Francisco Examiner, the Contra Costa Times, Wired News, South Sound Eats, High Times Medical Marijuana Magazine, West Coast Cannabis magazine, and on The Splendid Table radio program.
Publication and copyright information are noted at the end of each post.
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My resume is after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: April 28, 2012 Filed under: Recipes, Uncategorized
Ed’s note: I wrote this in 2004, hence the dated Ricky Martin reference.
BY ED MURRIETA
GOT MILK? Got milk? Got milk? You’ll need three kinds to make the classic Latin American tres leches cake.
For those of you whose Spanish is limited to Taco Bell menus and Ricky Martin ditties, tres leches refers to the three milks — usually whole, condensed and evaporated — that soak this egg-and-butter-rich sponge cake to a gooey, custardy consistency, after which it’s covered with tangy meringue or sweetened whipped cream.
Tres leches, simple and decadent, is traditionally a special-occasion cake. And there’s no better time to plan or whip up a tres leches cake than today. Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday, which, contrary to frat-boy belief, celebrates the Mexican army’s victory over French invaders at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862 — not the introduction of Budweiser into Latin America. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: April 18, 2012 Filed under: Uncategorized
Ed’s note: I dug this up because I dug one of the sources in this story. John Sheard died. I don’t know the details. I just know the man had class, old-school tux-wearing class.
BY ED MURRIETA
Eating raw beef may be an acquired taste for some, but not for all.
“My husband and I adore raw beef,” said Georgia Moody of Fircrest. “From carpaccio to pho to steak tartare, the more raw the better.”
Fred Huddle of Tacoma recalled his run-in with a raw beef patty in a Copenhagen automat 35 years ago.
“There was a great-looking hamburger in there,” Huddle said. “I put in the correct amount of coins, opened the window and took out the small dish. It was raw, but I assumed the attendant would cook it for me. She would not and seemed hurt that I’d ask her to do so. So I ate it a la Denmark, and it was good.”
Mike Collins of Puyallup recalled steak tartare in Paris. “It was served with a raw egg on top,” he said. “I loved it! The next day at breakfast I read a rather lengthy story on (mad cow disease) and how raw beef in Europe was not recommended for consumption. That was almost seven years ago, and I still don’t exhibit any of the symptoms. I just can’t stand anything well done.”
For beef-eating diners like these, here’s a rare piece of raw news worth sinking one’s teeth into: The worst E. coli infections this century did not directly involve beef. According to a recent Scripps Howard Newspapers study of food illness outbreak reports sent to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between Jan. 1, 2000, and Dec. 31, 2004, the vehicles that deliver the sometimes-deadly disease to the public are changing. In Washington, the state Health Department’s most recent figures report six E. coli outbreaks in 2005. None was conclusively attributed to beef.
“Produce is now becoming one of the primary vehicles for E. coli infections,” said Michael Doyle, director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia, who consulted with Taco Bell on its recent E. coli outbreaks, which were traced to lettuce.
E. coli bacteria contaminates beef during slaughtering and processing. It’s most common in ground beef, which can contain contaminated exterior cuts along with uncontaminated interior muscle cuts. Muscle cuts – sirloins, tenderloins and other cuts used in raw beef dishes such as steak tartare and thinly sliced beef carpaccio – don’t contain E. coli bacteria unless they’ve been contaminated during processing and handling, butchers, ranchers and researchers say. In last year’s E. coli outbreak involving spinach, feral pigs are suspected of tracking infected cow feces through pastures and into produce fields. Waste-contaminated water and improper hygiene practices during picking and processing have also been linked to outbreaks. E. coli is more likely to occur among grain-fed cattle.
Doyle said steam pasteurization and acid rinses implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture have significantly reduced the threat of E. coli poisoning from slaughtered beef.
“I think the industry has had a wake-up call and is probably doing a better job than they were doing before,” said Joel Huesby, a Walla Walla cattle rancher who raises, slaughters and sells grass-fed beef under the Thundering Hooves brand. “You can eat raw steak.”
In the South Sound, a handful of restaurants serve raw steak dishes. El Gaucho and Baron Manfred Von Vierthaler in Bonney Lake serve steak tartare – toothsome pieces of chopped beef mixed with raw egg and crunchy vegetables. Pacific Grill and Il Fiasco serve buttery thin slices of beef carpaccio. Kokiri calls its hand-shredded raw beef appetizer Beef Sashimi. Thin slices of raw beef also grace bowls of pho, although they’re technically cooked by the Vietnamese noodle soup’s hot broth.
“It’s a traditional steakhouse item,” said Jon Sheard, maitre d’ at Tacoma’s El Gaucho, whose steak tartare appetizer is made to order with what he called “top-of-the-line” prime certified Angus sirloin. “I think the scare is over.”
Still, Sheard said, steak tartare isn’t a big seller, with about two orders per night accounting for about 4 percent of El Gaucho’s total sales. “We certainly don’t do as many of those as we do New York steaks,” he said.
For people who have issues with eating raw food – whether it’s out of squeamishness or a genuine health concern (elderly people, young children and people with compromised immune systems are more susceptible to food-borne bacteria) – the state requires disclaimers on restaurant menus.
“No customers to my knowledge have expressed concerns about raw beef,” said Gordon Naccarato, chef-owner of Pacific Grill in Tacoma. “Although we have to, by law, point out that they ‘shouldn’t be eating raw beef products’ – the standard ‘Big Brother’ lawyer lawsuit-prevention warnings.”
Restaurants that serve steak tartare and beef carpaccio note that they take extra caution when preparing raw beef dishes. At El Gaucho, chef Ken Sharp and his crew reserve one cutting board for chopping beef for steak tartare. Sharp said he takes special care to sanitize knives and cutting surfaces.
“The carpaccio is cut to order from a whole-muscle filet mignon,” Pacific Grill’s Naccarato said. “This is never made in advance.”
Preparing raw beef dishes from muscle cuts is important.
“If there’s any E. coli on the beef, it’s always on the exterior part of the meat,” said butcher Dave Wenstad, owner of Dave’s Meat and Produce in Tacoma. “That’s how E. coli gets into ground beef: You’re grinding exterior beef with interior muscles. If you’re going to eat raw meat, you’ve got to make sure everything is sanitary and there is no bacteria.”
If you’re going to prepare steak tartare or carpaccio at home, Wenstad recommends buying your meat from a butcher first thing in the morning “when everything is cleaned and sanitized. I would only do it as a preordered kind of thing.”
Wenstad said sirloins, tenderloins, New Yorks and rib-eyes make good tartare cuts, but El Gaucho’s Sheard cautions against using filet mignon. “Filet is too tender,” Sheard said. “It doesn’t have enough tooth to it.”
Wenstad said he doesn’t get as many requests for tartare as he did when he first became a butcher 30 years ago.
“My dad would ask for it, but honestly, no one’s ever asked me for it,” said Jason Gasbarra, manager of Metropolitan Grill in Seattle, which doesn’t serve steak tartare for what Gasbarra called “liability” reasons.
“Properly prepared with an ultraclean meat grinder and served with all of the condiments on the side so I can mix it with a raw egg on top is my idea of a perfect steak,” said Bob Hammar of University Place. “It’s always a gamble when you order a steak cooked rare and then get it cooked all the way through. I have eaten steak tartare from Paris to Tahiti. I love the texture and like to enjoy it with a glass or two of red wine. “
Some like it raw
Editor’s note: As noted in the story above, elderly people, young children and people with compromised immune systems are more susceptible to food-borne bacteria. If in doubt, don’t eat it.
Yield: 6 servings
11/4 pounds fresh sirloin, finely chopped
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ketchup
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Tabasco sauce to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 ounce Cognac
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 ounces capers, rinsed
2 ounces cornichons, finely chopped
4 sprigs parsley
Place the egg yolks in a large stainless steel bowl. Add the mustard and anchovies. Mix well. Add the ketchup, Worcestershire, Tabasco and pepper. Mix well. Slowly whisk in the oil. Add Cognac. Mix. Fold in onions, capers, cornichons and parsley.
Divide the meat among 6 chilled dinner plates. Form the meat into mounds or place into a ring mold to create discs. Remove ring mold, if using.
Serve immediately, with toasted bread.
Source: “Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook”
Yield: 2 servings
4 ounces American-style Kobe beef sirloin or other good-quality sirloin
2 garlic gloves, grated
Ginger, sliced into juilenne strips
2 teaspoons white sesame seeds, toasted
Yuzu Soy Sauce (recipe follows)
3 ounces olive oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil
Cut the beef into thin slices, about 1/8-inch thick.
Arrange the beef slices on a serving plate. Spread a little grated garlic over each slice, and top with the ginger and chives. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and drizzle with Yuzu Soy Sauce.
Mix the olive oil and sesame oil in a small frying pan and heat until the oils begin to smoke. Spoon a bit of oil over each slice of beef. Serve immediately.
Note: Raw beef is easier to slice if it’s chilled in the freezer. Cover the slices of beef with a sheet of plastic wrap. Pound them lightly with a rolling pin to stretch them out.
Yuzu Soy Sauce
31/2 ounces soy sauce
3 tablespoons yuzu juice
Mix ingredients together in a bowl.
Note: Yuzu, or Japanese citron, is zestier than lemon. Yuzu juice is available at Asian supermarkets. Substitute lemon juice if you wish.
Source: “Nobu Now” by Nobuyuki Matsuhisa
HERE’S THE RAW BEEF
Here are some delicious raw beef appetizers at South Sound restaurants.
Steak tartare, El Gaucho, Tacoma
This appetizer is mixed tableside. Anchovies and garlic are muddled together. Grey Poupon is mixed in, followed by capers, onions, raw egg yolk and Worcestershire sauce. Chopped sirloin is mixed in. The mixture is mounded on a plate and finished with a splash of Courvoisier. It’s served with toasted bread and slices of tomato. Capers and onions give the snappy sirloin zesty bite, cognac adds a smooth dimension, but garlic permeates.
Beef sashimi at Kokiri, Federal Way
Chilled beef is cut into fine strands and seasoned with sesame oil. Mounded atop lettuce and matchsticks of Asian pear, the glistening raw beef is ringed with sliced garlic and crowned with a raw egg yolk, scallions and sesame seeds.
Beef carpaccio at Pacific Grill, Tacoma
Filet mignon is sliced to order and pounded to paper thinness. Generously seasoned with sea salt and olive tapenade, the beef glistens and melts like butter on the palate. Cracked peppercorns and allspice berries lend a zesty edge, as do shavings of reggiano cheese. Fried capers, arugula, crispy shallots and fried onions round out the appetizer.
Beef carpaccio at Il Fiasco, Tacoma
Chilled, paper-thin slices of certified Angus sirloin are drizzled in an Italian cipriani sauce of Worsteshire, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard and lemon juice. A coarse sprinkle of salt and pepper adds tooth to the tenderness. Served with shaved honeydew melon.
Posted: April 16, 2012 Filed under: Uncategorized
BY ED MURRIETA
Amanda asked, “What do you want for dinner, sweet pea?”
“I’ve been craving spaghetti and meatballs.”
We went shopping.
Thirty-eight dollars later:
a hunk of Parmesan that could door-stop a bank vault;
2 pounds each sausage and ground beef;
4 fat cans San Marzano tomatoes — the one with the basil, she said;
multi-colored organic pasta — the box, she said, not the bag;
and a $10 bottle of old-vine Zin because, she said, “You can’t cook with what you wouldn’t drink.”
She sweated the onions and browned the meat. I minced the garlic, grated the cheese and opened the cans of tomatoes, the ones with the limp, shriveled basil, wet and useless but for a dash of color in the can.
I opened the cooking wine and poured three glasses: one for Amanda, one for me, one for the sauce.
She finished making the meat sauce.
I grabbed a loaf of bread — a sliced brown supermarket loaf that’s soft but coarse, good for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and interesting enough on its own.
I was mid-bite in the middle of the slice when she grabbed for the bread in my mouth.
“Sweat pea,” she said, starting with a request to pick tarragon and oregano from the herb garden and ending in exclamation to stop what I was doing.
“Let me put some butter on that for you,” she said.
I jerked my head back reflexively, like when the dentist comes at you with something sharp in one hand, glass of wine in the other.
“I don’t want bread and butter,” I said. “I just want bread.”
“You can’t have just plain bread, sweat pea. Here, have some butter.”
“I kinda like just plain bread.”
The argument that followed was unwinnable and monumental.
When she was 10 years old, the guy her mom was shacked up with abandoned them with nothing but Wonder bread and powdered sugar in the house.
My austere carbo loading ate at Amanda’s memories of deprivation.
Posted: April 14, 2012 Filed under: Uncategorized
By Ed Murrieta
Origionally published April 2005, Tacoma News Tribune
While his official title is associate editor of the New York Times, Apple’s true job affords him license to eat anything, travel anywhere and analyze any subjects that appeal to his relentless appetites.
R.W. “Johnny” Apple Jr.’s resume goes like this: New York Times, 1963-present. Duties: national political correspondent; foreign correspondent; food, arts and travel correspondent. Formerly bureau chief, London and Washington.
Johnny Apple gossip goes like this: He’s mellowed, but his ego matches his three-lunch waistline; his peripatetic attention span compares to that of an overgrown 4-year-old boy, which Apple — bellied, bejowled and apple-cheeked — is said to resemble at such moments as upon eating the perfect crab cake.
At age 70 and with no stated plan to retire, Apple indulges personal interests and generational ghosts on the Times’ dime: On the front page, Apple trudges the Iraq-Vietnam quagmire. On the food page, he lunches with circus clowns. He recently returned from three weeks in South Africa; the $5,000 expense report is not his most outrageous.
His new book, “Apple’s America,” is a travelogue of major American cities, compiled from Apple’s domestic reporting-eating-and-museum-going travels. (Seattle’s in there; sorry, Tacoma.) He’ll appear in Seattle on Sunday “for a little shameless huckstering.”
Johnny Apple called me from Washington, D.C., where he lives with his wife, Betsey, his steady-at-the-wheel traveling companion and muse.
What’s with your buffet-like approach to work?
I move among politics, foreign correspondence, food, arts and travel. Some may find it silly. I myself find it very, very invigorating to go from one to the other. At this stage in my life, if I had to do one all the time, I don’t think I’d be a very happy boy.
What’s your one-day eating record — 18 meals?
Yeah, well. My wife may hear you.
Your wife seems to, but can your editors keep you in check?
I battled like a fiend to try to have an individual voice in my early years at the Times. Now they’re delighted to have me as idiosyncratic as I want to be. I don’t mean that the Times has decided to allow everybody to write his or her prejudices into the paper. If I suddenly wrote a piece that said, “George Bush likes to eat at Cooper’s BBQ in Llano, Texas, which is a lousy place but that’s not surprising because he’s a lousy president,” I don’t think they’d like that very well, or should they.
Do you recall your first time in a restaurant?
I believe it was a former speakeasy in the North Hills section of Akron, Ohio, where I grew up called Papa Joe’s. What I remember about it is that he took the wrapper off some amaretti biscuits and lit it and it went up into the air like a helicopter. That’s what I remember, not the food, but I was only about 6.
That was about 1940. How has dining in America changed?
I used to travel the country with what I called an emergency meal: Shrimp cocktail, strip steak, medium rare, and a Heineken. It was the best you could get at the Salt Lake City Hilton.
Radically changed is what I would have called 30 years ago The Unholy Triangle of American Gastronomy: If a restaurant wasn’t in New Orleans, San Francisco or New York it wasn’t worth paying attention to. That’s way gone.
One generation after the war, Vietnamese food is popular in the United States. Any food predictions from the War on Terror?
I expect a tidal wave of Iraqi food. I’m not being facetious. I think that’s the next thing because there will be a lot of Americans who have sampled it who would have never dreamed of sampling it before.
What was the food like when you covered the Vietnam war?
Vietnamese food is wonderful, but let me tell you, it wasn’t there. The Vietcong controlled all the roads. So fish wouldn’t get to town. The vegetables wouldn’t get down from the highlands. I had a friend called Frank Wisner, later our ambassador to India, who was a political officer in the highlands. When he would come to visit, he would bring a great treat: a little box of strawberries. You never saw strawberries in the market in Saigon; they didn’t get there.
Did you ever dine with Richard Nixon?
He’s not somebody I remember for his gastronomic adventuresness: cottage cheese and ketchup, and the wine served wrapped in towels so that he could have better wine than his guests. That’s typical Nixon.
Clinton was a cheeseburger man, but when he got something good to eat he really got excited. Chirac said that after he took him out to dinner that Clinton was a great advertisement for French cooking because he just absolutely devoured it.
I wouldn’t describe most politicians as great food lovers. There are a lot of writers who like good food, though.
Even the drug-addled sort like Hunter Thompson?
I had several meals with Hunter Thompson during the campaign that he describes in “Fear and Loathing.”
Was the dinner-table consumption limited only to the menu?
For him, no. For me, yes. The most amazing thing about that whole business is that he got me in the wrong campaign. He talks about me in the Florida aspect of the campaign and I wasn’t there. So maybe he should have stuck with the food and not enriched it.
Posted: April 14, 2012 Filed under: Chefs, Food Business People, Industry Issues
Originally published in The Tacoma News Tribune, Wednesday, November 3rd, 2004 12:01 AM (PST)
My colleagues in the food press like to paint Anthony Bourdain as the
Jack Kerouac of the kitchen, an articulate bad boy roaming the seamy
What this caricature slights is Bourdain’s seriousness of purpose,
intelligence of vision and affection for food that is at once vulgar
and refined. A gastronomic Jean Genet, or Lou Reed, Lord of the Line
Cooks, would be more appropriate.
Bourdain catapulted from brash cook to celebrity chef four years ago
with the publication of his sex-drugs-cockroaches tell-all, “Kitchen
Confidential.” Since then, he’s written for The New Yorker and
traveled the world on the Food Network’s dime, eating and extolling
the virtues of all things tasty and disgusting, from sheep testicles
to monkey brains.
A recovering heroin addict and graduate of the Culinary Institute of
America, Bourdain is a well-regarded crime novelist and author of a
book about Typhoid Mary, the 19th-century cook suspected of
triggering a killer epidemic. He’s just published his first cookbook,
“Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook: Strategies, Recipes and
Techniques of Classic Bistro Cooking.”
The recipes are collected from Les Halles, the New York City
brasserie where Bourdain has been executive chef since 1996. The
voice is pure Bourdain: Swaggering and unflinching, he insults and
cajoles readers while giving them a no-nonsense field manual of
kitchen techniques and cooking insights.
Bourdain will be in Seattle on Monday to participate in the
Washington Wine Commission’s Cooks & Books Visiting Chef’s Series. I
spoke with Bourdain from his Manhattan home. What follows is a
bouillabaisse of a conversation about cookbook writing, the cult of
celebrity chefs and the virtues of immigrant kitchen labor.
Read any good cookbooks lately?
I think “The French Laundry Cookbook” was terrific. It was beautiful,
yet interesting writing. It wasn’t nonsensical musings. It wasn’t BS.
Fergus Henderson’s “The Whole Beast,” it’s very much his voice, it’s
him talking to you. As long as the chef doesn’t just slap his name on
the cover and put in some pretty pictures and have a ghostwriter do
everything else, it’s of interest to me.
You’re referring to gushy food memoirs?
I think you’re doing a reader a disservice if you try to make them
believe that since infancy you’ve been dreaming of white truffles,
white asparagus. That’s just such nonsense. So few chefs actually
came to the business like that.
Your cookbook is pretty nuts and bolts – or hooves and snouts – with
an emphasis on basic techniques and “low-on-the-hog” ingredients.
I think the whole idea of cocktail-table food porn is something I
very much did not want to do. I wanted my book to be useful, to have
food spilled on it, to quickly become an old friend in the kitchen. I
wanted it to have my voice. I wanted it to sound like me, the way
I’ve talked to generations of cooks over the years. I don’t think you
can do that by writing from on high. A lot of that writing has no
relation to reality. It’s hard to believe that the chef actually
sounds like that when you’re talking to him over a few beers.
So there’s too much preciousness about food?
I think yes. I think food should be approachable and fun, and you
should feel comfortable mopping your sauce with bread. It is only
food at the end of the day. Snobbery, pretentiousness, squeamishness,
contempt, these are terrible things. Overwriting, over-weaning
philosophy or orthodoxy – these are anti-food and anti-human
instincts. The sooner you get rid of that, the better.
How do you feel about food safety worries?
I think both sides are dangerous. This notion that the government
owes you absolute purity is a dangerous one to food. People shouldn’t
be afraid of bacteria; they shouldn’t be afraid of food. By the same
token, they should not see food as coming from some sort of rarefied
environment populated only by artists. Most of the great dishes of
the world have come out of less-than-sterile environments.
So you don’t get turned off by hole-in-the-wall joints that serve
good food but don’t pay attention to hygiene?
If a restaurant’s filled with happy-looking people and the food looks
good, I’m eating it. I’m not very concerned about “is the kitchen as
clean as McDonald’s?” What’s the cleanest restaurant in America? It’s
probably McDonald’s. It’s clean. It’s germ-free. And it’s completely
devoid of pleasure.
What about more upscale restaurants?
If you’re charging me $28 a plate, I expect a certain pride, I expect
certain standards right through the operation. If you don’t care
enough to clean your bathroom and you’re charging me $28, that is a
little dismaying. But my expectations change when we’re talking about
a little place that serves pho or tacos. Hey, if the tacos are good
and the place is packed and they’re packed with the right people,
which is to say Mexicans or Vietnamese, then I have a reasonably good
expectation that I’m gonna have a good meal.
Who’s more indispensable during the Saturday night dinner rush – the French chef or the Mexican dishwasher?
The dishwasher. We can make it through the night without the chef. If
the dishwasher doesn’t show up, we’re doomed. And chances are the
Mexican dishwasher will end up staying a much longer time than the
French chef and end up carrying the entire weight of the kitchen as
sous chef eventually.
Have Latino immigrant workers changed kitchen culture?
Only for the better. It’s a character issue. They by and large come
to the country with little or no professional training. But they come
from a food-centric culture where food is important to them, it’s
valued and enjoyed. And they’re coming from one culture to another,
and they see America where – rightly – if you work hard you will gain
the American dream, whereas Americans often tend to see success as a
So why don’t we see more Latinos on cooking shows?
Every day that goes by that we don’t have one is a shameful one. It
is despicable, for instance, that when you look out into the audience
at the James Beard awards how few Latino faces you see in an industry
that is enormously reliant on Mexican and Latino labor. It’s
grotesque to me that that isn’t acknowledged every day.
Do diners know or appreciate who’s really doing the work in most kitchens?
Oh, no. There’s an incredible hypocrisy and willful blindness on the
issue. How can anyone complain about illegal Mexican labor? Try to
find an American dishwasher. It’s ridiculous. As long as Americans
are not willing to be seen working as dishwashers or prep cooks or
night clean-up, as long as they see that as beneath them, it’s
ludicrous to deny the value, the character and importance of the
Latino workforce. As I see it, we are all chefs, cooks and
dishwashers, we are all the same people. We are all the back-stairs
help in the service industry. I don’t see myself as any better or
more important than a Mexican dishwasher. In fact, I’m in many ways
Do restaurants exploit immigrant labor?
What has changed in my lifetime is that the days of the underpaid
illegal immigrant restaurant workers are largely over. It doesn’t
matter who you are, you’re getting paid the same lousy wages, but at
least they’re within legal range – 7, 8, 9 dollars an hour. I think
that anyone who’s paying an illegal Mexican under the legal wage
should be shot, or at least flogged publicly.
Besides kitchen Spanish, what have you learned from Mexican dishwashers?
I just feel privileged to work with these guys. They have the
strength of character and a sense of humor and an understanding of
the way the world works that a lot of my peers don’t.
When is your next crime novel coming out?
I don’t know, but I intend to write them every two years as personal
therapy. It’s nice to disappear into an alternate universe where
people solve their problems with guns and blunt objects, which is
something we can’t really do in the restaurant.
Do celebrity chefs have groupies?
Yeah. It’s a pretty disturbing group. I mean, sure, hey, it’s nice to
be loved, but when somebody likes you because you’re on television,
you’re talking about Kathy Bates in “Misery.” You’re not talking
about somebody you’re going to develop a meaningful relationship
with. It’s flattering, but it’s a little disturbing.
Has the cult of celebrity chefdom worn out its welcome or peaked?
I hope not. I think it’s a good thing. It’s good for the world. I may
not like Emeril’s show, but I think the world is a better place for
him having been in it. He runs good restaurants. He came up the hard
way from the old school. Because of him we probably have a wider
selection of food in our supermarkets, people are eating marginally
better and maybe even cooking marginally better. Who better than
chefs? We do something useful. We feed people. We nurture them. We
inspire others to cook better and eat better. In a fast-food culture,
that’s a good thing.
How do you feel about the F-word – foodie?
For lack of a better word, I can live with it. Sure. Why not?
Yield: 6 servings
2 pounds beef shoulder, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup olive oil
4 onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup Burgundy
6 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 garlic clove
Bouquet garni (1 sprig flat-leaf parsley, 2 sprigs fresh thyme and 1
bay leaf tied together with string or bundled in cheesecloth)
Salt and pepper
Water (amount depends on size of pot)
A little chopped flat-leaf parsley
Season meat with salt and pepper. In a Dutch oven or large,
heavy-bottomed pot, heat oil over high heat until it is almost
smoking. Working in batches, sear the meat on all sides until well
browned. Set aside. Add onions to the pot. Lower the heat to
medium-high and sauté until the onions are soft and golden brown,
about 10 minutes. Sprinkle flour over onions and continue to cook for
5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add wine, and scrape anything that
sticks from the bottom of the pot. Bring mixture to a boil. Return
the meat to the pots, and add carrots, garlic and bouquet garni. Add
just enough water so that the liquid covers the meat by one-third -
meaning you want a ratio of 3 parts liquid to 2 parts meat. Bring to
a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and let cook for about 2 hours, or
until the meat is tender and breaks apart with a fork. Check stew
every 15-20 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pot to make sure the
meat does not stick. Skim off any foam or oil that collects on the
surface. When done, remove and discard the bouquet garni, add chopped
parsley to the pot and serve.
Source: “Les Halles Cookbook” by Anthony Bourdain
Posted: April 14, 2012 Filed under: Uncategorized
Ed’s note: My favorite story I ever wrote. Crumley liked it too. Here’s his email to me:
Wilford Brimley?! Jesus. Actually there’s a history. I walked into a backyard barbeque in LA once, and some bit actor shouted actoss the pool, “I don’t know you are, buddy, but Wilford Brimley’s getting all your parts.” The piece was fine, thanks. An old friend told me this afternoon that sometimes pieces about me don’t sound like me. This one did. Hope you had as much fun as I did. I’ll give you a shout when we get over that way. Maybe Xmas.
ED MURRIETA; The Tacoma News Tribune
Published: August 21st, 2005
Hard-boiled fiction’s last great opening line is how most readers meet James Crumley, the author of these famous first words:
“When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon.”
So begins Crumley’s 1978 novel, “The Last Good Kiss,” and thus enters C.W. Sughrue: dishonored Vietnam soldier, remorseful domestic spy and disillusioned private detective, an amphetamine-fueled antihero who is as vulnerable as he is volatile.
“That voice is just the voice you want to listen to,” said novelist and screenwriter Pete Dexter. “That voice is funny. That voice is smart. That voice has seen some stuff. That voice speaks of romance and adventure and humor, and bang – it’s there in one sentence. And the book itself is pretty damn good.”
“The Last Good Kiss” was Crumley’s second detective novel. His first, “The Wrong Case,” was written while Crumley lived on Vashon Island 30 years ago.
Neither novel, nor the five that followed, would have been written without the influence of Northwest poet Richard Hugo, a friend, colleague and “grand old detective of the heart” who introduced Crumley to the work of Raymond Chandler, the 20th-century master of gumshoe noir.
“I always introduce my work by explaining that I am a bastard child of Raymond Chandler,” said Crumley. “Line by line by line, image by image, he always has hold of the reader.”
The same can be said of Crumley.
Crumley’s twisted underworlds are “fetid with corruption, rotten as an ancient swamp.”
In Crumley’s Montana, “The full moon rose blazing over Mount Sentinel, outlining the maw of the Hellgate Canyon with silver fire.”
After a Crumley love scene, “She smelled of rain and stones glistening damply in a pine grove, of moss and pitch, of easy silence.”
Crumley’s own last words were almost written three years ago, when a mystery ailment nearly killed him during the middle of writing “The Right Madness,” which was published this spring.
Crumley said his doctors still don’t know what made his body swell with fluid. Hallucinating from powerful paralyzing drugs, he was tethered to a ventilator in Missoula Community Hospital for 12 days, “Long enough for me to think I was never going to write again.”
OF VICE AND MEN
When I finally caught up with James Crumley, we ate medium-rare rib-eyes at a hotel restaurant on the Clark Fork River just outside of downtown Missoula, the 66-year-old author nursing vodka tonics against the mountain-scorching July sun.
Hard living appeared to have caught up with the big man as well. Though Crumley said he recovered from whatever nearly killed him, arthritis and gout slowed him. His tumbleweed drawl was low and strained. When Crumley laughed, which was often and easily, it was soft and hollow. The craggily handsome roughneck of earlier years now resembled walrusy actor Wilford Brimley.
The invitation to this interview was extended in 1996, when I met Crumley as he promoted “Bordersnakes” in San Francisco. Look me up if you’re in Missoula, Crumley said. A friend reported the same invitation as Crumley promoted “The Right Madness.”
“I have a listed phone number,” Crumley said, explaining how visitors find him.
Most of those fans are French.
“They like my politics,” Crumley said. “I’m a Trotskyite.”
That explains Crumley’s revolutionary private-eye pyrotechnics. Set in a West that is at once mythic and postmodern, Crumley’s bread and butter is danger and heartache, open roads and closed emotions, frayed margins where beginnings, middles and endings explode happily or horrifically, depending on the politics of the person pulling the trigger.
As genre detectives go, Crumley’s are full of flaws and furies. Take Sughrue (that’s “Shoog” as in sugar and “rue” as in rue the day), who stars in “The Right Madness” as well as “The Mexican Tree Duck (1993) and “The Last Good Kiss.”
Sughrue is haunted by Vietnam. He killed civilians. “Recon by grenade,” Crumley said.
Faced with hard time in Leavenworth, Sughrue chose to spy on anti-war college radicals. Vietnam fills his dreams.
Sughrue’s estranged 13-year-old son, too, suffers nightmares: He witnessed Sughrue kill bad guys, saw him smile in their blood.
Sughrue is betrayed by his own nature. At heart, Sughrue is a Texas hippie who gets burned by people he too easily trusts. His son’s rejection “hurts like a broken rib.” Violence, drink and drugs salve loathing, pain and fear.
“Crumley has achieved a level of mastery that’s not just about whodunit,” said Alicia Gaspar de Alba, author of “Desert Blood,” a novel for which Crumley, her former professor, wrote a cover blurb.
“His protagonists, if you were to look at them outside of a book structure, you would say, ‘What a loser. Why doesn’t he get a life?’ It is through working their problems and using their problems and how their problems take them places where those of us who don’t have those problems never go, that’s the reason Crumley achieves that mastery. It’s not just the detective form. It’s what he does with characters.”
While Crumley’s work is marketed among genre fiction, “When it’s good, it transcends that,” said Dexter.
Dexter, the National Book Award winner who lives on Whidbey Island, said, “If I see a new Crumley book, I’ll get on a ferry and spend an afternoon going to get it. He’s just a lot of fun.”
But sometimes he’s frustrating fun. Crumley said nobody has been able to spot the seam in “The Right Madness,” the point in the novel before or after his mystery illness. But that’s probably because like all of Crumley’s novels, “The Right Madness” explodes into an orgy of duplicity and violence. Readers finish sated, but not always sure what’s gone down.
As The New York Times said while praising Crumley’s first novel in 1969, “With all its power, the novel is flawed by an excess of its virtues. … There is a monotony, not of inaction, but of too much.”
THE ARTIST IN ANGER
Madness is another persistent theme.
“The dichotomy between the promise of democracy and the actuality of democracy drives people crazy,” Crumley said.
Turning inward, a road less traveled by Sughrue, Crumley added:
“I’ve always been a troubled person. I’ve had many years of terrible temper. I have a bad reputation for taking things personally.”
That helps explain three divorce decrees contained among letters, novels, poetry and unproduced screenplays that Crumley sold to the Southwest Writers Collection at Texas State University-San Marcos.
“My ex-wife took my children and moved them to Tacoma. It was a long, bitter divorce,” said Crumley, who for years shuttled between Missoula and Tacoma to visit his sons, now 24 and 21.
“I wrote most of ‘The Wrong Case’ in Vashon,” Crumley said. “I was really mad then. The K2 ski factory was out there then, and they had all the ex-cons working for them in a rehabilitation program. They were convinced that I was a narc. It took me awhile, some barroom tussles and smoking dope with them.”
In Hollywood – a mistress that Crumley fell for like a do-wrong dame that does in hard-boiled heroes – Crumley accompanied edgy actor Dennis Hopper on the set of “River’s Edge” and literally flew high with literary rocker Warren Zevon.
“I spent some time with a therapist,” Crumley said. “I don’t know what she did, but she got rid of my anger. It worked out perfect, because the woman I’m married to now wouldn’t put up with me if I acted crazy that way.”
LIFE AFTER WAR
That Crumley survived the most enduring madness of his generation – the Vietnam War – is the result of timing and military regulations.
“The only thing that kept me out of that war was that the Marines weren’t taking any re-enlistments from the other services in ’63,” he said.
Crumley had already served three years, mostly in the Army. He went back to college and sold his first novel, fresh out of the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. He did a series of teaching gigs, beginning at the University of Montana in 1966.
In 1984, Crumley gave up academic saddle-tramping in favor of the novelist’s life in Missoula, “the only vaguely leftist city in Montana,” a home he’s returned to six times. He’s married to artist and poet Martha Elizabeth, his wife of 13 years.
Many of Crumley’s friends – and guys like C.W. Sughrue – weren’t so lucky.
“Guys who are in their late 50s now who’ve never had any post-traumatic stress problems are suddenly having them,” said Crumley, who was a faculty adviser for Vietnam Veterans Against the War and Students for a Democratic Society. “I know a handful of guys who didn’t realize it until they were having nightmares. It comes 30 years later. That’s why the war was important.”
NOVELS BY JAMES CRUMLEY
“One to Count Cadence” (1969)
“The Wrong Case” (1975)
“The Last Good Kiss” (1978)
“Dancing Bear” (1983)
“The Mexican Tree Duck” (1993)
“The Final Country” (2001)
“The Right Madness” (2005)
Ed Murrieta: 253-597-8678
Posted: March 18, 2012 Filed under: Uncategorized
My lunch from the Safeway. I made two. Guy outside the store asked, “Can you help me out?” I said, “What you need?” He said, “Something to eat. Meat.” “Like salami?” I asked. “Yeah, he said. “Good,” I said. “Just want to make sure you’re OK with pork.” So, I doubled my deli run: quarter pound sliced Genoa salami, four slices Swiss cheese and two Dutch crunch rolls. Sandwich in the photo, the one I ate in my car, is identical to the one I gave the guy on the street. Enjoy every sandwich.
Posted: March 14, 2012 Filed under: Recipes
Ed’s note: This is from a weekly column I wrote for the Contra Costa Times in 2003. Baker’s Choice moved nationally on the KRT wire from 2002 to 2004. I’m currently editing my Baker’s Choice columns into an e-book.
ED MURRIETA: BAKER’S CHOICE
A perfect pie crust is no piece of cake
ONE OF THE first casualties in my cooking-school class (aside from a few girlish figures) was a woman who got into a pie fight with Chef Nick. Not a Three Stooges, cream-in-your-face pie fight, but an “I’ve-been-making-pies-with-my-grandma-since-I-was-a-baby-and-don’t-you-tell-me-how-to-make-pie-crust” pie fight.
Well, let’s just say that Stacey disappeared from school faster than an apple pie on the Katzenjammer Kids’ window sill.
Everyone has a preferred way of making pie crust. While the ingredients — flour, fat, salt and liquid — are simple enough, it’s not that simple to get perfect pie crust. With the holiday pie season staring us in our pie holes, it’s time for a pie-crust primer.
Let’s settle any arguments right now. The No. 1 thing to remember is that perfect pie crust depends on two things: temperature and technique. You want all of your ingredients ice-cold — so put everything in the freezer — even the flour — before mixing. And you want to mix them only until your dough comes together.
There are two basic types of crust — flaky (best used for top crusts) and mealy (best used for bottom crusts in pies with high-moisture fillings) — and each is mixed slightly differently. (A crumb crust is just cookie or graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter mixed by hand.)
A flaky crust relies on larger nuggets of fat; flour is blended with butter, shortening or lard until the mix resembles a bunch of large peas blanketed in snow. These nuggets of fat will give off steam during baking, producing lovely leavened layers of flaky pastry. For mealy crust, you want to blend the fat and flour to a coarse paste; the baked result is more like short dough.
The skinny on fat
Shortening is most popular, because it has the right firm, moldable plastic consistency to form a flaky crust. Butter gives a better flavor, but melts easier and makes dough harder to work with. If you replace butter in a recipe that calls for shortening, increase the amount of fat by 25 percent, and be ready to decrease the liquid as butter contains more moisture than shortening.
If you’re going to use lard, avoid the supermarket stuff and seek out leaf lard from finer butcher shops. Derived from fat around pigs’ kidneys, leaf lard has a mellow flavor and a perfect texture for pies and pastries.
The best type of flour to use is pastry flour. It’s lower in protein strength (8.5 percent) than all-purpose flour (10 percent) and therefore absorbs less water. It has just enough gluten to produce the right balance of structure and flakiness. However, it’s more prone to overmixing than all-purpose flour and can get tough if not properly handled.
Watch the wet stuff
Liquid is necessary to develop some gluten in the flour. Add too much and you’ll toughen the dough; add too little and you’ll end up with a messy pile of crumbs. The biggest mistake bakers make is adding too much liquid, thinking that the dough has to come together too quickly. How much is too much? It really depends. The weather outside and the strength of your flour can affect how much water you’ll need. It’s better to err on the dry side.
Freezing the dough before using it helps in the hydration. When frozen dough defrosts, moisture comes through and wets the dough. So what starts out kind of dry will eventually come together nice and moist.
You can use either water or milk. However, richer milk crusts will brown faster and are less crispy. Whichever you use, always pour cold liquid (40 degrees or less) from a larger container filled with ice. This will help keep your dough at a nice cold working temperature.
Not only does it contribute flavor, but it helps tenderize gluten. Just be sure to dissolve salt in liquid to ensure even distribution.
Line ‘em up
If you’re going to roll out one pie, you might as well roll five. If you don’t immediately bake five pies, you’ll have some spares in the freezer. You’ll need about 8 ounces of dough for each 9-inch pie.
Work with dough that’s been chilled in the refrigerator at least an hour. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a large circle, approximately 1/4-inch thick and an inch or two larger in diameter than your pie dish. If the dough cracks, gently mend small cracks or place the dough under refrigeration and start over.
Roll up the dough on your rolling pin and lift it off your work surface. Lay the edge of the dough so it overhangs one side of a pie dish that you’ve sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Unroll or “walk” the rest of dough onto the pie dish. Let the weight of dough fall into the dish. Gently press the dough into the dish with your fingers, lifting overhanging dough and letting it fall into place. Trim excess dough around edges, score decoratively with fork tines or pinch for fluted effect.
If you want to roll multiple pie shells and put them in the freezer, use aluminum pie dishes. Place an empty pie dish inside of each finished shell. Stack them. Wrap the stack in plastic and store in the freezer.
Refrigerate shells 30 minutes before baking. This will chill the fat and ensure that the fat will produce steam during baking, which will create flaky layers of pastry.
Before baking or filling, poke holes in bottom of pie shells with a fork. This will allow air to escape during baking and will keep crusts flat.
When prebaking, line shells with foil and fill with rice or beans to weigh down the crust. Keep the crust edges exposed for better browning.
For recipes that call for prebaked shells, use a 450-degree oven and cook for 10-15 minutes. Let the shell cool before filling. For cream pies, use a mealy crust if the filling is hot; use flaky crust if filling is cold.
Ed Murrieta is a graduate of the California Culinary Academy. Contact him at email@example.com.
Makes enough for about 5 9-inch pie shells
FOR FLAKY CRUST:
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup cold water
5 cups (20 ounces) pastry flour
2 cups (14 ounces) shortening
FOR MEALY CRUST:
2 teaspoons salt
cup cold water
5 cups (20 ounces) pastry flour
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (13 ounces) shortening
1. Dissolve salt in water and chill all ingredients in freezer. Cut shortening into chunks the size of large grapes. Toss in flour to coat. Pour onto a smooth floured surface and gather ingredients into a pile.
2. Starting in center of pile, work rolling pin toward you, turning the shortening chunks into small pellets, about the size of peas. Roll with even pressure, just enough to work shortening into flour but not enough to smash it. Gather unworked crumbs and repeat a few more times until mixture resembles small peas. For mealy crust: Work the mixture until it resembles cornmeal.
3. Create a well in the center of the flour/shortening pile and add about 1/4 of the salted water. Toss the ingredients by hand until the water is incorporated. Do not knead. Mold into a pile, add another 1/4 of the water, toss and repeat until all water is incorporated, or until the dough becomes a cohesive mass. (You may not need all of the water, depending on the absorption power of the flour.)
4. Divide the dough into five portions and form into patties. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (about an hour). Freeze the dough if it’s not to be used immediately. Otherwise, dough has about a two-day shelf life in the refrigerator.
Per slice (based on 8): 130 calories, 2 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates, 10 g fat, 0 cholesterol, 115 mg sodium, 1 g fiber. Calories from fat: 69 percent.
Posted: March 2, 2012 Filed under: About Ed Murrieta, Artisan Food, Blog, Chefs, Farmers, Farmers Markets, Food and Beer, Food and Culture, Food and Travel, Food and Wine, Food Business People, Industry Issues, Multimedia
The stats and search refers on this site indicate that folks are looking for my food blog. I wrote a food blog the Tacoma News Tribune from March 2006 to July 2008.
You can read that blog from the beginning.
Or you can read that blog from the end.
When I quit the Tacoma News Tribune editors changed the name from Ed’s Diner to TNT Diner and stripped my byline off all posts.
If you’re looking for South Sound Eats, which was more than a blog, you can find a text-only snapshot of South Sound Eats thanks to the Wayback Machine. Otherwise, South Sound Eats is offline because I could no longer pay the bills to keep it alive.
See all the categories listed with this post? I covered all those and more in my blogs.
Posted: February 22, 2012 Filed under: Industry Issues
Yeah, I joined the meme.
Posted: February 21, 2012 Filed under: Restaurant Review
BY ED MURRIETA
Lamprey is a boneless, jawless fish that sucks the blood of other fish for sustenance, an elongated, cylindrical creature thought to be the oldest fishlike animal in existence. Lamprey are not pretty, but, oh, are they tasty, especially in the hands of Joseba Jimenez de Jimenez, a Basque-born chef who is currently cooking his version of the San Sebastian soul food at Harvest Vine in Seattle.
“We have lamprey and we have eel,” Jimenez said, stressing a distinction. “Lamprey is a very sweet fish. It’s much better than eel. You can taste the natural oils.”
Jimenez grew up eating and cooking lamprey in his native Basque region. He said you can cook lamprey many ways — fried, roasted, sauteed, even braised in wine like the French Basque do.
Jimenez received a load of Arctic lamprey from Alaska’s Yukon River in mid-November. He’s featured the fish different ways over the past couple of weeks. I visited Harvest Vine two weeks ago and again tonight, sampling lamprey in two different preparations: pan-seared and roasted, and brined and smoked. Both preparations were delicious.
Pan-seared and roasted, Jimenez’s lamprey was firm and soft at the same time. The flesh just beneath the skin sprang to the bite. The interior flesh was like marrow: tender, slightly firm and a little mealy all at once. A thin rip-cord of cartilage running through the middle of the fish added a springy accent. Jimenez served this version atop paella, with a sauce of condensed fried tomatoes adding extraordinary depth and sweetness and a drizzle of parsley oil adding a bright note. I ate this version two weeks ago and haven’t been able to get it off my mind or tongue since.
The preparation I ate tonight was brined in a water-sugar solution and smoked with hickory chips; both techniques made the lamprey melt-in-my-mouth tender throughout. Tonight’s preparation was a quintet of seafood textures: the lamprey was topped with salmon caviar and was accompanied by grilled, crusty octopus and blanched and shaved geoduck, all atop a confit of rice, matsutake mushrooms and perwinkles — the sea creature, not the grub.
Both dishes were $16 each. (Sharable, tapas-style dinner for two, with a bottle of wine and dessert, was $94 — well-worth the visit.)
One of Jimenez’s assistants told me Harvest Vine sells about five orders of lamprey nightly — not a big mover, but one worth rushing in for, as Harvest Vine is down to the last of its lamprey. Hence the brined and smoked preparation.
Jimenez said he wants to do a splashier lamprey promotion next year.
“It’s a good fish that we should use before we exterminate all the other fish,” Jimenez said.
Originally published Dec. 1, 2008 in South Sound Eats.
Posted: February 21, 2012 Filed under: Restaurant Review
BY ED MURRIETA
A Korean soap opera played on the flat-paneled television screen hanging from the wall of the new tofu house. The actress Lee Young-Ae was luminescent. But I couldn’t take my eyes off a couple of young guys hunkered over stone cauldrons of soon, the soulful tofu soup that’s served at Cho Dang Tofu Restaurant.
Four-alarm beef broth boiled. Steam burst and shrouded their slick black hipster hairdos. One guy winced from the heat, cooled his tongue with water and dove back in for more, hot-pot spoonful after hot-pot spoonful.
I enjoyed a less spicy – but no less steamy – version of soon tofu a few days later. It was like dining inside a benevolent volcano. I swear the steam made my skin radiate like Lee Young-Ae’s for hours after lunch.
This time, Cho Dang was packed with people of all ages, but all mostly Korean: ladies of a certain age and their mothers; young women and their children; businessmen and secretaries. Korean news played on TV. I followed an old man’s lead and poured spoonfuls of soup over my rice. Each bite was enjoyably soupy and sticky.
Cho Dang is a franchise operation of a Southern California-based chain. Kyung Sook Kim owned a Cho Dang franchise in Lynnwood. She sold it and opened her Lakewood restaurant three months ago, in the complex that houses Pal-Do World, the South Sound’s home-grown Korean superstore.
Cho Dang is casual and fun. Plank-paneled walls give the 60-seat dining room a light and warm feeling. Friendly waitresses work the room in bright pastel smocks and head scarves.
The menu is in Korean and English. Not much English is spoken here. I don’t speak any Korean. But nothing was lost in translation when one server showed me how to enjoy octopus and kimchi with sesame leaves over rice ($8.99): She grabbed a spoon and tossed together all the individual ingredients in my hot pot. I had been enjoying each nibble separately: earthy, wilted sesame leaves followed by fiery, chewy octopus followed by mellow yellow kimchi. It was harmonious after she combined the ingredients.
Tofu soup – red-chili beef broth loaded with tofu, scallions and, depending on the spice level you choose, green chiles – is the featured entree at Cho Dang.
Twelve soup variations are on the menu. Seafood and beef soon tofu (clams, shrimps, oysters and sliced beef) was like bouillabaisse with extra protein. Tripe put the soul in Seoul: I savored my way to the bottom of the bowl as if it were menudo, moist, wiggly pillows of tofu filling in for hominy.
Dumplings, mushroom, pork and fish roe soup are among the other choices of soup fillings. Vegetable or water broth may be substituted for beef-based soup. Any of them would be tasty values at $7.99.
But wait, there’s more: Soup is served with banchan, small servings of kimchi, radish, mung bean sprouts, seaweed and other Korean side dishes that add pickled appeal to any meal.
But wait, there’s even more: That hot stone pot of rice that comes with your meal isn’t just a starchy side. It’s like dessert, too. Just be sure to spoon the rice from the stone pot into your rice bowl. Then a waitress will come to your table and pour barley-corn tea into the hot stone pot. The tea softens the rice, pulling sticky burned clumps off the sides and bottom of the hot stone pot. As I fished out clumps of semisoftened burned rice with my chopsticks, I recalled cleaning up in my dad’s restaurant and enjoying burned-on Spanish rice that clung to the pan.
I also found toasty joy in pieces of tofu that clung to the hot stone soup pot. Burned-on curds cooked up like crusty morsels of scrambled egg.
Cho Dang also serves Korean barbecue (beef or pork, $12.99). Short ribs were tender and sultry. Spicy pork tickled my sinuses. Combo meals – short ribs, grilled beef or barbecued pork, with tofu soup (pick your fillings and spice level) – are $14.50 and come with the works.
Ed Murrieta: 253-597-8678
This review originally published in the Tacoma News Tribune, 2006
Posted: February 18, 2012 Filed under: Food and Culture
BY ED MURRIETA
In the late 18th century, the beaches around Browns Point and Dash Point were warm-weather retreats. Puget Sound was pregnant with salmon and clams. Fertile bluffs bore berries and roots. Deer and quail were for the taking. Puyallups made the junket by canoe. Other tribes trekked over the Cascades to relax, hunt and feast here.
By all historical accounts, the cove between Browns Point and Dash Point also was a nice spot for British explorers to picnic on the pleasantly windy afternoon of May 26, 1792.
Venison pie was on Capt. George Vancouver’s menu that day. It was served with a helping of xenophobia and a side of cannibal mythology that stalked the Pacific Northwest. Dessert was a lesson of cultural assumption.
Vancouver sailed here to find the Northwest Passage in the name of King George III. Mount Tahoma, or Mount Rainier, as Vancouver named it after an old admiral friend, lay before the captain’s anxious eyes.
A compact, circular bay – what is today Commencement Bay – thwarted Vancouver’s progress to the mountain. Rather than wait aboard ship for his officers to return from an expedition to the southwest, Vancouver set off with a small crew in two boats, exploring east of Vashon Island. Around noon, they stopped to eat.
In his journals, Vancouver alternately regarded the Indians he encountered as friendly and annoying. In a May 25 entry, Vancouver wrote that “some of our Indian friends brought us a whole deer, which was the first entire animal that had been offered to us.”
The next day, Vancouver was distrustful of the dozen Indians who were clamming near his picnic spot.
“We here dined,” Vancouver wrote, “and although our repast was soon concluded, the delay was irksome.”
A line had been drawn in the sand: White men here, everyone else there.
Some curious Indians crossed the line.
“They sat down by us,” Vancouver wrote, “and ate of the bread and fish that we gave them without the least hesitation.”
The next course – venison – induced horror.
“They received it from us with great disgust,” Vancouver wrote. “Their conduct on this occasion left no doubt in our minds that they believed it to be human flesh.”
Tales of cannibalism in the Pacific Northwest are as old as Puget Sound itself. Some said it was ritual sacrifice; some saw it as devouring conquered enemies. Vancouver’s expedition, along with European and Chinese traders, introduced their own cultures’ cannibal tales.
“It is not possible to conceive a greater degree of abhorrence than was manifested by these good people,” Vancouver wrote.
In order to calm the horrified Indians, the haunches of the slaughtered deer were retrieved from Vancouver’s ship. Finally satisfied that the food they were offered wasn’t human flesh, they “ate of the remainder of the pie with a good appetite.”
Vancouver’s expedition had met many tribes on its way toward the South Sound region. Some were welcoming. Others drew arms. The cannibalism confusion helped broaden Vancouver’s view of people he savaged in other journal entries.
“This behavior,” Vancouver observed, “whilst in some measure tending to substantiate their knowledge or suspicions that such barbarities have existence, led us to conclude that the character given the natives of Northwest America does not attach to every tribe.”
Read more here: http://blog.thenewstribune.com/tntdiner/2007/05/26/this-day-in-tacoma-food-history/#more-4738#storylink=cpy
originally published in the Tacoma News Tribune, May 16, 2005.
Posted: February 18, 2012 Filed under: Artisan Food, Food and Beer
BY ED MURRIETA
Of all the dreams and schemes to put Tacoma on the map and keep it on people’s tongues, one has been brewing under our noses since the 19th century.
It’s not what Frank Zappa called “a garlic aroma that could level Tacoma.” It’s better. It’s beer.
Ten years ago this month, Engine House No. 9 became Tacoma’s first brewpub. That was big news then and is worth toasting today. But the real cause for celebration is the birth of one beer in particular – E9′s Tacoma Brew, which taps the city’s rich and hoppy history.
“Tacoma was a serious brewing town before Prohibition,” said Dusty Trail, who opened Tacoma’s first microbrewery in 1995. “Tacoma Brew kind of nurtures and keeps that old history alive.”
BIRTH OF A BREW
If a city-state could be created in a stainless-steel kettle, it would be Tacoma Brew, a tribute to a Tacoma brewery that operated from 1888 until 1916, when state Prohibition sobered Washington’s burgeoning brewing industry.
Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. didn’t survive the anti-alcohol movement. But Tacoma Brew was born two generations later, after a high school English teacher researching his own family’s history in Tacoma’s brewery business said he discovered a vintage newspaper advertisement that described Pacific’s brewing and ingredients: Eastern Washington hops and barley malt, and water from local artesian wells.
“Though there were some missing pieces of the puzzle, it was very apparent to me that an experienced brewmaster could read that and know what Pacific Brewing & Malting was brewing and what Tacoma lager beer was like,” said Douglas McDonnell, a grandnephew of German immigrants who founded Columbia (later renamed Heidelberg) Brewing Co., Tacoma’s longest-operating brewery (1900-1979).
Back in 1995, Dusty Trail had transformed Engine House No. 9, the landmark fire station turned restaurant and tavern, into Tacoma’s first brewpub. After tapping the first kegs of emerging ales such as Redhook and Anchor Steam, Trail built his own state-of-the-art microbrewery.
TAPPING THE PAST
In the heady days of Northwest craft brewing, McDonnell, who studied brewing in Germany, had an old-school beer vision: Honor a beer that once made Tacoma famous and honor its German brewmasters.
McDonnell showed Trail the ingredient list he’d dug up. Trail and his crew got to brewing. They hit on a recipe they liked. They secured a trademark.
While Trail said they weren’t able to find anybody who could remember what pre-Prohibition lager tasted like, “Doug seemed to think we were pretty true to form.”
If by true to form they mean a dry, medium-bodied, blond beer that’s peppered with hops, a mouthful of malt and bright, tangy wafts of citrus blossom, then Trail and McDonnell are both right, even if Tacoma Brew isn’t fully faithful to Pacific Brewing’s original. Pacific’s was lager. Tacoma Brew is pale ale more along the lines of other beers brewed in Tacoma after Prohibition.
It’s all about the right balance of hops and malt, said Engine House 9 brewmaster Doug Tiedey. For Tacoma Brew, Tiedey uses two kinds of hops: Hallertau, which give Bavarian-style lagers their classic aromas; and Czech Saaz, the variety used in original pilsner such as Pilsner Urquell. Tiedey said these hops, known as noble hops, are similar to the kind of hops Pacific might have used.
“This gives you a real nice, full and delicate aroma and flavor,” Tiedey said. “Noble hops are not so much known for their bittering potential like a lot of the hops grown in the Northwest that give Northwest ales resiny, over-the-top notes.”
Tacoma Brew’s malt also differs. E9′s recipe uses a malt base from German pilsner malt and adds Munich malt for character.
Tacoma Brew contains 4.6 percent alcohol by volume, about the same as Budweiser. No historic Tacoma beer remains for comparison.
Today, Tacoma Brew is the third most popular of the 10 house-brewed beers at Engine House No. 9, said Dick Dickens, who bought E9 from Trail three years ago.
In addition to Engine House No. 9, Tacoma Brew is on tap at Ale House Pub & Eatery in University Place, also owned by Dickens. Trail said he duplicated Tacoma Brew at Powerhouse, the Puyallup brewpub he opened around the same time as E9, calling it Powerhouse Pale Ale.
“When I started here in 2000, I was new to the Tacoma area,” Tiedey recalled. “I thought it was interesting to have a recipe based on a real Tacoma institution. You don’t have to be a beer geek to pick up on the nuance. This is sort of a working-class town.
“Tacoma Brew is what we used to refer to as a ‘session’ beer: You can sit down and have a couple of pints after work and still be able to be clearheaded and make it home.”
AMBASSADOR IN A BOTTLE
Pacific Brewing & Malting Co., founded by German immigrant Anton Huth, did more than brew and market popular lager. It sold Tacoma itself. The company brewed one beer labeled two ways: Pacific Beer for locals and Tacoma Beer for markets across the western United States and the Pacific Rim with the slogan “Best, East or West.”
Tacoma Beer was a tourism commission in a brown bottle, its white label and golden contents depicting Tacoma’s natural abundance to lager-lovers from San Francisco to Shanghai. Tacoma Brew’s label, like its predecessors’, evokes Tacoma, with its dominating image of Mount Rainier.
Dickens said he doesn’t plan to bottle or distribute Tacoma Brew, but that doesn’t mean Tacoma Brew isn’t the City of Destiny’s beer ambassador.
Tacoma never recovered from the hangover suffered when Heidelberg brewery closed in 1979 amid a wave of corporate consolidation that drowned regional breweries across America.
Duane Swierczynski, author of historical and humorous “Big Book O’ Beer,” commiserates with Tacoma and points out how a city that suffers perennial second-city blues can be cheered by beer.
“Here in Philadelphia, the last brewery, Schmidt’s, closed its doors in the 1980s,” Swierczynski said. “It was a psychic blow to the entire city. Case in point: We haven’t had a championship sports team since then; only frustrating near misses. Some think it’s about Philly’s inferiority complex. I think it’s about the beer.”
Said McDonnell, the self-styled beer historian who used to lead tours of the district where his family brewed beer in Tacoma:
“Having lived in Germany, having lived in Norway . . . to come back to Tacoma and enjoy Tacoma Brew, that is wonderful. Tacoma Brew is German-style beer, but it’s Northwest. That’s what makes it even better. It’s Tacoma.”
BREWED IN TACOMA
A full-page advertisement from the Jan. 9, 1912, edition of the Tacoma Daily Ledger touts Pacific Brewing & Malting Co.’s “three famous products.”
* Pacific Beer was the company’s “home brew.” Bottled in quarts and pints, Pacific was served in bars and restaurants and available for home-delivery by the case.
* Tacomalt was, in the language and alcohol outlook typical of the era, “a delightful beverage and a healthful one, highly endorsed by physicians as a tonic. It differs from beer in being particularly designed as a nerve tonic and tissue builder.”
* Tacoma Beer was the company’s “export” brand. Pacific Beer with another label, it was bottled in San Francisco and Oakland. As the ad said: “Tacoma Beer has carried the name and fame of Tacoma afar to California to Hawaii to the Philippines, and it has afforded its home city advertising of the most intimate character
Read more here: http://blog.thenewstribune.com/tntdiner/2007/11/29/seasons-drinkings/#more-4609#storylink=cpy
July 27, 2005
Tacoma News Tribune
Edition: SOUTH SOUND, Section: Soundlife, Page E01
Posted: January 22, 2012 Filed under: Food and Beer
BY ED MURRIETA
Beer: It’s what’s for dinner.
If that doesn’t sober up diners who favor wine,
consider that craft beer – the non-Budweiser brews for
which the Pacific Northwest and other rogue brewing
capitals are savored – enjoyed a 13.5 percent increase
in restaurant sales last year.
While boosted beer sales – touted at the Craft Brewers
Conference in Seattle last week – might be a drop in
the barrel compared with wine sales, it underscores a
Beer is finding a place – and respect – among chefs
and diners, not just at brewpubs but at fancy
restaurants, where $4 pints of IPA rub elbows with $80
bottles of Barolo.
“As wonderful as wine is, it does not have as wide a
range of flavor as beer does,” said Garrett Oliver, a
New York beer-maker and author of “The Brewmaster’s
“That gives beer big advantages when it comes to
matching food. You can have caramelization flavors.
You can have roast flavors. You can have chocolate
flavors. You can have strong smoked flavors.”
“Wine’s flavor range is tight,” Oliver said. “You have
to look for smoke in Pouilly fume. But porter or
stout? The smoke finds you.”
Except for oak notes from barrel aging, wine lacks
cooked foods’ prime quality: caramelization – that
smoky edge of a charbroiled steak, that savory bite of
grilled vegetables, the golden sweetness of roasted
Chili? Cumin? Chocolate? They can distort, even
destroy, wines’ flavors. But beer, from lightly hopped
pale ale to heavily malted imperial stout, contains
those flavors. Where wine contrasts, beer complements.
“If you go from the lightest white wine to the
heaviest red wine, you will never find the range that
you can find in beer,” Oliver said. “That’s not a
failing of wine but a talent of beer.”
At the Craft Brewers Conference, Oliver hosted
“Thanksgiving in April,” the industry’s push to get
people to drink beer, not wine, with holiday meals.
“There are few things that are less convincing than
ham with wine,” Oliver said.
Trying to convince reporters, Oliver paired ham with
New Belgium’s Skinny Dip, a light ale whose citrusy
Cascade hops and kaffir lime leaves drew out ham’s
saltiness. Its maltiness played to ham’s nuttiness.
Oliver was less convincing with turkey. Dark meat
meshed with heavier beers, but white meat begged for
REFRESHING VS. DULLING
Oliver, a member of The New York Times’ wine panel,
was careful not to bash wine, but he noted how beer is
better with food. While both cut through fatty foods,
wine’s tannins coat and dull the palate; beer – thanks
to carbonation’s “scrubbing bubbles” – cleanses and
But not every pairing pleases.
“If you drink a really hoppy beer with something
that’s more delicate, the hops are just going to
destroy the perception of a lot of things,” said Dick
Cantwell of Seattle’s Elysian Brewing Co.
“They’re good, but cumulatively, they can be ruinous
to the palate.”
In a beer dinner at Seattle’s white-tablecloth Union
Restaurant last week, chef Ethan Stowell paired Totten
Virginica oysters, roasted squab and chocolate terrine
with beers from Quebec’s Unibroue. But he stopped
short of cooking with those beers.
“I took three of them, and I reduced them down,” he
said. “It would have changed the food completely. It
wouldn’t have been my food. I opted not to do it.”
Sean Quinn, chef at Asado, Tacoma’s Argentine-inspired
steak house, uses Deschutes’ Mirror Pond pale ale to
braise pork butt and brisket.
“I’m looking for the barley flavors, the real
yeastiness to give it a different flavor level than
the sweetness in the wine,” he said.
DRINKING UP, BUYING UP
Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association, said
craft beers sell better in restaurants than in
supermarkets and convenience stores.
“When people are in restaurants, they tend to buy up,”
Gatza said he’s seeing more beers in 22-ounce bottles,
which offer the perception of expense and allow diners
to share, a la wine.
“If you want to try new things, it’s so much easier to
spend $5,” said Warren Steenson, the self-styled
“breuvagier” at Higgins, the Portland fine-dining
restaurant that features more than 150 beers. “But to
experiment in the wine world, where you’re going to be
spending 50 bucks, sometimes you win, sometimes you
don’t. With beer it’s a little easier.”
With a menu that includes Northwest, Belgian and
Canadian beers, Union Restaurant has one of the better
selections in Seattle (along with Dhalia and Ray’s
Boathouse). Stowell believes fine beer pairs with fine
“I think it’s unfortunate, but people are trained to
look for a bottle of wine to go with food,” Stowell
said. “The problem is all the pubs out there. Even the
higher-end places that are serving good beer are
training their customers to drink it with crappy food
- pub grub.”
Chris Bolan of Florida’s Orlando Brewing Co.
understands beer’s downscale perception. He’s a former
marketing executive for Gallo, the jug wine giant that
made respectable inroads with its upscale brands by
marketing directly to high-end chefs. Gallo got a big
boost when New York’s Ritz Carlton drank up its 1979
“Any image objection at that time was completely blown
away,” Bolan said. “If you don’t educate the chefs
first, you’re never going to get beers paired with
Orlando Brewing, barely a month old, already has beer
dinners lined up with one luxury hotel, the Westin
Alan Moen, editor of Northwest Brewing News, blames
beer’s image problem on wine-centric food media.
“My sister-in-law is the food editor of Bon Appetite
magazine,” Moen said. “They never wrote about beer. A
few years ago she called me up and asked what beer
would be appropriate with a dish. I thought, ‘Wow.
Things are changing.’ “
Ed Murrieta: 253-597-8678
CHART: A BEER for every meal – even dessert
Pilsner, blond ale, cream ale, bitter or
“extra-bitter” ale, brown ale
Brown Ale, imperial IPA, dubbel, porter, amber lager
Pale ale, India pale ale
Wheat beer, pilsner, fruit beer (baby greens, etc.);
India pale ale, extra special bitter (bitter greens)
Porter, stout, Scottish ale
Pale ale, India pale ale, Belgian tripel
Porter, oatmeal stout
India pale ale
Pilsner, pale ale
British pale ale, India pale ale
British pale ale, India pale ale, dubbel, Scottish ale
Wheat beer, British bitter ale
Amber lager, porter, stout, brown ale
Grilled pork chops
Amber lager, doppelbock, pale ale, India pale ale
Amber lager, porter, Irish stout, pale ale
Amber lager, pale ale
Brown ale, dubbel ale
Pilsner, dry stout
Black-eyed peas, gumbo, jambalaya
Mild blue cheese
India pale ale, stout, porter
Strong blue cheese
Imperial IPA, barley wine
Aged cheddar cheese
India pale ale, brown ale, stout
India pale ale, imperial IPA
Sources: “The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the
Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food” by Garrett
Oliver; Brewers Association; beercook.com.
- – -
Ed Murrieta, The News Tribune
Originally published in the Tacoma News Tribune, April 19, 2006
Posted: September 8, 2011 Filed under: Uncategorized
Ed’s note: Originally published in Pot Appetit.
Grand Junction, a half-pound burger, with all the fixings -- pastrami, sauteed onions, lettuce, tomato, pickle, cheese -- $5.95 at Burger Junction in South Sacramento,.
BY ED MURRIETA
As numerous operators of medical marijuana dispensaries have and are learning, location, location, location drives this business, too.
So what better location for Burger Junction than between two medical marijuana dispensaries? People who suffer chronic pain, insomnia, glaucoma, breast cancer and other ailments all eat, and everyone needs at least one burger a year, like an annual checkup with cholesterol.
Today I began research for an upcoming report on medical marijuana dispensaries in South Sacramento — my angle: how upscale and community-minded pot dispensaries bitch-slap common but erroneous perceptions of South Sacramento as a ghetto drug heaven — and I got hungry. Luckily, I pulled into the South Point Shopping Center just about lunch time.
Anchored by a Rite Aid drug store and dotted with small restaurants and a Latino foods market, South Point Shopping Center — at the intersection of Florin and Power Inn roads, on the edge of what feels like forgotten suburbia — is among the numerous aging retail complexes that are filling up with medical marijuana dispensaries.
I ordered lunch before visiting the two dispensaries in the plaza, Remedy Living Solutions and True Hope Collective. After lunch, I spotted fellow patients inside Remedy and True Hope who were fellow diners at Burger Junction.
I scored a first-time-free house joint at Remedy, plus two house joints at True Hope, one I bought for $4 (or 3 for $10) and one I received as a first-time gimme.
But who wants to talk about pot?
Lemme tell you about Burger Junction’s Grand Junction Burger: a meaty half-pounder, char-grilled medium, just between juicy and greasy on a warm, domed steak bun that soaked up the meat drippings until wearing out in a soppy heap at the last bite. A valiant mess of a burger it was. All the fixings for this freight train of tantalization include: pastrami, sauteed onions, pickles, lettuce, tomato and cheese. Glorious.
Burger Junction’s Grand Junction Burger is $5.95, and I swear it’s a couple of bucks cheaper and in the same league as the French Steak Burger at Nationwide Freezer Meats in Midtown, a favorite since I first had one in 1983.
Dessert? A flaky pineapple empanada at the Latino foods store next to True Hope, for 50 cents.
Viva medical marijuana dispensaries in retail shopping plazas.
7900 Florin Road #5, Sacramento
Remedy Living Solutions
7900 Florin Road #1, (916) 421-4607
True Hope Collective
7900 Florin Road #13, (916) 392-4540
Posted: June 22, 2011 Filed under: Uncategorized
Dale Maharidge, journalist and Ivy League professor, talks about his new book, 30 years on the poverty beat, and his fear of losing it all, just like the people he writes about.
BY ED MURRIETA
I used to run into Dale Maharidge in the Sacramento Bee newsroom after midnight in the 1980s. We bitched about editors and talked about hobos.
A “bum reporter,” as one of his Bee editors backhandedly called him, Maharidge and photographer Michael S. Williamson worked seemingly full-time through the ’80s, much of it on their own dime, documenting the journey of America’s dispossessed and working poor for the Bee, Life magazine and their own books.
I knew hobos, having grown up in a railroad town, where jobless men traveling through Roseville knocked on my mother’s kitchen door — and my grandmother’s a generation before — to beg for food. Hobos were a presence for as long as I could remember. Kids were warned to stay away from “them.” In the years between America’s Bicentennial and the Reagan Revolution, I used to fish, drink and smoke with neighborhood juvenile delinquents in the “hobo jungle” near the train trestle a few blocks away from my house.
In the Bee newsroom, as freight trains rumbled through the city a block away, I listened as Maharidge told stories of hobos like Montana Blackie, Crazy Red and No Thumbs, rapt in the star-fucked way that a 21-year-old covering high school sports listens to an older reporter who jumps freight trains and camps with hobos and gets to write about it — a fellow college drop-out in thread-bare white T-shirts and workmans’ pants, a wiry mash-up of Woodie Guthrie and the street-dog newspaperman in the 1930s movies mold who gives a shit for the people he writes about.
And, suddenly, so much for romantic newspaper stories. What began as tales of hobos on the rails morphed into a saga of America’s new underclass on the road:
Blue-collar people from rusting steel towns and shuttered factory towns migrating for work, living in tents, sleeping in cars.
Economic nightmare dawned; the clock read Morning in America.
Flash forward three decades, past NAFTA, the tech bubble, the housing bubble, the looting of Wall Street:
Today’s American underclass includes families and people like you and me, many in peril of losing their homes, who rely on food banks and struggle for work.
The middle class is an endangered species.
There is mourning in America.
I recently called Maharidge at his home in New York City, where he’s a professor of journalism at Columbia University, for another middle-of-the-night chat, to talk about his and Williamson’s new book, “Someplace Like America: Tales from the New Great Depression,” and the 30 years they have covered America’s dispossessed and working poor, a career Maharidge calls “The Third-World Beat in America.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 21, 2011 Filed under: Food and Travel, Marijuana
BY ED MURRIETA
ARCATA — When I embedded in Humboldt County before last fall’s vote on Prop. 19, visions of cannabis vacations danced in my head: a potpourri of pot tastings, meet-the-grower field tours and cannabis-infused spa treatments — like a wine country weekend, but with marijuana.
I’d check into a hotel, where, next to plush terrycloth robes, I’d find a vaporizer and a mini-bar stocked with Humboldt’s finest canna-crops — heirloom outdoor buds, indoor diesel nugs, joints as fat as hippie chicks’ dreads, and great balls of hash.
A masseuse would knock on my door, and my 5-hour drive up the gorgeous but grueling Redwood Highway would end happily with cannabis salves soothing my stiff muscles.
Dinner would be a ganjanated feast: beef from happy, grass-fed cows; salads of local, organic marijuana leaf; microbrews finished with hemp, not hops; and sativa sundae dessert.
After a soak and a toke in a hot tub, I’d retire to my hotel, where, on my pillow, chocolate kief truffles would ensure sweet sleep.
Then, on Nov. 3, I woke up to the morning-after election news that the majority of California voters — and most Humboldt growers — nixed legalizing marijuana for non-medical pleasure.
Canna-vacation dream over?
Dream still on.
While California won’t be Amsterdam on the Pacific any time soon, if you’ve got a Prop. 215 medical marijuana recommendation, you can enjoy a legal Cannabis Country Vacation.
Here’s my Humboldt trip.
Read the rest of the story in the February/March 2011 digital edition of West Coast Cannabis magazine.
Posted: June 11, 2011 Filed under: Chefs, Farmers
BY ED MURRIETA
In about 36 hours, one of the little porkers that Cheryl Ouellette raises on her free-range farm in Summit will be served as a pulled-pork special at Primo Grill in Tacoma.
But first, dinner must wake up.
“Pigs are lazy,” Ouellette said. “He’s having a nice rest in a warm pig pile.”
It’s minutes past 7 a.m. on a recent Friday. Pigs like to sleep until 10.
Ouellette, or rather the feed she’s scattering on the ground, lures the pig from the barn and into a wooden crate. It will travel 46 1/2 miles from the farm to the slaughterhouse to the restaurant.
The day before, Primo Grill chef/owner Charlie McManus handpicked the 4-month-old, 160-pound pig, one of Ouellette’s signature Berkshire-Duroc-Landrays breed. About 14 hours after slaughter, McManus will slow-roast the pig overnight in his restaurant’s wood-burning oven. Later, he’ll serve pulled pork with caper-mint salsa verde, garlic mashed potatoes and green beans.
“One of the most dramatic things that’s happened at Primo Grill is bringing almost-warm pigs into the restaurant – eyes open, straight from the slaughterhouse,” McManus said. “A lot of our younger cooks have never seen a whole animal before. It’s important that our staff understand that it’s not just a piece of meat. It’s a life that’s given that day.”
With this one pig’s death, a cycle of sustainability survived: The farmer stewarding her animals and land. The chef supporting the farmer and feeding local diners. Diners supporting the farmer and the chef.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 10, 2011 Filed under: Blog, Chefs, Farmers
BY ED MURRIETA
Driving from the slaughterhouse in Kapowsin to Cheryl Ouellette’s farm in Summit one morning this month, it barely registered: dinner – 90 pounds of whole pig, freshly killed and USDA approved — was riding in the jump seat behind me.
On the way to the slaughterhouse two hours earlier, the pig, then 160 pounds and breathing, rode in a wooden crate in the back of Ouellette’s red Dodge pick-up truck. Now, with hair, blood and entrails removed, the pig, now pork, was wrapped in plastic and stuffed in a cardboard box about the size of a bag of golf clubs.
To me, at this time, this little piggy was nothing more than tomorrow’s dinner. Ouellette and I might as well have been returning from the supermarket with a load of pork chops, roasts and ribs. As we drove and enjoyed each other’s company, I pretty much forgot there was a dead pig behind me, a creature, now a product, whose body temperature was about the same as mine.
I love pork, but I had no feelings for this pig. I’d watched it die – a professional jolt of electricity on the top of its head ensured it wouldn’t feel the knife that would slit its throat. As life and blood drained from its body, the pig twitched. Don’t worry, Ouellette said, those are just muscle spasms. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 9, 2011 Filed under: Food Business People
BY ED MURRIETA
PORTLAND — Walking into Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Duane Sorenson greeted a barista in singsong hipster patois.
“How’s it going?”
Dressed in a hooded white sweat shirt, quilted green jacket, blue jeans and black Adidas high-tops, Sorenson sat on a second-hand sofa sipping coffee.
Thick-rimmed glasses framed deep-set blue eyes. A wispy brown beard spread across the meaty plains of his gentle-giant face.
Sorenson looked like many other customers in the coffeehouse, but despite appearances, he isn’t some indie rock geek hunkered over a latte and a laptop. Sorenson owns the joint, along with five other Stumptown coffeehouses and a roastery that supplies nearly 200 cafes and restaurants in this coffee-soaked city. As founder of 9-year-old Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Sorenson is among a small group of artisans and entrepreneurs who are jolting the business of beans by nurturing relationships with coffee growers, demanding training standards for baristas and turning on consumers to varietals. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 9, 2011 Filed under: Food and Culture, Recipes
Ed’s Note: Here’s a song I wrote about tamales:
BY ED MURRIETA
For the first time, I made tamales all by myself.
“How do you do that?” Magdalena Nieves asked me.
I misunderstood her pity for confusion.
“They were sweet tamales,” I said. “They’re pretty easy.”
“No,” she said, “How do you make tamales by yourself? I can’t imagine not having other people helping. Tamales are such a communal thing. Everybody’s got a job to do.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 8, 2011 Filed under: Medical Marijuana Edibles, Recipes
BY ED MURRIETA
In French kitchens, they call it beurre composé. In American kitchens, butter plus another ingredient–herb, spice, nut–is known as compound butter, our blunt description of churned dairy blended with flavors and textures. And in medical cannabis kitchens, the most common compound butter is naturally cannabutter — a blending of butter and cannabis that infuses the herb’s medicinal essence into everybody favorite emulsion, providing a key ingredient in many edibles.
But why stop there? If you can measure spices, chop nuts, melt chocolate, mince herbs and stir a spatula, compound cannabutters are easy to make, and will add true flair and flavor to you medicated treats. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 8, 2011 Filed under: Food and Culture
Ed’s Note: Click here for the radio version of this story, broadcast on American Public Media’s The Splendid Table.
BY ED MURRIETA
Originally published May 30, 2010, in the Seattle Times Magazine.
A butcher shared with me the advice his dairy-farmer father fed him:
Stay in the food business and you will always eat.
I’ve worked in the food business for a good chunk of my life — first in my parents’ restaurants, then as a food writer and restaurant critic, followed by post-culinary-school stints as a baker and food-marketing consultant, then again as a restaurant critic, and, until this past fall, as publisher of my own website that promoted restaurants and culinary events.
Today, I eat on the fringe of the food business, hungry for work and living on the dole, one of 6 million Americans whose sole source of income is food stamps. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 8, 2011 Filed under: Food and Culture, Radio | Tags: Radio
I read Life on the Food Lines for American Public Media’s The Splendid Table radio program.
Posted: June 8, 2011 Filed under: Audio, Farmers Markets, Multimedia
Posted: June 8, 2011 Filed under: Artisan Food, Chefs, Farmers
BY ED MURRIETA
Surrounded by cidermakers at a cider-pairing luncheon, it was easy to spot the Frenchman. He ordered cabernet sauvignon.
“For us, cider is like water,” said Marc Michelle.
This was no slap at his American hosts, which included members of the Northwest Cider Society, a small group of artisan cidermakers from Western Washington and Oregon who drank and dined last month at the Heathman Hotel in Portland.
“In France, everybody drinks cider,” said Michelle, who imports the French stuff, a decidedly nonwatery beverage containing 5 percent alcohol or more. “Cider is a way of life, like a glass of red wine.”
It wasn’t just his accent that sounded foreign. Cider, which Michelle also drank with lunch, is oddly foreign in America, where mention of the fermented apple beverage conjures up images of cloudy juice and sparkling soft drinks in most people’s minds. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 8, 2011 Filed under: Farmers, Food and Travel
BY ED MURRIETA
OYSTERVILLE, Wash. — Shells on Chief Nahcati’s grave tell a tale: They are those of Pacific oysters, interloper bivalves that have become the dominant oysters in Western Washington, long ago replacing native Olympias that once thrived on the shores of Willapa Bay and Puget Sound.
West of the local cemetery, where Oysterville Road meets the Pacific Ocean, the wave-washed shore resembles an enormous oyster bed, miles of curved and cupped impressions in the sand filled with water.
On their still, dark edges, these half shells in the sand have the fleshy, feathery appearance of shucked Pacific oysters. As foamy water washes in, their appearance changes, and swirling patches of milky brown tell the tale of oysters in summer. The movements of nature, of sea over sand, mock the nature of oysters, whose flesh this time of year can resemble these brown-pocked impressions.
This is spawning season, the time of year when oysters reproduce, as the waters in which they grow turn warm, ringing most bivalves’ biological bells. Patches of brown reveal degradation of flesh: As oysters exert energy on reproduction, their normally firm, sweet bodies turn mushy and flabby, their blood like watery, bitter cappuccino. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 8, 2011 Filed under: Farmers, Industry Issues
BY ED MURRIETA
Joel Huesby doesn’t behave like the sort of person who would tip a cow, much less tilt Big Beef’s windmills.
He looks a stranger square in the eyes, offers a lean hand and introduces himself as a “holistic manager” and “sunlight harvester” who raises livestock in a low-stress environment with no growth hormones, antibiotics or other hallmarks of the virtually monolithic meat industry.
Wonkishly idealistic yet mild-mannered, Huesby is just a fed-up, fourth-generation farmer from the Walla Walla Valley who won’t take a lot of things any more.
“A lot of people in the cattle industry, which is where I grew up, are price takers,” Huesby said recently over omelets in Seattle. “The packer says, ‘All right, this is what I’m giving you and that’s it.’ The cattlemen have never liked that because they have no control over the marketplace. And the packers, who are few, say, ‘Take it or leave it. We’re the only game in town.’ “
Twelve years after returning his family’s wheat fields to pasture, Huesby is sowing an old-fashioned network of sustainable livestock production, meat processing and direct-to-consumer sales that he says benefits farmers and consumers by localizing and protecting the food supply at a time of rising food and oil costs, agricultural diseases and terrorism concerns. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 8, 2011 Filed under: Artisan Food, Food Business People
BY ED MURRIETA
“Tasting like chocolate isn’t quite good enough,” Pierson Clair declared.
Clair, the CEO of Tacoma confectioner Brown & Haley, and his wife, Sara, a food technologist, gave me a lesson in the true flavors of chocolate.
Twelve different chocolate bars lay before us. They carried a worldly waft: floral and citrus notes of Venezuelan beans, acidity of Indonesian beans, chalkiness of Ghanian beans. Some were made in France, Belgium, Italy, California and Seattle. Some contained nearly 90 percent cacao, about three times the amount of pure chocolate liquor in a Three Musketeers.
After sampling 12 bars with the Clairs, I started to taste what they tasted: tropical fruit, mushroom, cheese, bell pepper, curry, ham and a sharp, dry flavor Pierson Clair called “wood floor.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 8, 2011 Filed under: Farmers
BY ED MURRIETA
Puget Sound Meat Producers Cooperative cut the ribbon on its USDA-approved mobile slaughtering unit Friday, opening new avenues for western Washington farmers to get their meat to market — and for local farmers to work together.
“This is very, very big in being able to help farmers to grow for their customers,” said Cheryl Ouellette, aka “Cheryl the Pig Lady,” the Tacoma farmer who is the “founding mother” of Puget Sound Meat Producers Cooperative. “Farmers will be able to direct-market their product and know who’s consuming their food.”
When the mobile slaughter unit goes operational in about two weeks, it will be the third such unit deployed in the greater Puget Sound area and the fourth in Washington. It will provide a missing link in the local food chain — allowing small farmers to have their locally raised cows, pigs, lambs and goats slaughtered locally, in a government-approved facility, and will enable farmers to sell directly to local meat shops, local restaurants, local schools, and in a big and much needed change, enable farmers to donate their meat to local food banks. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 7, 2011 Filed under: Artisan Food, Multimedia, Video
Posted: June 5, 2011 Filed under: Industry Issues
BY ED MURRIETA
The eastern shore of San Francisco Bay hardly inspires images of amber waves of grain. But it’s right here in Albany, eight traffic-choked freeway lanes away from a horse-racing track on the water’s edge, where a U.S. government plant geneticist may change the nature of wheat plants and commercial bread production.
Ann Blechl works for the Agricultural Research Service, a division of the United States Department of Agriculture, whose tax-payer funded mission is to find solutions to agriculture problems that affect Americans from the field to the table.
A team led by Blechl is trying to solve a problem that affects large-scale commercial bakeries: how to control the stickiness of bread dough made from certain wheat flour.
The conundrum is ironic: Overstickiness may have cropped up as a result of a “breakthrough” 20 years ago, when researchers cross-bred rye with wheat in order to obtain a more hardy wheat plant. Now it may take genetic engineering to isolate and remove the rye gene that is suspected of causing wheat flour to produce sticky dough.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 5, 2011 Filed under: Artisan Food, Chefs, Restaurant Review
BY ED MURRIETA
Settled in at a communal table at The Corson Building, my dinnermate and I mused over our tablemates.
Some stood out like mismatched china:
The chatty blonde and her silent boyfriend — a bad match, we whispered.
To my left sat Ruby, across from me, Michelle, comfortably matched like the vintage French flatware before us.
My dinnermate and I agreed:
Of the four others, they were the couple of the table, at ease with each other, at ease with their fellow diners, glowing in the dim candlelight of our shared meal.
We shared our news with Ruby and Michelle. They had already sized us up, figuring we were on our second or third date and declaring us runners-up to them.
We had all arrived at The Corson Building in mid-November strangers. Three hours and six courses later, we had not only shared a meal, we’d shared gossipy talk and personal stories. We had come for dinner; we left satiated with bonhomie.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 1, 2011 Filed under: Artisan Food, Farmers, Food Business People
BY ED MURRIETA
MONTESANO, Wash. — A woman drove up to Estrella Family Creamery’s farm store. She wore a white wedding gown and flowers in her hair.
“She said, ‘I just got married, and I had to come and get cheese for the honeymoon,’ ” Kelli Estrella recalled. “I said, ‘Why don’t you just go on the honeymoon?’ She goes, ‘You don’t understand: The cheese is part of the honeymoon.’ “
The bride had thrown the cheesemaker a bouquet; Estrella’s dreams were consummated.
“I always wanted to be a real farmer,” said Estrella, who makes award-winning artisan cheeses from the raw milk of cows and goats that graze on native grass and wildflowers on her family’s 164 acres, an old dairy farm that Estrella and her husband, Anthony, purchased and revived six years ago. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: May 22, 2011 Filed under: Farmers Markets
Farmers markets make me hungry. Perusing produce, seafood, meat and dairy at farmers markets in Tacoma, Puyallup, Gig Harbor and Olympia is a good way to work up an appetite.
But those bunches of Yakima asparagus and Walla Walla salad onions that brim from vendors’ booths, along with those coolers full of salmon, pork, goat and oysters, all need some kind of preparation before you can eat them.
Here are some tasty prepared foods that vendors are selling at South Sound farmers markets. Many can be eaten while you shop. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: May 11, 2011 Filed under: Food and Travel, Restaurant Review
BY ED MURRIETA
LAS VEGAS — The recommendations I received for Rosemary’s Restaurant all emphasized that it’s located in a strip mall.
Never mind that most of Las Vegas resembles a mall of some sort – - from the malls of gaming and celebrity-chef dining on The Strip to mom-and-pop restaurants like Rosemary’s, which is tucked behind a Marie Calendar’s on a dusty avenue 10 miles from the Las Vegas Boulevard action that most tourists come here for.
But Rosemary’s feeds as many tourists as locals, said chef/owner Michael Jordan.
“You know foodies — they will travel a country mile on foot if that means finding a good meal,” Jordan said. “A lot of serious diners pass through this town.”
I passed through Las Vegas in mid-October, hungry to enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner off The Strip and outside casinos. Rosemary’s Restaurant was my first and last stop. In between, I dined locally — at down-home rib restaurants, a fancy French place, a classic Vegas steakhouse and a burger joint. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: May 10, 2011 Filed under: Blog, Recipes
BY ED MURRIETA
I just arranged to move a substantial amount of my favorite California-grown addiction northward. In a few days, I will be the Tony Montana of winter citrus: Say hello to my little friends — Meyer lemons.
Why would I badger my mother to call in family favors across the Sacramento Valley, to strip my aunts’ and uncles’ back-yard trees, to fill a shoe-box full of lemons and UPS them to me? Because QFC wants $4.49 for six lemons and Trader Joe’s wants $2.49 for three. And I love Meyer lemons.
(Not that regular lemons are cheap: Metropolitan Market wants $1.29 — each — for lemons the size of grenades. Meyers, by contrast, are about the size of limes.)
Meyer lemons are not your ordinary lemons. Possibly a cross between a lemon and a Mandarin orange (they were “discovered” in China in 1908 by U.S. government agricultural researcher Frank Meyer), Meyers grow in California and Florida primarily as back-yard lemons but also in commercial production. Their season is roughly November to April. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: May 8, 2011 Filed under: Food and Culture, Food Business People
By ED MURRIETA
Behind the heavy-lidded gaze, shaggy gray beard and mellow baritone of a Summer of Love dee-jay lays a classically trained French chef who wants to feed the people and feed your head. If his television cooking show, cookbooks and DVDs reap profit and popularity, that’s far out, too, man.
Bruce Brennan is The Hippy Gourmet, a Jerry Garcia-meets-James Beard bear of a man whose cable-access cooking show originates from San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district. The show, 50-plus episodes strong, airs weekly on nine Bay Area stations and recently started in Amsterdam, Boston, Chicago and New York.
Production values lean a few grams shy of a “good thing,” but “The Hippy Gourmet” has more in common with “Martha’s Kitchen” than “Wayne’s World,” pardoning the psychedelic music, paisley graphics and occasional presence of Manny the Hippy, famous for his tripped-out tete a tetes with David Letterman.
“‘The Hippy Gourmet’ is the antithesis of most TV cooking shows,” says producer-director James Ehrlich. “Bruce is the anti-Emeril.”
“Not a lot of clip, clip, clip, action, action, bam, bam, bam,” Brennan adds in his best mellow bellow. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: May 8, 2011 Filed under: About Ed Murrieta, Video
Posted: April 12, 2011 Filed under: Farmers Markets, Recipes
BY ED MURRIETA
A sign on Cheryl the Pig Lady’s farmers market stand asks and answers its own question:
What do we grow?
Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I looked around: In addition to her signature heirloom pork, the farmer from Summit sold ground beef, ribs, chicken and chorizo. She’d just sold out of eggs.
I set out to buy primary ingredients for breakfast, lunch and dinner from four South Sound farmers markets, supplementing my purchases with ingredients from my pantry and refrigerator. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: April 7, 2011 Filed under: Blog, Farmers
BY ED MURRIETA
Saturday night’s Honor Thy Farmer dinner featured fresh, flavorful and respectfully prepared food. It was a community meal that took a village of foodies to get the bounty to the table.
Honor Thy Farmer didn’t just benefit the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra and its education programs. It benefited the spirit of eating locally.
Nearly every ingredient in the meal came from local farms: Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: March 12, 2011 Filed under: About Ed Murrieta, Restaurant Review
Ed’s note: I found this clip in my archives. It’s from 1993. Click here for ironic context.
YOU CAN CLEAN YOUR PLATE AT HARV’S
March 14, 1993
By Ed Murrieta Bee Staff Writer
TIME & MONEY
–HARV’S CAR WASH
Where: 1901 L St., 448-6059
Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
In-and-out time: 40 minutes
What you’ll pay: $4-$6
Recommended bites: Burgers, sandwiches
When the boss takes you to lunch at Harv’s Car Wash, you can’t help but think that your career is on the fast track toward food stamps. But by the time you’ve polished off your potato chips and wiped the last traces of chocolate milkshake from your beard, it hits you: Maybe the boss isn’t such a cheapskate after all.
There we were, the boss and I, happy and well-fed at Harv’s Car Wash. I still had the job, and he’d had his car washed, waxed and vacuumed while we were eating.
Harv’s is more than wax jobs and undercoating. Next to the high-speed automatic washers and all the other equipment that makes your car spiffy again, is a full-service coffee shop, a regular Formica-and-fries Americana eatery, where burgers are served greasy and sandwiches come with nothing frillier than lettuce (iceberg no less!), tomato and pickles and a small bag of potato chips.
We’re not talking cuisine here. This is basic lunch-counter cookin’. As lunch counters go, Harv’s is up there. The food is good and the service is friendly. And you can kill time while you’re waiting for your car.
Friends refused to believe the value and time savings. That is, until I took them for a noontime meal and car wash ($12.40 for a wash, wax, polish and a dose of air freshener; $14.40 gets you that, plus a white-wall treatment; and $7.95 gets you a basic wash job, no wax.) We were in and out and back to work in just over a half-hour.
Harv’s fare is your basic offerings of burgers, club sandwiches, tuna salads, hot dogs, chili, a selection of sub sandwiches and a variety of breakfast dishes.
The club sandwich ($3.75) lacks the requisite turkey; it’s piled high with ham, bacon, lettuce tomato and cheese, served on lightly toasted bread and presented in six bite-size pieces.
The pastrami and cheese “super sub” ($3.75) isn’t bad, but it’s short of super. Made with generous portions of some sort of processed pastrami loaf and American cheese slices, the sandwich is a chewy mouthful, served on a soft white roll.
Harv’s also offers “diet delights,” presumably so some of us can still squeeze back into the car after it’s washed. The tuna salad ($3.95) seemed anything but diet, laden as it was with mayo and Thousand Island. But it’s a tasty offering, twin scoops of tuna, filled with chunks of onion and pickle relish, are served atop a fresh bed of lettuce, with a side of tomato slices. Chef salad ($4.25) and chicken salad ($3.95) also are on the “diet” menu.
Having had my fill of diet dishes, my next visit to Harv’s was strictly high-octane eatin’: a fried bacon and egg sandwich!
At $3.95, this is a cholesterol lover’s delight, two fried eggs on toasted bread with thick strips of bacon and lettuce and tomato. It bridged the breakfast-lunch gap quite well.
The cheeseburger ($2.95) – available with pastrami at no extra cost – is a solid, workaday burger, fried to a tasty finish and topped with lettuce, tomato and pickles and a not-so-secret sauce of Thousand Island dressing on a toasted bun.
Rating: * *3/4
All content © The Sacramento Bee
Posted: January 12, 2011 Filed under: Food and Travel, Restaurant Review
BY ED MURRIETA
Have you ever overshot your I-5 approach to Boeing Field? Got lost leaving the Seattle Design Center? Driven the back way home from Safeco Field only to find yourself in an urban-industrial village of bricks, tattoos and old-time bars that feel so comfortable you’ll swear they’re made of flannel?
Welcome to Georgetown, Seattle’s coolest neighborhood. Not only is Georgetown close to Tacoma geographically; it’s also close spiritually: Georgetown is an old brewery town in renaissance.
Formerly King County’s poor farm (as well as a wide-open city for revelry and vice), Georgetown today is a sprawling neighborhood of artisans and industry.
The heart of Georgetown is Airport Way, just north of Boeing Field. The brick hulk of the former Seattle Brewing and Malting Co. dominates Georgetown’s main drag. Preservationists, take heart: A craft brewery occupies the old brewery’s malt house. Artists, designers, tile-makers and a host of other creative industries occupy the rest of the historic brewery complex, which dates to the 1880s and was once the sixth-largest brewery in the world.
Feeding Georgetown’s scene is a spunky array of cafes, bars and ethnic surprises, including one joint that makes the best chicken-fried steak I’ve had outside of Pierce County.
Whether you’re visiting for next week’s Georgetown Old Skool Carnival and Artopia Arts Festival or next month’s garden walk – or you just want a taste of urban grit in a world not too far from home – Georgetown may be your home away from T-Town.
WHERE TO EAT
Georgetown Truck Stop (5327 Denver Ave. S.; 206-763-3337). Don’t let the tiny house parked on a triangle of grass fool you. That is Georgetown Truck Stop, and this isn’t truck-stop food. Truckers do stop here — for breakfast burritos, fresh-roasted turkey sandwiches and house-made pastries (try the peach with bourbon-vanilla cream); they park their rigs across the street, behind the White Satin Sugar plant. Sunday brunch tempted me with Scotch eggs – two hard-boiled eggs wrapped in sausage and baked in crunchy nests of house-made brioche. The dish was topped with onion-cranberry chutney and served with sausage gravy and a hash of potatoes and yams. There’s one table inside, and a few on the lawn.
Georgetown Liquor Co. (5501-B Airport Way S.; 206-763-6764). This is what happens when a former Microsoftie decides to open a pub: an all-vegetarian menu, beer and booze, and vintage arcade and Atari console video-gaming. Sandwiches are named after characters from “Star Wars” and “Star Trek.” The Darth Ruben wasn’t just a nod to the darker delicacies of meat and kraut on rye, it was a tribute to Field Roast, the Georgetown “grain meat” company whose products star in Georgetown Liquor Co.’s sandwiches.
Jules Maes Saloon (5919 Airport Way S.; 206-375-6037). The décor is dark, old-Western wood and beer paraphernalia. It has one of the better bar menus I’ve encountered. The saloon’s signature chicken-fried steak is something to cluck about: tender chopped meat patty danced the line between hand-cut steak and hand-ground hamburger. Gravy had a hint of fennel, mashed potatoes were spiked with garlic, and the green beans were the freshest I’ve had in a bar. Lamb burger with hand-cut fries rocked, just like the bands that play in the back room.
Maruta Shoten (1024 S. Bailey St.; 206-767-5002). Not a restaurant, but a market and deli with take-out bento boxes of sushi and hot Chinese steam table entrees.
Kauai Family Restaurant (6324 Sixth Ave. S.; 206-762-3469) Lau lau is pork steamed in taro and banana leaves. I thought Kauai’s smoked pork was good – highlighted by an intense red glow and woody – but lau lau pork was way better: meaty and buttery, spiced only with salt but alive with succulent nuance. The broth of my oxtail stew was a bit starchy, but the abundance of meat and the firm-but-tender carrots and potatoes hooked me. They also serve breakfast and plate lunches.
Stellar Pizza & Pub (5513 Airport Way S.; 206-763-1660). A pie made with sliced Yukon spuds, gorgonzola cheese and sweet white onions is as good as it sounds. Basic pies weren’t bad either, if a touch bready. Pastas, salads, sandwiches and microbrews are also on the menu.
Two Tartes Bakery (5629 Airport Way S.; 206-767-8012). The motto here is “aggressively uncool.” The décor is proactively low-frills. But the fruit tarts are delicious, and the cookies are bigger than babies’ heads. Light lunch entrees are also on the menu.
Calamity Jane’s (5701 Airport Way S.; 206-763-3040). The half-pound Wild Bill Burger with jalapeños and barbecue sauce was a mess more meaty than the rag-tag shepherd’s pie. Lunch and nightly dinner specials (spaghetti, chili, meatloaf) are served in this old hotel with wood floors and Western charm.
Smarty Pants (6017 Airport Way S.; 206-762-4777). The “bacon martini” is just liquid smoke and vodka at this bar-cafe, whose biker attitude and décor is Vespa scooter, not Harley hog. But the machine-art arcade game in which you make Evel Knievel jump his motorcycle through a ring of “fire” is a hoot. A massive meatloaf sandwich was more than I could eat. For brunch on the patio, The Hustler was a breakfast sandwich version of eggs Benedict, with an ample pile of thinly sliced grilled ham topped with poached eggs on a toasted submarine roll. Served with Hollandaise on the side.
WHERE ELSE TO DRINK
9 LB Hammer (6009 Airport Way S.; 206-762-3373) has a gritty elegance: faded antique tables and air chairs, along a pool table, shuffleboard table and a padded booth you want to curl up in.
Christoff Gallery (6004 12th Ave. S.; 206-767-0280) offers cocktails as well as art in a minimalist setting.
All City Coffee (1205 S. Vale St.; 206-767-7146). Dogs, tattooed divas and bearded guys in berets all get their java and Wi-Fi fixes here.
Georgetown Brewing Co. (5840 Airport Way S., No. 201; 206-766-8055).
Every bar in the neighborhood pours at least one of Georgetown’s products on tap. If you want to pick up a half-gallon growler of Manny’s Pale Ale, Roger’s Pilsner or Choppers Red, the brewery is open every day but Sunday.
Planet Georgetown (6266 13th Ave. S.; 206-767-4009). The motto here is “If our food and service isn’t up to your standards, just lower ‘em.” That said, this is where you’ll find Georgetown barflies who don’t have dreadlocks or facial piercings. My middle-aged cousin and I enjoyed shooting pool here on a lonely Saturday night.
Originally published in the Tacoma News Tribune, June 15, 2007.
Posted: March 14, 2010 Filed under: Recipes
BY ED MURRIETA
When I bought a house with a view of Puget Sound, I envisioned long summer sunsets and lazy glasses of gin-splashed lemonade on the deck. It looks like my spare time will be eaten up by baking.
Thanks to the previous owners, I’ll have raspberries, blueberries, rhubarb and plums growing out of everywhere my dogs haven’t marked as their own.
I don’t have a taste for jam, I’ve never learned to can and I can’t stand to let the fruits of good people’s labors rot.
So the answer is easier than pie: galettes.
I like fruit galettes better than fruit pie. Heck, fruit galettes are nothing but free-form, open-faced pies with pleated edges. Not nearly as formal as tarts and far more rustic than pies, perfect fruit galettes are bubbling messes of gooey juices spilling over sugar-crusted pastry.
You can use almost any dough (from Crisco pie dough to vegan pastry), and you don’t have to worry about rolling pretty circles. Even glossy cookbook galettes look like they were made by 6-year-olds.
Best of all, you don’t need pie dishes or tart pans; galettes are made and baked directly on baking sheets.
In the months ahead, fresh berries, stone fruit and tomatoes make excellent galettes. Later, apples and pears rule.
I wonder which goes best with lemonade.
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Ed Murrieta: 253-597-8678
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SIDEBAR: Defining galette
“Galette” is French for “pancake.” Perhaps the oldest-known pastry, galettes are also the most widely interpreted.
Galettes are made from many doughs: pie dough, cornmeal dough, puff pastry, phyllo dough, brioche, yeast-risen pastry and even crepe batter.
From buckwheat cakes of Brittany to crisp sable butter cookies of Normandy, just about any round, flat pastry is called a galette. This includes open-faced fruit pies with pleated edges, double-crusted pies with either sweet or savory fillings, sheets of sugar-glazed pastry, or fried potato cakes topped with meat and cheese.
The earliest galettes, dating to the Neolithic (or “New Stone Age”) period, were made from honey-sweetened grain cooked over open coals. Over the ages, nuts, candied fruit, marzipan, jam, curd cheese and cream found their way into galettes.
Getting started with galettes
DOUGH IT RIGHT
While the ingredients – flour, fat, salt and liquid – are simple enough, it’s not that simple to get perfectly flaky pastry crust.
Flaky crust depends on two things: temperature and technique. You want all of your ingredients ice-cold – so put everything in the freezer before mixing, even the flour. And you want to mix them only until your dough comes together.
Flaky crust needs large nuggets of fat: Flour is blended with butter, shortening or lard until the mix resembles white blueberries blanketed in snow. These nuggets of fat will give off steam during baking, producing leavened layers of flaky pastry.
THE SKINNY ON FAT
Shortening is most popular because its firm, moldable plastic consistency forms flaky crust. Butter gives a better flavor but melts easier and makes dough harder to work with. If you replace butter in a recipe that calls for shortening, increase the amount of fat by 25 percent, and be ready to decrease the liquid as butter contains more moisture than shortening.
If you’re going to use lard, avoid the supermarket stuff and seek out leaf lard from finer butcher shops. Derived from fat around pigs’ kidneys, leaf lard has a mellow flavor and a perfect texture for pastry.
More pastry chefs prefer pastry flour. It’s lighter and lower in protein strength (8 1/2 percent protein, one-quarter cup to the ounce) than all-purpose flour (10 per cent protein, one-fifth cup to the ounce) and, therefore, absorbs less water. It has just enough gluten to produce the right balance of structure and flakiness. However, it’s more prone to over-mixing and toughening than all-purpose flour. You can find pastry flour in finer supermarkets’ bulk bins.
WATCH THE WET STUFF
You need water to develop gluten in the flour. But add too much and you’ll toughen the dough; add too little and you’ll end up with a messy pile of crumbs. The biggest mistake bakers make is adding too much liquid, thinking that the dough has to come together too quickly. How much is too much? It depends. The weather outside and the strength of your flour can affect how much water dough absorbs. Butter has more moisture than shortening or lard, and salted butter has more moisture than unsalted butter. It’s better to err on the dry side. Freezing hydrates dough. When frozen dough defrosts, moisture seeps. Dough that starts out dry will eventually moisten. You can use water or milk. However, richer milk crusts brown faster and are less crispy. Whichever you use, always pour cold liquid (at least 40 degrees) from a larger container filled with ice.
It contributes flavor and tenderizes gluten, elastic-y strands of protein that develop in wheat-flour doughs during mixing.
SERVING A galette
Place assembled galettes in the freezer for 15 minutes before baking. This will chill the fat and ensure it produces steam during baking. Steam creates flaky pastry layers.
Galettes can be enjoyed on their own – but why? A dollop of sweetened whipped cream, creme fraiche or a scoop of ice cream (you can’t go wrong with vanilla) pairs with the juicy bigness of ripe fruit.
Galettes are best eaten the day they’re made. Bake galettes up to 2 hours ahead. Reheat galettes in a 350-degree oven for 8 minutes.
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Ed Murrieta, The News Tribune
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Yield: Makes 1 10-inch galette
For the crust
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 stick (4 ounces) cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3-5 tablespoons cold water
For the filling
3 cups chopped rhubarb
2 cups hulled and sliced strawberries
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
To prepare the filling
Sift together flour, salt and sugar into a large mixing bowl.
Toss dry ingredients with cold cubes of butter. With your fingers or a pastry cutter, work the flour and butter together until the butter cubes are the size of fat blueberries.
Add water, a little bit at a time, and mix it in until the dough comes together. You might not need all of the water.
On a lightly floured surface, gently knead the dough into a smooth mass, about four turns. Shape into a flat disc. Wrap the dough in plastic, and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Place the fruit in a bowl, and toss with sugar and flour. Add ginger and vinegar. Toss. Let stand 10 minutes to let sugar and juices absorb.
On a well-floured surface, roll the dough in a 12-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Place the dough on an ungreased baking sheet.
Place the fruit mixture in the center of the dough, approximately 2 inches of dough from the edges.
Fold and pleat the edges dough over the filling, leaving an exposed circle of fruit in the center of the galette.
Brush the dough lightly with water. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar over entire galette.
Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven, approximately 40 minutes. The pastry should be golden and crisp. The bottom should be evenly browned. Cool galette for 10 minutes before serving.
For a berry or other fruit filling, substitute the following:
5 cups fruit (can be blackberries, blueberries or another berry)
1 cup sugar (or less, to taste, or depending on sweetness of fruit)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Follow strawberry-rhubarb recipe, replacing lemon juice for balsamic vinegar and omitting ginger.
For an apple, pear or peach galette, substitute the following:
5 cups fruit (about 3 or 4 large apples, pears or peaches) cut into thin wedges or slices
1 cup sugar (or less, to taste, or depending on sweetness of fruit)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Follow strawberry-rhubarb recipe, replacing lemon juice for balsamic vinegar and omitting ginger.
Savory Asparagus and Mixed Pepper Galette
Yield: Serves 4-6
For the dough
1 package (2 1/2 teaspoons) dry active yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
For the filling
1 pound thin asparagus, blanched, drained and patted dry
1 each medium-sized red, yellow and orange bell pepper, cut into thin strips
4 ounces blue cheese, goat cheese or feta cheese, crumbled
1 beaten egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water
Olive oil and a pastry brush
For the dough
In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add sugar. Let mixture sit 5 minutes, until creamy.
In a separate bowl, beat together egg and oil. Add to yeast mixture.
Sift together flour and salt. Add to yeast/egg/oil mixture.
Mix the dough with a wooden spoon until it comes together. The dough should be springy, not sticky.
Knock out the dough onto a well-floured surface. Knead the dough by hand until it is smooth, about six turns. Do not overwork the dough, or it will become breadlike.
Gather the dough into a tight ball, place it in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough sit in a warm place for an hour, until it doubles in size.
Before rolling the dough, knock it out onto a well-floured surface. Knead the dough three times.
Roll the dough into a circle, approximately 1/8-inch thick and 13 inches in diameter. The dough, now springy and pliable, will want to contract; let it. Continue rolling the dough, or stretch it to desired size with your hands. Place the dough on an ungreased baking sheet. Place dough in refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the galette.
Leaving approximately 1 inch of dough around the perimeter, arrange half of the asparagus and half of the peppers in alternate layers. Sprinkle half of the cheese on top. Repeat with remaining asparagus, peppers and cheese.
Roll up the edges of the dough so it partially covers some of the filling. Crimp the edges as desired. Brush the edges of the dough with beaten egg-water mixture.
Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until the pastry takes on a golden color.
When cool, brush entire galette lightly with olive oil.
Published April 20, 2005, Tacoma News Tribne
Posted: January 14, 2008 Filed under: Blog, Food and Culture
BY ED MURRIETA
A piece of Seattle’s blue-collar brewing history is going bye-bye and going upscale. Rainier Cold Storage was once a part of Seattle Malting and Brewing Company, which, in its heyday, was the world’s sixth-largest brewery.
A few Saturdays back, I sat in a window alcove at Jules Maes Saloon, across the street from the old brewery. I’d just bought a growler of porter at Georgetown Brewing Company, the microbrewery that inhabits Seattle Malting and Brewing’s former malting room. I was trying to convince my dining companion that chicken-fried steak ain’t a breaded-beef abomination.
Across Airport Way, progress circled for a landing. Read the rest of this entry »