August 2012

From this Issue

For the peppers:

½ lb. padron peppers
3 tablespoons olive oil
coarse salt, like Maldon or fleur de sel

For the burgers:
1 lb. ground chuck beef
1 lb. chorizo, casings removed
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
Kosher salt and pepper

Winners listed in their respective categories:

Newsflash: Seattle weather is fickle. Which is exactly why local company Fruitsuper design ( developed a new waterproof picnic blanket—to ensure that outdoor eating and seating this summer are both dry and delightful.

With all the experimentation going on in Washington wine, some winemakers and viticulturists see the dry, hot conditions of parts of eastern Washington as the perfect climate for Spanish varieties. Washington has grown the fruity Grenache (Garnacha in Spanish) for years, and now Tempranillo, a savory grape, has found a following.

Despite the fact that the Auction of Washington Wines, an annual destination weekend that raises funds for Seattle Children’s, occurs in and around Woodinville over three days this month (August 16–18), many locals shuttle back and forth for each evening’s party, dinner and event. This year marks the fundraiser’s 25th anniversary, and we say, why not make a weekend of it?

Oregon and the Willamette Valley AVA have established their oeuvre with Pinot Noir, but their repertoire is growing. A newfound love affair with Oregon Chardonnay has received notice in The New York Times, and several dedicated winemaker evangelists, such as Rollin Soles of Argyle Winery, are touting the joys of Oregon sparkling wine.

It’s the oldest and largest wine-growing region in the state—producing more than a third of the state’s wine—but Yakima Valley isn’t always at the top of the wine-getaway list. That’s because this area, so long on wine excellence, can be a little short on luxe accommodations and upscale eateries; it’s a farm town, after all.

It’s hard to find a prettier wine town than Walla Walla, the capital of the Walla Walla Valley AVA. With its restored turn-of-the-century brick buildings, well-stocked wine tasting rooms and upscale restaurants, the city of 30,000 makes an ideal base for exploring the region’s wine country, which includes some of our state’s best-known red wine producers.

Tucked away in a cranny between the Columbia and Willamette valleys, the Columbia Gorge American Viticultural Area (AVA) is a little wine-tasting paradise that looks more like Germany’s Mosel wine region than it does anyplace in the Northwest.

Every corner of Eric Swenson and Holly Weese’s North Seattle yard harbors a carefully orchestrated surprise. There’s an iron chandelier hanging 60 feet up in a towering fir tree, and a small bog of carnivorous plants flanking a front walk. (Swenson, an avid gardener and the sole designer and chief laborer in the yard, likes to call this a “no fly zone.”)

When I moved into my house in leafy Ravenna back in 2008, I knew I would have my work cut out for me, literally. The backyard was large and woodsy, and would have been beautiful if it wasn’t overrun by two of Seattle’s most infamous invasives: Himalayan blackberry and English ivy.

It’s that time of year when Seattle’s gardens are in full bloom—or in my case, bloomed, spent and in desperate need of a good watering and dead foliage trimming. This was one of the lushest seasons I recall in recent memory, at least in the microcosm that is my Ballard backyard.

Summer, in spirit if not via the weather, kicks off each year over Memorial Day weekend with the Northwest Folklife Festival at Seattle Center. This year, it sadly provided echoes of the sound too often heard on Seattle streets these days: gunfire. A bystander was caught in the crossfire of a shooting near the Space Needle, shot in the leg.


Those Pink Lady apples you’re eyeing at the supermarket cost $2.49 a pound. A feather-light pint of organic raspberries? Five bucks. But at the new, 7-acre Beacon Hill Food Forest, these and other garden produce will be free (with a little sweat equity encouraged).

High Ceilings, Happy Staff

Sunlight pours through south-facing windows, bouncing off spring green accents in West Seattle’s homey new lunch spot.

When Branzino opened in 2008 to much acclaim, its chef, Ashley Merriman, was clearly a star on the rise; she later went on to compete on Bravo’s Top Chef before moving to New York City, where she now heads the kitchen at Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter’s Waverly Inn.

Montana may not be known for world-class barbecue, but that doesn’t mean Grant and Hannah Carter, who met in Big Sky Country in college, don’t know their ’cue. Boy, do they! Their slim restaurant—housed in Ballard’s old Acme Rubber Stamp building, its interior stripped back to expose old brick walls, with reclaimed barn wood—serves the best plate of ribs I’ve had in Seattle.

Congratulations: You’ve survived the punk rock era of food. In the decade just past, we saw the demise of the entrée; instead, we’ve pieced together meals by sharing a slew of side dishes and small plates (tapas of every ilk!). We bid adieu to careful, precise service and, instead, bussed our own tables or poured our own water from jugs left on the table.

Here in the Northwest, it’s rare to taste a perfectly ripe melon. Only during the very hottest days of summer is the fruit at its most sublime, its fragrance humid and thick in the air; tropical, seductive.

What they are: Padrón peppers are small, green peppers with a sweet, mild flavor. Occasionally, the odd rogue pepper can grow particularly hot and spicy, making eating a dish of these peppers (often fried or roasted in olive oil) almost a game of Russian roulette.

Usually stuffed with zesty ingredients like crisp veggies and succulent meat and topped with zingy tzatziki sauce, gyros get a signature finish at these local restaurants.

Since 1905, Collins Family Orchard has produced a wealth of fruit, including Rainier, lapin and Bing cherries. Now, the family-owned farm also has a science project on the side. Third-generation farmer Calvin Collins and his son, marketing manager Brian, devote three of their 63 acres in Selah to creating about 20 brand-new varieties of tree fruits.

When the Volunteer Park Conservatory opened its doors in 1912, there was no art museum, no “Black Sun” sculpture, no Shakespeare in the Park to keep it company.

What began as a search for a better coffee machine in a local start-up’s break room has evolved into the perfect Seattle combo: coffee and robots.

Wine and chocolate? So last summer, thanks to Seattle-based Cookie Box, which is redefining the concept of “cookie” with its savory line of treats gift-boxed especially to pair with wine.

Summertime brings to mind the frozen delights of our youth, treats hard earned by sprinting after the ice cream truck. These days, ice cream is easier to come by, thanks to the fine fleet of festive trucks cruising local streets—and the websites that help us track them down.

Bainbridge Island-based author Jonathan Evison has an uncanny knack for writing prose that roils across the page, sweeping readers up for the ride. His first novel, All About Lulu (2008), won the Washington State Book Award, and his second, West of Here (2011), earned him the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award.

Nerdy Seattle loves its slide shows.

If you’ve ever tried to get glitter out of carpet, you’ll understand the genius behind West Seattle’s brand-new kids’ craft studio, Young at Art. There, kids can paint, bead, glue, draw and, yes, glitter to their heart’s content without wreaking havoc on your home.

Score a little quiet family time with the help of a gorgeous, locally made wooden jigsaw puzzle.

For a lovely late-summer outing with the kids, make the 45-minute drive north to the brand-new Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve, a lovingly assembled museum of local Native American cultures, history and lore in Marysville.

Fragrances, candles and lotions have long occupied space in Blackbird men’s clothing boutique in Ballard. Now, owner Nicole Miller has thrust these products into the limelight, transforming the former Ella Mon space next door into Blackbird Apothecary as of late June.

Prada, Jimmy Choo and Vivienne Westwood are bunking behind Cherry Street Coffee House in Belltown. Tucked into a hidden suite off First Avenue, Natalia Biner’s new Sell Your Sole Consignment Boutique boasts impressively well-named garments and shoes, often sporting original tags.

When entering designer Tininha Silva’s Madrona studio, one wall demands attention: On it hangs a massive acrylic painting by her husband, artist Sean Yearian, that swirls in a vibrant tapestry of color and joy.

There’s a new gang hanging out in Westlake Park this summer and its members seem a bit steely. But that’s only appropriate—they’re made of aluminum and cast iron. The gathering of humanoid sculptures, called “Borders,” was installed in June by Icelandic artist Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir.