Saturday, May 30, 2009

Anacortes Farmer's Market

Some shots from our adventure to the market today:

Italiano dinner with Andrea

A couple of weeks ago at a BMW Oracle event, I met one of Matt's co-workers: Andrea, an Italian from Roma. Of course, we made short work of getting to the topic of food and I was thrilled to discover that his family carries many of the same food traditions as mine (for an odd example, drying handmade pasta over clean sheets on the bed).

I asked him if he knew a good traditional ragu recipe (what we think of as spaghetti sauce, but more meat and less saucy), and not only did he have one, but it comes from the Emilia Romagna region of Italy, where my family is from. So we agreed to have dinner at our place soon--we'd make the pasta and he'd make the ragu.

Matt also chose that weekend to try out the baguette recipe and techniques we learned back in March with Breadfarm guru Scott Mangold. I'd done my own batch back in late March, but Matt wasn't around, so he did this one all on his own... Turned out gorgeous.

Matt's homemade baguettes (pretty good for a first timer!)

At Andrea's suggestion, we made semolina pasta for the first time (we usually use all-purpose flour). He thought the courser durum flour would allow it to be more textured for the ragu to stick to. 400 grams of semolina, 4 eggs, a whiz together in the food processor, a few minutes kneading, then rolled through the pasta roller and cut. Usually, we cook our pasta right away, but Andrea suggested we let it dry for a few hours. I felt like we were making real Italian pasta for the first time.

Hand-made semolina pasta, drying

Ricotta caprese

When Andrea came over, he made the ragu, but showed me the steps along the way. I think I can recreate it--the recipe's easy. But I kid you not, it tasted like Italy. I'm pretty excited to make this recipe for my dad to see if it's anything close to what he remembers his Nonna and Nonno making when he was kid.

Andrea looking hot in my apron


And here's Andrea's ragu recipe:

100 grams (1/4 pound) high quality ground beef, preferably with rib meat
(you may add more ground beef, according to your preference)
2 oz. pancetta (bacon is an acceptable substitute)
1 large or 2 small sausages
1 large white onion
1 large carrot
1 or 2 large celery sticks
1 glass red wine
1 small can tomato paste
1/2 box of Pomi (Italian brand) or 15 oz can of diced/ crushed tomatoes
Homemade veal and chicken stock or a box of beef stock

1. Finely chop the veggies and pancetta, using a food processor, if desired.
2. Add to a large stock pot over high heat with olive oil until onions appear golden
3. Add beef and sausage and mix well
4. Add glass of wine and cook on high until liquid evaporates
5. Turn down heat and add 3-4 spoonfuls of paste and tomatoes.
6. Put stock into a small saucepan and heat on a separate burner on low.
7. Simmer for 1-2 hours, partially covered, adding ladles of stock as it becomes more dry.
8. Season with salt and pepper and serve over pasta with freshly grated cheese.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Foody Club for May: The Corson Building


I have been wanting to visit The Corson Building since it first opened last summer. Chef Matt Dillon's cooking is familiar to us Roddys from his widely celebrated first restaurant venture, Sitka and Spruce, in Seattle's Eastlake neighborhood. We also had the pleasure of tasting the damn fine cooking of Corson's sous chef, Emily Crawford, at the Farm Dinner we attended last July at Local Roots Farm.

Here's what's so great about The Corson Building--it's so Matt Dillon. Matt's other restaurant, Sitka, is in this random strip mall on Eastlake Avenue. It has a few, communal-style tables, an open kitchen and a line out the door. You notice the hipster attire, the adventurous menu items, and the laid back cool-ness of the crowd. But the thing about Dillon is that his roots are a lot more chic. He came from The Herbfarm. You know, the place with the $200-a-head price tag, no menu, 9 courses with wine, and close ties to the earth and animals from which it creates its food.

So The Corson Building makes a lot of sense. It's funky--this unlikely Spanish style villa straight from the Old World with grounds and original turn-of-the-century architecture somehow plopped in the heart of industrial Georgetown, just blocks from Boeing Field and nearly underneath an I-5 overpass. It's like opening a door to another world, stumbling on this place. In true Sitka style, the tables are communal, the atmosphere is friendly and the prices are accessible. In true Herbfarm indulgence, the food is local, fresh from the gardens on the property or local farmer's markets, and the meal is a surprise until you sit down and Matt comes out to tell you what you'll be having.

Our little trio was greeted at the door with glasses of bubbly and an invitation to wander the grounds, where we found chicken coops, raised bed gardens, and fully aflame wood-fire brick ovens.

Seriously, I could live here.

I should also mention that Wylie Bush, co-owner of The Corson Building with Dillon, and of Joe Bar, was a warm presence in the front of the house all night. Greeting, serving and even offering to take some photos of the three of us out on the grounds.

But enough about the restaurant and onto the food! We were given a trio of starters, then a first course of seafood stew, two entrees: chicken and fish, and dessert and cofffee to finish. Everything was served family-style.

The menu:
~Crudo of black cod and Kushi oysters~
preserved lemon, red onion, dill, olive oil, aleppo chili and chive blossom

~Crusty bread~

~Housemade cured pork leg and radishes~
miner's lettuce and chive blossom

~Scrambled eggs and morel mushrooms with lovage~

~Seafood stew of clams and mussels~
pea tendrils and green garlic

~Whole sanddabs with asparagus~
browned butter, hazelnuts, smoked paprika and aioli

~Fire roasted chicken with porcini mushrooms and oregano~

~Arugula and Tom Thumb salad~

~Almond cookies with local cheeses~
poached rhubarb with bay leaf and mint

My favorites were the meltingly soft scrambled eggs (cooked in butter) with perfectly sauteed freshly-foraged morels and the soft and buttery sanddabs (similar to a flounder) with citrusy asparagus and sweet hazelnuts.

Jenn (my carb-lover) I think liked the bread and cookies most, insisting that Maria, who knows Matt Dillon, weasel the recipe out of him before we left. But to the credit of her palate, I think I also heard her raving about the tender, smokiness of the chicken as well.

Maria likes everything. I wasn't hearing ay complaints from her end of the table, but she was more than willing to get the cookie recipe for Jenn since she wanted it too (traditional macaron recipe with almond, we discovered).

Some other stand-outs: I've never had a crudo before, so I was nervous. How raw is it, anyway? Plus, I'm not an oyster fan, and I've never tried (or been tempted to try) an oyster shooter. I have to say, I was shocked by this dish. Because of the preserved lemon, the citrus had cooked the fish and oyster, making it more of a ceviche. The balance of dill, fresh onion, citrus, and chili was remarkable--fresh and delicious.

Also, (I just have to say it) we saw Matt pulling radishes out of the garden right before dinner and so we recognized them on the ham plate. Pretty cool.

Taking notes on the lengthy, unwritten menu.

The evening ended as most do when you're at a friend's place for dinner: in the kitchen talking. Maria had cornered Matt for the cookie recipe, but the conversation turned to Napa Valley restaurants, Corson summer events (garden bounty meals and a Bastille Day celebration), and learning to grow everything in your kitchen for yourself (with the exception of French wine and Italian olive oil). Matt offered a few book suggestions that I plan to find at the library (Italian immigrant Pelegrini's "The Unprejudiced Palate"), and encouraged Jenn to start growing arugula in her back yard.

When we got back to the table, the servers had left us small jars of savory citrus marmelade to take home and I swore I'll be back for Bastille Day.

Dinners at The Corson Building are $90, and an additional $30 with wine pairing. But if you're smart like us, you'll come on a Thursday for $50 (wine extra) or on a Sunday Supper for $60 including vino. Reservations required.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Great Shot

This is from a few weeks ago at the Tulip Fields with my dear friend Ashley, her little girl Lilly and some other friends with girls the same age.

And here some others that I loved. I can't believe sometimes that I actually live here. The Skagit Valley is such a beautiful place.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ten on Ten: May

I recently had the opportunity to join a group of bloggers who do something called Ten On Ten. The concept is pretty simple: take ten pictures over ten hours on the tenth of each month. These ladies do some really creative work and it's fun to get in on it. For my first month, I'm keeping it simple. Enjoy!




Skagit Valley

squash bread and cribbage at Macrina's

Roddy sibling lunch on Queen Anne

niece Luci at Mother's Day dinner with Rice family

evening tea


figuring out the week ahead