Sunday, August 15, 2010


Bakery Nouveau, $1.50

In a previous post I wrote about how almond croissants from West Seattle's Bakery Nouveau can spur total strangers into acts of kindness. Here, their macarons, which the bakery itself labels "macaroons" and hints may the best this side of Paris. Shown are pistachio, chocolate, and raspberry.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

USS Stennis Danish

USS John C. Stennis Danish

Of the many fascinating displays at the Puget Sound Navy Museum in Bremerton, WA, I was most struck by an exhibit about life on board the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis. I learned about 1-minute showers (as opposed to the leisurely "Hollywood" variety), tried tucking myself in for the night in a claustrophobic bunk more like a metal dresser drawer, and got a taste of slingshot launches from a fighter pilot's perspective.

Considering that the crew of over 5000 chows down on nearly 17,000 meals a day, a corner of the exhibit is fittingly devoted to the challenges of producing that much food on a ship in the middle of the ocean. From notes left in the comment book by sailors and their families, I gather that the museum's model food (such as the plastic danish, above) looks a little better than the real thing but probably tastes about the same.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Tokaragashi V

Tokaragashi V

Since I bought Tokara's seasonal wagashi at almost the same time last year, this box gave me the pleasure of recognizing an old favorite along with the thrill of discovering two new delights.

I was too slow to check Tokara's website for the correct names and descriptions, so apologies for being a bit vague. The modernist flower (above) was soft, translucent mochi, decorated with petal marks seared in by a branding iron and tiny cubes of kanten jelly for abstract drops of morning dew. Inside, a black sesame paste--pungent, dry, and velvety as halva.

A bundled-up bamboo leaf unfurled to reveal a fu manju (above), a dumpling of steamed wheat gluten, flavored with grassy yomogi and tucked around a core of sweet, chunky red beans.

Last but not least, the "old friend", Gourd (below): matcha-flavored white bean paste inside a molded kanten jelly textured with crushed, cooked rice.

To see more of Tokara's beautiful creations:
Tokaragashi I
Tokaragashi II
Tokaragashi III
Tokaragashi IV

Cascadian Farm

Raspberry Shortcake
Cascadian Farm, $4.50

How's this for a summer treat? Shortcake with fruit and whipped cream, purchased from a hobbit house sitting in the middle of lush berry fields and eaten at a sun-baked picnic table. If I had read the U-pick schedule before I ordered I would have chosen in-season blueberries; since raspberries peak earlier in the summer, the one disappointment was that the berries in my shortcake weren't quite thawed.

Even if you've never been to Rockport, WA, you've probably seen Cascadian Farm's organic products on the shelves at your grocery. Although the company is now massive and diverse, the u-pick fields and farm stand tell the story of Cascadian's small start in 1972 as a pioneering organic farm.

Cascadian Home Farm
55749 State Route 20
Rockport, WA

Friday, August 6, 2010

Methow Vallery Energy Balls

Methow Valley Energy Balls

For a rural provisioner, the Mazama Store (below) has plenty to tempt even the best-fed city dweller. I lingered over the bakery case and the candy aisle, but finally chose a plastic baggie of Energy Balls, hand-rolled on the premises.

Each of the different flavors is named for a nearby landmark and comes printed with some local trivia. I picked "The Hidden Treasure Variety":

"The Hidden Treasure mine was one of the most prominent mines located within the Squaw Creek District. A coffee bean serves as the hidden treasure in these Energy Balls--perfect for that early morning on the trail...or by the fire!"

Or for the reluctant drive back to the city.

"Hidden Treasure" energy balls contain peanut butter, cocoa powder, honey, whole coffee beans, and unsweetened coconut.

The Mazama Store
50 Lost River Road
Mazama, WA 509/996-2855

Hungry for more travel-related food posts? How about food-friendly travel posts? You'll find both at Wanderfood Wednesday...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Rockinghorse Bakery

Plum Bear Claw
Rocking Horse Bakery, $2.50

The "wild west" town of Winthrop, WA, is one of those places that can really challenge your ideas about reality. After thousands of years as a bustling hub of Native American activity, and a century of frenetic fur-trapping and gold-rushing, Winthrop's fortunes had tapered off by the mid-20th century.

Then, in the early 1970s, locals decided to use a large bequest to give their sleepy little town a "Wild West" facelift. They installed boardwalks and saloon doors, gave all the downtown buildings quaint new fronts, and hung pre-weathered, hand-painted business signs. Not coincidentally, the makeover was completed about the same time as the new state highway; the steady stream of tourists continues to this day.

Like the town itself, the Rocking Horse Bakery represents scrappy self-reinvention. Seven years ago, Dave Swenson and Meghan Sullivan lost the lease the Rocking Horse Ranch in Mazama, the family property where Sullivan was raised. Swenson had already been doing some commercial baking to supplement their winter income, and at that time Winthrop didn't have a dedicated bakery, so they decided to try their luck. They named their new enterprise after the family ranch--managing to move forward without turning their backs on the past.

In addition to the pastries, loaves, and pizzas for sale at their shop (such as the flaky, flavorful bear claw above), Rocking Horse supplies several local restaurants. Reading the menus posted around town, I noticed more than one eatery touting its use of Rockinghorse Bakery bread.

Other notable Winthrop treats include the huge selection of imported candy and gourmet chocolate bars at Winthrop Motors, and the homemade ice cream and sweets at Sheri's Sweet Shoppe (there just had to be a "shoppe" in there somewhere, right?).

Rocking Horse Bakery
265 Riverside Avenue
Winthrop, WA

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Cherry Hibiscus Ice

Cherry Hibiscus Ice
Mazama Community Market, $1.25

Located in northeastern Washington's isolated Methow Valley, the town of Mazama boasts a population of 230--most of whom turn out for the Wednesday evening Community Market. As you might expect from an area that's equally attuned to the needs of hikers, skiers, wine connoisseurs, and libertarians, Mazama's residents are sporty, colorful, creative, and into having a good time.

While enjoying acoustic covers of Dylan and Grateful Dead songs and keeping one eye on the vegetable sculpture contest (for kids only, sigh), we wandered around the ring of stalls to check out all the goods on offer. Apparently, there are no limits on who can open a stall or on what they can sell. There were jars of honey and slices of pizza, t-shirts and crafts, a couple of mini yard sales, several people selling surplus produce from their gardens, girls offering custom bracelets, and a kid at an actual Kool-Aid stand unexpectedly selling pudding. Dogs wandered freely, sometimes chewing on hunks of cauliflower discarded by the vegetable sculptors.

One stall had a pretty impressive wooden sign advertising chicha tea, which I'd never heard of. The seller explained how she got into chicha and how it's really great and delicious, then admitted that she'd forgotten her tea at home. Instead, she had tubs of homemade fruit ices. I had the cherry hibiscus, which was lovely, with the sweetness of a jamaica soda and chunks of sour cherry.