Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pudding Shots

Pudding Shot
The Brick, $2

If you ever watched "Northern Exposure," you're familiar with the Brick Saloon, a warm but no-nonsense watering hole where--to mix sitcoms--everyone knows your name, and how you like your burger.  

Far from being a hollow facade figment of a set designer's imagination, the Brick is a real and venerable place, the oldest continuously operating bar in Washington state.  Opened in 1889, it was rebuilt in 1898, and renamed in honor of the 45,000 bricks used in the facade.   I didn't get either the bricks or the basement jail cell in the above picture, but you can see two of the bar's other famous features:  a wood bar imported from England via Cape Horn more than a century ago, and between the bar and the stools, a 23' brass-lined trough spittoon, though which water still flows today. 

In the foreground, a more recent feature of the Brick's menu:  a pudding shot.  Like jell-o shots, they're made by mixing up instant pudding with alcohol instead of water.   The seasonal flavor:  candy corn.  Holling might not approve, but Shelley certainly would. 

The Brick Saloon
100 W Pennsylvania Ave.
Roslyn WA

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Chocolate Ganache Pie

Chocolate Ganache Pie
Better Living Through Coffee, $3.95 

Each return trip to Port Townsend brings me a little closer to my goal of eating my way through the menu at Better Living Through Coffee, home of "Organic Fair-Trade Coffee & Nutrient Dense Food."  As always, I was curious to see how that nutritional mission applies to sweets and delighted to find that in the case of the housemade pies (blackberry, chocolate, or fig and walnut), it applies deliciously.  My server was a little sparing with the details, but my understanding is that the hefty, hearty crust involves both yogurt and flour ground from sprouted whole wheat; the creamy-chewy dark chocolate ganache is sweetened with minimally-processed succanat and topped with an optional dollop of real whipped cream. 

Better Living Through Coffee
100 Tyler Street  
Port Townsend, WA

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Little Bake Shop

Pear Tart
Little Bake Shop, Johnson Orchards 

Alfred Johnson emigrated from Sweden in 1889 and was eventually lured to central Washington by a railroad initiative offering free transportation to prospective buyers of rail-owned land in the Yakima Valley.  In 1904 Johnson and his brothers founded their orchard on 60 acres of irrigated valley floor.  In the early years, much of the orchard's produce was packed into barrels and shipped to Sweden via Seattle, but as the area's population grew, more and more of the fruit was consumed locally.    

Now surrounded by sprawling subdivisions, Johnson Orchards continues to operate under a banner of continuity ("Same Family, Same Location - Quality Fruit since 1904") but a few things have certainly changed.  The orchard now offers cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines, pears, plums, apples, and pluots, some available through a u-pick program, others sold by the pound, box, or bin in a refurbished 1916 fruit packing warehouse.  In 2011, the family added a commercial kitchen, where they bake cakes, bars, and pies during the growing season, selling them from "Little Bake Shop" cases inside the warehouse--on Fridays and Saturdays only.   

4906 Summitview Avenue
Yakima WA


Friday, October 11, 2013

Roslyn Candy Co.


Bite-sized truffles
Rosyln Candy Co., $1 each

Relative to its size, tiny Roslyn WA is packed with attractions.  It still has many of the buildings familiar from the TV show "Northern Exposure," but also surprises like a fascinatingly multi-cultural cemetery (in the heyday of mining workers were recruited from all over the world) and budding businesses like the Roslyn Candy Co.

From a colorful little house in the heart of downtown, Roslyn Candy dispenses ice cream, retro candy by the pound, and chocolate truffles and treats created by owners Alesha Schmedeke and Otto Cate.  The confectionery lineup features both revived classics (Italian-style hazlenut-and-chocolate gianduja creams) and contemporary crazes (chocolate-dipped local bacon from Owens Meats), as well as an assortment of bite-sized truffles (above) ranging from the 80% dark chocolate "Kumabo" to a fennel-infused white chocolate ganache coated in white chocolate and topped with colorful candied Indian fennel seeds. 

Roslyn Candy Co. 
104 1/2 Pennsylvania Ave
Roslyn WA

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Mom's European Food & Deli

Russian Mini Chocolate Bars
Mom's European Food & Deli, $6.99/lb

Soap Lake is a tiny town in central Washington built around a lake long famed for the healing properties of its foamy waters and slimy mud.  Modern environmental factors have put a dent in those powers--and in the number of tourists visiting the town's spas and resorts.  From the car I saw two going-out-of-business sales, several vacant storefronts, and the empty lot where town boosters had once planned to erect the world's largest lava lamp.

There was no one else in sight when I parked by the public swimming area just a block from downtown, rolled up my pants, and waded into the shallow, slightly effervescent water.  There was no one in sight as I stood ankle-deep in mud, creamy and insubstantial as Cool Whip, and wondered what it would be like to live here. 

I was starting to get a little spooked when a stroll down main street finally filled in a few of the blanks.   As I passed a strikingly well-stocked yarn store, there was a flurry of activity; car after car pulled up and a dozen chatty women got out carrying snacks and projects for the weekly "stitch and bitch."  

At the other end of the street, I found Mom's European Deli, a strikingly well-stocked emporium of foods from Russia and the Baltic region--deli staples like meat, cheese, and specialty breads, but also row upon row of sweet snacks.  The dozens of individually wrapped hard candies, caramels, and nutty little dark chocolate bars  (like Clumsy Bear, Nut Cluster, Kara Kym, above) are sold pick-and-mix style by the pound, as is sesame and sunflower halva, cut to order from huge marbled blocks.  There are also sweet drinks, boxed cookies, and bags of confections like zephir, a pastel hybrid of marshmallow and divinity.   The cold case is stocked with fresh cakes from Russian bakeries on the east coast, carried back by long-haul truck drivers returning from a New York run.  

The beach may no longer be bustling, but an unexpected bounty of beautiful yarn and Russian treats prove that there's still life, creativity, community, and celebration behind Soap Lake's hard-luck facade.   

Mom's European Food & Deli
331 Main Ave E
Soap Lake WA

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Seattle Center's CroatiaFest 

Crackly, deep-fried hrustule cookies are a Croatian favorite, popular at Christmas and other happy occasions.  The cookies are simple strips or twists of thin dough, which, depending on the family, may be flavored with combinations of vanilla, rum, whiskey, anise, orange, or lemon. 

But although hrustule are simple to make, they are time-consuming and labor intensive.  For Seattle Center's CroatiaFest, members of the Martinis family demonstrated skills honed over many years of working together to make huge batches of holiday hrustule.  

First the cousins demonstrated blending the dough in a standing mixer, adding flour a little at a time until just the right texture is achieved, then rolling it so thin that the pattern of the tablecloth underneath shows through.  They used a serrated pastry wheel to cut the dough into strips, and before dropping the strips in hot oil, gave each strip a gentle stretch to make a little thinner--and so a little crisper.  Out of the fryer, the cookies are drained on paper tools, then sprinkled with powdered sugar once cool. 


Other booths sold fresh palacinke (Croatian crepes), and slices of povitica, a sweet bread swirled with nuts, cinnamon, and chocolate.