March 8, 2013 at 9:00 PM
I’m not as crazy about pizza as some, but I appreciate the art of making food, especially if you mix in a bit of spectacle.
The open kitchen at Ballard Pizza Company becomes a stage when the pizzaioli start tossing the dough into the air. The centrifugal force makes the pies perfectly round and spreads the dough evenly, explained Dan Eling, but much of the tossing is also for fun. If the restaurant is really busy, he may not have time to give each pizza a spin.
On Sunday, however, you are guaranteed to see Eling perform from noon to 3 p.m. during a competition billed as the first-ever dough-tossing contest in Seattle. For a suggested $20 donation, customers will get pizza, salad and a scorecard to rank Eling and 11 other local pizzaioli. Awards will be given for speed, style, best pie and high toss, and the proceeds will go to a charity chosen by the winner.
Eling, 26, said he’s been practicing for the competition, but he downplays his dough-spinning talent. “I’m all right,” he said at the start of his 10-hour shift. “I can get it 15 to 20 feet up in the air.”
November 30, 2012 at 7:49 PM
Sketched Nov. 21, 2012
The authentic Swiss-style Edelweiss Chalet, home to Boehms Candies since 1956, was built by Julius Boehm, an Austrian immigrant who relocated his chocolate factory from Seattle to Issaquah to be closer to the mountains.
Since Boehm passed away in 1981, longtime employee and current owner Bernard Garbusjuk has carried on the tradition of making good chocolate and welcoming visitors to the factory and grounds, which include a replica of a 12th-century chapel that Boehm dedicated to fallen mountaineers.
Garbusjuk’s face lit up as people flocked into the store on the rainy day I was there. He marveled that people still make the trek to the chalet for holiday sweets.
“Isn’t it wonderful?” he said. “We are not just retail; we are a landmark.”
Mindi Reid, Boehms Candies in-house historian, said group tours of the chalet and the High Alpine Chapel (also known as the Luis Trenker Chapel) are offered by appointment during the winter months. In the summer, scheduled tours are offered every Saturday and Sunday. For more details and directions, visit Boehms site at boehmscandies.com.
February 10, 2012 at 8:04 PM
Sketched Feb. 7, 2012
“We don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day in Spain.”
I’ve used that excuse on my wife for the 12 Februarys we’ve been together. But this year, with our 10th wedding anniversary fast approaching, I decided to finally do something about my lousy behavior.
I went to Theo Chocolate well ahead of time so I would have something to show for myself next Tuesday. Since it opened in 2006, the organic chocolate manufacturer has become a national brand while remaining one of the sweetest spots in Fremont.
Not only did I find a gift, I was treated to a chocolate-factory tour and showered with chocolate facts. Roaster Elric McCoy explained he was using this 1930s German machine to “cook the best flavor out of the beans,” and then handed me some to try. They tasted nutty, and I even used some to add color to this sketch.
In the confection kitchen, I drew artisan chocolatiers decorating confections by hand, and sampled the final product — lavender jalapeño caramel! It was so spicy, my wife is sure to find that one worth the wait.
Here are more drawings from my visit to Theo Chocolate.
They call it factory for a reason. Interesting contraptions are used in the process of transforming cacao beans into the little masterpieces that you find in a box of chocolate. You’ve seen that giant roaster above. Now, look at this conveyor belt. Here the confections go through a curtain of liquid chocolate and into a cooling tunnel. I sketched specialty production assistants Jesse Chappelle and Marianne Robertson as they sprinkled each confection with candied corn flour. Robertson said they have just about a second to complete each piece.
From this vantage point, you can see Steve Popplewell carefully dropping the confections onto the conveyor belt. His partner during this shift was Anna Ebage. She said it’s really rewarding to create a product that everybody enjoys.
Next to the confection kitchen is a packing room. That’s where that cooling tunnel ended and where I met Sarah Benner. She said the confections stay in the tunnel for about 6 minutes. As she picks them out, she checks every single one to make sure it’s not defective. As I stood sketching for about 10 minutes, one came out with a little hole. Benner handed it to me to eat, which I did, but not before sketching it first!
Production is stepping up as Valentine’s Day approaches, but everyone said it’s still not as busy as around the Christmas holidays. The pace at the packing room, however, seemed pretty fast to me. Every time I lifted my eyes from my sketchbook many more rows of confections had been lined up on the trays.
I couldn’t leave Theo without sketching their building. The old brick warehouse was just as delightfully sketchable as everything inside.
What has drawn your attention around Seattle lately? Send me your suggestions of interesting places and people to sketch via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. Have a great weekend!
February 24, 2011 at 4:02 PM
Sketched Feb. 23
The newest bakery in White Center has a cool sounding name: 3.14 Bakery. But, what does that mean?
“It’s the pi number,” employee Jennifer Wentz said. “For ‘pie’.”
I wouldn’t have guessed it. How clever!
Wentz said they just opened last August, adding their home-style flavor to an eclectic mix of food businesses that have opened in recent years along 16th Ave SW just south of SW Roxbury ST. Next door to traditional Vietnamese restaurants and an adult “superstore,” you can now find other unique establishments that are transforming the neighborhood: Full Tilt Ice Cream, Pizza Proletariat and Uncle Mike’s BBq. “We’ve been referred as the next Georgetown,” said Wentz about White Center.
The bakery has a small-town feel that I found very welcoming. Perhaps it was the old-fashioned tablecloths that reminded me of my mother’s embroidery. Or being able to step inside the kitchen and catching a glimpse of Nikki Dempsey preparing the ingredients to make chocolate chip cookies.
I found the same friendly atmosphere across the street at White Center Pharmacy. Owner Mel Morris, a Queen Anne High School graduate, has run the business since 1982.
Stay tuned for more sketches from my Wednesday visit to the White Center business district.
December 17, 2010 at 7:40 PM
Sketched Dec. 16 at Melrose Market
A visit to Rain Shadow Meats on Capitol Hill’s Melrose Market brought back memories of my childhood holiday feasts in rural Spain. In Montemolín, the little town where my parents grew up, the tradition is to slaughter a pig every Christmas — I’ve actually seen my dad kill and prepare one.
That’s not a story I tell many people, but I thought butcher Russell Flint would relate. “You get it,” he told me. In the U.S. there’s little connection with where food comes from anymore, he said. “Some people don’t think what they eat was alive at some point.”
Flint, 32, started his old-fashioned butcher shop in April to bring back the meat business to what it used to be, providing a direct link between the farm and the consumer. That’s why he only sells locally grown meats and charcuterie. A whole pig in his freezer came days earlier from Yarmuth Farms in Darrington. The pork loin that will soon become a magnificient crown roast on somebody’s holiday table came from Carlton Farms in Oregon.
With butchers like Flint, the tradition of feasting on meat from our backyards seems likelier to survive.
Flint uses five different types of knives to perform his job. On this sketch you can see him “frenching” a pork loin, cleaning the fat around the bones for better presentation.
Flint said he was just by himself when he opened the shop in April, but now has four employees. I did this sketch while Chris Simpson prepared Italian-style sausages, Bobby Palmquist worked on a pig shoulder and Flint cut lamb chops. A very interesting scene to draw!
Sketch-worthy Seattle. Where should I take my sketchpad next? Do you know of a good sketch story waiting to be drawn? I’d love to learn about it. You can send me your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org or via Facebook or Twitter. Have a great weekend!
October 15, 2010 at 8:04 PM
Sketched Oct. 16, 11:26 a.m. [Click on sketches to view larger]
I may have found the excuse I needed to come to Alki Beach when it’s cold and rainy.
At West Seattle’s Spud Fish and Chips, I can enjoy one of my favorite meals served with a stunning view of Elliott Bay – at one one of the oldest fast food restaurants in the city. I don’t know of many other places that offer an inexpensive menu with such an expensive view. Do you?
This year marks Spud’s 75th anniversary serving fish and chips by the beach. A cardboard of fried cod and fries was 10 cents in 1935, and the batter recipe is still the same today, said manager Carol Kelly, who was hired by Frank Alger, one of the original owners, in 1972. “You don’t mess with success,” she said.
Now that the summer craze has passed, a lot of people come to watch the storms from the upstairs dining room, said Kelly.
That’s where I met Federal Way customers Dolores and Charlie Robison. They also have found an excuse to visit every week since they retired in the late ’80s. “We come here every Wednesday,” said Dolores Robison. “It’s our mini-vacation.”
Learn more about Alki Spud Fish and Chips on its Facebook page.
September 18, 2010 at 12:17 AM
Sketched Sept. 16, 9:50 a.m. [Click sketch to view larger]
To wrap up my week of curb cuisine sampling (see earlier posts here and here), a breakfast burrito at “el camión” seemed fitting, so Thursday morning I headed to its original location by the Bitter Lake Home Depot on Aurora Avenue North. “el camión” has also been getting some buzz from the Food Network’s online vote to select America’s Favorite Food Truck. The winner will be announced Sunday during the finale of “The Great Food Truck Race,” (9 p.m.)
I shared one of the patio tables with customer Antonio Reina, who said the food here is as good as in his native Mexico. His recommendation: “tacos de tripa.”
I also chatted with Corey and Diane Rusk, of Magnolia. They were running errands in the area and decided to stop by for breakfast, taking the time to enjoy their burritos at another patio table behind me. They really liked the salsas, they said as they were leaving.
This “el camión” opened in January 2008, more than a year before Marination and Maximus/Minimus joined Seattle’s curb cuisine scene. Owner Scott McGinnis has opened two more since then, one in SODO and another one in Ballard.
“I used to live in LA and got accustomed to good authentic Mexican food … I felt that Seattle needed something like that,” said McGinnis.
He also lived part-time in Mexico years ago and fell in love with the Mexican culture. “They invite you to their house and before you know it you are having a great meal and falling in love with it,” he said.
It is that sense of community that I’ve enjoyed the most these days ordering food from mobile kitchens around the city. People from all walks of life are coming to these trucks, hanging out together and having great food. Lunchtime can’t get much better than that.
September 17, 2010 at 5:32 PM
Sketched Sept. 15, 1:47 p.m. [Click sketches to view larger]
I followed Tuesday’s curb cuisine experience at Marination Mobile with a visit to Maximus/Minimus on Wednesday. The pig-on-wheels at Second Avenue and Pike Street has also been getting a lot of votes in the Food Network nationwide poll to select America’s Favorite Food Truck. The winner of the contest will be announced during Sunday’s finale of “The Great Food Truck Race,” (9 p.m.)
This mobile kitchen wins the creativity prize in my book. It was created by local industrial designer Colin Reedy, who took inspiration from 1950s science fiction rockets and streamliner vehicles to turn “a square truck into a round pig.”
Reedy also researched pig noses and ears in Google Images to produce a number of sketches for Sugar Mountain, the company that launched the truck in June of 2009.
From design to finish, it took about three months to build the solid-looking giant iron pig, which is made of fiberglass. Its rusty appearance is so realistic that people were asking when it was going to be painted when it first took on the road, said Reedy.
Sketched Sept. 15, 12:38 p.m.
I don’t feel as comfortable judging the truck’s culinary offerings as I do about qualifying its design. Like Reedy, I can also sketch a pig truck, but I’m no expert when it comes to food criticism. That being said, my pulled-pork sandwich –I chose the sweet sauce– was delicious. And the lively scene around the rolling kitchen just added to a great lunchtime experience. I felt like being in a small village as I mingled with the lunch crowd gathering around outdoor tables.
Next to me were Tracey and Greg Moore. Greg, a local carpenter who is originally from Texas, complimented both the barbecue and the truck design. “This is scenery on wheels … very nice.” He had been wanting to see it since spotting it on the freeway one day. To find out what it was, he googled “big steel pig truck,” and Maximus showed up right away.
An all-girl party of office co-workers from a nearby agency joined the table later. They also raved about the sandwiches and the fun atmosphere. It was their first time coming here on their lunch break.
Unlike other Seattle food trucks, Maximus only operates in the summer months. General manager Lance Marlow said they will be open through the end of September and come back in April.
September 15, 2010 at 9:59 AM
Sketched Sept. 14, 1:33 p.m. [Click sketch to view larger]
I don’t remember the last time I saw so many people in an alley.
A narrow strip of parking spaces tucked between condo buildings and a bank is the location for Marination Mobile “Taco Tuesdays.”
Plenty of hungry office workers come to this rolling street kitchen during their lunch breaks — the line was 50 people long when I arrived. Erik Thompson said he comes here every Tuesday for a taste of the well-priced, unique Hawaiian-Korean menu. He ordered a spicy pork taco. Patty Hinkle likes that they have a vegetarian option. She chose tofu.
Marination is one of a growing number of food trucks serving “curb cuisine” around Seattle. Taco trucks have been around for years, but they are usually stationary, said Marination’s owner Kamala Saxton. These relatively new trucks move from location to location letting their tech-savvy followers know where they are through their website and Twitter accounts — you can follow Marination @curb_cuisine.
Because of city regulations, food trucks can only operate in private property, explained Saxton. The regulations make it difficult for food trucks, but “the city has so many challenges to face, I don’t expect this to be on top of the mayor’s list,” she added.
I’d argue that the lively scene I saw at this alley Tuesday is exactly what downtown Seattle needs. Why not let the food trucks roam free?
This one alone has already put Seattle on the map. ABC News Good Morning America selected it as the “Best Street Food Business in America” in 2009 and it stands among the top 10 most voted trucks in the Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race” online contest. The winner will be announced Sunday.
If Marination wins the Food Network’s contest, “for our customers, this will be a win for them,” said Saxton. “And for the city.”
July 9, 2010 at 5:31 PM
Sketched July 7, 2010 [Click on sketches to view larger]
With Spain playing in the World Cup final on Sunday, you’d think soccer might be the only thing on my mind. But this week, I had a chance to meet a World Cup winner in person: Chef William Leaman, the winner of the 2005 Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie, a.k.a. the World Cup of Baking, and now I can’t stop thinking about baguettes, croissants and macaroons.
As I sampled one of those croissants at his West Seattle bakery, Leaman explained that more than 50 countries compete for 12 spots in the final phase of the Coupe du Monde, which takes place in Paris every four years. But contestants only get one opportunity to compete in their lifetime, he said. “They do that so new bakers get a chance.”
With the big trophy on his shelf and more than two decades behind the ovens, Leaman’s reputation draws people from all over the country to Bakery Nouveau. And not only to buy his signature chocolate mousse cakes but also to learn from the master bread artisan back in the kitchen.
That’s where I spent most of my visit, holding on tight to my sketchpad and watercolor tray as Leaman, 37, worked with his team of bakers amid wonderful smells.
Some were baking baguettes, others were preparing dough for croissants. Leaman wasn’t just giving instructions. He had his hands full making Parisian macaroons — 576 of them. “A bakery is sure small but it is mighty,” he said as he squeezed them one by one onto trays. Helping him was Katerina Verganelakis, who plans to open her own bake shop back home in Princeton, N.J., after her training with Leaman.
Leaman, a native Oklahoman, said the key to baking is to do what the French do. “Focus on flavor and joy of life … I don’t eat to live, I live to eat,” he said.
French culture descends on Seattle Center on Sunday for an early Bastille Day celebration. You can see cooking demonstrations and a fleet of Citröens without missing the Spain vs. Netherlands World Cup final, which will be broadcast live at 11:30 a.m. at Fisher Pavilion.
See a photo of me sketching on the bakery’s blog.
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