November 1, 2013 at 9:28 PM
Sketched Oct. 17, 2013
In Seattle’s beer alphabet, “R” is for Rainier. But the beer hasn’t been brewed or owned locally since 1999.
Another ‘r’ – this one lower case – brands the new toast of the town: Reuben’s Brews.
In only three years, owner Adam Robbings has gone from concocting beer recipes in his garage to crafting and bottling ales that are winning gold medals in international tasting competitions and filling the shelves of more than 50 stores in Western Washington.
Robbings, a 39-year-old cheerful British accountant who quit his day job last April to brew full time, still seems surprised by the accolades. He’s been told that he has the best asset a brewer could have: a sophisticated palate that lets him play with multiple flavors until he finds the perfect recipe. He doesn’t even drink that much beer. “I just want to taste it and move on,” he said as I watched him sniff and sip his Imperial IPA. He described the taste as a mix of “dank citrus, passion fruit and a little pine.”
Jason Call, a Marysville homebrewer I met at the tap room in Ballard said Robbings’s path to success is an inspiration to local craft brewers. “He is showing us it can be done.”
Robbings said he was blown away by the variety of beers in the Pacific Northwest when he moved to Seattle a decade ago. He still remembers the first two brands he tried: Manny’s and Mack and Jack’s, and says the craft beer industry in Seattle is 20 years ahead of England.
Reuben’s operation is a family affair ran by Robbings, his wife, Grace, and his brother-in-law Mike Pfeiffer, who moved to Seattle from the Midwest to help them out — you can see him helping a customer in this sketch. The most important member of the team, however, hasn’t even reached drinking age yet. That would be the fellow the brewery is named after: Adam and Grace’s son, Reuben, who is 4 years old.
The microbrewery is located in the heart of the Ballard industrial district, a block away from the Bardahl Manufacturing Corporation. Just like Woodinville has seen wineries concentrate in its “warehouse district,” Ballard may be experiencing the same type of boom for breweries. Robbings said several have opened nearby since they leased space in this warehouse in August of 2012.
August 2, 2013 at 6:25 PM
Jonny Taylor and Paola Gonzalez serve bags full of Rainier cherries from the Martin Family Orchards at this Pike Place Market stand. The warm colors of peaches and apricots contrast with a blanket of greens on the stall a few feet away, where Chai Cha, of the Shong Chao’s Farm, sells Swiss chard, parsley, cilantro and romain lettuce.
It’s a typical scene of smells and colors, but you may have noticed something odd about my picture. Are there trees at Pike Place? And where are the crowds of tourists?
The produce stalls aren’t where you may think. This newest “express” version of the market, which opened in June, sets up in Occidental Square every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The idea, explained Taylor, is to reach out to downtown residents and office workers who can’t go to Pike Place Market for their produce. Two other employment hubs, South Lake Union and City Hall, have hosted the market’s vendors every summer since 2009, but this is the first year the stands have come to Pioneer Square. Word is starting to spread, said Taylor, as customers start to bring their office mates.
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 email@example.com 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.
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