As TDR Marketeer and blogster Eva Mrak-Blumberg puts it: “Seattle’s Principal Salumist visits Hot Stove Society.” Yes, the delightful and expert salumi-maker Armandino graced us with his presence at our new cooking school, Hot Stove Society, last week for a curing class. Read about it right here. Check out the Hot Stove Society class schedule here.
Congratulations to the Tom Douglas Restaurants Bread Team! They have now settled into their new home behind Cantina Lena on the corner of 5th and Lenora (The Martin Building). Thanks to the the combined Cantina and Operations teams with their broad shoulders and big muscles for doing the heavy lifting and getting those enormous mixers into the space! Head Bread Baker Wendy says she likes the big windows in the new bread bakery, and she likes being back downtown! (Previously the bread bakery was located at Dahlia Workshop in the Serious Pie Westlake space in South Lake Union.)
There has been a lot of buzz (ha!) in the past decade surrounding colony collapse and the declining global bee population. Scientists speculate on a number of factors – pesticides, parasites, fungi, increased overwinter bee loss – and there remains an ongoing debate in the hunt for the main culprit. However, there was little debate that the numbers had reached some unsettling lows, with California seeing an 80% die-off rate in 2006.
Corky Luster, a Seattle native and former beekeeper, understood the numbers and the situation that would follow if the bees continued to decline. He recognized the need for a remedy, and out of that need started the Ballard Bee Company. They are working to improve the health of the local pollinator population by maintaining an apiary that spans the city. In addition to hives hosted on farms, local volunteers can host a hive in their own backyard that will be carefully maintained by the Ballard Bee Company. These neighborhood hives facilitate pollination locally, create opportunities for community engagement, and leave volunteers with a tasty reward.
We recently partnered with Corky and the Ballard Bee Company to host our very own hive at Local Roots Farm in Duvall. The weather this year made beekeeping a challenge, but Corky and his team took great care to keep our bees healthy and working hard, and we’re so excited to be able to share the yield of their labor with you.
You can find their absolutely delicious local honey on the shelves of Home Remedy now! Corky and the Ballard Bee Company share our passion for a healthy and thriving ecology and we thank you for helping us to support our local bee worker force. We love our bees so much you can taste it!
(Photo credit: Stacey Miyahara for the Home Remedy honey jar and Jim Musladin for the rest of the photos)
What an incredible year 2014 has been!
We want to thank you for being our guests. We’ve celebrated anniversaries, weddings, birthdays, first dates, family reunions, office parties, and openings with you this year; we’ve loved meeting all your new faces, greeting old friends, hearing your “wows” and your critiques, and growing older one more year.
We are grateful to all of our chefs who work unbelievably hard every day of the year, and their loyal, determined staff. We are grateful to our General Managers who bring “graciousness” to their restaurants each and every day, and the servers and bussers and baristas who greet you with a smile, and to my entire team for their enthusiasm and creativity.
We have loved being a part of Seattle for the last 25 years and we have YOU to thank for that.
Happy Holidays, have a wonderful year, and cheers to 2015!
Tom and the Team
(Read the whole Tom’s letter and newsletter here and check out all our New Years menus and our holiday hours.)
Randy Matthews, Kat Chawkins and Kat Lawson at Dahlia Bakery all did a great job building this cute gingerbread village!
Happy Holidays everyone!!!
Tonight’s the night to light the first candle on the menorah. Have a Happy Hanukkah and read about last night’s latke class at our new cooking school, Hot Stove Society, right here.
Luna De Cosecha means harvest moon.
This is the name of the recently tapped Snipes Mountain beer flavored with over 100 pounds of our Prosser Farm “Long Island Cheese” pumpkins (wood fire oven roasted then smashed by hand!), now served on draft at all of the Tom Douglas Restaurants. To learn how this amazing beer was blended and brewed, read the whole post from our Prosser Farm blog here.
We celebrated our late fall harvest with the final Prosser Farm Dinner of the season. This was a beautiful multi-course feast which featured an entree of lamb leg confit with a mix of Prosser Farm dry beans and sumac. The rest of the courses celebrated to the max the fall bounty of Washington State and our farm. Can you believe we still had tomatoes for this dinner? The photo above is of last of the season Cherokee tomatoes with paddlefish caviar garnished with clippings from the farm’s cover crops (rye, clover, vetch, peas). Here the summer farm transitions to the late fall farm on a single plate! Read all about this glorious farm dinner here.
(Note: I wrote the following for Dahlia’s 20th anniversary; reposted here with slight updates)
Twenty five years…. I’ve worked with Tom since the first day of Dahlia’s existence (and for about 3 years before that at Café Sport), so Dahlia’s 25th anniversary represents a big chunk of my life. For me, it’s a big deal- momentous. What memories are stirred by this anniversary month? Here are a few:
Before opening day, the painters masked and taped that lofty space (ground floor plus mezzanine) at 1904 4th Ave. Then they spray painted the whole thing a deep, blazing red. We gasped; too much? A mistake? But when the masking tape came off, the space looked beautiful. With a coat of red paint, the Dahlia was born.
Tom had the idea that Dahlia food would be comfort food. Before we opened, he told me he wanted a coconut cream pie, a bread salad, and gnocchi on the menu. In the weeks before the opening, I tried out recipe after recipe to perfect these dishes for the Dahlia menu. The coconut cream pie is still on the menu, lightly tweaked but mostly the same after all these years. The bread salad is still on the menu, but was vastly improved by two innovations when we moved to the new space: a wood burning grill and our own bread bakery. The grilled bread in the bread salad went up several notches in quality.
photo credit: Ed Anderson
The Seattle Goodwill Games in 1990 almost put us under. The media spread the word to avoid going downtown at all costs because the crowding would be unbearable. This message was so successful, the Goodwill Games turned out to be the only time you could find a parking place anywhere you wanted in the deserted downtown area. Oh yeah, and then there was the New Year’s Eve big snow storm. Our staff numbers diminished.
In those days, our staff Christmas party took place upstairs in the mezzanine and everybody, including guests and spouses, fit with ease.
At first the mezzanine was our bar (we changed that later to be extra dining space-hooray for us that we needed it! and moved the bar downstairs towards the entrance.) Tom had the idea of giving customers in the bar a little check-off slip. 8 or 10 small appetizers were listed on this slip and you checked them off to customize your own little antipasto plate. I still think this was a cute idea, BUT working the line with a dozen of these slips hanging in front of you, all with a different assortment of items checked off- well, it gave new meaning to “in the weeds.”
Sleepless in Seattle: they filmed a scene for this movie at the (old) Dahlia. That was exciting, and it gave us some media buzz.
For years, I walked into the Dahlia everyday and put a sheetpan of russet potatoes in the oven first thing. When they were soft, I would food-mill them and make a big batch of gnocchi for dinner service.
My husband, Frank, and I got married at the old Dahlia in February, a few months after opening. Tom let us use the whole restaurant on a Sunday. (We were closed on Sundays in those early days.) Tom cooked all the food for my wedding. Frank and I drank so much scotch sitting up in the bar (ie. mezzanine), waiting for our wedding to start, that I don’t remember any of the food. I’m sure it was delicious. Everyone said so.
Loretta Douglas was born. She spent her infant months right with us in the kitchen, while we prepped. When lunch service started, her baby carrier fit snugly on top of a clean garbage can, (Child Protective Services- cover your ears!) and she slept while we plated.
Food from the old Dahlia that I still miss:
Hoisin barbecue with fried rice: We did this with babyback ribs, salmon, chicken, and duck. I liked the ribs best. We had 3 squirt bottles for making the fried rice: sake, soy, and rice wine vinegar. We called them the 3 amigos.
Tuna puttanesca: sashimi tuna sliced on top of spicy puttanesca pasta. We called this “tuna puna” in the kitchen. We called the chopped anchovy mix for the pasta, “catfood.” A plate of tuna puna and a glass of red wine was my favorite Dahlia dinner for a long time.
Sake steamed salmon with sake butter and pan fried turnip cakes.
Tom’s slow roasted duck with butternut squash risotto and huckleberry sauce.
Steven’s perfect pan-fried petrale sole with dipping sauce…
For the first few years of the old Dahlia, I worked side by side on the line with Tom. That was a thrill and a privilege. I still miss this because Tom brought a great sense of energy and fun to line cooking. “Move over bacon, here comes something leaner” was his favorite thing to say as he nudged you out of his way.
Years later, we made the big move to the “new” space on 4th and Virginia (ie. our current location.) The current Dahlia’s bigger, better kitchen with wood burning grill contributed to bringing Dahlia food up to a level that I feel very proud to be associated with- even if I don’t do the cooking anymore.
So, thank you Tom and Jackie for opening Dahlia and thank you all our customers who helped keep the doors open for TWENTY FIVE YEARS!! My life would not be the same without the Dahlia Lounge.
Last winter I was lucky enough to tour a nutmeg farm on the exotic island of Penang off the coast of Malaysia. Spices still retain some of the mystery they did when the world was only connected by the trading ships of the East India Company.
Nutmeg was only grown on the island of Banda in Indonesia and was highly valued in medieval Europe. The island of Manhattan was actually traded by the Dutch to the British for control of that single tiny nutmeg producing island.
Eventually nutmeg and its sister spice mace were smuggled out and grown on Penang. The farm I visited was small and family run. They harvest incredibly delicious whole spices and produce nutmeg juice, jams, candies, oil, pickles, and butter.
You can see the outer fruit coat pulled away and the mace which covers the nutmeg
The cuisine of Penang embraces the spice by adding it to cool drinks and by sprinkling the candied fresh “fruit” (ie, the fleshy, astringent outer part of the nutmeg which is also made into juice) on rice dishes.
The markets carry all the sundry nutmeg and mace products, as well as the dishes laced with the tingling additions to everyday dishes of spices from the exotic nutmeg tree.
Penang is knows the world around for its street food. It is amazing. Malay, Chinese, and Indian foods all incorporate the flavors of nutmeg and other tropical spices grown right on Penang off the coast of Malaysia. You should check it out.
Welcome to Family Meal, a blog that examines all things new and noteworthy in the world of food, wine, and dining.
At family meal, otherwise known as staff meal, there’s no hierarchy; you’re breaking bread with your friends. For those 30 minutes, everyone is equal- and hungry. Family meal is our version of the water cooler- but with better food.
I’ll be sharing my thoughts, tips, and observations, and, in the spirit of family meal, I’ve invited our creative, energetic staff- everyone from line cook to bartender to bookkeeper- to have a say. I hope you’ll add your own comments and join in the conversation.