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Busy Days, Steppin’ Out, & the Beauty of Fresh Local Eggs!

Boy have we been busy! I am SO grateful for the big business and the staff is working extremely hard these days. Usually this time of year we have our nephew Travis, or friend Tyler or Rachel helping run orders and doing dishes. This year we did not have a teen worker come in to help and I only realized it yesterday. As busy as it has been (thank you thank you) Mark and I have managed to either get out or take a day off here and there! On Friday the 6th we were excited to visit The Office Bar & Grill on Pacific in Tacoma. One of the owners is an old friend of Mark’s from his Old Bellevue Chevron days, and when we heard he was opening a new sports bar we wanted to be some of the first to arrive. I must admit that I was skeptical of the menu, being a sports bar and all, and I am very happy to say that it far exceeded my expectations. At first glance it looks fairly typical and while the variety is nice with a couple of whimsical touches, it does not seem like it will be extra special. Ah, but it is. They are making high quality food from scratch and of course, this makes all the difference. We shared, and very much enjoyed, a couple of appetizers and The Office Burger, and then they put out samples of several other appetizers that we got to check out. With several taps, sustainable wine, and a mix of really fun specialty cocktails, happy hour is a great choice, even on a street with very competitive happy hours. We can’t wait to go back and watch a Sounders game!

Saturday the 7th was our first day off since the 4th of July and we had a great time. We started out at the Farm Kitchen in Poulsbo for First Saturday Breakfast. This is a phenomenon that I have heard of, though not been able to get to, for a couple of years, so I was full of anticipation. We got there about 8:15 and stood in line for a little over 30 minutes before we got in. It was worth it! Farm Kitchen is ‘an event venue and retreat space on an 18 acre organic farm’ with a guest house. The first Saturday of every month they offer breakfast from 8-noon and I highly recommend getting there earlier if you want to get in quickly. It’s a nice line to stand in, as they send the menu down for previews there are views of gardens and you can hear the sounds of a busy kitchen to get whet your appetite. Once we got in the door there was Hollis taking the order slips and handing out side dishes and fresh baked pastries. We paid, filled our coffee cups and wandered outside to the tented seating area. It was a cool, misty morning and sitting outside was lovely, albeit brisk. Our meal came to us quickly and we dug in: multi grain buttermilk pancakes, thick cut bacon, fresh fruit & coffee, plus we shared a side of scrambled eggs and their house-made rosemary apple sausage. Although I am not a huge pancake fan like Mark is, the one I had was one of the best ever. Mark had 4 1/2 since he ate most of mine, too! After eating you can go out and enjoy the grounds which are as inviting as can be, and you can walk a little of your breakfast off. We are aiming to go back for the October breakfast (we won’t be in town for September)and if we can go we will let you know, perhaps you’d like to join us. You should go on your own even if we don’t, it is great fun and great food.

Our next stop was the Kingston Farmers Market. It was our first visit to this market and it is a nice one. Nash’s Organics is there from Sequim, 2 or 3 bakeries, a couple of wonderful soap makers and other artists that we really enjoyed. There was music and a festive atmosphere all around. After strolling through we headed out to the Poulsbo market to keep the momentum going. It was a chilly morning and the market seemed to be full. We walked in at the demonstration booth end and we saw Chef Tomas Nevarez demonstrating some nice recipes using market fresh food. We adore Tomas and his wife Stephanie and we are excited to report they are starting a new venture called ‘Simmer Down’. Tomas, a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef, comes to your home to teach you to plan, prep & cook all the components of a menu from the planning to the presentation. These lessons can be one on one or you can have a party of up to 10, and the best part is that he teaches you to use the food and cookware that you already have in your kitchen. You get to learn to see your kitchen through the eyes of a chef! If you decide to invite him over for a cooking party please invite me, I would love to come and play.

We wandered down to Silverdale because we had to go to the storage unit to drop off/pick some things up for the cafe (shhh, don’t tell the girls, they commanded that we not work at all that day) and since it was close to noon we went in search of the bread truck. Have you found Loaf and Round Bakery yet? They make the BEST baguettes I have had. They have lots of breads and yet I just keep going back for the baguette, which they don’t even list on their products page. They were parked up on Kitsap Way when we found them and then we headed over to the Port Orchard market. It was raining when we got there and we wandered through and then I saw them. Alvarez Farms from Mabton. This family farm is the stuff of legends! Hilario Alvarez and his family run this amazing organic farm and he has really brought organics to the mainstream. They have a wide variety of crops including okra and peanuts, and Mark says that they are the best roasted peanuts we have ever had. I agree. The other thing that the Alvarez family is famous for is bringing respect, teamwork and legitimacy to the Hispanic farm worker in Eastern Washington. This is a huge deal. And if you don’t care to know more about any of that know this: I have never loved watermelon my whole life until I tasted theirs. The food they grow is fantastic and worth the trip over to Seattle Pike’s Place Market when the PO market is done and we can’t get it here. If you find yourself in Mabton don’t be sad, find the farm and ask for a tour! They are happy to have visitors there…………The rest of our day was relaxing and I even clean and organized our pantry and spice cupboard! I never have time for that sort of thing and I love the results, so I was very happy!

On Wednesday the 11th I finally got to visit Morso Wine Bar in Gig Harbor. Water to Wine is a long time favorite wine store of mine and I was long overdue to stop in and see the new wine bar they opened. It is really nice with lots of patio seating, a great view, an intimate and upscale interior and a gorgeous bar. The bartender was knowledgeable, friendly, and made some really great recommendations. The pate was fantastic! I saw lots of really nice looking food come out of the kitchen and I love that they specialize in smaller plates. It is a true wine bar, with several by the glass options, unique choices and a great variety of wines. I have been very disappointed by other ‘wine bars’ with short, unimaginative wine lists and only a few glass pours that are even less creative than the bottle list. Morso is now offering happy hour as well with some wonderful lighter food choices, wine, beer and wine cocktails. Now that is just fun! Give us a call, maybe we can meet you there!

In light of the big egg recall due to salmonella, I think today’s recipe should celebrate local eggs. We get our eggs from any number of local farmers and at the farmers market, so we have no worries about salmonella eggs from the grocery store. Fresh local eggs are prettier and taste better than the older eggs at the grocery store. You can get them at Fresh Local in Bremerton, Local Boys in Purdy, any farmers market around, and straight from the farm. Most of our local markets take EBT and so does Fresh Local; Local Boys will be taking it any time, they are just waiting on the government to catch up to them. I posted this recipehere in May of 2009, and I think it is definitely good enough to post again. Ciao for now!

Spring Veggie Frittata

1 onion, chopped
olive oil
salt and pepper
4 small bunches broccoli rabe (also known as rapini)
a couple of hands full of arugula (you could use spinach, or any green you like)
2 tsp garlic, minced
18 eggs
4 cups milk (I mixed 2% and 1/2 n 1/2 to make whole milk. Many use heavy cream instead)
bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
any fresh herbs you like, chopped
grated pecorino romano (or parmesan, or asiago)
grated sharp cheddar

I used a heavy bottom, 12 inch, deep sided skillet with a lid.
Saute the onions in the olive oil with some salt and pepper until they begin to be transluscent (3-4 minutes)
Tear the rapini off of the stalks and drop that in, salting it a bit more. Stir in until wilted enough to have some room to add the arugula.
Add the arugula, a bit of salt, and stir it around. All those greens will wilt into the pan and you will know when it is time to add the eggs.

Meanwhile whisk the eggs, salt and pepper them, and whisk in the milk. Make sure it is all combined before you pour it in. Reduce the heat to low, spread the greens all around the bottom, scatter the parsley in on top with the garlic and fresh herbs, then pour the eggs in. Use a wooden spoon or a spatula to stir it all around and make sure everything is combined nicely. For the first 5-10 minutes stir the bottom of the mixture, scraping it all up as if you were making scrambled eggs. After the first bit of cooking do not stir the eggs again.

Put the lid on the pan, leaving it askew just a bit so the steam can escape. Make sure it is on low (I have a gas stove; electric may be different)and let it cook. I did not time the frittata, you will want to check it every 5-10 minutes or so, and it will take close to 30. Do not stir the eggs. When the eggs are mostly set, (you can tell by giving the pan a little shake) with just some wet eggs on the top layer, turn off the stove and heat up your broiler. Sprinkle the cheeses over the top (as much cheese as you like) and set the pan under the broiler, on low, for about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on it; you want the cheese melted not crispy. The eggs will be completely set by then.

Now here is where you can get real fancy or, if you are like me, you just serve it out of the pan. We put it on hot pads on the table, covering the handle with more hot pads, and cut wedges into it, like serving a pie. It came up very easily that way. If you want to be fancier let the frittata rest for about 10 minutes. Run a paring knife around the edges of your frittata, loosening the sides as best you can. Invert a plate over the top of the pan, suck in your breath and hold it, then flip the pan and plate so they are reversed: the plate is now on the bottom, the pan is on top, and if you are good the frittata came out of the pan and landed on the plate in one glorious piece. You can either serve it like that, cut into wedges, OR invert yet another plate on top of the frittata and flip it again, so that the cheese is back on top.

In Spain they eat this sort of thing at room temperature. I like it hot. Of course, if it gets to looking messy, just serve it up as fancy scrambled eggs and no one will ever know. It will still taste fabulous!