It’s another beautiful morning in Olalla with sun-dappled trees and frolicking animals. I swear we live in a utopia out here! This morning I looked out to the bird sanctuary to see what the commotion was and apparently the Douglas Squirrel (aka Kamikaze, or Kaze for short) woke up feeling quite territorial. He was rather ineffectively trying to chase away a crow and a bunny! (We don’t have rabbits, we have bunnies.) The squirrel would charge the crow, who would do a graceful hop/fly, lifting up just long enough to avoid Kaze, and then continue eating. Then the squirrel would charge the bunny, who would step aside and let the charging pest run by. It was pretty funny, and the whole time another squirrel was up in one of the trees chirping out his annoyance at the charging interloper. See? Utopia.

Last Saturday Mark and I finished at the cafe a bit too early to hit our beloved Bay Street Ale House, so we headed on up to Gig Harbor North to try a new place we spied while exiting Costco a couple of weeks ago. It is called Blue Cannon Pizza Co. and I love their tagline: “Eat it and weep. It’s that good.” We were pleasantly surprised by the nice atmosphere and their beer taps had great choices. They offer thin-crust pizzas, hot and cold sandwiches that are served on a french roll and come with potato wedges, salads and a few apps or sides. We enjoyed our pizzas, they make their own dough and sauce, and the toppings were fresh. The peppperoni was a different twist as it was in chunks rather than slices. This puzzled me until I took a bite: while there was not an over abundance of pepperoni (nor a deficit, it was just the right amount), I could taste it in every bite because the thicker chunks rendered more oil than slices. That delicious pepperoni flavor permeated the slices and I am a fan of the chunk! You also get a bit more chew out of them than you do the slices, which is a good thing. This place is really new and I was delighted to get to talk with the owner, Shawn. He was really nice and full of exuberance over his new place. We talked shop a bit and it will be fun to watch them blossom in that space. As far as I can tell they are the only independent operator in the entire strip mall, so I now have a reason to go over there other than Costco (which is a necessity for the cafe) and we love having a great place that close to Olalla.

On Sunday I had a fantastic experience with some wonderful women. Erin and I went to the Chef’s Collaborative ‘Farmer Jane’ Brunch at la Spiga in Seattle, along with Charlotte and Jill. Temra Costa is the ‘activist-turned writer’ who authored ‘Farmer Jane’ and you can learn more about here on her web site. She loves talking about the powerful women within the farming/food world and since she was to be in Seattle for a few weekend speaking engagements she called Chef Tinsley and asked her to get together with Chef’s Collaborative and they would do a brunch. Calls were made and CC’s own Meg Chadsey got it all together. The other speakers were Kären Jurgensen of the Quilisascut Farm and the Seattle Culinary Academy, Kia Anderson (nee Kozen) from Nash’s Organic Produce in Sequim, and Brooke Lucy from Bluebird Grain Farms in the Methow Valley. They were wonderful speakers and it was great to hear all they have done not only for themselves and their businesses, but for their communities, farming and food in general. I was very familiar with each of them from Chef’s Collaborative, and it was wonderful to be able to share a little bit of that passion with my three companions, as well as the rest of the great folks in the room.

The ferry rides both to and fro were full of lively discussion, as my 3 companions did not know one another. They made the ride go very quickly and I would have enjoyed more time with each of them. Up on Capital Hill, La Spiga is a really large, urban space, and I would love to go to dinner there some time. The four of us chose a table that sat six, so another pair of women joined us for brunch and as crazy as it sounds, they were the other two women in the room from our side of the water! I didn’t ask their permission to name them so I will just say that they have ties to the Bremerton and Key Peninsula Farmer’s Markets and they were very nice to talk with. Brunch itself was fabulous and it all started with fresh juices and coffee (Caffe Umbria-gotta love it!) and ‘bombolone’, or homemade pastry cream-filled doughnuts. Oh. My. Once the talk was over we headed to the buffet for fruit from Tiny’s in Eastern Wa; delicious cheeses from Quillisascut Farms and Estrella Family Cheese; spinach salad with balsamic and toasted sunflower seeds from Nash’s; roasted asparagus with poached eggs, prosciutto and truffle oil; plain roasted asparagus; house made breads and fruit spreads and they also offered brunch cocktails. Everything was full of flavor and perfectly presented. We all received signed copies of Temra’s book, which topped it off very nicely. It was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday.

On Tuesday I hopped over to the Silverdale Farmer’s Market and was surprised to see some old friends who have started a new adventure. John and David, formerly of Henry’s Deli in The Norm Dicks building in Bremerton, have opened Viaggio Pizza. It is a traveling wood-fired pizzeria and they were offering 3 or 4 different flavors from the caravan. David has a platform that he stands on as he rolls out the crusts and tops them to order, while John peels them into the oven and serves them up hot. The oven was super hot, which is perfect for Neapolitan style pizza, and they were cooking up in seconds. They offered a ‘piece’, which is a quarter of the pie, and the whole pie. The pizzas are about 12 inches and the crust had some char, which I love. The oven was so hot that it was curling the pepperoni, and the pie they had on display looked like it had little flowers all over the top. They can be found at different markets and festivals, and they are for hire for private events and parties. It is a great idea and it looks like they are having fun!

Yesterday at the cafe I got a call from Doumina. She was packing up to return from Italy and had to tell me that we have 2 wine-makers coming on June 23 and we must have a big event for them! So we shall… I am working out the details and will have them on the web site soon, as well as sending out another email newsletter to announce it. So exciting! We love our Italian wine makers! We are catering for the WSU Alumni in Bremerton tomorrow, then have a private graduation celebration dinner to cook for on Friday. Saturday should be busy with wonderfully warm weather, and then we will be busy all week preparing for the art walk on the 18th, and a big party and a wedding next weekend. Then the wine-makers come, plus we have a wine tasting on Friday the 25th, and bam! We are into July. Time flies when you are having fun for sure!

The recipe today is one that I learned in Italy and everyone loves this salad. It is great to take to parties, picnics and bbq’s because it can safely sit out longer than mayonnaise based salads. You can personalize it in that if you do not like a particular ingredient, take it out, or add in your own. You can really make this one your own depending on what veggies and herbs you use. Follow the Bluebird Grain Farms link above to buy your farro online. It’s the brand we use in the cafe and at home! You can add nuts, different veggies, change the herbs, whatever you like! Play with it, it’s good to eat!

4 cups water
10 oz farro (emmer berries) and yes, you should weigh it out
2 tsp salt plus more for later
1/4+ cup excellent quality olive oil
2 tomatoes (about a pound), seeded and chopped
5 or so green onions, whites and greens, chopped
1-2 cucumbers, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup Italian Parsley, chopped
3 TBS Fresh Thyme (or any herb), chopped
black pepper, to taste
pecorino romano (or asiago, parmesan, or a combo of any aged cheeses), shredded
1-2 cups chopped dark, leafy greens, such as kale or chard. Romaine lettuce if you must.
2+ TBS good balsamic

Combine the water and farro in a medium saucepan. Add 2 teaspoons of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the farro is tender, about 30 minutes. They should have some bite to them, not be mushy, not be crispy.
Drain well, and then transfer to a large bowl to cool.

Meanwhile prep your veggies. When the emmer is still warm but not steamy hot, pour the olive oil over and mix well.

Add in all the other ingredients and toss very well to combine. Adjust the salt and pepper, and add in any extra olive oil or balsamic if you want to. Keep tasting and adjusting until it is just how you like it.

Serve this salad at room temperature for the best flavor. If you make it a day ahead go ahead and refrigerate over night, and bring it up to temp for serving.