Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Tasty notes from Foodportunity

The second Foodportunity, a networking event for the Seatle food scene - chefs, producers, vendors, food media, especially bloggers - took place Monday, Nov. 2, at Tom Douglas' Palace Ballroom in downtown Seattle. Like the inaugural Foodportunity, this event offered food for thought and tastes of some of the best culinary talent in town.

The evening began with food writer/editor Mina Williams moderating a panel discussion with three renowned Seattle food purveyors, Ethan Stowell, Tamara Murphy and Kurt Dammeier. Stowell is the chef that brought to the Seattle scene the restaurants Union, Tavolata, How to Cook a Wolf and Anchovies and Olives. Tamara Murphy's Brasa restaurant has been a local long-time favorite. Murphy also performed a small miracle in bringing to life Elliot Bay Cafe that turned a dark and dank basement in the Elliot Bay Book Co. into a warm and inviting eatery that offers some of the best lunch plates in town. She is hatching another restaurant, Terra Plata, on Capitol Hill. Kurt Dammeier is the entrepreneur behind Beecher's Cheese, Beecher's Flagship Foundation, Bennett's Pure Food Bistro, Pasta & Co and Maximus Minimus, aka the "pig truck" that has spurred the current street food phenom. The brief discussion ranged from what to do with reviews and bloggers (take each with a grain of salt) to where does inspiration come from (it often begins with just a great name for a would be restaurant).

Following the discussion, the tasting began. Large screens around the ballroom kept in view running tweets of the grazing en masse. Herewith, tasting notes from just some of the many restaurants that showed off their chops at Foodportunity.

The chefs at Rover's table beamed as they described how they dreamed up a simple yet sublime amuse bouche of pumpkin soup garnished with pickled chanterelle mushrooms, apple and nuts with a crowning touch of a deviled quail egg.

Who knew that I would actually like head cheese? I approached the Joule table with eager anticipation to see what they were serving. Just last week I enjoyed an excellent dinner at the cozy Wallingford restaurant and told chef/owners Seif Chirchi and Rachel Yang as much. At Foodportunity, there sat on a silver tray these bruschetta of crisp greens and head cheese. Munching on this savory bite I only later found out what is was that was so tasty.

Tom Douglas' crew paid tribute to the dearly departed Gourmet magazine by decorating their display with blown-up vintage covers and serving classic dishes. The succulent slice of filet mignon that recalled a seems so long ago time of heady prosperity nestled perfectly on a bed of stroganov noodles and brussel sprouts that also sang as a paen to autumn.

Huiyona is a new restaurant on the north end of Capitol Hill, not far from Roanoke Park. Their dim sum dumplings filled with sweet corn were a pleasant surprise.

Entering into the cupcake fray by year's end will be Wink Cupcakes. They brought a bevy of cupcakes in the various sizes and flavors they will be serving once they open on Queen Anne Hill. The top of Queen Anne N. will have soon coffee, chocolate AND cupcakes, oh my!

The hamburger joint, Lunchbox Laboratory, brought no burgers but delighted everyone with a killer snack-sized open-faced pulled pork bite.

Emmer & Rye is the name of the highly anticipated restaurant chef Seth Caswell hopes to open soon. Meanwhile, he shared a table with local Bluebird grains and served "farro fries," crunchy, savory whole grain goodness, that were addictive. You could scarf a plate of them and still feel good about it.

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