Writing about a massive food event like Seattle Food and Wine Experience is always tricky. It´s like trying to describe a complicated puzzle piece by piece to the eyes that never had the opportunity to taste, smell and see all the bounty and the complexity that the Pacific NW (and our special guest, California) have to offer.
You also know that your body and your mind have to physically endure a lot of food and alcohol offerings and you don´t really want to feel silly sick or terribly bloated after this. The idea is having fun not a post event nightmare. So my strategy is grabbing a first bite, usually It will be close to the entrance, jambalaya in this occasion, and a glass of sparkling water and go for a first quick tour all around the place to see and prioritize your favorite pit stops.
I was particularly interested in the American Lamb Board´s Brews and Ewes Experience but I wanted something lighter at the beginning so I dropped by Chinoise restaurant booth. Unluckily the Bibimbap that gave chef Thoa Nguyen the victory against Bobby Flay in the Food Network show had ran out but the poke salad was really good too… A bit too much spicy for my Occidental taste though.
So I needed a glass of wine to rinse my palate. White if possible. Chateau Saint Michelle Riesling was a really interesting option. Loved again the classic, everyone´s favorite, the dry one but Eroica brand was quite an interesting discovery for me a bit more fruity but not overpowering. Both good options not only to enjoy as a drink but to steam clams and mussels, two of my favorite seafood dishes.
Just landed in lamb´s territory I grabbed one of the winning bites of the day, the smoked lamb meatballs from Gavin Stephenson, chef from The Georgian at the Fairmont Olympic hotel. Cute tiny little pots were used to highlight the hearty spirit of the dish and the potatoes were simply awesome. I felt more disappointed with the cold and not so appealing sticky rice cake from Frolik. Lamb plays better with a more traditional simple approach as its flavor is strong enough. So interesting the info displayed by the American Lamb Board about recipes, pairing and cooking techniques that you can find also in their web.
Talking about funky unexpected meats… meats that we love to cook in Spain I was so lucky to bump into Nicky Farms based in Portland. This company, created to support small ranchers in Oregon sell to retailers and restaurants delicacies as quail, goat, rabbit and venison. I had the opportunity to enjoy a really goat mortadella prepared by chef Seth Fenald from Lark and to have a fun experience exchanging with them my tips as a Spanish cook. Talking about more meat I had the opportunity to taste dirty rice with pulled pork for the first time from Davids & co a small American restaurant located in Benarroya Hall and It was pretty nice too.
The truth is that the pattern of not so much fish at all and this will be mainly salmon was played yesterday too. It´s a bit disappointing that a place like Seattle who is at the sea doesn´t take full advantage of this location to enjoy even more the gifts of the sea.
Time for more drinks… chosen carefully and sipped frugally. Fun the honey beverages from Nectar Creek in Corvallis (Oregon), interesting my first Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley Vineyards, although I´m a girl of Grenache and Syrah, really happy with Jet Black Syrah 2014 from Alexandria Nicole Cellars who will be released this summer. Close to zero the Spanish wines representation at the event. Only Bodegas Torres 2014 5G Garnacha paired with Iberico cured ham… A hidden gem that I hope any foodie didn´t miss.
I wouldn´t to finish my SWFE chronicle without featuring the small entrepreneurs and artisans that work so hard to fulfill their dreams and to give us amazing food or condiments. It´s always so fun to talk with them and to learn from their experience and their journey. Sportsmen´s cannery, Rusty´s cheesecake, Forte chocolates, Copperworks Distillery are only a few of them. Special mention for Alaska Pure Sea Salt and Co from Sitka (Alaska) who worked for 5 years to find the perfect flake salt, the salt that I call Maldon. A bunch of dreams, goals and experience under the same roof for a few hours. This is Seattle Wine and Food Experience.
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As a final kick to Seattle´s so boring gloomy winter before beautiful spring this weekend arrives Seattle Wine and food experience will be a beatiful oxygen pump to Northwest foodies. More than 200 vendors including chefs, wine experts and cider and brew masters will help locals and visitors to enjoy and appreciate all of these food blessings that are in our backyard.
Lamb will be highlighted this year, something that makes this Spanish girl really happy as It´s the star protein in my homeland region, Aragon. So eager to taste our local chefs creations. Lamb is a powerful tricky meat. Properly cooked makes a sublime experience, poorly cooked or seasoned can taste too strong or earthy in your palate.
Other more unusual types of meat will be played too by chef Jonathan Sundstrom from Lark, recently nominated as Outstanding restaurant semifinalist in the James Beard Awards and Seth Fenald from Novelty Hill/Januik wineries.
Culinary pilmigrage will be showcased here thanks to the Northwest Travel Experience too and wine, more wine, tastings courtesy of Yakima Valley Tourism. Like the cherry on top back by popular demand: Chateau Saint Michelle Riesling Challenge.
But other cocktails will be present too thanks to the magic of Dustin Haarstad, founder of Blind Tiger cocktails and mixologist at Cannon Whiskey & Bitters Emporium. Guest will have the opportunity to enjoy them in the Celebrity Cruises Modern Luxury Lounge.
Last but not least a new chefs competition kicks off, Pop! Bubbles and Seafood where local chefs and sommeliers like Thierry Rautureau from Loulay and Lindsay-Thorsen from RN47 will showcase their culinary artistry. Oysters lovers will have the opportunity to chat with local expert Cynthia Nims too. Cynthia just published her new book Oysters, recipes than bring home a taste from the sea.
Unfortunately for my kid who loves food and wants to be a chef this is a 21-year over event so come prepared with your ID and maybe in a taxi or Uber ride just in case you want to party 100%.