AFTER MONTHS COOPED up cooking at home and ordering takeout, I’m grumpy. I bet you are, too. I miss going out, eating in restaurants and drinking in bars. That’s why simply turning the pages of “Washington Wine + Food, The Cookbook” by Julien Perry was a balm to the soul.
Temptingly illustrated by Seattle food photographer Charity Burggraaf, the book goes down like a chilled rosé on a hot summer day. It’s equal parts wine country Baedeker and cookbook. Perry, also the author of “Seattle Cooks,” paired 40 wineries with a chef who contributed recipes matched to specific wines. The 80 recipes, most from Seattle-area chefs, prove what a vibrant and varied restaurant scene we have.
Perry traipsed around the state to profile the winemakers chosen for the book. Forty is a mere drop in the barrel, with the number of Washington wineries now hovering around 1,000. She says she “cast a wide net,” looking for good narratives as well as good wines, and includes emerging as well as long-established wineries. Their origin stories vary. We meet winemakers who made later-in-life career pivots and others who were to-the-vineyard born. Some turned an avocation into a vocation, like Kit Singh, a Redmond dentist and Woodinville winemaker, who started Lauren Ashton Cellars, named for his two daughters, in 2009. These mini sagas of dreams pursued, tenacity triumphant and passion rewarded are heartening reading in grim times.
The recipes are diverting, too. Brendan McGill explains at length and in exacting detail how to cook Hitchcock’s signature Cote de Boeuf — a bone-in rib-eye steak for two — on a charcoal grill, starting with instructions to scatter a tablespoon of sea salt “from a 12-inch height above the steak (this ensures an even spread).” His advice on how to split live spot prawns for Gambas a la Plancha is equally explicit: “Hold the prawn tight; it’ll be jumpy.”
The wine of choice for the Cote de Boeuf is Hedges Family Estate La Haute Cuvée biodynamic cabernet sauvignon. Winemaker Sarah Goedhart, an early promoter of biodynamic farming in the state, is the daughter of Tom and Anne-Marie Hedges, who founded Hedges Family Estate in 1987. The recommended pour for the prawns is Ashley Trout’s Brook & Bull Rosé. In addition to Brook & Bull, Trout is the winemaker at Vital Wines, whose proceeds support emergency health care for vineyard and cellar workers. The two women are among 10 female winemakers featured in the book, along with five female chefs.
The Seattle chefs represented include many I admire. Homer’s Logan Cox serves up a recipe for grilled pork chops with sautéed chanterelles and prune amba — his twist on an Iraqi-Jewish pickled condiment typically made with mango. Shota Nakajima’s soy-marinated black cod with kabocha squash recalls his elegantly nuanced fare at now-closed Adana. Eden Hill’s always-playful Maximillian Petty transforms black cod into faux tofu. After blending the fish with eggs, cream and brandy, he steams the mixture into a soft brick, then slices and serves it with butter-fried brioche under a drizzle of kecap manis.
The recipes go from sophisticated to simple. Shaun McCrain reveals how to construct pithiviers filled with duck confit, though the recipe in the book calls for labor-saving frozen puff pastry, not the exquisite handmade pastry that enfolds this French classic at Copine. Mitch Mayers, never short of fun ideas at Sawyer, braises wild boar ribs in chicken stock and Coca-Cola, glazing them with blackberry-mustard barbecue sauce as they finish on the grill. Café Juanita’s Holly Smith, queen of restrained opulence, contributes a favorite summer salad: sliced nectarines and heirloom tomatoes splashed with Ligurian olive oil and Colatura di alici, joined by fried squash blossoms.
That salad normally would be on the menu at Café Juanita right now, but “normal” vanished in March. It’s possible that by August, when you read this, dining in restaurants will not seem as risky as it does in mid-July, as I write this, but it seems unlikely. Until restaurants come roaring back to life and dining-in feels safe, I plan to tie on an apron and give some of these recipes a try, starting with this summery crab toast with shaved apple and fennel chimichurri from Eight Row’s David Nichols.
Crab Toast with Shaved Apple and Fennel Chimichurri
From Chef David Nichols, Eight Row, Seattle
Suggested wine pairing: Sightglass Chardonnay. Citrus notes accentuate the sweetness of the crab and amplify the vividness of the chimichurri.
For the Fennel Chimichurri (makes about 1/4 to 1/3 cup):
2 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds (plus more for serving)
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes (or more to taste)
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon orange juice
1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and mix well.
For the crab toast:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4-8 slices sourdough bread
1-2 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1 lb. Dungeness crabmeat, picked clean of shells
1 bulb fennel, cut into matchsticks (about 1 cup)
1 Granny Smith apple, cut into matchsticks
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon black pepper (or more to taste)
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush oil on one side of each slice of bread; place on a baking sheet; and toast for a few minutes on each side, until golden brown. Rub garlic clove lightly on the oiled side of the toasted bread.
2. In a bowl, combine crabmeat, fennel, apple, lemon juice, chimichurri, salt and pepper, and fold gently.
To serve: Top the toast with the crab mixture. Garnish with fennel fronds.