Art of the Northwest Table

Triple Tuesday night treat: friends, food, art. Herban Feast SODO (http://www NULL.herbanfeast NULL.com/) hosted Art of the Northwest Table (http://edibleseattle NULL.com/resources/art-of-the-northwest-table NULL.htm). Billed as “A celebration of Art for Food and Food as Art,” it did not disappoint. The venue was easy to get to by cab from the ferry, and perfectly accommodated the amazing collaboration of artists, chefs, spirit makers and the 300 or so people who attended. Congratulations to the organizers of this event on a job exceedingly well done and a perfect way to welcome spring! So glad we saw the enticing ad in Edible Seattle (http://edibleseattle NULL.com/).

We commandeered our friends Phil and Aileen, with whom we have shared many memorable meals around respective family dinner tables and one in the middle of the street (http://winslowinwhite NULL.com/about/) on Bainbridge, and headed off in the rain to Seattle for the evening. It felt a little odd to knock off work so early to take the 3:50 ferry¬† so we could arrive by the time the doors opened at 5PM, but we figured there could be a rush for the best selection of pottery, and we didn’t want to miss out. Plus, we’ve been to events where the food was gone after the first hour or so, and those who strolled in mid-event left hungry…. Okay, so we were the first ones there, and they weren’t quite ready. When you’re beholden to a ferry schedule, you get used to strange looks when you show up or leave at odd times. We thought about taking a walk or dipping into a local bar for a short nip, but it was pouring out, the closest thing to a bar had the word cigar in its name, and didn’t look particularly inviting, so we stood just inside the door and chatted for a few minutes about what else-food. I digress. Where was I?

Turns out we were the first ones to get our official tasting glasses and we made a beeline to the Finn River Cidery table, where we thought we might get a taste of their champagne style cider (http://www NULL.finnriver NULL.com/index NULL.php?page=artisan-sparkling-cider) to go with the oysters we were salivating for.¬† We’ve had it before, and loved it, but they weren’t pouring that one, so we sampled Pike Brewing Company’s Stout (http://pikebrewing NULL.com/beers_PikeXXXXXStout NULL.shtml), which matched up perfectly with the four varieties of icy-cold oysters being expertly shucked by two personable young men from Taylor Shellfish Farms (http://www NULL.taylorshellfishfarms NULL.com/). What a way to begin! All four (and the guys) were delightful, and we enjoyed trying Virginica oysters for the first time.

Shopping for pottery at Art of the Northwest Table

From there we made our way into the pottery room, where the focus was on functional pottery for table and cookery. Kudos to the selection committee! I have to admit, Bob and I were attracted to this event by the promise of the pottery as much as the food, and we did not leave empty handed. During the first first quick pass through, we pounced on two pieces. One is a set of two small lidded bowls with its own little handled tray by Forrest Lesch-Middleton (http://www NULL.flmceramics NULL.com/FLM_ceramics/Welcome NULL.html), to accommodate a rotating selection of Sweetlife Salts (http://www NULL.sweetlifefarm NULL.com/index NULL.php?page=shop NULL.browse&category_id=21&vmcchk=1&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=210). The other was a bread baker by Robbie Lobell (http://www NULL.robbielobell NULL.com/). It is so beautiful that it will be used to bake Bob’s bread, and also to bring warm slices of it to the table.

Bob's multigrain sourdough shows off in a Robbie Lobell baker

After making another, slower round through the pottery and realizing our appetite for stunning functional pottery far exceeds our budget for it, we wistfully headed for the main food room, which was actually a giant, fully enclosed tent.

Venison sausage in puff pastry with black truffle & beet marmalade (Mark Bodinet for Copperleaf at Cedarbrook Lodge)

The talented collection of artisan chefs were busily putting the finishing touches on a most mouthwatering array of food bites. Most of them were cooking in gorgeous ovenware created by Robbie Lobell on individual propane hotplates. Each stop in the roomful of artisan chefs produced yet another OMG food moment. Jacob Weigner of the Blackboard Bistro (http://blackboardbistroseattle NULL.com/) knocked our socks off with his house-made boudin blanc topped with pickled beets and seed brittle, and Brian Clevenger of Serafina (http://http://serafinaseattle NULL.com/) produced a dreamy moment with Vin Santo-braised rabbit with brown butter polenta and fried sage. Philip Mihalski of Nell’s Restaurant (http://www NULL.nellsrestaurant NULL.com/) rounded off our top three picks with agnolotti with local nettle and ricotta filling and wild mushroom Sauce. That is not to say we weren’t wowed by the rest of the amazing group; there wasn’t a mediocre bite among the lot of them. I managed to miss out on the venison sausage in puff pastry shown here, which I hear was fabulous.

The revealing thought of the evening was that we don’t eat out enough. I now have a wish list so long it’s frustrating of restaurants I want to try. This from a foodie reluctant to try new places because I hate being disappointed by expensive meals that we could have prepared at home with better ingredients and a lot less cash outlay. The inspiration of the evening was -duh- cooking. Before heading off to a city council meeting on Wednesday, I concocted my own version of fresh asparagus soup topped with a Summerhill Girls fried egg. Bob made an amazing pizza for me last night, with a garlic cream sauce and fresh nettles, and has been fantasizing about making his own seed brittle. It’s Friday, now, and who knows what we will decide to pair with our traditional end of the week martini….

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