As summer starts in the Northwest, our thoughts turn to entertaining. Longer days, nice weather, and summer workloads help make this an excellent time for having people over. When looking for the best to impress your guests, from businesses you trust, rely on your Dining Out team to search for the best sources for entertaining at home.
This article assumes that you will do your own cooking, so we start with the nuts and bolts, including where to get the materials to cook with to the best sources for the food itself. Catering services and similar resources are left for a future article.
Where To Buy the Kitchen Toys We Love
Unfortunately, we start this section with a farewell. Longtime favorite City Kitchens recently closed its doors. This was the destination to locate the essential to the whimsical food- and kitchen-related supplies, from the workhorse to the sublime, from the Shun chef's knife to the hard to find windmill-shaped cookie cutter. The seasoned, well-educated advice and handwritten receipts will be missed. RIP.
We can still head down to Pike Place Market and enjoy Sur La Table (84 Pine St.; 448-2244; surlatable.com). Sur La Table may have gone national, but it is still locally owned and offers a fine selection of cookware, cutlery, dinnerware, bake ware, and anything that a culinary artist would need to create a meal or a treat. Higher-end kitchen gadgets come in multiple colors and styles, so it's fun and easy to coordinate or mix and match your kitchen colors. Compared to other Sur La Table locations in the area, this store is small, which adds to its charm, and it may be slightly difficult to navigate if crowded. It is a convenient stop if you are in the Market already and the staff is available for helpful advice.
For those of us who love cookbooks, visit The Book Larder (4252 Fremont Ave. N., Seattle; 397-4271; booklarder.com). The Book Larder appropriately labels itself as a community cookbook store. Snuggled in a cozy storefront in Fremont, the shop is friendly, accessible and inviting. It entices the visitor into easily losing hours perusing the carefully curated cookbook selections and food-related publications.
The Book Larder hosts cooking classes, book discussions and pop-up bakeries, to name a few offerings. The demonstration cooking area is ringed by a counter fitted with barstools and doubles as a comfortable reading space when classes are not in session so you may investigate any of the publications that might be intriguing. This is definitely the first choice to locate the perfect resource or inspiration for the cook and cook wannabe.
Where To Go for Tea, Spices and Other Essentials
Just south of the International District, hidden at the far end of a parking lot on a street usually associated only with Safeco and Qwest Field parking, is Big John's PFI (1001 Sixth Ave. S.; 682-2022; bigjohnspfiseattle.com). PFI has something for everyone, including a wide selection of bulk spices, grains and olives, cheeses and obscure European and Middle Eastern products not easily located elsewhere in town.
This reviewer's daughter quickly noted the Godiva, white-chocolate truffles she claims otherwise can only be found online. Also available are obscure Italian bitters to serve between courses. If you are not already a regular, try it and you may find yourself making the short detour south of downtown on a regular basis.
If you want a shop for just cured meats, try Salumi Artisan Cured Meats (309 Third Ave. S., Seattle; 621-8772; salumicuredmeats.com). Salumi is located close to Pioneer Square and has family ties to Seattle's first Italian import store that opened in 1903. A trip to Salumi for its artisan cured meats or a sandwich is well worth the walk and, as is often the case, the wait. Salumi's salamis, pancetta and finocchina are some of our favorites. These meats will astound anyone with their flavor and texture, and they are all locally made.
Last but not least, we bring you DeLaurenti's Specialty Food & Wine (1435 First Ave., Seattle; 622-0141; ). Whether you are hosting a cocktail party or just wondering what to do for dinner that night, you can rely on the knowledgeable staff for creative ideas and excellent suggestions.
We recommend starting by exploring the cheeses - a wonderful selection from all over the world that is pleasing to all palates. We love the true buffalo mozzarella for the classic, family friendly caprese salad, but try the Berkswell for a little zip and pair it with a nice rose from the substantial wine selection upstairs. DeLaurenti's also carries a wide selection of pate and cured meats. And, if you do not have time to make another stop for wine, you will find plenty to choose from at DeLaurenti's.
Summertime Fresh Produce
Lenny's Produce (10410 Greenwood Ave. N., Seattle; 781-0619) is a small, neighborhood produce shop with an indoor and outdoor section for fruit, vegetables and packaged goods. Located on the corner of Greenwood Avenue and 105th, Lenny's is accessible by foot and it has a private parking lot shared with a small, conjoining international food store.
A variety of fruits and vegetables is available at Lenny's at affordable prices, and although there are no organic products, there are plenty of cruciferous vegetables, root vegetables and fruits from which to choose. Lenny's is a great place to shop for recipe ingredients that are specialty produce not easily found at regular grocery stores.
For instance, there are seven different types of peppers, five kinds of eggplants and three types of bananas available. One would not be short of options if a substitute ingredient is needed for a recipe. Additionally, there are also less-common ingredients such as cactus, tamarind, aloe, rutabaga, dried whole coconuts and bitter melons. The refrigerator even had pre-cut and packaged taro root. The store has a section of ethnic condiments as well as local raw honey and fresh-cut orchids. Lenny's does not disappoint and is a trusted neighborhood produce option for the whimsical and regular chef.
Sosio's Fruit and Produce, Inc. in Pike Place Market (1527 Pike Place; 622-1370; sosiosproduce.com) is one of our favorites. When we need the perfect fruits and vegetables for any meal - or a quick snack - we go to Sosio's.
We love the consistency at Sosio's with its perfectly ripe fruit and vegetables (and a great selection of mushrooms), and the very knowledgeable staff (and the samples). Simply tell them what you are serving and they will make sure you don't forget a single ingredient.
And Now for the Main Course
In and around Seattle, almost everyone can justifiably have their own favorite, trusted source for fresh seafood. Here are two of ours.
University Seafood & Poultry (1317 NE 47th St., Seattle; 632-3900; universityseafoodandpoultry.com) has been situated at the same address - 47th and University Avenue - for going on 70 years. University Seafood & Poultry is family owned and tried and true. The knowledgeable staff, dressed in white aprons, remains familiar over the years, consistent in service, advice and quality.
This is the go-to place to pick up Friday night clams, New Year's Eve crab, and fresh fish and chicken throughout the year. Not only does the shop provide high-quality seafood and poultry, it makes it easy to pick up the overlooked details - fresh lemons, panko for sauteed oysters, cocktail sauce, a few bottles of carefully selected wine, etc. Recipe cards for different products are set out for perusing or taking home should the cook need inspiration.
In addition to fresh seafood and poultry, other preparations are available including smoked trout, salmon and tuna, and pickled herring. Take advantage of the fresh poultry such as duck, turkey, quail and, of course, chicken as well as fresh eggs. Feel free to call ahead and place special orders to ensure availability, especially if you are hosting a large number of guests. University Seafood & Poultry ships throughout the country. Perhaps the favorite detail exemplifying quality service: the mussels are sold already cleaned - no struggle debearding.
Some of us return to Pike Place Market and frequent Pure Food Fish (1511 Pike Place; 622-5765; freshseafood.com). It is a trusted and reliable source for seafood, whether for local favorites such as halibut or salmon (and we frequently manage to get white salmon) or the freshly flown-in mahi mahi, swordfish or ahi. Pure Food Fish is staffed by veterans who can help you select the right seafood for your event.
And if you have friends in from out of town, have them sample the smoked salmon. They do not throw the fish, but they will bone it and/or prepare it for you. They also pack seafood for 24-hour travel if you want to take a gift with you when you travel (or for your clients), and they also ship throughout the country. This is always a stop to consider when you are in the Market.
With these sources, you should be able to put on an excellent dinner party, whether it is a formal event or barbecue.
Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt is a multiservice, Northwest regional law firm with offices in Seattle, Vancouver, Portland and Bend. For comments on this article or to share your favorite places to eat or drink with the Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt attorneys, contact Christopher Howard at 206-407-1524 or at firstname.lastname@example.org; see also www.schwabe.com/dining_out.aspx. Follow us on Twitter @schwabedinesout.