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A Gourmet Sweep through the Northwest

Sorry for the radio silence, fans. All 5 of you. It was a hard winter. But now, I’m back!

I recently did a 2-week business trip sweep through the West and truly fell in love with two incredible restaurants in and around Seattle. Admittedly, I’m spoiled and want my food good and served in some gorgeous manner. Copperleaf at Cedarbrook Lodge and Dahlia Lounge scored on both counts.

Copperleaf

Copperleaf is nothing short of amazing. A huge shout out to Debbie, Tom and Rachel for hosting my work colleague Danielle and I for such a fabulous dinner.

From the delectable amuse bouche to the small little “sweety sweety” at the end of the meal, everything about this dining experience was extraordinary and felt quite European. As noted on Cedarbrook Lodge’s website:

It is only possible for any seriously dedicated restaurant or food and beverage organization to carry out its sustainability mission and vision through powerful affiliations and partnerships with fellow industry devotees. Cedarbrook Lodge’s culinary commitment isn’t about paying dues or attending monthly meetings. It’s about the passionate and collaborative pursuit of loftier and mightier beliefs… Responsible for inspiring food and beverage passion and excellence at Cedarbrook Lodge and Copperleaf Restaurant are Culinary Director, Roy Breiman and Executive Chef, Mark Bodinet.

These two gentlemen know what’s what. The delicacy of flavor combinations and luxurious presentation of dishes were a delight to both the palate and the eye.

The meal started with an amuse bouche of a cashew cream topped with compressed cucumber and a small spoonful of rhubarb sorbet. The creamy-fruity-crunchy combination were heavenly.

Amuse bouche
Amuse bouche

Next, our adventurous group ordered a delicious appetizer of gently poached apples and fennel in a lovely champagne sauce with a dash of a Banyuls reduction. Note: If you aren’t familiar with Banyuls, check it out here. It’s a lovely, fortified dessert wine from, you guessed it, Banyuls, France. The bread croutons served with the dish were simultaneously luxurious and airy.

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I ordered the sablefish. It was light and luscious with a great Dungeness crab filling and sides of roasted cauliflower and Swiss chard. Divine! Others ordered the scallops, duck and pasta. Just look at the photos. Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

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We were all way too full for dessert. But – and this is a measure of a great restaurant – we were presented with mignardises – small desserts just enough to satisfy that sweet tooth.

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The “itsy bitsies” consisted of a homemade citrus soda with a Mexican wedding cookie and a mini peanut butter-chocolate brownie. Wow! If you are anywhere near SeaTac airport, find Copperleaf and go.

Dahlia Lounge

The next day Danielle and I were treated to another Seattle foodie institution – Dahlia Lounge (insert link). Owned by famed restaurateur/chef Tom Douglas, this comfort food pavilion is a gem of locally sourced food and fresh preparations. Tom and his wife, Jackie Cross, own Prosser Farm, located about 2 1/2 hours from Seattle. Their first production year was 2010. Jackie is Farmer-in-Chief, with help from her Dad, Jim, who built all the raised beds, and her Dad’s wife, Sharon, who works the farm with a few support staff. Restaurant staff and their family and friends periodically make it over the mountains to work on the farm, visit local wineries, and enjoy a communal dinner. Jackie works closely with the chefs when choosing which crops to plant each year. From the late spring until early fall, the fruits and vegetables from Prosser appear everywhere on our menus- from the tomatoes in Lola’s Greek salad to the roasted peppers on Serious Pie’s pizza. Some of our chefs have started canning and preserving in order to keep Prosser Farm produce on their winter menus. (Source: http://tomdouglas.com/blog/2011/12/about-prosser-farm/)

In addition, Tom and Jackie are huge supporters of local anti-hunger initiatives in the Seattle area. Specifically, Tom Douglas Restaurants has committed $1 million of annual support to the Hunger Solution Center. Working with the food industry and its surpluses, HSC comes up with creative solutions to stopping hunger, including redirecting good food from manufacturers, farmers, grocery stores and restaurants that might otherwise go to waste. HSC provides 88,000 meals a day to local food assistance programs, and that, combined with our policy work, creates a sustainable approach to stopping hunger.

Dahlia Lounge is located  right next to the Dahlia Bakery (more on that in a minute).  The restaurant has an easy-going vibe that makes you want to hang out for that long 2-hour lunch.

I started out with probably the best tomato soup I’ve ever had. It was so good, I almost forgot to take the photo before I devoured it!

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The tomatoes were fresh, tasted roasted and hand crushed and then cooked to a divine velvety texture with tons of flavor. The two large house made buttery croutons on top were quite a bonus.

My entrée was the chicken salad, over just picked Bibb lettuce with quinoa, green beans in a mint vinaigrette, ricotta salata and a delicious creamy dressing. It was the perfect lunch – protein, great veggies and just the right amount of fat to make it feel decadent.

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Speaking of decadent, the Dahlia Bakery is famous for its Triple Coconut Cream Pie. And yes, the pie is served at Dahlia Lounge. Bummer. Not! Danielle and I shared a piece that was pure heaven. Rich, but light and full of toasted coconut flavor, this is a pie worth killing yourself for during spin class.

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Can’t wait to go back to Seattle for another business trip later this spring to see what other foodie delights I can find and report on!

Cheers!

 

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