PCC blog

NEW: Kirkland PCC Cooks classes in June/July

Kirkland cooks, don't miss your chance this June and July to enjoy special classes from our award-winning PCC Cooks culinary program at the Peter Kirk Community Center!

We've teamed with the Kirkland Parks & Recreation Department to offer a pair of engaging classes from two of our most-popular instructors -- Lynne Vea (left) and Pranee Halvorsen. Learn the art of Dining Al Fresco or discover delicious Thai Basics. You'll go home with a full belly, new recipes and fresh ideas for summer cooking.

Please note: Registration for these special classes is through Kirkland's Parks & Recreation Department. Click here for details and registration information, or call 425-587-3336. Bon appetit!

More about: PCC Cooks

Coffee talk: All PCC beans now organic, shade-grown, Fair Trade AND locally roasted!

At PCC, we take pride in the many adjectives shoppers have given our coffee beans over the years: Fragrant, bold, smooth, rich, delicious. But three in particular make us stand up a little straighter: Organic, shade-grown and Fair Trade-certified. And as of today, here's another to add to that wonderful trio: Locally roasted!

Equal Exchange, a fellow co-op, has begun roasting its PCC-bound coffee beans in Oregon, creating local jobs and further minimizing the time it takes for their fresh-roasted beans to reach your home grinders, espresso machines and coffee makers. They join fellow local roasters Tony's Coffee (roasted in Bellingham, Wash.), Kalani Organica (roasted in Seattle), Caffe Ladro (roasted in Seattle) and Fidalgo Bay Coffee (roasted in Burlington, Wash.).

This marks the culmination of an effort that our grocery merchandiser, Stephanie Steiner, launched earlier this decade, to build a coffee selection that could be delicious, easier on the environment and beneficial to coffee growers. The Fair Trade movement helps coffee growers earn a living wage. Shade-grown beans provide habitat for migratory birds. Organically grown coffee results in fewer pesticides entering our environment.

Tastes even better now, doesn't it?

More about: coffee, Fair Trade

New chart shows when to expect favorite local, organic produce

Sure, you can get your hands on strawberries just about any time of year. But in this part of the world, they're at their absolute best when plucked ripe from local fields in June, their scent sugary and their texture perfectly pliant, each mouthful a burst of juicy flavor. Same goes for corn in late summer; so tender, you can eat it straight on the cob, no cooking required.

Want to eat like a local? Reference our handy chart so you'll know when each of your organic and local Northwest favorites is due in our produce department. It's a delicious way to support local growers and enjoy seasonal favorites at their peak.

More about: produce

A missing face at Seward Park

Our Seward Park community mourns the passing of Robert Hansen, 58, a "Real Change" vendor who regularly sold the paper in downtown Seattle and outside our Seward Park PCC store. He's described as an advocate and a kind, jovial person, a man with infectious enthusiasm, who always had a kind word to say. Read more about Mr. Hansen here. Hear more about Mr. Hansen here, via KPLU. And here's another tribute to him via Seattle Times columnist Nicole Brodeur. May he rest in peace.

More about: Seward Park

Kid Picks items help Children's Hospital through June 15

Did you know children 12 and younger can pick out a free piece of fruit each time they visit PCC? It's part of Kid Picks, our taste-test program that since 2004 has identified hundreds of kid-tasted and approved items sold in our stores.

Parents look for the orange Kid Picks signs when shopping to find items given a thumbs-up by youngsters around the Puget Sound region. Actually, plenty of people beyond parents look for those signs, because anything marked with them is bound to be tasty. Kids, after all, have some of the most discerning taste buds around.

 

Through June 15, there's even more reason to seek out Kid Picks items on your next trip to PCC: PCC will donate five percent of Kid Picks product sales, up to a total of $10,000, to support the Seattle Children's Hospital outreach as part of the Families Helping Families partnership.

Stay in the know on the latest Kid Pick events, newly approved items and the whereabouts of the Kid Picks mobile on the program's new Facebook page, or follow the Kid Picks crew on Twitter. Next stop: Sunday, May 9 at the Kirkland Half Marathon, where the crew will hand out healthy samples for the younger crowd and fresh fruit to race participants. Visit kirklandhalfmarathon.com for more details.

 

More about: community

Photos from the PCC Annual Member Meeting!

Why attend a PCC member meeting? For starters, there's the delicious (and free!) dinner, designed with the varied dietary choices and restrictions of our members in mind:

Spinach salad with Roasted Spiced Chickpeas and Lemon Vinaigrette, Curred Butter Chicken, Thai Green Curry and Coconut Tempeh, Minted Quinoa, and Grilled Asparagus with Lemon Zest, YUM! Dessert was Creamy Rice Pudding with Pistachios and Carmelized Bananas.

You get to gather with scores of other members who love PCC, sustainable agriculture and great food.

Just look at all those nametags at check-in!

Each table has a captain who helps encourage thoughtful discussion.

Meet happy PCC employees from headquarters and our nine stores.

The evening is truly a team effort.

And, you get to hear from PCC's board and its chief executive, Tracy Wolpert, followed by a special presentation or special guest, such as Jon Bansen of Organic Valley and Michael Funk, chief executive of UNFI, the distributor that delivers our wonderful products each day.

This year, we enjoyed a mini-documentary that transported us behind the scenes and around the clock in all nine stores and our office to share "A Day in the Life of PCC." After digesting all it takes to keep our co-op humming, I continue to marvel about one amazing fact from that video: that avocados are the No. 2 seller in our produce department. Any guesses as to the top selling produce item? Hint: It's a fruit.

Hope you'll join us for our fall meeting, Oct. 26!

More about: membership

See you at tonight's Annual Member Meeting!

PCC headquarters is a hive of activity today as folks answer phones and hustle to prepare for tonight's meeting. It truly takes a village -- not to mention dozens of containers filled with items for displays, napkins, nametags and all else, each carefully numbered so it gets where should be by the 5:30 p.m. start time.

Dozens of these have lined the walls in recent days, filled with items we reuse at our twice-yearly gatherings.

Click here for directions to St. Demetrios Hall.  Click here to learn more about our member meetings. I, for one, am excited to see the debut of "A Day in the Life of PCC," a documentary that's been in the works by our team here for the past few months as a fun way to tell the story about the people and practices that make PCC such a unique operation. Hope to see you tonight! 

Coming up at PCC: Annual Member Meeting, New Day Northwest, free soapmaking classes

You know summer is on its way when the number of fun events and activities going on at PCC starts to really percolate. Co-op members, hope you RSVPed for our Annual Member Meeting on Tuesday, April 27. It's sure to be a fascinating evening, with good food and interesting speakers. And if we haven't said it lately, thank you so much for your support. Not a member? Learn more about membership.

Bird's eye view of 2009's member meeting.

LEARN TO MAKE SOAP with Ballard Organics, Washington state's first certified-organic soapmaker. Founder Ben Busby-Collins will show you the ropes for free, no experience necessary. Join the fun noon to 1 p.m. at PCC Issaquah and 3 to 4 p.m. at PCC Edmonds on Saturday, April 24 and noon to 1 p.m. Sunday April 25 at PCC Greenlake

LEARN MORE ABOUT GLUTEN-FREE COOKING live on KING5 TV's New Day Northwest at 11 a.m. Wednesday, April 28. PCC Chef Lynne Vea will demonstrate several delicious gluten-free recipes.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR for Healthy Food, Healthy Family, free nutrition classes for the whole family, taught by PCC Nutrition Education Leika Suzumura (watch her demonstrate delicious whole-grain recipes on live TV here. Classes begin in May and will take place at five of our stores. 

ENRICH YOUR TASTE BUDS with a wine tasting, a cooking class or the scrumptious recipes you'll learn from our cooking videos. Enrich youthful taste buds with a trip to visit the Kid Picks Mobile.

HELP YOUR COMMUNITY at any of our foodbank packaging parties.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

Buenos Aires: The land of grass-fed beef and gluten-free hot dogs (FOOD PHOTOS!)

It's good to be back at PCC, especially when I find sweet delights like these in the kitchen: 

Blissfully sweet organic strawberries.

But how invigorating it was to be far and then farther away for a couple of weeks of blissful vacation. My husband and I traveled to Nasvhille, Buenos Aires and a small historic town in Uruguay. Suffice it to say, much (and varied) eating commenced.

Easter spread at my husband's grandparents' home outside Nashville. Delectable (especially those turnip greens), but counting my lucky stars to be an omnivore in this moment.

Many farms nearby. This red barn looked gorgeous against the lush green backdrop.

We arrived in Buenos Aires exhausted after a 10-hour flight. What better way to wake up and enjoy a sunny morning than with aromatic, full-bodied espresso? 

Breakfast of champions.

Now for an express culinary tour of some dining highlights. Buenos Aires is a city that adores its food -- its countless restaurants, cafes, street vendors are testament. And Argentina is a nation with many, many immigrants, which, as we've seen in our country, means diverse cooking methods, ingredients and fusion. Whenever I'm able to travel I feel blessed with the opportunity to see another country's soul through its food. I bet many of you do, too.

Wonderful patisseries like Las Violetas abound.

Imagine one of these melting in your mouth whilst sipping hot tea or caffe con leche.

Busy lunchtime crowd at Florida Garden cafe eats standing up at the counter, savoring flavorful coffee that's a blend of two kinds of beans.

Fresh-squeezed orange juice, right on the street.

A lovely greenmarket.

And now, it's time for lunch.

Empanadas are just about the most delicious thing ever and easy to eat out of hand (if I lived there, I'd take these on many a picnic. On this plate: Ham and cheese, beet and chard (my favorite), juicy steak with chimichurri and chicken with wonderful spices.

Fresh. Creamy. Just one example of the wonderful range of starters that came with every meal.

Steak and hard-cooked eggs are staples of many an Argentinian meal. This sandwich delivered burst upon burst of flavor, from thinly sliced tender steak, eggs, chimichurri sauce, fresh tomatoes, all assembled within warm pita.

Enjoying fresh, housemade pasta at a sidewalk cafe in Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay, a historic town and UNESCO heritage site.

Gelato is grand no matter what time of day.

We spied many bread deliverymen throughout the city, making their rounds of the restaurants and cafes.

 

Spotted this gluten-free hot dog ad on the side of a bus.

A close-up.

Now it's time for dinner. Though dinner often didn't even start until well after 9 p.m.!

 

Another pre-meal "snack" -- this at Cabana Las Lilas, considered one of the top parrillas (steakhouses) in Buenos Aires. On the plate: Roasted red peppers in olive oil, tender roast beef, grilled tomatoes with fresh mozzarella, sauteed eggplant with baby mushrooms and succulent roast chicken in the center, flanked with fresh crackers and breadsticks.

Steaks awaiting the grills at Las Lilas. This restaurant owns its own grass-fed cattle herd (which grazes on the pampas outside of the city) and controls every step, from birth to cooking. That's quality control at its finest, and you can taste the difference.

Two wood-fire baked pizzas, with wonderfully chewy crusts.

More fresh, housemade pasta.

And for desser (don't fret: Those prices are in Argentine pesos).

What are some of the most delicious memories from your trips, here and abroad? 

Seattle Weekly’s Voracious Tasting: passing judgment

Tom Monahan (food judge, aspiring foodie and substitute blogger)

I’m not a food judge; I just play one in local food competitions. Seriously, my qualifications as a food judge are limited to the meals I know how to prepare with my lovely wife, the food I eat at the many wonderful restaurants in and around Seattle and the knowledge I’ve obtained from PCC.

I realize that I’m more knowledgeable than many on the subjects of whole grains and seasonal produce, but to judge a food competition pitting Chef Jason Stratton from Spinasse against Chef Seth Caswell from emmer&rye, all of which to be hosted by Seattle icon Tom Douglas…really!?!?!  That’s a life list item for many.

Of course, I jumped at the honor when it was bestowed upon me last week to judge this chef showdown at the Seattle Weekly’s Voracious Tasting & Food Awards on Wednesday, April 14.  Over the weekend, my nerves continued to grow as the event neared. They weren’t squelched either when I entered the event venue, Seattle’s historic Paramount Theatre. 

I check in for my judging duties backstage to be greeted by the chefs, Tom Douglas and my fellow judges, which included Seattle Weekly food critic, Jason Sheehan and the Weekly’s food writer, Julien Perry. That was the first of many “pinch me” moments.

Sensing the moment, Tom Douglas orders up some cocktails for the judges and chefs.  You know, to ease our nerves before we’re greeted by a 1,000 fellow foodies sipping cocktails and noshing on delicious morsels from some of Seattle’s most prestigious and innovative restaurants and bars. 

The competition is announced by a calm and cool Douglas and we hit the stage to assume our positions as judges. The moment is overwhelming, but my fears subside greatly due to a contingent of PCC staff cheering me on from the audience.

That’s me, second from the left, with the “deer in the headlights” smile on my face.

Douglas announces the secret ingredient for the competition…it’s LAMB! Specifically the wonderful Umpqua Valley Lamb carried in our stores. The chefs scramble for ingredients with their assistants and start preparations on their first set of dishes. The action is fast and furious and I get a sense of where this first dish is heading.

All the while, Douglas is chatting it up with the chefs and proceeds to the judges to get our thoughts on the showdown. Pinch me moment number two, Tom Douglas asking me about food. Never in my wildest dreams!

Back to the showdown, the first dishes are near completion and I can get a glance at what Chef Jason is working on. There were no hot burners, nothing being roasted in an oven…we’re going raw for this first dish. In fact, both chefs prepared raw lamb. I believe Chef Jason’s was carpaccio and Chef Seth’s was tartare. Raw lamb was a first for me, and I must say probably not the last. It’s really all about the preparation.


 

Chef Jason Stratton (on the left) competing in the chef showdown, with Tom Douglas watching his every move.

The competition continues and I’m starting to get used this judge gig. I have two tremendous chefs preparing outrageous dishes with beautiful ingredients (all provided by PCC), a culinary legend asking for my opinion on said dishes and servers asking me every couple of minutes if I need anything. Whose life did I steal!?!?

Ultimately, the four dishes prepared by each chef are delivered, tasted and judged. I sensed that the competition would be close, but not this close. The styles of each chef differed, providing for an easy contrast, but they each did such a great job with their presentation, creativity and taste.
 

Easing in to my role as judge, my thought provoking image is displayed on the big screen at the Paramount Theatre.

The votes were tallied and Douglas announced that Chef Seth Caswell won with 296 points to Chef Jason’s 289, out of a possible 400 points. 7 points separated these two chefs, but in all honesty nothing really separates them. They are each part of an amazing food movement happening locally, regionally and nationally. These chefs are celebrating food.

I know that this was likely a once in the lifetime experience and I didn’t take that for granted. I loved every minute of it! And if there’s a moral to my tale, it’s get out and eat!

More about: Umpqua Valley Lamb

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