Once around the block and just like magic, a parking place appears where there was none a mere moment ago. A good sign, I’m thinking.
The sidewalk glistens in that dull, wet cement sort of way, courtesy of the streetlights and a mid-February drizzle. I make my way up the street, scanning the numbers on the doors. In less than 50 paces I find 5905 Airport Way, just another Georgetown storefront, with nothing to distinguish it from its neighbors but a glaring lack of anything luminescent, fluorescent or otherwise visually loud. Except for a waist-high, lace curtain of multi-colored paper cut-outs, cavorting muertos encircling the expanse of plate glass facing the street. The cast of animated, grinning skeletons goes about “life” with a unbridled mirth that the living seldom muster. On the glass door, a hand-painted sign modestly states “Fonda la Catrina.” Not quite your basic beer neons. I’m getting a good feeling.
Reaching for the door, eyes sidestepping the reflections in the glass, I see that the place is packed with living, breathing, eating, drinking people who seem to be having nearly as much fun as the dead dancing by the windows. Hmm. So far so good.
I open the door, step inside, inhale. Oh, my. This is good. Who knew that heaven could smell so fine? So deliciously…earthy? We’re talking tortillas, real tortillas. And spices, chiles, limes -- maybe a little spilled beer and a drop or two of quality tequila. No wonder the muertos seem so damned happy.
The menu and the list of potables are concise but so lusciously appealing from top to bottom that I want one of everything. A wise person recently told me: “You can have everything, just not all at once.” So much the better. I can already envision becoming a “regular” here. So I order an IPA (thinking later that perhaps a Carta Blanca might’ve been just a tad better, but …) and start at the top of the menu with the Sopa de Garbanzos. It’s delicious, a heady whirl of tomatoes, coriander, ancho and pasilla chiles making a bright complement to the garbanzos. Next to me at the bar, plates of enchiladas verdes and an array of tacos arrive, followed by exclamations, oohs and aaahs of satisfaction.
Though my restraint is severely tested, the aromas permit me to taste vicariously. While these dishes have the vibrancy of Oaxacan cuisine, there’s a subtler interplay of flavors, a nuanced sort of richness that’s probably been simmering for millennia. Beyond that, there’s no fuss, no fancy-pants, self-aggrandizing bs about this food. It’s the kind of food that’s meant to sustain life, while turning the daily, necessary act of sustenance into a celebration. It’s the kind of food that makes a person damned glad to be alive to eat, to share with friend over a beer, a glass of wine and maybe a drop of mezcal or three. It’s real.
The prospect of tomorrow’s early alarm bolsters my resolve to be moderate. I’m out the door and into the heart of Saturday night, knowing full well that I can’t long resist the call of Alambre or Cochinita Pibil tacos, or Pollo Enchilado, Puerco en Salsa Verde or Rajas con Crema Y Papas. I’ll be back, that’s for sure. This is food to die for.
Fonda La Catrina
5905 Airport Way S.
Our recent spate of sunny weather lulled many of us into fantasies of springtime. Hold those thoughts, people. It's time to clean out your closets and dressers and bring clean and gently used sweaters, coats and cold weather gear to any PCC through Sunday, Feb. 12 to donate to the annual Mister Rogers' Neighborhood Sweater Drive.
That's just what Brownie Troop #42920 did as a community service project. After they combed through their own wardrobes, they enlisted the help of friends and neighbors. Check out their haul, which they recently lugged into PCC Issaquah, triumphant.
Just look at those smiles!
Their total haul:
- Kids sweaters: 40
- Kids coats: 24
- Adult sweaters: 30
- Adult coats: 23
- Scarves: 6
- Hats: 14
- Gloves/mittens: 19 pairs
What could you donate to help those in need stay cozy until spring truly does arrive?
Plenty of occasions call for a great spread: potlucks, parties, open houses, even a little football game you might be catching with friends Sunday afternoon. Well, PCC is ready to ease your workload: save 20 percent off any of our freshly prepared party platters through Feb. 14, 2012.
PCC Deli Antipasto Platter
We request 48 hours notice to get things just right, so be sure to get your order in for the weekend at your local PCC Deli if you'll be needing one Sunday! Choose from fresh sandwiches, artisan breads and spreads, our own special chicken wings, cheese and fruit, antipasto and other fun, high quality selections.
The essence of a thing, the soul of a person or character of a place isn’t expressed so much in its striking qualities, its notoriety or its shining moments as it is in it the everyday, “normal” aspects of its nature. Or put differently, real magic -- true extraordinariness – is woven right into the fabric of ordinariness. Think about that…
In terms of wine, this idea is probably no better expressed than in Corbières, one of the largest appellations. Interestingly, Corbières lies in the heart of southern France’s Languedoc region, which, until the late 90’s was renowned as France’s “wine lake” the source of oceans of mass-produced, generally unremarkable wine.
Although it’s been in just the past couple decades that the reputation of wines from both Corbières and the Languedoc have changed, the evolution in quality began several decades earlier, as many independent, family-owned growers began to make wine, rather than sell their grapes to cooperatives or corporate producers. While the Languedoc and Corbières are still the source of significant quantities of bulk wine (the Gallo company’s now infamous “Red Bicyclette” for instance), the reputation of both is steadily growing as a source of terroir - driven wines of particularly great value. Meanwhile, a growing number boutique producers are pushing the proverbial envelope with ultra small yields and intensive viticultural practices.
Although the nouvelle vague of artisanal growers are producing wines that are intriguing expressions of the appellation, it’s heart and soul are found in the small, independent domaines familiales¸where the focus is on producing wines that are an honest, but affordable taste of their individual terroirs. We’re talking wines that pay the bills for the growers, everyday wines for ordinary people who have bills to pay, honest wines with soul that bring plenty of character to the table. Wines that are literally the blood of the earth, made by people who are the salt of it.
(Lucky for you, I just happen to know where you can find lovely examples of affordable, delicious Corbières). Château Maylandie and Château Ollieux Romanis both produce an array of outstanding white, rosé and red wines that range from the aforementioned “ordinary” offerings, to small cuvées of ultra-quality wines from select vineyard parcels. You’d be hard-pressed to find more everyday dinner companions more interesting or possessing more character than the “appellation” wines from either. Both offer generous aromas and flavors of dark berry fruit, with the sweetness of ripe fruit nicely balanced by notes of grape skin that segues to notes of garrigues, dusty minerals, Mediterannean pine, savory herbs and white pepper. To drink either is to experience the soul of Corbières – wild, heady, a little bit racy, simultaneously verdant and arid, scoured by the icy Northwest wine in winter and Mediterannean breezes in summer. But why take my word for it when you savor for yourself? After all, it’s the next best thing to being there!
The third week of January is drawing to a close, and if your resolutions aren't faring so well (especially after our snowbound, comfort food-laden week) here are some handy tools, tips and resources to keep you going strong!
IF YOUR GOAL IS TO:
- Eat more fruits and vegetables: PCC Nutrition Educator Leika Suzumura suggests reshaping your goal to "eat more colorful foods," as a simple reminder to boost not only your produce intake but the diversity of your produce intake. Watch her video for a great recipe. And check out our Produce Department, where on average more than 90 percent of the selection is organic! Our seasonal produce chart will help you know what's in season.
- Eat less sugar: Check out this Sound Consumer article on kicking the sugar craving. And don't miss our online brochure all about natural sweeteners.
- Eat more whole grains: Check out this video with recipes for easy side dishes and be sure to look for some of our delightful whole grain salads in the PCC Deli. Explore our online brochure about cooking with whole grains. Visit our bulk section on your next trip to PCC, where you can head home with a few servings each whole grain (rather than an entire package) to try them out and discover your favorite! Not sure how to cook? Just look up the grain by name or bin number in our bulk database and you'll find cooking instructions.
- Eat more green leafy vegetables: Check out our cheat sheet and visit our PCC Recipe Database for plenty of great cooking ideas.
- Eat less meat: Don't miss the January issue of PCC Taste magazine, available free in all stores, for our Meatless Mondays recipe spread. Or, find those recipes here. You also can search our Recipe Database for vegetarian and vegan recipes. Here's a quick tutorial for the uninitiated.
- Eat healthier, but no time to cook: Visit the PCC Deli. Here's a look at all the dishes you'll find that can help you get more whole grains, fruits and vegetables and leafy greens in your diet.
- Get your kids to try more foods: Check out our Kid Picks program, which flags more than 1,700 kid-tasted-and-approved foods in our stores with a bright orange label.
- Exercise more: Listen to our Ask the Nutritionist podcast on eating for energy, sports and fitness. And here's a handy chart of our energy bar selection!
And happy year of the dragon to everyone celebrating Chinese New Year this weekend and next!
In his column in last Sunday’s New York Times, Eric Asimov makes this astute observation:
“To drink only the best-known wines from time-honored regions is a little like eating in the same restaurants over and over. You can’t go wrong, perhaps, but without the rewards of exploration, you are missing out on so much more.”
-- Eric Asimov, The New York Times, 15 January, 2012
It’s one of those things that should go without saying, but that’s still a great reminder — even (or especially) for those of us whose métier and avowed mission it is to boldly seek out new flavor frontiers, to boldly go…
Pick your metaphor — restaurants, movies, books, music, hotels, roads, vacations…. It actually takes an “act” of consciousness, a little thought, to open the doors and windows in our brains. It’s easy to get so hell-bent on the daily trudge, so dialed in on the stuff that’s supposed to be “important,” that we forget to look around, to ask questions, to see, smell, hear and taste even an nth of what’s within reach, not to mention just around the next bend. Far too easy to just go with what we know, reach for the assurance of the same ol', same ol' tried and true.
It also requires a little extra effort and attention to bypass the freeways of “time-honored” and renowned, keeping instead to the two-lane where homegrown, bedrock flavors grow and the dialect is purely local. But you can’t beat the scenery. Not to mention the broadening of perspective, deepening of lexicon and plain old, amazing pleasure of honing your senses with new adventures.
January doldrums? Sure, if you want. But winter, like anything, is what you make it. So, make it a vacation, every bottle is an opportunity. Whether it’s godello from Rias Baixas, garnacha from Catalunya, gamay from the Val d’Aosta, tannat from Argentina, Negrette from Fronton, encruzado from the Dão — or any of literally thousands of flavors just waiting to be discovered, all you need to do is choose.
It’s a mighty big world. Lace up your shoes, get out your map and corkscrew, get outta the door, light out and look all around … the glass is empty — fill it!
Chilly, stormy weather is the perfect time to get creative in the kitchen. Warm your belly and your soul with these fun takes on everyday snacks.
Black Bean and Yam Quesadillas. Mmm...
- Spiced Hot Cocoa is just the ticket to keep cozy as you're hunkering down.
- Settling in to watch a movie? Try Maple-Glazed Popcorn. Take it to the next level with a sprinkle of crispy bacon. If you're a popcorn fan, don't miss our toppings suggestions.
- Keep your hands warm today with Masala Chai you can simmer on your stovetop from scratch. Pour the extra into a thermos and take along as you hike to the sledding hill, bus stop or on your errands.
- Tired of the same-old quesadillas? Change things up with black beans and pumpkin seeds. Or, try black beans and yam.
- For a healthy snack, roast cauliflower with curry powder. Or try Chili and Garlic-Roasted Broccoli. Those of you with leafy greens in your crisper: there's always time for kale chips!
All of us at PCC hope you're safe and warm wherever you may be reading this. Have a favorite snow day snack? Please share!
It’s a new year, a fresh page, a temporal tabula rasa, time to boldly set forth on a whole new set of adventures. I’m on the case — as soon as I get a little bit of old business off my figurative desktop.
I’ve taken to keeping a list of topics worthy of expository effort, things that arouse everything from adoration to ire, and about which I fully intend to chime in with my two pesetas worth. Someday. So, herewith, fresh from 2010’s litany of brilliant things and bright ideas postponed…
Awhile back, probably sometime early last fall, in his weekly Seattle Times column, Paul Gregutt sang the praises of mourvèdre, going so far as to predict its rise to the dizzying heights of Next Big Thing. Hmmmm. Interesting idea, but I’m not so sure.
Not that I don’t adore mourvèdre, too. When it’s good, it’s capable of a singular level of profundity, a deep, purple-flavored, animal earthiness infused with layers of pure, crystalline fruit — and terroir, garrigues, et cetera, as the particular case may be. At its best, it pulls no punches. It’s serious stuff, capable of weaving a brooding funk with floral elegance. Mourvèdre makes a statement. There’s nothing like it, and it isn’t for everyone — unless it’s dumbed-down, ripened up, stripped of character and otherwise made to fit the profile of wine-like product that qualifies any given grape as a Big Thing.
Show me mourvèdre as a Big Deal, mourvèdre as a market force, mourvèdre as Money … and I’ll show you mourvèdre that ain’t mourvèdre. Remember merlot? Once upon a time, merlot was poised as the Next Big Thing, then it was THE big thing, and finally, synonymous with non-descript-red-wine-that-sucks. Then it was syrah, with the big, fat, juicy Australian treatment serving as the model. We all know how that story ends. Say ‘syrah’ (shiraz) to your average retailer and you may as well say (shizzle). The market had a fling with pinot (perhaps a little too … precious … precocious?). Malbec seems to be the current darling, but you can already see its demise in the tea leaves as a flood of insipidity labeled as malbec rises to prominence on grocery store end displays and wine lists everywhere.
Merlot, of course, never changed, as such, in the course of its rise and fall. Neither did syrah, nor pinot, nor malbec — and neither will mourvèdre, should it become a commercial “success.” But like any good thing in the employ of those for whom the bottom line is the bottom line, merlot (and syrah, and malbec…) could only end its brief career as wine-biz darling as a washed-up has-been. Dress any good grape in full-on, big brand raiment and you can bet the vineyard that there’s no virtue that will go unsullied, no reputation untarnished.
Moral of the story? Try to be everything to everybody and you end up being nothing at all. Big Things? Why would you bother, when small can be so mighty? While I’m generally loathe to make sweeping generalizations, in the current case I’ll happily make this exception: If you want to live large, think (and drink) small.
Here's a look at some of the content you found most intriguing in 2011!
PCC Quinoa Tabouli, a top recipe of 2011.
Top 10 most-viewed recipes (many are made right in our deli!)
- PCC Emerald City Salad
- PCC Perfect Protein Salad
- Kale Chips
- Butternut Squash-Apple Soup
- Steph's Tofu
- Warm Pear and Hazelnut Tea Bread
- PCC Quinoa Tabouli
- Pan Baked Cod
- Roasted Pumpkin and Salted Caramel Cheesecake
- Coconut Sweet Potato Soup
Top 10 most-viewed videos
- Recipe search screencast
- Learn how to make homemade ice cubes (from our annual April Fools' Day website. Don't miss it in 2012!)
- PCC Quick Bites: An easy way to slice watermelon
- PCC Quick Bites: Bulk shopping tips and tricks
- Meet our Producers: Schooner EXACT Brewing Company
- PCC Quick Bites: How to choose a perfect pineapple
- Screencast: How to add items to your online shopping list
- PCC Quick Sips: The world of Riesling
- PCC Quick Bites: Make your own roast chile paste
- Video recipe: Festive Cuban Tortilla Torta with Warm Spices
Top 10 most-viewed Sound Consumer pages
- Microwaved food: is it healthy?
- The truth about fats
- Mushroom magic
- Easy ways to preserve produce
- Wild shrimp vs. farmed shrimp
- Calcium vs. Magnesium
- Insights by Goldie: TSP in Cheerios
- Kick the sugar craving
- Tomato and pepper growing in the Pacific Northwest
- Fluoridation update
Top 10 most-viewed PCC Taste pages
- Eleven tips for a healthy new year
- 5 standout cooking oils
- Roaming Washington: road trip to some of our great producers
- It's easy being green
- March Madness Munchies
- Popcorn that pops
- Summer sun protection
- What to do in January
- Summer preview
- Feeding the healthy athlete
What were your favorite places to visit on our website in 2011? What would you like to see in 2012?
Happy new year from all of us at PCC!
Can you believe it's already the end of another year? But time's speedy passage has delivered yet another golden opportunity to eat and sip something wonderful. Here are some tips and recipes to get you started as we prepare to welcome 2012!
Wine quick links:
- Find wine pairings for a variety of holiday meals here
- Click on the "seasonal sips" tab for plenty of affordable sparkling wines
- Hear PCC Wine Guy Jeff Cox's additional sparkling recommendations
Appetizer quick links:
- Learn to transform local cheese into easy appetizers
- Find plenty of recipes, including Honeyed Nuts, Artichoke Bits and Spice-Candied Pears
- Watch PCC Chef Lynne Vea make a variety of delicious snacks, from Simple Chocolate Truffles to Oven Roasted Jalapeno Poppers, in this series of videos
Lucky foods at the dawn of a new year
Growing up, Mom raised us to eat long noodles for a long life, as well as plenty of fresh mochi and other special New Year treats. My friends from El Salvador eat 12 grapes at midnight, making a wish as they gulp each one. My Southern husband grew up eating black eyed peas, a key ingredient in a popular New Year's dish called Hoppin' John. Here's a great post from blogger Seasonal Wisdom about New Year traditions around the globe, as well as a fun piece from Epicurious about lucky New Year eats.
No matter how you celebrate, we wish you a delicious 2012!