PCC blog

How to seed a pomegranate

Pomegranates always appear just as gray skies and dark afternoons become routine again during the chilly months here in the Northwest, offering a rosy glow and a welcome sweet-tart burst of brightness during a season of root vegetables and sturdy greens.

 


Crisp, tart, beautiful.

 

Breaking into them needn't require ruining your shirt. Try this method to get at those plump, juicy seeds and you'll be ready to make any number of pomegranate recipes like: 

 

Of course, you can always just eat them atop yogurt, add to a glass of bubbly for color and a hint of sweetness, or just spoon 'em up plain. After all, you earned them! Perhaps the challenge and mystery of breaking open a pomegranate is what launched them into lore and legend.


More about: pomegranates, produce, salad

The World is Your Oyster ... Surrender to the Pink!



You just never know, do you? On one of those cold, dark, rainy evenings that define both the autumnal fading of the light in these parts, La Copine (a.k.a. “the Accomplice”) and I were settling into a pre-symphony repast at one of our favorite haunts. With a couple glasses of white wine (a flinty Petit Chablis and an Albariño from Rias Baixas) to awaken our palates while awaiting the arrival of  the first morsels of sustenance, we turned to the evening’s truly important decision: what bottle to both satisfy our thirsts and feed our souls?

Given that the evening’s first departure from the usual was already gracing our glasses, the stage was set for new adventures, the  taking of a left where one might general take a right...  Further,  the turn-up-the-collar nature of the evening, the creases in my gray matter would generally have had me drinking something red and Mediterranean, right from the proverbial “get.” But the Accomplice, possessing not only a more refined palate, but a willingness to step out of well-worn habits in just about everything, expressed a desire for something racy, bright and minerally. The resulting lovely, eclectic beverages were proving with each sip to be as delicious as they were from well off "the usual" route.  

“Aha!” “I love it!” “that’s perfect!” she said, pointing at the Domaine Tempier rose on the list. “And I’d love to try it with the oysters…"). Hmmmm, really? Well, yeah, I supposed, that wine is always fine-superb even, and great  rose is truly delicious in any season. But with oysters? Briny, cold Northwest meets sunny Provence? I wasn’t entirely convinced, but given that the Accomplice has an amazing sense for such things, I thought, “why not?” After all, Bandol sits just over the hill form the sea—and the rosé would be perfect with the pork chop we were set to share – even if it didn’t pan out with the oysters. 

It was splendido, on all counts, but especially with the briny bivalves. While the pale, pale salmon hue suggests a delicate wine, it’s actually quite rich, with hints of bright peach and pomegranate fruit accented with notes of spice. Zippy acidity and a kiss of salty sea air made the link of wine and oysters, the fruits of two far-flung seas, a luscious, if unexpected marriage.  

It just goes to show that you never know. Even when  you (or I should say I) think that you’re someone who thinks outside the proverbial box, there’s always another horizon -- and it’s always a good idea to try something seemingly out of the blue. And then there's the real moral of the story: always trust your accomplice…

 



More about: oysters, Rosé wine, wine, wine pairing

How to eat chia seeds

I first heard of chia seeds as something to eat from my running friends. Back in 2010 they raved about a book, "Born to Run," that hails these tiny powerhouses of nutrition as a mighty energy source


Get your chia! Find it in the bulk section at PCC.

 


If you're as curious as I was, head into PCC's bulk department. Take home a handful or a sackful or organic chia seeds. Either way, try them. There's a reason you're hearing about them seemingly everywhere (including over the weekend in this New York Times article).

  • Just 2 tablespoons of the tiny chia seed delivers 6 grams of soluble fiber and 4 grams of protein. Learn more about chia and other power super seeds (including hemp and flax) in this Ask the Nutritionist column by PCC Nutrition Educator Nick Rose.
  • Chia seeds are a rich source of omega-3 essential fatty acids.
  • They're easy to eat. Sprinkle atop your yogurt or oatmeal, add them to smoothies, slip into your breads and muffins, or add them to citrusy water (or watermelon or strawberry juice) for Chia Fresca. Or, try this recipe for granola with chia from PCC Chef Lynne Vea.
  • PCC also carries Mamma Chia beverages -- chia fresca without the work.
  • There's also this recipe from our PCC Community and a recipe for Chia Pudding from our Sound Consumer newsletter.

No, that's not pepper: it's chia seeds with my morning yogurt!

One tip: just like poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and other favorite seeds, chia seeds have a tendency to get stuck between your teeth. Tuck a spool of dental floss in your bag and you'll be good to go.

How do you most like to enjoy them?

 

 

More about: bulk, chia seeds, omega-3, seeds

A delicious, gluten-free Thanksgiving

It's the final countdown! And as you gather recipes old and new for the big feast Thursday, don't miss our collection of gluten-free favorites.

  •     Try three complete gluten-free holiday menus (including a vegetarian option and ideas for those leftovers) here.
  •     Discover recipes for entrees, sides and desserts on Pinterest.
  •     Explore PCC's gluten-free foods selection (more than 1,800 items and counting!) with our online search.

For good measure, here's one of our favorite gluten-free sides. What are yours? 

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from all of us at PCC!

More about: gluten free, holidays

A Beaujolais Kind of Day...

Funny how some of the most wonderful flavors in the world are often also the most misunderstood. Flavors with character, the distinct accent of their particular home terre – and more soul than the waiting room in purgatory – flavors that have been unjustly tarred with bad press in the forum of conventional wisdom and that bear the ignominy of the of pseudo-sophisticate’s scorn. 

I’ve had Beaujolais on my mind these days. New releases from some of the region’s best producers have been showing up in town almost weekly, and as our thirsts have been whetted, La Copine and I have had the opportunity to open a bottle or two. It’s been a treat, as always – one of those little pleasures that don’t cost a heckuva lot, but that provide a unique kind of loveliness that is beyond quantifying with any price tag.  

Think ripe fruit. Not bursting with sugar ripe, but the almost tangy, vibrant flavor of berries or cherries when they’re at that solstice – like instant when sweet fruit, the earth it grew in and the sun that nourished it all seem to come together in a harmony so delicious that it’s best enjoyed at mezzo piano. Just enough volume to hear, the intrigue and allure of the flavors prompting you to open your senses and “listen” more intently. 

Meanwhile, Beaujolais Nouveau is days away from making an appearance. Traditionally, this is the first red wine of the just completed vintage – and an opportunity to taste what a season in the vineyard has bestowed upon the region’s growers. Nouveaux or “primeur’ wines from honest, scrupulous growers can be lovely,  youthfully bright expressions of the vintage that give a good idea of what the growers more “serious” wines will be like(although Nouveau from many of the region’s best growers are plenty “serious” in their own right).  

Sadly, however, the good name of  Beaujolais Nouveau – and the region in general -- has been trashed by the exploitation and marketing wizardry of Georges DuBoeuf, whose ersatz, factory-made, manipulated, wine-like product has come to virtually define the region by dint of its ubiquity. (If I were a Beaujolais grower, I’d lobby for M. DuBoeuf to be exiled for treason. Stripped of his French citizenship and given the boot. Adieu, pour toujours.)  

But enough trash – talking. We’re here to talk about real wine. The nouveaux arrive today, and will vanish into waiting glasses before the year is done – but there’s plenty of gorgeous Beaujolais to be had year-round. And while great Beaujolais is delicious in any season, the contrast of its bright sunny fruit, with the smell of fallen leaves and the early dark and chill of an early evening is soul-warming. We’re thirsty now – and   counting the minutes ‘til the day’s work is done… 

Enjoy. Life is short – make every glass count!

More about: Beaujolais, French wine

A Beaujolais Kind of Day...

Funny how some of the most wonderful flavors in the world are often also the most misunderstood. Flavors with character, the distinct accent of their particular home terre – and more soul than the waiting room in purgatory – flavors that have been unjustly tarred with bad press in the forum of conventional wisdom and that bear the ignominy of the of pseudo-sophisticate’s scorn. 

I’ve had Beaujolais on my mind these days. New releases from some of the region’s best producers have been showing up in town almost weekly, and as our thirsts have been whetted, La Copine and I have had the opportunity to open a bottle or two. It’s been a treat, as always – one of those little pleasures that don’t cost a heckuva lot, but that provide a unique kind of loveliness that is beyond quantifying with any price tag.  

Think ripe fruit. Not bursting with sugar ripe, but the almost tangy, vibrant flavor of berries or cherries when they’re at that solstice – like instant when sweet fruit, the earth it grew in and the sun that nourished it all seem to come together in a harmony so delicious that it’s best enjoyed at mezzo piano. Just enough volume to hear, the intrigue and allure of the flavors prompting you to open your senses and “listen” more intently. 

Meanwhile, Beaujolais Nouveau is days away from making an appearance. Traditionally, this is the first red wine of the just completed vintage – and an opportunity to taste what a season in the vineyard has bestowed upon the region’s growers. Nouveaux or “primeur’ wines from honest, scrupulous growers can be lovely,  youthfully bright expressions of the vintage that give a good idea of what the growers more “serious” wines will be like(although Nouveau from many of the region’s best growers are plenty “serious” in their own right).  

Sadly, however, the good name of  Beaujolais Nouveau – and the region in general -- has been trashed by the exploitation and marketing wizardry of Georges DuBoeuf, whose ersatz, factory-made, manipulated, wine-like product has come to virtually define the region by dint of its ubiquity. (If I were a Beaujolais grower, I’d lobby for M. DuBoeuf to be exiled for treason. Stripped of his French citizenship and given the boot. Adieu, pour toujours.)  

But enough trash – talking. We’re here to talk about real wine. The nouveaux arrive today, and will vanish into waiting glasses before the year is done – but there’s plenty of gorgeous Beaujolais to be had year-round. And while great Beaujolais is delicious in any season, the contrast of its bright sunny fruit, with the smell of fallen leaves and the early dark and chill of an early evening is soul-warming. We’re thirsty now – and   counting the minutes ‘til the day’s work is done… 

Enjoy. Life is short – make every glass count!

More about: Beaujolais, French wine

Words, Wines, Whales and Winning,



I love words. From the cadence of a well – turned phrase, to the absurd randomness of surrealism, to a wicked double-entendre, to a metaphor that keeps on delivering in several dimensions, words can be as delicious to the brain as a good glass of wine is to the senses. How cool is it, then, when the name of a place seduces you like the waft of savory things in the kitchen, delivers in spades on the intrigue – and serves up astounding food and wine, to boot?

 La Copine and I got together a few nights ago with some of our favorite Friends in the Wine Business to check out Renée Erickson’s cool new joint on Stone Way. That’s some mighty damned fine food, I tell you, and a wine list nothing shy of brilliant. Perhaps the only problem I could dream up is that it’s nigh on to impossible to choose from lists where everything makes you salivate. Tough, tough decisions, believe me – although we did manage to soldier on...

 And then there’s the name. “The Whale Wins” is plenty clever enough on its own, fetching your curiousity with a quirky, not-too-stuck on itself kind of whimsy. It gets your brain a-wonderin’ -- then delivers the aforementioned fine victuals and potables (brilliantly) and keeps right on riffing.

 Soooo… If the whale wins, then who loses? Judging from the 18th century era print that hangs in the dining room (and graces the web page), the short end of the stick goes to the whalers. The painting shows a whale shattering a whale boat, tossing occupants  and gear aside like so much flotsam and jestsam. Damn, but I love that.

 To my way of thinking, the whale represents inspiration and the pure, unabashed goodness of quality, honestly – raised food and wine. The whalers, on the other hand, represent the cyncicism, homogenization, and the drive to commodify pleasure, to turn food and wine and the joys of the table into widgets. The whale is the wine you can only describe in words, while the splintered boat is the 100 point rating system. The soon-to- drown guys and their harpoons are the big, belligerent distributors—the kind who tell you that you hafta have their products to be successful, the ones who’ll tell you that you can’t have a restaurant in Seattle without a bunch of big name Washington wines on the list – while the whale is a wine list that offers wines with soul, with character and a sense of place – and matches them with the foods they actually complement.  

I could, as always, go on (and on). But I’ll cut to the end and just say to hell with the harpoons and that my money’s on the whale. And bravo to Renée. We’ll be back. Soon…

 

 

 




More about: wine, wine pairing, wine ratings

The enologist has no clothes...I'm just sayin'...

It happened again yesterday evening. La Copine and I had a couple sips of the Priorat, the fruit of ridiculously low yielding hillside vineyards, resplendent in its raiment of polished tannins and adornment of spendy French oak. Proceeded to dump our glasses in prder to refill ‘em with the sample bottle of eleven dollar Carinena, straightforward, unadorned, and as amiable as some character down at the corner tavern. You know, wine that’s just wine. Wine that has the local accent of its birthplace. Wine that’s not self-conscious, wine that’s made for people to drink, inconspicuously, just because it tastes good and goes with food and friends. Just a beverage.

 

It’s gotten to be damned near a habit, this business of dumping out the fancy – pants, big points, high dollar, rock-star-enologist bottle in favor of drinking the modestly priced vino from some hard working grower who toils in relative anonymity. Last week it was a bottle of Rosso from one of Friuli’s most revered estates, where the wines are spendy, practically impossible to get, and whose owner routinely blows off appointments with the likes of Robert Parker (a practice we applaud). Same story, the wine was technically correct, with all the parts executing their roles at virtuoso level. But there just wasn’t any “there” there. No soul, no character. And interestingly enough, the estate is farmed biodynamically, producing lovely, lovely fruit—grapes that should express their terroir with profound focus and depth.

 

So what’s the deal? Where did all that goodness go? I lay it at the feet of the idolatrous idea that anyone can make wine. Take great fruit and try to craft it to hit some sort of paparazzi-pleasing, points-garnering, popular “profile” –and the result is character turned to soulless, buffed-up, innocuous product.  (Think Coltrane, teamed up with Kenny G’s producer. ).

 

And so it goes. La Copine and I have the fortune to both work “in the biz”, hence exposure and the opportunity to taste lots of wines. It's astonishing how, given all those choices, how often we find ourselves loving the  unheralded, un-ranked wine made by blue-collar, salt-of-the-earth farmer types. In the end, not only do we get a heckuva lot more pleasure from the deal, we save a few ducats – and those ducats get to support families, rather than big egos.

More on this topic later. Meanwhile, open your bottles--they're for drinking, not saving.

 

More about: wine, wine regions

The fight to label GMOs, by the numbers

We're off to a strong start in our efforts to get I-522, the GMO foods labeling initiatve, placed on the November 2013 ballot in Washington. Here's a quick update on where we stand, by the numbers:

  • 150 plus = The number of PCC partners, including creameries, organic bakeries, restaurants, health and body care producers, chocolatiers, pasta makers, dairies, coffee roasters and so many more who have endorsed I-522 and support the labeling of genetically engineered foods. See them all here.
  •  241,153 = The number of valid signatures backers of I-522 (hopefully, including you!) must submit to get the initiative on the November 2013 ballot. 
  • 50,000 = The number of signatures PCC wants to collect, with your help, in the month of October. 
  • $100,000 = The sum  PCC contributed to the signature-collecting effort. 
  •  70 = Percentage of non-organic, processed foods that already contain some, or several, genetically engineered ingredients. 

Learn more about I-522 and why we support it here. Want to sign a petition? Check this map for locations around Washington state or visit any PCC store. Want to get involved? Email us: GMOvolunteers <at> pccsea.com

More about: Non-GMO project

Help PCC gather 50K signatures to require labeling of GMOs in food

We know it's an uphill battle to collect more than 240,000 valid signatures by year's end to put I-522, the GMO foods labeling initiative, on Washington's November 2013 ballot.

But it's worth it.

I-522 would require producers to tell us whether any food we buy from stores was created via genetic engineering. We already know knowledge is power: think how much better we understand what we eat since 1990, when calorie and nutritional information was required on labels, and since 2002, when country-of-origin labeling was required.

PCC has pledged $100,000 toward the signature-gathering effort and has petitions available to sign at all nine of its stores and at its University District headquarters in Seattle. If you'd like to help gather signatures (and we'd love your help!) email GMOvolunteers <at> pccsea.com

Help us meet our goal: 50,000 signatures by the end of October! We're already 1/5 of the way there. Tell your friends, your Facebook friends, your book club, your workout buddies. We're all in this together.


More about: GE foods, GM crops, labeling, Non-GMO project

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