Devour

Fuel runs on fresh and foraged farmer-driven foods

story + photos by kendra pearce

Fuel Bistro and Wine
109 S. 65th Ave., Ste. 108, Ridgefield
360-727-9759

 

Fuel Bistro and Wine has cut its teeth and is embracing its second autumn tucked away in the unlikeliest of places, the Ridgefield Junction. Although the location is peculiar, the menu and chef are remarkable.

Sebastian Carosi is exactly what one would expect from a man who has chosen local food as his life’s path leaving a wake of national and international accolades behind him as he moves toward new food passions, projects and continued community activism. Unapologetic for his beliefs, unflinching in his choices, and nearly unequalled in his talents for providing inventive local food, Carosi has provided yet another affordable place to enjoy the best of the region.

The menu, a simple piece of paper, the Slow Food Snail and Monsanto Skull and Crossbones in the corner (a direct reflection of the tattoo on Carosi’s wrist), and a wine list that showcases Fuel’s understated yet consistent message to their patronage – eat local. “Every wine served here is from Oregon and Washington; I know the winery or I won’t sell it” is Carosi’s philosophy and reflected in his staff’s ability to discuss the wine and food at length.

The fare is more than one expects from the minute kitchen – salads, soups, single plates and sandwiches, but the ingredients are what make this place work. A thoughtful seasonal menu reflects Carosi’s foraging passions and his ability to seek out the best regional ingredients, including salt from Jacobsen’s, cheese from Cascadia and Rogue creameries and bitters, nettle and mushrooms from Carosi’s forays.

While the summer menu boasted tomatoes from Ridgefield’s own Northwest Organics, the autumn menu focuses on heartier flavors. Carosi has brought back a favorite: the slightly spicy, incredibly flavorful vegetarian Farmhouse Soup, as well as new additions – mushroom strudel featuring foraged chanterelles in a mustard cream, and the smoked salmon club with applewood bacon, smoky mayonnaise on pumpernickel served with a side of lemonade vinaigrette dressed greens or fresh kettle chips.

There are many places that have jumped on the local food bandwagon; Fuel Bistro and Wine has the unique fortune of having a man behind the food that is a true pioneer in the concept. You won’t find artificial sweetener for the tea, you will pay extra for bread and fat, and you will find that Carosi and staff truly believe that “food and wine are a passion-driven business; it comes from your heart and your hands.”

 

Deda’s Bakery goes mobile

 photos by mary preiser potts

It’s not everyday that someone swoops in to fund your dreams. Utilizing a Kickstarter campaign, a passion for sweets and their personal warmth, Chris and Catherine Misener of Deda’s Bakery sold their baked goods at community events all over Vancouver last summer. They bake out of a shared commercial kitchen with primarily wholesale and custom orders. But, their short-term goal is to buy a mobile bakery and go direct.

It was difficult to reach enough people making modest donations to make the mobile bakery a reality. The Miseners prepared to re-launch the campaign with new ideas when something completely unexpected happened. Someone – the Miseners are not saying who or how – came forward and offered to fund the food cart.

“Kickstarter is such a cool concept,” Catherine said. “It’s a fantastic way for people to see what’s going on – or what might go on – in their community. And when you back a project, you’re contributing to making someone’s dreams come true, and that also strengthens the community.”

My first taste of Deda’s baked goods was at a picnic table outside of Torque Coffee during a Drink This! event. I love baked goods, especially when they’re sweet without tasting sugary. In the case of the porter cupcake I tasted the rich flavors of the beer as well as the subtle spices in the cake, and the frosting was more cream than sugar, just how I like it. The other items I tried followed suit. The hand pie was apple first, then cinnamon-sweetness. The crust was light and textural. Even the whoopie pies exhibited an uncharacteristic complexity of flavors.

The Miseners relocated to Vancouver from Ann Arbor, Mich., in 2009. They brought Deda’s Bakery with them, but they didn’t immediately open a storefront when they arrived. Instead they rented space in a commercial kitchen and rounded up as many wholesale accounts as they could manage, as well as taking custom orders.

In August they participated in the Vancouver Brewfest, where beer from Heathen Brewing and Mt. Tabor Brewing found its way into their baking in honor of the event. But the treats – brewballs and porter cupcakes among them – were such a hit that they may earn a permanent spot on Deda’s menu.

“I was surprised how much I enjoyed incorporating various microbrews into our treats. I didn’t expect the subtle flavors of malt, hops, coffee, caramel and such to come through so well,” Catherine said.

They both agree that one of the best things about having a bakery is getting to connect with people in their community. This is something they’ve missed about not having a storefront. But, the experience of serving people in many different locations instead of being rooted to one bakery in one neighborhood was appealing to them. There, the idea of the mobile bakery was born.

Soon, they’ll be cruising Vancouver with their bakery trailer, and adding a cafe menu to their sweet offerings. Twitter will guide customers to their current location. In five years? They hope to also open a storefront in downtown.

Cupcakes

Deda’s Bakery

Chris & Catherine Misener

Vancouver

www.dedasbakery.com

360-448-3492

Harvest aims to please, lands mostly on target

Harvest Dish

photo by todd gunderson

Harvest is a bustling restaurant with a big city feel set into the historic Camas Hotel. A delightful farm table was full during our entire visit, giving the dining room a vibrant and warm center and as the night progressed – we were there during the action-packed Camas Days – tables filled all around us and along the sidewalk out front. The small wait staff cheerfully patrolled the dining room – even pausing to sing a showstopping happy birthday – while Chef Tim McCusker popped out of the kitchen to check on guests and inquire about dishes.

We ordered five dishes, and two of them were unparalleled. The chicken and bacon stew, winner of a Camas chili cook-off, was superb. A smoky flavor permeated the whole dish, with just enough bite to warrant a cold Laurelwood Workhorse IPA. The white bean, chicken breast and cream combination gave the chili a pleasant color and meaty texture while the roasted jalapenos were balanced by the jack cheese and cilantro piled up on top.

While my companion was hogging the chili, I gobbled down a small plate of caramelized scallops, beautifully perched atop a baby spinach salad with roasted apples, blue cheese, spiced candied pecans, tossed in a warm bacon balsamic dressing. The scallops were perfectly seared off and the salty-sweet late summer salad complemented the shellfish and allowed the 4-ounce dish to leave a robust impression.

My companion ordered the special of the evening – a rack of ribs in a bacon balsamic sauce with a side of bacon-topped macaroni and cheese. The ribs were a bit chewy and dry, and came in an unappetizing “picnic basket” presentation – a metal tray lined with blue gingham paper. My second course came off the small plates menu. The New York steak spinach salad was a disappointment of ice cold tough flank steak, large slices of Roma tomato, and an unexpectedly spicy salad with blue cheese, peach dressing and pickled cucumbers. We also tried the apricot pork turnover, which was a large and beautiful but soaked-through stuffed pastry, with roasted pork loin, apricot jam, goat cheese atop a basil jicama citrus slaw. The slaw was lovely and refreshing.

Harvest is a fun, upscale-but-homey spot in historic downtown Camas, and it fits right in with the busy bistros and retail shops in the neighborhood. I can’t wait to try it out again.

Harvest

401 N.E. Fourth Ave., Camas

camasharvest.com

360-210-4037

Bone’s Burger

Bones Burger

photo by sheri byrd

Bone’s BBQ and Burger Bar in Battle Ground Village has become known and loved for speciality meat dishes, from traditional steaks and chops to their chicken Marsala, duck breast and gourmet macaroni and blue cheese.

“We’re honored that guests have thought of us as a special occasion restaurant,” owner Dennis Pavlina said. “We just want to go beyond that, so we’ve added a new bar menu, offering burgers most people can’t get anywhere else.”

The new bar menu features a host of specialty burgers including brisket, bison, elk, pulled pork, ahi tuna and kangaroo.

“The cranberry cream cheese burger has been especially popular,” Pavlina said.

My scrumptious signature Bone’s Burger came with a generous lean ground beef patty, caramelized onions, blue cheese, lettuce, tomato and bacon. The onions were just sweet enough to offset the mouth-watering tang of the blue cheese.

Bone’s fits right into the neighborhood life created by design in Battle Ground Village.

One of the original tenants, Bone’s has been serving clients who walk in from the Village, as well those driving in from around Clark County and Portland, since 2009.

“We just love the community feel of this location,” said Pavlina.

The menu assures diners that ingredients are local whenever possible, and Pavlina says he and the staff gather as many ingredients as they can from the Village’s own Saturday farmer’s market each week. From jalapenos to corn, mixed greens to berries, they try to find a use for whatever the local farmers are selling.

Bone’s BBQ and Burger Bar

1207 S.E. Rasmussen Blvd, Suite 130, Battle Ground

bonessteak.com

New digs complement traditional South Asian menu

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photos by mary preiser potts

Thai Orchid Vancouver recently moved to its new home at the corner of 11th and Columbia streets in downtown. Months of renovating resulted in a modern, thoughtfully-designed interior with reclaimed wood and handcrafted metal accents. Expect the same friendly service and warm atmosphere inspired by owner, Kat Saenguraiporn.

The traditional menu comes from her uncle’s Portland Thai Orchid restaurants. According to Kat, the recipes are authentic Thai dishes adapted and brought to the Northwest by her aunt and Thai Orchid executive chef, Prapapen Saenguraiporn. In addition, Kat offers rotating monthly specials, and she added a sushi bar in 2010.

Kat explained that in Thailand there are many Japanese restaurants, so Thai chefs learn to make sushi from Japanese sushi chefs. But, Thai sushi is a little different. For starters, there is less of a focus on rice, which she says can overwhelm the other flavors.

“In Japan sushi is plain, fish and rice. It’s all about the flavor of the fish. Thai sushi focuses on presentation. If it looks beautiful, that becomes part of the taste,” she said.

The sushi chef at Thai Orchid creates inviting sushi platters with colorful roe, sauces and vegetable garnishes, accompanying beautifully arranged rolls and sushi. I was treated to an artisan platter that included salmon and tuna sashimi, a crab roll topped with red, orange, black and green roe, and a Coconut Gaga roll, recommended by Kat. The Coconut Gaga roll is a fresh and creamy combination of cream cheese, avocado and mango with flaked coconut. I also sampled the sushi balls – think nigiri on a stick – featured on the new kids’ menu. Everything was superb, but I almost felt guilty for eating something so beautiful!

I also had the Pad Thai, which is served with sliced chicken breast to accommodate the American palate, as well as the more traditional shrimp and small pieces of fried tofu. Crushed peanuts and bean sprouts are served on the side, then mixed together creating a flavorful yet not-too-spicy entree. I thoroughly enjoyed its distinctly different flavors and textures. The sauce didn’t drown the noodles and the noodles didn’t dampen the sauce – proportion is everything.

For refreshment I sipped the Kiwi Kamikaze, also a house favorite. Fresh kiwi and lime juices mingled with vodka, cointreau and finely crushed ice. It was sweetly tart and delightfully smooth.

Low Bar Lounge

Low Bar Burger & Jo-Jo’s

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photos by mary preiser potts

Eye-catching, skilled, yet unpretentious illustrations appear on both the website and the menu at Low Bar in downtown Vancouver. It’s not surprising to discover that bar owner Claire Ghormley is also the artist. Creativity and a focus on conscious ingredients, she says, elevates Low Bar to “dive bar with classy comfort food.”

So here’s the lowdown on the Low Bar Burger. It wears the signature dish crown because almost everything on it is made from scratch. Beginning with a sweet potato brioche bun that soaks up the tangy juices from house-made pickles and pickled onions to the creamy garlic aioli that holds everything together. Melted local cheese (cheddar, gruyere, bleu or chevre) tops a natural beef patty made from whole chuck roast that is cubed, spiced and ground fresh daily in-house. At $6 a la carte for lunch and $8 paired with jo-jo’s for dinner, the cost-benefit of this burger is clear.

The side of jo-jo’s may play second fiddle, but they deserve their own mention. Whole potatoes are wedged, dredged and fried in a pressure fryer that is, apparently, a secret weapon in Low Bar’s kitchen. The result is a perfectly cooked potato wedge with crispy fried chicken satisfaction. You may even decide to skip the ketchup.

Low Bar Lounge

809 Washington St., Vancouver

www.lowbarlounge.com

Vietnamese food with a French flair

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photo by Todd Gunderson

Vietnam has become a foodie destination! My favorite part of Vietnamese cuisine is the French influence. The French occupied Vietnam from 1858 to 1954. They brought the baguette, crepes, paté and pastry. Being an owner of a French café myself, I adore all those things!

Tan Tan Deli and Café is a family run restaurant that has a diverse and interesting menu, covering all my French cravings and serving up the traditional Vietnamese fare.

I started with traditional salad rolls. They are wrapped in rice paper and filled with pork, shrimp, rice noodles and fresh herbs and vegetables; served with a rich peanut sauce for dipping.

Next up is the bahn mi. This is a sandwich served on a crusty-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside, baguette with many options of protein. I chose the moist, flavorful lemongrass chicken. The condiments for the bahn mi are homemade mayonnaise, paté, house pickled vegetables, cilantro and jalapeños. This fresh sandwich is an amazing deal at $3.50!

At my café and at the (Vancouver) farmers market we have served thousands of crepes this year. I consider myself a bit of a crepe expert. The Tan Tan crepe (ban xeo) is a whole different experience. The crepe is filled with pork, shrimp and bean sprouts. Served alongside it, are large leaves of lettuce, fresh herbs and pickled vegetables. Lisa, the lovely girl at the front of the house, informed us the proper method of eating. Tear off a piece of lettuce, fill with crepe and veggies and dip in the sweet sauce provided. Absolutely delicious!

The traditional rice vermicelli noodle salad is called bun. Bun is served with a choice of meat, seafood or tofu and nam chao dressing. There are many options for protein. At Tan Tan I love the house made sausage patty. You can take these patties to go from the deli as well.

For drinks, I enjoyed a Vietnamese coffee. It is strong, smoky and sweetened with condensed milk. They also have many smoothie options – the avocado is my favorite.

Tan Tan also has the national dish of Vietnam, phô. This meaty brothy noodle soup is perfect for these cold winter days.

Keri Gallagher is the owner of C’est La Vie, at 1015 Main St. in Vancouver. You can find C’est La Vie on Facebook or call 360-553-5836.

Tan Tan Deli and Café

316 S.E. 123rd Ave., Vancouver

360-892-3400

Such is life

Keri Gallagher

photo by anni becker

Vancouver native returns home to spark local food and wine scene

Keri Gallagher is something of a globe-trotting foodie. Hailing originally from Vancouver where she worked at Italian spot Little Italy’s Trattoria for six years, she set off in 2001 for Hawaii. She then went traveling in New Zealand, where she had her “wine epiphany,” and returned to the Northwest to attend wine school at Walla Walla Institute of Viticulture and Enology.

But as it turns out, she joked, “I like to drink it, not make it.” So back to the Southern Hemisphere for a sommelier course at the New Zealand School of Food and Wine in Christchurch, where she earned her diploma in wine and spirits. Taking a job as a sommelier in a five-star resort in the Maldives, she lived off the coast of India for a year, then returned to New Zealand to teach the wine course she had taken.

After a 2011 earthquake in which she lost everything, and a short time living and teaching on her boss’s farm in the Christchurch countryside, she moved back to Vancouver. Quickly, she established a creperie stand at the Vancouver Farmers Market, and this fall it evolved into a bricks-and-mortar shop in the back of Angst gallery and adjacent to the very popular Niche wine bar on Main Street in downtown Vancouver.

“I came back last year, reevaluated, and wanted to stay here and start something,” said Gallagher.

At C’est la Vie, Gallagher offers savory and sweet crepes, homemade soup, salad greens with preserved lemon vinaigrette, croque monsieur, and sweets such as macaroon cookies, flourless chocolate cake and almond cake, madeleine cookies as well as seasonal tartes. Daily specials feature seasonal fare, and locally sourced foods are used where possible, including Longview’s Beautiful Pig and items from the Vancouver Food Co-op, as well as Provvista, a Northwest specialty foods importer. Breakfast and lunch are served five days a week and prepared in Niche’s kitchen.

Enchanted Tea from Tea Bar Downtown that previously occupied the space is available in addition to French press coffee and cafe au lait from using the speciaI Niche blend from Compass Coffee Roasting in Vancouver.

Gallagher, who also teaches wine classes at Niche, has a vision of creating a small culinary center, which would include a wine shop and café, and a wine school.

“I saw the growth and potential in Vancouver, how downtown has blossomed – it’s fantastic,” she said. “Ten years of being a gypsy has come to an end.”


C’est la Vie

1015 Main Street, Vancouver

360-553-5836

Try it our way

Drink handcrafted coffee in style at Torque

photo by annie becker

Inside Torque Coffee

In the newest chapter of downtown Vancouver’s continued revitalization, a local entrepreneur has turned a former tile factory at the city’s southern edge into a popular coffee house and gathering place. Torque Coffee Roasters embraces the rough, industrial quality of the space, which was an auto shop for years, and creates a welcoming, urban space unlike any other coffee shop in Vancouver.

Owner Ryan Palmer has a long history in the coffee business, with 14 years of experience with companies large and small, all over the country. Most recently, he owned and ran Meriwether’s Cafe, inside Vancouver’s Firstenburg Community Center. With Torque, he’s taken it another step. The lofty space is open and very hip, with plenty of reused tables and chairs or a coffee bar to sit at, and an urban patio decorated with one of the ubiquitous Vancouver murals. The coffee house, he emphasizes, is bike-friendly and dog-friendly – you can bring both inside.

The shop currently serves Coava Coffee at the bar, though he plans to begin roasting his own beans in the near future with the large roaster sitting in the corner. He also serves and will soon be certified to bottle cold-brew coffee. “We try to make our own syrups, chocolate, chai, all of it, in-house,” he says. “We also make our own tea and have a filtering system we developed ourselves. You get a fully-brewed cup of tea, not a little bag or some floaty stuff in your cup.”

Coffee is the focus at Torque – you won’t get a meal here. But incredible baked goods come from Portland’s Bake Shop, run by James Beard Award-winning cookbook author Kim Boyce. And he supports local food vendors by inviting them to set up outside, aiming “to have food carts or trucks here most days of the week.”

“We’re quality-focused above anything else,” says Palmer. Between himself and his six employees, “We’ve got about 45 years of experience behind our bar. A lot of us are former competitors in the U.S. Barista Competition – we have a different level of expertise than most people are used to.” That said, he also insists that you won’t get attitude from behind the bar. “We take the newer, fancier places that have popped up with a ‘No, we won’t DO that’ attitude, and we turn it around. Try it our way first. And if you don’t like it? We’ll do it your way.”

The Mighty Bowl

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After nearly a year of planning, The Mighty Bowl food truck embarked on its maiden voyage through Downtown Vancouver in early June. Kevin DeGraw, Sherilee Valenta and Steve Valenta founded The Mighty Bowl with the goal to provide the quick, easy meal a food cart can offer, while still serving healthy food with quality ingredients. The lemon curry sauce on the eponymous signature dish, engineered by Sherilee Valenta, was the beginning of the first recipe and as such the resulting bowl was lovingly dubbed, The Mighty Bowl.

The food cart bowl concept is not new, however The Mighty Bowl’s blend of flavors is. The tangy lemon curry sauce sits in the brown rice and black bean base. On top, sour cream, shredded cheddar, olives and cilantro, blend with the zesty sauce and substantial base to create a well-balanced meal with a light, fresh taste. The sauce is free of gluten, egg, dairy, soy and nuts; combined with the other components, the dish leaves a pleasant and unique aftertaste.

The Mighty Bowl utilizes the power of social media to inform customers of their stops each week.

Find them at:

www.themightybowl.com

360-602-BOWL

 

Comfort food with heart

Pioneer-inspired Mill Creek Pub raises the bar in Battle Ground

When you walk into Mill Creek Pub, you're entering an environment inspired by the area's historical past. And, you can be certain that the 10-foot water wheel between the bar and the dining room has a story to tell.

“Someone suggested I pick up the book, Battle Ground …In and Around, which is a pictorial drama of northwest pioneer life,” explained pub owner Russell Brent. “I was inspired by the many mills and covered bridges that were in the area.”

Mill Creek Pub opened its doors in November 2011. The atmosphere feels inviting to adults and families with children. Brent's inspiration for the restaurant comes alive in the rustic décor, water wheel and covered bridge entrance that utilize reclaimed wood from around Clark County.

“I searched by bike for old barns in Clark County, acquired lumber from a Camas paper mill that's over 100 years old and salvaged 35-foot beams from a barn in Ridgefield,” Brent said.

Mill Creek Pub's menu is simple, but features plenty of surprises.

The bar offers several pleasing twists on signature cocktails such as a Maple Maker's Manhattan and a Lavender Cosmopolitan made with house-made simple syrup. For those interested in beer, a carefully curated selection includes some of the finest local microbrews on tap as well as bottled Rogue and Samuel Smith beers. There are also treasures like the limited batch Deschutes Abyss Russian Imperial Stout (say that 10 times fast) and the Widmer Bourbon 2010 Resurrection, aged one year in bourbon casks.

For starters, the Chilled Shrimp and Avocado Martini is a refreshing mix of shrimp and avocado in pico de gallo, served with crunchy house made tortilla chips.

The Lamb Shank entree is tender with light gravy on a bed of seasoned mashed potatoes and a side of buttery green beans. And, the Pub Burger is over-the-top with house made onion rings and peppered bacon inside the bun. It's paired with light and crunchy french fries.

For dessert, the Crème Brulee is sweet and tart, and finished before you realize what you've done. The Pecan Praline Brownie is decadent and the Berry Cobbler is a divine mixture of hot cobbler and cold vanilla ice cream, reminiscent of simpler times.

Brent said of the menu, “I chose food reflective of pioneer life – comfort food with heart, I like to say.”

It was also important that the food be locally sourced as much as possible. According to Brent, this has become much easier in the last three-to-four years as small farmers coordinate their efforts to supply local restaurants.

Buy Local Gift Guide: Pick it up on stands today!

Here are a couple of suggestions for buying local this holiday season, from our gift guide in the new North Bank Magazine, out on stands today!

Suburban Contessa
www.suburbancontessa.com, various shops | Facebook

Vancouver-based Suburban Contessa offers three flavors of caramel corn that are available through its website and at stores throughout the region. In addition to the purveyor’s Traditional Caramel Corn, Sweet with Heat is Traditional with added pepper, and Sweet and Salty is Traditional with Hawaiian sea salt, just rolled out in September. The popped corn is available in 6 oz. bags for $5.25, and a variety gift pack featuring a bag of each for $14.95.

 

Solstice Wood Fire Café
415 W. Steuben St., Bingen
www.solsticewoodfirecafe.com
509-493-4006 | Facebook

A trip to this restaurant is a gift to the whole family. A laid-back atmosphere and kids’ area will make anyone who walks in the door feel comfortable. And the pizza (local, seasonal ingredients plus brilliant pairings) will make you feel like you’ve died and gone to a four-star restaurant in a big ol’ city. As for gifts, I recommend a gift certificate of any size, a T-shirt featuring Solstice’s gorgeous logo, or a quart of the famous Moroccan Beef Stew. Bonus! Among the 50 best pies in the country, according to Food Network Magazine: Solstice’s Country Girl Cherry pizza.

 

Navidi’s Oils and Vinegars
322 N.E. Cedar St., Camas
www.navidioils.com
360-210-5921 | Facebook

Give salt of the earth for a gift this year. Navidi’s Oils and Vinegars has an impressive selection of just what their name says, but don’t miss the gourmet sea salts, almost two dozen of which are available, including White Truffle, Alaea Red, Cyprus Flake and Northwest Alderwood Smoked. Sea salt is a great alternative to table salt and a fun addition to the holiday feast.

 

 

 

 

 

Doorway to delicious: Bleu Door Bakery offers pastries, breakfast and lunch fare

 
story by jessica swanson | photo by nicholas shannon kulmac
 

Bleu Door Bakery
2413 Main St., Vancouver
www.bleudoorbakery.com

360-693-2538 | Facebook

Don’t tell me change is good. I have to taste it for myself.

When Main Street favorite, Je T’aime Bakery, owned by local restaurateur Claire Ghormley, made way for Bleu Door Bakery, my first response was “No! (Followed by dramatic gasp.) But it was time for Ghormley to move on and for Bonnie Gougér to expand her homegrown bakeshop, known for Brownies from Heaven.

On a trip to the bakery soon after it opened in October, I was delighted to see a packed case of French and American-inspired pastries, sandwiches, cookies and a rack full of classic rustic breads. The daily specials, including soup and quiche were listed on a lovely chalkboard.

The coffee selection – much expanded from its predecessor’s – now competes with (nay, trumps) the Starbucks located across the street. A full espresso menu at Bleu Door is available from Café Femenino, a fair trade line of coffees that help women worldwide. The attentive barista asked me if I wanted my cappuccino dry or wet. Dry, of course, but the attention to detail made me smile. In fact, the customer service was quite impeccable. (I can’t help but compare to a similar new business in the area, where I seem to have to repeat every aspect of my order at least once before it is made. “Did you say large? Did you say room for cream? Did you say you wanted that heated? Etc.)

I ordered a huge butter croissant (they only seemed to come in “huge”), a pear Danish (which is really more of a deep pastry dish holding a delectable stash of melty pear compote and light, sweet cheese), a blue cheese and mushroom frittata croissant sandwich, and a coffee chocolate chip scone. I topped it off with a rustic rosemary potato bread.

I brought all of these offerings back to the office to be photographed and to share with my coworkers. But by lunchtime I had eaten the scone and the frittata and had dug all of the pear and cheese out of the Danish in the name of “reviewing” the items.

Well, here’s the review: Yum! Thank you, Bleu Door! The photographer was pleased with his butter croissant, and the potato loaf is going home to family for further “review.”

(Update: Potato loaf was well-received! However, I went back a couple of days later to try a different version of the pear Danish. As I was purchasing it, I was told it was “the biggest pear Danish in the world” and they would be smaller in the future. Also, the traditional French pastry crust was dark and dense/chewy, rather than light and fluffy. So…maybe the kinks are still being worked out. Still, this won’t stop me from going back for the lunchtime Hungarian mushroom soup….)

 

 

 

Urban entrepreneurship

New market creates connections between backyard growers and buyers

story + photos by mary preiser potts

Urban Growers Market
Second Fridays (next one Friday June 10!
2315 Main St., Vancouver
(One World Merchants parking lot)

www.urbangrowersmarket.com

Embarking on its first year, the Urban Growers Market is an evolution of Craft in the Village, started in 2009 by Chris Stevens of NW Shirts and Liz Halili of One World Merchants. The new market brings together a mix of backyard growers, small farmers and food artisans, as well as artists and crafters. It features a co-op table run by Urban Abundance, a barter table where backyard farmers can swap produce, and a table where fresh eggs and plant starts are offered by Posey Patch.

You may even see a table of budding child gardeners trade and sell their own fresh produce.

A swift outpouring of support got the market off the ground. In just a few days, a Kickstarter campaign raised money for permits and fees. Sponsorships from local businesses followed. Other fundraisers included the Vancouver Vixen (skateboard) Benefit Race sponsored by NW Shirts, as well as a silent auction and concert at the Brickhouse organized by Anni Becker.

“The Urban Growers Market has been fully funded by the community, 100 percent,” Halili said.

The local food movement in Vancouver is already strong. As the UGM founders see it, the more options there are for buying local, the better, especially as people become increasingly concerned about their food sources. This is evidenced by the proliferation of community-supported agriculture farms and farmers markets in recent years.

“All of the neighborhoods around here are very interested in buying local. It’s just giving them another option for a local, community, family event,” said Sunrise O’Mahoney, a co-founder of the Urban Growers Market, alongside Halili and Stevens.

Bigger than the sum of its parts, the market aims to serve as a community gathering place. In a city with low walkability in many areas, the founders hope to provide people with a reason to get outside, walk around and get to know their neighbors.

“This is just something that oil has done away with. People don’t know their neighbors…. I would just like for people to see how closely tied we are,” Stevens said.

A backyard grower and mother of three, Erica Barnes-Davis sells produce via the Urban Abundance co-op table. She thought participating in the market would be a good way to educate her children about where their food comes from.

“It’s so hard for kids to know about seasons for foods,” she said, “since we can get anything anytime from some part of the world.”

Friday Fiver: Applewood!

Erika Albright won $5 to spend at Applewood Restaurant and Bar in last week's Friday Fiver giveaway!

Applewood is located at 2005 S.E 192nd Avenue in between Vancouver and Camas. The amazing "Chef Peter" and the story of his globetrotting inspiration will be featured in the next North Bank Magazine coming out in May! Applewood is a full restaurant, bar and well-loved catering service focused on Northwest flavors. Find Applewood on Facebook.

J.

Friday Fiver: Farrar’s!

Washougal resident Stephanie Hatton won $5 to spend at Farrar's Bistro in last week's Facebook Friday Fiver!

Farrar's is located at 12514 NW 36th Ave. in Felida. The bistro serves lunch and dinner during the week and breakfast and dinner on weekends, as well as coffee drinks. Specialities include pulled pork and other smoked meats and AWESOME mac and cheese. Pictured above: Banana bread pudding. Delish. 🙂

J.

Friday Fiver winner heads to DuckTales Kitchen

Amy Carpenter won a whopping $20 to spend at DuckTales Kitchen in Vancouver during last week’s Friday Fiver!

This Friday Fiver was sponsored by the Vancouver Business Journal’s Business Growth Awards, the annual recognition ceremony for innovative and fast growing businesses in Southwest Washington. This year, the awards presentation and finalist showcase will be held at the Heathman Lodge on April 21. Enter your business now!

VBJ gives winner $5 to spend at Savona

Michelle Cross Kropf was the winner of a $5 gift card to Savona Coffee House in last week’s Friday Fiver, sponsored by the Vancouver Business Journal. Michelle was chosen at random in a very high-tech process that involved actual crumpled pieces of paper.

The Vancouver Business Journal is a weekly business Journal serving Clark County and Southwest Washington. The company also publishes your very own North Bank Magazine, Women in Business, Top Projects, Health Resouce Guide and Book of Lists. The VBJ can be reached at 360-695-2442 or at 1251 Officers Row in Vancouver.

Know of a business that would like to bring in new customers by offering a $5 in our Friday Fiver? Write on our wall….

J.