Farm to Table
Sustainably sourced, reverently prepared, humbly presented
Snohomish chefs and farmers nourish body and earth
BY ELLEN HIATT
What’s just one thing you can do to help reverse climate change? Eat good food. Not just good-tasting food — but food that’s been grown in healthy soil.
One of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions is conventional agriculture, Snohomish farmer James Berntson says.
He farms Radicle Roots, a single acre of land in the Snohomish Valley. “It’s immensely important for the future of our planet to really pivot our agriculture toward these regenerative practices that are reversing climate change.”
The “desertification” of the globe’s life-giving land surface can be reversed by ranchers and farmers who integrate livestock, and use cover crops and low- or no-till practices that promise to sequester carbons, not create them. Berntson is one of a growing number of small acreage farmers encouraged by the knowledge that in one teaspoon of healthy soil there live more organisms than there are people on earth. In Snohomish County alone, there are 99 farms that are 10-acres or less to open in the five years between the 2012 and 2017 census.
Chefs and diners who commit to local foods create a market for these small farms. Start in Woodinville, where Northwest Farm to Table earned a national reputation for haute cuisine at The Herbfarm, which creates mind-blowing meals from its own on-site garden. The Barking Frog in Willows Lodge builds relationships with local farmers, food artisans, and foragers. Both the chef and the bartender source the farmer’s market before creating the menu at The Cottage at Bothell.
In Everett, Terracotta Red’s fresh sheet focuses on seasonal ingredients. The Flagship Bar + Bistro at Bluewater Organic Distilling on Everett’s waterfront sources from local farmers and affineurs. Their very mission includes cultivating community and setting an example of “true stewardship.” Nobody takes Farm to Table more seriously. In 2018, foodies celebrated the opening of Capers + Olives by seasonally-based veteran Chef Jimmy Liang, trained at The Herbfarm.
His “food prepared with love” is a rotating menu that includes handmade pastas.
Seasonal menus in Edmonds are easy to find at Caribbean/Latin-inspired Maize & Barley and Kelnero, whose small plates are all the rage in town.
In Snohomish, Della Terra, a name that means “from the earth,” provides Farm to Table catering and take-out that is “fresh, delicious, and sustainable.”
Read on for more. Explore three of our favorite restaurants — Roger’s Riverview Bistro, Heritage Restaurant | Bar, and Fire & The Feast — all committed to seasonal menus. Some tell the origin story of their ingredients, and celebrate the farms and foragers they work with. Their journey from soil to community binds us all over the communal dinner table in a spirit of celebration and hope.
ROGER’S RIVERVIEW BISTRO
Chef Roger Eydt spins from fire to prep table with barely a turn on the heel in his narrow galley kitchen, conducting that dance the entire evening, churning out plate after plate for a hungry crowd. Visible the moment you walk in the doors of Roger’s Riverview Bistro, the chef in his red coat turns out five-star meals from that diminutive space. On the appliance just outside this den of culinary creation is a picture of a Belgian Tervuren — Heidi the Truffle Dog.
Stacey Walcheff trained Heidi to hunt for truffles for her sideline business, Pup Procured. “It’s a snooty name for the snooty truffle,” she says, with a laugh. She harvests the black truffle in the Cascades from Skagit to Snohomish. Walcheff is committed to Leave No Trace, filling in each hole Heidi creates. The truffles become the fresh-shaved topping on Chef Eydt’s celebrated halibut dish. Order to-go and it will be the best meal you ever ate in a car, because it’s highly unlikely you’ll make it home before eating the entire thing, street-side.
Eydt’s Northwest fare includes duck, steaks, clams, and lamb. The vegetables star, though. Diners happily dip their spoons into the bottom of the bowl beneath tender clams to spoon up the sauce of puréed leeks. Caprese salads pop with juice and vibrant flavors of tomatoes from Flying Tomato Farm, a 10-acre operation between Snohomish and Monroe.
The tomatoes I get from this guy are better than anything you get from the stores, says Eydt, who personally connects with local farmers every week and holds an annual dinner party for all.
The local farmer’s fare is “just better quality,” he notes. Squash from Craven Farm. Lettuce from Radicle Roots. Eydt celebrates his farmers and local suppliers, including Bob’s Corn, Roots & Shoots, Bright Ide Acres, and Skip Rock Distillers, who provide the raspberry liqueur in the bar’s raspberry drop cocktail.
His sizable wait staff buzzes about with light banter in the relaxed atmosphere, serving coffee in French presses and delivering lap blankets to guests who might catch a chill on the deck overlooking the Snohomish River. The narrow restaurant, tucked tightly between an ice cream parlor and one of the city’s plentiful antique stores, will exceed your expectations and likely become your new favorite restaurant. ✦
Order to-go and it will be the best meal you ever ate in a car, because it’s highly unlikely you’ll make it home before eating the entire thing, street-side.
1011 1st St., Snohomish, WA 98290 | 360-563-2800
HERITAGE RESTAURANT | BAR
Gracious describes everything you need to know about Heritage Restaurant | Bar. It stems from the philosophy of chef/owner, Breanna Beike, who treats diners and staff like family, the food with reverence, and the community with care.
It’s a “really simple philosophy. I grew up with grandparents on an acre-plus garden. We canned and froze everything out of the garden. I live my life that way. It’s very, very easy to integrate that back to a kitchen. It’s how I grew up. It’s what’s in season. If we don’t grow it ourselves, who locally does?”
Open just three years, she partnered with winery owner and grape-growing pioneer Butch Milbrandt to showcase his two wine brands. Beike works with a collective of farmers, including Erik Goheen of Sound Vegetables, who shows up annually with a seed catalogue for Beike to choose from.
“It’s a commitment from me that I am buying that. It’s just a three-acre farm, but they grow year round,” she says. The meats at Heritage are sustainable and grass-fed. Shellfish only comes from Hama Hama on the Hood Canal and “is probably some of the best I have ever seen.”
Farmer Tom Quigley calls Beike to let her know what fresh-picked produce didn’t sell at the local market. “What you got, Tom? I’ll take it all,” she will tell him. Then, Beike asks her kitchen team what they want to “play with.” “Everybody here is part of the creative process. We hire people to work with us not for us. This is very much a family team setting.”
Show up for the Dungeness crab hush puppies, slightly sweetened golden orbs that surprisingly pop with flavor dipped in the lemon-dill crème fraîche. Choose it as an appetizer to share or a savory dessert. Whatever you do, don’t order the burgers and hand- cut fries that deserve their own five-star review. You’ll find it difficult on your return visit to order anything else and that would be a shame. The beet salad is divine, with earthy, spiced pistachios and roasted beets, grapefruit, and thinly shaved fennel for a little sweetness, feta and honey oregano vinaigrette for contrast. It’s all stacked in delightful layers. Every bite is refreshing.
In fact, everything about Heritage is refreshing. ✦
Everybody here is part of the creative process. We hire people to work with us not for us. This is very much a family team setting.
Photo Courtesy: Heritage Restaurant | Bar
14450 Redmond-Woodinville Rd. NE, Ste. 101B, Woodinville, WA 98072 | 425-419-4760
FIRE & THE FEAST
Shubert Ho, Edmonds restaurant empire magnate, is a Chinese heritage man who opened an Italian restaurant, mid-pandemic, on the day his late daughter was born, and in the location of the first restaurant (Epulo) that he worked as Executive Chef. The coincidences and ironies aren’t lost on Ho, who opened Fire & The Feast last November.
He first trained as a chef with Piatti, an Italian-inspired chain with a seasonally shifting menu. So an Italian restaurant as his latest venture was really just more full-circle serendipity. With Edmonds at the doorstep of the “ocean’s bounty, minutes from the closest vineyards and just hours from some of the best agricultural resources in the nation,” a seasonally inspired Italian restaurant wasn’t too far-fetched for Ho.
The menu is high-flying Italian fare, with hearty, handmade pastas and fresh, inventive uses of local and seasonal ingredients. In the “pandemic pivot” every business owner speaks of, there were more pizzas ordered than there were locally made burrata with fennel fronds.
As dine-in seating opened, more pastas and salads sold, including Fettuccini Nero, a handmade squid ink fettuccine with pan-roasted and fried squid — perfect for Edmonds folks who jig for squid off the pier. The squid make a jet-black earthy pasta as elegant as it is rustic. Chef Carlos Wright also makes specials like local whole trout roasted with thyme and Meyer lemon, served with tomato, caper ragu, kalamata olives, and cipollini onion. It’s a traditional Italian dish, but typically made with Branzino.
“We really want to keep the menu as seasonal and as local as possible, inspired by Italian techniques and flavors,” Chef Wright says.
Wright works with True Leaves for microgreens, grown right in Edmonds, and relies on Charlie’s produce for local vegetables. For protein, EC Wilson Meat comes through with Snake River Farms Wagyu steaks, free-range chickens, and wild, sustainable seafood.
In case you’re wondering, Wright also is not Italian. His Mexican heritage came to play in creating the restaurant’s Cosmic Crisp Panzerotti. The Italian hand pie was inspired by the empanada of his youth.
We can honor everyone’s heritage and still make amazing Italian food, Wright says. ✦
526 Main Street, Edmonds, WA 98020 | 425-967-3272