Wednesday, February 1, 2012

News for foodies

Belle Epicurean launches Provisions

They didn't quite get the doors open in time for the holiday rush, but Madison Park's newest (and, by self description, "Seattle's premier") patisserie did manage to inaugurate its specialty food and fine wine shop, Provisions, just in time for the New Year.  Occupying the eastern half of what was once the Island Video location (3109 E. Madison St.), Provisions is both a wine bar and purveyor of "high quality food stuffs" such as special cheeses, olive oil varieties, doughs, condiments, and frozen bakery items.

According to chef/proprietor Carolyn Ferguson, the concept is for Provisions to be a sort of well-stocked pantry and wine cellar for those who enjoy the kind of food available from Belle Epicurean.  That means that the products on sale are principally those which are used as ingredients by the patisserie.

Ferguson, who is nicely profiled in this month's Madison Park Times, asked us to be sure to report that Provisions will be hosting weekly wine tastings each Thursday in February (5-8 pm), with her husband, co-owner/oenologist Howard Ferguson, acting as sommelier. French regional wines will be featured and will be paired with cheeses and pantry items.

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Cafe Parco recalibrates lunch, asks for menu input

It seems that a lot of Madison Parkers, who might otherwise be lunching in local cafes, leave town for the winter.  So Cafe Parco, which since its opening had been serving both lunch and dinner each weekday, has decided to limit its lunch schedule for the time being. According to a recent email from the restaurant's general manager, Nic Norton, "until the weather warms up" those interested in lunching at Cafe Parco will have to call and make reservations no later than the day before.  If a minimum of six people have asked to dine (not necessarily as a single group), lunch is on for that day and an announcement will be placed on Cafe Parco's website (at which point it's come one, come all).

Chef/owner Celinda Norton, meanwhile, is asking for advice from patrons on the kind of cuisine they prefer.  On the restaurant's blog, Norton notes that some diners are asking for lighter fare, though "ordering patterns tell a different story" given that richer food seems to outsell simple, healthier food.  "Even with a mix of simpler dishes in the menu the servers still have people ordering the richest offerings available and then complaining the food is inedibly rich.  Yes, they chose to order the most decadent item on the menu," she reports.

Norton sums up her dilema this way: "I need to offer what my guests are willing to visit regularly and purchase.  I need to prevent Annihilation via Yelp.  I need to get excellent reviews from Seattle's press."  She says she's open to input and you can provide it by emailing her: chef at Cafe Parco.

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Jason Wilson of Crush connects with Google 

The Puget Sound Business Journal's latest issue includes a front-page story on Crush chef/owner Jason Wilson's unlikely role as the designer of cuisine for the employee restaurants at Google's Kirkland and Bothell campuses, which reportedly feed 1,100 people each day.

It seems that Wilson is a friend of Google's Kirkland campus general manager, who believed that Wilson's "cooking style and priorities--supporting locally grown produce and naturally raised meat--would be a good fit for the company known for employee amenities and free food."

Among the menu items created by Wilson: orange-flavored Skagit River Farms beef stir fry, and Lamb Tagine with tomato, eggplant, peppers and olives.  Of his positive experience working with Google, Wilson is quoted as saying "it's not like working for a monolith."

[Cafe Parco is located at 1807 42nd Avenue E,, and Crush is located in Madison Valley at 2319 E. Madison St. Photo of Chef Wilson from the Crush website.]

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