Tinello lunch.jpg

A tinello, in Italian, is a larder, a pantry. A closet for food. It's a word like any other kitchen term, like padella (saucepan) or coltello (knife). But in Noo Yawk there's an actual restaurant called Tinello, whose owners have a warped view of their own importance.

When a dude named Rudy LaValle opened a spot in Pioneer Square last year and called it Tinello, the Noo Yawk guys freaked out and had their lawyers send LaValle a "cease & desist" letter claiming they owned the Tinello name. And like a total doofus, LaValle caved in.

Now, my original impression of the Pioneer Square Tinello was less than four-star. It lacked focus, its food was uninteresting, its wine list dull. But LaValle launched a quick Kickstarter campaign to "finish" the place and relaunch with a new name,


Radici are not radishes but roots. Rah-DEE-chee. Went back there for lunch the other day, before they changed the sign, and it was yummy, Especially the caprese plate. A fine addition to Seattle's Sandwich District.

Babcock Ridge & Two-Gun vineyard.JPG

Last year at about this time we reported on the newest AVA in Washington State, Ancient Lakes. Much was due to the imagination and perseverance of Dr. Vince Bryan, the neurologist-turned-grape grower who personally excavated The Gorge amphitheater as well as planting the vineyards for Cave B. But he didn't do it alone. Butch and Jerry Millbrandt, brothers and enlightened farmers, did much of the heavy lifting: 2,300 acres at a dozen sites in the desert sands of eastern Washington. That's their Babcock Vineyard in the photo above.

Now the Millbrandts have decided to make the move from growers to wine makers. The Capital Press reports that they're investing $6 million in a crushing facility to be built at the new Port of Quincy. Their label will be called Ancient Lakes Winery. You might think Washington is all wined out, that Walla Walla and Woodinville are saturated with "wineries" that are basically glorified gift shops with a limited inventory. You'd be wrong.

Bill the  Butcher hog butcher.jpg

You will note, please, that Chris Marquez is covered in tattoos and piercings, yet wears a tie when he's in public. He's a butcher by trade and training, and works for Bill the Butcher, a chain of six shops in the Seattle area. Last night, in Wallingford, he made short work of a 200-lb. hog from Tails & Trotters, a farm outside Portland, Ore.

With saw, scimitar and boning knife, Marquez first removes the head, then the jowls (guanciale, highly prized by Italian chefs), the coppa, or neck collar, then the trotters, then the hocks. Shoulder, rack, loin. (The butt isn't the pig's butt but its shoulder, in butcher-speak.) Ending with the hams, at the back end of the animal, skin on, skin off, smoked, boneless.

If you're content buying your Easter ham at Safeway or Freddie's, if it doesn't matter to you where they get their meat or how the frozen carcasses were rammed through a bandsaw, then you'll be put off by the prices at a custom butcher shop. But if you care about what you put on your plate and into your mouth, well, that's a whole different story. The difference per serving is probably less than the cost of a beer.

At the Northwest Foodservice Show this week, Seattle-based Corfini Gourmet and Portland-based Nicky USA were also touting the virtues of meat without chemicals. This just might be the moment for a heightened awareness that chickens, goats, lambs, pigs and beef can be raised humanely.

As for Bill the Butcher, the fledgling company seems to have weathered its latest storms. Its ceo, J'Amy Owens, just announced plans to open 10 stores in Oregon.

Full moon? Eclipse?

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I don't know, the moon was there last ngiht.

Barrel-aged Negroni, Vesper.JPG

That's a barrel-aged Negroni on the left: Campari, sweet vermouth, gin. On the right, a barrel-aged Vesper: gin, vodka, dry vermouth. Is it worth premixing the drink and "aging" it in a small cask for a few weeks?

The folks at Black Bottle seem to think so. At Bar Cotto, too. Also Liberty and Tavern Law, and at Canon, too, if memory serves. Very trendy. Started by Jeffrey Morgenthaler, the bartender at Clyde Common in Portland, it seems.

Now, I like my Negroni as much as the next guy. More, actually. And you'd think, maybe, that barrel-aging would give some additional complexity to the drink. But no. Campari is already a complex, herbal and aromatic bitter. Most vermouths are already plenty sweet and aromatic. Gin, of course, is the most aromatic spirit of all the standard distillates. So what do you gain? A greater marriage of the three disparate ingredients? No, sez I, just a flattening of the drink's liveliness, a rounding of the very edges that make the Negroni so interesting.

If anything, I'm looking for something to give the Negroni back some of its original, distinctive bitterness, which the pre-2000 Campari had. Since then, Campari Group has acquired or launched over 50 brands, including Aperol, Cinzano, Skyy Vodka, Wild Turkey, and Appleton Rum. Gruppo Campari is present in 190 countries around the globe, employes 4,000 people. If you start taking Campari off the shelf and pouring it into barrels, you're not doing the world's economy any favors.

On the other hand, what I really need to do, instead of whining, is buy some grapefruit or orange bitters. Customize my Negroni, I should, to my palate's content.

Oyster Wines 2014.jpg

Score one for Taylor Shellfish Farms and Jon Rowley: this is the 20th year for the Pacific Coast Oyster Wine competition, a genial promotion that draws close to 150 entries these days and ends up with ten wines designated as ideal "Oyster Wines" on menus around the country.

Score two for the 20 whites that made it through the prelims and were poured at the Seattle finals, held at Anthony's Homeport on Shillshole.

And score three for the judges (In Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle) who chew the chilled oysters and sip the chilled wines.

Bill Taylor wasn't happy with this year's kumamotos so he ordered up the shigokus, an oyster his company developed at its shellfish farm on Willapa Bay. the shigoku--"ultimate" in Japanese--grow in bags that rise and fall with the tide; the twice-daily tumbling chips the edges and forces the oyster to develop a scoop shape. Rowan Jacobsen, author of "A Geography of Oysters," had this to say about the shigokus: "A small, dense, cornucopia of an oyster. A light, clean taste of cucumber and salt, with a finish of water chestnut and Jerusalem artichoke."

In any event, the best of the wines finish crisp and clean and bright, and even the less than spectacular bottles are pretty damn good. Our all-star panel of judges dutifully listen to Rowley's recitation of Hemingway's Moveable Feast:

As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.
We power through four flights of wines and a couple dozen shigokus. Then we head downstairs for our reward: an ice-cold pale ale. Rowley promises to reveal the winning wines early next week.

Grappa for caffe coretto.JPGFeeling kinda blue? Long dark days got you down? Need a mid-morning pick-me-up? The Italians have a trick up their fashionable sleeves: they call it caffè corretto, literally "corrected coffee." It's a shot of espresso enlivened with a shot of grappa (distilled from pressed grapes in the photo at left, taken in Palermo, Sicily), making a more concentrated and bitter version of Irish coffee. The volatility of the grappa enhances the rich coffee aroma, which you savor for a few seconds before draining the cup in one gulp. Now it's the coffee's turn to tame the fiery brandy, turning its flame into a gentle glow.

Corretto chef Laura Licona.JPG

Travis Rosenthal, who owns two Latin-themed restaurants, Tango and Rumba, at the intersection of Pike & Boren, has now taken over an Italian spot named PaneVino and rechristened it Corretto. To run the kitchen he hired Laura Licona from La Spiga; to run the bar, Noah Momyer from Ba Bar, and for the all-important job of "director of coffee," barista Brandon Paul Weaver from Slate.

Corretto, 416 Broadway E., Seattle, 206-583-0456  Corretto on Urbanspoon


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