Adventures in Gift Giving

SMOKED SALMON: QUALITY AND QUANTITY FROM THE PEACE ARCH CITY

There really isn't room for 10 extra pounds of anything in most family freezers especially around the holidays. So when I called Bill Goff of BGNW (that's short for Bill Goff Northwest) up in Blaine to find out if he offered gift packages of his incredible smoked salmon and he told me that, yes, he did, but that he had a 10- pound shipping minimum, I might have thought to just thank him for making the best smoked fish around and leave it at that. Instead, I found myself giving him my family's address in Colorado, reading off the raised digits on my credit card, and shrugging off any and all notions of practicality.

I had discovered Goff's plainly parceled smoked salmon fillets at my neighborhood Thriftway in West Seattle about six months before that fateful phone call and had taken to the stuff like religion. It's not a stretch to say that I wasand remainfairly obsessed with it. Every week, I buy three or four quarter-pound packages and use the fish in salads and pasta dishes, and I eat plenty of it plain, too. It's delicious. The rich, earthy smoked flavor somehow manages to leave plenty of room for the subtle textures of the salmon, and all three varietiesapple smoked, "spicily," and plain smokedare perfectly adorned with lots of glorious cracked black peppercorns. It's truly wonderful. But 10 frozen pounds of it? All at the same time?

There are plenty of local and regional companies that offer smaller portions of gift-boxed smoked salmon, and I could've easily stopped by the Market and had one of those jokers toss me a big fat fish to prepare for travel. But of all the salmon I've triedand I've tried a lotGoff's is the best, and I wanted my family to have the best-tasting salmon, not the most prettily packaged or neatly labeled. At $10.40 per pound, including overnight shipping, it's actually a great deal; the gift cost me a little over a hundred bucks, and I knew the money was going to a small mom-and-pop-style operation and that the salmon was top-notch. Because Goff packages the fillets in quarter- to half-pound chunks, what I wound up giving was approximately 30 individually wrapped pieces. Goff told me that the smoky flavor actually intensifies when the fish is frozen and then thawed, so I didn't worry about the fish losing its intensity. I just worried that my sister-in-law would think I was crazy.

When the frozen gift arrived in land-locked Colorado a week before Christmas, however, my family was slightly stunnedbut also pretty damn excited. As it turned out, they would be hosting a party for New Year's Eve and were thrilled to have some delicious, preservative-free Northwest salmon to serve their guests as they all rang in the New Year.

Goff's excellent North Pacific salmon is also available in entire smoked sidesbut those are a whopping 24 pounds each. Probably not a great gift idea, unless, of course, your loved one's New Year's Eve party is going to be huge.

Call Bill Goff at 360-332-6544 to order some of his delicious salmon, and don't be surprised if he chitchats with you about his Doberman pinschers or the weather.

Laura Cassidy

SHOPPING WHILE PREGNANT

Since holiday shopping is already an exercise in how many people can stuff themselves into a store, doing it when you're eight-plus-months pregnant is just more of the sameyou feel crowded all the time, anyway. If I'd been smart, I would have stuck with catalog shopping, but we're called the Procrastination Family for a reason, so I was pathetically grateful to find a free table at the Bon coffee shop and get off my swollen feet. When the woman with a stroller asked to share my table, I had to say yes. But when she started a litany of delivery horror stories that made C-section by bread knife seem tame, I wanted to make my excuses. But I was pinned in, by her stroller and my ponderous bellyI couldn't get up, and she wouldn't shut up. To this day, I can't remember how I made my escape, but I know that one of the circles of hell is populated by women and their childbirth stories.

Sandra Kurtz

SOAP DISH

One holiday season, I worked at Bath and Body Works while I was home from school. I drew the short straw and had to work on Christmas Eve. There truly isn't a more depressing place to be on Christmas Eve than a shopping center. What saved the day for me were the last-minute shoppers: men of all typesin snazzy suits, in workout clothes, regular-Joe types in jeansdesperate and begging for any gift, any little thing that looked pretty and carefully put together. (If I'd been on commission, I could have made tons.) They would spend hundreds of dollars on huge gift baskets of little soaps and gels and sprayscrap that would end up shoved to the back of the bathroom cabinet by Jan. 15. I felt a little sorry for the recipients, all excited to open up a big gift only to find it was a basket of soap. But it was so much fun imagining what would happen to these poor knuckleheads when their beloved figured out that their "special" useless gift was purchased at 8 p.m. on Dec. 24. We had to kick guys out at 10 p.m. to close shop. I felt extra sorry for them. I suppose they hit the grocery store next. "Merry Christmas, honey: Here's some fruitcake."

Teresa Bruffey

food@seattleweekly.com

 
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