In the Running

Sometimes it's good to be judged by a jury of your peers; this would seem to be the case for the Washington Fryer Commission in Renton and Tony Hill, the spicemonger at World Merchants Spice, Herb & Tea House in Pike Place Market. The International Association of Culinary Professionals has named the chicken fanatics in Renton (and their "Chicken Simple" campaign) among the three finalists for their 2005 Award of Excellence in the consumer education and communication material category, and Hill's Contemporary Encyclopedia of Herbs and Spices: Seasonings for the Global Kitchen is a finalist in food reference/technical category of IACP's Cookbook Awards. To find out what makes the WFC's chicken campaign so special, visit www.cluckcluck.org/cookbook.html; to find out how Tony Hill got IACP's attention, visit his Western Avenue shop and thumb through a copy of his popular spice encyclopedia. Flash: Fish! Seattle-area entrepreneurs Tina Montgomery and Jennifer Hanseler have been sending fish to strangers lately, yet they're not in the Mafia. In mid-February, their new business, Surfin' Seafood, nabbed its 100th customer. The concept: Instead of enduring the odor of fish markets or paying top dollar to dine out, you can order flash-frozen, vacuum-packed fish directly from the wholesaler—in this case, Bothell's Wheeler Seafood, owned by Montgomery's husband. At present, Surfin' Seafood offers variety packs in three sizes, available monthly. To get halibut, salmon, snapper, marlin, and crab meat delivered to your doorstep, you place your order by the monthly deadline. On their Web site (www.surfinseafood.com), Montgomery and Hanseler say their prices—$12 to $15.86 per pound, or $100 to $185 per month—"are in line with high quality grocery stores." This claim checks out; QFC and Whole Foods price halibut at $12.99 and $13.99 per pound, respectively, and they don't deliver. The women did their environmental homework, too; Wheeler only deals with sustainable fisheries, the Web site addresses mercury concerns, and the only salmon they ship is wild, not farmed. As for Montgomery and Hanseler's business prospects: They report a 99 percent repeat-purchase rate—only one customer has quit after a single order—and hope to amass 300 customers by autumn. Wine Wanna-bes Wanted If you've always wanted to tour the California wine country but were afraid to do it alone, Santa Barbara Country has a great deal for you. They've published a brochure (on wine-proof plastic-coated paper no less) which allows you to recapitulate the epic journey of Sideways' Miles and Jack through the motels, bars, and wineries of the county. You, too, can interfere with golf-playing locals at the Alisal Guest Ranch, Steal wine at Foxen Winery, drink the spit-bucket at Fess Parker's! Don't hesitate: go to www.santabarbaraca.com and click on "Get Sideways!" In the Pink There's always something new going on behind the Pink Door. This time the Post Alley hideaway in the Pike Place Market is catering to a common diner's fantasy: What is that cute waiter/waitress really like? Now, at the Door's Employee Wine Tastings Open to the Public the first Sunday of each month, you can sit down with him/her and find out—and all in the name of education, at that. Unlike the staff, you pay, of course: but only $15, which includes an order of tuna-caper bruschetta. Be sure to arrive by 2:45 for the one-hour event, knock at the door, and whisper "Jackie sent me." Food and/or beverage news? E-mail Hot Dish at food@seattleweekly.com.

 
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