Meet the Producers

MY FRENCH IS ABOUT as good as my sign language, which means that in either, I'm limited to telling you to bugger off—and, well, I can hold my own navigating a menu in the first, although now that you mention it, it does sounds like way more fun to navigate a menu in the second. At any rate, whenever I see "haricots vert" on a menu, I get a little twitchy. Don't they just mean green bean? And if so, why not say so? The thing is, "they" don't just mean "green bean." As Gretchen Hoyt from Alm Hill Gardens in Whatcom Country told me, haricots vert are related to green beans, sure, but they're actually specially bred "baby" beans that are meant to stay slim and sleek (so French) instead of growing round and fat. In fact, Hoyt told me, if you let them get as big as regular green beans, they'll be tough and flavorless. Plucked at their most tender and slender, on the other hand, haricots vert have a nutty, sweet flavor. You can get haricots vert directly from Alm Hill Gardens, just one of 130 farms from all over the state currently represented at your neighborhood farmers market. Like the majority of our farmers market producers, Alm Hill Gardens is mostly family run; if you don't catch Hoyt at the U District on Saturdays, you'll get her husband, son, daughter, or daughter-in-law at one of the other seven markets (Columbia City, Kirkland, Bellevue, Lake City, Ballard, West Seattle, Broadway) they service. As I spoke to Hoyt on the phone from her farm near Bellingham, she excused herself to speak slow, careful Spanish to her crew before loading me up on everything I ever wanted to know about baby vegetables, a new crop of asparagus recently developed in New Jersey, and the ins and outs of diversifying your crops. Aside from the obvious pleasures of supporting area farmers (luscious Rainier strawberries, pleasing fava beans, Bing cherries), the best thing about having direct access to these folks is that they're literally in love with what they do. They'll share recipes, they'll share backyard vegetable gardening tips, they'll share just about everything they know. On the Web, visit www.seattlefarmersmarkets.org to find the day and location of the market nearest you, and watch Seattle Weekly's food pages for our Market Fresh boxes, directing you new crops and unique Northwest products. NOW, TO THE MAIL BAG: I'm still fielding suggestions for jogging G.'s memory. Remember her? She couldn't recall the name of a Vietnamese restaurant a friend had recommended. C. says, "There are two Vietnamese restaurants on the south side of Jackson past 12th that G. may be looking for. One is Huong Binh [which] mostly caters to Vietnamese clientele. The other is Lemongrass, which is relatively new with nicer decor but the food is not as good." Another C. thinks G. needs to get to Tamarind Tree, and L., whose parents run 88 Restaurant (my favorite Vietnamese joint), says, "it just happens to be a coincidence that my dad owns a Vietnamese deli on Jackson, also." Maybe that's it—judging by their White Center outpost, the Nguyens do serve fantastic food—but I'm fairly certain that the tip that slipped G.'s mind involved a new restaurant. I also had a query, all in capital letters, from E. who wants to know IF I KNOW ANYTING ABOUT A CHEF NAMED ANDREI FRIZZI OPENING A NEW ITALIAN RESTAURANT? Sorry, E., I DON'T. DO ANY OF YOU? The last involves the Beach House Italian Cafe. As I reported a few months ago, Michael Vujovich is indeed planning to open another restaurant in West Seattle (we all miss the risotto he served on Alki), and J., for one, is getting anxious. Hang in there. His wife tells me that Michael is in Montenegro, where he just opened a restaurant on the shores of the Adriatic Sea. Hey, don't look at me. I'm just the messenger. lcassidy@seattleweekly.com

 
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