Spaetzle: The Yeti of Seattle Noodles?

Thin Wheat Line is a weekly exploration of all things noodle-y in Seattle.

What: Kaesespaetzle with cheese

Source: Feierabend, 422 Yale Ave. N., 340-2528

Price: $7

Spaetzle are nubbly egg noodles that southern Germans, and the people who are descended from them, make by pressing or grating dough into boiling water. My mother makes beef stew with dense, thumb-sized spaetzle she calls "rivels" -- one of the few remnants of German Mennonite cuisine that survived the acculturation wash of the 1950s. Little besides rivels and pfeffernusse made it through to her generation. We had to hit up the Amish for cheese, sausage, and pickled eggs.

I've been looking for good spaetzle in Seattle for a couple months now but still haven't found them. The People's Pub in Ballard serves a great sausage plate, but the spaetzle I ordered with it were stringy and mushy. When I reviewed the food at Feierabend, Chris Navarra's pub in South Lake Union, I loved them -- thought they were springy and distinct. However, two years later, the spaetzle had shrunk to the size of doll fingernails and gone all soft. They were mixed with grated onions and cheese, but not seasoned, so they had all the presence of instant oatmeal. I'd been talking up spaetzle to my dining partner, but she ended up picking distractedly at the bowl between bites of the bratwurst and sauerkraut we ordered on the side.

Seems my last hope for great spaetzle may be Szmania's in Magnolia. Else I'll have to pull out my notes from the bistro where I learned to make them and press my potato ricer into service. Come to think of it, my nephew would probably love spaetzle. He'd never have to know the receipe came from a guy named Caputo, not Great-Grandma Kauffman.
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