NEW YORK, Jan 29 (Reuters) - When food writer Jess Thompson
moved to Seattle, Washington, she expected to find the
adventuresome cooking for which the city is famous. But she
admits to being pleasantly surprised by the rich diversity of
the rest of the state.
The 150 recipes in her book "Dishing Up Washington" attempt
to capture the authentic regional flavors of the entire state,
from Seattle to Spokane, Yakima to Walla Walla.
"It is a total food heaven," said Thompson, cookbook author,
recipe developer and food blogger. "I knew it would be delicious
but I'm not sure I knew how much would be available here and how
constantly I would be bombarded with really great food."
Thompson spoke to Reuters about discovering the distinctive
foods of Washington and the state's climate and locavore
Q: Is this your first cookbook?
A: "This is my fourth cookbook; three in my name, one that I
Q: Did you write the recipes for this book?
A: "The book is a little bit unique because it is about 60
percent recipes that I've written inspired by the state's
ingredients and about 40 percent recipes by chefs, farmers and
artisans from all over the state."
Q: What was your purpose with this book?
A: "I wanted to show not just best restaurants but
ingredients that drive those restaurants -- what it's like to
run a potato farm and the simple potato soup the farmer's mother
makes, which is super warming, super delicious but not
high-falutin chef-y approach that I think many Seattle chefs
might have taken ... I wanted to show the guy who grows saffron
on the Olympic peninsula, and the tomato grower in northeastern
Washington. She doesn't have a restaurant but she's important to
the state because she grows these really fantastic tomatoes."
Q: How would you characterize the cuisine of Washington
A: "It's adventuresome coastal cooking that depends heavily
on local ingredients."
Q: Which ingredients are typical of the state?
A: "Stone fruits like peaches and cherries are huge here;
tree fruits like apples and pears; fish and shellfish, mainly
crab, oysters, mussels, and salmon. Then there's really great
dairy and cheese, mostly from the northwestern part of the
state. The state is also well known for larger crops like
grapes, wheat and beef."
Q: How does Seattle's famously rainy climate affect the
A: "The state is sort of divided by the Cascade Mountains
into two distinct climates: the wet half towards the west and
the drier half towards the east ... (But) there's a giant
misconception about the rain here. Boston gets more rain than
Seattle, but Seattle gets it almost every day of the week in
winter. From a food perspective this is a very good climate for
growing. Drought is not really an issue here. On the eastern
side drought is an issue but many areas there get more than 300
days of sunshine in a year, so the growing season is very long
and the conditions are great."
Q: What accounts for the strong locavore tradition?
A: "Because it's available. Farmers' markets near me are
open the year round. In February maybe I can't buy cherries but
I can buy great kale, radicchio and hazelnuts. I think it's such
a vibrant community because the weather allows us to get food
year round. The food world doesn't shut down from November to
Q: Who is your book aimed at?
A: "I wanted to make it approachable for people cooking
anywhere. The chef recipes are a little more complicated and
difficult. The recipes that I've written are much simpler ...
This book also an edible tour guide to the state. People tell me
they're using it as a travel guide, keeping it in their car as a
way of deciding what restaurants to go to in Seattle and the
Northwest Crab Chowder
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
4 stalks celery, cut into quarter-inch slices
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 7 medium), cut into
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 (15-ounce) can fish broth
1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice
1.5 pounds Dungeness crabmeat, chopped
1. Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add
the onions, celery, and thyme. Salt and pepper to taste, and
cook, stirring, until the vegetables start to soften, about
5 minutes. Add the potatoes, milk, cream, fish broth and clam
juice. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook until the potatoes
are soft, about 10 minutes.
2. Transfer about 2 cups of the vegetables to a food
processor or a blender, blend until smooth, and return to the
pot. Stir in the crabmeat, cook for 5 minutes longer, and salt
and pepper to taste. Serve piping hot.
(Editing by Patricia Reaney and Doina Chiacu)