Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Kelly's French Bakery

In a former Brussels sprout packing shed about a half a mile from West Cliff Drive and Natural Bridges you will find the amazing Kelly's French Bakery.  There is a beautiful little courtyard that leads you into the bakery. Huge windows greet you inside allowing sunlight to stream in. The details were all thought out; when waiting in line you are standing in front of the case of pastries so you can figure out what you want. This will be the most difficult part of your visit.

It took me a minute to come to the realization that the items in the shop were most likely being distributed all over Santa Cruz County. If not, they could never afford to produce so many different things. An assortment of miniature delicacies from fresh fruit tarts to miniature cupcakes to chocolate croissants are all beautifully displayed in a glass case. They have bread pudding, chocolate chip cookies, muffins, small cheesecakes, cakes and quiches.

They make amazing lattes and ice tea. There are more substantial items on the menu as well, both for breakfast (toast and eggs) and lunch (ham & gruyere, avocado & cheese, pre-made salads) and even a light dinner is available. The egg sandwich and eggs in polenta were probably the loosest link we experienced after spending almost every morning of our one week trip to Santa Cruz in the bakery.

The chocolate croissant is generous in size  and the chocolate encased inside the flaky pastry is deep and dark and rich without being overly sweet. One morning there was a design traced on the croissant made of melted chocolate and another day they had sprinkled chocolate chips over the top (pictured above).

The eggs in polenta is pure comfort food,  a creamy polenta surrounding two perfectly poached eggs. It is delicious but the dish seemed a little out of place like serving beef stew in the middle of summer. It could be lightened up by taking on a seasonal slant. A slightly smaller dish of polenta with a side of something fresh to counter-balance the intensity of the dish.

The lemon tartlette has a pudding like lemon filling that is tangy and sweet at the same time with an adorable and delicious mini crust holding it all together.

When you order, they are patient and friendly and will answer all your questions. It isn't a great place to go if you are in a rush looking for a drive thru coffee delivery. The line ebbs and flows sometimes out the door, but it is an amazing place and borders on perfection.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Colman Park P-Patch

My daughter and I wandered through the Colman Park P-Patch the other day. The Seattle P-Patch program is a community garden program run by the city and the P-Patch Trust. P-Patch garden space now covers 23 acres and serves 4400 gardeners. My favorite bit of information from the P-Patch website was, "the gardeners provide fresh produce to food banks in Seattle and in 2010 they provided more than 41,000 servings of fresh produce".

My first introduction to the Seattle P-Patch systems was via a friend who gardens in a P-Patch but is also involved in the Seattle food community in numerous other ways including acting as a volunteer on the p-patch board. After seven years in Seattle I have visited numerous P-Patches and they all seem to be unique in their own way. The Colman Park P-Patch is on the side of a hill and is surrounded by the park on all sides.

Spring and even summer seem to be starting late in Seattle but the garden is still thriving. We spotted an amazing display of flowers, vegetables and herbs.

The peonies were amazing with a multitude of buds still getting ready to burst forth. Chloe desperately wanted to pick the buds off the bushes but I was able to turn it into a conversation on what a P-Patch is and how each plot belongs to a particular person. 

Below is a spectacular herb garden that we found. I always try to grow some herbs; the ability to walk out and grab a handful of cilantro or parsley or sage is such a boon in the kitchen and takes minimal effort. They can be grown in a pot on a windowsill or next to your front door. Of course this is why the P-Patch is so wonderful, providing garden space to people who don't have it.

Each plot had a unique shape, feel and personality to it. This was the only circular plot but some were delineated by wood and some just by the end of turned earth. There was a row of new plots at the bottom and the garden seems to be ever expanding. Some plots seemed abandoned, some full of many different things all tucked tightly together. Some were carefully structured with rows and sections of each vegetable. Someone else had erected small trellises to grow berries on.

If you are interested in having your own plot you can contact the P-Patch. Most gardens have wait-lists but with patience you will get on. Here is a list of all P-Patch gardens in Seattle with information on each one.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Seattle Food Banks

I spend an amazing amount of time exploring food. I have piles of cook books and food magazines that I read, I look at recipes online and I cook! We regularly go out to eat at new restaurants and return to restaurants that we have enjoyed in the past. I love going to specialty food shops, farmers markets and even just plain old grocery stores. In all this though, I realize that I am extraordinarily lucky. I don't have to worry about feeding my children or myself. Our friends and families all have the means to provide for themselves.

However, many struggle to merely put food on their tables.  Northwest Harvest is running a campaign right now, in its third year called stock the pantry. Food insecurity can be more pronounced in the summer as subsidized schools lunches can remove the one balanced meal that a child might be eating. Stock the Pantry is an effort to help families out for the summer months. But Northwest Harvest provides food for people who need assistance all year round. They serve 2000 individuals on a full service day and it is the busiest food bank in Washington state. We try to regularly give to organizations like Northwest Harvest. You can give online and the small donations really do add up, imagine if everyone budgeted a small percentage of their food budget for food banks. It would make an amazing difference.

Here is a more complete list of all Local Seattle Food Assistance Programs.

And here is a search program for food banks.