Save the date for the Pellegrini Foundation Awards and Harvest Dinner. The dinner will be held at 6:30 PM, on Saturday, January 21st at FareStart in downtown Seattle. Please mark your calendars! Tickets are now available by going to http://bpt.me/2721084. Seats are limited so please book early. This year’s guest chefs include Roy Breiman (Cedarbrook Lodge & Copperleaf Restaurant), Armandino Batali (Salumi Artisan Cured Meats), Carla Leonardi and Corey Poonacha (Cafe Lago and Little Lago), Wayne Johnson (FareStart), Jason Stratton (mbar), and Stuart Lane (Cascina Spinasse & Artusi).
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This year the Pellegrini award goes to Molly Wizenberg, author of the blog Orangette, and the books, Delancey and A Homemade Life.
Save the date for the Pellegrini Foundation Awards and Harvest Dinner. The dinner will be held at 6:30 PM, on Saturday, January 21st at FareStart in downtown Seattle. Please mark your calendars! Tickets are now available by going to http://bpt.me/2721084. Seats are limited so please book early.
This year’s guest chefs include Roy Breiman (Cedarbrook Lodge & Copperleaf Restaurant), Armandino Batali (Salumi Artisan Cured Meats), Carla Leonardi and Corey Poonacha (Cafe Lago and Little Lago), Wayne Johnson (FareStart), Jason Stratton (mbar), and Stuart Lane (Cascina Spinasse & Artusi).
Gardening is a pleasant pastime that lets you pick a few flowers or a couple of tomatoes from time to time, but farming is altogether different. Farming is work. Hard, sweaty work. We live in cities, don’t we, so that we can avoid farming. Farming is something other people do, in other parts of the country and faraway parts of the world.
And yet. Even with encroaching development (housing, roads, shopping centers, offices), there are still 1,800 farms in King County, covering 50,000 acres. Many are close-in: Vashon Island, the Kent Valley and along the Green, Snoqualmie and Sammamish rivers. It was 25 years ago that county voters authorized a Farmland Preservation Program that currently protects 13,000 acres of dairies, cattle and horse farms, row crops, flowers, even Christmas trees nurseries.
And there is a growing movement toward not only the protection but also the revival of farming and of the idea of growing enough to provide a good portion of one’s own food. The lack of a green thumb is no deterrent; ignorance of the fundamentals of agriculture is no excuse. Late summer and early fall are a great time for planting — you can put in brussels sprouts plants or sow such seeds as spinach, turnips or cilantro this month, according to Organic Gardening magazine — and there’s help available for city slickers.
Reflecting some of the interest, 21 Acres, a learning center outside Woodinville, will offer three classes under the title “A Local Farm-to-Table Adventure” beginning this Wednesday. Interest was so strong that registration had already closed last week, but the group has set up a waiting list for another possible session. And there are plenty of ways to begin learning: books, videos, magazine articles, to name a few.
Lest we feel smug about the efforts at revival here and the proximity of barns and fields, we should note that there are over four dozen farms within the city limits of our Neighbor to the North, Richmond, British Columbia. Richmond, which is just to the south of Vancouver, is roughly similar in density to Seattle and, although its population of 190,000 is about one third Seattle’s. Richome devotes a third of a magnificent 100-acre city park, Terra Nova, to urban agriculture.
The city also employs environmental educators and restaurant chefs to teach schoolchildren the virtues of growing food. “Those aren’t weeds,” the park director told a group of grade-schoolers harvesting edible wild greens when I visited a couple of years ago, “just another form of money.”
And there is a beacon of hope on Seattle’s Beacon Hill: a new, seven-acre “food forest,” which operates under the umbrella of the Department of Neighborhoods P-Patch program. The same planners had earlier led efforts to establish the Seattle Tilth garden at the Good Shepard Center.
On Vashon Island, we have one embodiment of the genuine, back-to-the-land movement, Kurt Timmermeister. A restaurant owner in Belltown and Capitol Hill (Café Septième) who bought a few acres on the island two decades ago, Timmermeister became a farmer and cheese maker incrementally. His book-length accounts of the process (Growing a Farmer and Growing a Feast) give helpful advice (“don’t go into debt”) without sugarcoating the hard work, from morning chores to evening chores. One of his role models was a 95-year-old dairyman who had spent the first half of his life as a practicing accountant. Timmermeister admired the people he met at farmers markets: youthful if not young, healthy, happy. “I wanted to be like them.” So he sold the restaurant and became a farmer.
Craigslist was a huge help (for used tractor parts, for baby pig “weaners”). Two-day-old chicks came in a box, by mail. When it was time for the chickens to be dispatched, the wings got fed to the pigs, “smart, attentive, aggressive, stubborn and charming.” Before Timmermeister brought himself to the painful business of killing a pig, he took his reader through the agony and the joy of buying a gun. The dairy prospered as Kurtwood Farm, as it’s now known, began to produce a highly regarded, creamy cows milk cheese called Dinah’s.
Timmermeister used to open his kitchen table to a dozen visitors for weekly farmhouse dinners, a multi-course feast produced almost entirely from his own land (less so, lately, especially as production of Dinah’s cheese has taken off). “I want there to be more small farms, more ways to connect to our food, more links to our cultural past of food raising, preparation and preservation,” he writes. So, back to the garden!
The spiritual godfather of the eat-your-own food movement, and not just in Seattle, was Angelo Pellegrini, a Tuscan immigrant boy who grew up in Gray’s Harbor County, on the Washington coast, earned a PhD and became a professor of classics at the University of Washington. Before he died in 1991, he had written a half-dozen books about what comes before the Joy of Cooking: call it the joy of growing. For Pelle, it wasn’t “farming” or “gardening;” what came from the earth was a way of life.
“Grow your own, cook your own, make your own wine,” he implored his readers and followers (who included Alice Waters, Ruth Reichl and Mario Batali). “You must build a garden.” he mandates, “with a pick and shovel, dig up a portion of your lawn.” In growing your own food, “there will be joy in the harvest, and the greatest pleasure in eating the fruit of your labor.”
Pellegrini did just that, at his home in Seattle’s View Ridge neighborhood. You can, too. Even if you live in an apartment building, a flower pot on the window sill can produce edible greens. It’s a start.
By Ronald Holden]]>
This was shocking; even then, in 1966, basil was an incredibly exotic herb. Yet this magazine, which was older than I was, offered instructions for turning it into a green sauce for spaghetti.Years later I would discover that this was the first published pesto recipe in America. But at the time, all I wanted to know was who the strange person who had written the article might be. It turned out to be a man named Angelo Pellegrini, and I wanted to know more about him. I went right back to the bookshelf, unearthed a stained copy of An Unprejudiced Palate—and found that my life had changed.
Pellegrini’s book was not a cookbook in any ordinary sense. It was a manifesto for living the good life. Pellegrini had emigrated from Italy at age 10, but, unlike so many immigrants, he cherished his roots. Although he turned himself into an English professor, in his heart he was a peasant. During the day he taught Shakespeare, but at home he gardened, fished, and cooked in a wood-burning oven. He believed, passionately, that eating well was important. And in the time of TV dinners, Pellegrini’s notions of how to do so were distinctly out of step with the rest of the world’s.
Pellegrini believed in growing your own food, eating with the seasons, using your senses, and taking advantage of the bounty all around you. He ripped out his lawn and put in a garden. He ate nose to tail. He even made his own wine (with grapes supplied by his friend Robert Mondavi). His was a great voice—but it was about 70 years ahead of its time.It was a slow-food voice in a fast-food nation, but it did not go entirely unheard.
Pellegrini’s books—like The Food Lover’s Garden; Lean Years, Happy Years; Wine and the Good Life; and The Unprejudiced Palate—developed a cult following, and had a profound effect on people like Alice Waters, Paula Wolfert, and myself. Pellegrini believed that Americans would be the best cooks in the world if they only paid attention to the abundance all around them. He not only predicted the changes that would come, he helped make them happen.
Seattle Weekly is very wise to honor the memory of this native son by establishing the Pellegrini Award, given annually to someone following in Pellegrini’s very large footsteps. This year’s winner, Chris Curtis, single-handedly started Seattle’s Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance, which encourages everyone to eat the kind of fresh, local food that Pellegrini wanted us all to eat.By all accounts, Angelo Pellegrini was an extremely unpretentious man. Although he was a perennial judge at the Los Angeles County fair, he once told a friend that when it came to wine, he took his grandmother’s advice. “Wink,” she told him, “if you like it.”Wherever Angelo Pellegrini is right now, I’m sure he’s winking.
By Ruth Reichl]]>
Although he wrote it nearly 60 years ago, Pellegrini’s treatise on food and life reads like a contemporary paean to the Italian culinary ideal. It is no surprise that the editor of this series of classic food writings chose Mario Batali to write a new introduction to Pellegrini, for the two share a nearly identical philosophy. Pellegrini immigrated to the U.S. from Italy and became a professor of English. At his Seattle home, he cultivated a garden and spread a gospel of simple, fresh cooking that wowed his academic colleagues. Disdaining the pretensions of the midcentury movement for processed, flavorless foods, Pellegrini was a lonely voice for using game, fresh herbs, home-canned tomatoes, and garden vegetables to create simple sauces for pasta. He relished the organ meats that repelled so many others, but he could not cook without his beloved imported Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. In his writings, he recorded recipes, but these are more general techniques than rosters of precisely measured ingredients. Those unfamiliar with Pellegrini will be astounded at his prescience. Mark Knoblauch
“I have always thought that Angelo Pellegrini misnamed his charming but opinionated book. It should have been called the Prejudiced Palate because he is so absolutely sure and unwavering in his vision of how to live a beautiful and delicious life. And I think he’s right.”
–Alice Waters, Owner, Chez Panisse
“Like great dishes, great writing remains in our memory forever. Angelo
Pellegrini’s THE UNPREJUDICED PALATE is a lesson in how to enjoy life
in an elegant and highly civilized way.”
– Jacques Pépin
The recognition, impressive as it is, is just the tip of the iceberg. The real excitement comes at the lavish awards dinner prepared each fall by a rotating group of top chefs. Guests are treated to platters of delectable dishes, from smoked ham hocks to rosemary salt-cured beef tongue, from smoked sablefish to spit-roasted rabbit, the recipes inspired by Pellegrini’s books. With such an amazing line-up of dishes, it’s no wonder that tickets to the $150-a-plate dinner sell out in just days.
At the end of the afternoon, “Pelle,” as he was called, said that we did “pretty good” with the 6-course meal. Evidently this was “pretty good” praise for the then nearly ninety culinary legends because Alice Waters remembers it as a “perfect day.”
Pellegrini had come to America as a poor Italian child of ten. Unable to speak English, he studied hard at night and was soon skipping grades and winning spelling bees. He was the first in his family to attend college, studied law, and later got his PhD, becoming a beloved Professor of English at the University of Washington and a culinary writer of renown.
In the 1950’s, the winemaker Robert Mondavi gave Pellegrini a handful of family beans from the old country. “Monachine,” as he called them, meant “Little Nuns.” Pellegrini turned his entire property into an edible landscape, even tearing out the lawn. The Monachine went into his garden, and for over 50 years he faithfully grew the bean. So good were they, that it is said that he’d savor every bean one by one, mashing each with a fork and dabbing it in a whiff of olive oil.
Pelle went to that Great Garden in the Sky in 1991. Then some years ago, Angelo’s son, Brent, gave us about 10 of the beans. Over the years, our farmer, Bill Vingelen, has scaled the bean harvest up each year so that we can finally serve them occasionally in the restaurant. In 2012, he planted 64 tepees of Pellegrini Beans numbering around 1000 plants, and finally have enough to feature them on the menu.
The Pellegrini Bean is among the finest stringless fresh bean we have ever tried. And the dried autumn beans are incomparable.
Because the Pellegrini Bean seed has been saved year after year in Seattle’s climate, it has become perfectly adapted to the conditions of the Pacific Northwest.
Thanks to [http://theherbfarm.com/Items/Pellegrini_Bean]]]>
Crosscut.com’s food writer Ronald Holden tells his readers that fall’s the time to build that garden of their dreams. He ends his tribute to local proponents of home gardens including Vashon Island farmer-cheesemaker Kurt Timmermeister with a shout-out to Our Founder Angelo Pellegrini: Read all about it here.]]>
Food: fresh, healthful, seasonal, produced close to the earth and the community that consumes it.
Wine: fine wines from quality viticulture, made by amateur vintners as well as professionals.
Cuisine: down-to-earth regional, seasonal and artisanal cuisine on the domestic and the restaurant table alike.
Celebration: to encourage a deeper appreciation of the vital role of food, drink, and community by means of all media—words, images, and sounds.