I get really excited when I see chefs that worked at big name restaurants come to Washington and take claim of a restaurant in my favorite state in the world (local product here!). Mark Bodinet is one of those chefs. Coming from The French Laundry he has worked at one of my dream restaurants. He is also a graduate of the Art Institute of Phoenix’s Culinary Arts Program….again, another dream (1 year left at the Art Institute of Seattle!!!). So when I see those two things I get excited….alumni from my school and The French Laundry….hmmm, maybe someone I know can do the same thing one day……..
I received an invite from the folks over at Richmond PR to attend a dinner at the Copperleaf Restaurant located at the Cedarbrook Lodge. I was confused a little bit because I never heard of either place. Well, there’s a reason for that. Until a few years ago Cedarbrook Lodge was a private lodge owned by Washington Mutual for use by its employees only and their guests.
When you look around at the place you can truly see corporate greed at its finest. There are plenty of nice hotels around the Seattle area, why did WAMU decide to build its own $50,000,000 lodge??? Why did they decide to buy Longbeach Mortgage? Why did they get so heavily involved in sub-prime loans??? Well, those questions can easily be answered with this……they were idiots and they were recently purchased by Chase for pennies on the dollar.
I’m not really sure how the Coastal Hotel Group got involved with Cedarbrook Lodge but I’m guessing the transaction went down like this. WAMU or Chase people…”Hey, does anyone want to buy this private lodge….it’s really nice….has a satellite controlled sprinkler system (seriously)……..50+ rooms……water features (it’s a must for me)…….and it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than $50,000,000.????” Coastal Hotel Group, “Yeah, we’ll take it……and throw in some of those Wahoo ad. campaign stickers WAMU had….”. “Really, you want stickers from the WAMU Wahoo campaign?” “No, I was kidding, those were awful, thanks for the hotel LOL!”. (None of this actually happened….Sorry, I’ll get back to serious post time).
It’s always amusing when I get invited to events like this. I arrive then I see the other people that are there and I immediately think…….”Why did they invite me?”. The owners of Richmond PR were there, the owners of Coastal Hotel Group, Lorna Yee (click), Jay Friedman (click), and an awesome chef from The French Laundry! These are big time people!!!! One of these things is not like the other…..this guy.
Before dinner started culinary director Roy Breiman (click) who has a pretty impressive resume took us on a tour of the grounds but first he gave us a few glasses of my new party starter drink.
Go to the store right now and buy 15 bottles of this stuff. It’s the perfect summertime drink and if you can’t find it at a store then visit the amazing folks over at the Copperleaf Restaurant and order your own bottle (cheesy commercial smile time).
The focus of the lodge and restaurant is to focus on local, sustainable, and fair trade ways of doing business. I know, you’ve heard that a thousand times because every restaurant is using those terms like they never existed before but the Copperleaf is different……. How? To the picture vault we go (I bought a picture vault from WAMU…..great deal)!
This is their garden where chef sources finishing touches to his menu. We had baby turnips from the garden that were used later in the evening for dinner.
This was Mindy’s favorite part, she took mental notes on a few things that will be coming soon to MindyRiveraFarms (click)…..especially these Mesclun varieties.
Obviously their garden won’t be able to supply their needs for continuous meal service so they really focus on using local food sources and working with their purveyors in order to find food for the restaurant within 150km of the restaurant. I think that’s great and it’s the way all restaurants should function. The great thing about Seattle is that we do have a great variety of farms available to use that produce some amazing products….if this was Ohio then corn would be front and center on the menu and not much else (don’t even start arguing the joys of Ohio with me….there are none). Here is a list of some of the sources The Copperleaf uses at the restaurant (click)……..WORLD SPICE!!(click)!!!!!!
What blew my mind on the tour was the use of mushrooms for culinary and filtration systems. They are growing their own mushrooms for the chef to use as well as another set that will filter the water from the property back into the protected wetlands located on their property! How cool is that?!!??!?!?
Mr. Breiman showed us the area where some of the brandywine mushrooms will be popping up around October-November. Mark your calendars…..October-November, dinner at the Copperleaf!
“Eric, enough….we’re hungry….show us some food”.
Sorry, was just trying to AMUSE you.
Parsley oil is one of my favorite things but when it’s paired this little bite of heaven I wanted more……darn amuse bouche course for being so small……but don’t complain, there is plenty of food to come!
Yakima Valley Asparagus, Washington Cherries, Spring Onions, Summer Truffles paired with 2008 Substance Pinot Gris.
Today’s attention to detail award goes to the cleaning of the asparagus stems…thank you chef! The vinaigrette was brilliant and those shaved summer truffles were to die for.
Kodiak Island Halibut (flown in that morning) with Heirloom Tomatoes, Sweet Corn, and House Cured Bacon paired with 2008 Abeja, Chardonnay.
The halibut was cooked perfectly. The tiny bits of bacon worked into the corn, genius. The concasse of the tiny tomatoes, true work of an artist in the kitchen. Details people….details….
Red Raspberry Granite
A little palate cleanser before the dinner party gets turned up to 11. I heard a few people say this might have been a little too sweet but I think a few fireworks on the senses are appropriate before the big show arrives. Huh? I don’t know what that means either…….plain and simple….raspberry granite…always awesome….especially on a 90 degree day in Seattle.
Snake River Farm Pork Belly with Baby Turnips, Dijon, Wild Arugula and paired with a 2007 DeLille Cellars “Doyenne” Syrah.
I was almost ready to pull the fire alarm so everyone would leave the table…..I wanted to eat every single one of these pieces of pork belly. So good and with the Delille Cellars wine is was a perfect pairing. All this magic almost distracted me from the cuteness of the baby turnips but I’m a softy for cute vegetables…..awwwww! AMAZING!
Grilled Painted Hills Strip Loin with Baby Carrots, Morel Mushrooms, and English Peas paired with a 2005 Porteus Zinfandel.
No words….just look at the picture….look at it again…..run to the Copperleaf Restaurant…order this…….e-mail me……I will e-mail you back saying, “I told you so”…….high five. Brilliant dish.
Fromage Blanc Ice Cream with Garden Strawberries and Spearmint Biscotti served with Covey Run Semillion Ice Wine.
Fromage Blanc is one of my favorite cheeses. Make an ice cream with it and now you are putting me into the stratosphere. Everything up to this almost disappears, well for Mindy at least. Her eyes were closed as she enjoyed this dessert and you could see the smiles and hear the giggles……..why didn’t we get a room at the lodge????
Theo’s Hot Chocolate Mignardises.
The final course. I knew something amazing was coming so I flipped my camera from uhhhh camera mode to movie mode. Hearing the maître d’ explain this dish gives you a small idea of the entire experience we had at dinner at The Copperleaf.
The Copperleaf Restaurant at the Cedarbrook Lodge. I know where it is now, I know what they’re about, and this is now on my list of go-to dining experiences in the Northwest. Thank you.