By Braiden Rex-Johnson
Foreword by Tom Douglas
Pike Place Market is the most visited landmark in the Pacific Northwest. One cannot purchase an admission ticket to an attraction such as this. Rex-Johnson’s book is part cookbook and part intriguing Seattle travelogue.
Braiden Rex-Johnson puts the reader well into frenzied and colorful mealtimes at Pike Market. She shares signature dishes, menu rotations and histories of those sharing the fruits of their wares and labors. The many faces of the Market, she describes as “Part meat, fish, and produce market; part breathtaking panorama of water, mountains, and sky; part vaudeville show; part arts and crafts extravaganza; and part slice of nitty-gritty street life.”
This 96-year-old buzzing marketplace has a colorful history, and was almost torn down for “urban renewal” in the early 1970s. More recently, the Market Basket CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program reinvigorated the market and helped save its farm-fresh treasure venue.
Each of the nine food sections in the cookbook has a handy preview. The Entrée page reflects such diversity as Irish Stew, Zaire Chicken Curry, Korean Beef Bulgogi, Rouladen (Germany), Pancit Bihon and Mechado (the Philippines), and New Mexico Tamales.
These are just some of the merchants she presents in the book:
- Chef Charles Ramseyer, of Ray’s Boathouse, shares his simple, yet elegant appetizer, Scallop Terrine, along with chef’s tips for perfect preparation.
- From Sosio’s Produce comes Microwave Mozzarella Vegetable Pie. This is a simple, health-filled dish of Japanese eggplants, sweet peppers, onion, blended spices and mozzarella cheese. Microwave this in 10 short minutes. Even quicker is their Cheesy Tomatoes, baked in the oven.
- The simple Pea Pullao from The Souk is a spicy, vegetable-rice dish. The cookbook cross-references this dish with Marketspice’s Chicken Masala (page 86) and Café Campagne’s Lamb Burgers and Balsamic Onions, Roasted Peppers and Aioli (page 98).
- A backgrounder on the Pike Place Market Creamery features Nancy Nipples, the proprietress and self-described “Head Milk Maid” of this now-famed institution. Learn about “aracauna” eggs.
- From Alm Hill Gardens Rex-Johnson features another fresh pea dish–Raspberry Snap Peas–made with raspberry vinegar and toasted sesame seeds. The handy Techniques section, page 203, refreshes your memory on toasting seeds and nuts.
- At Chicken Valley she finds an unusual Northwest Chicken Stir-Fry. It contains the usual stir-fry basics plus hazelnuts, spinach and dried cherries, plumped. Meet the owner and learn of the restaurant’s background and their take on all feathered-food sources. Rabbits, too.
- On the bread scene Nancie Brecher, teacher of cuisine to thousands of Seattleites, shares her Fresh Dill Beer Bread, an unusual accompaniment.
- At Tim’s Fine Berries, they share a recipe which combines raspberries, brown sugar, raisins, apricots, citrus juice, zest, onion and toasted almonds for a lip-smacking Red Raspberry Chutney.
- On the dessert track, find a recipe for Chilled Strawberry Soup from Northwest food expert Sharon Kramis. Guests enthuse over this berry, banana and pineapple fruited gazpacho.
- From the folks at Mech Apiaries comes a Sour Cream Cranberry Pie, a tart, yet creamy treat.
- You will feel quite quenched and fascinated by Danny McCullem of Danny’s Wonder Freeze, after Rex-Johnson introduces you to his “Real” New York Egg Cream, a gem in the heart of Seattle, a simple drink with a lot method.
The Pike Place Market Cookbook has excellent Appendixes: Techniques, Produce Availability Chart, Mail-order Information and a comprehensive index.