August 14, 2007

Blessings of Purity

Pure%20Flavor.jpg Kurt%20Dammeier%20at%20Bennett.JPG

Our land, this inlet on the western coast of the North American continent, is a fortunate one, endowed with natural riches and settled by people who do not confuse prosperity with moral superiority. Modesty becomes us; we do not flaunt our advantages.

With pleasure, then, we open Kurt Dammeier's new book, Pure Flavor, which celebrates our region's bounty and offers some suggestions for simple preparations that enhance the pleasure this fare brings to our senses. He highlights the usual suspects (salmon, crab, mushrooms, cheese, berries, the Pike Place Market, even coffee) and turns the spotlight on a handful of local food pioneers (Gwen Bassetti of Grand Central Bakery, Marcella Rosene of Pasta & Co., sausage man Frank Isernio, cheese woman Sally Jackson, fisherman Bruce Gore, Paul Shipman of Red Hook, wine grower Veronique Drouhin, chef Tom Douglas). Had someone else written the book, Dammeier himself would be on that list; he's the creator of the extraordinarily popular Beecher's Handmade Cheese in the Market and Bennett's Pure Food Bistro on Mercer Island. His "Flagship Program" teaches Middle Schoolers about good food. He is inordinately generous to his competitors in the world of artisanal cheese. In turn, he reaps a string of honors, most recently for Beecher's Flagship Cheese, named the best cheddar in the country by the American Cheese Society. Dammeier is quick to credit cheesemaker Brad Sinko; Tom Douglas, for his part, calls Dammeier a modern-day Renaissance man.

The book itself is extraordinarily handsome, a hefty 256 pages with 125 recipes developed in collaboration with chef Lura Smith and freelance editor Laura Holmes Haddad (aka Gourmet Grrl), photography by Maren Caruso and Scott Mansfield. Bravo to publishers Clarkson Potter, who will be happy to sell you a copy for $32.50, roughly the price of a couple of Bennett's mouthwatering cheeseburgers and a side of Beecher's "World's Best" Mac & Cheese.

Posted by Ronald Holden at August 14, 2007 6:29 PM | TrackBack

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