Blueberry Fields Forever

Top picks of this year's U-picks

Category: Arts + Events Articles


Arm yourself with a bucket and nimble fingers, and taste the sweet fruits of labor at one of the area's U-pick blueberry farms. Along with acres open for berry-pickin', farms also offer traditional array of blueberry goods, like Canter-Berry's savory chutney with ginger and brown sugar, or berry-themed evenings, like Blue Dog Farm's Friday Night Blueberries. Be sure to call ahead for U-pick availability. Katherine Shaw

Mercer Slough Blueberry Farm and Larsen Lake Blueberry Farm
Both farms are owned by the City of Bellevue but operated by local farmers who offer both U-pick and pre-picked produce.

Mercer Slough: Mercer Slough: For seven years, Bill Pace has been running operations at Mercer Slough Blueberry Farm (formerly known as Overlake). He says he loves to see the kids come every year for U-pick blueberries. “It's part of the community, he says. “Some kids haven't ever been to a blueberry farm before. On average, Pace expects up to 200 people to wander through the 16.1 acres of certified organic U-pick blueberries each summer. He harvests six different varieties from 95,000 plants, and also runs a small vegetable market with produce from his family farm near Yakima. $1.25 per pound of U-pick blueberries. Open daily through October, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Bellevue, 2380 Bellevue Way SE.; 425.467.0501.

Larsen Lake: Larsen Lake: Larsen Lake features a four-mile trail system around the farm with perfect spots for post-harvest picnics. Open daily though September, 10 a.m.- 6 p.m.; Bellevue, 700 148 Ave SE.; 425.260.2266. For Larsen Lake blueberries without the purple-stained fingers, stop by the Lake Hills Farm Fresh produce stand in Bellevue at the intersection of 156 Avenue and SE 16 Street. For more information, call Geoff Bradley of the Bellevue parks and Community Service at 425.452.2740, or visit

Canter-Berry Farm

Family-owned and operated by Doug and Clarissa Cross since 1954, Canter-Berry Farms grows eight blueberry varieties on their small, just-under 5 acres and sells savory-sweet vinegars, syrups, jams and chutneys from their barn. Doug recommends calling ahead to make sure enough blueberries are ripe for the picking. The farm offers three pickings per season, and is open daily in late July and early August; 8 a.m.- 6 p.m.; Auburn, 19102 SE Green Valley Rd.; 253.939.2706;

Blue Dog Farm
Blue Dog Farm is celebrating ten years on their 50-acres in Carnation, WA. Owners Amy and Scott Turner, known for their four acres of organic berries, are hosting Friday Night Blueberries with free farm tours, local bluegrass music and, of course, U-pick blueberries for $2.50 per berry bucket. Bring a picnic and nimble berry-picking fingers. (Dates and times vary depending on availability, so call ahead.) Carnation, 7125 W Snoqualmie Valley Rd. NE,; 425.844.2842;

South 47 Farm
Owned by Farm LLC, South 47 offers 1.5 acres of 10 blueberry varieties as well as a slew of raspberries, marionberries and thornless blackberries sold by the bucket throughout the summer. The growing season ranges from early August to September. Call ahead for availability. Open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Redmond, 15410 NE 124 St.; 425.869.9777;

Remlinger Farms
Known for their June strawberries and October pumpkins, the three-generations old Remlinger Farms offers seven acres of naturally grown blueberries, as well as other produce in their market and restaurant. The farm charges by the pound and is open da Heather Fassio Arts + Events Articles
449 July 2008 2008-07-17 15:47:27.000 Ken Sharp Shares His Top Places to Buy Beef For Home-cooking
Corporate chef for El Gaucho, Ken Sharp has an eye for steak. Find out where he does this beef connoissuer buy his meats when it's time to stay in?

Category: Eat + Drink Articles


Ken Sharp, corporate chef for El Gaucho steakhouses, serves dream-worthy steaks—dry-aged, grain-fed USDA Prime—but if you’re buying one from your local supermarket or butcher shop, there are four quality factors to consider: the USDA grade, the aging process, the feed and the trimming.

“What I’m looking for is internal marbling,” says Sharp, and Prime-graded steaks deliver plenty of it. But most beef is the next grade down, Choice, which offers less marbling.
Dry aging is generally considered superior but is also expensive: Beef is placed on racks in a temperature-controlled room where it gains flavor from enzymatic activity. Dry-aged steak is always proudly labeled and sold as such; if there’s any doubt, it’s wet-aged. Wet-aged meat is sealed in cellophane and refrigerated for several weeks until enzymes tenderize the flesh.
Most cows are grain-fed, which results in quick growth and more marbling, but be on the lookout for cuts from grass-fed cattle. These steaks exhibit little marbling but tend to have a deeper flavor (sometimes described as “grassy”).
Finally, Sharp looks for good trimming—only a small, even lip of fat around the edge.
Where does this leave your backyard barbecue? I brought five New York strip steaks to the Belltown El Gaucho to discover what was really tops. Sharp sprinkled them with seasoned salt and grilled them medium-rare over charcoal. When all was said and done, one winner emerged.

A&J Meats n (USDA Choice; dry-aged 30 days) $17 per pound at A&J Meats, Queen Anne, 2401 Queen Anne Ave. N; 206.284.3885 n Dynamite flavor made up for the thick lip of inedible fat that should have been trimmed off this tasty steak. “This is the best flavor of all of them,” said Sharp.

Don & Joe’s n (USDA Choice; wet-aged) $18 per pound at Don & Joe’s Meats, Pike Place Market, 85 Pike St.; 206.682.7670; n The most tender of all the steaks, with superior marbling: “It could be dry-aged,” said Sharp approvingly of this wet-aged steak.

Metropolitan Market n (USDA Choice; wet-aged) $17 per pound at Metropolitan Market, multiple locations including Lower Queen Anne, 100 Mercer St.; 206.213.0778; n A gorgeous, thick, perfectly butchered steak, but the flavor and marbling were lacking. “It has the best trim,” was the highest praise Sharp could muster.

Safeway Rancher’s Reserve n (USDA Choice; wet-aged) $11 per pound at Safeway, multiple locations including Capitol Hill, 1410 E John St.; 206.323.4988; n “Possibly a low-end Choice commodity [supermarket] cut,” said Sharp, nailing it. This brand trumpets guaranteed tenderness, and it was tender, but not flavorful.

Skagit River Ranch n (ungraded, organic and grass-fed; dry-aged 14 days) $23 per pound at area farmers’ markets, including University District Farmers’ Market, University Way at 50th Street; n Sharp immediately identified this as grass-fed. “I don’t really like grass-fed,” Sharp said. “It [tastes] like lawn clippings to me.”
Photo by Lara Ferroni

Matthew Amster-Burton Reviews
485 July 2008 2008-07-16 11:46:01.000 Restaurant Review: Jasmine Provincial Vietnamese Restaurant

Sample a dramatic Southeast Asian meal in Mt. Baker. Allison Austin Scheff shares the scoop on her meal at this strip mall restaurant bursting with luxury.

Category: Eat + Drink Articles


If you counted, I’d bet you’d find a pho depot on every block in Rainier Valley. Jasmine, which made its debut in a Mount Baker strip mall in December, is an entirely different species. Walls awash in red, chocolate and chartreuse, cushy orange chairs that wrap around the body like personal booths, and a grand piano (which is used to great effect Thursday through Saturday when the lights are dimmed and the keys are tickled), create a snazzy atmosphere for the kitchen’s sometimes-dramatic offerings. The King on Fire ($29.75), a whole marinated catfish, arrives literally on fire, its scored flesh flash-fried and perfectly tender. The restaurant does a wonderfully fragrant pho ($6.75), but diners willing to stretch their boundaries will find an intriguing Saigon-style tomato-shrimp broth with egg and fresh basil ($5.75), and perfectly cooked sea bass in sweet, sticky tamarind sauce ($12.75). Hot pots ($24.75–$27.75) boast luxuries like quail eggs and blossom flowers, along with the standard meats and noodles, and are a worthy indulgence. At lunch, fruity smoothies hit the spot. Lunch and dinner daily.

Mount Baker, 2826 Martin Luther King Jr. Way S; 206.722.3225; $$
Photo by Charity Burgraff

Allison Austin Scheff Reviews
457 August 2008 2008-07-15 15:01:30.000 Why Big Filmakers Aren't Shooting In Seattle Lawmakers are willing to pay movie studios to shoot films in Seattle. So why aren’t producers taking the bait?
Category: Arts + Events Articles


When Universal Pictures brought Traveling to Seattle last March to film for four days on location, more than a few people’s hearts were aflutter (and not just the denizens of Pike Place Market, where the film crew created a traffic jam in Post Alley).

Traveling, scheduled for release late this year or early next and co-written and produced by Seattleite Mike Thompson, is about a widower-turned-self-help-guru (Aaron Eckhart) who comes to Seattle on business and falls for a florist (Jennifer Aniston). With two major stars and a local creative connection, the whole project had the potential to put Seattle back on Hollywood producers’ maps in a big way—if only the majority of it had been filmed here, instead of in Vancouver.

“Traveling was written by a Seattle writer, set in Seattle and had other Seattle ties. Doesn’t matter,” says James Keblas, director since 2005 of the Seattle Mayor’s Office of Film + Music. “It is still cheaper to film in Vancouver than Seattle.”

In 2007, Keblas traveled to Los Angeles with Suzy Kellett, then director of the Washington State Film Office (she retired last spring after 12 years in the office), and Amy Lillard Dee, executive director of WashingtonFilmWorks, the 501(c)6 organization created by Washington’s Motion Picture Competitiveness Program, which Gov. Christine Gregoire signed into law in 2006. WashingtonFilmWorks offers a 20 percent rebate incentive for in-state production (made possible thanks to donations from businesses and individuals who get dollar-for-dollar tax credits in return); Keblas, Kellett and Dee hoped the rebate would persuade Traveling producers to film the entire production in Seattle. For the first time in the history of film production in Washington and Seattle, Keblas, Kellett and Dee had farm-fresh money—as much as $1 million per production on qualified in-state expenditures—to sweeten the pot. But in the confusing and competitive international production incentive game, $1 million was not enough. (As one local Seattle producer says, it’s “chump change.”)

Traveling did spend enough during its four-day sortie to receive a $294,642 rebate, which Keblas, Kellett and Dee deemed a small but crucial victory in the battle to lure Hollywood productions back to Seattle and Washington.

Like 88 Minutes (2008, starring Al Pacino) and the opener of the 2008 Seattle International Film Festival, Battle in Seattle (starring Charlize Theron and Woody Harrelson), Traveling is a “runaway production,” meaning a film set in Seattle but which skirts our town to save money. (All three abovementioned films were shot in Vancouver.) Productions can and will “green-screen” principal actors into scenes in setting locations, filmed by second units. In the case of Traveling, Jennifer Aniston will be digitally dropped into a scene with Aaron Eckhart, who was actually on location for scenes filmed near the Fremont troll and Pike Place Market’s infamous gum wall. It’s one way that a business notorious for cost overruns and bloated budgets saves some money. “There is no other comparable reason than money for films set in Seattle to skip up to Vancouver,” says Keblas, who believes Seattle is about 10 years behind Vancouver in maturing its film production industry.

Since 1997, productions in British Columbia and Vancouver get as much as 25 percent back on what they pay to qualified labor (Canadian residents) in the form of tax credits. “We really did woo the Los Angeles industry,” says British Columbia’s film commissioner Susan Croome. “And we saw a commitment from certain people like [actor, writer, producer] Stephen J. Cannell and Paramount in the early days, where they came here and they loved it and did a lot of episodic television, which really provide Jamie Friddle Arts + Events Articles
456 2008-07-15 11:51:00.000 Vida Spa Splashes In South Lake Union

The Canadian-based spa