A Drunken Boat? No, a Stumbling Goat!

front-of-goat-20001.JPGLast night, I came home from work to find my kitchen overrun by Ethicureans. Man of La Muncha was mixing cocktails for the crowd. Dairy Queen was here, as was Potato Non Grata. For the first time, we met Omniwhore, E-I-E-I Ho, Momniwhore, and Dadniwhore. The plan was to have pre-dinner drinks and then head to the Stumbling Goat for dinner.

Our mini-Ethicurean conference began with drinks around the picnic table on our back patio. I had a glass of chardonnay from San Juan Vineyards (though the organically grown grapes are sourced from the Columbia River Valley), as did some of my fellow Ethicureans, while Man of La Muncha made gins and tonics and vodka tonics with huckleberries for everyone else. The chardonnay had a nice balance of fruit and vanilla, without the overoaking that has become the signature of so many wines, and made for a pleasant accompaniment for getting to know Omniwhore, E-Ho, and her parents.

We were so busy talking that it was time to head to the restaurant before we knew it. We piled into two cars and headed off towards Phinney for what we hoped would be a tasty locavore dinner.

Both cars got rock star parking, right in front of the restaurant and when we poured through the front door orecchietti3612.jpgwe were immediately shown to our table. After settling in, we perused the menu and discussed what to try. Dairy Queen and Potato Non Grata chose the ceviche and the chilled fennel soup with Dungeness crab, and Man of La Muncha likewise ordered the fennel soup. Momniwhore and Dadniwhore split the oven-roasted cauliflower with foraged mushrooms and arugula. I decided to try the smoked stuffed figs with frisee and arugula. The smokiness intensified the savoriness of my figs that contrasted nicely to the dab of mild blue cheese on top, and I grudgingly gave one fig to Man of La Muncha. The ceviche disappeared rapidly, accompanied by many “yums” of satisfaction. Momniwhore and Dadniwhore made quick work of their cauliflower and foraged mushrooms. Man of La Muncha praised the fennel soup and quickly polished it off.

Stumbling Goat states on their menu that, whenever possible, they use local, wild, and organic ingredients. I agree with Rebekah Denn, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer food critic, who in a recent roundup of current restaurant trends said, “I’m always glad to see organic foods on the menu, but the ‘organic when possible’ caveat, virtually always an accompaniment, drives me mad. As I’ve said before, I don’t know whether it means 90 percent or 10 percent, ‘when it’s easy to acquire,’ or ‘when it doesn’t cost more than we think you’ll pay.’” In the case of the Stumbling Goat, by talking to the server and reading the menu (both dish descriptions and the list of purveyors on the back), we were able to ascertain that much of the produce is local and organic, while the bolognese of Wagyu beef and Berkshire pork is made from meat purchased from Williamson Farm inrisotto3613.jpg George, Washington. The salmon is both local and wild, though the duck breast comes from Sonoma Farms, which can’t really be called either local or (according to Dairy Queen) organic.

After talking to the server and discussing our options, half the table ordered the Wagyu beef. Omniwhore and I opted for the summer squash risotto with stuffed blossoms and ricotta, while Man of La Muncha ordered the local wild salmon. Potato Non Grata opted for the duck breast. To go with our mostly local meals, we ordered two bottles of the Domain Drouhin 2003 pinot noir and a bottle of the 2003 Sineann cabernet sauvignon; both are from Oregon.

I verified the fitness of the pinot noir, while Man of La Muncha confirmed that the cabernet was not corked. The pinot had hints of strawberry and currant. Though it didn’t have the stinkiness that I love in pinot, it went very well with the risotto, bringing out the sweetness of the oregano and emphasizing the subtle, savory nature of the dish. I also tried a bite of Dadniwhore’s bolognese and stole a sip of cabernet from Man of La Muncha. The bolognese was rich and hearty, with a spiciness that paired well with the muscular red. The grass-fed Wagyu was flavorful and stood up well to the heavy red sauce, while the orecchiette was done al dente — Perfection! — and was the right size and shape for scooping up the sauce. Man of La Muncha enjoyed his salmon paired with the pinot, with the corn-tomato salsa complimenting the dish well and the faro providing a nice contrast in flavor and texture. He didn’t feel that it was a great salmon dinner, but admitted that the cabernet was overwhelming. He switched quickly to pie_whole3689.jpgthe pinot and was pleased with the improved combination.

After dinner, we discussed ordering a sampling of Estrella cheeses for dessert. Normally, we would not have paused for discussion and would have ordered cheese, but a tempting alternative had been proposed. Man of La Muncha had baked a huckleberry-peach pie earlier in the day, and had made blackberry mint ice cream earlier in the week. Everyone was more interested in dessert than cheese, so we paid our tab and headed back to Ballard.

Once we were settled in the living room, Man of La Muncha began serving generous slices of pie heaped with ice cream. Momniwhore opted not to have ice cream until she had a bite of Omniwhore’s. I confirmed that there would be ice cream left over and decided to enjoy the pie, saving the ice cream for another night.

The pie had a lattice crust, and the fruit topping oozed between the slats — a work of art.  Man of La Muncha had considered making a pie crust with lard, but was unable to find anyone who sold lard from ethically raised pigs. Instead, he made a butter crust, and declared that he will make his own lard once he finds an ethical source of pig fat.

pie3705.jpgThe fruit filling was well balanced between the tartness of the huckleberries and the sweetness of late summer peaches, with the flaky crust holding the filling nicely. The combination of pie and ice cream was received rapturously by the crowd of Ethicureans.

There were no leftovers.

Note: Pictures courtesy of Potato Non Grata and Dairy Queen.

11 Responsesto “A Drunken Boat? No, a Stumbling Goat!”

  1. patrick says:

    hey, where is this place? we’re going to be in seattle this week…

  2. Man of La Muncha says:

    Their web site is http://www.stumblinggoatbistro.com/. They are on Greenwood, just north of where Phinney curves and becomes Greenwood. Directions are on their site.

    Eight blocks further north on Greenwood is Carmelita http://seattle.citysearch.com/profile/10774484/, which also uses local products and is entirely vegetarian.

  3. patrick says:

    thanks! maybe we will check them out. we’ll be in that neighborhood, actually.

    i remember Carmelita from …uh…jeez, ten years ago! i found them underwhelming back in the day, but since it’s still around they must have got their act together.

  4. Man of La Muncha says:

    Carmelita is really tasty nowadays.

  5. Omniwhore says:

    A good time was had by all!

    We hope to return the favor in Austin sometime!

  6. Great piece Butterbitch!

    Wonderful to meet you and the La Muncha dude – hope to see you all again. By the way, that was great food at the S. Goat but my favorite was the best fuckin’ pie and ice cream combo I’ve ever had! Many thanks…

  7. La La Linda says:

    Oh, this piece is definitely in the genre of “You Are There” reporting…my mouth was watering, BIG time…and I’m happy to report that I’ve found my own grassfed source (yes, we knew there were lots in the surounding area, but weren’t sure just how to get it) at the local farmer’s mart…tested out the yummy basil-beef-garlic sausage! Cooked it up, added penne, tomatoes, pesto, kalamata olives, more basil, a little pimento-olive oil to drizzle, a glop of goat cheese, and a few red pepper flakes…good stuff!

  8. Butter Bitch says:

    Wow–Linda, that sounds AMAZING, especially since Seattle got broadsided by autumn this morning. Something warm and filling like that sounds perfect!

  9. Man of La Muncha says:

    Well, ButterB, I wouldn’t mind a short break from cooking. Or were you implying that the work-at-home Man should make this for dinner?

  10. Butter Bitch says:

    I was FINALLY able to locate a link for Williamson Farms, which I tried in vain to locate when I was writing the post. It’s http://www.grassfednaturalbeef.com/, and it looks like they’re also offering a CSA program.

  11. Erin says:

    Hey all….I really appreciate the discussion of “whenever possible” when talking about organic, sustainable, local. It can be frustrating to have to decipher how much is the aforementioned and how much is “just when it’s easy to get”. You hit the nail on the head when you recommend talking to the server regarding just how much is l,s,o. (local, sustainable,organic). For restaurants that are seriously committed to using l,s,o it can be a just as frustrating to try and be clear that almost all of your product is…(in our case, at any given time we’re talking 80-100%) but the caveat is that these are buzz words that a lot of business enjoy using but aren’t held accountable for the definition of “whenever possible”. We put our money where our mouth is (literally) and it’s important enough that we spend 4-5 days a week at the farmers markets and use local farmers who deliver as well. Yes, there are times when the duck breast is from Sonoma or the Quail is from Texas but these are rare exceptions and it is always because the quality of the product and the producer is something we want to support, regardless of locale. Finally, it is also important to note that there are a lot of local farmers and producers who are not “certified” organic but are using wholly organic methods on the road to becoming certified. We support these folks by buying product that we know came from people who care and are working to that end. It’s challenging for a small farm or restaurant to be certified organic but we see more coming along everyday. We don’t want to step on the toes of the businesses who climbed that hurdle by exclaiming untruths on our menu. “We use only organic, local and sustainable” is the intention and goal but the road to that goal has it’s share of challenges. Thank you for caring enough to ask! We’ll keep doing our best.