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Originally published October 3, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified October 3, 2007 at 2:01 AM

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Food briefs

Wild Ginger to take a walk on the East side; Porcella Urban Market expands

Wild about Seattle's Wild Ginger? Well, hold on to your chopsticks. A second Ginger is slated to take root at The Bravern, a multi-use project under construction...

Food for Thought with Nancy Leson

Food For Thought airs every Wednesday on KPLU's Morning Edition at 5:35 and 7:35 a.m, and again on KPLU's Weekend Edition Saturday, at 8:35 a.m. Listen to "Panna cotta? What'sa thatta?," her latest commentary. Or subscribe to podcasts.

Wild about Seattle's Wild Ginger (1401 Third Ave., 206-623-4450, www.wildginger.net)? Well, hold on to your chopsticks. A second Ginger is slated to take root at The Bravern, a multi-use project under construction in downtown Bellevue. The Bravern will also house thousands of hungry Microsoft employees, two residential towers and a multitude of high-end retail stores including Neiman Marcus. The restaurant's opening is slated for summer 2009, says Wild Ginger's owner Rick Yoder, who celebrated the signing of a letter of intent — and a belated 50th birthday — last week.

"It's been a fairly complicated lease negotiation," says Yoder, who scored a very visible spot, occupying the southwest corner of the building at 110th Avenue Northeast and Northeast Sixth Street. "The more we looked at the project, the more we liked it."

Yoder and his wife, Ann, opened the original Wild Ginger on Western Avenue in Seattle in 1989, later moving their popular pan-Asian restaurant to spacious new digs at Third and Union in 2000. We can expect "a similar look and feel" to that of the existing Ginger, with a bilevel dining space, an expansive satay bar and the menu that's been driving us wild for nearly 20 years.

Nancy Leson, Seattle Times restaurant critic

More seats, more eats at Bellevue's Porcella

Finding a seat at Bellevue's Porcella Urban Market (10245 Main St., 425-289-1699) just got easier. Chef/owner Kelly Gaddis has added 30 seats to its dining room for a total of 55 as Porcella shifts from specialty-foods purveyor to lunch and dinner destination.

Gaddis has expanded the lunch menu and is serving autumn-inspired meals for dinner: Duck with butternut squash and pistachios; an Italian version of pork, greens and beans; lamb chops; steak frites; and more.

Bellevue's appetite for specialty foods seems much smaller than Seattle's, Gaddis said, and it's been tough to beat competitors on prices being an independent. So he's focusing on the restaurant and hosting special events over retail, though he'll maintain his deli case and several shelves of his most popular items, including vinegars, salts, mustards, pastas and cheeses.

He'd initially planned on opening in Seattle but wanted to avoid a brutal commute from his Woodinville home. Now he's on the lookout for a good spot to open a second market to the west, possibly in Queen Anne, Ballard, Fremont, South Lake Union or along the food lover havens of Capitol Hill's 12th and 19th avenues.

Red mango for frozen-yogurt fix

Will frozen yogurt replace cupcakes as the next dessert du jour? Red Mango, a huge fro-yo sensation in South Korea, will open its third U.S. outpost in Bellevue Square come November (the others are in Las Vegas and fro-yo-crazy Los Angeles). Red Mango adds yet another option to an increasingly crowded field.

Shnoo (223 Kirkland Ave. Suite 102 in Kirkland, and 1514 Fourth Ave. in Seattle), Crazyberry (131 Broadway Ave. E., Seattle), Yoberry (823 Third Ave., Seattle) and ce'fiore (111 Lake St., Kirkland) also opened in recent months, hoping to capitalize on the popularity of Pinkberry, a California-based fro-yo chain.

But before all of these there was Shy Giant, which has held court in Pike Place Market since the 1970s.

Iceberg gets respect — organically

Some farmers joke that it's the polyester of vegetables. Yet iceberg lettuce is showing up on farmers market tables around the region, but with a twist — it's organic. Carnation's Full Circle Farm and Stoney Plains Organic Farm of Tenino both grew iceberg for the first time this year to meet the wedge-salad demands of restaurants like St. Clouds, Eva Restaurant & Wine Bar and Union, and consumer demand for anything and everything organic. Varieties bear intriguing names like Sniper and Sharpshooter and have a sweet, light flavor, says Full Circle community outreach coordinator Mark McIntire (he likes to use the leaves for roll ups and wraps). "My mother is a nutritionist. [Growing up] I never indulged in the baloney and white bread with iceberg lettuce," McIntyre said. "I was surprised when I took a bite of our iceberg lettuce how much flavor it has."

Odds and ends

Now open: Venik Lounge (227 Ninth Ave. N., 206-223-3734, veniklounge.com) in Seattle's evolving South Lake Union neighborhood, where the specialty is vodkas infused with seasonal organic fruits and vegetables; Ballard's Austin Cantina (5809 24th Ave. N.W., 206-789-1277), serving up Tex-Mex favorites like chicken-fried steak along with vegan options, with many local ingredients.

For a good cause: Downtown Seattle restaurant Union (1400 First Ave., 206-838-8000) will host a fried-chicken cook-off at 6 p.m. Sunday featuring chefs and foodies including Ericka Burke and Heather Earnhardt of Volunteer Park Cafe and Earth & Ocean's Adam Stevenson. Tickets are $50 per person at 206-838-8000 and include all-you-can-eat fried chicken, coleslaw, potato salad and tap beer. All proceeds go to support the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).

Awards: Branding Iron Foods of Kent took first and third place in the specialty hot sauce category at the Fort Worth, Texas, ZestFest with E.Z. Earl's Blazing Hot and E.Z. Earl's Smoking Hot sauces, respectively. Branding Iron sauces placed in the BBQ Table Sauce and Fan Favorite Hot Sauce categories, too. Here at home, Kenny Beyersdorf, of Seattle, took home the grand prize among amateurs at Salumi Artisan Cured Meats' first salumi curing contest last Sunday at Festa Italiana. He and his mom, Rosetta, won a brass pig trophy and a $100 Salumi gift certificate for crafting two kinds of salamis: a family recipe sopprasanta named Di San Marco Argentano and a salsiccia calabrese. Earth & Ocean executive chef Adam Stevenson took home the grand prize in the professionals category.

This weekend: The ninth-annual Skagit Valley Farm Tour opens 15 farms to the public with free admission and parking. Pick a pumpkin, pet a baby alpaca, taste fresh local apple cider, ice cream and barbecued oysters, and meet the farmers. Call 360-421-4729 or visit farmtour.com for details.

Karen Gaudette, Seattle Times staff reporter

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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