Summertime in Seattle is more than just unbeatable weather: Seasonal food choices abound. If you're here during the summer months, the amount of locally grown produce and locally caught seafood is astounding. And many chefs take care to create their menus around the very best. Here's what to look for if you'd like to taste the flavor of a Seattle summer.
Currently, Copper River salmon has made a big splash around town. Only available for a limited time, this beautiful fish is a must for anyone who loves seafood. In addition, said Elliott's Oyster House Executive Chef Robert Spaulding, "It's a really good time for oysters right now." He explained that they're fattening up in preparation for spawning. Other seafood currently in season is halibut and local crab. "(Seattle) is the best place in the nation, in my opinion, to come for seafood," Spaulding said.
Seafood isn't the only thing you should look for when dining out around town. Produce is going crazy. While it's the tail end of asparagus season, items like local strawberries are flooding the market. RN74's Executive Chef David Varley is using local Sakuma Brothers Farm strawberries in a beautiful strawberry sorbet served with fennel, yogurt and vanilla cake. Also quickly coming into season are stone fruits. Look for Rainier cherries at Pike Place Market. Locals gobble them up, and for good reason—they're only available for a short time. And soon, peaches. "That really awesome peach," said Varley. "That, for me, is summer."
Other produce currently in season or coming over the summer months: tomatoes, corn, summer squash, English peas, fava beans, artichokes and a variety of greens—Spaulding is currently severing a salmon dish with wild arugula and Oregon hazelnut pesto served alongside a Washington potato and onion hash. Foragers are also out, finding fantastic wild ingredients. Varley has porcini mushrooms currently on his menu, including Gnocchi Parisienne made with pâte à choux that is poached and then caramelized, served with roasted porcinis.
When dining in Seattle, Varley said, "I would encourage people to seek out the smaller operations that are more representative of what the people of Seattle are eating."
Said Spaulding, "Choose somebody that touts local ingredients, and definitely seek out the items on the menu that come from nearby, because it's a really wonderful time of year to experience what the Northwest has to offer for really good food."