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Monday, January 30, 2012

fast got faster

Look at what the cool kids at the Whitman Pioneer did for our add.  Nice job future leaders of America. 

We make some pretty fast sandwiches.  Well now you can get them faster.  Text message the order, we respond "K", you come and pick it up.  Let's pretend you are me... and you eat a sandwich about 6.5 days a week.  Right before you leave the house, or office, or wherever, send a text, get in the car, and it will be ready when you get there.  Everything in Walla Walla is ten minutes away.  Ten minutes or less and it will be ready, pretty much always.  Who wants to have a messy phone conversation regarding a sandwich anyway? 


Sunday, January 22, 2012

It Takes Time

Lots of the dishes we make take time.  Which requires a fair amount of planning... and a good deal of salt.  Morton's Kosher Salt is our favorite. (have I mentioned that before?)  Gravalax is one of our favorite things to make.  A whole salmon filet, skin on, bones pulled, kosher salt and white sugar, crushed juniper berries, fresh dill sprigs, and thinly sliced lemon.  The filets get flipped, and pressed with a weighted pan... two to three days later the cured salmon is ready to be thinly sliced.

We make our creme fraiche, that takes two days minimum, from buttermilk and heavy cream.  The wafer thin crostinis we make from a day old baguette, that's another day.  To serve we thinly slice red onion, get some capers, and tidy everything up for service.

All in all we work as much with the calendar as we do with cooking utensils.

Here is our prime rib.  We use wet aged 21 day prime rib.  Which means it has been in the cryovac bag for three weeks, as opposed to dry aging which is exposed to air.  Three days prior to the party we trim it, tie it, salt and pepper it, herb it, garlic it... and then set it in the cooler.  Three days of salt on a piece of meat works magic.

We put lots of time into our food, for both catered parties and the sandwich shop.  Customers seem to notice the difference.  (Now this customer may be exagerrating just a bit... but we will take the compliment cheerfully.)


Monday, January 16, 2012

Dinner at Longshadows

We do exactly one benefit dinner a year, and it is for the YWCA.  Why the YWCA... well they asked a few years back and it has turned into a bit of a tradition.  The last two years the Graze Catering Dinner at Longshadows has been the top money getter.  And the same people who bought it last year, bought it again this year.  We were pretty proud and flattered.  (And super nervous... do you know how nerve rattling it is to cook dinner costing a couple of thousand dollars?)

You, gentle reader, didn't buy the package, but here is a tour of the dinner... bad phone camera shots and all. (I have been photo-ing food since this blog started, and I think I finally appreciate how incredibly hard it is to take really good food photos.)

First course.  Pureed cauliflower soup, truffle salt, fried brussels sprout leaves, fried cauliflower leaves, and under the leaf business is a chunck of french triple cream cheese.  It was pretty decadent.  Served with the merlot blend Pedestal.

Second course.  French lentils, creme fraiche and crispy duck confit (they are under the greens), celery seed, topped with a salad of celery leaves, radish, and italian parsley.  Served with the Poet's Leap reisling.

Third course.  A total gear switch.  A bed of red wine beef ragu, topped with pasta and sauteed garlic and curly endive, extra virgin olive oil, shaved parmesan... and not pictured a crostini rubbed with garlic and smeared with a parsley picada.  Paired with the Saggi.

Fourth course.  A bed of millet (its under there somewhere), roast carrots rutabegas onions and brussels sprouts, leg of lamb, and lamb reduction sauce.  Paired with the Sequel syrah.

We finished the meal off with cake from the patisserie and the super awesome dessert wine, Poet's Leap botrytus reisling.


Seattle Wedding Show

Dear Seattle People Who Want A Destination Wedding,
Walla Walla is a great choice.  We have an airport, a really nice hotel, great event sites, lots of wineries, a top flight golf course, a few super duper restaurants, a cute downtown, pleasant weather (lots of sunshine for nice pictures), some very talented vendors, and one pretty outstanding caterer.

I got to go to the Seattle Wedding Show last weekend to promote Walla Walla as a wedding destination.  It was pretty fun.  We met lots of nice people.  Including these two lovely ladies who were outside, not exactly sure what they were doing, but whatever it was, they were having fun.

Selling white goth bridal gear perhaps?

A nice side benefit to going to Seattle for a couple of days is we got to eat, and eat, and eat.  We took a couple of trips to Skillet Diner (it was as close to perfect as a diner can be), hit up The Walrus and The Carpenter oyster bar, checked out Rn74 (What's up Larkin!!! You weren't working the night we stopped in, we cooked together at the ill-fated 26brix.), Quinn's, Nijo Sushi, and a bunch of other places. 

Skillet Diner Burger with Bacon Jam

Yeah, we hit up a bunch of sandwich places too.  Paseo is closed this time of the year, the second year in a row we have missed trying their creations which make online Yelp reviewers go manic with praise.  This is the fifth trip to Seattle in a year, and it is with a great deal of pleasure I can say, "Seattle Sandwich Shops... you can't make this... and definitely not this."

                               veggie torta                         pastrami

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Our Favorite Week of the Year

January 8th to the 14th is our favorite week of the year. 
Do we have a number of big caterings? No. 
Do we have the entire week off from work?  No.
Is the weather extra nice?  Not typically.
Why then?

Our daughter was born January 14th, four years ago.  She was very sick and had to stay in the St. Marys Spokane NICU for 100 days.  And for many of our weekend trips we would stay at the Ronald McDonald House.  We could cook our own meals, play games with our son, and not spend too much money on a hotel room or eating out.  It was a good, safe, understanding, and comfortable place.  A place that is very important to families with sick kids.  

Well our daughter is an all-too-grown-up four year old now.  We couldn't be luckier.  Here she is striking a pose at Whitehouse Crawford on a date with mom and dad. 

For the week of January 8th to the 14th we donate 10% of our sandwich shop sales to the Ronald McDonald House of Spokane. 

Yep, that is something to be happy about.  Thank You RMCDH!!!!


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Graze Index

(This piece of self indulgence has turned into a bit of tradition for me, so please forgive any overly sentimental chatter.) 
Oh boy, what a year.  Catering isn't easy.  A restaurant creates a menu, a vibe, a theme, and does the same thing everyday, with minor tweaks along the way.  With catering everything is different, every event, every day.

Number of guests (smallest party 8 guests, largest party 1,000 guests). Environment (bone chilling rain to 110 degrees in a field in July to wine dinner in the barell room)
Guests (nurses, teachers, yuppies, factory workers, seniors, kids, foodies, the list goes on)
Menu (Spanish, French, Italian, Merican, Mexican, Greek, etc etc)
Service (apps, buffet, family style, plated, breakfast, lunch, dinner)

You get the idea.  But we love what we do, we like serving people, we like making events better because we are there, we like cooking different things every event, we like seeing guests smile.  We are pretty good at what we do.  We hope you hire us.

In honor of 2011, I present you with the Graze Catering Index (with apologies to Harper's Index). All totals are Graze Catering only, and do not reflect numbers from Graze 'a place to eat', our sandwich shop.

Guests served in 2006 --- 604
Guests served in 2007 --- 3,319
Guests served in 2008 --- 8,053
Guests served in 2009 --- 12,166
Guests served in 2010 --- 15,468
Guests served in 2011 --- 18,771

Number of events 2006 --- 17
Number of events 2007 --- 66
Number of events 2008 --- 83
Number of events 2009 --- 176
Number of events 2010 --- 194
Number of events 2011 --- 216

Number of events 150+ guests 2006 --- 0
Number of events 150+ guests 2007 --- 2
Number of events 150+ guests 2008 --- 11
Number of events 150+ guests 2009 --- 16
Number of events 150+ guests 2010 --- 26
Number of events 150+ guests 2011 --- 39

Number of weddings/rehearsals 2006 --- 0
Number of weddings/rehearsals 2007 --- 6
Number of weddings/rehearsals 2008 --- 18
Number of weddings/rehearsals 2009 --- 22
Number of weddings/rehearsals 2010 --- 22
Number of weddings/rehearsals 2011 --- 31

2010: Sandwiches served by Graze - a place to eat (dine in, delivery, and pick up) --- 29,619.
2011; Sandwiches served by Graze - a place to eat (dine in, delivery, and pick up) --- 43,609
**** Look out McDonalds!!!

Thanks to all our past and future clients and guests. We look forward to serving you again.