Our first award goes to the best example I know of the essence of the caring and connection that comes from sharing food.  It involves Performance . . .Art . . .Sensory delight. A shared meal here is a celebration of the aliveness of earth-to-table cooking.  You can’t help but applaud at the end.
[ about the chef ] ]---[ HerbFarm Salad Recipe ]

Woodinville, Washington

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The seventh of nine courses is being served, each one more imaginative than the last, featuring fresh herbs.  In comforting Victorian ambiance our table for two is aglow with candlelight, a bounty of titanium crystal glasses, and a tiny pink Cecil Brunner rose inserted in each folded napkin.  Next to us sits a silver frame, a gift, enclosing the words, “Welcome to the Herbfarm Diana and Ted Wentworth."

We are surrounded by the gentle music classical guitarist, Patricio Contreras who trained at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Madrid.

This week’s “Menu for a Copper King” features Copper River sockeye salmon in the starring role.  The main course, my favorite, is the simplest—a meltingly tender, gently roasted fillet of Copper River sockeye salmon, very red in color, on a pool of lemon thyme cream surrounded with tiny springs of 8 or 10 assorted fresh herb flowers and tender leaves to be sampled with alternate bites. It is the most spectacular method of preparing and presenting salmon I’ve seen.

The Herbfarm in Washington State is in the Sammamish Valley, a 30-minute drive from downtown Seattle, in the heart of the Woodinville wine country where hosts and Ron Zimmerman and Carrie Van Dyck offer a nine-course dinner with six matched wines from their 25,000 bottle wine cellar and a single four-hour seating nightly.

Themed menus, such as Menu for an Autumn Sketchbook in the fall, and The Holly and the Ivy during the December holidays, change weekly and are finalized only minutes before the meal.  Each draws inspiration from the rhythms of the season, the ever-changing Northwest harvest, and the offerings of small growers and producers who provide wild mushrooms, heritage fruits, handmade cheeses and other rare treasures.


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I had heard news of The Herbfarm for years.  Many say is the best restaurant in the United States and “the ultimate expression of the Northwest’s bounty.”  National Geographic declares it “The #1 destination restaurant in the world.”

Though I knew it could take a year to secure a reservation, I kept hoping an ideal opportunity would appear on our calendar. This past May, when my husband Ted and I were planning our adventure of riding the rails through the Canadian Rockies aboard the Rocky Mountaineer, I had an idea—to book our flight through Seattle and drive to Vancouver.

 I  found the, and when I phoned for reservations learned much of the seating is at European common tables where diners are seated with others so people will enjoy making new friends and chatting about the food.  

Being romantically inclined, we are lucky to secure a table for two, and also made a reservation to spend the night at the Willows Lodge right next door.  It is rated #12 best hotel in the U. S. and Canada by Travel and Leisure, and is directly across the street from Chateau Ste. Michele where one of our favorite Rieslings is produced.

Our evening began at 6:30 with Carrie taking us on a tour of the fragrant, lush herb gardens along paths strewn with a thick layer of hazelnut shells.  While we sniffed all the herbs to be used in the evening’s menu she showed us how to remove the stem from a spiky purple chive blossom, and break apart the florets to sprinkle over entrees or into salads.
“All herb flowers are edible,” she tells us, “so use them with abandon!” 

She introduced us to the “Recyclers,” pot-bellied pigs named Basil and Borage, who we are encouraged to visit during a break when we can walk outdoors in the garden and take along some scraps in a “pig visiting kit,” or shop in the parlor for some of the table setting items like the gorgeous titanium wine glasses, both Herbfarm cookbooks, and the guitarist’s CD, Spanish Lavender.

Ron Zimmerman and the chefs speak to us with the serving of each course explaining its components just as it arrives at the table.  Such thought and dedication to beauty and excellence is inspiring. 

Our dinner at the Herbfarm is the most beautifully served, delicious meal of my lifetime. Every artful course starred herbs, even the dessert. Cost, including nine courses, five wines and tip was about $400, and well worth it!  It has changed completely the way I feel about cooking. My modest herb garden is now much more expansive and appreciated.  I now harvest herbs every day to enhance scrambled eggs, soups and stews, and the exquisite HerbFarm Salad. Always served with menus, the Herbfarm Salad, a green salad made with up to 30 ingredients, each literally harvested and assembled on the plate one leaf a time  – a delicious work of art. (The Herbfarm Cookbook features a chart listing 50 possible choices.)  And when company comes, I often recreate the slow-roasted salmon with spring-herb sauce recipe from Traunfeld’s The Herbal Kitchen, (Morrow, 2005).  One of our guests found the sauce so enticing she actually licked the plate!

Click for my version of The HerbFarm Salad

Chef Jerry Traunfeld was the Herbfarm Chef since 1990. Passion and excitement for his craft won him the James Beard Best American Chef award, and the IACP award for being one of the best chefs in the country and the world. Fortunately, he is an excellent teacher and clear writer, meticulously researching the ideal use of herbs for both his award-winning books.  Read about the current Chef...

The Herbfarm Cookbook (Scribner, 2000) has 200 herb-inspired recipes, plus a complete guide to growing, handling and cooking with fresh herbs.  It has been called the most complete, inspired and useful book about cooking with herbs ever written.  My old friend and colleague Marion Cunningham, author of the Fannie Farmer cookbook says “. . .this is not only a collection of sparkling recipes, it is also the best herb reference book I’ve ever seen.”

Click to buy autographed copy of The HerbmFarm Cookbook
Click to buy a copy of
The Herbal Kitchen Cookbook
by Jerry Traunfeld

 The Herbal Kitchen; Cooking with Fragrance and Color (William Morrow, 2005) features simple dishes for the home cook.

Introducing Keith Luce
Keith M. Luce took the helm as executive chef at the Herbfarm on October 1, 2007. Trained in New York at the Rainbow Room, Le Cirque, and La Côte Basque, getting A-list tutorials from the incomparable pastry chef, Jacques Torres, and the dynamic Jean-Jacques Rachou has prepared him perfectly.  In 1997, Food & Wine chose Luce as one of America’s “Top 10 Chefs.” A year later, the James Beard Foundation named him “Rising Star Chef of the Year.”
For reservations and information, contact
(425) 485.5300
14590 NE 145th Street
Woodinville, WA  98072

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