Local caffeine retailers were caught flat-footed by the news that Peaberry's of San Francisco has purchased the wholesale division of Seattle's Blue Willow Tea Company. Another homegrown business selling out to the big boys? Hardly. Peaberry's is a small shop with 22 years of experience, and Frank Miller, owner of Blue Willow, thinks it's a good fit. The Blue Willow Teahouse (1024 E. Pike) will continue to serve the same exceptional teas, with an expanded menu of dim sum-esque treats (think dumpling and scallion pancakes), along with a broader, varying selection of new teas (Miller was exploring 20 fragrant possibilities from the Yunnan province last Friday afternoon). While he and his business partners are happy with one teahouse, expansion into more neighborhoods is a real possibility—but he promises it'll never be another Starbucks.
MAJORING IN MEAT
A reader of our Sept. 11 feature on Jewish food reminded us that though Ballard is never going to be mistaken for Brooklyn, it's got one thing even Brooklynites go for: the pastrami turned out by the team of Glick and Froyd. Restaurateur Peter Glick and passionate cook Gus Froyd put in nine months of research—a lot of it eating at Katz's world famous New York deli—to come up with the perfect spice rub and dry-cure formula to turn humble beef brisket into sandwich ambrosia. A prize winner in East Coast taste tests, G&F pastrami is sold here at home at Roxy's, the deli arm of Cascioppo Bros. Italian Meat Market in Crown Hill, but you can also feast on it at Roxy's downtown and at Maggie's Bluff at Palisade in Magnolia. Slice-your-own pastrami purists can order their own whole slab (around 3 pounds at $11.99 a pound) on the Web: www.pastramisandwich.com.
Chain-restaurant chefs don't often get invited to cook for the superfoodies who foregather at New York's James Beard House. But Il Fornaio is not your typical chain: Executive chef Maurizio Mazzon hires "chef-partners" like Seattle's Carlo Allesina to head each of the 14 Fornaio restaurants and gives them plenty of latitude in the menu department. He's taking Allesina along to help prepare his Oct. 29 $110-a-person Beard banquet, which will lean heavily on such non-chain ingredients as grass-fed tenderloin, hand-rolled mozzarella balls, and white truffles.
WE'RE THE WURST
It's not bad enough we got the phone number wrong in last week's write-up of Matt's Famous Chili Dogs (Bellevue location); we managed to call Matt's "Mike's" in our table of contents, so Mike's Chili Parlor in Ballard started getting calls, too. Thanks to Mike's for generously directing callers to their Bellevue sorta-competition, and special props to the kind folks at Pallis Realty Advisors for patiently telling callers: "No, we don't sell chili dogs: The number you want is 425-637-2858. And you have a nice day now."
Food and/or beverage news? E-mail Hot Dish at email@example.com.