Hot Dish

FISH OF STEEL Bruce Naftaly, chef-proprietor of Ballard's Le Gourmand, is well known as a man willing to go to a great deal of trouble just for what he calls "the romantic fun of it." What other kind of individual would forage the dank pathways of Discovery Park every spring to collect succulent young stinging nettles to serve in soups and salads? Now Naftaly's quixotic pursuit of the culinary near-unattainable has led him into a new role: that of licensed Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife Anadromous Fish Buyer. With his license ($180 a year) Naftaly can at last serve his discerning customers steelhead trout, the rigorously protected junior member of the great seagoing salmon family. Only Native Americans can legally fish for steelhead commercially; even they must throw back any fish not bearing a serial number proving them sustainably hatchery-produced. "I hear Fish and Wildlife has conducted sting operations, bringing steelhead to the back door and trying to get the chef to buy some," Naftaly says. "It may be an urban legend, but it scared me." Now unscared, Naftaly is currently serving his legal steelhead with a red-wine-based beurre rouge sauce on a cr갥 flavored with shiitake, king oyster mushroom, and roasted turnip. Later in the spring, it'll turn up cold under a chervil-flavored sauce vert. About the time nettles are back on the menu. Le Gourmand, 425 N.W. Market St. in BALLARD, 206-784-3463. THE TEAM WITH THE GOLDEN TOUCH Five fresh young things from the Art Institute culinary program beat out other student teams for the gold medal at the ACF Washington State Chefs Association Junior Hot Foods Competition on Saturday, Feb. 8. The AI students wowed the judges with their knife skills and with a four-course meal that centered on pan-Asian fish and chips, herb-roasted pork tenderloin, and saut饤 shiitake and hedgehog mushrooms with stone ground mustard demi-glace. Next, the team will head to Portland March 28-29 to take on culinary hopefuls from a dozen other West Coast teams. We'll keep our fingers crossed. INSTANT SWEETENER So you've been conned again by those sweet young things hanging around the parking lot and bought a bunch of Girl Scout Cookies you don't want to eat? Thanks to Seattle's own Fisher Communications (owner of STAR 101.5, KOMO 1000 News and KVI Talk Radio 570) you can now get rid of them and support the war effort! Send your surplus Thin Mints and Samoas to: Operation Cookie Drop, 140 Fourth Ave. N., #340, Seattle, WA 98109. They'll be forwarded to our troops in the Middle East. Think how thrilled they'll be. Fisher suggests enclosing a note with your donation. But word it very carefully, or you may find yourself taking an indefinite vacation behind barbed wire on beautiful Guantanamo Bay. DRINK FOR WASHINGTON! You could hit two events a day and still not sample all the tastings, dinners, and other special events lined up for this year's Washington Wine Month promotion. The industrious folks at the Washington Wine Commission have pulled all the information together for you and posted it on their Web site, When you get there, just click on "Events," then on "March 2003" and start planning to do your bit to keep our Evergreen State the No. 2 wine producer in the nation. Food and/or beverage news? E-mail Hot Dish at

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