Hot Dish

Books and baguettes

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today for the union of two nonprofit organizations. To accompany the much-publicized Central Library opening, FareStart—a food-industry training institute for disadvantaged youth and adults that operates a restaurant, a catering service, and other culinary programs in Seattle—has prepared an unveiling of its own. According to spokesperson Pam Perry, the FareStart Library Café will serve snacks and light lunches, with "current staff members stepping into the management roles." The marriage makes sense from every angle: Current and future FareStart workers get "fantastic real-world experience," the library receives a monthly share of the revenues ($500 or 10 percent, whichever is greater), and the FareStart Restaurant on Third Avenue puts the financial boost toward a planned July expansion that could double its kitchen space. Starbucks even gave the happy couple a wedding gift: an industrial espresso machine.

Chew on these

The secrecy shrouding Eric Banh's new sandwich shop in the 1200 block of Pine Street lifted a bit last week, with the unofficial release of some mouthwatering menu details. The Baguette Box will feature a rotating roster of sumptuous sandwiches costing $5 to $7.50, including broth-poached pulled pork, "Cuban-style" marinated grilled chicken, leg of lamb, and fish, with a seasonally adjusted grilled eggplant baguette for the vegan diner. The shop, a co-production with Tom McElroy of Machiavelli, will also offer seasonal soups, a traditional French paté plate and gravlax (Scandinavian cured salmon), with one red wine, one white wine, and one beer to wash it all down with. And before anybody e-mails us to say "Why do you write about Eric Banh all the time?" The answer is: "Because he keeps doing cool stuff." OK?

We're only asking . . . 

The loss of Japan as an export market for beef has hit some producers especially hard. One such, Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, thought it had a way to allay Japanese fears of "mad cow" infection: test every single animal slaughtered so it could be certified BSE–free. Good idea; except the U.S. Department of Agriculture won't let them do it. Why not? Repeated calls to the USDA's press office have elicited no reply, but we can speculate: Could it be that megabeef processors who call the shots at the USDA these days don't want to see one of their smaller rivals set a precedent they might one day be called upon to meet?

I'm as corny . . . 

Today the land lies fallow, wet with spring rain and littered with last year's harvest debris, a silent portent of that age-old mantra: knee-high by the Fourth of July. The dedicated folks at Iowa Farmer Today maintain Corn Cam ( so Web-heads the world over can watch the corn grow in a field south of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. While awaiting this season's planting, you can learn the story of maize and the hazards of the European corn borer, lose yourself in photos of maize mazes, and consider the many uses of corn. And don't miss the comments sent in by viewers—clearly Corn Cam is a vital public service for homesick Midwesterners. Tired of corn? Take a peek at

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