Hot Dish

Against the grain While it's hardly unusual for a brewpub to serve hearty, alcohol-absorbing sandwiches to complement the suds, Capitol Hill's Elysian Brewery has been quietly reimagining bar food—normally a meat-centric repast—since 1999. Sure, their Philly cheese steak and barbecue sandwiches are tasty hangover-prevention tools, but there's something just a little different about what's in the bun. Thanks to the Georgetown-based Field Roast Grain Meat Company, Elysian diners who favor cruelty-free food with their quaffing can chow down on an ample selection of wheat-based, protein-rich meat substitutes slathered in barbecue sauce or covered with melted cheese. Heading a staff of six, company founder David Lee oversees the production of an adapted form of seitan, a textured vegetable protein that feels more like meat to the tooth than most soy-based products. Platinum diner-versary The Mecca Cafe (526 Queen Anne Ave. N.), one of Seattle's oldest family-owned restaurants, is aging in a style true to its image. From noon until midnight on Thursday, July 1, the Mecca's 75th anniversary, you won't have to worry about keeping up with the Joneses to celebrate. Loyal barflies will binge on 25-cent beers and one-dollar meatloaf with mashed potatoes. Since the place is owned by descendents of all-night-diner pioneers Preston and Francis Smith, its slew of regular customers and after-hours partyers could be considered an extended bunch of pseudo-relatives. Come out for this eclectic family reunion, or at least for the almost-free beer! Pricey pears In this age of burgeoning fast-food chains and genetically modified produce, it's refreshing when a fruit-and-vegetable seller sticks to its natural roots, prioritizing quality over quantity. Oregon's Harry and David, one of America's first mail-order food companies, is currently celebrating its 70th year of shipping gourmet fruits, vegetables, and sweets to high-society types. Though a standard box of their signature Royal Riviera pears costs more than three times what charges, the quality of H&D's ripe, succulent fruit is nonpareil. Each individually wrapped pear offers a glimpse of a simpler time, when rosy-cheeked, pin-curled women in polka-dotted dresses hand-picked delectable pieces of fruit and lovingly nestled them in a vintage wood crate. Even if such a time never existed, H&D's appeal lies in telling us that it did—and in keeping food within the personal realm, high above the abyss of genetically engineered potatoes and tomatoes. Hemp harangue A possible rehearing by the U.S. Court of Appeals may have natural foods stores once again scrambling to pull products containing hemp-such as cereals, waffles, veggie burgers, and nutrition bars-from their shelves. This would be the second such scare for hemp retailers and manufacturers-unexpected after the Feb. 6 ruling by the same court in favor of the Hemp Industries Association (HIA). That ruling ended a Drug Enforcement Administration ban on industrial hemp, which comes from the same plant family as marijuana but fails to contain enough THC to produce a high. Meanwhile, health-conscious consumers are lauding hemp foods as an excellent source of essential fatty acids, protein, and fiber. The rehearing would affect only food products made from hemp. It does not address the legality of other hemp products. Hemp-based foods can be found at PCC Natural Markets, Whole Foods, and Terra Hemp in Wallingford. Food and/or beverage news? E-mail Hot Dish at

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