East Beats West?

While the popularity of Ethiopian cuisine in Seattle continues to grow, West African fare isn't faring so well. Following the recent closures of Belltown's Senegalese-inspired Afrikando and Pioneer Square's Nigerian-oriented Wazobia, Pan Africa Market, whose menu is divided about equally between East and West, is now the sole purveyor of West African food in the downtown area. Afrikando is being replaced by a sushi bar—yes, another Belltown sushi bar—called Wild Fish. The future of the Wazobia space remains unknown. Wazobia owner Terry Emmatrice had expressed interest in opening another restaurant, according to Mulugeta Abate, who owns Pan Africa and is friendly with several other African restaurateurs in town. Yet when Wazobia closed its doors, Abate was as surprised as anyone. And though he used to refer customers to Afrikando for Senegalese food (of which Pan Africa offers only a modest selection), and maintained a collegial relationship with its owner, Jacques Sarr, he didn't see that restaurant's closure coming, either, particularly since it had been in business for seven years.

Cheap Shots

If you think that Starbucks baristas are still actually pulling your espresso drinks, you're wrong. They're pushing them. While most indie coffeehouses are operated by old-fashioned shot wranglers (check the right shoulder muscle; if it's overdeveloped, you're probably getting the real thing), at Starbucks the espresso machines are as automated and modern as those creepy "smart cards." But hey, that's progress—and it can be available in the comfort of your own home. Want 21st-century coffee culture in your kitchen? There's no better time than the present; several of Starbucks' home espresso machines (and other coffee doo-dads) are on sale until April 12 during Starbucks Annual Brewing Sale. If "fully automatic" and "push-button ease" are music to your ears (and if you've got $995 and change to spare) visit www.starbucks.com for more.

Down to the farm

Every year, King County's Market Fresh program publishes an exhaustive guide to farms, farmers' markets, and CSA-programs supporting local agriculture. But the program doesn't pay the costs of distributing the thousands of copies of the 2005 Farm Guide. That's where you come in. Volunteers are needed to haul packets of the guide to producers all over Whatcom, Snohomish, King, Kitsap, and Thurston counties (not to mention the Olympic Peninsula). Give Wendy Dore of the Cascade Harvest Coalition a call at 425-644-4331, pick up your assigned bundle, pick a beautiful day for a trip into the country, and make you deliveries. For more, see www.cascadeharvest.org.

Pick Yu'pik!

Along about now, Seattle salmon eaters start dreaming about the opening of the Copper River King season in May, of those thick red slabs of succulent meat practically oozing healthful Omega-3 fatty acids. Good news: If the craving's threatening to overwhelm you, you can have the very next best thing right now: frozen Yukon River king salmon, harvested by some 700 members of the Yu'pik native nation whose ancestors have been fishing the treacherous mouth of the Yukon for 10,000 years. Select Fish, Whole Foods' fishmongering subsidiary, brings the fish in; it's available in restaurants and at retail from shops dealing with Mutual Fish Company. Taste and health aren't the only reasons to buy Yukon king. The fishery is certified by the international Fair Trade Federation—the only fishery in the world so far to gain that certification, which guarantees equitable prices, fair wages, and sustainable fishing practices.

Food and/or beverage news? E-mail Hot Dish at food@seattleweekly.com.

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