New Spots in Wallingford, Columbia City; Michael Pollan for the Holidays

News, thoughts, and openings from Voracious, our food blog.

iPods and Cookies?

Every week, I receive strange swag from companies who haven't bothered to read our paper or call me to learn that we don't write about national products or out-of-town restaurants. As any Weekly employee will tell you, the products go on a table where anyone who passes by can sample from them freely. The goods disappear quickly or linger for days, depending on their appeal, but they never make it into the paper. (FYI, Tyson: You really, really don't want to know what I think about your Anytizers.)

Today a major cookie manufacturer—which I'm not going to name but whose products you can find in the "classy" section of your neighborhood convenience store—FedExed me the most outrageous bit of swag I've ever received, pictured above, completely unrelated to its new line of cookies. After debating what to do with this device, we've decided to hold a silent auction and donate the proceeds to Food Lifeline.

This gray 1 GB iPod Shuffle, sealed in the box, retails for $79. If you're interested, e-mail your bid to me at The minimum bid is $40, and bidding will close Thursday, Nov. 1, at 5 p.m.; on Friday I'll contact bidders to let them know where they stand. The winning bidder will be asked to pay Food Lifeline via credit card (the organization assures me its staff can take the donation over the phone). Once Food Lifeline lets me know it has been paid, I'll send you the device.

Just think: You can buy your niece or roommate a Christmas gift, contribute to a very worthy local nonprofit, and take a stand against insane marketing promotions all at once. Bid high, bid often, bid now!

— Jonathan Kauffman

Joule Opens Saturday in Wallingford

When chefs Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi left Coupage in May, citing "professional differences," they reminded us they weren't leaving Seattle. On Saturday, Yang and Chirchi's small new restaurant, Joule, opens in Wallingford, just down the street from Tilth.

When I spoke with Yang this afternoon, she talked up Joule's menu. She wants food to be a more fun, tactile experience than it was at her last gig. We'll see similar French and Korean influences, but with what she calls "stronger, bolder, deeper flavors." She says Joule (named after the energy unit, for those who were stoned in 11th-grade chemistry) will have a much younger, more casual atmosphere than Coupage, and hopes Joule's food will be a hands-on experience—you'll pick the bones out of whole grilled branzino yourself, and gussy it up with a DIY assortment of pickles and new takes on kimchi. Also keep your eyes open for more creative game cuts, like bison hanger steak and wild boar bacon.

Joule Restaurant, 1913 N. 45th St., 632-1913, WALLINGFORD.

Open 5–11 p.m. Fri.–Sat., 5–10 p.m. Sun.–Thurs. Closed Mondays.

— Jess Thompson

Villa Victoria Opens in Columbia City

In the early part of this decade, Naomi Andrade Smith sold tamales and other Mexican takeaway dishes out of a window on the side of Dulces Latin Bistro on East 34th Avenue in Madrona. Four years ago, Smith made plans to expand. She found a space just down the street and secured a loan to fit it up, but on the day she signed the loan papers, she also went into the hospital with abdominal pains. Cancer.

Plans canceled. At least for the moment.

Last week, Smith finally got the space she wanted—only this one is in Columbia City, on the ground floor of a new condo building. Villa Victoria is now open for takeout (there are no seats) Tuesday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Smith, whose mother comes from Michoacán and whose father grew up in Eastern Mexico, is selling tamales again, plus dishes like marinated roast chicken and chilaquiles, a chicken-tortilla casserole.

Out of her commercial kitchen on Rainier, she also roasts coffee—right now a Brazilian Sul de Minas and an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe—which, she says, officially makes her Columbia City's first coffee roastery.

— Jonathan Kauffman

Michael Pollan for Christmas, Lark for Valentine's

It's never too early for holiday shopping, right? As a corollary, I presume it's never too early to make wish lists? I'll be asking for Michael Pollan's new book this year, and if my sweetie happens to ask what I'd like to do for Valentine's Day, for once I have an answer: I'll point him straight to Lark.

On Valentine's Day (don't panic, that's still almost four months away), the Cooks and Books Visiting Chef Series hosts Pollan at Lark for a discussion on In Defense of Food. Chef John Sundstrom will be in the kitchen per usual, except this time it'll cost you $150. (Hmm. No word on the menu yet, but I'm guessing we'll Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.)

May sound outrageous, but since Michael Pollan is the only person who gets me even marginally politically motivated (or wait—was that a swoon?), I'm going.

If someone else pays for it, that is.

Michael Pollan at Lark, 926 12th Ave., 323-5278.

Feb. 14, 2008, 6  p.m. and 8:30 p.m. (two seatings).

$150 per person includes all food, wine, and an autographed copy of the book.

— Jess Thompson

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