Ten Questions for Anthony Campbell of Redwing Café in Rainier Beach, Seattle

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Redwing Café

When my chosen family in Seattle moved to the Rainier Beach, Seattle, neighborhood a year and a half ago, one of the first restaurants to which they introduced me was Redwing Café. I was immediately smitten with the entire restaurant, from the healthy menu selections to the warm and friendly atmosphere, to the art adorning the walls. Since my first visit, I have returned to Redwing Café every trip to Seattle. During one of my visits last year, we bought some of Redwing Café’s vegan biscuits for a sparkling wine brunch my family and I hosted. Needless to say, I was thrilled to finally meet and interview co-owner Anthony Campbell and share Redwing Café’s story.

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One of Redwing Café amazing dishes

I heard that your entry into cooking and the food industry was baking. Please share your story. 
I was a contractor for many years but was ready for a change. I always cooked at home but decided to teach myself to bake and it worked.

What inspired you to get into the restaurant business?
There were no restaurants near our home in Rainier Beach. I had worked in a vegetarian restaurant in the past and my wife and I decided to just go for it.

Is Redwing Café your first restaurant? How did you choose the name? How long have you been business? 
Yes, this is my first and only restaurant. My wife, Su Harambe, and I opened it four and a half years ago. I chose the name because my grandparents lived in Red Wing, Minnesota. When I was a kid we would visit often. It was a place I loved that felt very homey, someone was always glad to see you when you arrived.  I wanted the café to have that kind of a feeling. Like coming to our home for breakfast or lunch or just to hang out with coffee and a pastry. And, I think we achieved that.

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A brunch sandwich at Redwing Café

Why did you select your location in the Rainier Beach neighborhood of Seattle?
We have lived in Rainier Beach for the last 15 years and loved the neighborhood. We were missing a café, and we wanted one that embraced the entire community. I wanted to offer healthy food in a beautiful atmosphere. It is important to me that everyone feels welcomed by me and my friendly staff.

Will you share with us details about your restaurant’s concept and décor, especially the art element?
We worked with what we had, so a lot of things in the café were re-purposed. The beautiful wood walls just appeared when I removed the drywall. The exposed framing is for 2x4s nailed directly to each other. We cleaned up the wood and finished it with linseed oil. We like color and art and wanted to have all of these elements as part of Redwing. The art shows change every two months and we try to show mostly local art. All proceeds of art sales go to the artists. Art is a very important part of the experience here and my wife works hard to find lots of beautiful art to hang.

Is Redwing Café vegetarian? What is your style of cooking and baking?
Yes, Redwing Café is all vegetarian. We offer many vegan options as well as plenty of gluten free items. My wife and I have been vegetarians for most of our adult lives, so that was natural for us. The style of cooking and baking is pretty simple. We like the pastries to never been overly sweet. You should enjoy the flavors rather than being shocked by sweetness. The menu items are healthy and meat free, but we hope they are also appealing to people who are not vegetarian.

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My brunch with the indescribably delicious vegan biscuit

I am a huge fan of your vegan biscuits, thanks to my dairy-free friend, Gary, and I am a Southern girl that demands a lot from her biscuits. Will you share with us why and how you came up with the idea and recipe? What are some of the other customer and staff menu favorites? 
It was just a matter of trial and error until the perfect biscuit emerged. The Harambe salad is quite popular and it uses the lemon tahini dressing from an old Seattle favorite, Gravity Bar. My wife and I both worked there and since it no longer exists the owner gave us the go ahead to put it on our menu. Our almond croissants are quite popular. And of course, the vegan biscuits and gravy are a hit. For many of the vegan pastries, we use Earth Balance (vegan buttery sticks) in place of butter. The secret to the vegan biscuit is olive oil. The gravy contains hemp milk, cashews, almonds, and rice flour, among other things, all blended to a creamy consistency.

Do you have a philosophy as it relates to food, beverage, and hospitality?
We want things to be tasty, healthy and beautiful. We like everyone to feel like we are welcoming them into our home, our family and our community. Because of that feeling people seem to come in and join into that community and make new friends here. Kids seem to feel really comfortable at Redwing as well.

Do you have plans to open additional locations or restaurants? Why or why not?
No more. This is plenty of work and this was as much about Rainier Beach as it was about me owning a restaurant. It would be hard to duplicate in a neighborhood in which we weren’t so involved.

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A glimpse inside of Redwing Café

Do you have any additional information you would like to share with the readers, such as forthcoming menu items, events, etc.?
Yes, an event! May 10th from 6pm to 9pm we are hosting a fundraiser and art opening to benefit the Twilson Mack short film production, 703 – short, gay, and delicious. Featuring live music from Moon Dial, the evening will also be the official opening of writer/director Tom McIntire’s show of paintings of 703’s short, gay, and/or delicious cast members.

Redwing Café
9272 57th Ave S
Seattle WA 98118
Phone: (206) 420-1706
Email: redwingcafeseattle@gmail.com
Hours:
Tues – Fri 7am – 4pm
Sat & Sun 8am – 4pm
Closed Mondays

Being thankful in spite of adversity: saying goodbye to 2012

Bubbles reception at the Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars Harvest Celebration and Winemaker's Dinner
Bubbles reception at the Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars Harvest Celebration and Winemaker’s Dinner

I really thought 2012 was going to be my year. However, beginning in the summer, life began to change for the worse. I had a few health scares and issues. I had to move suddenly due to leak and mold issues in the place I had lived for 16 years. Out of the blue, my partner walked out of my life after 15 years together. Then in August, I learned that my college program, Liberal Arts, along with my 23-year teaching position, had fallen victim to the the bad economy. Both the program and my position were eliminated effective December 15, 2012 due to a budgetary reduction in force, so I had to put on a happy face and finish the semester at an institution that no longer valued me.

In spite of all that has happened, I vowed to move forward and enjoy life. I traveled to destinations such as Denver/Keystone, Austin, Houston, St. Louis/Ste. Geneviève (Missouri)Seattle/Woodinville, Victoria (British Columbia), Asheville, Napa and Sonoma, Charlotte, Williamsburg/Norfolk, San Francisco, Finger Lakes Wine Country in New York, Chicago for Thanksgiving, Philadelphia, and back to Asheville for Christmas and New Year’s Eve. In a span of three months, I earned my Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 1 Award in Wines (High Achievement) and Level 2 Award in Wines and Spirits (With Distinction). I ran/walked my first 5K, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Tri-Cities, in 50:13.4 minutes, an average of 16:12 minutes per mile. I flew on my first seaplane, Kenmore Air flight 320 from Seattle to Victoria, British Columbia: tail number N606KA, a 1954 Dehavilland DHC-3 C/N 37 (Otter). I also gained a new winery travel client.

The wines I’ve sampled this year have been great learning experiences and have kept my mind off of the challenges. I am thankful for the opportunities provided by ThirstyGirl’s #TGTaste events, as well as others such as Jeff Gordon Cellars, MTGA Wines, #CabernetDayWITS Technology Showcase and WineTwits Virtual Tasting, and #ChardonnayDay.

The readership of this blog has grown immensely this year, and I thank you for being a faithful supporter and reader. I will be forever grateful to Shari Stacy for taking care of my cat when I travel, Gourmet Rambler of theBrideScoop.com for sharing with me a taste of Chicago’s nightlife, Chef Robin White for including me in her Thanksgiving celebration, and long-time friend Nancy Skinner Adams for including me in her Christmas Day celebration at The Grove Park Inn.

I am not sure what the future holds, but I am determined to have a new career that involves travel, wine, writing, social media, hospitality, education, or a combination thereof. In spite of great adversity, I remain thankful for what I have and hopeful for the future.

W00t! Love Washington Wines!

Washington Wine Selections

When I was planning my trip to Seattle, I knew very little about Washington wines. I had been told that Washington was the nation’s second largest producer of wine, but only produced about one-twentieth of what California produces. Although I would be in Seattle only a few days, I decided to devote at least one day to wine tasting. A fellow blogger recommended I stick with Woodinville, about 30 minutes from Seattle. While I was in Seattle, the grand poobah of Masquerade Wine Company, Bill Kimmerly, told me about a tasting flight at the Woodland Park Zoo, so I spent an evening and a day tasting Washington wines mostly from small, boutique producers.

Woodland Park Zoo Tasting Flight

Convergence Zone Storm Front

Animale: Animale is perhaps the smallest producer of the wines I tasted at only 200 cases total per year of red wines with grapes sourced from family farms in Yakima, Columbia, and the Willamette Valley. I tasted the Petite Sirah and Zinfandel, which were both European-inspired, intense red wines with lots of dark berry flavors and silky texture.

Convergence Zone Cellars: Convergence Zone wines, named after the weather phenomenon in the Puget Sound, are family-produced. The winery offered a couple of the best price-to-quality wines I tasted while in Washington. The Dewpoint Dry Riesling was acidic and refreshing, with apricot and pear flavors. The Storm Front red blend showcased grapes from four vineyards and was truly a convergence of chocolate, dark berries, and dark fruits.

Masquerade Wine Company Selections

Masquerade Wine Company: Masquerade wines are produced by a husband and wife team, Bill and Jennifer Kimmerly. There were two wines officially offered for tasting, the Effervescing Elephant Brut (which I missed, as I arrived late) and the Les Collines Cabernet Sauvignon, but I also tasted some others, including a dry Gewürztraminer, Viognier, Rosé of Cabernet Franc, and a Syrah. My favorites were the aromatic, floral, fruity Gewürztraminer, perfect with my favorite spicy Asian foods, and the Rosé of Cabernet Franc, full of melon and strawberry, the perfect accompaniment to the warm, Seattle weather I experienced while there.

Joe Forest with his Tempus Cellars Selections

Tempus Cellars: Tempus Cellars is basically a one-man show, Joe Forest, with assistance from his wife, Mollie Delaney Forest. This boutique producer from Walla Walla offered a dry Riesling and a Grenache. The Riesling showed delightful fruit flavors of apricot and white peach. I was particularly intrigued by a Washington-produced Grenache, and I was not disappointed. It was made in the Rhône-style, with nice acidity, a lavender aroma, and dark raspberry flavor.

Whidbey Island Winery: This winery is located on Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains. The winery offered their Island White (Puget Sound) and Malbec (Yakima Valley). My favorite was the estate-produced Island White, a unique blend of Madeleine Sylvaner and Madeleine Angevine grapes. It was a perfect, light-bodied, fruity summer wine.

Woodinville

Alexandria Nicole Cellers 2011 Washington Winery of the Year

Alexandria Nicole Cellars: Alexandria Nicole Cellars is named after the winemaker’s wife (smart move!) and was the 2011 Washington Winery of the Year.  I tasted six wines: Pinot Gris, Shepherds Mark (68% Roussanne, 16% Marsanne, 16% Viognier), a squared Cabernet Franc Rosé, a squared Cabernet Sauvignon, Quarry Butte Red Table Wine, and Jet Black Syrah. All of the award-winning wines were delicious, but my favorite was the Shepherds Mark, another perfect summer wine bursting with melon, peach, and pear flavors.

Chateau Ste. Michelle: A visit to Woodinville would not be complete without a visit to the grande dame of Washington wines, Chateau Ste. Michelle. Most of us know the winery from its readily available and affordable Riesling, but it offers so many more wines than most of us realize. I opted to taste some of their different wines instead of the famous Rieslings, since I had tasted a lineup of three during a recent ThirstyGirl tasting. I tasted the Domaine Ste. Michelle Luxe, a Pinot Gris, Limited Edition Petit Verdot, and a Merlot. I purchased the Luxe, a classic Blanc de Blancs (100% Chardonnay), méthode champenoise sparkler, and the Limited Edition Petit Verdot, a wondrous wine full of black cherry and dark chocolate.

Gorman Winery The Big Sissy Chardonnay

Gorman Winery: Chris Gorman is a former wine importer rep who started making his own wines, which become commercially available in 2002. He produces under 3000 cases per year, primarily focusing on Red Mountain reds. The tasting room hostess told me the names of the wines describe the characteristics of the grapes, such as The Big Sissy (Chardonnay) and The Pixie (Syrah). I tasted The Big Sissy (Chardonnay), Zachary’s Ladder (Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot), The Evil Twin (70% Syrah, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon), The Pixie (100% Syrah), and The Bully (85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petit Verdot). Although the award-winning reds were magnificent, I found myself drawn to The Big Sissy Chardonnay, Conner Lee Vineyard, Columbia Valley (100% malolactic fermentation), which I do not usually like. It was luscious and creamy, with flavors of butter, caramel, and tropical fruits.

2009 Mark Ryan Winery Dead Horse

Mark Ryan Winery: Last, but certainly not least, Mark Ryan McNeilly is a self-made winemaker, Seattle Magazine‘s 2011 Winemaker of the Year, whose winery was named in the Top 100 Wineries of 2011 by Wine & Spirits Magazine. Similar to Gorman, McNeilly focuses primarily on award-winning, Red Mountain reds. His wines are interestingly named as well, with names like Long Haul (red blend) and Lost Soul (Syrah). At least three are named after Pearl Jam songs/lyrics: Crazy Mary Mourvedre, The Dissident (red blend) and Wild Eyed (Syrah). The only wine without a name is the Viognier. I wondered why. I tasted the Viognier, The Dissident (red blend), Wild Eyed (Syrah), and Dead Horse (red blend). After tasting The Dissident, I was sure I would purchase it, but once I tasted Dead Horse, I realized I had discovered the best wine of the day. It was a stunning: a complex, yet balanced blend of dark berries, cocoa, spices, and vanilla.

If you’re interested in viewing more photos of my tastings, please visit this public link. If I’ve whetted your palate for a Washington Wine destination getaway, please contact me at this link for assistance in planning and booking.

Travel as Solace

A person needs at intervals to separate from family and companions and go to new places. One must go without familiars in order to be open to influences, to change. ~ Katharine Butler Hathaway

Seattle

My summer has been one of change and unspeakable loss. I was wondering how I would cope, but I have challenged myself to travel a minimum of once per month, but with the condition that the trip must have a real purpose related to one of my careers. I threw myself into planning my trips and I’m finding myself away from home more than once per month, which is perfect, because I don’t want to be alone at home to dwell on the past. The process of planning and booking is also an activity that keeps my mind occupied.

My first purposeful trip as a solo traveler is this week. I will be traveling to Seattle, Washington, my first trip to the Pacific Northwest. I will be visiting Woodinville, Washington to taste wines from smaller, boutique producers. I can’t wait to share this trip and the wineries with you. I hope you will continue to follow my blog as I take my first step into a positive, purposeful future.