Where It All Began

I spent Saturday morning walking around one of my favorite Seattle neighborhoods where we resided a few years back. There was a cookbook sale taking place at Book Larder, a community cookbook store in Fremont, which only happens once a year. After spending a half hour or so browsing cookbooks and settling on a new one, I headed over to Lighthouse Roasters, a small unpretentious neighborhood coffee roaster which I’d argue serves the best coffee in town. When living in the area, we frequented this place regularly, always ordering the same thing: 2-16 oz Americanos with room for a touch of cold soy. Sadly, I didn’t recognize any of the baristas who were there day after day serving our coffee for two years. My favorite being the friendly, tall young man, often in an 80’s animal motif t-shirt (usually a large white wolf, sometimes a dog). I grabbed my coffee to go and ventured the long route back to my car in order to take in the sights of our old neighborhood and catch up on the new construction in the area.

It’s quite surreal how quickly the past few years have gone by; it’s been three years this past December since we vacated our little one bedroom 60’s era apartment (massive floor to ceiling mirrored closet doors, flashy chandelier, carport, popcorn ceilings, bedroom mold and all) in North Fremont and moved into our current home; three years being the longest we’ve lived in one place since our childhood homes. At the time, we didn’t realize how lucky we were living in such a trendy, convenient and urban neighborhood. When we originally came across the listing for the apartment, we weren’t familiar with this particular stretch of Fremont though we lived only a mile or so away on top of nearby Queen Anne.

Our apartment was on a residential street, two blocks from the main arterial which was home to noteworthy establishments such as Paseo, Dots Delicatessen (now closed but reopened in Pike Place), Via Tribunali, Pecado Bueno, Vif, Uneeda Burger, Rockcreek, Roux and Marketime Foods. It was near Book Larder and two blocks from Lighthouse Roasters. Quite the line-up.

While our apartment itself was quite bland, we had a large balcony overlooking Dayton Avenue on the second floor of the building. On the 4th of July you could just barely make out a glimmer of fireworks on Lake Union. We kept a small table and chairs out there which we used almost daily in the summer for our morning coffee or dinner while taking in the neighborhood sights.

We lived in that apartment for two years, the last apartment before purchasing our first home across town. Having migrated from a small 500 square foot apartment beforehand it was in that Fremont apartment that we finally had space to host our friends and families. It was also in that apartment that I discovered this quite delicious side salad and integrated it into our repertoire of reliable recipes. The recipe is adapted from Sarah Matheny who closed down her blog, Peas and Thank You, in 2013 and is no longer accessible on the web.

This salad is not only a favorite in our home, but widely appreciated by friends and family. It consists of hearty kale, apples, pistachios and a sweet but tangy sesame vinaigrette. The magic happens when you massage the dressing into the kale leaves (and we aren’t talking a light massage, really get in there good) for several minutes and then let it sit in the refrigerator to absorb and break down the tough fibers in the kale. It’s actually quite therapeutic and if I’m being honest, I sometimes purposefully include this salad in our dinner plans for a few peaceful minutes to clear my mind after a long day.

Sesame Kale Salad with Apples and Pistachios 
Serves 3-4, as a side dish

Ingredients
1 large bunch of curly kale, stems removed
1 red apple (i.e., Gala or Braeburn), chopped
1/2-3/4 cup shelled pistachios, roasted

Dressing
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1.5 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
pinch of salt

Directions
Wash and dry kale, and tear into bite size pieces. Whisk ingredients for dressing until combined well. In a large bowl, pour dressing onto kale and massage into the kale leaves for 2-3 minutes. Add the apple and pistachios, and toss to combine. Set salad aside or refrigerate for at least 15 minutes (as time allows) to enhance flavors. Serve along side main course.

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