CHEFS & r & Hot Stove League & r & One of the fun parts of watching Spokane's evolving food scene is keeping up with chefs who've made a name for themselves in the community. Foodies with fond memories of the late lamented Quinn's will be happy to hear that Chef KILE TANSY has just signed on at OLIVE OILZ on the South Hill. Tansy and Olive Oilz owner Paula Horning threw a sort of "coming out" party last weekend, with Tansy's friends providing the music, Horning's friends pouring the wine -- and Tansy dishing up a savory sampling of favorites.
"I couldn't be more thrilled," says Horning. "I am just so excited."
Horning says she first met Tansy several years ago at Quinn's, but they recently "re-met" at a party where Tansy was playing in the band. One thing led to another, they talked, and now Tansy's getting settled in the kitchen at Olive Oilz.
The lunch menu focuses on soups, salads, panini and focaccia sandwiches, both hot and cold -- items that were Horning's original inspiration for the place -- but with Tansy's touch in the oven-roasted breast of turkey and the rosemary pork loin sandwiches. The new dinner menu, debuting today, features four entr & eacute;es, from steak to cioppino ($14-$25), along with an extended selection of antipasti ($4-$14), in keeping with the trend toward artful small plates. (And, yes, the beloved Six-Lily Turnovers are back.) Tansy will be baking bread (watch for the red pepper loaf and the French), and desserts are provided by Cielo Bakery and Madeleine's.
The caf & eacute;'s atmosphere is cozy and comfortable, and it's an easy spot to relax whether in a group or traveling solo. Even if you don't know anyone when you first walk in, you'll have some new best friends before you leave.
-- ANN M. COLFORD
Olive Oilz, at 2812 E. 30th Ave., is open Tue-Sat 11 am-9 pm. Call 535-3104.
Local coffee guru Thomas Hammer admits that he and his company weren't the first in the industry to embrace the notion of sustainable coffee, but now he's on board and thinks it should be a no-brainer for anyone in the coffee biz. After all, he points out, coffee requires specific climate conditions to grow; change those conditions, and you may not have a product in the future.
"I mean, forget making money, making profits," he says. "It's his job, it's my job. With global warming, anything that can happen in our environment to the coffee [affects] our livelihoods. It costs money to be sustainable, but we believe in the long run it's the right thing to do."
That's one reason why Hammer and Roastmaster Dave Rier are teaming up with the Lands Council next week to host a benefit event at the company's roasting facility. At the event, guests will participate in the selection of the Lands Council's new signature blend of Thomas Hammer Eco-Brew coffee beans.
Hammer and Rier will talk about developing relationships with small coffee growers from Guatemala to Indonesia to Kenya and the practices that lead to sustainable coffee. Lands Council Executive Director Mike Petersen will talk about the organization's mission of environmental advocacy and education.
But the focus is on tasting the coffees. Rier will brew up samples from a variety of different beans, and guests will divide into small groups to taste three or four different coffees each. Guests may do some ad hoc blending on their own, taking a little from this brew and a little from that, merging characteristics of the beans, guided by Rier's expertise. Then it'll come down to a choice between four or five finalists. The blend chosen by the majority will become the new Lands Council blend.
"They can go ahead then and promote that coffee," Rier says. "It's just a fun way to get that community involved in what we're doing -- they're taking part in it. The group is now an integral part of making their coffee, and they're proud of it."
In addition to the coffee, the event also features wines and hors d'oeuvres from Jill's Catering. The newly chosen Lands Council blend of Thomas Hammer Eco-Brew coffee will then debut the following week, at the Lands Council's business breakfast.
-- ANN M. COLFORD
The Lands Council coffee fund-raiser, at Thomas Hammer Coffee, 210 W. Pacific Ave., is Thursday, Nov. 8 at 6 pm. Tickets are $35 each or $60 for two. E-mail Amber at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209-2407.