Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Post Falls' Fleur de Sel chef-owner is 2017 James Beard Award semifinalist

Posted By on Wed, Feb 15, 2017 at 1:20 PM

Chef Zirroti opened Fleur de Sel in 2008. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Chef Zirroti opened Fleur de Sel in 2008.

For the third consecutive year, one of the Inland Northwest's finest minds in food has been named a semifinalist for the prestigious James Beard Award.

French-born Chef Laurent Zirotti, who owns the Post Falls destination spot Fleur de Sel, is the only chef from the Inland Northwest to be named in the Best Chef: Northwest award category, joining a list of 19 others mostly from the Portland and Seattle area.

In 2016, local chef and restaurant owner Adam Hegsted was named a semifinalist in the same category, as was Spokane chef-owner Jeremy Hansen in 2015.

The announcement honoring Zirotti, who opened Fleur de Sel in 2008 with his wife Patricia, comes at an ideal time if you've never been — and if you take every chance you get to visit the celebrated restaurant, familiarly known as FDS — as we're only about a week away from the start of 2017 Inlander Restaurant Week (Feb. 23-March 5). Find Fleur de Sel's $29 per person menu at (As a diner who was introduced to the restaurant during last year's IRW, I highly recommend the chicken and truffles.)

The list of 2017 James Beard Award semifinalists will be narrowed down again a month from now, to five nominees in each category, on March 15. Final winners in each of the 21 award categories are then honored during a special event May 1 in Chicago.

The James Beard Awards are organized by its namesake James Beard Foundation, which opens an online call for entries in October. More than 24,000 entries were received for the Foundation's 27th annual honors.
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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Where to treat yo' self (or your sweetheart) this Valentine's Day

There are options a-plenty at local restaurants, wineries and more

Posted By on Wed, Feb 8, 2017 at 4:28 PM

Whether you could give a hoot about the overly-commercialized holiday of love, or you're the type who goes all out (roses, chocolates, flowers, lingerie, cheesy cards, a romantic dinner), local options to celebrate in the name of St. Valentine abound this weekend and into next week for the holiday's official observance on Tuesday, Feb. 14. Here's a snapshot of what's caught our eye — don't wait to make reservations.

Enjoy Clover's Jasmine Fizz cocktail as part of its Valentine's tasting menu, offered Feb. 10-14.
  • Enjoy Clover's Jasmine Fizz cocktail as part of its Valentine's tasting menu, offered Feb. 10-14.
Clover | 913 E. Sharp
The Logan neighborhood restaurant inside a converted Craftsman home is offering a special five-course tasting menu at $75/person from Feb. 10 to 14. The menu includes a duck confit crepe, winter squash and ginger soup, and dessert with champagne. A Valentine brunch with mimosas and white cherry chocolate scones is also offered on Feb. 11 and 12.

D. Lish's Hamburgers | 1625 N. Division
I don't know about you, but I wouldn't scoff if my date took me here — and he actually did a few years back — because Valentine's Day shouldn't be ranked on how "fancy" or "expensive" your plans are. On Feb. 14, from 5-8 pm, D. Lish's goes formal (while staying fast) with table service for two. For $18.39 you'll get two double cheeseburgers, two orders of fries, two drinks, onion rings and dessert.

Dutch Bros Coffee | All area locations
Your morning coffee comes with an extra dose of warmth on February 14 for "Dutch Luv Day," when local stands of the popular drive-thru chain donate $1 from every drink purchased to benefit Second Harvest.

LeftBank Wine Bar | 108 N. Washington
The single folks aren't being left out, as the downtown wine bar is hosting a festive speed-dating night with wine and food specials on Feb. 14, from 6-8 pm. The bar's Facebook event page says it guarantees to have 10 participants of each gender to keep things balanced, but if you're interested in participating don't wait to sign up.

Nectar Catering & Events | 120 N. Stevens
Keep spreading the love and celebrate V-Day a few days later at the Spokane Humane Society's fifth annual "Puppy Love with Wine" on Thursday, Feb. 16, from 5:30-8 pm. Tickets (only 100 are available for $15/advance; $20/door) include a flight of five Washington wines. There'll be silent auction items, too, and of course proceeds benefit the nonprofit's care of homeless pets. (Nectar is also hosting a separate "Champagne, Cheese and Chocolate Tasting Event" on Feb. 12.)

ValenWine Weekend | Downtown Spokane
The many wineries and tasting rooms that make up downtown Spokane's Cork District once again unite for the weekend-long ValenWine celebration. Bundle up and take a walking tour of more than a dozen participating wineries for samples, specials and more, from noon to 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday; Feb. 11 and 12.

I've really only scratched the surface when it comes to options to take your friends, lovers or family out for a mid-February treat, whether in recognition of Valentine's Day or just 'cause. Other events I came across include a special wine dinner at the Davenport Hotel, a chocolate and wine tasting at Liberty Lake Wine Cellars, a three-course, fixed-price dinner for $30 at Remington's at the Ramada Inn, and the Downtown Coeur d'Alene Association's annual "Chocolate Affair." For those further north or not averse to making a wintery drive, Sandpoint's Western Pleasure Guest Ranch is hosting a Valentine's-themed sleigh ride, dinner and concert on Feb. 14; reservations are required.
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Monday, February 6, 2017

Nodland Cellars now a members-only winery, and you can join for free

Posted By on Mon, Feb 6, 2017 at 4:55 PM


Bigger isn't always better.

That's one of the lessons winemaker Tim Nodland learned as he watched his award-winning Nodland Cellars wines grow from a garage hobby to a commercial entity to a full-blown tasting room in downtown Spokane, complete with food and live tunes.

After a couple years of work to get his tasting room open in February 2016, Nodland poured his last glass at his downtown spot at the end of January after deciding that the production demands of the popular spot were simply too much if he wanted to keep the quality of his wines at the award-winning level.

"Wine was always an art for me," Nodland says, "and it seemed like it was getting too far away from that."

Nodland takes pride in the hand-crafted nature of his wines; he picks the grapes, puts the labels on the bottles, basically does every step of the process himself. The demands of managing a restaurant and booking music for the tasting room — in addition to working his "day job" as an attorney — made him feel like the artistry of winemaking was being lost. If anything, the tasting room proved too popular for him to sustain a wine-production level that he felt comfortable with, and "it's easier to make quality wine in small batches," he says.

Nodland Cellars won't be disappearing, but it is becoming a members-only winery. That means no more tasting room, and no more finding Nodland bottles in area stores. Nodland will focus on making 150-to-200 cases of wine each year, available only to members, and that's it.

You can sign up as a member for free until the spaces fill up, and membership certainly has its privileges. Namely, dibs on getting the first chance to buy some of Nodland's wines as they're released throughout the year.

Nodland is back to making wines in the Spokane Valley space where he first started making larger batches after leaving his garage in 2005, and now he gets to focus on the grapes and the amazing Washington soil and weather that makes what he believes is some of the best wine country on the planet. What he doesn't have to think about is ordering more food supplies or hiring new staff.

"I have the freedom to be more of the artists of the wines," Nodland says of post-tasting room life.

It's all about the wine, as he always wanted it to be.

The Nodland Cellars tasting room downtown poured its last glass at the end of January. Terra Blanca has taken its place in the Chronicle Building.
  • The Nodland Cellars tasting room downtown poured its last glass at the end of January. Terra Blanca has taken its place in the Chronicle Building.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

No-Li creating special golden ale in anticipation of Spokane Symphony: Beethoven and Brews

Posted By on Tue, Jan 24, 2017 at 12:45 PM


There shouldn't be any need in 2017 to point out that a delicious beer is just as classy a quaff as champagne, wine or craft cocktails. But if you still question such things, consider the collaboration between the Spokane Symphony and No-Li Brewhouse as proof-positive that beer drinkers and Beethoven lovers do, indeed, mix.

On March 10, the two Spokane institutions are teaming up for Symphony Special: Beethoven and Brews, where the night's concert conducted by Jorge Luis Uzcategui and featuring "greatest hits" by the beer-loving German composer is preceded by a beer garden at the Fox, featuring $3 drafts of No-Li's beer. The concert starts at 7:30 pm, and the beer garden opens at 6 pm. You do the math on how many beers are appropriate before the light-hearted show that also includes some comedy from the folks at Blue Door Theatre. Tickets to the show range from $18 to $43.

To celebrate the collaboration, No-Li is brewing up a special "Beethoven Golden Ale," bottling just 660 total bottles of the 22-ounce beers to help get the word out on the March show. You'll be able to get a bottle of the goods starting Feb. 16 and local Rosauer's, Yoke's, Rocket Market and Total Wine & More outlets. Here's a look at the label to look out for: 

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Stella's Café to close and merge with nearby sister restaurant Ruins

Posted By on Thu, Jan 5, 2017 at 4:02 PM

Chef Tony Brown gained a notable following with the debut of Stella's back in 2012. He opened the nearby Ruins in 2014, but now plans to combine the two in Ruins' spot. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Chef Tony Brown gained a notable following with the debut of Stella's back in 2012. He opened the nearby Ruins in 2014, but now plans to combine the two in Ruins' spot.

This Thursday afternoon, we learned the owners of a favorite local lunch spot just north of the Spokane River plan to close their doors a final time on January 31.

But fear not, Stella's Cafe fans — owners chef Tony Brown and his parents Steve and Marti Brown plan to reincorporate the cafe's familiar sandwich, soup and pastry options into their nearby sister restaurant, Ruins.

A major factor cited for Stella's closure at 917 W. Broadway, where it's been located for the past five years in a rustic and eclectic space, is the end of the restaurant's five-year lease.

It's not clear yet how Stella's and Ruins will combine as one in the latter's diminutive space on the corner of Monroe and Mallon, just two blocks away, but the Browns plan to soon announce how they'll meld Stella's fresh sandwich menu with Ruins' cocktails and ever-changing, themed, tapas-style menu.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for an update on Stella's/Ruins new united future in the Inlander's food section, and in our Entrée food newsletter.

And for those who will surely miss making a mid-day pitstop at the original Stella's, mark your calendars — the last chance to visit the space is fast approaching, with a final day of business set for Tuesday, Jan. 31.
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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

What We've Been... Drinking

Posted By on Wed, Dec 21, 2016 at 3:06 PM

Welcome back to the Inlander staff's biweekly rundown of cool things we've been watching, reading, listening to, drinking, eating, looking forward to, etc. Before you get any further, we should point out that "drinking," as you'll discover, does not strictly include beverages of the alcoholic nature, despite what stereotypical notions about journalists you may have. Enjoy!

Find past installments of "What We've Been..." here.

In between bites of breakfast (typically a hardboiled egg and a piece of fruit), I guzzle about four cups of coffee, black and piping hot. I don’t function without it, but that’s not interesting or unique, especially in this line of work. Perhaps my newfound fascination with La Croix, the hoity toity, fizzy drink popular with suburban moms and Paleo dieters, is not unusual for journalists, either, but it is what I’m drinking right now. Seriously, like right this very second, I’m sipping from a can of apricot-flavored sparkling water. Why do I like sparkling water? 'Cause I want flavor, but no sugar. And that little bite you get from the carbonation is just enough of a fix for this former two-a-day Coke drinker.

Apparently, I’m not alone. Seltzer water sales, and La Croix specifically, have been on the rise since the early 2000s, according to the International Bottled Water Association. The gallons of domestically produced sparkling water increased by 58 percent between 2010 and 2014. Also, there are even T-shirts for the uber La Croix obsessed. The only downside is that La Croix can be a bit more expensive than other seltzer waters. Around here, Target is the most reasonably priced. Otherwise, Safeway’s Refreshe line does just fine. (MITCH RYALS)

Continue reading »

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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Here's what led up to the closing of Spokane landmark Donut Parade

Posted By on Tue, Dec 6, 2016 at 4:15 PM

Locals are mourning the closure of the donut shop that's been in business since 1968. - DONUT PARADE FACEBOOK
  • Donut Parade Facebook
  • Locals are mourning the closure of the donut shop that's been in business since 1968.

A few months back, we published a feature examining how a few locally owned businesses were rising from the ashes of misfortune. One business featured in the piece had been facing what seemed like a relentless stream of mishaps and misfortunes. Yet after the recent announcement that longtime Spokane business Donut Parade has closed its doors for good, it seems the Reno family has run out of options.

Since posting that decision on the shop's Facebook page this past Sunday, it's been shared more than 800 times. There are more than 650 comments from people expressing their sadness to see Donut Parade go. Others, though, question the financial and management decisions of its owners.

When we talked with co-owner Christian Reno in late August of this year, Donut Parade had been struggling to stay afloat after a car crashed into the shop's front entrance. Because the building's owner hadn't repaired that damage in the months following that incident, Reno told the Inlander that many of customers saw the boarded up doorway and thought the business was permanently closed.

"I know it sounds really stupid to say," Reno said at the time, "But we really don't know what's going on. I don't have the money [to fix the door], and it was slow before that and it's been slow since then."

A few weeks after our interview with Reno, however, and the shop's front door was finally repaired.

Before the car accident damaged the building, she said a power outage on National Donut Day (June 3) — one of the busiest days of the year — forced the shop to close early. The Renos, who bought Donut Parade back in 2008, closed the shop for a week after that to decide if they were going to keep trying to get the business to a financially viable status. Then, just days later, a car plowed into its front door.

Reno also told us in August that not only was the shop falling far behind on its bills, but her family was, too. She expressed gratitude for many of Donut Parade's regular customers who'd been helping buy things like coffee and lemonade mix that she'd trade for donuts.

"We just keep rolling the dice and keeping our fingers crossed that we can stay open," Reno said. "That is 100 percent my plan."

In the days since announcing Donut Parade's permanent closure, a GoFundMe campaign seeking to raise $80,000 was launched in an attempt to reopen the shop. So far, just over $2,200 has been donated, to be used for the following, according to the campaign:

"We here at the Donut Parade have given our all to keep the doors open but as any small local family business owners know, there are many, many, many expenses to keep things afloat. Any amount donated is appreciated and is 100% going back into the business. We are apart [sic] of this community, live in this neighborhood, our children have grown up in this establishment. The Donut Parade is apart [sic] of who we are. With that being said, we are reaching out to our community asking for help so we can continue to serve the great people of Spokane. With our goal being $80,000, this covers our past due expense of power bills, water, supplies, building repairs, loans we've taken to try and stay open, business revenue...and rent."

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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Election Day 2016: You're gonna need a drink tonight. Here are some local options.

Posted By on Tue, Nov 8, 2016 at 4:00 PM


If you are able to weather tonight without calming the nerves, or perhaps celebrating... or maybe drowning your sorrows with a drink or two, well, congratulations. You are morally superior to the rest of us.

But in the event that you are going to tip back a few and bid farewell to this truly terrible election season, here are some ways to do it local:

Red, White and No-Li Pale Ale: This beer from No-Li Brewhouse is obviously patriotic, but it's also incredibly good. While the six-packs of cans won't be released for another week or so, you can get the 22-ounce bottles at most grocery stores. It's a super floral, citra-hopped brew that isn't overpowering, so you'll be able to comprehend the results at the bottom of your screen.

Washington Wheat Straight Bourbon 101: If you're more into the state races, and perhaps need something stronger, go with this Dry Fly Distillery bourbon. The wheat and the corn used to make this powerful booze was made right here in Washington, so you can be proud about that.

River City Red: If you want to get super local, take pride in this River City Brewing red ale named after Spokane. Bonus: you can get growlers of this, and any other beer, at the River City taproom for just $10.
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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Attention Gilmore Girls fans: Luke's Diner comes to Spokane Wednesday

Posted By on Tue, Oct 4, 2016 at 2:10 PM

Expect Indaba Coffee to look a little different come tomorrow morning. - FACEBOOK
  • Facebook
  • Expect Indaba Coffee to look a little different come tomorrow morning.

That's right Gilmore Girls fans, a small piece of Stars Hollow comes to Spokane Wednesday as Indaba Coffee transforms into Luke's Diner. As part of a national coffee/TV mashup celebration, honoring the day Gilmore Girls originally aired back in 2000 on the now-defunct WB network, Indaba is one of only 250 coffee shops in the country selected to participate in this event, and the only one in Eastern Washington.

In coordination with Netflix — the streaming service is rebooting the classic show with four extra-long episodes premiering the day after Thanksgiving — Indaba Coffee plans to offer 250 free cups of coffee between 7 am and noon at both locations (downtown and in Kendall Yards). 

Obviously, you can't expect the gruff and plaid-clad Luke Danes (Scott Patterson) to be there in the flesh, but the baristas will most likely be decked out in hats and aprons and the coffee cups and sleeves will have an extra special treatment. 

This is a great time to sit down with friends and family alike to discuss your predictions for the upcoming Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Will Rory choose one of her ex-boyfriends (Jess, obviously), or will she forge ahead as a driven journalist without any man by her side? Are Luke and Lorelai finally married? Will Emily ever stop being annoying? Does Lane ever get to leave Stars Hallow? More coffee, please! 

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Food Blotter: Second location for Nectar Beer & Wine, Allie's reopens and more

Posted By on Wed, Sep 28, 2016 at 3:50 PM

For fans of the region's blossoming culinary scene, several news tidbits crossed our radar today.

This morning, I received a welcome email from Atania Gilmore, owner of the locally-beloved vegan restaurant Allie's Vegan Pizzeria & Cafe, that the second location of her business is opening next week on Spokane's South Hill. After a devastating fire heavily damaged Gilmore's flagship location on Spokane's North Side earlier this year, and she learned that it would take as long as six months for repairs, Gilmore decided to open a second location in the interim. 

Allie's new spot in a shopping center at 1314 S. Grand, Suite 6 — next to Growler Guys — is set to open for business next Tuesday, Oct. 4, at 11 am. In her email, Gilmore says the store will be holding drawings throughout the week for gift cards, and will be giving out cupcakes to customers who stop in.

An artist's rendering of Nectar's new South Perry spot. - HDG ARCHITECTURE RENDERING
  • HDG Architecture rendering
  • An artist's rendering of Nectar's new South Perry spot.

In boozier news, Nectar Wine & Beer is bringing a second location to the hip South Perry neighborhood. Owner Josh Wade, who opened the beer and wine retail store and tasting room in Kendall Yards last year, plans to operate the second spot in a newly constructed, two-story building at 907 S. Perry, on the corner of Perry and Ninth. In a blog post on his website, Wade writes that construction is to start at the beginning of next year, with a targeted opening date of spring 2017. Customers of the Kendall Yards' location can expect to find the same familiar layout and an identical business model at the new Perry store.

Fans of the midday meal that combines breakfast and lunch can rejoice now that the forthcoming Bruncheonette restaurant has announced its expected grand opening date: Oct. 17. By the same folks who run the familiar Couple of Chefs Catering & Food Truck, the new eatery takes over a space just north of downtown, most recently occupied by the Knock Irish pub.

Stay tuned for more news on these spots and other new places to fill your belly around the Inland Northwest by checking out the Inlander's weekly food section online and in print, and by signing up for the weekly food newsletter, Entree
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