Mead Rocket Science
The pink cookie. It's soft, delicate, moist and covered with bright flamingo-colored icing. It's irresistible to pastry fans, and it's the signature best seller of the Rocket Bakery. And now cookie fans on the north side won't have to drive far to satisfy their cravings. Rocket Bakery co-owners Jeff and Julia Postlewait are preparing to open their ninth outlet in the Fairwood Shopping Center, on Hastings Road across from Mead High School, and in front of Fizzie Mulligan's.
The new store features the Rocket's signature coffee, freshly roasted every seven days by Caff & eacute; Vita in Seattle, and Rocket pastries, including the raspberry oat bar (Jeff Postlewait's favorite), packaged salads and sandwiches. It also has a Rocket first: a drive-through window. "We're trying a new take on the drive-through, but we're not sure what that is yet," Jeff Postlewait says with a laugh.
The Rocket's first outlet opened on Argonne in beautiful downtown Millwood in 1992. The company has since opened coffee shops downtown, on the South Hill and in the Garland District. Adding a store up north was an easy decision for Postlewait, "This area is growing, and there's nothing up here. The potential is huge."
The scent of paint lingers at Rocket North. The soft orange of the sponged walls freshly accents the calm atmosphere that embraces the Postlewaits' dedication to creating neighborhood cafes. Soon the sweet smell of paint will mix with the smoky aroma of roasted coffee as Mead-area residents troop in and order their morning beverages.
The caf & eacute; owners think of the Rocket as a community-based alternative to Starbucks. Jeff Postlewait says he competes with the mega coffee distributor by creating places for neighbors to come and meet and get to know each other.
The Rocket Bakery, 319 W. Hastings Rd., has its official opening Monday, Aug. 20. Open hours have yet to be determined. Visit www.rocketspokane.com or call 466-1500 or 927-2340.
FESTIVAL A Cultural Lens
For an unassuming little legume, the lentil sure spawns a big party in Pullman every year at this time. The Palouse region is home to one-third of the world's lentil crop, which is reason enough to celebrate at the annual NATIONAL LENTIL FESTIVAL, now in its 19th year.
The humble earth-toned disc is big business around here; in fact, Whitman County is the nation's No. 1 lentil-producing county. In 2005, Washington farmers harvested more than $8.8 million in lentils; growers in Idaho brought in another $6.8 million with the lens-shaped legumes.
Those hoping to eat lower on the food chain have a friend in the protein-packed lentil. The tiny cousins-to-beans are a naturally low-calorie, low-fat source of protein, and they'll keep virtually indefinitely in cool dry storage. Then there are the undeniable benefits of lentils' soluble fiber. You can laugh if you want, but that fiber can reduce both glucose and cholesterol in the blood -- and lentils are a lot less expensive than Lipitor.
The festival starts on an aromatic note Friday evening with a street fair and the world's largest bowl of lentil chili -- more than 200 gallons worth, enough to give free chili to everyone. If you're not sure about lentil chili, remember that this is the same "pottage" that Esau sold his birthright for in the Genesis story. And it's free.
Saturday begins with the lentil pancake breakfast, where the Lion's Club will help you get your feed on. (We're talking high-protein pancakes, people -- not only delicious, but nutritious.) The Lentil Lane Food Court opens Saturday morning, and each vendor carries at least one item made from lentils. (Yes, you can buy non-lentil foodstuffs, but try to be quiet about it.) You can try virtually any kind of food imaginable -- think ice cream, cookies and even cr & egrave;me brulee -- made from lentils.
The big event of the afternoon is the lentil cook-off, where six finalists will prepare 400 servings each of their creative lentil recipes, and festival attendees -- that could be you! -- get to decide who's the top legumer. The winner gets a thousand bucks. And that'll buy a lot of lentils.
-- ANN M. COLFORD
National Lentil Festival in Pullman, Wash. is Friday, Aug. 17, 6-11 pm and Saturday, Aug. 18, 8 am-5 pm. Events are held downtown and in Reaney Park. Visit www.lentilfest.com or call: 509-334-3565 or 800-365-6948.