by Susan Hamilton and CARRIE SCOZZARO & r & & r & SERVICES Swimmingly Fresh & r & & r &

If you've relished fresh fish-and-chips at one of Seattle's pier eateries or indulged in freshly caught seafood prepared at a fine-dining shoreline establishment, you know what a difference really fresh seafood makes.

Two Spokane women who share that appreciation for fresh seafood have recently opened a seafood-delivery business: FRONT DOOR SEAFOOD delivers high-quality seafood right to the door of land-locked Inland Northwesterners.

"It's like a wine club but with seafood," says Heather Lanzone, president of Front Door Seafood (FDS). "The products we get are top-of-the-line seafood. It's what the white-tablecloth restaurants serve."

FDS uses fresh seafood that's flash frozen on the fishing vessel the same day it's caught, then vacuum packed. Lanzone and her partner Melissa Brown say that every minute seafood is exposed to the environment, it collects bacteria -- causing that "fishy" odor and loss of flavor. Lanzone and Brown also ensure safe-handling practices, only working with suppliers who comply with all international guidelines for management of fisheries.

Available fin fish include red snapper, halibut, salmon, tuna, mahi-mahi, cod, tilapia and Chilean sea bass. Those who prefer shellfish can choose from shrimp, scallops, crab, mussels, clams and lobster. FDS offers two pounds of giant easy-peel Black Tiger shrimp, perfect for grilling, (averaging 6 to 8 per pound) for $50. Wild Alaskan sockeye salmon is $35 for six 6-ounce portions. Delicately sweet yet firm Alaskan halibut is $48 for six 6-ounce portions.

Customers choose from package menus, a la carte or a combination of the two via phone or on-line ordering once a month. Deliveries are made the second week of each month, with dates varying according to various parts of town -- downtown and lower South Hill, South Hill and west Spokane, north and northwest Spokane, and Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake.

If you need some help with seafood recipes, FDS offers just that on its Website. Basil tilapia, pan-seared halibut with lime butter, salmon with citrus-dill sauce, and sesame pasta slaw with tuna steaks are just a few of the service's fin-fish recipes. Shellfish recipes include lemon-garlic shrimp over angel hair pasta, scallops with tomato cream sauce over fettuccini, and wine-steamed crab legs. And like the moms that they are, Lanzone and Brown offer kid-friendly recipes, too.


Call Front Door Seafood, 924-1530, for details, or visit

CASUAL Festive Spirit

Downtown Spirit Lake was all abuzz this 5th of May, and not just because of motorcyclists rumbling into this historic North Idaho lake town. Having taken over the former Big Fish restaurant location only two months ago, Spirit Lake's LAS CAZUELAS FAMILY RESTAURANT was celebrating Cinco de Mayo with tubs of pico de gallo, taco specials and Corona on ice.

Las Cazuelas is a festive addition to Spirit Lake's "downtown," essentially two dozen businesses along a four-block stretch of West Maine Street, characterized by rugged frontier storefronts. Owners Albert and Gabby Ramirez transformed their turn-of-the-century building with artwork, potted plants and bright colors. Paintings by local artists of Mexican villas, flowers and flamenco-style dancers hang on warm gold walls, while a fanciful mural of flora and fauna reminiscent of the Oaxacan folk style covers the main dining space.

The menu is familiar: salads, burritos, fajitas, enchiladas. Signature dishes include chile relleno, fish tacos, and pollo ala crema -- chicken with mushrooms in savory cream sauce ($6-$10). Lunch offers a fajita melt sandwich ($6), while dinner includes sirloin, T-bone and rib-eyes ($12-$13). Recipes are adapted from Casa Lopez in Moscow, Idaho, run by Gabby's brother, Felix Lopez. A kid's menu is an affordable $3, with beer, wine and pre-mix margaritas for adults. Desserts range from flan to churros to deep-fried ice cream. (How can you go wrong with "sweet" and "fried" in the same dish?)

True to its name, Las Cazuelas Family Restaurant keeps it in the family. Two nephews work the kitchen alongside the former chef from Hayden's popular Rancho Viejo. Anticipating a busy summer, Albert asked his mother to lend a hand, along with her recipes for featured specials like albondigas soup and chicken tamales.

What's unique about Las Cazuelas (which translates to a kind of terra cotta "casserole" cookware)? Fresh ingredients and serving size, says Albert. "When we first came, the mayor (of Spirit Lake, Roxy Martin) told us 'We like big portions here.'" He adds, "And we'll make it the way you like it... even if it's not on the menu." Just like Mom would.


Las Cazuelas Mexican Restaurant, 6249 W. Maine St., Spirit Lake, Idaho, is open Mon-Sat 11 am-9 pm, Sun 11 am-8 pm. Call (208) 623-2034.??

American Original: The Life and Work of John James Audubon @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through Sept. 19
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