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Wednesday, Sep. 08, 2010

Copperleaf Restaurant at Cedarbrook Lodge: Young team, green concepts take flight near Sea-Tac

Just knowing it's a two-minute drive from the tarmac at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport makes the concept of farm-to-table cuisine seem distant.

However, Mark Bodinet brings it home at the new Copperleaf Restaurant inside Cedarbrook Lodge. Considering his culinary background and mentor, the 27-year-old from Chicago seemed ripe for the opportunity.

"What we have is a 28-seat restaurant focusing on farm-to-table cuisine," said Bodinet, who landed here after spending five years at Napa Valley's famed French Laundry. "This is Northwest-inspired, using local artisans, farmers, ranchers and growers to give us the best product available. And while we have a smaller wine list, it's very hand-selected and focused with the ideas of the restaurant."

There's a constant green thread woven into the Copperleaf. The relaxing and secluded grounds showcase a variety of trees, a manicured lawn, herb/vegetable garden, a culinary mushroom bed and a satellite-controlled reclamation pond.

"Rain water goes through the mushrooms, gets filtered and used in our reclamation pond, which gets distributed to re-water the farm and all the grasses and trees that grow on our property," he explained.

In a sense, the new owners are recycling what served as the corporate training center for now-defunct Washington Mutual. The likelihood for success looks golden after J.P. Morgan sold the property with 110 rooms to Wright Hotels Inc. Its West Coast properties include Seattle's Sheraton and Waterfront Marriott as well as the Portland Red Lion.

The group's founder is construction magnate Howard S. Wright, who built the Space Needle in 1962 and has owned the Seattle landmark since 1977.

And it would seem as though the Wright group hired the right man for the job to spearhead the Copperleaf Restaurant. Culinary director Roy Breiman worked wonders as executive chef at the Salish Lodge & Spa, sharpening the farm-to-table focus at the acclaimed property in Snoqualmie, Wash.

"When we started here, it's was a corporate conference center," Bodinet said. "Now it's a really chef-driven concept. Our goal is to create a great restaurant in an urban environment that uses sustainable practices, organic, fair trade and a low carbon footprint as much as we can."

Breiman's history shows the concept will work - Wine Press Northwest profiled him as a Match Maker in 2005 - and his hiring was no coincidence. Yogi Hutsen and the Coastal Hotel Group manage Cedarbrook Lodge. They used to operate the Salish, where Bodinet and Cedarbrook's wine director Simon Stapel, age 30, worked.

Bodinet's association with Breiman began years before when he graduated from culinary school in Arizona and was hired by Breiman for the Winnetu Inn and Resort on Martha's Vineyard.

"I had no experience as far as working in a restaurant," Bodinet said. "He showed me how to butcher my first fish, how to cook things, how to make sauces. He was my mentor in this industry."

In time, he followed Breiman to the Salish, which served as Bodinet's stepping stone to Napa.

"He ended up helping me get a job at the French Laundry, and it worked out great," Bodinet said. "We kept our relationship strong through the five years so we could build something great together. Things are really coming together now."

Stapel likened Breiman to a head coach who inspires and instructs team members and coaching staff.

"Roy is great at networking, building relationships with farms, producers and chefs, and creating a community of his own," Stapel said. "That's a big reason for me being here - learning from him how to incorporate my passion with others around me."

Working at the Salish - a past champion of Wine Press Northwest's Best Northwest Wine List Award - serves Stapel well with tableside service.

"They've afforded me quite a bit of latitude here, but the library itself isn't extremely large," he said.

The wine list continues to evolve, and the world-class quality of Northwest wines recognized internationally makes it easy for Stapel - a graduate of the University of Washington's international studies program - to stay close to home and give out-of-town travelers a snapshot of the local wine industry.

"First and foremost, the culinary direction and focus were already established, and I've tried to stay true to environmentally friendly as I could," Stapel said. "We have small producers as well as big names, so we can allow our guests to have a true Northwest experience."

The list of Northwest icons includes Adelsheim, Chateau Ste. Michelle, DeLille, L'Ecole, Leonetti, McCrea, Ponzi and Willamette Valley Vineyards. There are rising stars such as Alexandria Nicole, Basel Cellars, Dusted Valley, Sleight of Hand, Sheridan, Substance and Va Piano. Outstanding values feature Dunham's 3 Legged Red, Hogue's Genesis Cabernet Sauvignon, Latah Creek's Sangiovese, Snoqualmie's Naked Merlot and Tamarack Cellars' Firehouse Red.

There are also well-know labels such as Abeja, Fidelitas, Lachini, Lange, Long Shadows, Seven Hills, Sokol Blosser and Zerba.

"Folks have heard about Leonetti or DeLille or L'Ecole, and I want those established ones, but it's important to have boutiques with the cult winemakers," he said. "I want to turn to people onto some of those Woodinville garagiste wineries, highlight different wine profiles and introduce our guests to new varieties."

Among his short-term goals are the introduction of half-bottles - a concept that L'Ecole has been a leader in the Northwest for years. There also are plans for staff visits to wineries, which turn servers into ambassadors and allow them to engage and assist the diner rather than merely pour wine into a glass.

On the drawing table are special events that include dinners featuring not only winemakers but also vineyard managers.

"We are setting up a schedule to highlight different farms, which adds a different element and incorporates Roy's culinary adventures from the past," Stapel said. "I remember at the Salish we had a Scottish game dinner with winemakers Mark Ryan McNeilly and (the late) Lance Baer. They made it a lot of fun."

This summer, Cedarbrook Lodge followed a concept for an heirloom tomato festival that White Heron Cellars stages each year in Quincy, Wash., so now fans of Northwest tomatoes have destinations on both sides of the Cascades.

Regional ingredients come together for both the dining and catering sides of Cedarbrook. There's Bluebird Grain Farms in Winthrop, Estrella Family Creamery (Montesano), Full Circle Farm (Carnation), Painted Hills Beef (Fossil, Ore.), Salumi (Seattle's Pioneer Square), Seattle Caviar Co., Mad Hatcher Farm (Ephrata), Malleys (Seattle-based fishmonger), Theo Chocolate (Seattle), Wild Wheat Bakers (Seattle), Willy Greens Organic Farm (Monroe) and World Spice Merchants (Seattle).

When it comes to getting seafood from Alaska, the lodge's proximity to Sea-Tac is a benefit. That freshness was on display in Bodinet's pairing with the Badger Mountain Vineyard 2008 Organic Riesling, using his Kodiak Island Halibut.

And one sense of pride for Bodinet showed with a key portion to his halibut dish: incorporating asparagus.

"I've come across folks who say they don't like something, like asparagus, and that's because they've experiences with overcooked or canned asparagus," Bodinet said. "So I enjoy presenting people with a young, bright green piece of Yakima Valley asparagus and they'll say, 'Wow, that's amazing!' So we can change a person's mindset. They'll say, 'I want to get some,' and then they start supporting Yakima Valley asparagus growers."

For the other dish, Bodinet profiled pork belly from Carlton Farms in Carlton, Ore. - a short drive from where the Torii Mor 2007 Oregon Pinot Noir was created.

"What we've done here at the Cedarbook Lodge shows that it's possible to do this anywhere - whether it be in a big city or a small town," Bodinet said. "Now (the issue) is getting people here to see what we are doing."

Cedarbrook Lodge, 18525 36th Ave., South, Seattle, WA, 98188, cedarbrooklodge.com.

Match Maker wines

Torii Mor Vineyard & Winery
2007 Pinot Noir, Oregon, $29
8,600 cases produced, 13.6% alcohol

The Pinot Noir crafted by Jacques Tardy doesn't taste green, but the folks at Torii Mor Vineyard & Winery want the rest of their operation to be as green as possible.

Both factors explain the support of the Oregon winery at the Cedarbrook Lodge's Copperleaf Restaurant near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

In fact, Torii Mor's 2007 Oregon Pinot Noir appears on the wine list accented by a "green leaf" icon - a sign of wineries that employ sustainable practices.

Oregon physician Donald Olson had that on his mind when he launched and named his winery in the Dundee Hills. Torii is a Japanese term referring to garden gates, while "Mor" is a type of earth or soil type often found in forests.

Olson's 10-acre vineyard in the Dundee Hills was first planted in 1972. He purchased it in 1985, then created Torii Mor in 1993. Olson Estate bears the Low Input Viticulture and Enology certification, while Torii Mor Winery received Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) Gold status in March. Their efforts include recycling corks and foil in the tasting room.

Tardy, a Burgundian, began making wine in France in 1974. He arrived in California in 1982 and headed to Oregon in 1990. In 2004, Olson hired Tardy, who served as both winemaker and vineyard manager at Montinore. He worked with 18 vineyards from six appellations for this 2007 Pinot Noir.

Torii Mor's 2007 Oregon Pinot Noir shows classic qualities and balance because of pleasing acidity and lower alcohols compared to many recent vintages.

What arrives in the glass are classic notes of black cherries, strawberry and cranberry, bringing both their sweetness and food-friendly acidity. Tardy's barrel program for this release included only 16% new oak, and the subtle hints of vanilla, nutmeg, savory spice allow the fruit and acidity to shine.

The background of earthiness, tobacco and slight chalkiness of the tannin structure played nicely alongside the pork belly's inherent fat.

Torii Mor Vineyard & Winery, 18323 NE Fairview Dr., Dundee, OR, 97115, 503-538-2279, toriimorwinery.com

Badger Mountain Vineyard
2008 Riesling, Columbia Valley
12,000 cases produced, 13% alcohol, $10

When Bill Powers and son Greg first planted Badger Mountain Vineyard in 1982, their vineyard and neighboring orchards were on the outer edges of development in Kennewick, Wash.

Before long, his 80 acres of vines became less rural as the Tri-Cities began its sprawl into the shrub-steppe.

Being the kind and considerate Oklahoman he is, Bill began farming the vineyard organically in 1988. Rather than worry about pesticides and herbicides floating into the backyards of nearby families, the Powers deployed predatory insects and natural soaps. They planted rye and vetch to serve as ground cover. Grape skins and seeds make their way back to the vineyard.

By 1990, Badger Mountain became the first certified organic vineyard in the state.

Badger Mountain and Powers are separate wineries. Greg uses more traditional methods to make the Powers lineup and follows through with the organic approach to the Badger Mountain wines.

During a recent Wine Press Northwest podcast with Bob Woehler, Bill explained the appeal of his blue-bottled organic Riesling.

"It's been a big seller, always," Bill said. "We have a very long group of people who just want that wine because they are allergic to sulfites - and they want a wine in that price range."

While low levels of sulfites occur naturally in wines, vintners will add sulfites as a preservative agent to help keep wines fresh and ward off oxidation. Consumers seeking NSA (no sulfites added) wines form a significant portion of the market.

"There's about 3 percent of population that's allergic to sulfites, and 5 (percent) more who think they are," Bill said.

This vintage is loaded with orchard fruit, primarily pears and peaches with jasmine and diesel notes. While it's off-dry at 1.7% residual sugar, citrus acidity and minerality add to its complexity and keep it refreshing.

-- Listen to the full interview by visiting winepressnw.com or searching iTunes for "Wine Press Northwest Bobcast."

Badger Mountain Vineyard, 1106 N. Jurupa St., Kennewick, WA 99338, 800-643-9463, badgermtnvineyard.com.

Match Maker recipes

Crispy Pork Belly

Serves 2

1 pound raw Carlton Farms pork belly
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
1⁄2 cup, plus 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, separated use
1 bunch fresh thyme, separated use
3 cups chicken stock or unsalted broth
Extra virgin olive oil
1⁄2 pound fingerling potatoes
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon shallots, minced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon parsley, minced
1 cup Torii Mor 2007 Oregon Pinot Noir
8 fresh Bing cherries, pits removed

For the pork belly:

Season pork belly will salt and pepper and place fat side up in an oven-safe casserole dish. Add 1⁄2 cup Dijon mustard, 1⁄2 bunch of fresh thyme and cover with chicken stock.

Tightly cover with foil or lid and place in oven at 300°F for 41⁄2 hours until the belly is very soft. When it is cooked, remove from liquid and place in chiller until fully cool, approximately 3-5 hours.

Next, cut the cold belly into 2-inch by 4-inch pieces and season again with salt and pepper on all sides. Heat a nonstick saute pan on high heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place belly fat side down into the hot pan, being very careful as to not splash hot oil on your hand. Then, put the pan with the belly in a 400°F preheated oven for 7 minutes to finish.

For potatoes:

Cut potatoes into 1⁄2-inch thick rounds and toss in a bowl with fresh thyme, salt, pepper, and enough oil to lightly coat the potatoes. Put in roasting pan or saute pan in a 400°F oven until golden brown and tender, approximately 20 minutes. When they are cooked add the butter, champagne vinegar, shallots, garlic and parsley. Stir the mixture continuously until the butter has melted. Reserve warm.

Final prep:

To serve, spoon your seasoned potatoes onto a serving dish. Place the pork belly, crispy fat side up, on top of the potatoes. In the hot pan from the pork belly add your red wine, fresh cherries and 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard. Simmer for 2 minutes and spoon over top of the belly. Sprinkle with sea salt and enjoy!

Kodiak Island Halibut

Serves 2

Extra virgin olive oil
2 six-ounce pieces of halibut
Kosher salt
1 bunch green asparagus
4 each Cipplinni onions or pearl onions
1 tablespoon cold butter-unsalted
1 tablespoon shallots, minced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon parsley, minced
Ground black pepper

For the halibut:

Start with a saute pan large enough that you can put both pieces of fish in and not have them touch each other or the sides of the pan. Heat your pan on high and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan with an even layer.

Once the pan is hot, you will see wisps of white smoke coming from the pan. Season the fish on all sides with salt and place carefully in the pan, avoiding any oil splashing. Turn the heat down to medium and let them cook on one side until golden brown. To check the coloring on the fish, carefully use a flexible metal spatula to lightly raise one corner and peek at the doneness. Once golden, carefully flip fish over and put in oven for approximately 3 minutes or until the fish feels slightly firm on its sides.

For the asparagus:

Start by snapping bottoms off by holding just below the tip of the asparagus with one hand and the base in the other and lightly bending until it snaps. Next, peel outside off the asparagus leaving the tip fully intact. Securely tie the asparagus together in one bunch with butcher's twine.

With your water at a steady boil, gently place the asparagus bunch in water and set up an ice bath using 1 quart cold water and 3 cups ice.

Remove asparagus from water when it is fork tender and place directly into ice water. Leave in cold water until fully cool, approximately 5 minutes.

In warm saute pan, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and saute onions until golden brown. Add your blanched asparagus, butter, shallots, garlic and parsley and season with salt and pepper.

To serve, spoon your onion and asparagus garnish onto a plate and place fish on top. A fresh squeeze of lemon to finish and enjoy!