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24 August 2009

eating at the Herbfarm

happy anniversary

A few times in your life, you have a meal so memorable that you know you'll be tasting it again, decades later.

We know that when we are in our 80s, we will be discussing food on the front porch, our feet up on the railing as we talk about black truffle risotto in Gubbio, fresh oysters from Hogg Island, and peach crisp from our kitchen in August. And often, I imagine, we will circle back to the evening we ate at the Herbfarm.

In honor of our anniversary (and making it through this tumultuous year still laughing), we splurged on a nine-course tasting menu at the Herbfarm, one of the most respected restaurants in Washington state, and beyond.

This was the best meal of our lives.

Herbfarm garden

The Herbfarm has been working its magic since 1986, first at a large rural farm in Fall City, and then at its current location in Woodinville after a terrible fire took down the original buildings in 1997. Long before the phrase "eating local" became common vernacular, these guys were serving tremendous food in season, most of it harvested from the farm just outside the kitchen door.

Danny and I have always dreamed of going, individually before we met each other, and then together after we fell in love. It wasn't possible before this. There was no time for restaurant dining when Danny was the chef at a restaurant six days a week. And after Little Bean arrived, there wasn't much time for 5 hours of dedicated dining. In fact, before Sunday, we had not been out for the evening in well over a year.

This was one heck of a way to start that tradition.

We started first in the gardens. We were handed rose geranium punch in delicate glasses and asked to walk with Carrie Zimmerman, one of the owners of the Herbfarm, as she showed us some of the bounty of the place.

Carrie shows us zucchini blossoms

These are zucchini blossoms (see the tiny zucchinis on the end?). Danny and I fell in love with squash blossoms in Rome, when he ordered a dish of braised veal cheeks and risotto-stuffed squash blossoms. It was the only time that he has ever taken a bite, then curled his arm around the plate so I couldn't reach in. I laughed. (Later, he let me have some.) Anything that good deserves to be his.

Did you know that squash blossoms come in male and female form? Which one is which here?

amaranth leaves

It pleased me no end to see this. The leaves of the amaranth plant, with that magenta splash down the center of the leaf. (It's usually called Chinese spinach in the farmers' markets.)

Seeing this made me feel better. Certainly they could feed me gluten-free.


After the tour, we walked into the lobby, ready to be seated. Just as we entered, Danny whispered to me, "Be sure to mention to your server that you're gluten-free. I just don't want you getting sick."

And then we saw this.

Wow. I mean, wow.

I kind of wanted to cry, seeing this. So many of us who are gluten-free feel like outsiders, left with the table scraps and the salads without croutons and plain meat served without any sauces. Not here. Not at The Herbfarm.

I turned to Danny and giggled. "Yeah, I think they know I'm gluten-free. I'm not going to worry about it."

(And for anyone reading who is gluten-free? The Herbfarm has been feeding gluten-free customers for years. This is what I have found: any restaurant that makes food from scratch and pays attention to seasons and the best ingredients? They can feed us well. Especially the Herbfarm. You may not have a sign like this greeting you. But you will have one of the best meals of your life, entirely safe.)

show plate

The Herbfarm is more than a restaurant. It's a little like food theatre. Every place setting has wine glasses set up for a flight, lacey placemats, the name of your party in a little frame, and these lustrous green plates, waiting. Danny tells me they are show plates. All I know is that the sight of this reminds me of the time between courses, when we were waiting for the next white plate.

three soups

And here was the first.

Sorry about the focus on that gaspacho (made with fennel and chardonnay seed oil). That dish was taller than the rest. And the lighting was ambient and lovely, but not best for food photography. I think you'll forgive me. Just imagine the tastes.

The soup on the left, with the spoon, was an incredible mussel stew, made from mussels grown in Quilcene, by a fisherman so dedicated to freshness that he delivers his seafood in an aquaraium, still bubbling away, because the power cord is connected to the cigarette lighter in his pick-up truck. This stew had the slight sweetness of mussels and basil, with a housemade aioli. I didn't have the crouton. I didn't miss it.

On the right a small shot of fresh corn soup. It was simply sweet corn, marjoram, butter, and salt. Oh my this stopped us in our talking. We took smaller and smaller spoonfuls with each new taste, to make it last as long as we could.

After these, we could not wait for the rest of dinner.


Before we could continue eating, however, we had the chance to meet the staff. Starting with this man. It's Herbguy!

Forgive me if you are not on Twitter. But if you are, and you care about food, you're probably following Ron Zimmerman, known on that chatty community center as @herbguy. It was reading his updates on the staff's efforts to create this 100-mile dinner that inspired Danny and me to come to dinner. That, and Ron's kindness. He's a lovely man. He and his wife Carrie (the one with the squash blossoms above) have put their life's work into this restaurant, first serving as chef and dishwashers and now overseeing all the operations.

Here he is, telling us about the history of the place and his remarkable staff.

chef de cuisine

This is Lisa Nakamura, the chef de cuisine at the Herbfarm. Here she is describing how the kitchen staff scrambled, creatively, to find the ingredients to feed us.

You see, the Herbfarm changes the theme of its menu about every 10 days to 2 weeks. We almost went a few weeks ago to partake of the local game menu. Of course we would love to go to the makin' bacon menu in November. But when we heard that the 100-mile dinner would only include ingredients sourced from within 100 miles (as the crow flies) from the Herbfarm, we had to part of that.

Lisa and the other chefs scoured farmers' markets and followed tips to small farms in far-flung places. They actually made their own salt, by evaporating seawater from off the coast of one of the San Juan Islands. We don't grow peppercorns in the Northwest, or olives, or coffee beans. So the chefs had to start from scratch on everything, and be more creative than they normally are.

It's a little like going gluten-free.

We grew excited, listening to the chef talk about the food, and the ebullient sommelier, Michael Kaminski, discuss the wine choices they had made for the dinner. (Luckily, there are plenty of good wineries in the Northwest.) Danny, especially, sat rapt, his eyes focused but his brain already dreaming of the food he might make after hearing this.

We were ready for more.

buttermilk and yogurt panna cotta

This is a savory buttermilk and yogurt panna cotta, smooth and light, fresh as the buttermilk they had created by churning their own butter with local cream. That's a squash blossom wrapped around it. And a tiny cucumber with the blossom still attached.

This panna cotta appealed to my eye so much that I didn't touch it for a few moments. But once I took the first taste, I could have spooned it up in small bites for another 30 minutes and still not be done.

gluten-free spoonbread

The friendly, efficient servers brought each patron small slices of brown bread, made with local hard wheat. I didn't really need anything. The memory of that panna cotta was still in my mouth.

Then David (wonderful, funny David, who actually reads this blog!) untucked something from behind a white napkin.

Corn spoonbread, made with sweet corn and its milk. Topped with house-made butter.

Yeah, it was exactly as summer-warm sweet as you would imagine. It made me a little teary, to tell you the truth.

eggs, clams, and potatoes

Oh goodness. This was my kind of course. Breakfast in the midst of this high-end dinner.

Sausage (house-made), bacon, potatoes that had been picked from the garden that morning, grilled clams from Quilcene, and a perfectly poached egg.

Honestly, at this point I would have thought we were done. This was exquisite. If only I had something to sop up those lovely juices.

cornmeal crackers

And like a dream, it appeared.

These are cornmeal crackers. The staff had ground dried sweet corn into a meal. (Cornmeal, they found out, is traditionally made from grist corn, which holds the meal together better.) These were a little crumbly. Did I care? Not one whit.

After all, these were also made with summer truffles and house-made Parmesan cheese. Yes, please.

(The truffles had been hunted by a local chihuahua, who was a dog rescued from the pound. Her new owner noticed the dog digging in the garden and went to look. Truffles. She showed up at the Herbfarm one day and offered to sell them, since she couldn't eat them all.)

lummi salmon with prosciutto chip

Silly me, thinking that was enough. I ate my words when this course arrived.

This is salmon that had been caught by reef nets off Lummi Island. (Reef netting is an ancient practice for fishing, one of the most humane and respectful fishing practices in existence. If you'd like to read more about it, go here.) The chefs slow roasted it until the flesh felt like butter, soft and yet whole. Sweeter than most salmon, this small piece will live in my memory. Underneath it a smoky thyme and cream sauce, accompanied with baby beans. And on top? Something we'll be trying in our kitchen soon — a crisp prosciutto chip.


tiny fava bean cakes

And then these arrived, too. Tiny cakes made of fava bean and potato puree. They were heavenly, bursting with fresh herb taste.

I might have thought tiny cakes were too small before. But with this much flavor — and a smear of great butter — these were all I needed.

(I still cannot believe that the staff made three separate gluten-free savory treats for me.)

beef course

Talk about tiny tastes being plenty.

This is Lummi Island beef, bathed in lardo while cooking, with a huckleberry-rosemary gastrique. Oh, and horseradish butter. Danny took a bite of this first, while I was taking this photograph. It was the only bite where he grew truly irritated with me. "Put down the camera and have a taste right now. I want you to have this.."

So I did.

After nearly fainting, I sliced into the veal pave on which it had rested. This local veal is pasture raised, humanely. The meat tasted even brighter for it. And to the side, small vegetables, picked that day and slow roasted.

In our house, when food is this good, we turn to each other, slap the other one's arm, and say, "Shut up!" I didn't feel comfortable doing that at the Herbfarm, but I wanted to do it.


And the wine. Oh, the wine was perfect. I don't know the words to talk about wine in the right way. I mean, I know them, but they don't feel like mine.

All I will say is that everything was spectacular, supportive of the food without outshining it, rising above my expectations, and kind. Can wine be kind? These wines felt like they could.

Also, the non-alcoholic option was possibly even more extraordinary. Each course came with a wineglass of an herbal concoction — a natural Sprite, blueberries juice, an attempt at cola with burdock root — so interesting and delicious that I actually asked for those for a few courses, instead of the wines. Danny and I were both delighted.

sour cherry sorbet

Now this, I have to say, is my kind of palate cleanser.

Sour cherry and tarragon sorbet, with a pickled cherry on top. And to the side? A bacon chip made with Mangalitsa pork.

Okay, I have to say it. Shut up!


One of the lovely parts of the Herbfarm we loved best was the communal table. Danny and I could have sat at our own table, off in the corner by ourselves, on our first real date night out. But we chose to sit with others, to hear their stories, to learn about their culinary adventures, to be part of a larger experience.

This is Keltie, the wonderul woman who sat across from us with her husband, Richard. Her little sighs of delight, questions about the ingredients, and fond memories of learning how to cook out of Mastering The Art of French Cooking made our evening even more wonderful than it would have been if we had sat alone.


Do I have to tell you that dessert was deserving of every accolade possible?

On the top is a hazlenut souffle (no flour involved!) with a smoked hazelnut creme anglaise. We poked holes tentatively into the top, then poured the creme into the hole, watching it swirl for a moment before we dove in. That was the lightest soufflé I have ever eaten. Entirely gluten-free.

The small green sliver is a chocolate mint semi-freddo. Not chocolate and mint, but made with chocolate mint, so only a small touch of the familiar flavors. And instead of sugar, they used stevia, which is made in the Northwest too.

And on the left, perhaps my favorite bite of the night. A ripe nectarine poached in anise-hyssop, with a dollop of creme fraiche.

I could eat that all summer long and not be done.

the last of the evening

The evening could not end without beverages, of course. But no one grows coffee beans in Washington state, or black teas. What to do? There were tisanes of herbs, a coffee-like brew of dandelion root or chicory. Green teas grown on the Skagit River flats, the only working tea plantation in North America. They all sounded appealing to me.

But I had to have the madrona bark tea, foraged by a man named Neal Foley (who goes by @Podchef on Twitter) on Shaw Island. I could not resist the chance to taste this. When was it ever going to happen again? It was earthy, something like mushrooms, slightly sweet, and wonderfully pleasant. The best end to an extraordinary meal.

Danny and I sat back in our seats, entranced with the sensory pleasure we had experienced during those past 4 1/2 hours. We didn't want to leave.

One of the parts of the Herbfarm experience I especially like is that you give your credit card number when you make a reservation, for a deposit. When you show up, and they know you have eaten there, they quietly charge the rest, plus service, to your card. This means you can leave without ever seeing a bill.

So Danny and I were surprised when our waiter brought over a small book for us. "You two have paperwork," he said, smiling. "Look inside."

Inside was a card, made from a photograph that Ron had taken of us during the evening. We thought that was lovely. We opened it up and read. It took us a few moments to take it in.

The names of eight of our good friends were written inside, with a little note: "We picked up the bill! Happy Anniversary."

We both cried. I'm teary again just writing this. Thank you to our friends (who have been privately thanked before this). For food and ambience, and the occasion, this was already the best meal of our lives. Our friends' kindness took it to another level.

That's the Herbfarm. It's like that.

the chefs and staff

And so, I want to end by showing you this photograph of all of the chefs, lined up to be introduced by Ron. I've never been to a restaurant where I learn the names of every cook, where they come from, how their background brought them here.

Thank you, every one of you.

I also want you to see this to know: if you encounter a chef who says he cannot cook for you, gluten-free? Get up and leave. The true professionals don't regard this as an imposition. The best chefs know that this is their chance to be even more creative and give you joy in the belly.

We will never forget this meal.


At 3:29 PM, Blogger Dr. Jean Layton said...

Once again you allowed me to experience something special. Thank you for letting me be a visitor at your anniversary celebration.
Your friends truly recognize how special you are.
Now I need to save up and visit Herbfarm with my honey. Maybe for our 16th?

At 3:35 PM, Blogger HannahHandpainted said...

This is beautiful! What a story! What an anniversary. Glad you had a happy one!

At 3:41 PM, Blogger cottagesweet said...

Shauna, I felt so happy for you and Danny to have experienced this luxurious meal. Happy Anniversary to you both and gobs more!!

At 3:43 PM, Blogger Lisa said...

What an awesome anniversary! Oh to live in a town with those kinds of experiences, I am jealous;)

At 3:46 PM, Anonymous Jessica Waters said...

honestly, I had tears in my eyes the whole time reading this gorgeous delicious post. Thanks for sharing the best meal of your life with us.

At 3:48 PM, Blogger tiny myths said...


At 3:50 PM, Blogger LisaBW said...

Heavenly! I can almost taste it myself.

At 4:06 PM, Blogger Allison the Meep said...

WHOA. I don't know if there are other words than that. Oh, yeah there are: WHAAAAT???? That's just crazy amazing. I'm blown away by this place.

What a fantastic way to spend your evening.

At 4:11 PM, Blogger Dahlia said...

I've followed your blog for a little while now, and this may just be my favorite post. I laughed out loud at "Shut up!", got a little ferklempt as you waxed poetic about sitting communally at the table, and simply nodded in silent agreement as you paid homage, so beautifully, to those who prepared your meal with such care. The food community here in the NW is simply wonderful, isn't it? Brava.

At 4:38 PM, Anonymous Lorna Yee said...

Henry and I were so glad when Jon contacted us to help out with dinner. It was our pleasure, really, to thank you and Danny in a small way for all the joy you've brought to our lives in the short months we've known you both.

The dinner looks spectacular, and your words were even more so.

At 4:55 PM, Blogger Enza-lina said...

I am new to your blog and I just wanted you to know how much i am enjoying it. Thanks for sharing!

At 4:56 PM, Anonymous marcella said...

Thank you! You have brought back the wonderful memories of our dinner at the Herbfarm many years ago. At the time they were serving at a winery as their restaurant had burned down and they had yet to move to their new fancy place. Truly one of the best and most wonderful meals ever! And yes, we still have our mini frame too. Hope you have many, many more wonderful anniversaries to come!

At 5:09 PM, Blogger Jenn Sutherland said...

Amazing. I, too, am sitting here with tears in my eyes after reading this beautiful post. Thank you Herb Farm, for feeding Shauna and Danny and all of us who are gluten-free so very very well. I shall now add visiting the Herb Farm to my culinary wish list. Bravo!

At 5:33 PM, Blogger Divina Pe said...

What a delightful and adventurous meal.

At 5:54 PM, Blogger theresa said...

Wow, thank you so much for sharing! When I make it to the west coast, I will make it a point to dine (and perhaps stay) at Herbfarm.

At 6:18 PM, Blogger MamaJoe said...

SHUT UP....No really....
Thanks for this encouraging journey that tells us...gluten free is not taste free.

At 6:30 PM, Anonymous Karen Robertson said...

An amazing post...we have always talked about visiting the Herbfarm and I have wondered what it would be like since Jerry Traunfeld moved on. Quite impressive, I am sooo glad you had a chance to visit, this year has been a challenging one and I wish you the best. I am back on the gluten-free scene after a hiatus and look forward to seeing you in the future.

At 6:35 PM, Blogger Stacie said...

OMG! This post was just heaven..really well written and I feel like I was THERE with you all at your table, giddy with excitement over the care and specificity of the Happy, Happy Anniversary and when Shayne and I get up to Seattle this Spring, we are so there. This restaurant is going on my Must Do list...

At 6:47 PM, Blogger Kelsey B. said...

This is a fantastic story about a wonderful place. Now I wish I didn't live so far away! When I finally make a trip to the NW this will be on the top of my list of places to visit. congrats on a great date night - be sure to get out even with a little one around!

At 7:45 PM, Blogger Clare said...

Oh, hooray! I got a little teary reading this, so glad that the two of you had such a wonderful, special night out and that you received such a great surprise at the end. What a TREAT!! You both deserve it. Happy anniversary to you and Danny. XOXO

At 8:03 PM, Anonymous beyond said...

thanks for this amazing story.
and happy anniversary.

At 8:44 PM, Blogger Margaret said...

Shauna, this brought tears to my eyes! I've longed to go to the Herbfarm since I first heard of it, and someday I'll make it there! Meanwhile, thank you for letting me visit vicariously through you! What wonderful friends you have, a reflection of course of how much you must mean to them! I think this is my favorite post to date.

At 8:51 PM, Anonymous La Niña said...

You two deserve The Herbfarm treatment in a huge way. I'm so happy to hear that Ron, Carrie and talented staff rolled out the gluten-free red carpet! (the sign is priceless- did you get to keep it?)

We used to count on The Herbfarm as our special once-a-year celebratory treat. Nothing will ever top the first time we were there, and Ron put one of my books in the women's bathroom! He had researched me online. He is a wonderful, sly fellow, that one.

I've been afraid to go back with Booth's Celiac... but you have opened my mind and heart again.

Now we just need something to celebrate, and we won't have reservations, we'll make them.

(and happy to hear that the new Chef likes that special island we know and love ;-)

At 10:03 PM, Anonymous Ivy's Kitchen said...

Two and a half years ago I was lucky enough to get to eat at the French Laundry. The exquisiteness of the food at the Herbfarm sounds similar but from your pictures it looks like the Herbfarm has a much more comfortable and relaxed atmosphere. Wonderful.

At 10:24 PM, Blogger Mama EZ said...

Ooo, a friend of mine has had the chance to work there a bit (volunteer perhaps?), it's fun to see what it's really like through your eyes.

At 11:27 PM, Blogger Rina the Mama Bear said...

What a wonderful experience for you guys! Everything looks so lovely.

I'm curious about something - if you were able to eat food with gluten, but armed with what you know about it now, would you eat food with gluten in it? Do you feel that gluten is a terrible thing that even those of us who can consume it, shouldn't? I've always wondered about whether or not I should try to avoid gluten.

At 12:28 AM, Anonymous Julia Rogers Hamrick said...

I wonder if I took on calories while reading this post...I felt I was tasting those bites along with you!

How lovely you were able to do this for your anniversary and how touching your friends wanted to provide it for you. Beautiful!

Thanks for sharing it with us.

Happy Belated Anniversary!

At 6:21 AM, Blogger Nina said...

I'm misty eyed. Happy anniversary!

At 7:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! Oh my, wow! This post is sooo felt like as a reader we were right there with you. Thankyou for the post, and Happy Anniversary! Ina from the WestCoast

At 8:44 AM, Anonymous Sallie said...

I have read and re-read this post and each time I feel this warmth inside. You have the incredible ability to describe an experience that can vicariously transport me to that place. I still have tears in my eyes from the whole experience. Thank you so very much for sharing.

At 8:51 AM, Anonymous Sho said...

Wow! I am in awe!

Happy Anniversery!


At 9:55 AM, Anonymous kimberly said...

What a lovely post! I'm glad - and not surprised - that the folks from the Herbfarm took such care with your dinner.

Paul and I went to the Herbfarm 10 years ago for his 40th birthday. The dinner was mushroom-themed, and was a revalation for two folks whose previous experience of mushrooms had been fairly limited. When I mentioned the 100-mile dinner to Paul, he said Yes! We're going this Sunday. I've asked that Paul's dinner be low-sodium, and expect that they'll do that beautifully, too.

At 11:00 AM, Blogger Shuku said...

Shauna, I am -so- glad you had something so wonderful to celebrate your anniversary! You've been an inspiration time and time again when I've had such trouble cooking in this tiny hovel of a kitchen. This is why I used to love cooking for friends with allergies when I still -had- a place to do it - to give them joy in the belly, as you so wonderfully put it.

There is hardly anything of the sort to be had in my part of the world. Gluten-intolerance just isn't recognised for the most part. It's discouraging, at times, but reading posts like yours remind me that there -is- a silver lining.

Someday, maybe I'll get to visit the Herbfarm but for now? I am just thankful there are people (and restaurants!) like that out there who know what it is to feed everyone, not just 'normal' people.

At 11:15 AM, Anonymous Kelley said...

Looks absolutely divine!! Happy anniversary!

At 11:48 AM, Blogger katherine said...

Shauna, happy anniversary! This was an amazing post; I am always impressed by your ability to describe so eloquently the ephemeral joys of food and good people.

While reading your post I immediately thought of Sakuma Brothers, a small fruit grower in Burlington that several years ago began growing and processing tea. Whenever I am in the area I like to pick some up; before trying theirs I had no idea there was even such a thing as 'fresh' tea, but theirs is absolutely phenomenal :)

At 11:56 AM, Blogger Heather said...

Oh my goodness what a great food story. The end got me all teary! How wonderful of your friends to treat you to such an amazing meal. When you're 80 and swapping food stories you'll be able to pull this out and remember every little detail. Here's to you and Danny and Little Bean and all of the adventures ahead of you! I can't wait to read about them. :)

At 12:08 PM, Blogger Heidi said...

Totally fun!

The flower on the end of the baby zucchini holds the stamens, which is fertilized by the pistil of the flower that grows on a stem from the vine instead of the end of a zucchini. You already know this, so I don't know why I'm telling you, but I totally just blogged about dissecting those exact flowers with my kids!

I would have cried over the gluten free effort that was made by the almost or maybe about it!

At 1:09 PM, Blogger ashley said...

Once again, Shauna, your post nearly moves me to tears. Exquisitely written and beautiful photographs. The other day I was commenting to a friend about how much I loved your blog, her response was she doesn't read it because she's not gluten-free. Neither am I, but when I explained the wonderful writing, and passion for food, she decided to revisit the blog. I admire your life, and the peace you've found in it.


At 2:22 PM, Blogger Waterstone by Lori Plyler said...

Oh my goodness! The pictures and story are fabulous. I absolutely love your site and am so glad I found you. Your blog is proudly displayed on my gluten-free blogroll. :)

At 2:38 PM, Blogger Green Acres in the City said...

This is amazing! What a beautiful meal. Happy Anniversary!

At 2:41 PM, Anonymous lesbo-kitchen said...

wow. what an amazing meal. I've always wanted the herbfarm cookbook, but now I *really* want it. and to go there, too.

happy anniversary to you both.

At 2:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this! We went to the Herbfarm a while ago, but now that I am eating gluten-free, I didn't want to go again... I knew that they would accommodate me, but it just seemed a shame to have not-quite-as-good food at a place as special as the Herbfarm.

Now I know that the food would be as special for me as it would be for my gluten-loving dining companion. Thanks!

At 2:58 PM, Blogger FeistywithFlavor said...

What an absolutely marvelous story! May you share many more wonderful anniversaries. Your writing ability made me feel as if I were there with you...thank you for sharing.

At 4:45 PM, Blogger Andrea said...

so beautiful, Shauna. found myself a little teary at the end. happy Anniversary!!!

At 5:18 PM, Anonymous lisa16 said...

Happy Anniversary.

I wanted to tell you that for our fifth, we went to The Chef's restaurant in Seattle. And for us, that meal was wonderful the way this one was for you.

We had a chicken dish and a ruby red salmon dish at the bar (we didn't have a reservation.) And I left very happy. It was the first time I had really eaten out after being diagnosed.

These things matter.

May you share many more happy anniversaries together :-)

At 5:34 PM, Anonymous Jennifer said...

I wish you both a very Happy Anniversary. You've overwhelmed my senses with your delightful photos and mystical description of this dinner. Thanks for sharing this amazing and memorable experience with us.

At 6:06 PM, Anonymous Julie said...

Wow. Thanks for taking the time to invite us all along for that meal.

In our house, it's "get out!" (accompanied by a shove). I like the "shut up" - arm slap version.. may give it a try.

At 8:00 PM, Blogger Andreae Prozesky said...

Oh my goodness, I just started to sob reading this. Such loving care, such reverence, such imagination... I dream of a world where people cook and eat like this (dietary restrictions or no dietary restrictions)! Congratulations Shauna and Danny, and many more (anniversaries and magical meals).

At 9:21 PM, Anonymous Olivia said...

Congrats on your anniversary! Is there anything better than an amazing meal with someone you love?! Best wishes.

At 9:21 PM, Blogger nm said...

Too funny, Keltie was in my bookclub.

What a great anniversary dinner - here's to another fifty or so...

At 6:19 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

*drools* Just imagining those flavors is making me hungry. Thank you for posting this, its always nice to know about a restaurant who is willing to actually work with their guests not just take their money.

Congratulations on your anniversary too, and I hope y'all have many more!

PS: I hope you don't mind, I shared this post with some of my foodie friends.

At 7:32 AM, Anonymous Lisa G. said...

Thank you for this post! Thanks for sharing this beautiful meal and experience with us.

At 10:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Anniversary, and many more! I would fly clear across the country (if I could) to have a meal at this amazing restaurant...Dee

At 10:45 AM, Blogger Tami said...

Wow, I even got teary eyed at the end. Life is wonderful when you have such good friends. Thanks for sharing.

Happy Anniversary!

At 7:07 PM, Blogger simple said...

I am continually impressed with the way that you describe food. I can taste each bite through your words. I recently read your book and was so glad to find it when I did. I have a food sensitive two year old and am also attempting to approach this as an adventure. Would you mind if I discuss your book with other like-minded parents on my blog? You are an inspiration. Many Thanks! Juliet

At 9:12 PM, Blogger Bekah said...

Love reading your blog. This entry especially. Thank God that you do not have any shame in taking pictures of your meal! What would we do without them? Even the photos.. simply spectacular.

At 11:52 PM, Blogger theater simpleton said...

So many things to cheer in this post! The love, the food, the respect and humor... even the fact that even Neal on his island got a shout-out for bark tea (!!???) (I've been listening to his podcasts for

The biggest thing to cheer though is the all-permeating LOVE that suffuses your writing, your relationship, this restaurant and its denizens, and how we all get to breathe that perfume a little, and bring it into our lives. (And loves)
Food is love, in my world. It's great to read/see/vicariously experience it in yours too. Happy anniversary,and happy years to come!

At 5:44 AM, Anonymous Kylie of Thin Crust, Deep Dish said...

Growing up in Redmond, my mom always raved of the Herbfarm as the most incredible restaurant around. After hearing how well they fed you, I'm even more in awe. When I grow up, this is where I want to go for dinner.

At 6:32 AM, Blogger Swiss said...

I have always dreamed of eating at the Herb Farm. Thanks for sharing your day so I can dream some more.

At 11:04 AM, Blogger gfe--gluten free easily said...

Wow, that was almost too much to take in by reading and looking at your incredible photos. I can only imagine how amazing it must have been actually living the experience! What a fabulous welcome and anniversary dinner! And, you are absolutely right--trained professionals should be able to easily feed anyone who is gluten free, and feed them very, very well.

Thanks for sharing such a very lovely experience,


At 1:47 PM, Blogger Rick said...

I really want to visit Herbfarm now! I've only been doing this diet for a couple months, but I'm already over going to restaurants here (Honolulu) and end up just ordering salad w/out dressing and some other stuff due to the restrictions!

At 8:51 PM, Blogger Culinarytaste said...

I can completely relate to your experience. I went to this Mexican restaurant for the first time in London, Ontario, Canada last year and it offers a Celiac menu and nearly everything is available for celiacs. I nearly cried I was so happy! So happy to be able to just look at the menu and decide and not ask 150 questions to make sure things were safe or pick apart a meal or be handed an ingredient BINDER. One restaurant just handed me this 5 inch binder full of every menu item they used broken down by sauces, etc. I was so very overwhelmed that I decided not to eat there. So many places I go to though scare me when they say "what's gluten?".

At 11:34 PM, Blogger havenmaven said...

Wow - now commencing "weepy" and "hungry!"

Lovely, lovely post.
This is why we check in on the world of Shauna so regularly.Thank you so much!

At 4:52 AM, Anonymous heather said...

this was so beautiful to read. i've always wanted to go there... you've made me now desperate to go there! ;) happy anniversary!!

At 4:30 AM, Blogger Katie Gilbert said...

Amazing account of your treasured moments... thanks for sharing your culinary adventure!
Katie Gilbert

At 7:17 AM, Anonymous Christie @ Quit Your Diet said...

Beautiful post. I am so glad to have found your blog as I begin my gluten free journey. Your work is lovely and I am excited to read and learn from you.

At 8:55 AM, Blogger EponaRae said...

Tearfully, joyfully: Thank you for sharing your anniversary with us. Deeply felt and so generously revealed, your experience has moved us all. Blessings <3!

At 5:42 PM, Blogger gfkris said...

Happy Anniversary Shauna and Chef! I absolutely loved reading this, and I hope you don't mind if I quote you regarding true professional and the desire to make the belly happy!! =)

At 2:38 AM, Anonymous Australian Lady said...

Happy Anniversary to you both. Many thanks for sharing such a wonderful experience with us.

I could almost taste each morsel you described. How wonderful! It is also so inspiring to see chefs going to such wonderful lengths to feed us safely, with such delicious food. It warms my heart.

Thank you. WHat a beautiful heartfelt experience.

At 8:56 AM, Blogger Erin S. said...

Happy Anniversary to a wonderful couple. This meal sounds like a dream and you both really deserve it. Thank you for such a vivid blog posting, as usual.

Erin S.
Gluten-Free Fun

At 11:37 AM, Anonymous Jess said...

I want to go there! I want them to cook for me!

At 2:42 PM, Blogger DeeCoz said...

What a splendid account of a remarkable evening! You two so deserved this celebration. Your post gives me courage to attempt one of these dinners with my hubby and his multiple food allergies.

At 2:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got teary-eyed reading the part about how your friends paid for you dinner. Thanks for sharing. Now I want to eat there more than every.

At 3:06 PM, Blogger leedav said...

Wow! Just, WOW! Such a great write up. I've been wanting to go there for years. I too got teary toward the end. Amazing. Thanks for sharing.

At 7:12 PM, Blogger GlutenFreeG said...

Would you recommend a gluten free bread maker ?

"The Gluten Free G" (Guy)


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