Bringing Germany to Market
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
When Riley White-Brainard first started talking about Food Haus, I figured we were having the standard restaurant fantasy conversation we’d had many times before, slurping whiskeys and dreamily discussing briskets and whether endive is an economically feasible vegetable.
We’d often wax poetic about food trucks and restaurants; excitedly blurting out whatever entrees we’d like to serve. So I was surprised when the next time I saw Riley he’d drawn up a menu—and two weeks later had recruited his best friend, Ian Everyhope, and longtime food service pal, Zach Wehrmeyer. It was the first time any of them had attempted to begin a food operation from the ground up.
Although Riley initiated Food Haus’ creation, Zach and Ian’s ideas were quickly embraced and soon they’d created a menu they were all proud of. “It’s been a huge collaboration,” Riley says. “None of us were going to do something all three of us weren’t set on.” Before I knew it, they’d begun grinding sausages and had perfected their pickled vegetables, nearly ready for opening weekend at the Bellingham Farmers Market.
Having recently returned from a three-month stage in Germany (an unpaid internship in an esteemed kitchen), Ian’s experiences abroad lent a decidedly traditional German foundation for the menu to be built on. The three then worked together to update old classics with a fresh approach.
Pork belly ($9), though often revered as a king of gluttonous foods, is rethought as thin slices of belly atop grilled potato planks and served with a dollop of house-made barbeque sauce. The dish is surprisingly light, and the barbeque sauce is tremendous—don’t be shy to ask for extra.
The Reuben ($10), a Bellingham favorite, offers a unique and tasty flavor due to the fresh brining process for the brisket, as well as the spice blend. While many briskets use pickling spices, Food Haus’ meat is seasoned with juniper berry, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon. The health department’s mandate to use kosher salt instead of nitrate salt in the brining solution gives the brisket a brown color instead of the standard pink, but don’t let it fool you—it’s absolutely packed with great flavor.
Food Haus offers two types of sausage, bratwurst and fresh ($9). They are both outstanding, and I had difficulty deciding which I preferred, though if push came to shove I’d choose fresh. Unlike most sausages, which are dense, fatty things, these are miraculously soft and totally devoid of those hot, oily pockets that I’ve grown to expect from most sausages coming off the grill during barbecue season. Dress them up with sweet relish, Dijon, and my favorite, curry ketchup, and they are a real delight.
Both the sausages and the pork belly come with a simple green salad with tart, crunchy pickled radish and endive on top. For the vegetarians, the German salad ($6.50) is piled high with a refreshing and light assortment of pickled vegetables, and the tempe salad ($6.50) offers more substantial fare.
Another veggie-friendly option is the portabella spätzle ($7), which is so popular it has sold out every week despite the Food Haus guys having upped their recipe twice. Spätzle, an egg noodle, is drenched in a creamy portabella sauce (or a bratwurst-bacon sauce for the meat-eaters) and topped with a few cherry tomatoes and fresh basil.
Riley had always dreamed of making something like this happen, but life—jobs, relationships and obligations—are difficult to juggle. When I asked him what inspired him to make this fresh start, he told me that he’d always wanted a feeling of propriety in his work, and the Bellingham Farmers Market stand was his chance. Based on the amount of excitement from the market’s patrons, I don’t doubt this is exactly the opportunity they were all hoping for.
Visit Food Haus from 10am-3pm every Saturday at the Bellingham Farmers Market at the Depot Market Square, 1100 Railroad Ave.
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