Monthly Archives: October 2009

Eastlake Fall Gathering: A great evening in the neighborhood

The Eastlake Fall Gathering packed Louisa’s Cafe Bakery on Thursday for a fun, relaxed evening of conversation, food and wine.

I saw some now-familar faces but met lots of new people who live in the neighborhood. Alcena Plum, Louisa’s owner, supplied great appetizers and wine for those attending. Slimpickins played their rootsy music.

It was really quite nice.

There was no agenda, just a chance to chat and get to know each other. Some folks talked neighborhood issues, others the still-precarious state of the economy or what they’d done this summer or … whatever.

Thanks go to the Eastlake Community Council and Alcena from Louisa’s for sponsoring and supporting the evening. Mary Hansen did the terrific poster. Also deserving thanks is Kate Dulemba, who put together last summer’s movie night at Rogers Playfield and did the event planning honors again.

I’ll admit up front: I did a bad job getting names to go with the photos. I’ll put in what names I know. If you know names for folks I’ve missed, e-mail me at curtmilton (at) comcast.net and I’ll add them. Or put them in the comments.

Update: I’ve added a few more names. Thanks, Tim and Melissa! There are still a few people unidentified. If you know who they are, let me know.

Autumn morning walk to Louisa’s

I took a few photos walking to Louisa’s this morning to have breakfast and coffee with former colleagues from the Seattle P-I. The leaves have really started turning in the last week.

One nice surprise: Students from TOPS@Seward School have hung poetry in one of the trees between the school and playground. Fun to look at what they’d written. Check it out when you’re in the area.

Street work on Eastlake Ave.

Eastlake Avenue E. is down to one lane today (Saturday) south of E. Boston. Looks like the city is putting in some new sidewalk corners and doing some repair work. 

They are limiting access to one direction at a time. Doesn’t seem to be causing huge backups at this point.

Let me know if you see traffic problems developing there and when they return to two way access.

Rogers Playfield is back on Google Maps

Google Maps was true to their word: They’ve just restored Rogers Playfield to their Eastlake map.

Earlier in the month, Google updated the database they use to create their maps. The upgrade was supposed to add park land but, in the case of Eastlake, it removed Rogers Playfield.

One of the new features of Google Maps is a link where you can report errors. At least two of us in the neighborhood complained and Google promptly admitted the error and said the park would be back within a month. And it has returned!

Interestingly, the map now includes links to schools and local businesses. Not all the local businesses but some. Whatever database they’re using to mark the businesses, it needs an update. They’re still showing Daly’s Drive-In.

Oh, well. No one’s perfect.

Ruby Condos 60% sold, lowers prices

Ben Kakimoto at the Seattle Condo Blog reports that Ruby Condos, 2960 Eastlake Ave. E., is now 60% sold and they’ve lowered prices. Which means that someone is still able to afford real estate.

He lists several examples of the new, lower prices, including a 1-bed, 1-bath, 801-square-foot home that was $399,990 but is now $309,500. Another 1-bed, 1-bath, this one 935 square feet, is now $315,500, reduced from $479,990.

Find more information about Ruby on their web site.

Getting ready to vote? Check our voter’s guide

The 2009 election is proving to be very important for Seattle and the state of Washington. The city will be getting a new mayor and two important statewide ballot measures are on the ballot for this November’s election.

Want to know more about the election? Check this voter’s guide created by Switchyard Media:

Tonight! Eastlake Fall Gathering at Louisas Cafe

Mary Hansen’s poster design for the Fall Gathering.

The Eastlake Fall Gathering is this evening, from 7 to 10 p.m., at Louisa’s Cafe Bakery.

The event is sponsored by Louisa’s and the Eastlake Community Council.

There’s no agenda for the event, just a chance to get together with your neighbors, enjoy some good food and drink, and listen to some great live music.

Don’t know anyone in the neighborhood? Here’s a chance to meet people. Lived here for ages? It’s a good chance to catch up on what everyone is doing.


The details:

  • Time: 7-10 p.m. this evening, Thursday.
  • Place: Louisa’s Cafe Bakery, 2379 Eastlake Ave. E.
  • Cost: $5 gets you in the door PLUS yummy appetizers and a four-ounce glass of wine. After that, you can order food, coffee or dessert off Louisa’s regular evening menu.
  • Music: Slimpickins, a group Alcena Plum, owner of Louisa’s, describes as “bluesy and rootsy,” will be playing.

See you there!

Meet Gwenyth Bassetti, founder of Grand Central Bakery

UPDATE: This story has been changed since it was first published. The times for the book signing and the name of the co-author of the book have been corrected.

Next time you’re in a Seattle grocery store, perusing all the exotic loaves of bread in the bakery section, stop for a moment and say a little thanks to Gwenyth Bassetti. She helped to make possible those loaves of olive bread and foccachia and rustic Italian.

Bassetti founded Grand Central Bakery in Pioneer Square in 1989. Prior to that, in the early 1970s, she and two friends opened a little sandwich shop called, simply, The Bakery, also in the Square’s Grand Central Building. At a time when “bread” meant, at best, whole wheat in a plastic bag, she showed us that there was a world of possibilities out there that we hadn’t even dreamed of.


Bassetti and her husband, architect Fred Bassetti, live on a houseboat on Portage Bay. On Thursday, she’ll be signing copies of “The Grand Central Baking Book,” a collection of recipes from the bakery, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Eastlake Grand Central, 1616 Eastlake Ave. E. Bassetti will be signing books with her daughter, Piper Davis, who co-wrote the book with Portland food writer Ellen Jackson.

While many of the recipes are from the bakery (and quite a few of them were created or influenced by Bassetti), she says others “come out of the tradition” of Grand Central. The book’s gorgeous color photos are guaranteed to make you hungry.

People have asked for the bakery’s recipes for years, Bassetti says, and sometimes she’d oblige. Now seemed like a good time to collect the best ones in a book.

It all started, she recalls, in 1972 with the desire to open a sandwich shop in Pioneer Square with two of her friends. The sandwich shop idea came out of San Francisco, where several such places were operating. 

“We didn’t have any idea what we were doing,” she says. “It was a fun, crazy, ’70s, hippie kind of thing to do.”

Bassetti baked the hearty bread for the sandwiches. One day, she made a breakfast pastry. It was a hit. She tried cinnamon rolls. Even bigger hit (they’re they one original item that has continued relatively unchanged, she says). People came back for more and a business success was born.

Eventually, Bassetti left The Bakery, moved to Eastern Washington and settled on a farm near Goldendale with her husband. They raised sheep and “a bunch of kids.” She wrote a food column for the local paper, the Goldendale Sentinel, and ran the office of the state wool growers association.

“I’ve been a latent foodie all my life,” Bassetti says. She grew up in Boston and lived on a family farm. There were big gardens and lots of baking. Her mom (“a good, natural cook”) baked and exposed Bassetti to baking. She says she was more outdoorsy and it wasn’t until her junior year of college that she got serious about food.

She was working at a dude ranch in Wyoming, helping in the kitchen, when the cook had a nervous breakdown. “The woman who owned the ranch was always on her,” Bassetti recalls, complaining that the food wasn’t cook properly. When the cook couldn’t finish the summer, Bassetti took over.

At the time, you didn’t find many women working as professional cooks. That changed and during her career Bassetti saw “an explosion of women in the kitchen.”

After her husband passed away, Bassetti came back to Seattle and to the Bakery’s old space in 1989. A new owner of the Grand Central Building wanted someone in the restaurant space who was qualified to run a restaurant and who could bring a little class, she recalls. She was his choice. By then, she was seeing Fred Bassetti and decided it might be nice to be closer to Seattle.

Inspired by Carol Field’s classic baking book, “The Italian Baker,” Bassetti went to work. She hired Leslie Mackie (who would later found Macrina Bakery) as head baker and changed the name of the business to Grand Central Bakery. After the Seattle Times’ John Hinterberger raved about the bakery’s bread, lines formed to buy the loaves.

The rest is baking history. 

Although she never anticipated being in grocery stores, Queen Anne Thriftway (now Metropolitan Market) became the bakery’s first wholesale customer. There are now two bakeries in Seattle and six in Portland. Just being introduced is a line of U-Bake products.

Bassetti is proud of the fact that the family tradition continues at Grand Central. Her son, Ben, and daughter, Piper, own and operate the business along with their friends Bob Kerr, Claire Randall, Gillian Allen-White and Gabrielle Moorhead. Her youngest son, a contractor, made the concrete counters for the Eastlake bakery and a stepson did the woodwork there.

While she doesn’t bake at Grand Central anymore, Bassetti still makes bread and likes to bake for guests. And she and her husband still spend time on the farm in Goldendale. The shoreline by the houseboat is her garden, currently in disarray due to a construction project.

Before I left, I had to ask: Does she have a favorite recipe in the new book? She says she really likes Piper’s take on Tarte Tatin. Piper has “demystified” the dessert, she says.

A traditional French dish, Tarte Tatin is baked like an apple pie but without the bottom crust. When it’s done, you flip it over, exposing the golden, baked apples. 

Looking at the photos in the the new book, you can almost smell it. It makes me think about taking up baking.

Coming Thursday to Eastlake: Book signing; Fall Gathering

Don’t forget that there are two events in the Eastlake neighborhood on Thursday:

Eastlake resident Gwenyth Bassetti will be signing copies of “The Grand Central Baking Book: Breakfast Pastries, Cookies, Pies and Satisfying Savories from the Pacific Northwest’s Celebrated Bakery” by Grand Central co-owner Piper Davis and Portland food writer Ellen Jackson. Bassetti was one of the founders of Grand Central and Davis is Bassetti’s daughter. The pair will be signing books at the Eastlake Grand Central, 1616 Eastlake Ave. E., today from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Slimpickins will perform at Louisa’s Thursday evening.

The Eastlake Fall Gathering will be from 7-10 p.m. at Louisa’s Bakery Cafe, 2379 Eastlake Ave. E. Seattle band Slimpickins, who are playing Saturday evenings at Louisa’s, will provide the music.

Cost to get in to the evening is $5. For that, you’ll get some delicious appetizers and a four-ounce glass of wine. After that, you can order food, coffee or dessert from Louisa’s full menu.

Come for the food and stay for the conversation and a chance to see your neighbors, some of whom you may not have met yet.

The Eastlake Community Council and Louisa’s are sponsoring the event.

Eastlake office targeted in rash of dentist break-ins

Casey McNerthney at Seattlepi.com reports that an Eastlake dentist’s office was the object of a break-in early on the morning of Monday, Oct. 12.

The case may be related to a rash of medical or dental burglaries since early September. Most have been in north Seattle. Items taken in those burglaries include dental gold, money and narcotics.

McNerthney says police responded to a security call at 5:50 a.m. on Oct. 12 at a dental office in the 2700 block of Eastlake Ave. E. Glass had been broken, the front door dead bolt was removed, and a security keypad had been torn off a wall. Despite all that, nothing was apparently stolen.

A second break-in that day occurred in the 600 block of West McGraw Street. A metal cash box was taken.

Read more of McNerthney’s report on Seattlepi.com here.