Market Chef : Abby Fammartino

July 17, 2012 |  by  |  Chef Demos

Upon first perusal, it can be hard to discern what exactly Abby’s Table is, and though somewhat puzzled, I wasn’t put off — images on the screen slid by one by one, positively vibrating with brilliant colors and smiling faces. Abby’s world — whatever it was — looked like one I’d like to be a part of. And just a few minutes on the phone with her confirmed that initial impression. Bubbling with passion and energy, Abby Fammartino is everything her site projects. She was so super friendly, I figured I might as well admit that while everything about Abby’s Table looked lovely and I was certainly eager to visit, I just had to ask; what exactly is it?

“We want to offer people food that feeds their body, food that you eat physically at the table, but that also provides inspiration — we host dinners in such a way that (we hope) it’s more like a special event. We serve things family style, so everyone eats the same thing. I see food as a gateway to a vibrant life, and the communal experience is part of that.” OK, very cool. Kind of high concept? Still really interested. Still a little confused. So what do you actually do?

A lot, actually. “We’re about creating special events of all kinds, whether it’s the weekly dinners that we host or catering events for people. On top of that, we also teach cooking classes in our kitchen that are focused on showing people how to cook the way that we do here in their own homes.”

At the core of Abby’s cooking is inclusiveness; though it is gluten free, soy free and can accommodate vegans and omnivores alike. Her Table is all about precisely that — not just the act of eating, but the sharing of a meal, together, around a table and the happiness that it brings. The magic of commensality.

Growing up with a Spanish father and an Italian mother (i.e. big, food-loving families on both sides), such commensality was a given for Abby,, and her childhood sounds like an enviable one; “My mother cooked dinner every single night. Even if we weren’t all getting along, we always had a meal together. I have so many food memories, learning from my mom, my grandma, my uncle on the Spanish side even had a restaurant. On top of that, my father is a physician, so as I got older, I became interested in food as medicine. My parents had always cared about us being outside and active, as well as having eaten a good meal — over all wellness was such a big part of my upbringing.”

So, after studying abroad in Tokyo and teaching English in Spain, Abby found herself drawn to New York City’s Natural Gourmet, a culinary school focused on the health-supportive nature of food & cooking as well as the aesthetic and gustatory. Lucky for us, she found her way to Portland not long after and opened Abby’s Table, bringing her wonderful talents and energy to our very eager Pacific Northwest tummies.

Check out menus from some of her most recent communal dinners (or just get lost in all the pretty pictures) on her blog (plus recipes!). Book your table asap, and in the meantime, Abby was kind enough to share a recipe for her favorite, refreshing summer salad with us (which she’ll be making a version of for us this coming Sunday!). See you at the Market!

Hand Cured Summer Chopped Vegetables

  • 1 head (or 4 cups) napa or savoy cabbage, thinly sliced into bite size pieces
  • 1 – 2 cups snap peas
  • 1 – 2 cups green beans, sliced on a bias into thirds
  • 1 – 2 cups radishes, quartered
  • 1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 – 2 cups kale, chopped into bite size pieces
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, minced (optional)
  • 1 T. sea salt

{ Preparation }
1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, and wash your hands. Using both hands, massage the vegetables as if you are squeezing water out of them. Work the vegetables at least 15 times, then set a plate over top of the bowl. Add weight over top of the plate and set a timer for 10 minutes.
2. After 10 minutes, use the plate to hold the vegetables in the bowl, and tilt to drain the excess liquid into the sink. Work the vegetables another 15 times, and set the plate over top of the bowl one more time. Add weight and set timer for 10 minutes.
3. Repeat the draining process and taste the vegetables. If you prefer a saltier or more pickled salad repeat the process 1 to 2 more times. Enjoy many variations on the theme!
Note: Tomatoes are not a great vegetable for this type of salad, as they get mushy with hand working. If you use cucumbers, seed them first.
{ Variations }
*Add sesame seeds at the end, or chopped cashews for crunch.
*Reduce sea salt to 1 1/2 teaspoons and add 2 teaspoons umeboshi plum paste.
Recipe Copyright Chef Abby Fammartino, 2009.

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