Corn and Barley: Serving Fresh, Eco-Friendly Caribbean Foods

From time to time, a restaurant presents itself worthy of a Sunday stroll and a long day of idleness. One such establishment can be found in the picturesque town of Edmonds. Nestled among local shops and cafes, Maize and Barley serves craft beer, Caribbean-infused fare, and great local conversation. Venus Fortesa and Anthony Kieldsen are the husband and wife team that own and operate this popular spot in the heart of the city center, which features craft beers, ciders, and rotating wine, as well as delicious soups and sandwiches highlighting the emphasis on locally sourced organic ingredients.

A first-generation daughter born to Colombian and Puerto Rican parents, Fortesa grew up all over the East Coast and came to Washington to study history. In 2004, she accepted her first job at FareStart as a Catering Manager and met Gordy Legg, a house beer enthusiast and mentor. Eventually, she began to learn brewing from him and became passionate about it.

“I left FareStart and moved to Seattle University because my goal was always to continue my education and become a professor of history and women’s studies,” said Fortesa. “During this time, I continued to volunteer as a guest chef and realized that I could actually create the level of change I wanted through food. At the same time, I was really starting to get into beer and asking guests to brew in places with brewers. I brewed in Georgetown under Michael Hare, as well as Andrew Bay. I really wanted to learn as much as possible about it.

In addition to brewing, Fortesa has also been involved with the Pink Boots Society, whose mission is to help, inspire and encourage women in the beer industry to advance their careers through education. . While Fortesa prepares the beer menu, her husband Anthony creates fresh Caribbean dishes in the kitchen.

“My husband and I knew building a real brewery was out of the question, but we were both passionate about beer,” she said. “Anthony was also passionate about food and was inspired to attend a cooking school after experiencing a meal in Abu Dhabi that prompted him to enroll in the Art Institute. After graduating, he started working at the private University Prep school where he was a chef for 20 years.

The couple finally had what they needed to start looking for a location to start their restaurant business from scratch. After getting married in Puerto Rico, Venus and Anthony began to focus on their vision for an establishment where they could serve sustainable food with sustainable practices.

“When we found this space, we decided to focus on the Caribbean practice of using what the land provides,” said Fortesa. “There’s no way to bring things out of season because you’re on an island. It’s a very sustainable approach. We also recognized that some ideas may exist that those who live on a Caribbean island are not using their resources very well, but in truth they are. They’re the thinking experts on their feet, using what they have to do amazing things. “

Fortesa describes Caribbean cuisine as a reflection of its local and seasonal produce combined with the creativity, courage and ingenuity of the culture. The couple make sure every dish is created from scratch, from homemade bread to scratchy pickles. Working closely with farms and community producers, Maize & Barley uses the freshest seasonal ingredients possible.

“We like to introduce people to foods that they might not otherwise have tried,” said Fortesa. “For example, right now we have this Jamaican spiced pumpkin soup with spinach noodles. We got the recipe from one of the Jamaican teachers at the school and it’s amazing. It’s comfort food with warm spices and a rich umami feel.

If you take the beautiful road to Edmonds be sure to check out Maize & Barley. The sandwiches are all divine, but if you love pickles, the Midnight Cuban is a must-try as it features Anthony’s delicious homemade pickles. I was lucky enough to be there when pumpkin soup was the star of the day – made with Jamaican spices, pumpkin puree and hand-spun noodles. A customer favorite is also the Arepa con queso, a toasted white corn cake with Ferndale Creamery caciotta cheese baked inside. To top off the meal, the banana bread pudding was the perfect finish.

Maize & Barley supports the community that supports them. They keep it simple and fresh because it’s about sustainability, being environmentally friendly, and caring for each other. They have helped create a sense of community where people want to know again the people they invest in.

“I’m that Latino woman who fell in love with beer and decided to do it,” Fortesa said. “I feel there is a huge sense of community here and people want to support local small businesses. It’s wonderful to watch someone eat and see the joy that comes over them because they are happy. Our food is like the abuelita food your grandma would make, and we love it. We are creating a sustainable community, not only for the planet, but also for our customers. “

Maize & Barley is located at 525 Main Street in Edmonds. Their phone is (425) 835-0868. While some of the products, services, and / or accommodations in this article have been provided free of charge, all opinions herein are those of the author and editorial board of Seattle Refined.

Looking to support more small businesses like corn and barley? Seattle Refined is proud to partner with Intentionalist, an online guide that makes it easier for you to find and connect with a variety of local businesses owned by women, people of color, veterans, LGBTQ community members and individuals. with disabilities.

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Michael M. Tomlin

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