I am having lunch with my friend Katherine Anderson behind the counter at her flower shop, Marigold and Mint, in Seattle’s new Melrose Market. The tiny store is filled with ivory hydrangeas and ranunculus offset by conifer branches; puffball tumbleweeds from eastern Washington balance on the rafters above us. Katherine loves combining ornamental and edible plants, so her arrangements include things like tasseled purple amaranth, wee white strawberry blossoms and herbs of all kinds. It can be hard to tell where the flowers end and the groceries begin.
That helps explain why chef Matthew Dillon is one of Marigold and Mint’s regular customers. The owner of Sitka & Spruce next door (and an F&W Best New Chef 2007), he’ll stop in to pick up nettles to use in a sauce for brined salmon, or bottle-blue borage blossoms to top sautéed cucumbers. "He’ll grab a bunch, tease my sister, who sometimes works here, and rush back to his kitchen," Katherine says.
The vendors at Melrose Market are connected by such symbiotic relationships. Marigold and Mint’s herbs, for instance, flavor cocktails at Dillon’s Bar Ferd’nand and lamb sausages made by butcher-turned-chef-turned-butcher Russell Flint at Rain Shadow Meats. Rain Shadow’s sausages sometimes appear on the menu at Sitka & Spruce. So does artisanal cheese sold at the Calf & Kid. Owner Sheri LaVigne often introduces Dillon to her favorite new regional producers. Says LaVigne, "When Sitka & Spruce was serving cheese from Kurtwood Farms, a rising Washington state star, people would come to our shop after dinner and say, ’I want to buy that cheese I had.’"