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The Temple Bar: 10 years, and one backyard garden

Dec 1st, 2012 | Category: Food

by Brent Cole

The Temple Bar offers seasonal fare using primarily locally sourced products. New this year (also the restaurant’s 10-year anniversary), is produce grown in owner Chelsea Farmer’s own backyard, The Farmlette.

Eight years ago when Chelsea purchased The Temple, the local food offerings, and interest, were much different than today’s. “The knowledge and information (about local food) wasn’t there,” she said.

As the company grew, Chelsea started to work with local farms, beginning with salad greens from Big Sky Garden in Acme. She later hired Chris Ritchie as the chef and kitchen manager (Chris had worked at the Coop and established relationships with local farmers), as well as chef Amber Clifton.

Currently, The Temple Bar serves local products from The Honeymoon (mead), Breadfarm, Sweet Cream Ice Cream, Cloud Mountain (peppers, apples, pears, cider, grapes), Terra Verde (salad greens, kuri squash, garlic, shallots, yellow onion, kale, beets), Pleasant Valley (gouda cheese), Holmquist (hazelnuts), Boundary Bay (IPA) and Osprey Hill Farm (chicken and duck livers).

“I think we’ve gone from having 15 or so menu items to over 20,” she said. “Many, many of those have local ingredients.”

A good portion of the menu items at The Temple change seasonally. With the fall weather here, the staff is excited about a few dished including the Roasted Squash Hummus which features local winter squash, chickpea puree with Mediterranean herbs, harissa and pomegranate molasses. The Bakek Polenta includes roasted squash polenta, local kale and a cider cream sauce.

In addition to sourcing locally, this is Temple’s first year using produce from The Farmlette, Chelsea’s mini farm at the home she purchased months back. “This is my first year gardening, ever,” she said with a smile. Chelsea grew yellow squash and lemon cucumbers among other things, and harvests peach, apple, pear, plum and cherry trees. “A lot of the stuff that I got from the Farmlette went into cocktails,” stated Chelsea. They made lots of “herby” cocktails utilizing nasturtium syrup.

While Chelsea uses local often, she does also place a high value on business relationships, something that has disappointed some fervent patrons. “I don’t use local coffee,” she said, “one of the reasons for that is that the company we’ve started with, we’ve been working with them for 10 years. I’m not saying there isn’t a ton of awesome coffee in Bellingham. But, this is someone I have a great working relationship with.” She also points out that she never wants to sacrifice quality. “We’re not going to use something local just because it’s local, we use it if it’s a great product.”

The overall push for local food helps everyone, Chelsea believes. “There are more restaurants that are popping up that are using more local ingredients… There’s a greater demand, there’s more available. That’s something that’s helped us.”

The Temple Bar is located at 306 W. Champion Street in Bellingham. Visit templebarbellingham.com/.

Published in the November 2012 issue of Grow Northwest

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