Great Finds at Goodwill

For people looking to outfit a kitchen on the cheap or lovers of vintage cookbooks (yes, I’m in both those categories), Goodwill offers the opportunity to look for needles in the haystack of crap. For every 10 shelves full of “How to cook low-fat meals for in the microwave” there is one little book on the shelf that is everything you have ever wanted in a cookbook.

Yesterday, aside from a pizza wheel, a bamboo picnic mat and an amazing tapas tray, I found some great books, the best of which is from 1977 and called “Dining in Seattle”

“Dining in Seattle” is a collection of recipes from the finest restaurants in the city at that time. It starts with that still present classic, Canlis. Each restaurant gives a full dinner worth of recipes, from starter to dessert, about 5 recipes each, along with wine reccomendations. El Gaucho is in there as well and the forward is by Emett Watson (he of the oyster bar). But the segment I was most excited about? The Surrogate Hostess.

For those of you whose Grandmothers did not live up the street, let me explain first of all that you could smell the place from about a 5 block radius, not even exaggerated. To this day, I glare at the Tully’s Coffee that sits at the intersection of 17th and Aloha on Capitol Hill, remembering the walk down there on chilly autumn days, not unlike today. The smell of baked goods wafting, mingling with that woodsy autmun scent. Sigh.

I’d love to give you more details, but to be honest, I’m fairly certain that the Hostess closed down when I was about five, so I can’t even give you details about what I loved there (were there cinnamon rolls? I think there were…), but I honestly don’t remember too many specifics about the inside, about the food, what sticks with me are the smells. I can still smell the walk from my grandmothers house, the coffee and baking mingling as you waited for breakfast inside.

So now I have Dining in Seattle and while I haven’t heard of all the restaurants in there–it was, after all, published 6 years before I was born–I know I’m going to use it, if for nothing else, for the chance that my house might smell just like the Surrogate Hostess of my long half-forgotten memories.


9 Responses

  1. Hi, Tully’s took over the old Surrogate Hostess space in the fall of 1997. Tully’s bought the lease out of the Surrogate Hostess bankruptcy that their 3rd owner had filed earlier in the year. Subsequently, we remodeled the space significantly and have enjoyed wonderful business activity from a very supportive neighborhood…and one in wich my wife grew up. Tom

  2. Thanks Tom! Gosh, I wasn’t as young as I thought I was when that happened…

  3. “The Surrogate Hostess”, what a name!
    Speaking of finds, I just scored Diana Kennedy’s classic Cuisines of Mexico for $3 at a thrift store on Mercer Island. Some of the best thrift stores are in ritzier areas. I’m speaking as a former connoisseur.

  4. Did it have their cinnamon roll recipe? I grew up on 19th and Aloha, half way down the block from the Hostess. Every weekend, the smells that drifted over were amazing. Inside, it was bright and cheery. I seem to remember that it was festival seating and that often you’d end up sharing part of a table. It was one of the old time places where you could brush elbows and really get a good connection with your neighbors. The only downside was if you had a big family, it was better to grab and go. The cinnamon rolls were the best. It was always a fight to see who got the biggest middle piece that was crispy and flaky on the top but gooey and bursting with flavor in the middle. And, the creme brulee, although it was totally a heart attack in a ramekin, was superb. I left for college in 1996 and was absolutely gutted when I returned home and our fabulous little neighborhood gathering spot had up and vanished.

  5. I used to love that place, and when it left I was very sad. The pot de cremes and quiches were my favorite. I recall that smell you talk about vividly, what a special place that was. I think about it regularly, still, since it introduced me to so many foods I had never had previously.

    • WOW! The Surrogate Hostess was on my mind several days ago…I moved to West Palm Beach over 13 years ago and I remeber going to that funky restaurant…and yes I too was thinking about the pot de cremes! How sad that this place is not around for others to enjoy. I always wanted to open up my own version of the Surrogate, it made a lasting impression on me as a place to go and have good wholesome food, where you could either sit and anjoy good foood by yourself or strike up a conversation with a new friend who would sit down acroos from you on those big long tables. When I managed a restaurant on First Hill I had the opportunity to hire one of the previous cooks from there…Anne, was awesome. My only regret was to not steal some of hear knowledge on how they made those great cinnamon rolls!

  6. I also fondly remember the Surrogate Hostess as I was not only a patron, but also worked there. I was a baker in the restaurant and worked in the “retail” shop next door, where I sold the wonderful shortbreads, pate’s, scones (in my opinion -the best i’ve ever had!) It was not only a “family” type environment for the neighborhood, but also all of us who worked there.

    Could you please tell me the name of the author of the book you mentioned, “Dining in Seattle”. I’d like to track it down. You can imagine how I’m kicking myself now for not “borrowing” those fantastic recipes of all the goodness I once made!

    Thanks so much and thanks for bring me down memory lane!

    • Hi Alexis,
      That’s awesome! I’m glad that you have such fond memories of working there! The author is Rona Abbott and Elliott Wolf, with a forward by Emmett Watson.

      Are you still in the Seattle area? You’re welcome to borrow it, if so! Email me–my info is in the about section.

  7. Hi, Gastrognome – I was just having a conversation, over dinner tonight, about the Surrogate Hostess and their awesome cinnamon rolls, so I came back home to google around and see if anyone had a recipe for ’em. I too lived (back in the 80s) a few blocks from the restaurant, and our weekend ritual was to figure out which of the roommates would go over and stand in line in their little “retail” shop that Alexis mentions (above) to wait for fresh cinnamon rolls to bring back to the house and enjoy with the Sunday paper. What memories of that place! So…DOES that cookbook include their cinnamon roll recipe?

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