Stateside's Eric Johnson shares Pumpkin Curry & Hunan Pork Ribs


A bright Autumn day bursts through the massive windows shimmering off beveled antique mirrors, reflecting the warmness of hovering lights and colorful palm leaves adorning the walls.  An artistic touch filters through the space. Attention to detail, a moment experienced elsewhere inspires here. A well traveled path, culinary craft, staged, tested, blended and shared. An homage to SE Asia, time spent in France, and a NW return with an old world feel.


Today we find ourselves at Stateside, lunching with co-owner and Chef Eric Johnson. A day in his life before opening his restaurant would take him from working in NY establishments for 5 years, to clocking 2 years in Paris working with famous Michelin starred chefs Daniel Boulud and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, whom he followed to Shanghai as Chef for an 8 year stint, while increasing his knowledge, fascination and palette for SE Asian cuisines.

Keeping it real with seasonal, quality, locally sourced ingredients, and a Stateside developed curry blend, one of two that VJ freshly mills

Keeping it real with seasonal, quality, locally sourced ingredients, and a Stateside developed curry blend, one of two that VJ freshly mills

Pumpkin Curry

Curry paste (PART 1)

Paste for one batch of curry:

  • 2 stalks lemongrass, smashed

  • ½ ea large onion

  • 10 cloves garlic

  • 1 tsp sugar

  • 2 Tbsp turmeric, ground

  • 6 Tbsp curry powder

  • Stems from 1 bunch of Cilantro

Blend all to a smooth pasted in a blender or mortar and pestle.

Curry (PART 2)

  • ½ cups canola oil

  • 3 large onions, sliced

  • Curry paste from above

  • 1 can whole tomatoes, drained and pureed in blender

  • 5 3/4 c coconut milk

  • 2 ¾ c water

  • Salt to taste

Sweat onions in oil until fully cooked with no color. Add paste and continue sweating until fragrant. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 20 min. Cool. Eat immediately or even better the next day. Serve over steamed Pumpkin with rice.


Taking it back to the city that harbored him with one of his customers favorite dishes, Hunan Chili & Cumin Pork Ribs featuring VJ spices. A sensational dish aromatic and bold from the cumin and chili, crispy on the outside, and melt in your mouth tender on the inside.

Hunan Pork Ribs


  • 5 lb St. Louis Cut Pork Ribs (about 2 racks)

  • 2 qt Water

  • 10 cloves Garlic, sliced

  • 1 large knob Ginger, sliced

  • 1 ea Large Onion, sliced

  • 1 piece Cassia Bark

  • 3 pc Star Anise

  • 1 c light Soy Sauce

  • 1 cs Shaoxing Wine

  • 1 large chunk, Chinese Rock Sugar

Simmer the ribs for 1 – 2 hours until fully tender but not falling apart, switch off the

pot and leave for 30 mins to rest. Transfer ribs to a dish and cool in the fridg


  • 1 c Shaoxing Wine

  • 1 pinch Salt

  • 2 Tbsp. Light Soy Sauce

  • 2 Tbsp. Dark Soy Sauce

  • 3 Tbsp. Potato Starch

Combine with ribs in a Ziploc bag and marinate at least 6 hours or even better, overnight.

Cumin Mixture:

  • 1 large knob Ginger, minced

  • 10 cloves Garlic, minced

  • 1 ea, Fresno Chili, minced

  • ½ c. Canola oil

Sweat together until fully cooked, without color, cool, then add:

  • 2 c. cumin seeds, toasted

Deep fry the ribs, then brush with whole butter. Finally, coat with cumin mixture.

Sprinkle with sliced spring onions (green parts only) and cilantro leaves.


Balanced out with the freshness of spring onions and cilantro. Use plenty of quality aromatics and spices to have a recipe that will truly impress!


Some businesses begin to solve a problem, fill a market void, or follow an urge to realize a passion. It’s clear that the latter precipitated the culmination of Stateside, and the natural progression of it’s success, for how could we not fall for the passionate creativity that lived experience inspires, especially when we get to benefit both in the aesthetics of the space, and the special flavor that is Stateside. 


Yet, what about fate and the intersecting of life’s paths? Relationships, timing and collaboration did indeed bring the idea of Stateside into fruition. Eric’s business partner Seth Hammond methodically runs the front of the house and Eric’s girlfriend Callie Meyer did the interior design and branding. Relationships old and new bring us to this instant. Mehdi Boujrada of VJ, Eric’s trusted purveyor for aromatic quality spices, and Extra Virgin Organic Moroccan Olive Oil, sits half dreaming, filled with gratitude as the time passes, both fleeting and fulfilled. A moment made memorable with good food and conversation.

VJ Ras el Hanout cocktail served at Eric’s new retro cocktail lounge  Foreign National

VJ Ras el Hanout cocktail served at Eric’s new retro cocktail lounge Foreign National

A love for the outdoors and a strong childhood connection from summers spent in his fathers home state of Washington brought Eric back to Seattle. His fond past now intermixed with his present as he stands hand extended with a warm welcome to us all. A parting gift shared only with good friends, VJ Ras el Hanout cocktail.

Ciudad’s chef Aaron Willis serves grilled Moroccan chicken, charcoal style


Ciudad, a more recent Georgetown staple and much loved collaboration between two well known restauranteurs Matt Dillon (of Sitka & Spruce, London Plane & Bar Ferdinand) and Marcus Lalario (95 Slide, Li’l Woody’s & Fat’s Chicken and Waffles) have taken charcoal grilled meats to another level. Luckily we benefit from the global Middle Eastern and Mediterranean influence that sprinkles their menu. On this day and occasion the Moroccan grilled chicken with Harissa was grilled to perfection.


Aaron Willis aka ’Willis’, the talented, and fun spirited head-chef behind the scenes took time out of his busy day to show us what makes Ciudad so unique while also sharing many moments of laughter.

Clearly charcoal is a main ingredient here, add to that the global influence and of course the variety of meats, the artistic atmosphere of the gritty and authentic Georgetown where the underbelly of planes feel so close you can touch them, and you find a restaurant that pleases all the senses.


A lifelong dedication to food and curiosity for different cuisines makes the sharing of his grilled Moroccan chicken stand out, beyond the ordinary, to the extraordinary. Even though he can easily bring on the laughter, he takes his job very seriously.


The juicy deliciousness involves a special rub that he kindly shares with us. Thanks Aaron for making our day!


Moroccan Roasted Chicken

  • 5lb Trimmed Chicken Thighs

  • 4 tbls Villa Jerada Harissa

  • 1 tbls Villa Jerada Kefta Rub

  • 3 cups Water

  • Olive Oil

    Prepare rub by mixing Kefta Rub, Harissa and water into a thick paste. Massage chicken vigorously with rub and drizzle with olive oil. Then grill or roast for 20-30 mins or until meat is cooked through.

Clearly Harissa brings people together…


Our spontaneous outfits show our obvious mutual love for Harissa, and of course the cool design (paintings by local PNW artist Tashina Suzuki) makes for an easy wardrobe choice.

Follow Aaron's cooking adventures outside of Ciudad at The Generous Chef.

The Walrus & The Carpenter Headchef BJ Gives Watermelon a Unique Spiced Twist

We stopped into one of Seattle's iconic oyster bars, The Walrus & The Carpenter recently and lunched with head chef, BJ Bresnik. She shared with us a beautiful watermelon salad with a surprisingly delightful twist in the form of Sumac, Urfa Biber and Dried Lime.


This famed Ballard restaurant (from Chef/Restauranteur Renee Erickson’s string of renowned eateries) has whimsical nautical touches all around which Bon Appetit Mag has said makes ‘dining here feel less like a night out and more like eating at a friend's place’ and ‘arguably the best oyster bar in all America’. We couldn’t agree more.


BJ shows off her watermelon slicing technique.


This recipe is incredibly simple. BJ mixes Villa Jerada Sumac, Urfa Biber, Dried Lime and sea salt to season the salad.


She then adds the watermelon, feta cheese, toasted pumpkin seeds and cilantro.


Et voilà!


If you haven’t been to The Walrus and The Carpenter recently, do go visit BJ and try her famed Crudo. Believe us you won’t regret it.

Watermelon Salad

  • 1 Watermelon

  • 1 tsp Sumac

  • 1 tsp Urfa Biber

  • 1 tsp Dried Lime (grated or crushed)

  • 1 pinch Sea Salt

  • 1 handful Feta (or any crumbly cheese)

  • 3-4 tbls Pumpkin Seeds (toasted)

  • Cilantro - to taste

    Cut watermelon into cubes, Mix Sumac, Urfa Biber, Dried Lime, and sea salt well and sprinkle over watermelon and mix well. Top with feta and pumpkin seeds and garnish with cilantro.

Renee Erickson of Sea Creatures shares her best end of Summer recipes


The restaurateur extraordinaire Renee Erickson (of Sea Creatures restaurant group, co-founder of The Walrus and the Carpenter, The Whale WinsBarnacleBar Melusine, Bateau, Rana e Rospo, and the new Deep Dive in the Amazon Spheres ) was gracious enough to share with us her favorite recipes using VJ spices during our recent lunch.


The proverb home is where the heart is comes to mind when watching Renee cook in her kitchen. Her simple and elegant style exposes beauty throughout and her love of cooking, culture and ingredients, never hidden, for those too are tucked neatly in all the corners of her home. Distinguishing characteristics seen also in her restaurant endeavors.


The allure of Renee’s cooking comes from her use of clean, fresh regional ingredients and her ability to creatively blend the global influence of her travels abroad. A true artist, curious, open and imaginative, which is why our team was eager to ask Renee her favorite ways to use some of our spices at home. She tells us Ras el Hanout with Greek yogurt and grilled halibut is a regular occurrence on her kitchen table.


Renee & Mehdi reminisce on adventures and the most memorable Fish Tagine they had together in Morocco. Traveling home with friends has never been so easy. Renee’s adventurous spirit and love of culture and food made the sharing special and created a bond that has set the foundation for an enduring friendship and collaborative exchange that has supported Villa Jerada in its infancy until today. 

Grilled peach and tomato salad with Aleppo

Grilled peach and tomato salad with Aleppo

Ingredients tell only one part of the recipe story. Perspective matters, and with spices it’s good to include them beyond traditional uses. Renee does a great job blending our spices to local ingredients. Her creative approach inspires us to use our products in ways we had not yet imagined.  She made us a wonderful grilled peach and tomato salad with extra virgin olive oil from a farm we all stayed at in Marrakech and Aleppo pepper flakes grown in Turkey. We also had lamb chops with our Moruno Rub on a bed of greek yogurt whipped with Ras el Hanout, and radishes with Sumac, ricotta and Dukkah. When asked if she were to cook a dish for Moroccans using local ingredients, which NW dish would you cook? She said, “Steamed Dungeness crab with spiced butter”. Sounds delicious!!!!

Sumac Radishes and Ricotta with Dukkah have become our favorite dishes of the summer

Sumac Radishes and Ricotta with Dukkah have become our favorite dishes of the summer

Nothing beats an awesome meal surrounded by friends that encourage you in your efforts. Renee’s kindness and determination to help and support her community moves beyond her relationship to food, to the very heart of her values, and who she is.


It’s with gratitude for all her love, support and influence in the Seattle food scene and for cooking us a lovely meal in her home that makes the launch of our 'Meet the Chef' series extra special.


Dukkah Ricotta

  • Ricotta

  • 2 Tbls VJ Dukkah

  • Lime zest (to your taste)

Moruno Lamb chops

  • Lamb chops

  • Olive oil

  • 1 Tbls Moruno Rub

  • Sea Salt

Rub lamb chops with olive oil, sprinkle salt, and rub a generous tablespoon of our Moruno Rub for 4 chops. Add more spice to your liking.

Ras el Hanout Yogurt

  • 1 cup of Greek yogurt

  • 1 tsp honey

  • 1 tsp Ras el Hanout

Whip until creamy and well blended

Sumac Radishes

  • Radishes

  • 1 Tbls Olive Oil

  • 1 Tsp Sumac

  • 1 pinch Sea Salt

Cook radishes in olive oil, add salt. Remove from heat and add a generous sprinkle of Sumac.

Peach and Tomato salad

  • Peaches

  • Tomatoes

  • 1 Tbls Olive oil

  • Lemon juice (to taste)

  • 1 Tbls Aleppo pepper

  • Thai Basil (generous sprinkle)

Rub peaches with olive oil, gently grill for 2 min.

Cut tomatoes in chunks, mix in a bowl olive oil, lemon juice, salt and Aleppo pepper. Add the tomatoes, peaches and coat well. Serve on a platter and sprinkle with Thai basil.