Sunday, May 20, 2007 - Page updated at 02:01 AM
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BARRY WONG / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Served In Style
For a lot of people, simply preparing a meal from scratch is a big deal. But for Marielle Macville, it's nothing. Born and raised on five acres that she describes as "kind of a hippie farm" in Holland, Macville has been preparing meals from scratch pretty much all her life. And for her, preparing the food for the table is just one final step in a long process of coaxing elements from nature into ingredients ready for the kitchen.
"We always raised our own lambs for meat, and I used to ride my bike to and from the neighboring dairy farms to get fresh milk. We would let it sit for one day so that we could take the cream off the top for butter and whipped cream."
On her own "hippie farm," a couple of well-tended suburban acres on Bainbridge Island, Macville and her husband of 20 years, Michael Drake, are busy parenting two teenage boys of their own. But they still find time to raise apples, kiwis, grapes, vegetables and flowers as well as chickens and ducks for eggs.
"The duck eggs have bigger, dark-yellow yolks, and they are better for making homemade pasta," she says. "The dough comes out stretchy, more rubbery, so the noodles have some bounce to them."
Her father is Indonesian and her mother is Dutch, says Macville, "so our household was a mixed bag of Indonesian and Dutch cultures. My father's side of the family included a lot of cousins and aunts and uncles — their exact relationship was never clear to me when I was a kid, but they cooked the most amazing foods." Traditional Dutch foods like potatoes and greens from the garden were garnished with fiery sambals in the kitchen. And Macville's cooking reflects that heritage with layers of the exotic and the familiar.
It must have been a combination of healthy, farm-fresh food and her unique heritage that gave Macville her extraordinary looks. Her bright blue eyes and dark complexion combined with a radiant smile have given her an edge in a modeling career that has landed her on the covers of Vogue, Elle, Marie Claire and Harper's Bazaar. And even though she lives on Bainbridge, she still flies frequently to New York and other cities for fashion shoots.
Artistic temperament and creativity apparently run in the family. Drake, when he is not holed up in his studio working on the latest screenplays, is busy creating special effects as an independent contractor for the film industry. Her oldest son plays guitar with a band of budding young Bainbridge musicians, and her younger son, while still in middle school is a prolific artist.
Some people might find parenting and modeling while maintaining a garden and a flock of birds too time-consuming to take on anything else, but Macville's creative urges are apparently insatiable. A few years ago, she decided she wanted to craft her own dishes for serving her home-cooked meals. So she signed up for pottery classes through the Bainbridge Island Parks and Recreation Department. Within a few months, she had mastered the fundamental skills required to throw plates, bowls and cups on a potter's wheel.
Before long, she had developed a distinctive style of glazing that makes her pots instantly recognizable as hers. Now she has a collection of handmade ovenware in which she serves some vegetable dishes; she serves seafood in plates and bowls decorated with a fish pattern she thinks she may have seen somewhere in a museum. "I can't remember where I saw this pattern first," she says, "but I've used it so many times in so many variations that I think it has become my signature design."
Greg Atkinson is author of "West Coast Cooking." He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Barry Wong is a Seattle-based freelance photographer. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Wheat Crusted Halibut Cheeks
in Mirin Caper Sauce
Marielle Macville has a unique way of combining textures and flavors, but she adds a personal touch to some of her dishes by serving them on handmade ceramic plates and bowls decorated with hand-drawn fish patterns. Macville serves this dish with rice and a green vegetable such as steamed bok choy.
2 ½ pounds (about 18 pieces) halibut cheeks
½ cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
¼ cup naturally brewed soy sauce
1 cup toasted wheat germ
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup peanut oil
¼ cup (½ stick) butter, cut into bits
3 tablespoons capers
3 tablespoons fresh chives, snipped into 1-inch lengths
1 lemon, sliced into thin rounds
1. Marinate the halibut cheeks in the mirin, ginger and soy for 10 minutes.
2. On a dinner plate, combine the wheat germ with the black pepper and cayenne pepper. Lift each piece of fish out of the marinade and dredge it through the wheat-germ mixture to coat it evenly on both sides. Save the marinade to make a sauce.
3. Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it is hot but not smoking. Add half the fish pieces and brown them for about 2 minutes on each side. Lift the fish out of the pan, set them on a platter and cook the remaining pieces in the same way.
4. When all the fish has been browned on both sides, pour the oil out of the pan, pour in the reserved marinade and when it comes to a boil, swirl in the butter to make a sauce.
5. Pile the fish pieces back in the pan with the sauce and allow them to simmer for a few minutes, or until they are heated through. Transfer the fish and sauce back to the platter and garnish the finished dish with the capers, chives and lemon slices.
Marielle Macville, 2007