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Villa Victoria, Reviews
Villa Victoria
Reviews


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'Food as Art' lineup includes city's most celebrated African-American chefs
The Seattle Times
In a city where seeking diversity in the arts is a challenge, it might come as a surprise to some that finding a lineup of talented black chefs to celebrate that diversity is a cakewalk.

On Sunday night, supporters of the Central District Forum of Arts & Ideas will gather at the Seattle Art Museum for "Food as Art" a gala event celebrating the forum's five-year anniversary. Here, more than a dozen black chefs and restaurateurs will be poised along SAM's grand stairway, offering their culinary artistry to more than 200 paying guests.

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Tasting Traditions: From the stove, heritage is handed down

Pacific Northwest Magazine - The Seattle Times
"...Smith is extraordinarily talented at preparing both classic and improvised dishes ("the Duke Ellington of Cooking," her husband calls her)...she's a professional caterer whose menus include burritos tangy with collard greens; black-bean tamales infused with ground avocado leaves; grilled tofu marinated in a paste of five chilies: fresh anchos, smoky chipotles, chocolate-y pasillas, imported guajillos and perfectly round cascabels that rattle when you shake the dried seeds."

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Many of us are a rich blend of flavors

The Seattle Times
"Under the bright yellow awning, behind her new walk-up window... caterer and cook Naomi Andrade Smith dishes up a short list of truly fine Mexican quick-eats at Villa Victoria Take-out and Catering." "Mexican food catches my attention, so when someone mentioned there was a Mexican take-out place in Madrona, I had to check it out. Word of mouth brings a lot of good things."

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Villa Victoria Catering - Window to Tamale Heaven

The Stranger
"...the tamale takeout window I've been searching for the world over."

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Dulces' sweet Latin pleasures: Classy in a neighborly way

Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"...the inspired little Mexican takeout window, Villa Victoria, brings people from all over town."

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Colors NW Magazine

by John Burbidge
If "ethnic" once described the exotic dimension of American cuisine, today it's "eclectic." More and more, former borders between ethnic cuisines are being traversed and new hybrids are emerging. Not surprisingly, those leading the way in this social metamorphosis have often crossed cultural boundaries or fused traditions in their own lives. Take Naomi Andrade-Smith, owner of Villa Victoria Catering, for example. Situated on 34th Avenue just around the corner from Union in Madrona, her shop-front takeout offers a diverse array of Mexican food that reflects the Indian, Spanish and African-American roots of this cuisine. Among the favorite dishes are fish tamales wrapped in banana leaves, poblano chilies filled with corn and goat cheese, and grilled tofu marinated in a five-chili paste. And don't be surprised when you discover collard greens instead of lettuce or shredded cabbage in your burrito.

"That's an example of the syncretism in my cooking," says Andrade-Smith, a Spanish-speaking African-American woman whose family lived in Mexico between the two World Wars. Her grandfather spearheaded the move from Oklahoma to the Gulf city of Tampico where her father, part-Chicasaw Indian, met and married her Mexican mother.

She describes herself and a "frustrated armchair anthropologist" who wants to educate people about the rich complexity of Mexican cuisine.

"Most people think of Mexico as a combination of Spanish and indigenous Indian influences," said Andrade-Smith, "but there is a strong African tradition as well."

According to Andrade-Smith, the African influence derives from three sources: West African slaves brought to Veracruz, Zanzibaris enslaved by Spaniards in the Philippines and taken to Acapulco, and those like her family from the United States.

When her mother died, Andrade-Smith inherited a Viking range and started catering from home. Three years ago, she transferred the business to her current shop and last November, opened for takeout. Given the enthusiastic response from her customers - many of them neighborhood regulars - her decision to go it alone is already paying off.