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Running Tab: Livin’ la Lumpia Loca: Couple happy to share family’s Filipino recipes; Pete & Belle’s Ice Cream, chef Ethan Stowell

UPDATED: Mon., Oct. 19, 2020

Rene Moya and his wife, Yumi Moya, are livin’ la Lumpia Loca. Running their small business Lumpia Loca – it is just the two of them – specializing in Filipino fare favorites lumpia and pancit can certainly be described as crazy from the start.

Shortly after launching what is essentially a small catering service from their apartment in Millwood in June, photographs of the lumpia, the Filipino version of Chinese egg rolls and Vietnamese fried spring rolls, popped up on Facebook and Instagram to rave reviews from Spokane food fans.

I wanted to write about it, but I let the situation play out because running a service like this from a residence is not exactly above board no matter how delicious the food. Yumi, 25, confirms that they were shut down, so the couple secured a business license and, after another misstep with a commercial kitchen, landed at a spot at Spokane Valley Mall last month.

I met the couple, and 2-year-old son King, in their commercial kitchen at the mall on Saturday morning. Lumpia Loca does not have a storefront; instead customers order food (lumpia and pancit – Filipino noodles – are it) by phone or online on Facebook and Instagram. For payment, it’s cash or online only.

When the order is ready, it is delivered to the line of curbside pickup at Spokane Valley Mall outside the entrance to the food court between JCPenney and Sears. “We really appreciate preorders because everything is made fresh,” Yumi said. “And it really is just the two of us right now,” Rene, 31, said.

Yumi moved to Spokane five years ago from the Philippines. “I tasted her family’s food and knew immediately that we need to share it in Spokane,” Rene said. The lumpia – the savory pork and vegetable and sweet banana – are both fantastic, as are the pancit made with traditional, thin glass noodles and the Americanized version with chow mein.

I had never had Filipino food growing up in Montana. Same during my four years at Gonzaga University. My Filipino roommate in Los Angeles introduced me to lumpia, pancit and adobo, and my appreciation for the cuisine continued in San Diego and Las Vegas. I am excited to have Filipino food available in Spokane.

The couple says there isn’t a Filipino restaurant in Spokane: “There was one a while ago, but it has since closed,” Rene said. “We are happy to bring another option of Asian food to Spokane.” “We’re really excited for people to taste our food,” Yumi said.

Rene and Yumi’s last statements are simple ones – and ones that say it all. I am rooting for Lumpia Loca to succeed; this young family deserves it.

Pete & Belle’s

Since I was already out in Spokane Valley, why not kill two birds with one stone, so I finally made my way to Pete & Belle’s Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop (1330 N. Argonne Road, Spokane Valley, (509) 924-4718, petebelles.com). Sure, it was rainy and windy, but there’s always room for dessert, and Pete & Belle’s did not disappoint.

Pete & Belle’s first caught my eye online when it boasted nearly 50 flavors of ice cream, almost 20 more than childhood-favorite Baskin-Robbins, so I had to go to there. Upon entering, it was confirmed that 48 flavors were currently available, and flavors were rotated by season.

After making a pass to check out every flavor, I decided on rhubarb crumbs and a brownie chocolate fudge concoction – both were excellent – and dark chocolate creations in the form of small chocolates and peanut butter bars paired with sea salt. Dark chocolate and sea salt? Yes, please. Also purchased: three seasonally flavored caramels. Wow, Pete & Belle’s is sweet!

I also liked how spacious and clean the store is and had to make my exit before buying the entire chocolate selection. I will be back to Pete & Belle’s … and definitely sooner rather than later come rain or shine.

Chef Ethan Stowell

After a jam-packed workday last Thursday, my sister, Audubon Elementary math interventionist Michelle Harmon, and I took part in a 90-minute virtual Happy Hour and cooking event via Zoom with Seattle chef Ethan Stowell, whose Italian restaurant Tavolata is coming to downtown Spokane (in the former Olive Garden … so many Gonzaga mems) on Wall Street.

Along with 40+ of our closest friends (I did not know a single person), we cooked (Michelle cooked, and I cleaned) and/or enjoyed burrata, tomatoes, olives and artichoke hearts; New York steak; king salmon; baby potatoes, delicata squash and chanterelle mushrooms; and Fran’s Chocolates.

And to wash it all down, a bottle of Waters Winery and Ethan Stowell Restaurants “Functioning Adult” (merlot, cabernet sauvignon, malbec and cabernet franc). My niece Anya, 13, and nephew Shawn, 9, enjoyed corn dogs and Pizza Rolls courtesy of chef Uncle Don’s microwave, and Anya tried the steak, potatoes and salmon, as well.

It was a very full Thursday, and I look forward to a new Italian restaurant downtown in the new year.

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