Sunday, November 28, 2010

Seatown Snack Bar and Restaurant

Let me be clear: I love Tom Douglas. I think he does a grand job overseeing six restaurants and the Dahlia Bakery. I've never had a bad meal at any of these, and think it speaks volumes that his staff remains with him for years. 

That's why I was so disappointed to find myself muttering over the entrees at Seatown. 

Oysters were good, (and they had better be at a whopping 3 bucks each).  

My appetizer of smoked trout was wonderful. Good portion size, and the acoutrements paired perfectly (soft cream cheese) were interesting (duck-fried capers) and balanced the plate well (small tomatoes, blinis).  

Service was excellent, though it bordered on the obsequious. 

The entrees however, were shockingly dull all around, as in under seasoned, or needing a sauce.  Porchetta was a bit dry, turkey was boring (though, come on, it is turkey, the tofu of fowl).  At these prices I should not be muttering about a single thing. 

I've never had this happen at a Douglas joint.  I'm confident they will improve. For now, Seatown remains a decent spot for a glass of bubbly, fresh oysters or smoked seafood. 

Highlights: Appetizers, smoked trout, oysters. 

Disappointments: Entrees. 

Mr. Pants:  Grumbling.  Poked my side annoyingly until I agreed to blog about it.

Seatown Seabar & Rotisserie on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 21, 2010


We were devastated to learn that Licorous, that casual little bar with just the right amount of swank, had scaled way back on their food offerings a while back. 

We'd been fond of wandering over for cocktails and dinner, though we called it "spa food" because the plates were precious (and preciously small).  We'd snack on flavorful corn chowder with Chanterelles, served in a demitasse, or a prosciutto-wrapped fig or three, followed by lamb chops a la plancha.  

So we were all a flutter to learn they're serving up Thai food every Monday with Sous Chef Wiley Frank, who is fresh from a year in Thailand. He's created a slightly refined version of fantastic Thai street food, described here at shophouse

Mini curried fish cakes were served in a bowl with thin vinegary sliced cucumbers, adding tang to a dish fragrant with fried basil. 
Next up was a lush, spicy, lime and chili-fragrant soft tofu laab (from Northwest Tofu Inc) with lettuce wrap - I love citrus flavors in food, and I demolished this like I was suffering from scurvy. Roasted rice, chilis and mint everywhere. 
A warming, saucy chicken curry noodle dish had crunchy fried noodles and fried shallots on top and just the right amount of pickled mustard greens....(similar to an authentic dish we had at Citrus Thai not long ago). 
Small pork spare ribs with Thai sea salt (samut sakhon) were tender, addictive little things. These paired especially well with the slightly sweet "St. Amour" cocktail- a bourbon-based drink with a toasted hazelnut at the bottom. 

Licorous is smart to do this. We are thrilled they are back at the game, and a tasty, more affordable game it is, too. 

Can't wait to try their Taco Tuesdays! Not for vegetarians, mind you, as they only have pork tacos for $1 dollar each. 

Highlights: Cocktails, soft tofu laab, spare ribs, dessert trio. 

Disappointments: Curry could have been a little more fiery, because I like curry that way. Still tasty.  

Mr. Pants: Content. Wants to return for Taco Tuesdays! 

Licorous on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Book Bindery

I've always been annoyed by immediate reviews (or blogs) about restaurants that have just opened. It doesn't seem fair to me to officially review (or even blog about) a place that is brand new. But I couldn't stay away from the Book Bindery.

So, uh, just to be clear, this is not a real review, but more of a "Hurray-it's-finally-here-and-even-though-I-loved-every-minute-of-the-meal-and-thought-the space-was-super-cool, I-can't-say-a-whole-lot-about-it-in-fairness" kind of thing. 

It's excruciating to have to restrain myself in this manner. Will definitely be going back for more in a month or two, once the subtle whiff of fresh paint dissipates.  And we'll have a second glass of that toasty and insanely marvelous champagne (Agrapart 7 Cru Cote de Blanc) at the gorgeous marble-topped bar. 

Hopefully we'll see Patric Gabre-Kidan again, and his laid-back, quietly awesome and gentlemanly presence, who no doubt recognized us from many a night hunkered down over plates at all those other good restaurants he's been a part of. The postprandial peek inside the adjacent winery and bins full of grapes, was neat to see. 

Highlights: Can't tell you. (Handmade Cavatelli with forest mushrooms, Duo of Pork, a chocolatey pot de creme dessert with a salted graham cracker, the verrry drinkable Almquist Family Vintners 2008 North Ridge Malbec)

Disappointments:  um....I've got nothing.  

Mr Pants: More impressed than I've seen him in a while. Hankering to go back. 

The Book Bindery on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 28, 2010

foodie notes: Stockholm

Swedes apparently combat a tendency toward melancholia with strong cups of coffee and large quantities of cake. (See previous post) And lots of fast walking. Stockholm was full of tall, long-striding Swedes with a gait that was far quicker than my own, and I'm known as a fast walker. I waddled along, full of cake, trying to keep up.   

I liked this city of islands and bridges, tolling church bells, ringing bicycle bells, Baltic winds and long sunsets. 
Swedes also seem to have the best tasting tap water and best tasting shrimp I've ever consumed. 
I ate well. A good, heavy meal was had at Pelikan, meatball in a creamy gravy, mashed potatoes, lingonberries, with a gullet-warming Snaps (an aquavit, this one fragrant with Elderflower) as my dessert. 

Eriks Bakfickan was a great spot for dinner, where I opted for a lovely, rich bouillabaise (though they called it the "seafood casserole")

Ate this lovely duck confit over bacony saurkraut with a side of potato puree at a neighborhood bistro that I long to return to, called Aubergine. This was a perfect plate. I think of it still. 

The Ostermalm Saluhall, a great food-market, with eateries throughout, in a rambling red-brick building with a perfect lunch spot at Lisa Elmqvists, where I dropped shrimp on my shirt, and, though I loved what I ate, I envied the man next to me with his buttery fried perch and wild mushrooms.  I'd be eating at the saluhall daily if I lived in Stockholm. 

Last dessert in Stockholm- at the old-school, clubby Restaurant Prinsen:  It was as showy and decadent as the waiter, who flattered me with his "Mademoiselle" s and his overwrought descriptions of the dishes, including this one as "like gold."  It was, actually, like gold. 

I didn't get to most of the restaurants on my list. Though, I can't say I regret being persuaded to visit a suburban karaoke joint. Oh. My. God. Those Swedes sure can drink.  The woman who did a face plant onto the stage, the other woman who said she was from Brazil, started to dance lasciviously to someone else's song, occasionally flashing the now slack-jawed crowd.  Good times. Will have to return with Mr. Pants. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fika in Stockholm

Fika is the Swedish term for a damned adorable concept. It describes a coffee break, generally in the afternoon, involving a sweet pastry. Kanelbullar (cinnamon buns) are the prevalent, popular choice.

I was devastated to learn that I'd been oblivious to Sweden's National Cinnamon Bun Day, or "Just another manic bun day" as stated in The Local, a Swedish English-language paper. October 4th it was.

I was wondering why I smelled cinnamony baked goods everywhere on the streets of Stockholm. Thought perhaps Stockholm just smelled that way, and it added to the allure of the city.

The pastry offerings at the fashionably old-school Vettekatten were too tempting to pass up. The hasty shot below is a little blurry because I was too eager to have at it. Great espresso macchiato, too.

One thing about Fika I found annoying. These places were packed, with every table taken. I was left wandering around the various rooms of these establishments, looking for a seat, coffee in one hand, pastry in the other, pacing there like a dimwit. Not sure about the seating protocol, in these joints, but eventually in each case, someone took pity on me and allowed me to sit with them.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Stockholm: Shrimp!

I've been eating a lot of tasty shrimp in Stockholm. I don't really know why it's so tremendously good here, but there you go. Super fresh, tasting of the sea. This dish was eaten at Lisa Elmqvist's bar in the Ostermalm's Saluhall, a rambling beautiful red brick structure jammed with foodstuffs for the buying, and the eating.

This little snack was purchased at the Fotografiska, a photography museum/gallery in Sodermalm. Had many lunches at museum cafes, as they tend to be good quality, and a little more reasonably priced in spendy Stockholm.

These dishes are variations of "Toast Skagen", basically a piece of toasted bread, with shrimp and other varied ingredients. The top dish doesn't show the chopped hard-boiled egg and white bread underneath the lettuce. The second shot shows shrimp over a great slice of brown bread.

With the amount of shrimp consumed on this trip, I'll come back even more pink.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

On to Stockholm!

About to be strapped into a plane seat today for 8 hours, Chicago to Stockholm.
Traveling alone this time, which is unusual. Will miss Mr. Pants (and his amusing chatterings) greatly.

But, I'm calling this my "I vant to be alone" trip, because, like Garbo, I do want to be alone for a bit, somewhere I haven't been before, somewhere beautiful. Need to think about life and death and all of those heavy matters. Need to NOT be at work for a bit as well.

Some snarky comments have come my way about this- such as "Oh so you're doing an Eat Pray Love thing eh? Um, NO! At most it will be an Eat Eat Eat thing.

Will check out the Stockholm food scene, and maybe try the old traditional herring and aquavit. Lots of open face sandwiches should be coming my way, if the literature is to be believed. We shall see.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

June in Seattle

If you need a bit of warmth this autumn, go to June. The old Cremant space feels cozier, with warmer walls, and wooden tables, but retains it's cool factor.

We woke up our palates with gorgeous, crisp, radishes served with fleur de sel and butter.

Kumomoto oysters were out of this world, and I was worried when I read that they came with a peach chile granita, as I'm usually a purist with oysters. It worked beautifully. I seriously considered getting 6 more platefuls they were so insanely fantastic.

Mr. Pants got a wonderful Bavette steak with watercress and confit potatoes. Cooked perfectly, with enough sauce to swipe up with each bite. This is a terrible picture that doesn't do it justice.

I got the stuffed rabbit leg- great flavor, it did have the slight gamey texture, (it is bunny, after all) but still interesting. The creamed kale on the plate was plentiful, and I still wished there was more of it- it was that good.

Our friend boldly ordered the terrific (and scary) "Braised Lamb Neck" with hand cut pasta- served over an incredibly rich, hot broth. The waiter warned us that it was not for the faint of heart.

A Chevre creme brulee was subtle, but nice. It could have had more of that goaty flavor which I love particularly in desserts.

Bread pudding however was perfect, with just enough chocolate to add flavor and the warm, dense, soft slabs of bread were a textural marvel.

Highlights: Cocktails, oysters, steak, radishes, bread pudding.

Disappointments: Lamb neck could seriously freak out the more squeamish among us. Despite that, it was really fun to pick at, and the broth and hand cut pasta with it were superb.

Mr. Pants: A sour mood turned into a pleasant, sleepy one after eating here. Happy.

June on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 3, 2010

Sexy Beast - La Bête

You've created a monster, La Bête, and the monster is me. I'm afraid I'll be wanting to spend many an evening, and many a dollar at your gorgeous establishment.

The old Chez Gaudy space is anything but, with a feel that's Art Deco, Edwardian, and completely modern at the same time.

Everything was gorgeous- the people, the rich wood paneled ceiling over the bar, the tables and flatware, the metal work over the windows open to the rain, the molding on the ceiling and the round floral Edwardian ceiling light fixtures, which were little miniature chandeliers. It's a vintage dress of a place, made newly cool by timing and forethought.

Chilled cucumber soup with fresh chickpea fritter, red radish and creme fraiche. Soup was cool, minty, and somehow buttery -served on a delicate tray with matching metal-rimmed bowl. A modernized, tweaked falafel with the daintiest of presentations.

A mass of delicate corn gnocchi under a large pile of sweet dungeness crab meat was stellar.

We split the platter of expertly grilled, super-fresh Daurade, with pea vines, dried scallops and smoked bacon and every flavor worked. A fine, reasonably priced Gruner Veltliner paired perfectly with all.

Highlights: Grilled daurade, corn gnocchi with crab, ambiance.

Disappointments: The bill can add up, if you aren't paying attention. And we weren't.

Mr. Pants: Very, very impressed.

La Bete on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 13, 2010

Walrus and the Carpenter - An Oyster Wonderland

The Walrus and the Carpenter was at capacity when we walked down the long hallway to the bustle of this sleek, crowded space, jealously ogling those sitting outside as we were turned away (for an hour or so). They called us when they had seats, and we perched at the bar, right in front of the masterful bartender who did a great job with our old-fashioneds. The wine list looked reasonable and well-chosen for oysters.

We wolfed down a wonderful house-smoked trout with lentils and creme fraiche, Kumamoto oysters (super fresh, tasty despite it being August) and a summery grilled zucchini with ricotta, walnuts and basil. Serrano ham with roasted apricots and almonds was a strange combo, but it worked.

We enjoyed the fantastic, soft, super fresh bread, with room-temperature butter, attentive service despite the packed room and the fact that they just opened.

I'm proud to say that I resisted quoting the Lewis Carroll poem though it was running through my head - particularly while eating the oysters and bread.

Highlights: Oysters! Smoked Trout, cocktails.

Disappointments: Very crowded, so expect a wait.

Mr. Pants: Happy as a clam.

The Walrus and the Carpenter on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Saturday, May 29, 2010

meat, cheese and bourbon, please

When I first heard about the new specialty cheese shop a few blocks from home I literally did a little dance of joy. I'll call it the cheese jig. The Calf and Kid opened recently and I am, like I said, dancing with joy. Their Burricotta was luscious and divine, the Fourme d'Ambert perfectly ripe, and the wheel of "Dinah" cheese (like a subtler, milder, yellower camembert) was polished off in an embarrassingly rapid manner. Lots of knife licking (also embarrassing, as we did have company over). They also sell super fresh Macrina bread if you don't want your cheese straight from the knife.

Rainshadow Meats is right across from the cheese shop and has fed us several times since they opened. Tasty, mildly spicy Merguez one night, a great mustardy rabbit roast the next. (Mr. Pants is good with cooking bunny). We couldn't be happier to have this butcher nearby.

We were about to take our meat and cheese home with us, but first, we checked out the new bar called Still Liquor in the same building. It's a cool space, it's garage provenance retained in the concrete walls and floors, with additions of booths, warm wood and stuffed chairs.

Mr. Pants got a lemony Arnie Palmer and I got The Still, with bourbon and orange (one of my favorite combos).

After one of these, my photos became increasingly blurry. No idea why. No idea at all.

The only thing making this building better is the Marigold and Mint flower shop, where we also got some tasty Japanese turnips. Best of all, restaurant Sitka and Spruce has finally opened (yet more dancing) which we have yet to try though I'm hoping for this week if Mr. Pants can be convinced.

Our location on the hill seems even sweeter. We feel complete.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lucky to have Luc!


Thierry Rautureau's Luc, is like Rover's younger, hipper, less moneyed sibling. I've been waiting a long time for this, and I'm not disappointed.

It's tough to get tastier than Rover's, and I'm not sure Luc is, but at these prices, and with food this good, I'm gladly going back.

Last Saturday night it was bustling with prom dates and well-heeled locals.

And this crowd was friendly! Seated along the banquette we had conversations not only with each other, (of course!) but with the people on our left and those on our right. One was even kind enough to give us a taste of their meal!! Wild. I haven't experienced such friendliness since Chicago. We also recognized Luc's bartender from the Palace Kitchen, one of our favorite haunts, making us feel even more at home.

I started with an intensely green, refreshing, chilled asparagus soup with lemon creme fraiche.

Trout Amondine followed, and was all the brown-buttered goodness you would expect, mild, almost sweet trout with crunchy slivered amonds. Spinach and small potatoes on the plate balanced things out.

Mr. Pant's got a sandwich with fries- the fries were flavorful, but wanted them a smidge crispier. A cheap bottle of very drinkable Muscadet paired well with our meal.

The warmly lit bar will no doubt beckon to me on the occasional weeknight; I foresee meeting Mr. Pant's there after our workday drudgery.

It's really smart of Monsieur Rautureau to do this in these times, wines by the bottle were affordable, as were entrees. Weekly specials are for sharing- and include a roasted whole salt crust chicken, roasted leg of lamb, whole fish of the day, among other meaty options.

And Mr. Pants had his little Ratatouille moment, blasted into the past he was, by the peach melba dessert, with candied almonds and Chantilly cream.

Highlights: Trout almondine, asparagus soup with lemon creme fraiche.

Disappointments: Nitpicking, but fries a bit flaccid.

Mr. Pants: Tres content.

Luc on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Future of Restaurants?

Saw this in the last Dining section of the New York Times:

Of course, this is happening in Chicago (why don't I live there, again?)

The gist of it is this: Grant Achatz will be selling tickets for seats at his next restaurant, aptly named Next Restaurant, and after paying ahead of time all you do is show up, eat enjoy, and leave. No worries about tipping or settling a bill. Even more interesting, the menu will change seasonally and feature a different place, and a different time. Sounds pretty wild, and in lesser hands, potentially disastrous. And hooray, it will be cheaper than Alinea, his absolutely fantastic, if pricey, current restaurant. The website for Next tells us it will be serving "4-star food at 3-star prices".

I had the great good fortune of eating at Alinea last year, (sans Monsieur Pants) and this was a meal that made us want to record everything, to pause, tease out, and savor each ingredients. We ended up just bedazzled and enjoyed ourselves immensely, since the chef had every detail nailed anyway. The service was indeed outstanding- some of best, totally deserving their recent James Beard Award. I ended up leaving with a bit of a crush on one of the waiters, even.

If anyone can do this, Achatz can, he's got just the right mix of playfulness, creativity and perfectionism to make this work. I don't think many others could. In fact, I tried to imagine a Seattle chef who might succeed with this and couldn't think of anyone quite as perfect.

Each menu focusing on a different time and place!? I wonder if he needs any extra help with his research! :)

Mr. Pants Dubious the idea will work at all, but then again he hasn't sampled Achatz's whimsical genius.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


The last time I saw chef Scott Carsberg was in the luxe environs of his past restaurant, Lampreia. It was a special occasion dinner, and Mr. Pants and I felt compelled to whisper along with the hushed, reverent voices of other diners that night.

That's why it was all the more surprising when the yelling started. The chef was seriously chewing out a member of his staff. It got so harsh that it pushed my injustice button and I was about to stand up and defend the waiter. I didn't of course. I was a big chicken. Kind of didn't want to be yelled at either. And finally, much as I hate to admit, I was also really, really enjoying the food.

We enjoyed the food last night, too, at Carsberg's new cicchetti bar - Bisato. In order to call this place a cichetti bar we need to clarify, this is not your average snacky, casual Venetian joint like we enjoyed the last time in Venice, where you could get a rice ball, a meat ball and an artichoke heart on a toothpick with your glass of vino bianco, and not spend your entire wages.

Bisato is a much more upscale version of a cicchetti bar.

Gone were the hushed tones, quiet grays of Lampreia. Instead we saw warm lighting, wooden tables, and the only loud voices came not from the chef, luckily, but from the tipsily boisterous tables nearby.

Mr. Pants started off with the effeminate, coral-colored Venetian Sunset cocktail, and I got the more whiskily masculine Basil Hayden Manhattan- both were very well made.

Mediterranean mussels with thin pasta rounds was more like a soup- tiny mussels in broth with almost paper thin rounds of pasta in the bottom of the bowl- hugely flavorful and very nicely done. Carsberg has a serious gift with with texture and flavor.

This gift showed in the smoked artichoke with robiolina cheese; half an artichoke heart. (Half! Not even a whole one!) with a little helmet of white cheese curving to fit perfectly over the halved heart. The intense smoke flavor was a surprise, and a delight, as I love just about anything smoked. At $9, however, I was hoping for a little more on the plate, as I'm getting to be almost as cheap as Mr. Pants. (Who is very, very cheap, by the way)

Chilled pea and mint soup was had by Mr. Pants, and our friend Rakesh tried the Celeriac soup which was made creamier than maybe it needed to be by ricotta salata cheese on the bottom of the bowl. Little squares of tomato gelee broke up the decadence a bit and added color and depth. We really loved the awesome "Branzino Fillet Cooked in Tagine with Black Trumpet Mushrooms." This was more reasonably priced for the portion size and ingredients at $12.

A lemon tart with strawberry sauce was good, though not quite as lemony as I like, but the orange confit with chocolate caramel mousse was maybe my perfect dessert.

Service was attentive and stellar, knowing what you needed before you knew you needed it.

Highlights: Branzino with black trumpet mushrooms, smoked artichoke, mussels, orange confit, cocktails, service.

Disappointments: Steep bill.

Mr. Pants: Stroppy, and muttering about the cost the whole walk home.

Bisato on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 11, 2010


I have to like a place that has elk meatball sandwiches. I LOVE a place that puts them in a sandwich and makes them taste this good. This was fragrant with lemongrass, had banh mi type accoutrements like pickled veggies, and a damn good baguette.

Mr. Pants got a creamy baked egg dish with pecorino and nettles, and cress on the side, and more of that good baguette bread.

I adored my Nettletown noodles, with a crispy five spice pork shortrib, greens, seasoned wild mushrooms and a tea egg. This was an insanely clever mixture of things over a mess of noodles in a bowl. I just know this is the beginning of a constant craving.

Warm huckleberry cardamom bread pudding paired well with their tangy yogurt whipped cream. They used a subtle hand with the cardamom - smart not to overwhelm the huckleberries, yet there was enough to know there was something interesting going on.

Everything at Nettletown tasted somehow clean and fresh. This place has a sort of health-food vibe to it that doesn't detract from how well they combine flavors and textures to not only to satisfy, but to please. It was one of the best meals I've had in a while.

Highlights: Elk meatball sandwich, Nettletown noodles with five spice pork sparerib, huckleberry cardamom bread pudding.

Disappointments: Service. While friendly, they did not apologize for a long wait for our entrees, while our friend was given his right away, and sat with it in front of him, while we waited 20 minutes for ours to show. That's a problem.

Mr Pants: Hungry and annoyed by the delay, he was placated by the quality of the food, once it finally arrived. Docile and content upon leaving.

Nettletown on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mobile Chowdown: Hurry Up and Wait

Last Saturday, we hurried down to Mobile Chowdown in SODO, only to wait in multiple lines, for multiple hours.

Working as a team, one of us stood in the longest line, and the other brought back items for tasting, from other, shorter lines.

I love the idea of multiple venues to get a variety of food, but standing up while eating strikes me as somehow uncivilized, not that I require crystal glassware and white tablecloths, mind you.

I try to locate our friends in a different line, (their wait: 1.5 hours) and maneuver through the crowd, holding a carton of food I trip over a dogs leash, a baby stroller, and knock someones lemon ginger iced tea onto their sleeve accidentally. Fun times.

I awkwardly eat with one hand, drink clutched in the other, standing up, wind blowing my hair into my mouth, with every bite, while I squint against the sun, and fumble for my napkin which I've stuffed into my pocket. I began to become quietly enraged.

My companions in line held my hair back for me as I tried to take the occasional bite, my friend Tanya saying that's how you know who your true friends are.

We clung to the wild hope that we would all reach the front of our lines simultaneously, so we could sit and trade bites at one of the tables under a tent. We nabbed a table, but the wind still got to us, and the food got cold. Our other friends finally found us, only to find that music from the 80's (think: Electric Avenue) has started to blast into the tent so loudly that any conversation is rendered impossible.

Not sure I'd go again. But if I did, I'd bring a scrunchy.

Highlights: Marination's Kimchi fried rice, and spicy pork taco, Here and There Grill's short rib sandwich with horseradish cream and chick pea salad on the side. The bite of my friend's falafel, that I managed to steal. Skillet's burger.

Disappointments: Lines. Cold. Wind. Waiting. Koi's truck taco's weren't very interesting. Especially after that lengthy line wait of 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Mr. Pants: Annoyed, but still managed to eat too much.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

lunch crunch

Pike St. Fish Fry is a cool, tiny space with a wooden ceiling and minimal seating, though there are a couple of outdoor tables so you can let the rain sog up your crispy fish.

It was a large lunch for $26 (and we didn't finish everything except for the fish, because it was too much—too much tasty, crunchy-fried goodness.

This is no light lunch. Next time we'll split one order of fish and chips with some other items from their menu, like a pulled pork sandwich, or Uli's sausage with slaw, or grilled veggies.

I tried not to think about the cholesterol entering my system, as I polished off the fried halibut, and tasted some of Mr. Pants' fried Cod.

An herby Italian Salsa Verde on the side added some welcome green (and a touch of garlic) to the mix, good on the slab of crispy fish, and a refreshing lemon aoli was everything I love in a sauce, both rich and tart. Perfectly seasoned fries, and one of my favorite things, fried lemon slices were welcome (if unnecessary and decadent) additions to our fish.

We split an Olympia beer to wash it all down, and promised ourselves to eat nothing but salad for dinner. Yeah, right.

Highlights: You are eating fried things!

Disappointments:You are eating fried things!

Mr. Pants: Wiping his greasy, smiling mouth.

Pike Street Fish Fry on Urbanspoon

Friday, February 26, 2010

I'll have the Ginawchee.

Mr. Pants can be evil.
He will purposefully embarrass me in the finest restaurants by maliciously mispronouncing words so that I sigh, hunch my shoulders and kick him under the table.

His favorite one to mispronounce is Gnocchi.

"I'll have the GINAWCHEE is usually how he says it, with a smirk. The waitstaff is never sure whether he is joking or not, poor things.

The other night at the Palace Kitchen, I was told by the waitress that I was the first person to pronounce Porchetta correctly. She may have just been being friendly or complimenting me, but it worked, and made me feel special. But seriously the first one to pronounce it correctly?!
Apparently it's not that uncommon, as we hear from the Chicago Tribune's blog The Stew:

Top 10 Mispronounced Foodie Words

The comments on that post are hilarious, too.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day Dinner: Spinasse

It has never been a big thing, Valentine's Day. Mr. Pants has never been one to celebrate holidays in general, let alone one that is so obviously syrupy.

Speaking of syrupy, soon after we first met, we were sitting in a Thai restaurant in Chicago, and they wrote "love" in the peanut sauce they brought over, after watching us have a good time together. I think of these things on Valentine's Day.

I took my man out for dinner at Spinasse this past V Day, since there's nothing like a little white truffle pasta and Affogato to shunt those unemployment blues to the wayside for a little while, at least.

From the amuse bouche to the espresso, it was a fine time. Dungeness crab heaped over an intense, creamy leek flan, and brightened with Meyer lemon. White truffle and cauliflower ravioli was warm, nutty, melt in your mouth good, hitting all those comfort-food needs head-on.

The not-too-sweet-but-perfectly-so Affogato assuaged my dessert fussiness. I fear and loathe overly sweet desserts. With SUCH a sweet dining companion, more sugar would be superfluous.

Highlights: Leek flan with crab, cauliflower ravioli with white truffle. Congenial, knowledgeable waiter.

Mr. Pants: Sweet!

Cascina Spinasse on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Best coffee in the states is NOT in Seattle.

I lived in Ann Arbor for a spell with my dad when I was 12 and 13, and lets just get this out now; boy did I take it for granted.

Visiting a couple times since, I've been struck by the cool old architecture, and the huge, spreading oaks.

I remember going to the Borders Bookstore on State St. with Dad. This was the first, the original Borders- multi-leveled, hardwood floors warped and squeaking as you moved through the aisles. We would walk out and eye each other's purchased stack of books. Dad's been ill recently, hence my visit, but he's recovering pretty well so far. Helps to have people doting, I'm sure.

This visit I scarfed down a fantastic and fantastically messy sammich at Zingermans, and slurped some of the best coffee I've ever tasted at a small space called Comet Coffee, in the Nickels arcade building. I'm a sucker for this building in the first place, it reminds me of Europe. Comet Coffee does a great job with hip, genial baristas, a cool space, and most importantly, great coffee. Have to thank my two awesome brothers Sam and Ben for this experience, and for just being cool enough to scout out the best coffee in their hometown. On my first visit I got an absolutely perfect Macchiato, and when I stopped by again, (ok, every day of my stay) the pour-over drip blend from El Salvador was nutty, almost floral, and truly stellar. This is why I drink coffee.

Highlights: Macchiato, pour over drip coffee.

Disappointments: Mr Pants wasn't there to share it with me.

Mr. Pants: Not there!

Sunday, January 24, 2010


I have a thing for cheese. Could be the addictive serotonin rush that cheese can provide, could be the salt that I crave. Whatever it is, I know I could slowly, knife lick by knife lick, polish off a wheel of a really good cheese. And not be sorry. Particularly the rich, foreign ones. (Like my men, ha! Sorry).

Mr. Pants and I get through the long, hot summers (who am I kidding, I live in Seattle), I'll start again: Mr. Pants and I get through the short, tepid summers living on tomato, basil and mozzarella salads. Easy to compile on nights when we are both tired and don't feel like cooking, this dish feeds us from June to October. We like the multiple brands that are sold packed in water. These are a gorgeous, milky counterpart to the bright taste of summer tomatoes.

I've long wanted to make my own mozzarella, but never trusted myself to do so without official instructions. However, the price of good mozzarella, which supermarkets have the gall to sell at something like $5 per small container, has been an issue. But now I've found a trustworthy instructor, and her name is Julie Steil.

Steil teaches cheese making classes at River Valley Ranch in Fall City, Mr Pants and I took the excursion to Fall City (along with fellow foodie and coworker Sallie and her beau)

I wanted to tromp down onto the muddy hillside to pet some animals, but I showed restraint, and settled for manipulating cheese curds. Which is basically how one makes cheese. We made mozzarella and a Tomme type cheese, and she shows you how easy it really is to whip up several balls of ready-to-eat mozzarella or press curds into a ready to aged wheel of cheese for treat, edible in about 2 months time.

Highlights: Julie Steil. Cheese!

Disappointments: At first the class room smells like, you know, cheese. Standing up for several hours in one place can be tiring.

Mr. Pants: Talking big like he's going to be making mozzarella and Tomme every single day for the rest of his life.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Tavolata New Years Eve

After a couple of wintry and thrifty hibernating weeks, we had to get out.

I had gotten Mr. Pants a (much needed) massage at Banya 5 as a Christmas present, for use on New Years eve. Ok, I got myself one too in a spirit of (much needed) decadence. After being pleasantly mashed about on our respective massage tables, we walked our relaxed selves out to Belltown for New Years Eve.

We stopped at the Local Vine for a glass of bubbly, (a crisp Gloria Ferrer) and, sufficiently warmed, walked to our reservation at Tavolata.

Tavolata has been one of our favorite places since Ethan Stowell opened it in 2007. We like the hip space, warmly lit, all concrete and rounded mirrors behind the bar, and the very long wooden communal table in the middle of the room.

Stowell was there serving up dishes to diners, this New Years eve, which I thought a fine and non-elitist thing to do, (the chef of the people!). He brought us a rich, thick Butternut squash soup with radish sprouts, and crunchy croutons, (I called them genius croutons, because they WERE genius) gave the squash soup heft and texture.

Mr. Pants and I agreed that we both wanted to try the pork cheeks, and these, laid over celery root puree was exactly how I always want my meat to be, fall-apart tender and melting.

Maybe my senses were heightened from the massage, but there was divinity in the Agnolotti. It was a mixture that would seem hard to sell, but boy, did it work. Brussel sprout leaves (just the leaves, mind), quartered turnips perfectly cooked and buttery, plump little agnolotti pasta filled with Hen of the Woods mushrooms, and a generous mound of parmesan shaved over all. I appreciated that the amount of parmesan was actually enough for me, because it's rare that I get enough, usually. (I'm the biggest mouse he's ever seen, according to Mr. Pants when it comes to cheese). I'd probably eat my own hand if it was covered in melted cheese. This was a perfect dish. I thought there might have been a touch of truffle but Ethan himself said no.

We ended the meal splitting the almond cake, nothing showy or flashy here, it was rich simplicity itself with dollop of whipped cream.

Maybe it was the massage, or cake and agnolotti, (and the wine and champagne) but we returned home to our couch where I promptly passed out, oblivious to the New Years Eve fireworks.

I admit Stowell is one of my favorite chefs at the moment. Reminds me to grab Mr. Pants and climb Queen Anne Hill more often to Stowell's How to Cook a Wolf as well as just up our street to his Anchovies and Olives. Looking forward to checking out Union's happy hour, too. No doubt Ethan Stowell's eateries will help to make it a truly happy New Year.

Highlights: Pork cheek, Agnolotti, Almond Cake

Disappointments: Ummmm…

Mr. Pants: Happy!

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