Archives for category: Restaurants

After some serious analysis, I’ve decided that it’s just more economical for me to go out to eat than it is for me to buy groceries. The only time I’m at my house, I’m asleep. I do eat breakfast at home (yogurt and apples and granola, going on every day for a year now) but other than that, I’m running around like a little Seattle rabbit girl, nibbling here and there. Nannying is ultra-conducive to grazing; someone else’s snacks! And in my new gig, assistant-ing for PR for restaurants (which is so far, so rad), there’s a lot of visiting the clients, aka: eating with the clients. And of course I need to know the product, right? And the competition, right? So I’d better go out every night, right? But really. Lunch, either cheese and crackers or sad salad, if I’m brown-bagging. Or a Clif bar. Blah. Rather have: pho. Or a quick sushi. Or PCC pizza. Quicker and easier to eat out than it is to go home and scramble scrabble something awful together. Ditto for dinner. Either eating with nanny kids (they’re eating mac n’ cheese, so I should too…solidarity) or going out. Aside from a entire crisper drawer filled with apples, all the lovely produce I so love to buy at the market withers away in my fridge. Cauliflower gets a strange maroon sheen, carrots lose their snap, lettuce becomes a sad soft version of its former self. (Beets somehow live on forever, never changing, glaring at me and guilting me about my failed cleanse.) So, better to just put my stomach in the hands of the good chefs of this great city. They cook better than I can anyway.

So here are some bites:

Pate with spicy peppers on toast, dates stuffed with goat cheese, and a pretzel with rarebit at Dinette, sweet little living-room-y Cap Hill place with Amanda. Snacks and freelance-life-whining/rejoicing. Then a second dinner (we are hungry chicks, okay) at Rione XIII: pasta with guinciale and fried (I just typed “fried” as “friend”…) artichokes.

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Dim Sum for dear Michelle’s birthday. Read the Chinatown issue of Lucky Peach on the plane to SEA, got picked up by Log & Michelle, ate dim sum. Perfect. Michelle has chopsticks skillz. And Logie Bear ate gluten. I love hum bao. Good times.

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A rare virtuous lunch at home.

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The Whale Wins, with Madeline. Sardines on toast with fennel (and curried tomatoes which sounds totally odd but I’m pretty sure this whole town is in love with it.) Culatello, which means “little butt” in my translation and is like extra-salty dream prosciutto. Roasted (seriously so roasted. I will now let my vegetables linger in the oven for ages, as they were black and amazing) carrots and fennel with harissa and yogurt. Marrow bones (three is too many for two people though…got mega marrowed out.) Pretty little salad with pistachios and parm. Beautiful braised pork (oh my) with stewed apples and homemade mustard. Yum. New restaurant service issues, but food: good.

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I moved! As usual. This time across town, not across country. Hipster boundary crossed, but no national boundaries. From Magnolia (aka “Mongolia”- and not because of a cool ethnic group with rad spicy food hole-in-the-wall restaurants, because it is the neighborhood that manages to be far from everything) to Fremont, home of Revel, Bluebird Ice Cream, the Book Larder, Paseo, and Dot’s. I can now walk from my house to a Neapolitan pizzeria. This is both good and bad. Mostly good.

Obviously I had to celebrate/refuel mid-move with a gigantic sandwich from Dot’s Delicatessen. Clearly. One of those times when you think, “Oh perfect, that’s a ginormous portion, I’ll have the other half later and that will be so great. Because I am a healthy person who certainly could not eat an entire baguette and 9 meatballs.” Then, voila, sandwich is gone. I was hungry. And then happy. And I’m pretty sure I’m about to become a Dot’s regular. And also fat.

 

The amount that I work out has a direct relationship to the amount of ice cream I eat. Direct, not inverse. Running and yoga-ing, not part of a complete health package with lots of kale and brown rice, no. Just the necessary offset of a fancy ice cream addiction. Last week, a scoop of Molly Moon’s Scout Mint (aka, Thin Mint) with sprinkles. This weekend, an awe-inspiring pale green scoop of pistachio gelato on a cone, devoured while people watching on Ballard Ave. Yesterday, a scoop of mint stracciatella while my nanny charges were at swim team. They swim, I eat.

Other goods at the Queen Anne Farmers Market: a blueberry biscuit (saved for an addition to a picnic for an outdoor concert tonight), three pounds of apples (the apple addiction lives on), four yellow tomatoes (best color of tomato, fer sure), a bunch of teeny carrots, and multiple samples from anyone who’d give them to me and/or didn’t noticed I’d come by to sample peaches fourteen times. Then dinner on the lawn: naan with apricot-y chicken and rice, shrimp and grits, and ginger beer. Yum. And I’m at “work” during all of this, mind you.

Then, real dinner. Finally: Paseo. Mega-beloved Seattle Carribean/Cuban sandwich joint, which I’ve somehow never been to. I’ve stood in line and bailed many times, but never actually eaten a stinkin’ sandwich at the place. So finally. Paseo. I was doubtful that these West Coasters could beat the Florida Cuban sandwich, that flat, weird, mustardy, ham-packed delicious thing, but… maybe so. Very different: a delicious baguette filled with giant hunks of roasted pork shoulder, lettuce, cilantro, jalapeno, and mayo. Very messy, very good. Pros: the bread and pork were stellar. Cons: too much mayo (but I’ve never been a fan) and not enough jalapenos (but I am on the hot sauce crack rock.) Genia and I scored a table, which made it all the better; our sandwiches were definitely improved by the hungry, jealous stares of the dozens of people queuing up outside.

When you really love a restaurant it’s kind of just as inexplicable as really loving a person. They’re nice, they’re witty, they love you… no one single big ol’ reason; you just love them. Black Cypress; love. Levys, Larkins, and Lopez; love. We can’t really sort out exactly why we like Black Cypress so much, why it’s more than worth the 15 minute drive across the state line, it just is. The food is good, and not like good for small town good, really dang good. And the space is intimate and just dark enough, there’s cool decor but not too much cool decor, the waitstaff is cool enough that you admire them but no so much that you fear them. They use amazing bacon from our friends’ pigs, they make dinner rolls that are better than you’d believe existed. I had braised pig trotters there last time; so good I almost cried. Ok, so, maybe I do know why I love Black Cypress. It is good. Good with no caveats, no sometimes. The same way that I love these people.

Even though Seattle is a fun, interesting, happening city, once you live somewhere it kinda becomes just where you live, where you get stuck in traffic and buy boring groceries and sleep. So you have to have your parents come visit every once in a while, so you can pretend that you’re on vacation in your very own city. M & D came over for the weekend and we went right into Larkwood travel mode. Aka: All meals out and much coffee drinking and pastry eating. Day One: obligatory Pike Place visit and lunch at Cafe Campagne. Much walking. Then. Dinner. It was tricky picking just two restaurants to take my beloved P’s to… pasta at a Stowell joint? Revel, my Korean favie? The winners: Walrus and the Carpenter and Sitka and Spruce. First up, Walrus. No rezzos, and I knew there’d be a wait. We showed up at 6. 2 hours they said. Not willing to give up the promise of a bowl of icy oysters, we waited it out at Bastille down the way, slowly slowly eating a little plate of rabbit pate and pretending that we were really still deciding if we’d stay for dinner. The call finally came for us and we scurried back to our hard-won table. First order of business, oysters. Yum. A dozen and a half, four different kinds. Yum. Briny bliss. Here we are, in blurry oyster-slurping form. (Are you supposed to use those dumb weensy forks? A good portion of the joy is the somewhat sandy shell slurp…)

And what else: bread and olive oil and butter and olives. A weensy wedge of Dinah’s cheese, which I have to say was good, but just in a regular ol’ buttery brie way. Then the real business: grilled sardines with a walnut gremolata kinda thang. Sheesh, sardines, where have you been hiding? Meaty and fishy in a good way. And I secretly love eating whole bony fish…something nice about that weird little calcium crunch. Speck with ricotta and candied pumpkin and balsamic. Candied as in pumpkin candy, not as in sweet-ish pumpkin. Awesome. A salad of watercress and lardons and fried egg. Egg yolk, extra points. My favorite dish: raw prawns with their roe alongside their deep-fried shells. Raw prawn? Yes. Fantastic. Snappy roe, just-tough-enough shrimp, ultra salty crunchy weird shell. Da bomb. And then, just for good measure, two more oysters each for Dad and I, just to make sure we really knew our favorite. (Treasure Coves from Case Inlet.) Then dessert, because, you know, we’re on vacation here. A cherry clafoutis, which was good, but erm… ours was better that one time we made it. Not quite custardy enough. But hey, covered in creme fraiche so pretty durn good. And roasted dates, which somehow remained about two trillion degrees for twenty minutes. Really yummy, once they cooled to the temp of just molten lava, roasted and caramely in salt and oil–definitely stealing that one. Walrus: worth the wait.

The next day: well, I’ll lay it out for you. Macrina for breakfast, Homegrown for lunch, Sitka for dinner. And Le Pichet for dessert. Ok, here we go. Macrina: I had a morning glory muffin and two perfect sunnyside up eggs. Dad had yogurt and fruit and granola. (He hadn’t realized that he was indeed, on vacation, and should take advantage by having french toast and bacon.) Mom got the salmon bialy, hands down the best thing on the brunch menu. We had a great waitress who kept getting cursed with whiny (“Are the eggs cooked with oil? Is the toast buttered? Is there sugar in the chocolate cake? Could you bring me just one slice of cucumber and an ice cube?”) tables and I tried my best to send her good vibes. After that we moved north to the Seattle Center for the King Tut exhibit which should in fact be re-named “The Exhibit of Egyptian Crap that does not include King Tut. Or his sarcophagus. Or his mask that is on every poster around the whole city.” Ok, there was some good stuff, but there were also a lot of brats running around and NO KING TUT. No mummy. Nothin. Some fans and wicker chairs from his crappy little cave-tomb. I might be bitter. But then we went to Homegrown for lunch and things looked up. Dad and I got turkey avocado bacons and mom got a killer Reuben. And we each got a really yummy pickle. And then I bought an old wood heating grate at the market, which is cooler than any dumb ol’ mummy anyway. Then we had to go home and take naps because we had a big dinner ahead of us.

So Sitka and Spruce. I have been dying to go for, oh, like, a year. And Matt Dillon, the chef, just won a James Beard. (He also has The Corson Building, my number one dream must go to resto at the moment, and a farm and a cute little bar. And everything good.) I was not on top of things and by the time I called, we could only get in at 6. Which was fine. Because the light is better at 6.

S&S has probably the most open kitchen on earth. I literally could’ve reached over and snacked on their mise en place. And I was tempted. The two chefs have a big deep sink where the cold ingredients are iced down and a nice big workspace, which is just a continuation of the long table we were sitting at. And a big wood fire. As you do. We kicked it off with bread (thanks to them, foccacia has a new place in my heart) and salami and olives. Shortly thereafter a salad of bright little lettuces and shaved asparagus and carrots and the best sheep’s cheese I’ve ever had. Ever. See ya Manchego, I have a new best friend. And farm-to-table, fresh, blah blah; that salad seriously had that magic taste that only things from your own garden has. (The Dillon farm/resto family is in fact the creator of the best CSA ever created…and the most expensive, but now I’m thinking it might be worth it…)

Then the mains. Rabbit leg, roasted on that fire, and sturgeon. Both with emmer (a grain…I didn’t know either) and turnip greens and yogurt and maybe a little hit of mustard with the rabbit and paprika with the fish. So simple and SO perfect. Lord. Thoughtful and homey and good. Nothing out of place or over-reaching. Everything all nested together and good. Didn’t even cross my mind that maybe it was sad that the dishes had the same sides. Cause there’s the cook, right there, making it for you. Keeping it as simple and just right as they would in their own kitchen, cooking for their friends. Then, lord almighty, the desserts. I’ll ease you into it. A simple little Basque gateau. Almond crust, pastry cream, Drizzled with caramel and salty (the salty was the crucial kicker) almonds. Good, lovely, yummy, great. Then. THEN. Wild ginger ice cream with honey. Ginger but not even ginger. It sung of ginseng and brightness and earthiness and sunlight all at once. Drizzled with honey and a handful of slivered almonds. The best thing I’ve tasted in a while.

Then a walk up to the Elysian Brewing Co, then a trip downtown in search of a view, settling (“settling”) for Le Pichet on First where we drank cider and ate delicious cheese at 11 pm. Because we were on vacation.

Did you think that was all? Then we went to Cafe Presse in the morning with Logie, where we all ate variations on the omelette and pastries and delicious housemade yogurt. And I ate almost an entire baguette with butter and rhubarb-vanilla jam. Because….I was on vacation! Stay-cation. Then we popped up to Taylor Shellfish where mom packed up a few pounds of clams and oysters to take home and we went for a walk at the beach at Discovery Park then they had to go home before the oysters got tired and next thing I knew the vacation was over, dangit. But how lucky am I, to have these parents who’ll take me out to dinner (around the world) and put up with my food rambling and even join in the rambling with me, wondering how, how!? does a raw prawn taste so dang good.

I love Vancouver. When I first moved there, I did not. I thought that Canadians were weird and putting on fake accents to irritate me specifically and everything was ridiculously more expensive and my university campus was bigger then the town I grew up in and looked like Lenin picked the architect for half the buildings. Aka, I was really lonesome the second my dad left and I feared for a friendless semester in a just-foreign enough to be even more lonesome country. But things perked up pretty quickly. Good and plentiful Asian food, a somewhat ugly campus situated in maybe one of the most beautiful places on the continent, a constant pizza-eating TV-watching girl party in my giant packed-like-sardines house, a fun garden internship, tons of yoga and biking home from yoga at sunset in a bliss state, my favorite coffee shop in the whole wide world (and the best muffins in the whole wide world,) and a volunteer gig at the UBC garden with kids, where I met Nicole, yet another fantastic friend I’ve been lucky enough to snag along the way. This weekend I popped back up to BC for a weekend visit, and lucked out with the warmest loveliest sunniest weekend of all time. Nicole and I walked and walked and talked and talked and ate and ate and ate. Nicole took us to Via Tevere, a impossibly cute Neapolitan pizza place just off Commercial Drive, tucked into a neighborhoody little street– like it just so happened to have landed there. Nicole said I’d love it; she was so right. Cozy and tasty and good in so many ways. I keep getting so lucky with friends– I meet these fantastic people and we have the bright friendships that keep on keepin’ on even after we’re apart. And they become a big part of my fuzzy memory-imagination of the places I’ve lived, which is wonderful.

And this pizza, it too is now a part of my own dreamy version of Vancouver. All Neapolitan pizza is amazing. This was really amazing. For one, the place was toasty, which only seemed appropriate as there’s a 900 degree oven smack in the middle. Sweaty pizzaiolos throw together the pies and slide em in for 90 seconds a piece, the pizzas reemerging like phoenixes from the fires, ashy and amazing. We got: one with cheese, cherry tomatoes, and basil, a margherita plus broccoli rabe, and a fantastic one with spicy Italian meats. Yum. The crusts were maybe the best part, dipped in spicy oil… Yes. We ate the leftovers with much much joy later on.

The next day: brunch at Dunlevy Snackbar. Mother’s Day brunch traffic? Not an issue here. Too hip for regular moms. A rad little Chinatown storefront (Note: Vancouver’s Chinatown is not like Seattle’s “International District” where takeout boxes blow down the street like tumbleweed and the same Peking ducks have been hanging in the windows since 1995. Vancouver’s is bustling and lively and full of shocking dried things and pungent fish shops and old ladies haggling.)

And then Dunlevy Snackbar, full of true Van Hipsters. But in a good way. It still feels like a “find,” like you too are awesome for being there. The owner, Theo, is running around the place, making coffee, taking orders, and giving you the verbal menu. Three choices. Euro Brunch, arepas, or baked eggs. What a rad idea. Only one meal a day, only three things a day. Makes picking easy, makes prepping easy. Makes changing the menu really easy. Keeps things interesting. For us: one Euro brunch, one arepa. Do you loyal readers remember arepas? The dance party break snack of Florida, bought from a young couple frying up masa with one hand and feeding a baby with the other in a dorm kitchen. Arepas, griddled corn cakes topped with a slice of guava paste and a slice of white cheese and a big dose of pure joy. Dunlevy of course did it differently: topped the corn cake with chipotle black beans and potatoes and scrambled eggs, accompanied by a bright little carrot slaw. Yum.

And the Euro brunch. Ok, so my favorite part of Germany is frühstück. Breakfast. At the oddball little hotel we always stay at in Frankfurt (frequent flier miles get you to Frankfurt…) theres this glorious place called the fruhstuck raum. Fruhstuck fairies fill it every morning before dawn with baskets of fluffy white buns covered in seeds, platters of holey cheese, plates of smoky meats, soft boiled eggs, joghurts of all varieties, a tray of sausages, and all the teeny Nutella containers you could ever dream of stealing. You fill up a plate (or three, if you’re me. Hey, you don’t get a trip to the Fruhstuck Raum too often) and sit down and delight–delight–in the German version of breakfast.

Dunlevy’s take was pretty darn similar. A soft-boiled egg (which I am going to make a part of my life, if only for the ultra cute egg cups,) rye bread, a croissant, jam, cheese, ham, fruit, almonds, olives, and hummus. Inclusive of all the EU nations. Delicious. And we had a good chat with Theo after, and what makes you feel cooler than a chat with the owner. Dunlevy Snackbar, also now a part of my version of Vancouver. Then we spent the afternoon at the beach in Kitsilano, my old ‘hood, making bracelets and saying over and over how good the sun felt on our cold little northwestern bodies. After a delicious little front porch barbeque to round out the day, I headed back down to Seattle, dreaming of Vancouver the whole way back.

I took another class, this one at pretty much the other end of the gory-lovely spectrum from my last class experience. …Flower arranging! At sweet Marigold & Mint in the Melrose Market, home to Sitka and Spruce (someone please take me there) and a cheese shop, meat shop, sandwich shop, and oyster bar. Aka: I could very happily live in there forever. Aka: the epicenter of Cap Hill cuteness.

Katherine, head flower honcho, started thing off by throwing together an arrangement as an example for us beginners. (And telling us about her flower farm out in the Snoqualmie Valley…can I live there? In a little tent made of petals?) Flower Arranging 101: Start with thick branchy things, then get progressively lighter. Make a little nest for the later, lighter flowers to snug into. Fellow florist Brita (name envy…pronounced all rolling R-y, not like the filter) showed us how to add just one orchid to an arrangement. Another florist, Ayako, told us about branches, spare little branches that can be so beautiful. (Reminded me of this.) Katherine talked about the current trend in the flower world of loose arrangements, kinda thrown-together looking bouquets with lots of airiness and gentleness and nonchalant-ines, as opposed to the 90s flower-ball style where blooms were squashed up against each other in tight little symmetrical bouquets.

Can’t help but make a correlation to food trends there, especially when I was looking over her shoulder at the Sitka chefs doing Sunday prep at the big long kitchen table the whole time. There’s definitely that same feeling in the (un-)composition of plates these days. Kind of, you know, rustic and simple and “Oh, it just happens to be lovely, I didn’t work too hard.” That look. You know. Anyway, turns out flower arranging is indeed hard work. Challenge #1: Starting. Choosing blooms from the dozens of vases set out for us. These bunchy little roses are nice… these big weepy purply ones are so very nice… these teeny waxflowers are so so very pleasing… oh, the teensier rice flowers though…. Then you have a colossal pile of branches and stems and leaves and blooms and an empty vase. Start shuffling them together, layering branches, weaving in little sprigs of whatnot. (All the while eating very many very good little slices of sesame seeded baguette with creamy cheese from the shop down the way and dreamy jam made by one of the sweet florist teachers.)

Then, challenge #2: Stopping. Cannot stop. One more daffodil? Oh sure. One more purply thing? Well of course. Little holes show up in our arrangement every time you look down at it and there is a compulsion to fill. them. immediately. The other five students all  carefully made lovely arrangements with just one or two main colors, with a perfect little frond drooping over one side, a couple tall blooms reaching upward… Mine was an explosion of ruffage. Pinks of all shades. Big blotches of purple. Little spots of yellow. Thick branches reaching out in every direction. I love it. (It is filling my house with JOY, capital letters joy right now.)

Best part of all: carrying it next door to be my dinner companion for a half-dozen oysters at Taylor Shellfish. Not unlike flowers, oysters fill me with delight and love for the world at large. How could anything bad exist in the universe when something this good exists too? I think as I slurp a teeny Shigoku, grown north of here in bags slouching around at the bottom of the sea, attached to buoys, getting tumbled around with the tide. Two little ridge-less shigokus, two small Pacifics, and two something-or-others. Flowers and oysters, solid Sunday. (And did I have a Besalu brioche for breakfast too? And maybe wood fired pizza for dinner? And maybe a smidge of rice pudding for a midnight snack?)