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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Every time I go to Fat Hen, I’m charmed by it a little more. I vaguely know-ish the story of the place; there’s some kind of Italian involved and some kind of Scandinavian–but I’m not going to look into it any further, because I love my imagined love story, the Italian and the Scandinavian, loud and dark plus sweet and light, their strange Euro union bringing forth the most divine brunch on earth.

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Today I fell in love with the 70th street spot even just a little more: they have a special little lonesome table for the “just-one”-ers. Squeezed up against the window with a good view of the line for macarons and kouign amann at the bakery across the street, it’s a perfect non-awkward little spot to sit and read and eat your eggs in peace. I like going out to eat by myself, but unless there’s a bar to sit at, it can be weird. Not at the little onesie table. Scone (buttery and milky in that really proper scone way) and coffee, eggs “in camica”–two eggs baked in marinara with basil and mozz with a baguette for sauce-swiping, same thing I’ve gotten on every FH visit. After the a week of pre-dawn yoga and kids hyped up on Hannukah, oh, you have no idea the joy of a long, quiet, what’s-the-word-for-lonesome-in-a-good-way brunch.

(And I skied yesterday, so no the scone and the baguette annnnd the eggs were not overkill, OK.)

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My little spot:

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Cleanse is over, thank god. Pretty much a bust. I’m just not a cleanser. Life without real food was a very dark time. Probably my darkest time ever. Coffee-less-ness didn’t help either. All I wanted to do was  lie in bed and listen to Elliot Smith. Or eat something that had nothing to do with mung beans. First day off the cleanse, the sun came out, my legs started working again, I felt full of joy, the world was a good place once more. I stopped thinking murderous thoughts about people in cafes doing things like eating. Stopped wanting to crawl under the porch like a dying cat. I literally felt like my eyeballs could not focus properly whilst cleansing. No spare calories left for eyeballs to do things like seeing, nope. Day after cleanse: Sight. Picking up things. Running. EATING. Carbohydrates. Energy! What magic!

I have to say, I did learn one useful lesson on le cleanse: food will still be there. If you don’t follow the delicious buttery scent and walk across the street into that heavenly smelling bakery and devour a chocolate croissant RIGHT THIS INSTANT, the world will not end, and there will (most likely, you never know) be more chocolate croissants to be had. Maybe tomorrow, when you didn’t already start the day off with toaster waffles. Self-control, I think they call this.

But sometimes, it is so good to give in, to have zero will power and go ahead and get a scone caked in sugar with your coffee. To have grilled cheese sandwiches. To eat what you want.

For example: eat a ton of sushi (and two bowls of miso soup and three gallons of tea) for lunch.

Or find a good friend, grab a baguette and a half pound of prosciutto and combine all the lingering picked things and little cheese bits from your two fridges, add red wine, and devour as you plot your lives.

Or perch on the curb at the farmers market and eat a gigantic slice of just-wood-fired pizza (veggie pizza though, not the one loaded with delicious Italian meats…hello healthy eater over here.)

I am sad to say that I am about to start… a cleanse. I hate the idea of cleansing, and people who cleanse. It’s for obnoxious yogini chicks who wear mala beads and talk about chakras all the time or for fitness weirdos who get joy out of push ups. I hate it. But. I need it. I think. My intestines are telling me so. In the past few months I’ve somehow developed the oddest eating habits ever. Actually, no, they’re not that odd; all I want is bread and sugar and coffee. Specifically cinnamon rolls. From Tall Grass Bakery. So I crave that, crave that, crave that, try and be virtuous and gag down some greens, then crumble and have half a cup of nutella then just feel all remorseful about it. Not good. And I’ve convinced myself that this is not my fault, no, I do not just have the palate of an eight year-old, but there is something wrong in my organs and stuff that it making me such a crazed sugar and peanut butter hound, and once that gets all sorted out I will be back on the quinoa bandwagon. So here is me, cleansing. But I’m not about to go quietly into that dark night. No sir. My last day of real life, real, vibrant, gluten-sugar-joyous life, was amazing.

First, I woke up at 6:30 in order to be first (or second) in line a Crumble & Flake, the bakery that got a James Beard nod before it opened, that sells out before the clock strikes ten. It’s tiny and seat-less, perched up high on a hilly corner in Capitol Hill. I met my partner in pastry addiction Amanda and her energetic, adorable pup Hadrian there and we got: a cinnamon roll, an apricot blue cheese scone, a kouign amann, a macaron, a cream puff, and a huckleberry financier. Though the cinnamon rolls were touted as some of the best in the city, we had to disagree. Made of croissant-y, flaky dough. Yummy and buttery, but not warm and soft and comforting, like Wonderbread sprinkled with spice and twisted into a knot, as a cinnamon roll should really be. Scone; tiny and understandably so, as it was purely butter and sugar with maybe a tablespoon of flour to hold it together. Macaron tasted like a Pez. Financier was dreamy, the sweetness countered by the tart berries. (Plus I already love financiers and huckleberries.) A filled-to-order with banana-caramel-cream cream puff, which neither of us coulg really gag down more than a lick of, so creamy and intense. (Good, but lordy…. intense.) Kouign amann, who couldn’t love what’s basically a croissant with sugar caramelized around the outside? And coffee, at a hip little place you may have heard of.

Then lunch. Obviously I have to rid my house of anything worth eating (there are boatloats of beets and gallons of green smoothies in my future) and how else wold one do that other than eat it, really. Not too hard of a job, seeing as all there is in my fridge is ten pounds of apples, a thousand condiments, bubbly water, and a ton of fancy cheese. And then bread and tomatoes. So: blue cheese and tomato grilled cheese dipped in Sriracha ketchup.
And then just more blue–Cambazola, my love–on crackers, with honey. I am allowed to have honey on this frickin thing, thank god.


Ok, now dinner. Remember, I’m about to live on ruffage and mung beans for a couple weeks here. Randomly, Madison Park Conservatory–whose name makes you imagine white tablecloths and stodginess and is truly like a cozy delightful friend’s house, a friend who can cook–was doing 50% off everything. Say the code word and shazam, bill cut in half. So Madeline, Jessica and I toodled down to Madison Park (in the gawd awful downpour) for dinner. Bread and divine butter, the best deviled eggs ever made ever (with crab and everything good), beef tongue (as good as taco truck lengua and that is saying something) with pickled veg and awesome mustard, salads peppered with herbs and pears and giant hunks of creamy blue cheese, tagliatelle with octopus ragu (fo’ real, with aioli and cilantro, an odd and perfect counterpart), and risotto bolognese with a fried egg. Yes. Okay, yes. Bitterbitterbittersweet farewell. On cleanse I could have eaten… the greens in the salad. That is seriously it. Wah. AND. Dessert, of course. Panna cotta, OF course. With sour cherry compote. Bay leaf panna cotta, just ever so savory. And a cheese plate, a beautiful melty cow cheese, that same salty blue, a boring goat cheese, and come jams. Yum. Ran into two of my favorite fellow yoga trainees at the restaurant, which was beyond delightful. Coming from a cozy town, I miss knowing folks, and running into people in this big ol’ city is my favorite thing in the entire world.

Okay then. Goodby sweet world. I will be back in two weeks, with a revived digestive track and a hunger for bread and coffee the likes of which this world has never known.

Anna Cotta needs more people pictures:

 

Food carts. I’m kind of an undecided voter on this one. Never really SO cheap that that’s the draw… no seats… cash only… often slow. But, fun for the same reasons; funky, underground-y feeling, novel, a little bit hipsterific. I’ve been driving by this Michael’s Bibimbap place for ages and been meaning to stop and today was finally the day. Hunger and convenience and cash all came together at once.

My order: Rice, shredded carrots, zucchini, and lettuce, a big bunch of bean sprouts, some seaweed, “spicy” sauce, kim chi, bulgogi. Extra kim chi for moi (I am my father the kim chi master’s daughter, after all.) There’s one guy in there (Michael?) taking orders and whipping up b-bops for the growing line. Got mine after a few minutes and was going to take it home and eat it at a table like a civilized human, but that just seemed totally inappropriate. Instead, I plopped down on the curb and mixed it all up, as per instructions, and chowed down. Pretty good. Not nearly spicy enough. (Although I’m pretty sure I’ve demolished my spice sensors because I was at Homegrown getting my usual avocado-egg-post-horrifically-early-morning-yoga-sandwich, and realized that the habanero sauce I once daintily spread an incredibly thin little layer of, I now dunk my sandwich in like ketchup. So that’s good.) And the kim chi was very zing-less. And I wished I had chop sticks so I would feel all Korean and legit/wouldn’t eat so fast. But warm and good. After a few years of self-imposed brown rice and quinoa law, man, I forgot how freakin’ good a big ol’ scoop of sticky white rice is. And how fun it is to eat perched on a parking barrier.

 

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.

 

I want every day to be just like this Sunday: chatting with Madeline over bowls of coffee whilst picking at beautiful French pastries, waltzing down to the market, grabbing my weekly bouquet, seeking out the sunniest little tomatoes, buying a weird little heirloom melon just to have an excuse to chat with the beautiful farmers market boy about the change of the seasons, going to four hours of heartfelt yoga, then, at the end of it all, making dinner with Logan, sweet sisterfriend. I want every day to be a Sunday.

Yoga and food have been my two true loves for a while, but Yoga and I just made it official. Come May, I’ll be a real-live yoga girl, certified to teach downward doggies the world over. After a false start this January (mistakenly signed myself up for semi-hot yoga training…there’s a reason I moved away from constantly-90-degrees-Florida…) I’ve embarked upon a nine-month training adventure with my beyond-beloved studio, Yogalife. And it is great. And big. And… big! Life is full. Life is good! Life is Sundays.

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.

Comparing regular ol’ Spanish food to regular ol’ American food makes me really wonder why I live in the country that I do. What’s there to eat at an American gas station: dried out hot dogs made from unidentifiable animals, taquitos from the 1980’s, ding dongs, and slushies. (Okay, slushies… not so bad.) At Spanish truck stops: baguettes filled with jamon and chorizo, big wedges of tortilla, copas of flan, arroz con leche, steak cooked to order. And weensy bottles of wine. On the way to L’Escala (our home) from the Airport in Barcelona, Ross, Tania and I stopped and had a delightful little roadside meal full of all those sedition-inspiring things. Food in Spain is just generally good, no need to Yelp or Urban Spoon to make sure you’re not going to get a plate of overcooked pasta or a sad salad– just go to whichever restaurant is busy, full of Spaniards, and you’re sure to at the very very least get a dang good sammich made of crusty bread and some sort of cured pork product.

One day Tania and I hoofed it down into town to go to a swap-meet-Louie kind of market (espadrilles were purchased) and when hunger inevitably came, we just plopped down at a little seaside place and boom, voila, vale, here’s us with a beautiful lunch unfolding around us. To our left, an older couple, the woman with dyed red hair nursing a cocktail and the large-pusing-fat man with a glass of cava, splitting a bowl of mussels. After the moules, he got a bottle of red wine, she another cocktail, and his decadent Spanish man-lunch really began, course after course of things with shells and meats and everything arriving; he heartily enjoying, she reaching over for a dainty bite here and there. Behind us, four 70-somthing Espanolos, doing much the same; lunch and wine. So we followed suit. When in L’Escala.

First: Two glasses of cava please. The classic-for-a-reason jamon-melon deal, a pile of pan con tomat, aka bread w/the hint of a tomato smooshed around on it in the best way possible. Razor clams, which Tania had recently dug up in Massachusetts and had been dreaming of ever since, these ones bathed in olive oil. Pulpo Galecian style, chewy circles of octopus softened by a friendly relationship with that same olive oil, on top of slices of soft potato, topped with a big shake of paprika. Would you get that at some random beach restaurant in the US? No sir, you would not.

Even the grocery store: home of fresh-baked chocolate croissants and liters of fresh orange juice, a whole case of jamon, big good hunks of cheese… Dios mio. Later on in the week, a delightful beach road trip led us to some little town that I loved but can’t remember the name of because I’m a uni-langual dolt, and if it ain’t in English, I ain’t remembering it. We walked along the beach restos, picked the one with the most promising vibe, and we were rewarded with teenyweeny fried calamari, a fantastically odd salad filled with fruit and crispy jamon bits, pulpo (always the pulpo), and a sole for Ross.

Then a short walk before the mandatory ice cream stop: cinnamon-laced Catalan milky thing for Tania (the Spanish grandmother of Horchata maybe?), “cookie” for Uncle Ross (not cookie dough or cookies and cream, mind you; Spanish cookie–spelled “cockie” at one place, much to Tania and I’s delight), and for me, Maria galleta ice cream. Not something you’d find at your beachy ice cream joint at home, where there’d be a case of old ice cream sandwiches that were born around the same time as the taquitos at the gas station next door. (Although… I do love a mega-cheap ice cream thing once in a while… Choco-tacos…) So, to sum it all up. Clearly, I must move to Spain.