Archives for posts with tag: seattle

Granola is such a big part of my life these days. I’ve always been a little bit of a breakfast routine freak (the year of the poached egg and avocado toast combo) and I have to say it has definitely gotten worse. There’s room for variation in the toast-egg equation, but now it’s plain Trader Joe’s Euro-style yogurt (with one big scoop of Greek yogurt), a big dust of cinnamon, half an apple, chopped up, and a giant happy heaping handful of Laura & Anne’s World Famous Granola. Laura is my lovely roommate, and though she’s got a lot going for her (she bakes muffins a whole lot…), the best thing about her is that she taught me to make granola. Not just regular ol’ hippie-nickname granola, the best granola. Ever. We have good times playing with the recipe, adding extra nut butter when we’re feeling rebellious, extra maple syrup when we’re feeling decadent. (We live large over here in Magnolia.) And we’re both total addicts. Wake up: granola. Home from work: granola. Dessert: granola. It’s that good. And no, I will never give anyone the recipe, because my back-up plan for life is to sell granola at the farmers’ market. So a delightful Seattle Sunday for a kinda lazy homebody: go to yoga, bake granola, do laundry, go for a walk and take pictures of flowers in the last little bits of sun.

This batch: almonds (chopped annnd slivered), pecans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, magic, joy, bliss, sunshine, cranberries and cherries.

It was surprisingly sunshiney on Sunday, and I know I’ve talked about this many a time, but sunshine here in the forsaken Northwest is about eighty million times more blissful than sunshine in Florida or other, more Vitamin D-blessed, places. When it’s sunny I feel like I have to rush outside as fast as possible and soak all the goodness into my light-starved little self. Which is great, except that it keeps on being sunny every single afternoon (after the bleakest mornings that ever existed) and sometimes I would like to just lie on the couch and watch Freaks and Geeks without having the sun creep in on me, making me feel guilty. So, Sunday, I kind of wanted to read magazines and eat granola… but the sunshine guilted me I brought out the ol’ camera and romped around the (very hilly) ‘hood for an hour or so, taking pictures of flowers. As the cool kids do.

Dried out cherry blossoms, pre-walk:

New perky cherry blossoms, post-walk:

Last night I finally, finally, finally went to The Walrus and the Carpenter, after pining for the place for truly almost a year. Beautiful Ballard oyster bar, tucked behind Staple and Fancy and a bike-slash-coffee shop. Went with my dear new friend Madeline, a smart oyster-loving gal with a bourbon drink named after her. We kicked things off with a dozen oysters, all tiny and perfect and tasting of the not-so-faraway sea.

Four each: kusshi, malispina, and effingham. From not-so-briny, small and soft, to big, brackish, and just chewy enough. Shallot vinaigrette or fresh horseradish (or nothing at all) on top. Delight. We slowly ate them, savoring and discussing the goodness, making it all the better. (And deriding those who have dismissed the oyster…)

After the oysters, duck prosciutto with pickled huckleberries. You had me at duck, you really had me at prosciutto, you really truly had me with huckleberries, the sweet gem-berries of my homeland. See-thru-thin prosciutto, bright sweet berries; a great earthy counter to the icy oysters. Then a mound of swiss chard marinated in lemon and mingled with feta, topped with a soft sunnyside egg. Hearty in the exact right way. Then the very best bit of all: white anchovy tartine. What is tartine? We don’t know. A baked thingy? Anne suggests. The toast and jam French kids eat every morning? says Madeline. Yes, toast. Thinnest of the thin rye toast, with a slab of butter (served like cheese– see, I’ve been saying butter is a cheese and should be eaten in quantities as such all along), one perfect anchovy, more of that buzzing fresh horseradish, and a few glowing orbs of salmon roe. Pure Scandinavian-ish bliss.

And long, leisurely savoring and sharing of it all, chatting with our Vancouver table-neighbors about the restaurants I loved (and the ones I sadly missed out on). Chatting about the weird girly joy of putting dry goods in mason jars and being poetry-reading college students and all the good things we love to cook and eat and share.

It seems like a good many of my posts are half about food, half about loving food and loving people and loving eating with those people. Which is kind of the more important part anyway. Food is great, people are better. At the magazine we have a grammatical policy of referring to restaurants as singular (Canlis’ new pastry chef, not their new pastry chef) and that just feels a little odd to me. Plates don’t materialize from some mystical place, they aren’t brought to the table by some silent force, the whole thing isn’t a self-sustaining concept–-a restaurant is a big bunch of people making something happen. And we’re a big bunch of people enjoying it. In my interdisciplinary degree-carrying way, I’m finding myself more interested in the spaces between us and food, in the ways that we understand food and invite it into our lives, than just the food or the eater itself.

Ideal overcast Sunday: up early-ish, yogurt and almond butter (breakfast part 1), “yoga church” with dear roommate-friend Laura, back home for breakfast part 2 (raisin toast with cream cheese), and a walk across the locks to the Ballard Market. Plus a stop at Cafe Besalu, Seattle’s beloved (and packed) French patisserie. Line out the door, beautiful buttery scent out the door. Just this morning I’d been telling Laura about the tragic scarcity of orange rolls in this world (craving sparked by Saveur) and whaddyaknow, there in the blessed Besalu case, orange brioche. Aka, extra eggy, extra good orange rolls. And there’s breakfast part 3: americano and half an orange roll.

Then on down to the market, where I tried every single sample. Ballard Market has a freakishly high/great percentage of sample-doling vendors. Anne ate: apples, pears, kim chi, sauerkraut carrots, gingerbread caramels, absinthe caramels, chocolate-covered toffee pretzels (really), salmon jerky, muesli, the best $12 strawberry jam on earth, camembert, cheddar, and some picked salmon. Yes. Breakfast part 4: shmorgasbord.

TEMPTING:

Everyone was parked on the curb, eating folded-over wood fired pizza slices, making me envious. But I somehow managed to resist, saving myself for the best “quesadilla” of my young life. A gigantic heap of hearty, winter market-y vegetables (think dark green kale and bright ruby beets) steaming on a hot hot grill, ready to be folded into a tortilla with just enough cheese and topped with spoonful upon spoonful of tomatillo salsa. Yes. Went home full and happy with half a pound of adorable teensy brussel sprouts, a hunk of smoked salmon, some fresh fettuccine (…and a new Kavu jacket.)

Unrelated but kinda related: Lately I have been feeling… inspired. (For lack of a more inspired word word.) I have been reading lots of fantastic blogs (Orangette, Sweet Amandine, Wednesday Chef, Hungry Ghost, An Apple A Day… if you’re bored too) and magazines (Lucky Peach, Kinfolk, The Art of Eating) and feeling like there are two million things I want to do: flower arranging (no, seriously), traveling, photographing, selling orange rolls at the market, writing, eating, cooking, baking, studying critical theory, gardening, editing cookbooks, eating, reading, eating. Thrilling! Possibilities are thrilling.

Every morning I walk through Pike Place Market. I will never stop loving Pike Place Market, nor will I ever give up calling it Pike’s like a spacey tourist. I arrive on bus 31 at 3rd and Pine at 8:16, which leaves me 14 minutes to walk to 1201 Western Ave, Seattle Met HQ, 6 blocks away. I hustle past the closed shops on Pine and the just-waking homeless, racing down toward Puget Sound so I can go slowly through the barely roused market. I pass by the guy with the “Old Hippies Need Love Too” sign and exchange routine nods and clomp down that last little steep pitch past Sur La Table and Beechers, peeking into both. Some mornings I see the white-jacketed staff of Marche prepping in their big kitchen, quietly looking over long lists, clearly appreciating the rarity of silence in that space. Then I’m on down that little strip of shops on the left of the market; the Chinese steamed bun place, the tiny old couple already there rolling dough; the pastry shop whose windows are filled with croissants and baguettes, leaving only a tiny hole for the vendor’s face; the cinnamon-heavy bakery whose blueberry bran muffins I cannot resist. I continue South, muffin in hand, crossing paths with this dapper old man who is always, always there, nodding to his market friends, hands in the pockets of his khaki overcoat. Sometimes I pop into the market proper, the covered space that becomes packed pandemonium on a summer Sunday. The fish is coming in, their shiny bodies getting re-situated in new ice, their glassy eyes all lined up, their mouths gaping, showing their odd little fish teeth. The dried flower ladies arrive around the same time as me, announced by their rustling as they move box after box of dyed-purple thistles and silver spray-painted wheat in from vans. 8:25, I walk back up to 1st. Past the tacky T-shirt shops, past the Four Seasons, past Frans and their worth-three-dollar dark chocolate almonds, past SAM and the hammering man I remember thinking was Paul Bunyan. Turn right where University ends, trot down the Harbor Steps, look at myself in the vacant storefront windows on the corner, watch everyone else look at themselves in the window, lust after the candlesticks in Liave, pull open the very big front doors, click across the lobby, catch the elevator, wonder whats on the key-holder-only 7th floor, get off at the 4th, say “Good Morning” and try not to yawn, walk past the food critic’s office, feel full of job envy, and there I am, at my very own desk, with my mason jar of pistachios and tacked-up picture of me and my mom and dad.

P.S. I am a tiny bit proud: read my restaurant post on the Seattle Met food blog.

I did some serious lunch-ing this week. Little Uncle on Wednesday, then Bitterroot BBQ on Thursday (which was photographically neglected… return visit necessary) and Le Pichet today. After reading and reading about Bitterroot’s opening (and hungrily mentioning it a bajillion times in Met blog posts) I had to go. Met with a sweet new friend for a light lunch of: buffalo chicken livers, kale, cornbread, and a half rack a’ ribs. Lawdy. I thought I had experienced good barbeque in my quasi-Southern Florida life, but no. Nope. This was a whole world better. The chicken livers were… buffalo wings but with livers instead of wings. Crispy, spicy. Countered with a delightfully dressed little mini-salad of bright greens and lemony mayo-ish dressing. Then the kale, always a winner. With bacon, double winner. And… I have such a gigantic soft spot for cornbread. I crave it every time I think of it. During the snowstorm that forced us all inside to stuff ourselves, I used a half-cup of chili as an excuse to eat about six cornbread muffins. Cornbread, my sweet. And then the crowning glory of our ladylike lunch: RIBS. Oh; yes. I am kind of getting the food equivalent of misty nostalgia about them, just a day later. Caramelized to a crunchy, maple-y crust on the outside, incredibly tender and rich and mmm-I-can’t-even-think-of-a-good-enough-word on the inside. We both kind of did a how-can-that-taste-that-good double take, then polished ’em off. The waitress kept trying to take our bone-strewn tray away, but we shooed her off till we gnawed off every little rib remnant, talking about restaurants and food and all the while. Then I went to yoga and spent the entire class wondering if I could maybe go back to Bitterroot for dinner.

Then today: Le Pichet, the 1st Ave cousin of Cafe Presse, home to the best omelet in the city. The two other new-girl interns and I decided it was high time we all had lunch together. Plus, we’re all January babies, so we had to celebrate. So up to Pichet we trekked, taking a place at a sunny little table in the sweetly bustling and surprisingly truly Paris-y little cafe.

Thankfully, all of us are sharers, so I didn’t have to go through the agony of choosing one little thing off the menu. For us three workin'(ish… if you aren’t paid can it count as work?) girls: calamari, pork belly, and a charcuterie plate. The calamari, light and airy and one of my favorite things on earth, atop its opposite, the earthy lentil, all lightened by lemon. Pork belly, cooked into crispiness, set atop a haystack of bright celery root, squash, and greens. Then the charcuterie, all delicious, especially the terrines and pates. Smooshed onto slices of delightfully airy white baguette (…with butter). And then a roasted pear brioche, to cap it off. Obviously.

Jessie and Amanda, my intern compatriots, in blurry form.

I have been dreaming of Revel for a long, long time. I read about it in my usual pre-move restaurant lurk session; I read about it almost every day in my perusing of all things Seattle food while being an intern. Best Restaurant, Best New Restaurant, Best Dish. I wanted it. Dumplings, rice bowls, noodles, savory pancakes, KIMCHI. Yes. I needed it. I finally had it. Genia (my foodie sidekick) very sweetly took me out for a night-before-birthday dinner. (Food is the best gift.) Too scared of the icy hills to drive, we bus-trekked from our respective neighborhoods through the snowy “wonderland” that is slush-and-ice-plagued Seattle all the way to Fremont to get ourselves some Korean fusion.

First off: the corned lamb salad, which I never would have normally ordered (especially when there’s salad nicoise up for grabs…) but I saw about ten go out while I read the menu, and they looked dang good. Leftover steak salad’s swanky cousin. Mizuna, see-through thin radishes, falling-apart-tender salty corned lamb, and really really spicy hot dressing. By really spicy hot I mean straight chopped little green chilies hot. By really hot I mean G had to ask for a glass of milk hot. By really hot I mean my Sriracha-loving self was feeling the burn hot. Hot. (But in a good way.)

Then the shrimp and bacon dumplings, which I had dreamed of most (shrimp dumplings are my number one favorite dim sum item) were sadly the least interesting. Just dumplings. Good, not great, Genia and I decided. But next up the mussel pancake, with fennel and coconut. Sounds funky, was delicious. Salty, crispy, sea-y. With the tangy pickled fennel, yeah.

Then the rice bowl: white rice topped with spicy kimchi-ed daikon, lemony greens, and heaven-sent short ribs. Genia and I agreed white rice is such a simple, delicious treat (since we force ourselves to love brown rice the rest of the time.) The daikon was cruncy, the short ribs were killer, the greens were a welcome change from the fried goodness. Topped with little spoonfuls of all the condiments–ginger soy sauce, spicy fish sauce, chili sauce, red bean paste.

Then, stuffed, we debated dessert, coming to the obvious conclusion: Yes. And soon a sweet little bell jar was in our lives: red velvet cheese cake, made pink and earthy with beets, nestled in a crumbly walnut crust. “Really too full for dessert” thoughts faded away quickly. Sweetness. I am developing a terrible sweet tooth. Last weekend I had a cinnamon roll and a waffle for brunch. I cannot stop buying Trader Joe’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups. I walk by the Pike Place muffin guy every morning on the way to work and just “have” to buy a muffin. And to top off all this sweetness in my world, Genia gave me a packet of dark chocolate Tim Tams, sweet sweet Aussie gold. And just a little more sweetness, my sweet new roommate Laura baked me a carrot cake birthday cake, topped with almond flowers. Sweetness abounds.

Since Seattle has pretty much stopped functioning with the snow, I was misled by bus schedules and after dinner I found myself waiting for a bus that would never come. So I tromped on home, over the river and through the woods, up a lot of hills and through a lot of slush puddles, thankful for my Idahoan blood. The walk was sweet in its own way–there’s that weird lovely pink snow-glow outside and everyone has their makeshift sleds out, careening down the closed streets. And pretty train track shadows:

I’m milking the “new in town” angle before the “I’m a poor intern” reality sets in, and went out for lunch and dinner yesterday. Lunch at Homegrown after yoga and before nannying in Queen Anne (which is becoming my favorite ‘hood) and dinner at much-hyped Bar del Corso with much-missed Genia in Beacon Hill. It was pouring (not raining, POURING) all day, and I was starving after yoga, and as luck would have it, Homegrown was right across the street. Meant to be. Got an avocado breakfast sandwich: grainy whole wheat bun, habanero sauce (pow!), greens, avocado, and a fried egg. Good choice. Spicy, salty. Yolky. Yummy.

Then a few hours playing with my 2 little charges (You can call me Nanny Annie) and their new favorite thing (…and my new favorite thing) in the whole wide world:

Then later on to Bar del Corso. In preparation for interning at Seattle Met, I’ve been doing Seattle food scene research, and everyone is all about Bar del Corso. So we trekked on down to Beacon Hill to see what it’s all about. It is so nice to have foodie friends, friends who get equally jittery about the prospect of a good meal. We arrived to a full-ish restaurant, full for a Wednesday night, and took a couple spots at the par, peeking over into the small open kitchen.

We ordered one of the irresistible specials: deep-fried roman artichoke, then grilled octopus and the requisite margherita pizza. Artichoke… deep-fried, elevated. Crispy leaves made into arti-chips, the heart salty and soft. The octopus was smoky and not chewy, the twirly little tentacles atop a generous handful of warm peperonata, which I of course schmeared on the crusty white bread with joy.

Soon our pizza arrived: thin thin thin, chewy, and charred. That dreamy light sauce made milky by mozzarella. Just enough wrinkled basil. Mmm. I ate my half before Genia even finished her first modest slice. And then, in celebration of Genia’s return from Auz and my relocation and really just becasue we wanted it: buttermilk panna cotta with huckleberry compote. I have a special warm little place in my heart for: A. panna cotta, B. huckleberries. Served simply in a little bowl, with just a touch of buttermilk tang and that special huckleberry magic of sunshine and Idaho mountains and achy backs and stained fingers from a long day picking.

I haven’t touched a camera in weeks. Whoops. So here’s a nice cameraphone post.

First off, ciao Florida. No more oranges and sunshine. Happy to be home, sad to go. Leaving contributed to non-posting… I was on the “use-all-the-weird-stuff-thats-been-siting-around-all-semester” diet. (aka pasta and frozen waffles… aka not the most thrilling blog material. Although we did have pumpkin pancakes with some of the pounds and gallons of pumpkin I’d apparently been hoarding since Thanksgiving season.) Then off to Seattle, where I did not go to Pike’s Place for the first time ever! I think that means my tourist status is wearing off. Much sushi and Trader Joes goodness and the traditional Asian lunches with Genia. First, Thai, in a cute little basement Thai spot off the Ave. Tofu pad thai and pork ramen. All good. We were in there for kind of a late-ish lunch, and after everyone but us left, the employees set up for their own family meal lunch…and my curiosity set in and I couldn’t resist asking all about the weird and amazingly tasty looking things they were devouring. Especially this fresh bright chopped salad… “That must be some lovely super authentic Thai spring salad,” I thought. “Oh, that’s Mexican!” they explained, and gave us each big flat tortillas topped with a sweet (and spicy, according to Genia) salsa of avocados and cabbage and mango and everything good. (And coconut water! Yum.)

Then Pho, on the Ave. Gigantic steaming bowls of rich broth chock-a-bloack full of noodles and topped with thinly sliced steak, cooked by the heat of the soup. A cool little joint with menus inside the tables, practically no decorations, and packed with people happily and completely ungracefully eating Pho. Plus…cream puffs.

Then wandering around Queen Anne with dear Logan and the boy she nannies, who happens to be the most adorable thing on earth, wistfully looking into cupcake shop windows but satisfying ourselves with bagels and lox. And many many samples of creamy herbed butter, swabbed onto bread like cheese at a cute little pasta shop.

Then home! Home to Idaho, to Moscow, for a big warm good meal at beloved ol’ Nectar. Honey and cheese (not surprisingly…turns out brie and honey are angelic together) then salads, then creamy spring pasta dotted with peas for Ma, clams for Pa, and meatballs and pizza for A. Then pizza with leftover meatball marinara on top… then bread with marinara… then practically an entire loaf of bread, dunked into the clam sauce. Then a very full walk home, to my own cozy house with my own cozy family!


Pike Place post number 3! Slowly morphing this here blog into a blog solely about tacos and markets. Not such a bad thing, I’d say. Anyway, Pike Place. It’s a nice place. It is chock-a-freaking-block full of turistas, but I still love it. I wondered if it’s indeed 100% gawkers, taking photos of Washington apples and buying smoked salmon and novelty umbrellas, but Daddy-o said he used to actually shop at the market (like, you know, for food) when he was a Seattlite. I know if I’d lived nearby I’d be Pike Place-ing it like mad. Even if only for the witty banter and overpriced sugared cashews…

I sort of can’t remember what this is of exactly, but I know it’s somewhere in Pike Place (…because I only took pictures there…didn’t do such a good job documenting this trip.)

Produce! Wahoo!

Brisk (aka mean) Queen of sugary nuts. (But they were darn good. Except the “Banana Walnuts,” ew, totally gross. Cinnamony, coated in big chunks of sugar hazelnuts though? Yes plz.)

Markets are inarguably my favorite places on earth. They always revive my love for humanity. The best pictures I’ve ever taken have been at markets. My most dear possessions are from markets. I cannot resist a market, nor can I resist buying things at markets. Which left me walking around Seattle in the rain with a pound of cherries, two pears, a navel orange, and an irrationally large bag of cinnamon. I like talking to people, to strangers really, and what better way to start chatting than to take a slice of the offered pear, professed to be the best in the land, or ask to take a picture of the harried men setting out shrimp cocktails for the mobs?

I chatted with a fishmonger, he leaning over his cold glass case, me reaching up on my tiptoes to show him my camera. He had the same Nikomat in high school, lugged around the same seven pound camera as my grandpa, my dad, and I. He asked if I developed my own film, and when  admitted that I preferred color, he nodded in agreement and handed me a bite of crab, winking and returning his attention to the masses of tourists clamoring for a bite of fish. Twenty meters down the market, a properly bearded young produce-selling hipster held a pear and a knife, ready to dole out a sample.

Two slices of pear later, I was being fed a chunk of heirloom navel orange and half a fig, commiserating about the annoying, pushy, photo-snapping tourists (one of which  I of course was, but somehow pretended not to be.) A momentary friendship later, I had a bag of oranges and pears and a few pictures. Twenty more meters later, I was drawn in by the plastic lizard menacingly devouring brussel sprouts in the display. Two minutes later, I was trying olive oils and buying cherries. I love markets. I get to buy things and banter with strangers and take pictures, for the price of a couple pieces of perfect fruit.