Thursday, December 20, 2007

Food News: Yours Truly lands a choice gig

I've been letting it sink in.

When you're applying for a job that's pretty close to your dream job it's easy to get caught up in the trying-to-get-it part, so much so that when you finally get the news, the really great news, you're a bit stunned. That part isn't as well-thought-out. It takes time to sink in.

So it's been a couple weeks and I still don't have a clever way to tell you, so here goes: I'm the new Seattle Magazine Dining Editor!

image via

I'm taking over for Sara Dickerman, an inestimably smart food writer who I suspect we'll be seeing lots of national pieces from in the near future (and by that I mean, even more than she already does). I'm honored, invigorated and, frankly, a little intimidated. It's all a great bundle of nerves and happy fear right now.

But at the core of the feeling is a thrill, and a sense of anticipation. I love writing about restaurants. I think it's what I do best. I was blessed to do it for 6+ years, here in Seattle and then in NYC (if you care, you can read more about my work experience here), and it feels really damn good to be back home and back in the game. I love food, I love cooking and I love restaurants. And I'm guessing I'm going to love this new job.

I'll be writing four restaurant pieces a month for Seattle Mag: The "feature" review, plus two short reviews and a "cheap eats" place. There are also a couple more foodie things including the a Letter From the Editor-ish piece. The bummer is that I won't be reviewing restaurants on this blog anymore. But I hope you'll follow me over there, and let me know what you think.

The first piece you'll see from me is an oyster feature in the February Issue, followed by a feature restaurant review in our March issue. Pick 'em up.

[where: 98101]

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Good Read: The Surly Gourmand reviews Quinn's

Everywhere you turn there's a review of Capital Hill's new gastropub, Quinn's. But none comes close to the quality and hilarity of the Surly Gourmand's review. Before you click, you should know that it's chock-full of, urh, colorful language.

Three choice quotes:

No one ever asks me before they open a business in this town. If they did I would have said “No gastropubs because they’re for yuppie douche bags. Now make out with your twin sister and let me videotape it.” But they opened Quinn’s anyway.

...So we had to order something more substantial. Like the brandade ($7). Brandade (not to be confused with a Band- Aid) is mashed salt cod. Sometimes it’s mashed with potatoes. Sometimes not. Quinn’s version was combined with potatoes and lots of rosemary. The salt cod adds a rich pelagic essence to the potatoes, and while it does taste fishy, the fishiness is muted and distant and salty, like a sea breeze. Damn tasty. The brandade was served with a plate of Quinn’s house made potato chips. These were a fucking revelation: easily the best chips I’ve ever eaten in my life, and I’ve been pretty stoned.

Some of the menu items are REALLY good, but others are as lame as someone who admits they own a Labradoodle. If you live on Capitol Hill and can stand the idea of eating at a gastropub, go to Quinn’s. But don’t go now: wait a couple of weeks until after the hipsters and “foodies” (AKA bored old people) have gotten over this place and you can actually get a table.

I'm his new #1 fan. Read it and laugh, fellow "bored old people."

[where: 98122]

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Good Read: Steven Rinella on hunting

I literally got chills reading this NY Times Op-Ed on hunting wild game. It explores the obvious yet completely ignored relationship between "eating local" and hunting.

A couple of choice quotes.

EVERY year, 15 million licensed hunters head into America’s forests and fields in search of wild game. In New York State alone, roughly half a million hunters harvest around 190,000 deer in the fall deer hunting season — that’s close to eight million pounds of venison. In the traditional vernacular, we’d call that “game meat.” But, in keeping with the times, it might be better to relabel it as free-range, grass-fed, organic, locally produced, locally harvested, sustainable, native, low-stress, low-impact, humanely slaughtered meat.

...the literature of localism neglects the management and harvest of wildlife. This is a shame, because hunters are the original locavores. When I was growing up in Michigan, my family ate three or four deer every year, along with rabbits, squirrel, ducks and grouse that were harvested mostly within eight miles of our house.

I wholeheartedly agree.

RELATED: Killing Chickens, or Where Food Comes From

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Good Read: Chowhounders on Seattle's most touristy resto

There's a funny discussion going on over at Chowhound --people are nominating Seattle's most touristy, overrated restaurants. So far the nominees are the Crab Pot, Salty's, The Space Needle Restaurant, Cheesecake Factory and Palisade. No surprises there.

I think the even funnier question is: What cheeseball tourist restaurant do you actually sometimes go to?

When I was living in NYC, my friend Beth took our friend Doug to the Olive Garden as a joke "thank you" for helping her move. It was actually a pretty hilarious meal. I learned alot! Like, did you know that the Olive Garden garnishes their Bloody Marys with salami?

I loved it, but since I was there with vegetarians I found this detail particularly great. The Olive Garden powers-that-be assume that everyone eats meat. And you know, within their target demographic, it's probably a pretty safe assumption.

Because it's obviously not the locals keeping the Chelsea Olive Garden alive. Nah, if a local is there it's because they're either trying to assuage homesickness (when going home to visit the fam in Cleveland isn't in the budget), as a guilty pleasure, or as a joke.

So which restaurant do you secretly go to when no one's watching? For my family it's always been the Spaghetti Factory. I know, I know, but we're sharing embarrassing restaurants/foods we like, right? So don't make fun of me, but...

...mine is the spaghetti with browned butter and myzithra cheese at the Spag Fag. That stuff is pretty damn good.

[where: 98101]

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Good Read: Tea on soba for sickies

At the risk of sounding like I'm out of it or have bad taste or whatever, I'll admit it: I love the pho at the purple Pho Bac on Jackson. Before you get started telling me there's better pho, I get it. I've heard it. But for personal reasons, that's where I go to get pho, especially when I'm sick with something cold/sinus/sniffle related.

The personal reason is this: When I was in seventh grade my English teacher took us there for lunch during a field trip. Can you even imagine? Taking assy 13 year olds to try something not only new, but vastly new? I mean, they put the meat in the bowl raw and it cooks in the broth. This is not an experience for the food babies this country has been raising for the last 60 years. And of course my whole class was all "oh my GAHD gross" while I secretly loved it.

So maybe out of respect for my teacher and her impressive balls (you know, for a girl), I still go there. It's one of the first places I took Ed when he came to meet my family, and I loved him for loving it (for the record, Ed gets the well-done brisket and I get the round steak. mmmm.)

I'm rambling on this topic because Tea Austen Weaver got me thinking with her soba sick dish, a steaming bowl of soba noodles with baby bok choy and a soft-boiled egg.

Being sick isn't so bad when you get to eat like that.

Pho Bac in Seattle

[where: 98118]

Monday, December 10, 2007

Eating Seattle: Vote for local food blogs

Three Seattle-based food blogs are nominated this year for Well Fed Network's Food Blog Awards. Nope, not us, but you can't win 'em all.

Here's are your local nominees:

Hogwash, which is nominated for Best New Food Blog

Orangette, nominated for Best Post for this post about her wedding.

And Gluten-Free Girl, who's nominated for Best Post for this post on Celiac Disease, and for Best Writing, and for Food Blog of the Year!!

Congrats on the nominations, ladies.

Eating Vicariously: 2nd Ave Deli reopens in NYC

You can't throw a bad Seattle bagel without hitting a local foodie bitching about the lack of good deli in Seattle.

2nd Ave Deli's broiled chicken livers and onions, via nycnosh

And they're right, of course. But it's about more than just having a place to feast on stuffed cabbage and knishes; deli is about attitude. This interview with Jeremy Lebewohl, who's reopening New York's best deli, sums it up nicely.

Sour or half-sour?
What kinda question is that? Sour!

Considering all that, is this a good deli moment?
People have asked me, “Do you think opening up a deli filled with fatty foods is a smart thing to do in modern times, when people are on diets and eating tossed salads and all this type of stuff?” I happen to think that now is the perfect climate. If you go to a lot of in-vogue restaurants, you’re going to see pork belly, and barbecue is back in a big way. Food tastes move in cycles. When I was a kid, in my house, in all my friends’ houses, there were all kinds of cookies and Entenmann’s cake and bags of potato chips. That’s what you ate. Then all of a sudden, God forbid you eat anything but a Diet Coke and maybe a crouton if you’re lucky. That’s not the way to live.


NY Mag on the reopening of 2nd Ave Deli

[where: 10016]

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Well Fed Networks annual food blog awards

How nice is it to wake up to the news that your blog has been nominated for a Well Fed Networks food blog award by a person whose blog deserves an award even more?

It's pretty damn nice. Thanks, Dana.

Many other local blogs have been nominated (including Hogwash, Orangette, Gluten-Free Girl and Roots & Grubs), so, if you're feeling inclined, support local independent food writers: voting starts today!

Bonus: Check out the Strangercrombie auction for Dana's Year of Desserts here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Foodie Holiday: Gifts for food obsessives

Andrea Strong, God bless her, did what I would not want to do and came up with some pretty good gift ideas for food nerds, star chef-f*ers, and your uncle Ron who thinks his baked brie appetizer is the ultimate uber gourmet horsey doover.

So, you know, worth a look. Me, I like to keep it a little closer to home. A pound of Pete's Perfect Toffee (or you know, two pounds would be ok too) from the Ballard Farmers Market would do me just fine.

Food News: Where's Viv?

When I moved back to Seattle and started re-engaging with the food scene here a year ago, the best part was discovering fresh, new, sometimes-offbeat food personalities, especially among the bloggers. There are so few "official" outlets for food writers in Seattle, so it's fun to see the range of talent among the "unofficial" food writing community. And Viv, aka Seattle Bon Vivant, was one of my favorites.

Viv's shoes, via her moblog

But I started noticing--sometime in August--that Viv's posts were thinning out. There were just two posts that month. September brought just one (which, compared to the 19 posts she made during Sept. 2006, is quite a change of pace).

And then in October? Nothing. November? Again, nada. Seattle Bon Vivant has been stagnant for three months now.

The good news is, she's still taking photos. And they're seriously good photos (take a look at these first pics of Txori Bar). She's blogging on her photos, which is fun and probably a lot less trouble than blogging on her blog and then adding photos to her posts.

But I still miss her posts, don't you?

[where: 98101]

Monday, December 3, 2007

Food News: Wild Salmon to close

When Jeffrey Chodorow brought former Ray's chef Charlie Ramsayer to NYC to head a "NW-style seafood restaurant" I had my doubts. When I found out it was in a space that housed two other failed restaurants in my three years in NYC, well, I had a feeling it might be doomed.

Now comes the news on Eater that the hammer has dropped. Wild Salmon will close on New Years Day, after less than a year in business. Ouch.

So what do you think: Will Ramsayer return to Seattle or stay in the Big Apple?

RELATED: Pacific NW Roadshow and Bruni Reviews Wild Salmon

[where: 10017]

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Food News: How to Cook a Wolf open

image via NOAA

5pm-12am Thu-Mon
What Looks Good:
ahi crudo with chilies and lime
spaghetti with garlic, chilies and shaved tuna loin
hard boild eggs with anchovy mayo
How to Cook a Wolf
2208 Queen Anne Ave N (directly across the street from Ladro)

RELATED: Restaurants Opening All Over Town

[where: 98109]