Monday, December 22, 2008

Eating In: Moose Stew (yes, really), Potato Bread, etc

I haven't felt this relaxed in years.

The snow has forced me to stop all the running around, all the furious "I've gotta do this" and "I'd better do that" and just enjoy my house, my yard, my dog, my kid and my snowshoes. It feels like the life I've always imagined people in small towns live. It's just not my nature to sit still, but the snow if forcing it, and I'm completely digging it.

I'm also going nutso in the kitchen. Yesterday, after snow-shoeing over to my parents house with Ruby in the backpack, I cooked up a batch of those no-bake chocolate-peanut butter-oatmeal cookies I remembered my mom baking us when we were little. My sister's 4-year old son, Zach, helped out. It took all of 10 minutes to make enough for days!

But really, the most exciting part of the weekend, cooking-wise, was making the moose stew last night.

Yep--it's made with real moose meat from a moose my dad and uncle got this past October in New Hampshire. Since my uncle lives out there, he's doling out the meat in small batches (for shipping cost reasons, I guess), but since my dad knows Ed and I love wild game (and honestly, we're really the only ones who'd go to the trouble of making a braised shoulder, or slow-cooked stew), we were gifted some stew meat and some sirloin, which went into the stew last night.

I usually cook all my stews in two steps: First, you brown the meat, slow-cook it in some wine/water/broth/herbs/onion-carrot-celery/bay leaves for a couple of hours. Everything but the meat and broth will eventually get tossed out, since the veggies become mush. This step is all about making a really yummy broth and tender, yummy meat. What I do is strain the broth into a big bowl and pick the meat out of the colander, and then return the broth and meat back into the pot. You'll see that the veggies are worthless, but if you're hungry you can salt the veggies left in the colander and snack on 'em, or make baby food with 'em.

Second, you prepare the veggies you'll actually eat in the stew, and I usually do these in steps in a separate pan, coq au vin-style. So last night I cut up a couple of russet potatoes, seasoned them with salt and pepper, and fried them up in a nonstick pan with a little olive oil until still al dente but nice and golden brown, then I put them in a bowl on the side. Next I seared my mushroom quarters in butter with fresh thyme and rosemary, then added them to the potatoes. Then the same with some hunked carrots and large-chopped onions. Cooking on med-high heat the whole time, you're really just getting some color on the veggies. Finally, you put all the veg in with the meat/broth and let it simmer for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes and carrots are tender.

I finished my stew with fresh cream and lots of black pepper and some chopped Italian parsley. It was divine.

We ate it with buttered potato bread, which Ed had made the day before. Head over here for the recipe for that easy, incredibly good bread. Unlike the moose stew, you probably have all the ingredients for the bread in the house already.

What are you cooking in this incredibly snowy weather?

[where: 98118]

Friday, December 19, 2008

Eating Seattle: Farmers Markets, Open vs Shut

I can't believe it, but the University Farmers market is going to be up and running tomorrow at the crack of 9am! I knew farming was a game for the hard-nosed, hardy type, but holy cannoli people! Driving from Carnation to Seattle to sell us snow wussies a pot or two of jam? I'm impressed.

UPDATE: Chris Curtis emailed and gave me some specifics. Get all the info over here.

[where: 981o1]

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Eating NYC: Reports from Momofuku Ssam, Tailor, more

I'm plain tired of traveling. I know, I should just zip it. After all, it's pretty gloomy outside right now, and NYC was gloriously sunny and chilly. I don't want to make you cry, but we even got SNOW during our 3-night trip. The Gods were smiling on us.

But now I'm just full. And tired. So please, do me a favor and head over to read a little about my trip (and what I ate) at the Seattle Mag blog. I'll be back. After a nap.

[where: 98101]

Monday, December 1, 2008

Eating Detroit: A report from Rock City

We're back in town for a few days before making another trip: This time, we're heading back to NYC for the first time in two years! Got recommendations for me? Send 'em. We've only got one night undecided at this point--figuring a walk-in at Gramercy Tavern or Babbo, although Corton (Paul Liebrandt's newest) is compelling. Lunches, tho, are relatively wide open.

Otherwise, head over to my Seattle Mag blog to read about everything we ate during our trip to Detroit. Includes one Iron Chef and one local bbq joint.

[where: 98101]

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Turkey Day Leftovers

We're flying to 36 (but feels like 24) degree Detroit Rock City tomorrow for Thanksgiving, which, sadly, means no Thanksgiving at our house.

We'll be doing a little cooking though, since we'd feel like we didn't really get to have a Thanksgiving if we didn't get to participate.

And I'll probably make my way into the kitchen to come up with some mushroom pate too, since it's the best thing in the entire world.

Anyhoo, since we're kind of half-assing things this year, I thought I'd just own it and pull the lamest of lame blogger tricks: I'm sending you back to the posts of yesteryear.

Perhaps you'll pour yourself a nice glass of whatever tickles your fancy and read about our feast from last year.

Or join me in my cheese consumption by watching this masterpiece.

Or, lastly, this post, in which I basically call my parents bad cooks and claim to be a martian from a foodie planet far, far away. See how ungrateful I am? Don't be like that. 'Tis the season to be thankful for what you've got. And you--you incredibly good looking devil you...

Well, you've got a lot to be grateful for. Happy Turkey Day.

[where: 98101]

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Best Thing You Ate All Year

I don't think it's letting the cat too far out of the bag to tell you that our April Seattle Magazine issue is our Best Restaurants issue. The thing that might surprise you is that I'm already knee-socks deep in the planning (and EATING) that goes into that issue.

We actually started talking about the issue in September, and so far I've been to handfuls of older restaurants to check out which ones are worth including in the issue. We always cover new restaurants, and since those are so fresh in my mind, that part's usually a cinch.

The tricky part comes in choosing the best restaurants that aren't new. Many of Seattle's best restaurants are 5, 10, 15+ years old, but a girl can only eat out so often. Yep, even a "food editor" has geographic and gastronomic limitations. I'm not saying I have foods I won't eat; I'm game, so that's never really been an issue for me. The real issue comes in having the time to eat everything I want to eat, in neighborhoods that might be 45+ minutes from my home while still, you know, working and keeping clean clothes on my kid's back. In the course of a year I eat in an embarrassing number of great (and not-even-close-to-great) restaurants, but by the time the Best Restaurants issue comes around again, my knowledge is already 6 months, 9 months, a year old or older. So you see the problem here.

So here's where you all come in: Tell me the ONE single best thing you tasted all year. It doesn't have to be fancy. In fact, most of the time the tastes that linger for me aren't fancy at all.

the awesome fig tart at Columbia City Bakery...the best thing YOU ate all year?

There's a Calvin Trillin quote that I've always liked. He wrote that, whenever he'd ask strangers in a strange city for restaurant recommendations, he'd always say something like, "Don't give me the name of the rotating-continental-restaurant-in-the-sky, tell me the first place you'd eat when you just got home from war." THAT's what I'm looking for. The one dish you crave constantly.
Please leave your ideas in the comments. And thanks.

Monday, November 10, 2008

End of autumn, in pictures

The sun surprised me today, so I took a walk up to Columbia City to grab a coffee and get the dog out of the house. Took the camera, too, and shot some pretty pictures along the way...

La Medusa, oldie but great-y

[where: 98118]

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Food News: Five new pizza places

Hi y'all
Been a fun couple of weeks. I've been eating my way through the city--Le Pichet last week (that place is just so right--terrific food, easy atmosphere), Matt's in the Market a couple weeks back (still great, although one of the chefs is finishing sauces with way too much lemon and it's distracting).
But even more news: Five new pizza places have opened (or are on the verge) all around the city, from my hood (Seward/Columbia City) to northern Ballard. Check it out on my Seattle Mag blog page.

OH, and take a minute to look our new website over! Way more links, and now (get this): EVERYTHING from our issue is available online, including my review of the Corson Building. Thanks, yes, it does feel good to join you all in the 21st century ;)

[where: 98101]

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Food News: Veil's closing this week, more

I know this is only the beginning---the economy (even if it is relatively strong here vs elsewhere) is going to start taking names and some of Seattle's most unique restaurants are bound to fall. Today comes news of the impending closure of Veil. Read the sad news on the Seattle Mag food blog.

[where: 98101]

Monday, September 15, 2008

Food News: Poppy taking reservations, opens Sat.

Finally, Poppy is opening. I've heard from two friends that the food is really good and that the space is chic but approachable--sounds like a nice fit for the hill.

More here, here and here. Or just skip it all and make your reservations here.

[where: 98102]

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Food News: Traunfeld's Poppy to open Sept. 13!

Yippee! Jerry Traunfeld's fanatically anticipated new restaurant, Poppy, which promises to breathe some life into the no-mans-land of north Broadway, is opening on September 13th (reservations will start being taken via email on Sept. 6th).

I am so excited. Check out Poppy's website for menu items--minted lentil goat cheese strudel, anyone?--and you probably will be too. More on Seattle Mag.

[where: 98102]

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Surly Gourmand on Spring Hill

Two posts in one day = banner day round here.
Just dropped in again to point you toward the Surly Gourmand's latest reviews. I missed the Spring Hill review when he wrote it a month ago, but since my Spring Hill review won't be publishing in Seattle Mag until October, who better to should nudge you all toward West Seattle's best new restaurant than the SG?

For years the downtrodden people of West Seattle have had to deal with culinary bullshit: Shadow Land sucks. Ama- Ama is good enough, but it would be better if the topless girl in their logo was totally nude. Talarico's is pretty good but turns into a giant frat party after 9 pm. Blackbird tries too hard. Mission, packed to the gills with yuppie scum, wants to be Fremont West; plus I only like Mexican food that comes out of a truck, so Mission sucks extra.

But way funnier in my oh-so-important opinion (hey, it's my damn blog) is the Cremant review.

The Jarret d'Agneau au Vin Rouge ($22) was a lamb shank, braised in red wine until it fell off the bone. It came with a ramekin of aoli (mental note: complain about aoli in a future review) and was served atop a smashed Yukon Gold which was so lightly smashed that the smashing didn't look intentional. It was barely dented. In fact, that potato looked as though someone started to step on it, then realized they were stepping on a potato and jumped off before they could totally crush it. Still, it was good.

Happy hump day.

[where: 98101]

Eating Seattle: Georgetown Via Tribunali, plus terrible food at Serafina

I've been neglecting my responsibilities, that's for damn sure. I've let my dear blog get all dusty and oily and I've just walked by pretending I don't see it. Sorry folks. I've been blogging over at, but I haven't been posting here much.

I'd like to send you over there to read about my dinner at the new Via Tribunali in Georgetown and my very disappointing dinner at Serafina. Ugh. Read all about it here.

[where: 98108]

Friday, July 11, 2008

Food News: Anita's Crepes gets a home

I absolutely cannot resist Anita's ham, egg and Estrella cheese crepes whenever I can make it to the Ballard Farmers Market, so I'm really looking forward to having a place to get 'em whenever the craving hits me.

Head over the my Seattle Mag blog page to read about Anita's new space, and to find out when (and where) she'll be opening the shop.

[where: 98101]

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Food News: Spinasse and a Corson Building review

Just in: Justin Neidermeyer's new joint will NOT be called Pancia Piena, but will be called Spinasse. He's still doing pasta, tho, and he's just about to open the place.
Read more about it on the Seattle Mag blog.

Also! Our new Web Editor over at the magazine, Karen Johnson, got an early resy at The Corson Building last weekend and she wrote all about it on the blog. It's the first in-depth report I've seen and it's also a pretty surprising review...take a look.

[where: 98118]

Monday, June 9, 2008

Bourdain, and the Corson Building's maiden dinner

I've been curious for months to know what Matt Dillon (Sitka & Spruce) and Wylie Bush (Joe Bar) would do with one of the most interesting buildings in industrial south Seattle, the Corson Building. So when I heard that the Corson's first "official" dinner would be a pre-show feast with guest-of-honor Tony Bourdain, I knew--though I'm not a big enough fan to dole out hundreds of bucks to join in--I knew I'd want to hear about it on the flip-side.

Did a quick search and found this short recap of dinner with Bourdain on a guy named Larry Jordan's livespace blog. The pictures he includes at the bottom of the page are definitely worth a look--check out that hot red meat slicer!

Did any of you go? I'd love to hear more about that dinner.

In the meantime, I just noticed that there's now an email address to reserve space for Corson Building's Sunday suppers on the Sitka & Spruce website. Game on!

[where: 98108]

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Food News: Branzino opens in Belltown, plus a question

Head over to my blog on Seattle Mag to read about Branzino, a new seafood-focused place in Belltown. Thanks to Cornichon for the scoop on that one.

I'm curious...has anyone seen anything or heard anything about what will go into the old Mistral space? I don't live nearby so I don't get a chance to do drive-bys, so let me know if you've heard anything.

Other places to look forward to:

The old 1200 Bistro space looks like it's about ready to reopen as Pike Street Pub. They've even got outdoor tables set up.

Justin Neidermeyer's Pancia Piena on 14th (the old Globe space) is coming together. He's posted want-ads on Craigslist, so hopefully we'll see him opening the doors within the next couple months.

And this week: Casuelita's is set to open right next door to Columbia City Bakery. The owner seems nice--I've run into him and his daughter at the bakery--and he's very excited to get the doors open and the food served.

Got any other food news I should know about?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Food News: Monsoon East coming in September

You lucky Eastsiders! Eric Banh's opening a second Monsoon--and one that just might be an improvement on the first!--on Main Street in Bellevue this fall.

Read all about it on the Seattle Mag blog.

[where: 98004]

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Food News: Woodman Lodge Steakhouse about to open

Long time no see, right? Lo siento, my amigos. It's been a whirlwind. We took a long weekend and headed up to Roche Harbor for the wedding of two dear friends that met at our wedding. It was wonderful, and Roche Harbor is relaxing times ten.

Onto the food news-o-the day. I usually have to sit on my scoops for a few weeks, sometimes months, and this one is an example of the latter. Head over to my blog on Seattle Mag to read about the new steakhouse in an historic lodge in Snoqualmie.

And start holding your breath now, kiddos, because I have a really good scoop I'm gonna serve up later this week.

[where: 98065]

Monday, April 28, 2008

Good Read: LA Times on Seattle's restaurant scene

I loved reading S. Irene Virbila's write-up of her two visits to Seattle, particularly because she seemed hell-bent on finding something interesting to eat, but also because I find it refreshing to see the city's restaurants through the eyes of an outsider--I think it helps put things in perspective.

Take a look at her report here. Made me hungry.

[where: 98101]

Monday, April 14, 2008

Food News: Whym to open in Minnie's locale

Sometimes when I'm working on my Insider column for the magazine, I know I'm writing about stories others will break before the issue publishes. That's the way it goes when you're working 3 months ahead of publish. For instance, I'm working on our August issue right now. Talk about a mind melt: YOU try to write about tomatoes when it's 43 degrees out.

But I digress. The reason I'm bringing this up is because this exact thing happened this morning. Mark Fefer wrote a little blurb on Minnie's becoming Whym on Voracious today. He didn't have much info on the news, but I do!

That's because I talked with Bridget Scott (the new owner) a month ago, when I wrote about it for our July issue.

So, since Fefer broke the story, I figure I'll fill you in on what I know. Read all about Whym, the soon-to-open 24-hour diner on my Seattle Mag blog page.

[where: 98101]

Friday, April 11, 2008

Food News: The fall of Gypsy

If you're a chowhound, foodie or just love a good meal in a non-chain most of the time, you've probably already heard the news: Seattle's first well-known underground restaurant, Gypsy, has been closed down.

Read more about it on the Seattle Mag blog.

[where: 98101]

The Surly Gourmand makes my day

Some people's idea of a mind-blowing foodie moment is, apparently, going to see Tony Bourdain do something on stage for 2 hours at the Moore (seriously, does anyone know what a chef can do on stage to earn $50 per person for tickets? Talk? Make jokes? Flamenco dancing? I don't get it).

But today! By chance! My mind-blowing moment occurred because a certain foul-mouthed food writer deigned (10 points!) to comment on this very blog! Head over to this post to view the comment in situ (46 points!), but I'm also pasting it here:

Hi and thanks so much for the glowing praise! And I must say I'm flattered to have as my "new #1 fan" the dining editor for Seattle Magazine. Holy fuck I've hit the big time. Can I have a job?

You should know, Allison, that the usual way to show your appreciation to me is with naked pictures of your mom. These can be sent to High resolution jpegs please.

Anyway, to the guy who complained about the old posts not being listed on the Sinner's web site, I'm in the process of resurrecting my old blog, which I haven't written on in 3 years. All the old stuff will be posted there. Stay tuned.

Your friend,
the Surly Motherfucking Gourmand

PS here's some gossip: did you know Gypsy closed? Seems the feds finally fingered them, and not in the good way.

Oh happy day!
I am a huge fan of doctor surly, mostly because he says exactly what I wish to God in heaven I could say but am not allowed to by the powers that be (aka, the people who pay me). In fact, I recently had such a total piece-of-shit (and expensive, dammit!) meal that I actually said to Ed, in the car on the way home, "I should email the Surly Gourmand so he can come here, eat that crap food and write about it like I wish I could."

That's my long-winded way of saying thanks, your Surliness, for bringing the funny (and the truthiness) to food writing in this town. And please re-publish that Quinn's review, because it's friggin' perfect.

[where: 98118]

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Food News: Hebberoy's new fish shack

Yep, you heard right: Hebberoy, of the forthcoming Kill the Restaurant tome, is opening a restaurant. And that's not all (there's a pretty exciting pasta place opening too).

Head over the Seattle Mag to read all about it.

RELATED: NY Times on how Hebberoy screwed Portland

[where: 98112]

Friday, March 28, 2008

Food News: Virginia Inn reopening in a week

Boy did I luck into this one. I got a nagging feeling, picked up the phone, called Virginia Inn and whattayaknow, somebody answered the phone (which, you know, they usually don't). Told me they're reopening April 5th (that'd be a week from tomorrow).

Read more about it on the Seattle Mag blog.

[where: 98101]

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Eating Easter: Rosemary and lemon crusted leg of lamb

It's Easter! Lucky for us, the Easter bunny came yesterday, so we don't have to slog around in this drizzly weather looking for eggs.

Tonight we're having a family dinner and we're recreating the fantastic leg of lamb we cooked last October. So I'm lazily re-printing the recipe below. Enjoy.

What a beautiful piece of meat it was. I had to do a little trimming of silver skin, but not much. We left a good amount of fat on the meat (which we scored so that it'd render more easily) and did a very simple rosemary-lemon-garlic salt rub. We also threw a thick-sliced onion and some sliced fennel into the bottom of the roasting pan (to cook in the lamb juices). Yum.

Rosemary Crusted Leg of Lamb
1 6-7lb leg of lamb, bone-in
4 T rosemary needles
8 cloves garlic
Zest of 1 lemon
1 T kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
olive oil
1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced (optional)
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced (optional)

Prepare salt:
In a small food-processor, chop 6 cloves of garlic, all of the rosemary, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Process until rosemary is very fine and all garlic is chopped fine. Set aside.

Prepare lamb:
Score fat on lamb in a criss-cross pattern with a sharp knife, getting down to the meat level with your knife. This allows the fat to render, which marinates the meat and gives the finished roast a crispy thin crust (as opposed to a thick fatty crust).

Rub the lamb with the rosemary-lemon-garlic salt. Thinly slice the 2 remaining cloves of garlic and, using a long narrow knife, cut slits into the lamb, placing slices of garlic into the slits and pushing them in with your finger. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours.

Remove roast from refrigerator 1/2 hour before cooking, to come to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 425. Place oven rack towards the bottom of the oven (you want the lamb to sit in the middle of the oven, not towards the top). Scatter onions and fennel in bottom of roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt.

Remove plastic from meat and place lamb on a roasting rack. Place rack into the roasting pan (or you can place the roast directly onto the fennel and onions) and roast for 25 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and roast for another hour to 75 minutes, or until a thermometer reads 130 in the thickest part of the roast. Remove from oven and allow meat to rest, tented with foil, for 20 minutes.

[where: 98118]

Thursday, March 20, 2008

First day of spring, in pictures

We took a walk around the neighborhood this morning and it was just beautiful to see the earliest flowers beginning to bloom.
Daffodils everywhere

Not sure what this is, but it sure is pretty


will soon look like this:

this early clematis is fragrant and gorgeous

always a sucker for a tulip tree

pretty heliobore

callie, the good-looking dog

Cherry blossom trees are in full bloom

tulips are almost ready

callie's puppy-dog face

[where: 98118]

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Food News: Mistral to close at end of month

Big news in restaurants today! First I read Nancy Leson's column on the new St. Clouds Cafe at the NW African American Museum--excellent news! And that the pair from Pair are opening another place. More good neighborhood is good.

But with the good news comes the sad news that Mistral, perhaps Seattle's most unique fine dining restaurant, is closing. Head over to for the scoop.

Also closed: The Wellington in Columbia City, which I never made it to. There's also papered-over windows one block south of the Wellington on Rainier. Anybody know what's moving into that space?

[where: 98118]

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Eating In: Macrina potato bread

We finally nailed it! My favorite loaf for years was the Macrina potato loaf, and since I have the Macrina Bakery Cookbook and the nearest Macrina is farther away than I'd like, I figured we should give it a shot.

So in the last, say, 4 weeks, Ed and I have made probably 5 loaves, and we finally got it just right. Below you'll find the recipe with my notes (**) and some things we learned along the way.

A couple quick things:
1) Do NOT be stingy with the salt. The loaf could actually use even more than this recipe calls for, I think.
2) Do not go to all the trouble of baking homemade bread and get to the end and realize your crappy store-brand flour has lost its umph. Yes, flour goes bad! I found this out the hard way when my homemade pizza crust under my homemade sauce (!!) tasted like cardboard. Just buy some good King Arthur Flour--it's worth the $3.
3) Do NOT be a wimp about the kneading. The loaf definitely needs a good long knead, so set the timer so you don't accidentallyonpurpose knead for too short a time.

And now...drum roll.....taDA!

Here she is. A beauty, no?

Macrina Potato Loaf
1 1/4 lbs russet potatoes
1 T kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp dried yeast
2 T extra virgin olive oil
3 C unbleached all-purpose flour
ice cubes

Scrub potatoes, leave skins on, and cut into 1 inch chunks (**the chunks don't need to be perfect). Place potatoes and 1 tsp of the kosher salt and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender. Measure out 1/2 cup of potato water and set aside. Drain potatoes in colander and leave them to dry for 20 minutes.

Pour the lukewarm potato water into a small bowl and sprinkle yeast over the top. Stir together well and then leave to stand for 5 minutes.

Place drained, cooled potatoes in bowl of stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mis on low for a minute to roughly mash. Add olive oil and mix another minute. Add potato water/yeast mixture and mix until combined (**scraping the bowl once or twice) for about 1-2 minutes. (If mixing by hand, place potatoes and olive oil in a bowl and mash with a potato masher. Add potato water/yeast mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until combined.) Switch to hook attachment and add flour and remaining 2 tsp salt. Mix briefly on low spead to start bringing ingredients together (**use spatula to push flour into bottom of mixer), then increase speed to medium (**4 on KitchenAide) and mix for 11 minutes. (If mixing by hand, add flour and 2 tsp salt and mix with wooden spoon. Knead with your hands for 10-15 minutes.) **Dough will appear to not be binding at first, it'll look dry and like it's not coming together, but it will become moist as kneading continues. Check for elasticity by pulling the dough; finished dough should stretch about 2 inches without breaking.

Pull dough from bowl onto a lightly floured surface and form into a ball. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let proof for about 45 minutes in a warm 70F room. Dough will almost double in size.

Place dough on a floured surface and flatten it into a rectangle with your hands (**rectangle should be slightly wider left-to-right than long top-to-bottom). Starting with the end closest to you, roll dough away from you into a tight log. Stop rolling just before you get to the end, and then flatten the last 1/2 inch of the dough and flour this 1/2 inch section. This will prevent the loaf from fully sealing and will cause the seam to open slightly during baking. Wrap loaf--seam side down--in a floured dishtowel and let proof at room temp for 45 minutes. Dough will rise slightly and feel spongy to the touch.

Place baking stone on center rack of oven and preheat to 400F. Place a small oven-proof pan under the baking stone--**we use our tiniest cast iron pan, which is about 6" across. (**A baking stone REALLY helps the loaf bake evenly. Our first attempts--before we replaced the baking stone I so dumbly left in our oven in Jackson--were not nearly as good as the baking stone ones. Just so you know. If you don't have one, pre-heating a cookie sheet might work, but I'm not taking the blame if it doesn't.)

Working quickly: Get about 3 ice cubes from the freezer. Get your loaf mostly unwrapped from the towel. Open oven, place loaf seam side up on baking stone, and place 2 ice cubes into the pan beneath the stone. Close door and do NOT open it for at least 5 minutes (**this is when the crust gets all steamed and chewy). After 5 minutes, add the last ice cube and close door again. Bake for 40 more minutes, or until loaf is registering about 205F (**for those of you baking at altitude, your cooking time may be MUCH shorter--we noticed ours was when we lived in Jackson). Let cool for 30 minutes.

After admiring you loaf for those 30 minutes, slice off a hunk, slather with butter and sprinkle a little salt on top for a piece that basically tastes like potato chips in warm bread form.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Food Tube: Ripert and Bourdain under fire at Les Halles

I'm not a huge Bourdain fan. His schtick is wearing pretty thin on me, and it's always bugged me that Kitchen Confidential was written by a tall white guy. Seriously, his book would've been seventeen times better if it'd been written by a woman chef. He thinks the kitchen's hard on men? Ugh.

But one thing I do like about him is his perennial insistence that the James Beard Awards are a bunch of poppycock, because the guys who are really cooking your meals are not the chefs whose names are on the menus. Nope, they're--lots of the time--illegal Mexican cooks who work 16 hour days and get paid like shit.

So that's the saving grace of this episode of No Reservations

Bourdain talks Eric Ripert (of Le Bernardin) into coming down to Union Square and working the non-stop steak-charring grills at Les Halles, a mid-range French-ish spot that really isn't aiming to be anything but a mid-range French-ish spot. Anyhoo, long story short, before you know it the actual chef--a Mexican guy--gets pretty damned irritated with the antics of Ripert and Bourdain. Just imagine--a couple of big-timers semi-mockingly come into your workplace and basically F around. Sweet idea, Bourdain.

The one good take-away is that anyone who imagines a pretty Monica Geller chef cracking actual crab claws to make your "crab Louie" or what-have-you, might now realize that it's more than likely a 19-year-old high school drop-out opening a plastic container and scooping crab out with a questionably clean spoon. So there's that. Happy weekend!

[where: 10016]

Eating Portland: Lorna Yee on P-town

Head over to the Seattle Mag blog to read Lorna Yee's (of Cache fame) inside scoop on her upcoming Portland article.

We sent Lorna to Portland because we wanted to know if that city lives up to all the NYTimes hype its gotten of late. Lorna's a big-time foodie--the girl won a charcuterie competition the first time she made it, fer christsakes--so her insights are incomparable. Check it out.

And keep an eye out for the Best Restaurants issue, which will be on newsstands in about a week!! I worked my tail off on that thing--I think our first meeting was way back in mid-October--and I'm really happy with it. So don't miss it.

Oh, and one last thing: Stalkerish types should read my drive-by Corson Building update. It's getting a little ridiculous, I know, but it's fun (literally) watching the progress.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Food News: 4 restaurants open in Ballard in 2 months

What's going on over in Ballard? Seems like anyone and everyone with an itch to open their own restaurant has decided Ballard is the place. Unless I'm missing one (which, hey, it's possible), there have been four new, interesting restaurant openings since the new year. Curious?'re gonna have to click here (I wrote about it over on

[where: 98107]

Monday, March 3, 2008

Food Event: Dine for Darfur tomorrow, March 4

Here's my plan: I'm going to wake up, get Ruby dressed, get me dressed, and head to the new Caffe Vita down by the PCC near Seward Park for my morning coffee.

We're meeting Ruby's friend Leo (a younger man! He's only 13 1/2 months; Ruby's 14 months) and his mom at the zoo, so I'm thinking lunch'll be at Irwin's, the hippity-dippity place on 40th with the Adirondack chairs out front. We used to live in Wallingford, and we'd trek down to Irwin's for bagels on weekends, so it'll be an old-times-sake thing for me.

We've got a family dinner planned at our house, so I won't make it out for dinner, but I think two DFD meals is pretty good, dontcha think?

But if I had my way, I'd go to Serafina for dinner (I've been hearing really good things the last several months), or order a pizza from Pagiacci, or--lordy me--have a beer and an oyster po'boy at the Jolly Roger.

Where are you going for DFD?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Not about eating or Seattle: Iditarod 2008

I am obsessed with the Iditarod, which just started this weekend up in AK. But, as much as I appreciate the mushers' amazing journey, for me it's a dog thing. I imagine that, someday, I'll quit doing what I do now and I'll move to the country, have a giant garden and raise dogs. I've been a dog person my whole life; I used to volunteer for the dog shelter on 15th because I wasn't allowed to have a dog in my apartment. The other day, I tied Callie (our black lab mutt) to a table outside Columbia City Bakery while I pushed Ruby in her stroller into the bakery. Then, as I was coming back out, a guy said to me, "don't forget your dog." And it just completely pissed me off. Um, because I have a stroller I'm going to forget my dog? Dick!

But clearly I'm getting off topic here. The point is, as much as I can get into the people stories, it's the dogs that amaze me.

Lance Mackey and Larry the dog, both of whom won the Iditarod last year

But I also imagine being there for what's surely an awesome, snowy, crazy-drunk celebration at the finish line in Nome, Alaska when, after 1,150 miles and 14 days of arctic winds, frozen paws, facial frostbite and sleep deprivation (yes, they sleep OUT IN THAT COLD!), the racers cross the finish line and finally take a rest. Oh, and they probably party their asses off. I mean, I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing Alaskans know how to get down, beer-drinking-wise.

So anyhoo, it's on my life-list. To scream from the bitterly cold sidelines, to hug one of those exhausted dogs, and then to drink 17 beers in a smokey tavern warmed by a real wood fireplace.

But for now, I'll be watching and reading, and maybe daydreaming just a little that this

is me.*

(it's actually Melanie Gould, one of the amazing women that go out and, you know, sometimes win the "last great race on earth")

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Eating Seattle: Quinn's

Just checking in to remind you that I'm blogging over at Seattle Mag. Today I wrote a little about Quinn's--my first full-length restaurant review for the magazine, which is in the March issue. Take a look.

Oh, and we've finally added an rss feed. Sign up here, under the pie picture.

Quinn's in Seattle

Friday, February 15, 2008

Eating Seattle: A Tom Douglas restaurant crawl

I made my parents take me to Palace Kitchen 12 years ago to celebrate my 21st birthday. It'd just opened, and I was just beginning to follow the restaurant scene around town. I'd caught the bug, the thrill of the news that a restaurant would be opening, the research of where the chef had cooked before...I love all of it, and I guess I was just starting that love affair back then.

Anyways, SCORE! My parents were footing the bill (birthday and all), so I chose Palace. It was, to me, a fancy place. I mean, it was DOWN TOWN. Parking was NOT EASY. It was a thrill to be in that room. I loved the horseshoe-shaped bar (still do, actually). It was a great meal. I had a pumpkin risotto. It was amazing.

Fast-forward to last Tuesday night. Ed and I had been given a gift certificate to all of Tom Douglas's restaurants for Christmas, and since most of our dining out is now focused on whichever (usually new) restaurant I'm covering for Seattle Magazine, we thought we'd use the GC to enjoy a night out that I wasn't going to have to write about later. And it just happened to be our anniversary. Ed hadn't been to most of Tom Douglas's restaurants (and I usually just hit Palace for a drink once a year or so), so we decided on a Tom D restaurant crawl.

We started the night at Dahlia Lounge, sat at the bar and ordered a raw bar sampler, plus a martini for him and a glass of Prosecco for moi. We were excited, in a celebratory mood, so the fact that the bartender was a complete and utter dud (who clearly had a boner for a chick at the bar, because he pretty much ignored everybody else) was a major bummer.

The food, though, was really good. We loved the kanpachi, which had a little shiso and crisp pear; the smoked salmon, which was fantastic!; and the sesame tuna. The only exception was a squid-potato salad--the potatoes were very undercooked, so the whole thing had a terrible raw-potato texture. Unfortunately, our bartender was busy making googly eyes at the chick; when he finally checked in with us and I told him about the potatoes, he just kind of shrugged and said, "oh, sorry." Ugh. We left.

Off to Etta's, which hasn't really been my favorite throughout the years. Maybe it's because I worked at Pike Place Market for so many years, and everyone in the market is always telling every tourist they talk to to go to Etta's for seafood. But Ed had never been, and I felt like I needed to give it a chance. So, to Etta's.

Again, we copped a squat at the bar at Etta's. The bartender there was great--he's worked there for 12 years (seriously!) and I remember saying to Ed that he had a friendly ease about him. Like, "this job is easy and fun," you know, cause really, it kind of is if you like being a bartender. He poured me two wines to taste (so nice when they just do that without making it a big deal).

So we ordered the mini crabcakes, which come with a little dish of tomatillo salsa. Yum. Ed said these were the best crab cakes he'd ever had (and, bonus: I found the recipe so now I can make them at home). The room is dated, but it's also comfortable. We had a good time at Etta's.

Back up that steep hill to Lola. Again, we sat at the bar, debated whether we should order the goat tagine (entree) or the lamb kabobs (appetizer), and decided on the lamb (hey, we still had Palace Kitchen to go, so we had to keep it quick and relatively light). We also ordered skordalia (a garlicky dip) and feta with fresh pita. The kabobs arrived on a hot platter, all savory and lamby. This was delicious. It made me want to go back and get the "big dinner" which is like a greatest-hits 5-course feast.

Off to Palace Kitchen. After eating three dishes at three restaurants (and, uh, more than a little vino), we were moving a leetle beet slower, but remember: I'm a professional!

We'd asked the bartender at Lola for his faves at Palace, and he told us he always gets the wings. Wings? Really? Well, we went for it, and these wings were fan-f*cking-tastic. First off, they're real wings, not those grody fat globules fried in day-glo chili sauce. These were, you know, chicken wings like the ones you see when you look at a roast chicken. I asked one of the cooks what they put in the marinade, and he said it's a long list, including soy sauce, Worcestershire, garlic, and so on. I'm telling you. Order these.

Then we shared the hamburger. Locals know that the Palace hamburger has a cult following. But honestly? While the burger was good, the fries kicked the burger's ass. These were fantastic fries, left to get nice and dark in the fryer. I'm not even a fry person, really, and I loved these. Anyhow, didn't the burger used to be served on a 2-tiered thingy? It wasn't, and I was somewhat disappointed. It was a good, respectable burger, but really, those wings and those fries...yum.

Oh, and a little shout-out to Sandy, the bartender who was charming and sweet. He's been at Palace for a dozen years (which means he was working there when I came in for my birthday). That's--count 'em---two bartenders out of four who've been working for Tom D for over a decade. They both made our night. We had a great time--thanks S & P!

Dahlia Dahlia Lounge in Seattle
Etta's Etta's Seafood in Seattle
Lola Lola in Seattle
Palace Palace Kitchen in Seattle

[where: 98101]