Monday, January 21, 2008

Food News: Seattle Mag blog is alive

I'm so annoyed with me right now.

I promised myself I wouldn't be one of those losers who stops writing on her own blog just because she gets a job. But look at me! Loserface extraordinaire.

The problem is, I'm blogging over on now, so it's been kinda tricky figuring out what goes here versus what goes there. I'll probably just stick to being really mean and sassy here, and being nice and responsible there. Or not.

Anyhow, take a look over there when you get a chance (today I wrote about 3 restaurants we ate at this past week).

But don't abandon me over here quite yet, ok? I've got some real doozies planned for you...

[where: 98118]

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Food News: Chowhounders pick their fave restos of 2007

I dread the "Oh, so you're a restaurant critic? OK, then. Where's your favorite restaurant?" question more than I can say.

It's so much more complicated than that, don't you think? Where I go for a date with my husband on a Wednesday night is so different from where I'd take my parents for their anniversary, or where my sister and I would meet for a glass of wine and an affordable dinner. There are great restaurants for each of these occasions, but they're not the same great restaurant.

And that's why the list over at Chowhound is great. Chowhounders didn't just list the five fanciest special-occasionish places in town, they listed their five favorite places, period. The result is a huge cross-section of fancy/cheap/reliable/quirky and so on. It's not the same old list you see everywhere.

No one restaurant received more than five first place votes, which I think speaks to the fact that Seattle has many good to very good restaurants but none that are head over heels better than all the others

This years winner is the same as last years winner... Harvest Vine. Harvest Vine, however, did not receive the most first place votes; that distinction goes to Lark and Union which both had five first place votes. Here's the list.

Harvest Vine 42 points (11 total votes ) {2 first place votes}
Lark 40 (10) {5}
Green Leaf 35 (10) {3}
Union 35 (8) {5}
Salumi 28 (8) {1}
Volterra 26 (8) {4}
Boat Street 25 (6) {3}
Mistral 20 (4) {4}
Tamarind Tree 18(7) {1}
La Carta Oaxaca 18 (6)
Paseo 16 (7)
Sitka and Spruce 15 (3) {3}
Restaurant Zoe 15 (6)
Café Presse 15 (5) {1}

The list goes on, so be sure to check it out.

Doesn't it make you excited about all the great restaurants you've yet to try?

[where: 98101]

Monday, January 7, 2008

Ruby's 1

Our little pumpkinhead turned 1 year old yesterday.

We started her big day with brunch at the Hi Spot. Grandma and Grandpa came along too!

Then we had vanilla cake with fresh strawberries (her favorite) sliced on top.

She didn't quite know what to do with it at first, but pretty soon she was covered.

After, we went straight into the bath.
It was a big day.

[where: 98118]

Friday, January 4, 2008

Food News: Boom Noodle open

...and packed! At least it was at lunch yesterday when I wandered in, without knowing it was opening day. The place was bustling. Looked like the owners (the Blue C sushi guys) invited lots of friends and family to come in; they were working the room and hugging everyone in sight.

I get the feeling the Pike/Pine corridor will be embracing this place.

UPDATE: *OR NOT! The "Capital Hill is the new Bellevue" bitching has already begun over at the Stranger. It's basically the same moaning and groaning that went on when the hideous Mexican place finally closed and reopened as Quinn's.

I find the above complaints semi-entertaining, and I can relate to the feeling of loss over the few great places that have been (or probably will be) shut down or forced to move.

But what I don't understand is this: Where have all of these whiners been for the last decade? And why is this all so surprising to them? Because there were plenty of warning signs that Capital Hill was jumping the shark, or at least growing up and becoming less of a sh*thole. Like, um, Julia's opening on Broadway six years ago. Yeah, you know, Julia's, the brunch spinoff from Wallingford! Not exactly punk rock.

Mourn Capital Hill, and maybe think about moving someplace less glossy (and less expensive!). But quit the shock routine. It's getting a bit silly.

Boom Noodle (warning: website semi-broken)

Boom Noodle in Seattle

[where: 98122]

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Eating Detroit: A Coney Island faceoff

What a whirlwind it's been. We started with a party the night of the 22nd, where we made cheese fondue, braised three-meat balls (lamb, pork, beef) with fresh horsey sauce, made a beet, orange and fennel salad, plus my caramelized onion dip, wild mushroom pate and more. Ed even mixed up a batch of the famously dangerous Scheff family punch, which comes with the warning/sales pitch: "every year someone throws up in the bushes."

Then we flew to Detroit Rock City to party with Don & Coke (Ed's parents) for Ruby's 1st Christmas. I like Detroit. I like that it's not all Bed Bath & Beyond-ed out; there are scary parts, and I like that there are areas that are much as they were 40 or 50 years ago. But I guess I'm a jerk, because I'm also completely appalled-slash-captivated by the endless squalor that the city has been falling into since the race riots of the '60s.

Driving around the city pretty much all you see is this

and this

and this.

It's sad, chilling and completely preposterous to a person living in Seattle, where the apartment building above would be mucho expensive to live in. And don't get me started on the gorgeous mansions downtown. We drove around the most fantastic neighborhoods where the old, grand auto-industry magnates once lived, oohing and aahing. Then we looked them up when we got home and found out that not one house--not even this 11-bedroom, seven-bath 14 THOUSAND square foot mansion with hand-painted ceilings--is over $1 million.


So yeah, no gentrification going on there. The upside is that the classic food joints still survive, and discovering them is always part of our mission during visits to the city. This year we decided it was time. Time for a Coney Island Faceoff! We headed to downtown Detroit to taste competing Coney Island joints.

I just realized some of you might be wondering what a Coney Island is. It's basically a hot dog on a bun that's smothered in chili and topped with yellow mustard and chopped white onions. Now, back to the previously scheduled taste test.

First off: American Coney Island, opened in 1917 a block or so from the downtown core (find out more about the history on their website).

We were actually on our way to Lafayette Coney Island (which I'd read was the best before the taste-test), but these fools

yelled at and berated me until I caved. So we went in, sat down and ate. Abuse plus crap food: It was like being in NYC all over again.

And so it arrived. Truth be told, I didn't quite "get it" after digging in. The chili was eh, there was waaay too much mustard, and it was just a giant pile of stuff on a tiny, wimpy hot dog. What's the big deal?

So we headed to Lafayette Coney Island, conveniently located directly next to American. And unlike American, this place was packed to the rafters with people crowding onto bar stools in thick winter coats, passing fries, ketchup, talking smack. It was loud and fun.

And we have a winner! The Coney was great. Waaaay less chili, mustard and onion made for a pretty fantastic hot dog. Plus, I could taste the hot dog, which tasted good and hot doggy.

On our way out I snapped this photo of the cooks.

These guys move a mile a minute for hours on end. Amazing.

[where: 48226]