Friday, August 31, 2007
Turned to my Memphis collection and came up with William Lee Ellis -- "God's Tattoos" -- and Daddy Mack's "Slow Ride", a seasoned bluesman doing covers of rock classics, my buddy Billy Gibson doing his magical thang on the harp. Couldn't find "Electric Watermelon", though. The North Mississippi Allstars latest is likely in Baby Girl's messy room, as she decided she loves this funky roots blues band. Especially the super cute drummer, Cody.
What do you like to listen to while you're in the kitchen?
Cooked dinner for a friend's birthday and told her she could order anything. She wanted some of that Southern fried chicken I've been bragging about.
My favorite recipe comes from a wonderful collaborative cookbook written by Atlanta chef Scott Peacock and the late culinary icon Edna Lewis called "The Gift of Southern Cooking" and it involves brining the chicken, then marinating it in buttermilk and finally frying it in lard. Yes, lard. Lard that's been dosed with country ham and clarified butter.
I knew I wasn't going to find any country ham 'round here, but I did stumble onto some local tasso, a spicy cured Cajun style ham. When I went looking for lard at Fred Meyer, I couldn't find it anywhere. Not near the oil or shortening, nor back by the butter. Some manager tracked it down in the storeroom. It's off the shelves.
Hey, I know it's not good for the old ticker, or the waistline for that matter. That's why I'm going to spend some extra time on the treadmill at the gym today.
Anyway, the chicken turned out pretty darned fabulous, crispy, intensely flavorful. Not greasy. And I served it with good-for-you summer green beans and yams that I seasoned with orange juice and a little maple syrup. We had peaches and angel food cake for dessert.
I love the idea of a special home cooked birthday dinner. For me, it was always steak on the grill when I was growing up. What's on your plate when you turn a year older?
Thursday, August 30, 2007
The fish-and-chips window at Ivar's Salmon House has a special for about $10: alder-grilled salmon, rice, cornbread and slaw. Unfortunately, the fish was overcooked, but it still was pretty darned tasty. I made my own special sauce with tartar, Tabasco and a little lemon juice.
This is an amazing location, the cityscape looking like something from a movie at the other end of the lake. Come to think of it, I think the location for "Sleepless in Seattle" wasn't far from here.
Anyway, I e-mailed this image to my BBQ buddy in Memphis (because he's always rubbing it in when he's eating pulled pork at our favorite haunts and payback is double, right?), but he wasn't impressed. Bet he would be if I ever got him to get on a plane up here for a visit.
Not-so-random question: Salmon or catfish?
Naturally I gave her a list of must-do meals, and she's followed my advice a few times. Called to rave about the fried chicken from Alcenia's. She was on her way to Bryant's for some biscuits, but she got there too late. Darn. I sent her to Buns on the Run, and suggested she stop at Soul Fish Cafe on the way. She said she had just had lunch, and wasn't hungry.
I'm looking forward to going down South this fall, for the Southern Foodways Alliance symposium -- this year's focus is on the state of Southern food -- and I'm already working on my game plan for getting in as many meals as I can stomach. I don't think I'll even have time to try the new places, but if I were to pick just one, what would it be?
Went to the ball game the other night, and ate dinner at the Hit it Here Cafe. Which is pretty good, and not a lot more dough than the regular concession stands.
I had an Asian noodle salad with a skewer of shrimp on top, the dressing was a little on the sweet side, so I asked if I could get some soy sauce. The server brought me like half cup of it.
Portions are pretty huge, including this whopping piece of cake. It might not translate, but this slice is at least 1/8 of a cake. Wonder if anyone polishes off the whole thing themselves? I'd rather have one perfect piece of chocolate at the end of the meal. Wouldn't you? What's your ideal way to end a meal?
Friday, August 24, 2007
Yesterday, The Stranger's wickedly funny Slog gave me an "Amen Sista!" and the floodgates opened, some 75 comments later, I got a huge kick out of the various asides and arguements that broke out. What does peanut allergies have to do with this discussion anyway?
There were some hilarious personal jabs, like, if they didn't allow dogs in restaurants, how would I get in? And, then, to the PR twit trying to pass himself off as a legit journalist, who suggested that my reviews don't reflect a world view: Let's compare passports, huh? In the past three years, I've eaten my way around New Orleans, New York, San Fran, Napa Valley, Chicago, Miami, LA, Atlanta, back to New York a couple of times, where I actually ate lunch with Gael Greene and Calvin Trillin, then to Taylor, Mississippi for the best catfish on the planet, to Buenos Aires, and Asheville, N.C., Nashville and, of course, dear, sweet, sassy Memphis. Where you been chump?
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
South opened a couple of months ago and the locals freaked. The portions were too small! The price was too high! The food was too flavorful! The Mexican fare that's known and loved in Leavenworth comes out of a can, and is slopped onto huge platters.
So, the young couple who own South -- the daughter and son-in-law of longtime Spokane restaurateurs, William and Marcia Bond who have made many diners happy at Luna, and more recently, Maron -- retooled. The prices now are cheap by Seattle standards, entrees in the $15 range. Starters under $10. (Don't miss the ceviche.)
And the food is fresh and wildly flavorful. Salsas pop. The mole was intense. Even the rice was deeply satisfying, cooked in from scratch chicken stock. The margaritas totally rock, made with fresh-squeezed limes.
I loved the restaurant's patio space, too, lights strung overhead, live music occasionally featured on one end of the comfy space. Grapevines are growing along one wall, I think the east wall of South.
This kind of food might seem out of place in a town built on bratwurst and beer, but Leavenworth is evolving. There are wine tasting rooms mixed in among the souvenir shops, a fabulous day spa and a sushi bar are fine additions. The place has gone global. I can't wait to get back.
But yesterday, tried the new halibut preparation and it was a disaster. First, the price: $22 for a four-ounce portion. Which was overcooked and dry. There were two slices of nice summer tomatoes on top, a few slices of cukes and a sauce that was described as having watermelon as the featured ingredient. Didn't taste that. Did taste the raw garlic for hours afterwards. Major bummer.
Other disappointments: the salmon rillette I had enjoyed before, pinwheels of delicate salmon and cream cheese had been turned into salmon salad, not my favorite texture. Fried corn was on the cob, drowing in butter. Peaches on the dessert were sweet, but underripe and hard. The pecan pie filling was too heavy on the Karo. The server never brought bread. The diner's version of a po'boy was tasty, but was light on the remoulade and had pickles on it. I've been spoiled by the sandwiches down South, and I don't ever remember pickles on a po'boy.
The tab for lunch for two, no drinks: $70-something.
Didn't see the chef in the kitchen, but did spot one of the cooks eating something. Isn't there a rule against chowing in full view of the dining room?
Still, I like the energy in the room, and the chef/owners dedication to some good causes. There was a card on the table explaining the need to save the region's steelhead population.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Legendary entertainer Mel Brooks has been in Seattle for the world premiere of the stage version of "Young Frankenstein" (I'm going tonight), but it's not all work. He recently had dinner at Metropolitan Grill (a steak, of course) and was happy to pose for this pic with Thomas Meehan (Young Frankenstein co-librettist), Wendy Starr (Met Grill marketing manager) and Annie Boyington (Met Grill front desk host.)
Anybody else spot the man who made millions of people laugh around town?
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Made me want to clip the article -- yes, I get the print edition delivered daily -- and take it to my favorite wine guy down the block.
This summer, I've been obsessed with pink wines. The dry roses. Remember when we called them "blush" wines? I really enjoyed a syrah rose from an up-and-coming wine growing region in Washington state, the area near Wenatchee and Chelan.
The Saint Laurent 2006 syrah rose is wrapped up in one of the prettiest labels on the shelf, which usually puts me off a wine. Fortunately, what's inside is as gorgeous as the packaging, refreshingly fruity, but with enough snap to keep it from sliding off the too-sweet chart. It was a big hit with grilled salmon.
Another thing I love about these roses? The price. Some of the best deals around at under $20. I've got a Chinook rose chilling for dinner on the deck tonight!
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
I don't want to torture my sizzling friends in the South, but I have to share this pic from my picnic on Alki today. Absolutely perfect weather. And the fish was pretty good, too.
Finally got in to try Sun Fish, the line was already out the door about noon. Tried nearly everything that swims on that menu: salmon, halibut, cod, prawns. I really enjoyed the Sunfish Special, a grilled skewer loaded with grilled seafood.
The fries were the biggest disappointment, though. Limp and greasy. No salt. Ugh.
There were tons of people on the beach doing the cookout thing. Before it turns gray again, I'm going to drag my grill out there.
If you live in a part of the world where it's too bloody hot to cook right now, what's your game plan?
He's filled with some serious high-end Scotch. I wish I could remember the name, but Scotch means squat to this Irish lass. On the trail, I much prefer Wild Turkey.
Anyway, this year Tiki Mon enjoyed the spectacular peaks and crystal clear waters of Glacier, the guys started on the Canadian side and worked their way south. And, no, didn't spot one single grizzly. Though, they were required to watch a cautionary video, and cook in groups.
The cooking part of the trip always fascinates me because the menus are based on what's light. Like instant mashed potatoes. Doesn't exactly stick to the ribs, does it?
If I were going out for six days and nights, I'm afraid I'd have to have a sherpa. I'd need some savory carrot at the end of a long day in the old (stinky) hiking boots. A big fat steak maybe. Or, seared duck breast with a demiglace. Forget those nasty dehydrated rice and beans.
What would be your dream meal in the outback? And what would you take to quench your powerful thirst? Gatorade or Power Aide?
So, ended up at Blackbird Bistro, which I had heard was good. It was dead. There were maybe a half a dozen tables. It was obviously the line cook didn't have enough to do, so he was bitching and moaning about some chef he had worked with -- "he came in and he was so hungover, he 86-ed half the menu" "he was such a burnout, he'd come back from vacation and say he needed another vacation" and on and on it went from the display kitchen.
Guy, have a little common sense. You never know who might be within ear shot of your bad mouth. A food critic, maybe.
That bad energy was almost enough to drive me out the door. But I hung around and ordered a portobello mushroom sandwich. Not bad.
What's the most awkward conversation you've overheard at a restaurant?
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Thursday, August 9, 2007
And, then, because we live in construction zone central, the taco truck rolls up mid-morning, like some kind of grown-up ice cream truck. You know how I know this? Because it blasts a zippy version of the tune they play when the horses are entering the starting gate.
Tomorrow, I'm going to trot down and see what they've got. Expect some pics.
Anybody have some brilliant ideas about the best way to be productive in your home office?
The menu is paired with the wines, which are grouped under titles like "cheerful", "bombshell" and "statuesque". Va-va-va-voom?
I had a $21 glass of DeLille's 2005 Doyenne Metier Blanc. (Listed under "centered.") God, I would love to take a Frenchman here and see what he has to say about this goofy approach. It was lovely, but didn't exactly blow my mind.
The whole thing feels a little complicated. Like learning the rules to a new game. But I'm willing to try. It's got a warm, friendly vibe. And speaking of warm, the fireplace was lit. On an August night.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
But anyone who has been paying attention knows the newspaper business ain't what it used to be, so I find myself a freelancer. Not such a bad thing, especially because I'll still be writing reviews for the P-I. I'll miss sitting in a newsroom, though. It's a noisy, chaotic, absolutely frenetic environment, desks crammed impossibly close. And I loved every minute of it.
Still, I'm not the kind who laments. I look forward and celebrate. With a shimmering glass of Veuve Clicquot, thank you very much. I hope some of you will come along for on the never-ending eating adventure.