Friday, September 28, 2007
But the more I learn about the violations that temporarily shut them down, the bigger my hunger to know: "What were you thinking guys??"
The red critical violations cited by the health department were:
No hot water available at the hand sink
Burger patties stored over salad
Potentially hazardous food stored at room temperature
Burger patties were above 41F
Working with raw meat without sanitizer set up
There's more on this link.
That's some pretty serious food handling no-no's and these guys should definitely know better. I talked to one of the owners earlier this week and he said addressing these issues were on the front burner.
I hope so. I really don't want Skillet to be just a flash in the pan.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
So, I went in for a little bacon therapy. Oh, I didn't intend to make a pig of myself, but couldn't help swooning over some swine in an unlikely spot: my Manhattan.
Moxie is doing the New Urban Drinks deal -- two small plates, one drink, $15. Last day to play is Sept. 30, and it's not offered on weekends.
Anyway, the place was slammed with the pre-theater crowd and it was obviously understaffed. It took at least 10 minutes for the bartender to take our order. (Heavy sigh. I'm going to say stay away from this promotion, the restaurants I've been to definitely don't seem committed to it, staffing wise.)
However, I loved the update on this classic cocktail, embellished with a bacon lollipop, thread on a skewer and cooked crisp, the bacon was then laquered in sticky sweetness. I know it sounds kinda ridick, but it was really original.
The small plates were a little lackluster and took forever to get out. If the idea of this promotion is to tempt potential diners to return, you'd think the kitchen would put a little more effort into it. There's still time, though. Is there any New Urban Drink destination that's a must? Maybe Licorous?
Sunday, September 23, 2007
On a Saturday night when places around the city are slammed, what does it say about a restaurant that's less than half full? Trouble? Has the heat cooled?
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Mr. Rowley, the area's most important tastemaker whose Rolodex is stuffed with the names and numbers of the biggest names in the food world -- "Hello, chef Keller. Yes, I've got some Yukon salmon heading your way" -- has fond childhood memories of plucking these sweet/tart berries, which his grandmother would turn into the most magical elixir.
I took my bucket full and made a blackberry crisp. Because, try as I might, I just cannot do pie crust. The crisp turned pretty soupy, though it was still darned tasty. I sought the advice of experts who suggested letting the berries mascerate and drain before cooking them.
I think I'm going to try and get out one more time before the picking season's over.
Speaking of autumn, I've been busy braising and roasting. My Alaska fisherman nephew Brandon and his ship mate Robby requested meatballs when I cooked for them this past week, and I had to make my pal Anne's recipe from memory. Turned out pretty good, though something was missing.
Also made my best buddy Leita's braised rabbit pasta last week, a recipe she picked up while living in Sicily. Everybody's going to ask, so here's the skinny: I got the rabbit at Fero's Meat Market at Pike Place Market. You've got to ask for it. They keep it in the freezer.
What's on your plate during this shoulder season?
It reopened the next day, the day I ate there. I'm still rooting for Skillet's success, but it definitely took the wind out of my full sail.
Drove around Ballard looking for the Air Stream trailer that's home to Skillet Street Food, the Web site said it was located on 56th, but got out and walked up and down the street looking for that address. Nope. Nothing.
Then, I drove around on Market and there it was. I'm so glad I found it.
Ordered a pasta loaded with chanterelles, broccoli rabe, green beans, cherry tomatoes in a light parm cream sauce. Usually, I hate it when some menu describes a cream sauce as "light". Come on, it's cream. I love cream, but the best cream is heavy. Maybe it's because it was used lightly, not drowning in the stuff.
Anyway, I loved this dish. I took it down to Golden Gardens and sat in the sunshine and loved every freaking bite. It was perfectly seasoned, not too salty, not too little. And this generous portion with the lovely fall mushrooms was just $8!
Here's a link to this roving restaurant's home page so you can check out when they'll be in your neighborhood: skilletstreetfood.com.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
I especially love the shot of the sign that says the food's made "with butter and love." Hope the regulars aren't going to be upset when the place gets overrun with newbies.
What consistently cracks me up about the place, though, is the constant loop of Sinatra songs. I've never been in there when I haven't heard "My Way." I'm a huge Frank-o-phile, but that tune is a bit overwrought for a plate of pad Thai. That's what I used to think anyway. Now, it's just become part of the restaurant's quirky charm.
Besides Marjorie, which has the best soundtrack in Seattle, what restaurant plays music that fits well with its culinary mission? Or do you prefer the sounds of silence?
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
This wasn't just any lunch, either. We were standing on line (to use the New Yorker verbage), and bumped into a few people I knew through the Southern Foodways Alliance and Calvin Trillin rode up on his bike. I flipped! Somebody, please take my pic with Calvin Trillin.
Turns out he was meeting Randy Fertel for lunch, I know Randy through SFA, his late mother launched a little steakhouse chain you might have heard of: Ruth's Chris. Randy is a tireless champion of preserving food stories in his support of an annual documentary made by the Southern Foodways Alliance. (I got to see behind-the-scenes action on the making of "Whole Hog" a couple of years ago, and thrill to see it premiere to a wildly appreciative audience at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley.)
So, long story long, we all sat together along the communal tables at Momofuku and shared nearly everything on the menu. Calvin Trillin gave me a bite of his ssam!! Hot damn! (Shameless fan alert!) Even the camera shy Ms. G agreed to have her pic taken with me. I can't imagine a more memorable meal.
Fast forward to last week when I found Gael Green's new Web site on Eater.com, and reached out. We chatted over email, and she asked me to submit a recipe. Up it went on one of her daily briefs. So cool this global village. Check out her site: insatiablecritic.com.
That duck confit salad was so delicious. The generous portion of poultry was super rich, succulent and under $12. The outstanding burgundy beef pot pie is based on a Julia Child recipe, the made-from-scratch sauce tasted as complex as the glass of Argentinean malbec I sipped with it.
Yes, that's PBR. Got a problem with that?
So, anybody care to guess where this haute low-brow fare is being served? No? Guess you'll have to pick up a P-I.
Today's dining column suggests a Diner's Bill of Rights. What do you say? When you go to a restaurant what do you expect from the waitstaff?
It's a no-brainer to pick up a bottle of great $50, but it takes a true sleuth to come up with a cart full of affordable options. Cheers to Mr. A and his tasting crew.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
I'm sure I can't say. There are 400 wineries in the state now, it would be impossible to pick just one, he said curtly.
He could have said: Well, what do you like, a merlot? A cab? Something from Walla Walla? He blew the chance to engage a curious customer. Totally shut down the conversation. Freaking snob. That's exactly what I cannot stand about the elitist wine set. (To be fair, the much younger guy who I talked with earlier was very friendly and helpful. I don't understand what you're doing in retail if you're not about doing some selling.)
Oh, and by the way, Mr. Wine Guy, there are now 500 wineries in Washington state. And my favorite red under $20 is the Chinook cab franc.
Our table shared an order of excellent pomme frites and pain au chocolat. Everything was great, except -- and this is a big except -- they kept running out of coffee. Even the server acknowledged: "We're having a bit of a coffee crisis." Hmmm. No coffee on a Sunday morning. Major bummer.
If only Stumptown Roasters were open next door, like they said they would be, last Monday. Those Portland, Ore., bean counters should be perking right along soon. I'm still shopping around for my favorite baristas in town. Any hot spots I absolutely shouldn't miss?
Thursday, September 13, 2007
But a friend tipped me off about his infatuation with the Honey Crisp. Oh, Honey, where have you been all my life?
I snagged a bag of these grown-in-the-Okanogan beauties last night and could hardly believe it when I took my first bite. Snap! It was everything I hoped for and more.
Of course, the prices are kind of ridick... like $5 at pound at Whole Food, or $3 at Met Market. Maybe I need to make a hunter/gatherer trip to the East side of the state and stock up on some at the source.
Now, if I could only find some peaches that weren't rock hard.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
I wrote about old-fashioned drive-ins in today's food section of the Seattle P-I, on the heels of news that a beloved institution -- Daly's -- is being forced out of its space by developers.
These deeply nostalgic spots cue some selective memories, like when you try going back, it's never the same. The place I so fondly remember was a quirky spot in Bellevue's Lake Hills shopping center called Speed's. Don't know why it was called that because they made a point of telling customers it was going to take at least 10 minutes to make their sandwich.
Is there a burger joint that still works that magic? In Seattle or beyond? Why can't there be more places that try and do it like In-n-Out? What's your typical order when you indulge?
Look it up in the index, I advised. Nope. So, turned to Julia Child's "Mastering" where she helped make sense of wrapping thyme, parsley and bay leaves in cheesecloth. Later, he confessed that he had just used thyme because he couldn't find the bay leaves and he didn't think parsley tasted like anything. No big deal, it tasted great.
Sunday, September 9, 2007
But there's the guy stinking up the place.
I usually hold my tongue. And my nose. Especially when I'm on the job. But I couldn't help myself. Cue hubby rolling his eyes and going: Uh-oh.
The server told the smoker to put it out, and the owner came over to our table to apologize. And give me a $20 gift certificate to come back another time. Now, that's the right way to handle a stinky situation.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
This was my view at lunch today. Pretty sweet, yes? Every nice day in Seattle is like a gift. Yesterday, it poured all morning and then got muggy.
Anyway, packed a chicken salad sandwich, which I goosed up with this awesome miso/red pepper mayo from Trader Joe's.
Which reminds me, the TJ's on Capitol Hill kicks ass on the Queen Anne store. It's much bigger, wider aisles, nicer clerks. The guy who rang me up was telling me about how he had moved his couch and vacumned behind it and found cat toys and wouldn't the world be a better place if... Yup, I kinda tuned out after that.
Anyway, I love/love/love the sculpture park. It's in my 'hood, and I'm thrilled everytime I walk through. Even better when I've got lunch. Where's your favorite picnic spot?
I've picked them at Seward Park, near the foot ferry dock in West Seattle, on Magnolia, near my father-in-law's place in Shoreline. Most of them go straight into my mouth, and I've been meaning to come back with a bucket, but haven't. Until today.
Talked Baby Girl into helping me out, but she lost interest after her Chuck Taylors got muddied. Hey, kid. This is a messy enterprise, but if you want a piece of the pie I'm going to (attempt) making. Well. Then.
All the best, biggest berries were just out of reach down the road to the secret beach in Magnolia this afternoon, and the puny ones I picked were none too sweet. Where should I go for a big blackberry score. Tell me true and I promise to get you a piece of that pie.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
It's certainly just a coincidence, but it seems strange that two fusion restaurants that debuted with high profile women chefs -- Coupage being the other -- have already lost those key players. Yes, it's a high turnover business, but doesn't it make you wonder: What the heck is going on behind the scenes?
After a recent column about dining with dogs, people got pretty riled up. Hey, they let dogs in restaurants in Europe, why not here? some wondered.
Why do we have these silly "laws" anyway? wrote a woman whose email handle included yoga, which certainly didn't jibe with the hostile tone in her missive.
Just wanted to say, again, for the record: I'm not a hater! In fact, I recently hosted my brother Chris and his adorable doggie, Charley. She loves to go everywhere, just not to restaurants, the Mariners game or Bumpershoot.
I bet somebody would make a killing if they figured out a way around that health code, and opened a true dog-friendly Euro-cafe.