Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The in-between seasons

Cooked up a storm last night, a menu that certainly straddled the shoulder season, transitioning from summer to autumn. Now, folks in Seattle will grumble that we didn't really have a summer, but after checking the temps in Memphis and other hot spots, I say: Right on!

I picked up these green tomatoes at the farmer's market at Lake Forest Park, on its final Sunday. The chanterelles were on sale at the Met Market, the halibut was not: $20 a pound. Ouch.

The potatoes roasted in my trusty cast iron skillet were another farmer's market find. I have been absolutely blown away by the quality of the produce at these neighborhood markets. Incredible.

Anyway, I served the fried green tomatoes with an Asian accent -- spicy miso mayo. Dang good!

What are you cooking these cool nights?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Long distance information, give me Memphis, Tennessee

Yessiree, I'm going to Memphis, actually going through M'town to the Southern Foodways Alliance symposium in Oxford, Miss., where we'll be chewing over "The State of Southern Food."

I'm really looking forward to this trip, though it's bound to be bittersweet because I cannot possibly go eat at all my favorite places. There just aren't enough meals in the day, nor space in my ever-expanding waistline. (Best sign I ever saw hanging in a BBQ joint: "A waist is a terrible thing to mind.")

First stop has got to be Little Tea Shop for some comfort food extraordinaire and hugs from cook/owner/cashier Suhair Lauck. I'm determined to make it to Alcenia's for some fried chicken, and Payne's for a pulled pork sandwich. Of course I'll get some of Miss Joyce's beautiful biscuits at Bryant's. But that leaves little time for Soul Fish Cafe, Beauty Shop, Fino's, Cozy Corner, Rendezvous, Buns on the Run, Gus's and the list goes on.

I've also been thinking about what I'm going to stuff into my suitcase to bring back to Seattle: King Cotton bacon, Hog Wild dry rub, sorghum, Blue Plate mayo.

See y'all soon. Come have a cocktail with me Wednesday around 6 at Encore!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pizza at midnight

Went to the GO Team at Neumo's last night, the latest I've been out on a Monday night in a long time. But when this energenic Brit-pop group started their set, my buddy wanted to bail. The floor was bouncing, could it fall in?

I listened to a half a dozen songs and then we headed around the corner to Via Tribunali, where there were still people sitting over the fine pies. They take last call for the pizza oven at midnight. It was a nice nightcap.

What's the best late-night eats in Seattle? If it wasn't drizzling, we might have run a few blocks over to Cafe Presse. How about some other spots?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A trend?

Three times the past week, I've seen restaurant owners pop a squat to visit with guests. Last night, it happened to me.

The fam and I were checking out the new Ascada Bistro in Queen Anne when the owner came over to ask how dinner was. We asked him about his Jimi Hendrix connection and he took a chair and told some tales. The skeptical journalist side of me was thinking -- can this guy be for reals? While the Hendrix fan in me wanted him to keep dishing.

You decide. Go check out those gold records. They look pretty genuine to me. Not like the "award-winning Memphis ribs" which are baked in the oven, not barbecue!!

Friday, October 12, 2007

The art of crashing a party...

I wrote a first-person story in today's Seattle P-I about my daughter's budding modeling career, which started with a chance meeting in Memphis. We crashed a party at a famous designer's fabulous penthouse, riding in on the coattails of our dear friend, party columnist for The Commercial Appeal, Michael Donahue.
This was fairly standard practice, and one of the many things I loved about living in the South, where people are gracious and generous and don't throw you out if you show up without an invite. Let me tell y'all, Southerners know how to throw a party!
I'll never forget when the designer approached me at that party and asked if I thought my daughter Claire might like to be in her fashion show. I said I didn't think so, but urged her to ask Claire. As I wrote in the story, I was just happy she didn't fall down during that fashion show. Ms. Pat Kerr Tigrett later asked Claire to be a presenter at her annual Blues Ball, an over-the-top shindig that honored the wealth of talent from that area. Her Dad and I crashed that party, too! Well, OK, we actually made it onto the guest list.
Anyway, that's the long story even longer. That really has nothing to do with food... except that I clearly remember what was on the menu at the original fete, Corky's BBQ! The party was during the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Farmers/growers star in Whole Foods slideshows

My friend, photojournalist, Kate Medley has been doing some wonderful work for Whole Foods, telling the stories of farmers/growers/producers in a series of slideshows called Farm to Market. The focus, so far, has been on the rural South, but I would sure like to see this show hit the road to this region.

I would start in the area's various cheese cellars, but this approach seems well suited to Washington's growing number of wineries, too.

Speaking of the loveliest liquid to come out of our great state, I noticed that a handful of vintners have been invited to pour at the Wine Spectator's Critics' Choice Grand Tastings in New York (on Oct. 25, if you want to enter it on your Treo).

Washington will be well represented by Betz Family, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Crest, Quilceda Creek and DeLille. My favorite producer will be there, too. I have never had a bad bottle of L'Ecole No. 41. The semillon is my go-to white, perfect with just about every kind of food I throw at it. And, I love that the price will work on my beer budget.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Mmmmm.... bacon!

I've got my buddy Di trained up real good. She sees bacon, she thinks of me.

She recently bought me some bacon flavored mints. Mmmm. Bacon. And she urged me to try that bacon-garnished Manhattan at Moxie. This morning, she forwarded a link a company making bacon salt: baconsalt.com.

Man, if there's anything I like as much as bacon, it's got to be salt. I've got salt from Italy, France, Hawaii, but my favorite, the one that sits in a well by my stovetop is a blend of kosher salt and cracked black pepper invented by Mr. Nick Vergos of the World Famous Rendezvous Ribs in Memphis, Tenn. I keep nagged Nick to market this stuff, he would make a bundle.

Around our table, the fam calls this magical mixture "salt-pep", or it's more lyrical full name, Nick's super fantastic seasoning extraordinare.

I still cannot get over how so many restaurants refuse to give diners the salt/peppering option by keeping shakers/grinder off the table. And I'm not talking about shaking it before you taste the food! What about you? Pro salt or anti?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Feel good news from New Orleans

Just got an email from a friend passing along a link with photos from a beloved landmark restaurant in New Orleans, a little piece of fried chicken heaven.

Willie Mae's Scotch House was ruined when the levees broke, but through the efforts of volunteers organized through the Southern Foodways Alliance, the place is finally back open. Miss Willie Mae's great-granddaughter has taken over cooking duties, and the food looks mighty fine.

I spent a couple of weekends working on the project, meeting people from across the country who were moved to do something concrete to help get this great city back on track. It was one of the most powerful experiences of my life to witness these efforts.

Here's a link to that delicious report on the ressurected restaurant.