Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Here's looking at you kid!

This hopeful image is of one of the Fannie Williams Elementary students in New Orleans who will benefit from the fundraising effort cooked up by the 5 Spot team. Details are in the entry below.

Don't forget New Orleans!

These photos were taken this fall in New Orleans, two years after Hurricane Katrina forever changed the face of that great city. Two years and you still see startling scenes like these.

Oh, much of the city is back, welcoming tourists, trying to get on with life. The city has got such spirit. And incredible food made with tons of heart. That's what drew Dave Kearns and chef Brandon Karimi-Naser from 5 Spot, who traveled down NOLA way in September on a CHOW food-sponsored research trip.

After a tour of the Lower Ninth Ward, they were moved to do something. I've written about the fundraiser they cooked up for Wednesday's P-I, and I promised to share a couple of pics. This is one of those instances where photos cannot substitute for being there. The scope of devastation is unreal. Consider the entire Belltown neighborhood wiped out, and still in bad shape two years later.

It sucks.

Still, it's great comfort to know there are people like Kearns and his crew who are willing to remember, however painful. I hope to do my part sometime in 2008. I've got New Orleans on my airfare alert and when the numbers are right, I'm going. And taking my credit card to pump some money into that economy. Care to join me? I know a lot of really good places!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Had such a blast Sunday, baking cookies with Claire and Ms. B, le frosting artiste.

Back in the Spokane days, I talked B into helping me make gingerbread houses that were auctioned in a charity event. It was quite the ordeal. Royal icing is a royal pain.

We re-created the Spokesman-Review building, including the turret (used a Pringles can) and the publisher ended up buying it. He collared me in the hall the following spring to say that after storing it in the attic, mice got to it. The SR tower was critter fodder. HA!

I never/ever bake... except this time of year. Sure wish I had learned to make the delicate Icelandic butter cookies that were my late mother-in-law's specialty. I just tried making my Nana's date-pecan bars for the first time and they turned out great!

I love it when traditions evoke memories of dearly departed. Talk about some tasty nostalgia. Still, I also love trying something new, too. Made the outstanding chocolate cookies that were in Rebekah Denn's fun story in last Wednesday's PI, and am fixing to bake "Peggy's Cheese Biscuits" passed along by Susan Phinney.

What are your holiday baking plans?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wooly Pigs coming to Seattle

Got this e-mail from Heath Putnam at the increasingly famous Wooly Pigs, a farm near Spokane:

"Wooly Pigs will be in Seattle at the U-District Farmers Marketstarting Saturday. We plan to be there every Saturday.

Our plan is to sample and retail our USDA pork, and try to sell as many custom hogs (halves and wholes) as we can. We plan to deliver those to Seattle customers. We've started retailing to people in the Spokane area. Typical responses are that our pork is the best they've tasted.

That's not by accident: mature Berkshire hogs, fattened on barley & wheat, and given ample forage and hay taste fantastic. But it costs alot of money (especially with barley, wheat and fuel so high) to raise hogs this way, so most farmers cut corners. We simply haven't cut any corners on the hogs. I challenge anyone to find better pork on the West Coast. I honestly don't think anyone on the West Coast has bacon this good. Foodies should be interested in our bacons - shoulder bacon, jowl bacon and normal bacon (belly)."

To reach Heath and make specific requests, log on to his entertaining blog: http://woolypigs.blogspot.com/

Ravioli sandwich? That's right!

Talk about your carb-loading lunch, I had an open face ravioli sand at the Pasta Bar in the Market today. Tender pasta pockets filled with a mix of ground beef and Italian sausage gently laid on toasted garlic bread that's drizzled with a little pesto and some marinara. A little shredded mozz on top, bang into the hot oven. (Just like Quizno's, I ribbed owner Brian LoPriore... who sings along with Frank Sinatra songs while he works. Yeah, he says, but except we got flavor!)

It's not on the menu because it's a pain to make, but it's awfully darned tasty. You can find the Pasta Bar next door to Pike Place Chowder.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Finally! Sushi my kid'll eat...

My darling daughter isn't as picky as she used to be -- when all she would eat was pasta with olive oil and pizza. I once tried to bribe her to try sushi, said I'd buy her anything she wanted at FAO Schwarz. Bad Mommy! Well, she'll always have that to hold over my head.
But she's just crazy about the sushi pictured above. Which is actually chocolate! A sweet idea from a California-based company called Koo-Ki Sushi. I had a dessert like this at Flying Fish last spring and loved it.
As far as the true blue raw fish dish goes, people are always asking where to find Seattle's best sushi and I've got to say: I'm still searching. Where can I get my hand roll on?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Pecan pie with a twist

Sure do love Elise Fineberg's pastries at Taste at SAM, so creative and playful. She mines childhood classics and gives them an unexpected turn.

I had lunch at Taste today just so I could try her harissa-spiked pecan pie (brilliant!) served with Beecher's Flagship cheddar ice cream. (How freaking cool is that?!) My sister got in touch with her inner Campfire girl and got the s'more, which was terrific too.

If there's a more innovative pastry chef in Seattle, I want to hear all about it. Do tell!

Here's what I've been eating lately...

OH my gawd! I feel like I'm wearing a sumo wrestling costume, but it's just that time of the year. Today, I had two lunches. Oh, no, I'm not crying. Just need to dust off my health club card and get back on that horse, and by horse I mean incredibly monotonous, borrrring stationery bike and --- YAWN --- stair climber. Yeah, right!

I've been on an incredible roll lately, though. I'm reviewing Quinn's in Friday's P-I and I loved it! Really enjoyed Trellis (fig and proscuitto starter pictured) and am finding lots to like about old-school Maximilien at the Market (seafood special with loads of chanterelles pictured).
Heading out to the brand new Txori in a bit for a bite. So pumped up about the new Joule in Wallingford... also had a great Thai meal in that neighborhood at May. Art of the Table's on my to-do list. Any other new venues on the horizon?

Pigging out!

Served a double dose of pork for Sunday dinner, a Kurobota-style ham from Snake River Farms and a shoulder I slow roasted with minimal seasoning. Really impressed with the ham, striking that perfect harmony of salty and sweet, the meat was so tender. Mmmm.

Cooked them both in the same roasting pan and, man, did that make a killer gravy! Over Yukon gold mashed potatoes. Mercy!

Cousin Ali baked homemade Oreos for our little family potluck, treats so good the room got quiet while everyone focused on the flavors exploding in their mouths.

Who's doing a Christmas cookie exchange? Can I come? I miss my sweet-swapping gang, Miss Holly, MP and Sandra, who made date pinwheels that are impossible to resist.

Woodward Canyon rocks it!

I've always been a big fan of Rick Small's Woodward Canyon wines. Collected the magnums of the excellent cabernet until I decided to quit collecting. (Not enough room in my urban digs.) So, will uncork an old one on special occasions. And I'm never disappointed. INTENSE, long lingering finish, just beautifully made wine from rip-roaring delicious fruit.

When I was in Walla-squared last spring, I toured Small's estate vineyards, which had changed a whole bunch since I picked chardonnay grape back in 1989. Small is trying to put some good things back in the soil, not going strictly organic, but working on good environmental stewardship. It was thrilling to see how the land responds.

I was thinking of that gorgeous terrior while sipping a beautiful 2003 Artist's Series cab, a bottle my sis brought to dinner the other night. It was so well-balanced, so incredibly smooth and complex it made me want to start collecting again.