Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Beautiful stuff at Cascadia

Recently enjoyed a nearly flawless meal at Cascadia, a restaurant that seems to be under the radar of most foodies in Seattle. Can't imagine why. This place has got it going on. The dishes were creative and gorgeous. The room is lovely. (Wrote about it in my Quiet Dining story in last week's What's Happening section.)
From start -- the brilliant "Alpine" martini with juniper sorbet -- to finish -- the magnificent "deconstructed" rhubarb pie, this was one of the best dinners I've eaten in the city. Yet, on a Saturday, the place was just half full. Am I missing something? Why isn't cool Cascadia as popular as, say, Zoe or Flying Fish?

Take off! Trip to Southern wing festival

My buddy Michael Donahue is an unabashed chowhound, so I got a kick out of his video tour of a hot wing competition in Memphis. Click here to see him ask advice on the best way to tackle a wing.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

How's it hangin'?

My sister just returned from a trip to Spain, where ham hangs from the ceiling in bars. Wish this pic came with a scratch-and-sniff.
I was just recalling the first time I had jambon Serrano wrapped around a fig. MMMMMM! At Chez Panisse Cafe in Berkeley, Calif., many years ago.
Is there anything better than salty on sweet? Maybe the constrasting textures of crunchy with smooth, or fiery hot calmed by sour, but if I was stuck on an island with only two foods it would have to be ham and fruit. What about you?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Pony up!

Almost time for mint juleps and pretty hats -- throw a Kentucky Derby party and win the chance to go see the horses run in 2009. Click here for details.

Here's my burning need for my Derby party: Where can I find Pappy Van Winkle's in Seattle?

Revolting development!

I just paid $5 for a loaf of bread.

This wasn't some fancy, hand-sculpted, rustic artisan bread, but whole wheat from my fave Island Bakery. I knew it was coming. Gas is nearly $4 a gallon, a latte can run that high, too.

I wish I could be more like my pal No Sluggo Dave and make my own, but I have always been flour-phobic. Still, it might be time to try to get in touch with my inner Nana once again.

How about you? What's the single most shocking price hike you've seen lately?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Chips ahoy!

Had lunch at the spiffy new Virginia Inn today and can't get over those homemade potato chips. They're just the right thickness, not flimsy, not too fat.

Sandwiches were pretty good, too. The cheeseburger tasted like steak. Really.

And, though the bread was all wrong on the muffaletta, a baguette instead of the soft round loaf that's stuffed and cut into wedges, the filling tasted right. The olive salad was good, the salami and mortadella present. It was served warm and the cheese melted, which was a variation of the traditional New Orleans-style sammie, but it was darned close.

As was the gumbo. Dark and spicy, filled with chicken and sausage. Would have loved a little more rice. But I am beastly picky when it comes to gumbo. Ya-Ya!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Catch some king crab from Deadliest Catch

Counting down to the season premiere of "Deadliest Catch" and got this press release:

"Seafood connoisseurs are in for a treat the next time they dine at The Oceanaire Seafood Room ( The upscale seafood restaurant known for serving ultra-fresh seafood, made an unprecedented boatload purchase of Alaskan king crab from the Fishing Vessel (F/V), Time Bandit.

The Time Bandit is a member of the crab fishing fleet featured in the Discovery Channel’s hit series, Deadliest Catch; the boat is owned by the Hillstrand Brothers, Andy, Johnathan and Neal. After the catch was processed, Oceanaire acquired a whopping 40,000 pounds of its king crab clusters to be sold in the company’s 15 restaurants nationwide."

Pretty cool, right? Even cooler, Seattle's Oceanaire chef Eric Donnelly was aboard the Time Bandit last season. Can't wait to hear some tales from the old salt.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

McCafe commercials are pissing me off!

I had every intention of trying the new drinks at Mickey D's... until I started seeing these dippy commercials that make fun of pseudo-elists sipping at Starbucks. Gimme a break.

The Web site does have a coupon for a free drink, so you bet I'm going to go in and check it out with my very sophisticated palate. Geez. Can't we all just get along?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Rhubarb rumminations

Isn't this stuff kinda like weeds? Why the heck is it so expensive?

As much as I love it, not sure I can bring myself to pay $4 a pound for something I used to grow in my backyard in old Spokaloo, along with raspberries, blackberries, tomatoes, basil. Heck, the hubby even tried to grow corn one year.

It's been ages since I've had a real garden, and I can't say I really miss it. Except this time of year, right?

Back to the rhubarb for a sec: I had the most spectacular dessert the other night at Canlis, a rhubarb Napolean with Sicilian pistachios and fromage blanc sandwiched between delicate wafers. It was so beautiful. Bravo to pastry genius Neil Robertson!!

You don't have to do the whole three-hour din-din to enjoy dessert. Go sit in the bar and listen to the piano man. Order from the incredible wine list and have a dessert. You will not regret it.

One door opens, another one closes

Just had lunch in Ballard at the month-old Monkey Bridge, a Vietnamese restaurant that has a charming little dining room. They were completely slammed today, servers and cooks running.

Yet, the food came out quickly and it was good. Not mind-blowing great, but good enough. It's on Market, near 17th.

Walking back to the car, I noticed a sign on Market Street Grill saying that Sunday, April 13, is the restauant's last day in business. I fear we're going to be seeing a lot more "closed" for good signs as the economic gloom settles in.

Or, maybe not. Maybe Seattle will dodge the bullet. Any notable closings in your part of the world? If you don't want to leave them in the comments, you can always drop me a line:

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Coming soon: Pike Street Fish Fry

Culinary maverick Michael Hebberoy (known for his underground dining sensation, One Pot) is teaming up with Mike McConnell (Caffe Vita, Via Tribunali) and Jerry Everard (Rendezvous, Neumo’s, Moe’s) to launch Pike Street Fish Fry in the space that was once the gone, but not forgotten Frites.

This venture will feature a variety of battered and fried fish – from cod, halibut and oysters to more exotic seafood such as skate. Some items will be available grilled. Sauces will be made from scratch, but don’t expect anything remotely fancy at this stand-up dining spot. You want to sit down? The full menu will be available next door at Moe’s.

“We’re not trying to do a traditional fish-n-chips,” Hebberoy said. “It’s more street food.”
Pike Street Fish Fry will initially be open Monday through Saturday from 6 p.m.-2 a.m., with lunch hours starting soon.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Memphis vs. Kansas: No doubt, Memphis smokes the J-Hawks' state!

Apologies to Calvin Trillin, but I've got to say: There's no contest... Memphis has the best BBQ in the land.
Oh, you thought I was making a prediction about the outcome of Monday night's National Championship basketball game?? Nah. I'm rooting for the Tigers, of course.
And I love that this matchup pits two great BBQ cities against each other. I admit, I've only had Kansas City 'Q once. At Jack Stack's. And it was a big snore.
OK, actually, artist extraordinaire and true blue Jayhawk Andrew Saeger made some dang fine ribs at a backyard barbecue last summer. Still, I'm not convinced.
Memphis does amazing things with ribs, but it's the pulled, chopped and sliced pork shoulder that stands out, slow-cooked until the tough meat turns tender. There's just nothing like it.
Hey, did I mention I'm going to the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest next month? Can't wait. Planning on reporting on Seattle teams making the trip to this incredible "Super Bowl of Swine." See you there?
In the meantime: GO TIGERS!!!


There's no better place on the planet to get smoked fish than Rockway Bay, Oregon, home of Karla's.
Drove 50 miles out of my way to pick up the most luscious black cod, incredible Willapa Bay oysters, albacore tuna, and a piece of coho caught near the Canadian border.
The black cod was my favorite, transforming to a buttery texture as soon as it hits your palate. Is there any place in Seattle that does smoked black cod, aka sablefish?
The BBQ joint that shares the sign hasn't opened for the season yet, but Karla's keeps it real year-round. Like so many places on the coast, they do it old school. Which means you better bring cash, because they do not do plastic!

Pastrami envy: Kenny and Zuke's in Portland

Just got back after a few days on the Planet O.... went to Portland for the Ghostland Observatory show and in a very short visit ended up eating twice at Kenny and Zuke's, the New York-style deli in the Ace Hotel. WHY DOESN'T SEATTLE HAVE A DELI AS ROCKIN' AS THIS PLACE??? REALLY!?
The pastrami was better than anything I've tasted in the famous places in Manhattan, brined five days, slow-smoked and steamed. It's sliced to order and reminded me a lot of BBQ, the effort that goes into turning a tough meat into a thing of beauty. I had a Reuben both visits and would recommend anyone who has been unhappy with the sad state of these sandwiches in Seattle to hot foot it to P'land, pronto!
Also loved the borscht, the chicken soup with matzoh balls, the potato salad and the knish. Unbelieveably, insanely good. Kenny and Zuke, why don't you kick the Cyclops out and open an outpost in Seattle? I'm beggin' ya!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Some pics from Monday's M's game

I'm always amazed/amused at how many people go to the ballpark and pay no attention to the game.
I saw hundreds of "fans" huddled inside on the freakishly cold day, drinking beer, eating, chatting. Maybe looking up occasionally at the TV screen where there were guys dressed up in uniforms tossing a ball around.
The little kids are so into it, though. So darned cute in their teeny hats and being too shy to go up and give the Mariner Moose a high five.
You can read my report on some of the new fare in the Seattle P-I. The sliders up top and the fish and chips were from the Hit it Here Cafe. And let me know if/when you score anything worth trying at the ballpark this year.