Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Who's cooking at 35th Street Bistro?

Just got a news release saying chef Tom Black is now at Culinary Communion, doing cooking classes. This is just months after he joined the kitchen crew at the Fremont restaurant, which seems to have a revolving door when it comes to chefs.

Anybody got the inside skinny on this development?

This totally bites!

This was my last real meal before having dental surgery last week. Poor, poor pitiful me!
Before going under the knife, or hammer and chisel or whatever nasty tools they used, I made myself a big bowl of comfort food in the form of carbonara. The swine-tastic bacon from Wooly Pigs gave it some extra sizzle, and I threw some fresh figs on the side for a sweet note to balance all the creamy saltiness. Mmmmm!
Since then, it's been soft foods for me. Which completely sucks. I love the crunch! Still, I'm trying to explore the wonderful world of polenta and mashed potatoes and even managed to make tortilla chips do-able by folding them into scrambled eggs with roasted anaheim chilis and calling it migas. 
Where's the best restaurant to wrap my mouth around something soft?

Monday, August 18, 2008

I've been Two-Buck Chucked!

At a recent family reunion, brother Mike challenged me to a blind tasting. He bet I couldn't pick out the Charles Shaw (aka $2 or $3 or $4 Chuck) in the bunch. The set-up was ultra-casual, wine poured into plastic cups, after much wine had already been consumed. (I plead palate fatigue!)

I'm not exactly making excuses, just saying I should have gone with my gut instinct. Sniffed them all first and Chas was putting out some strong fumes, but I was pulled off track by another cheapie from Trader Joe's, an Italian that was mighty grape-y, too.

So, yes, I was showed up. Are you happy little bro? Yes, I learned my lesson: Do not make bets after imbibbing. Guess that wouldn't apply in Vegas, would it? 

Thanks brother!

My Maui-bronzed bro Chris was in town last week and took me out, even picked up the tab. Feeding the beast of a weekly review schedule, it's so rare that I am out for a meal just for fun, and it reminded me how much I love it when someone else is treating. (Hint, hint.)

We had drinks and apps at Betty, then dinner at Crow. He was blown away by how cheap everything was, especially the fine food at Tamarind Tree. (Though, ever the critic, I've got to say it's time for that restaurant to replace its tattered menus!)

In just a few weeks, I'll return the favor when I visit him in Hawaii. Spending my birthday on the beach this year! Anyone have island-style dining recommendations? Mahalo for sharing! 

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Please don't kill yourself Bethany Jean

I'm a big fan of sassy Stranger Bethany Jean Clement, who recently wrote about the hunt for high-end cheap eats, mentioning a story I wrote in July, saying if she had to follow my suggestions, she'd rather stay home and kill herself.  Hmmm. Just a teensy bit dramatic, doncha think?

Anyhoo, BJC writes about the incredible $50 deal at Corson Building, Matt Dillion's new place in Georgetown. It's offered occasionally on Sundays. It's not as much food as the regular sit-downs, but you won't go away hungry, she promised.


That's not what I've heard. And I'm talking about the regular deal, not the leaner Sunday dinner. Am going to sneak in there soon. Have you been yet? What's the buzz? Tell me what's happening!  

And in what alternative universe is $50 considered "cheap", especially when you add tax, tip, a glass of wine, make that two or three glasses of wine. OK, that "cheap" dinner is now $100.

Happy Birthday to my favorite spy! Julia Child

August 15 is the French Chef's birthday, and news just broke that she was part of the OSS during WWII. Oh, how I wish she could have included those stories in some of her books.

Have you read "My Life in France" yet? It's so darned entertaining. I actually listened to the book on CD during a road trip to the Great Smoky Mountains a couple of years ago. The whole family got a big charge out of Julia discovering her calling and her endearingly goofy phrases.

I got to meet this legendary cooking icon and she was so warm, so engaging. She had the gift of natural curiousity and conversation. Maybe that's why she was chosen to be a spy!

Friday, August 8, 2008

So good!

I four-starred Cafe Juanita in today's Seattle P-I, a rating I have only given, maybe three times in the 15 years I've been reviewing restaurants.

The three meals I had there were not utterly flawless -- one pasta preparation went overboard on the basil -- but the place really nailed the whole experience. 

I'd love to hear from you: What's the four-star restaurant in your universe? Is it flying under the radar? Has it been reviewed?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Tasty memory

Was just going through, trying to organize my photos (yeah, right!) and found this one from last spring: a morel mushroom-stuffed pastry at Art of the Table. No skimping on the morels, that was such a wonderful dinner.

Been meaning to try and go back there, but too busy eating for upcoming reviews. I might make an exception for next week's Julia Child Birthday dinner. Send a note to chef Dustin at info@artofthetable.net to sign up for the restaurant's newsletter.

Huevos with an East Indian twist

Loved my breakfast at Old Wives' Tale, a cafe in Portland. The dal subbing for the usual refrieds was the biggest difference in the variation of the classic breakfast fave. And the pineapple chutney on the side.

I also had a pretty great din din at a Nouveau Southern-style place called Screen Door. And, reconfirmed my devotion to Kenny & Zuke's pastrami, munching on a righteous Reuben for lunch. 

During this quick trip, barely had a chance to put a dent in my wish list of places to go dine and drink. Really wanted to get into the Teardrop Lounge, but not enough hours in the day! 

What are some of your favorite Portland eateries? Is Portland becoming the new Seattle?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Dining doggie style

The very day I read in the New York Times that restaurants in China have been encouraged to drop dog from its menus while the Olympics are going on, I stumbled onto news that Barking Frog is offering a special three-course dinner for your special four-legged friend tonight.

Click here to read the menu, provided by Three Dogs Bakery.

Raise your paw if you think dogs belong in restaurants. (This issue prompted a huge cat fight when I brought it up last summer, but it seems to be gaining momentum, so I thought I'd open that can of worms again.