Friday, November 28, 2008

Deep-fried turkey: The Verdict

We did not burn down the house. The deep-fried turkey was a (modest) success, especially in comparison with bird No. 2, slow-roasted in a Weber. Such great flavor. Huge high fives to Adam and Laura for being adventureous cooks!

How was your Turkey Day?

Now, after a quick Black Friday shopping trip -- doing my patriotic duty to pump up the economy -- I'm home sipping eggnog and putting up decorations with Baby Girl. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Deep-fried turkey, part II: Taj Mahal edition

Just got home from an amazing show at Jazz Alley... Taj Mahal. What a great performer! 

And, hey, I got to shake his sweaty hand after the show!! Lucky me.

In between songs, he talked turkey, Thanksgiving style. Got the chef at Jazz Alley to order up a couple of organic birds he's planning on deep-frying. Johnny looked and me and we fist bumped! We deep-frying it up too Taj!

Go see his show at JA, he's playing there through Sunday. Just do not eat there! It's some of the worst food I've had in Seattle. Dessert was OK, but the entrees were a bomb....

Yay Max! Standing ovation!!

Just heard a glowing review about a family friend's off-Broadway performance in What's that Smell. How thrilling!! 

Man, I wanna go to NYC so bad, especially after hearing this report. My nephew Brandon and his girlfriend are making their first trip there next week and I've been filling them in on my favorite places to eat. Please add yours!

Pie high

Via Tribunali is opening soon in Fremont, and in 2009, going to plant its roots at the landmark Crocodile Cafe. Pretty cool.

Wish I was there....

My sister is on her way to celebrate Thanksgiving with family in Austin, Texas, and stopped for lunch at Cooper's in Llano, home of the Big Chop. It's totally wasted on Sissy, who's a vegetarian. Sure looks good, don't it?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cooking lessons from a guy in camo

Doing a deep-fried turkey this year at Adam and Laura's. Been looking around for how-to's and found this one. Click here for some tasty tips on cooking the bird in hot oil.

Please share tails, I mean tales, of deep-fried turkey triumphs and tragedies. Much obliged!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tasting brats in Leavenworth

Took a little trip to Leavenworth to celebrate my Aunt Eileen's 75th and had a big ol' bratwurst blowout today. Went to a couple of different places and tried a whole bunch of sausage. 

Liked the Best of the Wurst's grilled bockwurst best, made by Bavarian Meats... the sausage stuffers located right here in Seattle. Must have tried a dozen different mustards, too, and several styles of sauerkraut. Now that's some good fun. 

Friday, November 21, 2008

Today's Prelude review

I kinda cringed when I read the headline: "Prelude needs to polish its act" because, overall, I liked the place, at McCaw Hall. Don't get me wrong, I'd be up a creek without a dictionary if it weren't for the skills of the super sharp copy desk at the P-I, but I thought that particular headline might have been a bit harsh.

Wanna read the review and offer an opinion? Here's the link. Does the tone of the piece match the headline? 

Let's talk oysters

Did you read my story this week about hunting for oysters near Bellingham? Click here for the link.

In other mouthwatering oyster news, I just got a tip that Ama Ama Oyster Bar and Grill in West Seattle has hired a new chef. Jared Wentworth was previously at Quinn's and before that, worked in Chicago and New York City. 

Some of his new menu items include Dungeness mac-and-cheese, pork belly sliders, Penn Cove mussels in a Tunisian harissa butter, seared scallops and oxtail over gnocchi. Lots of local oysters featured, too.

Ama Ama also does brunch, with a bacon-garnished Bloody Mary on offer. (In the "everything's better with bacon" category,  I've also got to give kudos to the mad genius mixologists at Taste, who've come up with a BLT cocktail made with bacon-infused vodka. OINK!)

So, who's up for some oysters?  

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wal-Mart's not so bad?

I might have to re-think my longstanding boycott of Wal-Mart after reading an article in today's NYTimes that the giant is going to donate tons to a huge food bank organization.

I volunteer at the U-District Food Bank and heard some scary numbers at a meeting yesterday. During the month of October, the Food Bank served a record number of folks, more than 4,600. Much of the increase was due to hourly employees having their schedules cut. This is an organization that serves a whole lot of working poor and they do it in a very cool way, so the customers can shop in a set-up like a grocery store. 

What surprised me most after learning more about this food bank, which serves Northeast Seattle, is that cash donations are so helpful. A food drive is great, but $$$ lets the staff buy items at wholesale prices, stuff they really need. Even though my bank account is hardly beefy, I wrote a check for $100. Anybody care to meet or beat that? Big high fives to those who give in anyway they can, because the need has never been greater. You can give online:

I'm always inspired to try and be generous by the memory of my beloved grandparents, working class people who lived through the Depression. Times were often lean, but Nana and Papa always made room at their table for the various friends and relatives who were struggling financially. True role models.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tribute to Dorothy

It was my late mother-in-law's birthday yesterday and I made a dinner in her honor: meatballs in marinara and a chocolate pie, which I nearly ruined, adding cold egg yolks to hot chocolate without first tempering it. 

Really pretty funny that Dorothy's recipe file was stuffed with globally accented dishes, including a chili relleno casserole that's got to have about a million calories a serving. The only sign of her Icelandic roots is a recipe for the beloved Vinetarta, a date cookie that typically made an appearance around Christmas. 

During dinner, we took turns telling stories about Mom, Grandma, Mom-in-law. A tasty tradition, don't you think? The foods I'd like served at my memorial din-din? It'd have to be a catered buffet: Fery's chicken curry, Lindaman's chicken pot pie, the ravioli from Spinasse, wines from Seven Hills, Arbor Crest and Veuve Cliqucout. That's just the first course. I'll have to give it some more thought.   

UPDATE: Got a gentle nudge from a Memphis bud, here's another helping of requests for my tribute meal. BBQ sandwich from Payne's, fried chicken from Alcenia's, lentils and spinach Little Tea Shop style, cornish hens from Cozy Corner, Taylor catfish, veggie plate from Soul Fish. Oh my.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hot Brown?

Heard from somebody searching for a Hot Brown in Seattle. That old-fashioned roast beef sandwich (update: It's turkey, not roast beef, topped with mornay sauce and bacon) is rooted in Louisville, the Brown Hotel specifically. Here's a link to the recipe. (Random aside: I once drank moonshine made by a chef from this fancy hotel while riding on the top of a double decker bus barreling down the road in Oxford, Mississippi. Mmmm-mmm.) 

Haven't seen any Hot Browns around town, I'm afraid. 

Make me think about the regional sandwiches that are rare around here, stuff like muffaletta, lobster rolls, BBQ pork sandwiches topped with slaw. 

A food writer recently stumped me with this query: Is there a signature Seattle sandwich?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Does this look like a TV dinner?

Ah, nope. But that's how this dish is sold on the menu at the new Art restaurant at the Four Seasons. There's such a fine line between clever and pretentious, isn't there?

I don't want to pick nits, but I know TV dinners and ladies and gentlemen, this ain't no Swanson's Hungry Man. I grew up eating on those frozen meals, especially during summer visits to my mother's because she was too busy to cook. 

The main ingredient missing from this too-lovely-to-be-called-a-TV-dinner is, of course, a TV. The main thing to look at in this elegant dining room is the incredible view of Elliott Bay. The setting is quite a contrast to the former Four Seasons locale. Very old-school formal, the last dining room in Seattle to require a jacket. (That rule is long gone these days.)

Anybody else dabbled in Art yet? 

Monday, November 10, 2008

Retro dinner

For obvious reasons, I can't get this song from looping in my euphoric noggan: "Happy Days are Here Again," which might explain why I felt compelled to do a nostalgic Sunday dinner.

It turned out to be a New York Times-centric meal, with my favorite meatloaf recipe from Marian Burros' "Cooking for Comfort" book (so, so many great recipes in there) and the Green Goddess salad recipe, which appeared in yesterday's Sunday mag. Click HERE to check that out. 

Had roasted red, white and blue potatoes, too, from Olsen Farms. Picked those up at Ballard Farmers Market yesterday. 

Poured a 2003 Chateau Ste. Michelle syrah and sat back, waiting for the compliments to flow!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Making Pike Place Market even better

Now that I've got a financial stake in the Pike Place Market -- paying additional taxes after the passing of Proposition 1 toward making improvements at the historic landmark -- here are a few things I'd love to see happen:

Close the street to traffic, except for vendors and limit those hours to the beginning and end of the day. The best days to roam around the Market are when they've got traffic diverted for special events. It makes no sense to have cars crawling down this congested corridor.

Dedicate more space to true farmers. I talked with one grower today who echoed the oft-heard grumbling about produce stands that sell fruits and vegetables you can buy in any supermarket, except at higher prices. It's essential for visitors to understand and maybe then appreciate what's truly local.

Take a cue from some of the neighborhood farmers markets and have a few vendors selling food on the street. For instance, during oyster season, how about letting somebody set up a grill near the place where they throw fish. There's a cool setup like that near the ferry landing on Friday Harbor. It would be great to be able to buy barbecued oysters on the spot. 

Tell tourists to buy something or get out! This ain't no museum people. These are hard-working folks trying to make a living while you take a pretty picture and block the paying customers. OK, that's a little harsh. But for this visitor attraction to work, you've got to show some love. Or plastic.

And for locals who shun the place because it's a tourist attraction: Get over yourselves! Despite the minor shortcomings, this is the most wonderfully funky place to shop and eat and hang out in the city. If you can't find it there, it's not worth having.

Today, I came home with Creole mustard, remoulade, the fixings for meatloaf from Don & Joe's Butchers, organic tomatoes and potatoes and shallots and tomatillos, a poblano pepper, garlic, smoked sea salt, anchovies and medium brown eggs from the most awesome little shop, Pike Place Creamery. Today, they had a bunch of fall leaves on the ground, and they let me slide when I was short 15 cents. Thanks guys!

Care to share your suggestions on making this great market even better?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I just got off the phone with Brandon Gillespie, owner of Beato, who was sorry to report he's going to have to pull the plug on his West Seattle restaurant.

"It's just too much of an uphill battle with the economy," said Gillespie, who knows a thing or two about the markets since he's a trader. 

In just the past four weeks, he has seen business drop by 65 percent. Shoot!

"When things get bad, fine dining is the first to go and the last to come back," he said.

Beato's last supper will be served Nov. 14. The restaurant's offering deals on wine and featuring an updated menu. I'm going to make it a point of getting in there to pay my respects. You?

Tom Douglas in his cups

OK, cupping to come up with a special Starbucks Thanksgiving blend. Check out this You Tube video by clicking HERE.

Now, this is the kind of promotion I'm pumped to see the coffee pioneer doing. Though I can't really picture drinking coffee with my bird, but maybe the following day with my hot turkey sandwich leftovers.

Monday, November 3, 2008

An offer I couldn't refuse

Well... more like a request I couldn't refuse because it was asked so sweetly. Baby Girl wanted to watch "The Godfather" with her father for the umpteenth time, but this go-round, while eating Italian.

I couldn't really duplicate the ragu Clemenza makes in one of the movie's more satisfying scenes... where he mericilessly teases his future boss, showing him how to cook.

But I pulled together a decent impromtu dinner: bucatini with marinara topped with Trader Joe's eggplant parmesan, and some fresh oysters on the side, grilled on the stovetop in their shells until they start to sputer and sizzle. Then, I pryed them open and finished them in garlic butter, spiked with white wine and Worchestshire. Even Baby Girl liked 'em that way. 

Anyway, dinner and a movie was a huge hit. Might even make it a regular thing. Maybe break out the wok and cue up "Eat Drink Man Woman" or do a Scandanavian spread for "Babette's Feast".

What's your favorite movie where food plays a part?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Field trip: Oyster Bar on Chuckanut Drive

This was the view from my table at lunch at The Oyster Bar on Chucknut Drive near Bellingham, the top two pics are of oysters eaten during this Sunday drive. Today, I ate oysters raw at the water's edge, baked and fried. Pretty sweet!

I hadn't been to the Oyster Bar in years, but it hasn't changed much. It's still one of the best destination dining spots in the Northwest. Only a little more than an hour from Seattle. Go!