Ravishing Racha

October 30, 2008

We recently enjoyed a media dinner at the newest location of Racha Thai & Asian Kitchen, located in the updated Westfield Southcenter in Tukwila, Washington. General manager Punya Tipyasothi, our old friend and manager Plutthiphong (Sprite) Srigrarom, and Chef Lek have created a menu filled with eye-catching and flavor-packed dishes from Thailand and other southeast-Asian countries. 

Here’s the Crispy Whole Fish–pompano the night we dined–served with Tamarind-Sriracha Sauce, Fried Ginger, and Hot Basil. Boy, was it good!

Crispy pompano was the star of the show at a recent media dinner at Racha Thai & Asian Kitchen.

Other dishes we enjoyed were the Seven-Spice Calamari  Sticks (deep-fried, lightly breaded squid steaks with a Mae Ploy sauce) and the Asian Duck Salad (mixed baby greens with snow peas and water chestnuts and a generous sprinkling of cooked duck meat, all lightly dressed with rice vinegar). 

Dessert didn’t disappoint. Here is the gorgeous sampler plate, which included Ginger Crème Brulee, Green Tea Tiramisu, Mango Cobbler, and Banana Chocolate Cake.

Dessert at Racha didn\'t disappoint!

And here’s the new restaurant’s stunning interior. 

The inviting interior at the newest location of Racha Thai & Asian Kitchen.

I say forget the shopping, and bring on the eating, at the new Westfield Southcenter. 


The Devil’s in the Details

October 28, 2008

Barry Foy, Seattle-based proofreader and copy editor extraordinaire, has worked with my articles and books over the years. So I was thrilled to learn about, then receive my very own copy, of his just-released book, The Devil’s Food Dictionary: A Pioneering Culinary Reference Work Consisting Entirely of Lies (Frogchart Press, $17.95).

It’s already received national press in the food section of the Washington Post and in The Onion, will soon be featured in Gastronomica. More good reviews will undoubtedly follow, since Barry signed up with my agent and public relations dynamo Lisa Ekus, owner of The Lisa Ekus Group, to help him promote the self-published tome. 

You’ll laugh out loud when you read “dictionary” entries such as “Cocoa nib: By far the most sensitive area of the cocoa bean.” Or “Chinese cuisine: A generic term applied to any FOOD eaten with sticks. see CORN DOGS and POPSICLES, also COOKING.” 

Foodies and winos should run, not walk, to their nearest bookstore or visit Barry’s Web site to get their hands on a copy of The Devil’s Food Dictionary.  

A Restaurant Find in the Yakima Valley

October 26, 2008

During our booksignings last month in the Yakima Valley, we enjoyed the food of talented local chef Frank Magaña both at Chinook Wines (where he cooked winemaker Kay Simon’s fabulous Cherry-Marinated Chicken, a recipe featured in Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining, for an appreciative crowd) as well as at Picazo 7 Seventeen, his restaurant in downtown Prosser. 

There are still a few vestiges of the former Alexandria Nicole winery space–glass vases are filled with wine corks and wine barrels serve as end tables. But otherwise, the restaurant boasts a Latin vibe, with bold colors and dramatic artwork. A specially commissioned chandelier/sculpture incorporating wine bottles dangles from the center of the dining room.

The dramatic interior at Picazo 7 Seventeen in downtown Prosser, Washington.

The Firecracker Prawns were our favorite starter–Gulf Prawns sautéed with garlic and harissa chili paste and finished with cream–the perfect combination of hot/spicy and mellow. We also nibbled on the thin-crust, housemade Flat Bread, topped with kalamata olives, shredded basil, and Manchego cheese, while we perused the menu.

Housemade flat bread with basil, kalamata olives, and Manchego cheese at Picazo 7 Seventeen in Prosser, Washington.

My fellow diners all opted for one of the specials of the day, a hefty veal chop, while I thoroughly enjoyed the Tuscan Chicken, a grilled airline breast with broiled chèvre, toasted garbanzo beans, roasted red peppers, and kalamata olives.

The wine list features the Valley’s best (and many boutique) bottles. We enjoyed Bunnell Family Cellars Vif!, a lively red blend, as well as Millbrandt 2006 Chardonnay. 

Magaña, who moved east of the mountains after chef-ing in Tacoma, raises the bar in the Yakima Valley, where he caters many events in addition to running his restaurant and raising his family. His monthly winemaker dinners are legendary, and great bargains, at just $75 per person. 

Apple Cheese Cookies

October 24, 2008

For years, we’ve sent lucky friends and family a can of Cougar Gold Cheese for Christmas. So every couple of months, Washington State University sends me their Cougar Cheese Notes newsletter.

The Fall 2008 issue features a recipe that sounds divine (although I haven’t tested it yet and there is no yield line, so I have no idea how many cookies it will make). I know I’ll be whipping up a batch of Apple Cheddar Cookies for autumn snacking! 

Apple Cheddar Cookies

1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 ounces American Cheddar, grated (about 2 cups)

1 1/2 cups chopped apples

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Get out a baking sheet and line with aluminum foil or parchment paper for easy clean-up. 

2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg and vanilla. 

3. Combine the flour, cinnamon, soda, and salt. Stir into the wet ingredients, blending well.

4. Stir in the cheese, apples, and nuts.

5. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden, 15 to 18 minutes. 

6. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Classic Canlis

October 22, 2008

To celebrate our autumn birthdays (which are within 11 days of each other), Spencer and I selected Canlis for our joint celebration. While the meal didn’t live up to our memories of Canlis’s glory days under our friend and fellow Pacific Northwest food writer Greg Atkinson (we missed the Mrs. C Salad, Greg’s wonderful way with fresh vegetables, and the dishes–such as the Caesar Salad–that used to be prepared tableside), a few of our choices still proved to be classics.

Here is Spencer’s New York Pepper Steak, served medium-rare as requested with Truffle Fries and a half bottle of Ridge (California) Zinfandel. 

The peppercorn steak at Canlis.

And luckily, Canlis still serves their Grand Marnier Soufflé, a labor-intensive, tough-to-time dessert with a side of Crème Anglaise. 

The Grand Marnier Souffle at Canlis remains a classic.

General Manager Mark Canlis also sent over Canlis’s seasonal dessert offering: Concord Grape Sorbet and Pinenut Polenta Cake, which is definitely worthy of becoming one of the restaurant’s “new” classics. 

A Comforting Cure

October 20, 2008

Spencer and I both fell victim to the weird stomach virus/flu that’s been going around Seattle lately, and it really affected my appetite, in particular. Suddenly, all I craved were comfort foods. One morning for breakfast, all I could manage to get down was Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup with a dab of Thai chile paste and half a block of tofu chunks, gently stirred and warmed in the microwave oven. Divine!

Over the weekend, instead of having my usual Dungeness Crab Salad with Avocado, Jicama, Organic Greens, and Lime Vinagrette at Etta’s Seafood, I opted instead for a cup of the just-right-in-texture and -taste Manila Clam Chowder. The recipe is in Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining if you want to try it for yourself. Here’s a photo of this cup o’ simple, satisfying comfort food for a sick tummy.

A cup of Manila Clam Chowder from Etta\'s Seafood lifts the spirits and fills the belly.


Sooke Harbour House Kitchen Adventure

October 18, 2008

An e-release from our friends at Sooke Harbour House on Vancouver Island announced the new Kitchen Adventure
, which includes a two-night stay in one of the resort’s ocean-view guest rooms
, daily breakfast served in the privacy of your room
, a tour of the property’s Certified Organic Gardens (at 10:30 a.m.), spending time with the chef in the kitchen (from 1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.)
, special culinary keepsake gifts
, plus a two-course dinner (valued at $50.00)

The offer is available now through June, and is based 
on availability. Prices vary according to the season, guestroom selection and the number of participants, with a maximum of four people. 
Prices range from $539.00 per person (Canadian) to $785.00 per person for two participants or $444.50 to $567.50 per person for four participants (sharing one guestroom) depending on room selection and time of year. 

Quoted rates exclude applicable taxes. Please call 250-642-3421 or email reservations@sookeharbourhouse.com to make your booking.

Okanagan Update

October 16, 2008

We are just back from a lovely five days in the Okanagan at the Okanagan Fall Wine Festival. Here’s a photo from the WestJet Wine Tastings event, which was crowded with people and many of the area’s top winemakers.

The WestJet Wine Tastings featured samples of hundreds of Okanagan wines.

Among our favorite wines were Inniskillin Okanagan Discovery Series 2006 Malbec, Hester Creek Estate Winery 2004 Reserve Merlot, Rollingdale Winery 2006 8 Barrels (a red blend made from Oliver vines), Blasted Church Vineyards 2007 Hatfield’s Fuse (an off-dry white blend), and 8th Generation Vineyard 2007 Merlot.

Once home, we got the good news from the weekly Okanagan Grocery Artisan Bakery e-newsletter that several of the people profiled in Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining, or those whose restaurants/wines we had tried during our trip, had been included in Western Living Magazine in an article entitled “Top 40 Foodies Under 40.”

The list includes: Ofri Barmor (Carmelis Goat Cheese Artisan, “Top Producer of the Year”, Kelowna); Rhys Pender (Wine Plus+ Education & Consulting, Cawston); Ned Bell (Cabana Grille, Kelowna); Cameron Smith and Dana Ewart (Joy Road Catering, Penticton); and Heidi Noble (Joie Wines, Naramata).

Here’s a photo of Ofri Barmor serving up some of her amazing goat’s-milk gelato (24 flavors available depending on the season!). 

Ofri Barmor, cheesemaker at Carmelis Goat Cheese Artisan in the Okanagan, serves up some of her delicious gelato.

Braiden’s Okanagan Booksigning

October 14, 2008

Early in October, Mission Hill Family Estate was kind enough to host me for a two-hour booksigning during the Okanagan Fall WIne Festival. Here I am doing my thing, talking up a lovely young lady visiting from Victoria. 

Braiden signing her book at Mission Hill Family Estate.

After the signing, we enjoyed taking the Discovery Tour throughout the property. Most impressive were the underground caves (blasted from volcanic soils!) and the wine-and-cheese tasting/comparison that ended the tour. 

I was also lucky enough to chat a few minutes with winery executive chef Michael Allemeier, who has racked up all sorts of impressive awards for The Terrace restaurant. Unfortunately, the one day we were there, it rained, so the al fresco resto was closed! That’s okay. It gives us another reason to return to Mission Hill soon and often. Here’s Chef Allemeier.

Braiden chats up Chef Michael Allemeier at Mission Hill Family Estate.

Here’s a photo of The Terrace restaurant at Mission Hill Family Estate, once the sun had finally come out, but too late for lunch!

Braiden at The Terrace Restaurant at Mission Hill.

And finally, here’s a photo of the winery’s monumental architecture.

The exterior architecture of Misssion Hill Family Estate.


The Pike Pub’s Bewitching “Brownie”

October 12, 2008

During a recent lunch at The Pike Pub, located just half a block from the Pike Place Market (not to mention just downstairs from our condominium!) we enjoyed the Pike XXXXX Stout Brownie with Pike XXXXX Stout Cream, piping hot from the oven. Owners Rose Ann and Charles Finkel may humbly bill this dessert as a “brownie,” but it’s really a darkly delicious Chocolate Decadence cake in disguise. Pour on the Pike XXXXX Stout Cream (whipped cream + Stout, I think) and savor every sinful calorie.

Brownies and Pike Stout XXXXX Cream, anyone?!?!

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