Welcoming the Northwest Wine Journal

January 29, 2009

I’m long overdue in recommending my friend Teri Citterman’s latest book, the Northwest Wine Journal, as the perfect gift for every Northwest wine lover on your list (don’t forget Valentine’s Day!).

With varietal info and plenty of room to write down your favorite wineries and wine finds along the trail, it was published late last year by local publisher, Sasquatch Books, who also published my very own Pike Place Market Cookbook, and retails for $13.95. 

Teri Citterman greets the crown and signs her latest book in early December.

Here’s the ever-glamorous Teri in early December, at her book-launch party at The Local Vine in Seattle’s Belltown section. 

A Fave Chocolate

January 26, 2009

One of my dear friends, who lives in our building and frequents DeLaurenti Specialty Food & Wine even more than I do, turned me onto these gorgeous egg-shaped chocolates that are sold right near the cash register in the store’s pizza/espresso bar just off First Avenue.

My new favorite chocolate is available at DeLaurenti Specialty Food & Wine in the Pike Place Market.

They reminded me of a cross between dark-chocolate and vanilla-cream Easter eggs (my childhood favorite) and really good Eskimo Pies (because of the dark chocolate). This is the perfect late-night chocolate indulgence. 

California Dreamin’

January 23, 2009

Double rainbows appeared over the vineyards in Santa Rosa, California, during our holiday stay.

During our eight days in California over the holidays, we experienced some gorgeous scenery, such as these magical double rainbows over the vineyards near our hotel, the Vintners Inn, in Santa Rosa.

The sunset right outside our room at Vintners Inn in Santa Rosa.

Here’s another gorgeous shot, taken at sunset right off of our hotel-room patio. 


Pike Place Market Redux

January 19, 2009

Spencer snapped this shot of the Market in late December, before the mini Christmas trees; lighted carrot, strawberry, and pear; and flying “rein-pigs” were taken down and stored until next year. I love the way the cab zips by looking all urban, while a group of people exits the Main Arcade in front of Pike Place Fish and Rachel. 

Cheers to holidays past, and all best to all of us for 2009!

A cab zips by the entrance to the Pike Place Market during the holiday season 2008.


Savoring Springhill

January 16, 2009

In early December we made our first foray to Springhill in West Seattle, the creation of owners Mark Fuller, a Tom Douglas alum who serves as chef, and his wife, Marjorie, who handles the front of the house. Yes, they charge for bread here, as many people (and restaurant critics) have complained, but three bucks for three such feather-light, hot-from-the-oven rolls is a bargain. My husband (who is trying to follow a relatively low-carb diet) fretted all evening because I let him eat only one!

I’m working on an article entitled, “Chef and Their Eggs,” for the Easter issue of The Seattle Times Pacific Northwest magazine, so have been quite interested to see what’s “eggy” on the menus about town. I wasn’t disappointed at Springhill, where chef Mark and crew offered Duck Egg Yolk Raviolo, a single large raviolo made with duck-egg yolks, filled with mascarpone, sauced with yellow (beurre blanc-style) sauce and green oil (basil?), and garnished with duck ham (keeping with the duck-y theme) and garlic chips. Here’s a photo:

The ravishing raviolo at Springhill in West Seattle.

Roasted Mussels was another outstanding discovery. . .roasted in their own juice, they were the essence of mussels, and therefore, perhaps the best mussel dish served in the Northwest, certainly the best I’ve had the pleasure to enjoy. Here they are:

The Roasted Mussels at Springhill in West Seattle are the essence of mussel.

Just to gild the lily, as if Wood-Grilled Prawns with Creamy Grits (give me anything with grits!) wasn’t decadent enough, chef Mark added a poached egg, shrimp gravy, and chanterelles. There is the shrimp dish on the left, below. 

Shrimp with Grits and Butter Lettuce Salad are winning selections at Springhill.

By the time I’d eaten large portions of all of the above, my Butter Lettuce Salad (right, above) seemed an afterthought, but even it was thoughtfully prepared with pale-green lettuce leaves, tender herbs, disks of baby radish, Parmesan and a citrus dressing. 

The restaurant is contemporary, long and narrow, slightly New York-y in feel. You’ll find a mix of ages (skewing young–20s, 30s) and lifestyles (a lesbian couple at the bar, four tops with young straight couples out for the evening, two tops of older folks like us) represented here. The open kitchen buzzes with activity and the maple panels make for a pleasant din in the dining room so that the space is loud in a good way. Simple place settings and stainless-steel cutlery keep things casual, although the food is anything but, since it is so creatively and carefully prepared. 

The wine list is a winner, with an Oregon State sparkler I’d never even heard of, but thoroughly recommend: Capitello Wines Non-Vintage Brut ($12). The Wallace Brook 2007 Chardonnay from the Willamette Valley ($9) was another winner, not overly oaked and so plenty food-friendly. With the roasted mussels and his Rainbow Trout with Brown Butter, Pan-Fried Pumpkin Cakes, Toasted Hazelnuts with Parsley (another winning dish), my hubby sipped O’Reilly’s 2007 Pinot Noir, also from Oregon ($12). Here’s the trout:

Idaho Trout at Springhill is paired with Pan-Fried Pumpkin Cakes and a Hazelnut-Parsley Salad.

We’ll be back for more. . .chef Mark’s Shellfish Sampler (half a Dungeness crab, a dozen oysters, six prawns, and a king clam with lemon-peel relish) or his Alder-Smoked Oysters or his Handmade Tagliatelle with Wild Mushrooms, Delicata Squash, Chard, and Parmesan. And, of course, we’ll do our best to save room for dessert.

Now, if Mark and Marjorie would just open a downtown branch of Springhill so we didn’t have to drive across the West Seattle bridge to get there, this place would be just about perfect. 


A Delish Dish

January 13, 2009

Spur Gastropub\'s Tagliatelle with Duck Egg is the Dish of the Day.

You know we’ve raved about Spur Gastropub in past posts, and a recent meal there only increased our zeal. Here’s the amazing Tagliatelle with Oyster Mushrooms and Parmesan (both foamed and shaved!), draped with a Duck Egg cooked sous-vide (slowly simmered in a plastic pouch so it keeps its egg essence!). This dish more than deserves to be the Dish of the Day, and is reasonably priced at $14.

Travel the World (of Wine) with The Wine Archive

January 11, 2009

A flight of wines is ready to \

This month, our friends Mimi Martin and Adam Rhynard at Portland’s Wine and Spirits Archive launched a new International Wine Passport Series, a series of monthly wine classes exploring different wine regions of interest.  You’ll find more details here. 

They asked 12 of their favorite Portland wine professionals to select a wine region they are passionate about and to put together a class to appeal to everyone from WSET Alums to the everyday wine lover, and here are the results.


January – Greece

February – Piedmont, Italy

March – SW France

April – Austria

May – Willamette Valley, USA

June – Marlborough and Martinborough, New Zealand

July – Stellenbosch, South Africa

August – Mosel, Germany

September – Rioja, Spain

October – Central Valley, Chile

November – Sonoma Valley, USA

December – Champagne, France 

You can sign up for individual classes, but the dynamic duo also offers up a “Frequent Flyer” Program with discounts for multiple registrations. 


Frequent Flyer – Platinum Member: $480 for all 12 sessions (20% discount)

Frequent Flyer – Gold Member: $255 for 6 sessions (15% discount)

Frequent Flyer – Silver Member: $135 for 3 sessions (10% discount)

Daytripper: $50 per session

So fasten your seatbelts and get ready for a special whirlwind of round-the-world wine tripping! 

Something Sweet at TASTE

January 9, 2009

Lucy Damkoehler has joined the ranks of TASTE Restaurant at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) as pastry chef. A graduate of the New England Culinary Institute, “she particularly enjoys playing on creative themes and transforming familiar desserts into clever incarnations,” according to SAM’s monthly member magazine. “She owes her enthusiasm for food to her dad, who tended a vegetable garden and baked bread.”

The Pacific Northwest Meets NYC

January 7, 2009

The Pacific Northwest will be well represented during multi-course dinners at the venerable James Beard House in January and February thanks to appearances by Oregon chefs.

Cannon Beach, Oregon, offers romantic beach walks and fine dining at The Stephanie Inn.

On January 28, Crystal Corbin, executive chef of the Stephanie Inn (located in one of our favorite places in the world, Cannon Beach–pictured above) will present “The Bounty of Oregon” dinner with wines from winemaker Joe Dobbes of Dobbes Family Estate. Among her dishes are Oregon Chanterelle and Morel Risotto with White Truffle Oil and Petite Herbs and Columbia River Sturgeon with Roasted Baby Beets, Winter Squash, Cipollini, and Huckleberry-Pinot Noir Beurre Rouge.

On February 9, chef/owner Jenn Louis and wine director/co-owner David Welch of Lincoln restaurant in Portland, present an “Oregon Pinot Noir Dinner” with wines by Soter Vineyards, Cristom Vineyards, and Andrew Rich. Dungeness Crab with Pimentón, Capers, and Garlic, as well as Pear and Apple Tarte with Currant Crème Fraîche, Hazelnuts, and Cider Caramel sound particularly appealing. 

Don’t Try This at Home (or She Flies Through the Air with the Greatest of Ease!)

January 5, 2009

A dedicated server risks life and limb at Place Pigalle in the Pike Place Market!

During an excellent four-course dinner at Place Pigalle (PP) in December, I snapped this photo of Sidney Markus, a.k.a. “bartender extraordinaire,” in a rather precarious position between the front and back bars. The intimate French restaurant with postcard views of Elliott Bay is one of our favorites and the servers really know how to treat their customers right, but risking life and limb?!?!

We were at PP enjoying their Autumn Prix-Fixe dinner, a four-course meal for $35 (or just $50 with very thoughtful wine pairings devised by Kerry Johnson, maitre ‘d and wine steward at the venerable Columbia Tower Club who also pinch hits at PP). As an example of his wine pairings, the rich Duck Confit Ravioli with Flageolet Beans and Sage Jus was paired with J. Christopher 2007 Cristo Misto from the Willamette Valley, an interesting blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris (90%) and Riesling (10%). Roasted Beet Salad and Baby Arugula Salad simply dressed with EVOO and parsley and sprinkled with goat’s-milk cheese from France paired with Freemark Abbey 2003 Merlot from the Napa Valley. 

Entrées included Fresh Diver Scallops with Beluga Lentils, Smoked Bacon Vinaigrette, and Shaved Fennel Salad with the lovely (and biodynamic!) Cooper Mountain 2006 Pinot Gris from the Willamette Valley. Coriander-Encrusted Pork Tenderloin with Yakima Apple and Fall Squash Hash and Calvados Jus paired perfectly with Dobbes Family Estate 2005 Pinot Noir, also from the Willamette. 

Our sweet tooth enjoyed PP’s famous (some might say infamous) Pot de Crème au Chocolat, Cherry Pecan Torte, or Crème Brûlée. Be on the look out for PP’s next four-course, prix-fixe dinner, whenever it arrives. It’s a great deal and real bargain, and the gorgeous view is an added bonus. 


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