Maximus Minimus on the Roll

June 30, 2009

There’s a hot new street-food option rolling through downtown Seattle. Maximus Minimus is the creation of Kurt Beecher Dammeier, the genius behind Beecher’s Handmade Cheese and owner of Pasta & Co. Here’s the coach parked at the southeast corner of Second and Pike.

Maximus Minimus

And here’s what’s on the menu. . .a choice between Pulled Pork or Vegetarian (Lentil) Sandwiches.

Maximus Minimus Menu

While I haven’t tried the sandwiches myself, I get it from good sources that the pork is super-lean but flavorful and the coleslaw is not cream-based, but vinegar (rice vinegar, perhaps) and a very tasty (and healthy) accompaniment.

Maximus Minimus Front View

Wherever it lands, the new Maximus Minimus bus, with its SLOWPIG license plate, is sure to turn heads and garner a smile wherever it rolls.

Dahlia Dazzles at Brunch!

June 29, 2009

During a media brunch in May, we were introduced to several of the brunch offerings at the Dahlia Lounge in downtown Seattle, which turns 20 years old in November. One of five restaurants owned and operated by Seattle über chef and restaurateur Tom Douglas, the Dahlia is still pretty new to Saturday and Sunday brunch, unlike its sister resto, Etta’s Seafood, which has served the brunch/lunch from 9:30 until 3 p.m. to happy customers (such as Spencer and me!) for many, many years.

Among the offerings are items as diverse as Congee with Grilled Prawns, Poached Egg, Scallions, and Chinese Dougnhuts ($14). Those of you who have traveled in Asia will recognize as this as the breakfast of champions in that part of the world. Definitely tasty and worth a try here, with lots of ham hock for extra richness. 

An Asian-Inspired Option at Dahlia Brunch

More traditional offerings (if still with a bit of a twist!) include the Eggs Benedict with Spit-Roasted Ham, Gwen’s English Muffin, and Two Poached Eggs. Brilliant green Scallion Hollandaise gives the dish a Green Eggs ‘n’ Ham sort of feel, while the Big Island Fruit Cup cleanses the palate with refreshing coconut water ($16). 

Eggs Benedict at Dahlia Brunch

There’s also a delicious Monkey Bread with Warm Caramel Sauce that could easily serve as a decadent dessert for two. Thanks, Tom and Dahlia, and cheers to Saturday and Sunday brunch! 



Spur Still Kicking Butt

June 26, 2009

Over the Memorial Day weekend, we enjoyed an early (6 p.m.) dinner at Spur Gastropub with our good friends Marcella and Harvey Rosene. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because the energetic couple are the founders of Pasta & Co. and Marcella has written several Pasta & Co. cookbooks in addition to co-editing the IACP-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Les Dames d’Escoffier (Sasquatch Books, 2009) in which my recipe for Salmon Baked in Grape-Leaf Packets, is featured.

Sockeye Salmon Crostini at Spur is a perfect summertime treat.

We began with a glass of Brut Rosé for me, Pinot Noir for Spencer, and cocktails for the Rosenes. Sockeye Salmon Crostini with Caper Berries, Mascarpone, and Pickled Shallots paired perfectly with these choices, as did the Yakima Asparagus with a frizzle of fried onion, onion hollandaise, and a pouf of miners lettuce on top. We kept up the Rosé theme by ordering a bottle of the deeply colored, richly flavored Waters Winery 2007 Rosé–summer in a bottle!

Yakima Asparagus at Spur is a seasonal delight.

Even the Baby Lettuces with Speck, Toasted Almonds, and Sherry Vinaigrette were tasty and perfect.

Baby Lettuces at Spur shine!

 Sous Vide Alaskan Halibut, my favorite Tagliatelle with Duck Egg, a gargantuan Bison Burger with shoestring potatoes, and Lamb Saddle formed our entrées. 

Salted Hazelnut Ice Cream showed the interesting interplay of sweet and salty, while Soft Chocolate Cake lived up to its name, and Lime Sponge Cake with Rhubarb was seasonally appropriate–all sweet ways to end a meal that saluted the start of summer! 


Etta’s Fine-Tuned Tuna

June 23, 2009

Brunch at Etta’s Seafood, just north of the Pike Place Market along Western Avenue, is one of our favorite weekend rituals. I usually opt for the Dungeness Crab Salad, but occasionally choose Tom’s Tasty Albacore Tuna Sashimi with Green Onion Pancakes. Every time I do, I realize this more than qualifies for my Dish of the Day. It’s especially good (and healthy!) when you order a side of Grilled Yakima Asparagus. Grapefruit juice is my drink of choice for additional Vitamin C and a tart, refreshing palate cleanser. 

Etta\'s Tuna Sashimi with Green Onion Pancakes


Savoring Seattle on a Culinary Tour

June 19, 2009

Over Memorial Day weekend, I had the pleasure of attending two Savor Seattle Food Tours, both highlighting the Pike Place Market. At 10 a.m., I signed on for the Pike Place Market: Greatest Hits Tours, a.k.a., the Classic. If you take this tour, skip breakfast! For during two hours of determined walking through the Market we sampled 22 different items ranging from piroskhy (Russian pastries) at Piroskhy-Piroskhy to cherry-peach salsa and chips at Chukar Cherries to mini crab cakes at Etta’s Seafood.

At 1 p.m., I was among 12 people who signed up for the Pike Place Market: Off the Beaten Path Tour, which promised exotic food samples along with a more ethnic slant than the Classics Tour.  

Here’s George, the deli manager at The Spanish Table, second stop on the tour. Authentic jamón serrano (Spanish hams) dangle overhead, and he also introduced us to Manchego cheese, Marcona almonds, anchovy-stuffed olives (better than you might imagine!), and chorizo (spicy Spanish sausage). 

Savor Seattle Food Tour at The Spanish Table

The Classic is perfect for visitors and locals new to the Market, while the afternoon tour is for dedicated and adventurous foodies. Samples served are diverse and filling, and served as both breakfast and lunch for me that day. On both tours we received a discount card good for 10% off at stops on the tour, as well as other downtown businesses. 

Anchovies + Olives

June 16, 2009

You know we are big fans of Ethan Stowell and all the good work he’s done at Union, Tavolàta, and How to Cook a Wolf. So we were very curious to try his latest, Anchovies & Olives, which is located in the Pearl Building in Capitol Hill.

Things didn’t get off to a very auspicious start because the restaurant was suffering from a menu malfunction when we arrived on a weekday around 5:30 (something about a printer being down or out of paper–whatever). Only one menu was available, so our server kindly transported it from the table of people nearby whenever we needed another glass of wine or small plate for sustenance. 

About 10 minutes later, when menus were finally delivered, I nabbed one and shot it for posterity, below. 

Apps and the Menu at Anchovies & Olives

We began our meal with an order of the Columbia City Bakery foccacia served (of course!) with a small dish of arbequina olives doused in peppery olive oil, above. 

The Black Cod at Anchovies & Olives

Black Cod with Hen of the Woods Mushrooms

Like the menus, malfunctions continued with our entrées as well. My black cod was supposed to arrive with fingerling potatoes, spring onion, and salsa verde. Spencer’s escolar (an oily rich whitefish) was supposed to come with hen of the woods mushrooms, speck, endive, and brown-butter balsamic. Unfortunately, the kitchen mixed the sauces, so my light, seasonal preparation suddenly became a dense and heavy dish. 

Escolar at Anchovies & Olives

Escolar with Fingerling Potatoes 

We informed our server, who offered to have the chef re-make the dishes we ordered, but we were en route to a movie, so didn’t have time. 

Instead, we shared our entrées part-way through, and ordered sides of Cauliflower Salad with Anchovy Dressing and Conchiglie (little ear) Pasta with Smoked Tuna, both of which were very satisfying choices. 

Again, because of time limitations, we passed on dessert, even though our server offered it to us for free to make up for the entrée snafu.

Instead, he comped a glass of wine or two, a nice gesture that helped make up for the two malfunctions.

Would we rush back? Probably not, and not because of the malfunctions cited above. It’s just that we are lucky enough to be able to enjoy Ethan and company’s culinary wonders in our own backyard without worrying about parking in the busy 15th Avenue neighborhood. 

Alaskan Spot Prawns Shine in KCTS Demo!

June 15, 2009

On Saturday, May 16, I had the pleasure of cooking live at our local PBS station as part of the KCTS 9 Cooks: Northwest Favorites fund-raising drive. This was the 29th installment of the popular show, which features viewers’ recipes in the companion cookbook, and offers DVDs, printed cookbooks, and other goodies for people to buy and enjoy at home.

This was my second time appearing with long-time host George Ray, and my first time with local cooking school owner Carol Dearth of Sizzleworks! in Bellevue, Wash.

Since I was the first person to appear, I (thankfully) had lots of time to set up my work space. Here’s the gorgeous beauty plate created by my good friend and Seattle-based food-stylist extraordinaire, Joy Delf. Thanks, Joy! As always, I couldn’t have done it without you.

Alaskan Spot Prawns on a Beautiful Plate


Let’s Head to Culinary Camp!

June 13, 2009

Over Memorial day weekend, we had the pleasure of attending a media brunch at Tom Douglas’s Dahlia Lounge, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in November. The “Little Tastes of the Dahlia” brunch was multi-purpose:

1. It introduced brunch itself (which has been recently added at the Dahlia) and several of the Dahlia’s brunch dishes (you can read more about those on an upcoming post on June 29).

2. It introduced us to Tom’s latest rub–a brown-sugar-sweetened, paprika-rich, all-purpose version called Smoky Barbecue Rub. 

3. It alerted us to Tom’s Culinary Camps for adults and kids.

Tom Douglas Chats up His Culinary Camp for Adults

Here’s a shot of Tom filleting a 20-pound halibut. Demos such as this are (apparently) common at his Culinary Camps for adults, which last five days and cost $2,500. This is the third year for the adult camps, and six of the attendees at the first one had such a positive experience, they have been at all three!

This year, adult Culinary Camps run July 12-16 and August 9-13. 

New this year are Culinary Camps for kids, run by Tom’s daughter Loretta, who’s home from her first year at Colgate College in New York state. She’ll teach the young ‘uns useful lessons, such as how to make hamburgers and pizza dough from scratch. 

So whether you are nine or 90, it’s time to get out your backpack and butterfly net, and head to camp! 

For further info on Tom Douglas’s Culinary Summer Camps, contact Robyn Wolfe at 206.448.2001 or


Signing On at The Signature

June 10, 2009

On Memorial Day, we eschewed the traditional family barbecue and met with Betty Ann and Louie Richmond, of Richmond Public Relations fame, for a movie at the Seattle International Film Festival, followed by dinner at The Signature. The Signature has taken the space of Moxie, a popular pre-theater/concert/movie resto in lower Queen Anne that closed due to changes in the chefs’ family situations.

Family is a big part of The Signature’s zeitgeist as well: Tony Ly and his brothers and sisters created the restaurant to honor his mother’s “signature” dishes (get it?). Although we ordered what seemed a reasonable amount of food off the menu, the ever-hospitable Tony kept supplementing our choices with some of his own favorites such as the yummy Vietnamese Chicken Baquette shown below in all its toothsome glory. 

Vietnamese Chicken Sandwich at The Signature

The Vietnamese Crepe, one of my all-time favorite dishes, was redolent of coconut milk (a brilliant taste accent!) and perfectly cooked–crispy on the outside and with a creamy interior. I love this way of playing with my food when I eat by wrapping the crepe inside lettuce leaves with fresh thai basil and cilantro. Refreshing and healthy!

Vietnamese Crepe at The Signatur

Although I don’t eat beef, the Rare Beef Noodle Soup, the ever-popular Vietnamese Pho, was hearty and could have been a meal in itself. All the Pho dishes come with a side of fresh bean sprouts, basil, lime, cilantro, and green onion for seasoning to taste. 

The Signature offers comfortable inside seating with a fireplace, plush pillows for the wooden banquettes, and a friendly bartender who’s a holdover from Moxie. On warm summer evenings like we’ve been having lately (karmic payback for our snowy winter?), there’s a narrow outdoor seating area with just one row of tables. These are sure to get snapped up as summer continues, as will the many memorable signature dishes at The Signature. 

Outdoor Seating at The Signature



Mexico Cantina’s Winning Salad

June 7, 2009

When we are in search of a quick and satisfying place for lunch before a movie or shopping at Pacific Place in downtown Seattle, we sometimes stop in at Mexico Cantina y Veracruz Cooking for sustenance and a frozen margarita (or two). 

Here’s the Ensalada à la Evelyne, fresh organic greens with pepita-crusted provolone (rich and naughty!), roasted artichoke hearts (yum–I adore artichoke hearts, but am too lazy to fix them at home), fire-grilled chicken (spicy!), sliced plum tomatoes, cotija cheese (similar to feta in texture and flavor, but not as salty), and sliced avocado (what’s not to love?). 

Although I always get my dressing on the side, when prepared “normally,” the salad is drizzled with a combination of roasted jalapeño-garlic and tequila-lime dressing. Along with an order of corn tortillas and a bowl of fresh-made salsa, I am good to go!

This main-dish salad definitely qualifies as my Dish of the Day any day of the week. 

The Evalyne Salad at Mexico!


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