RIP: Oceanaire

July 7, 2009

In a weird twist of fate, I had written this blog, and pre-scheduled it to post, after our most recent of many visits to The Oceanaire Seafood Room in downtown Seattle. Late last night, I heard via Twitter that the venerable seafood palace had closed–collateral damage of its parent company filing for bankruptcy.

My first instinct was to delete this entry, but instead I decided to leave it as a sort of RIP for all the fond memories and fun times we experienced within the seafood restaurant’s regal confines.

Cheers and all best to Oceanaire’s ever-vigilant and -amiable general manager Ed Grandpre, and the many fine chefs who have created a succession of succulent seafood dishes there–Kevin Davis, Eric Donnelly, and Aaron Valimont. And to the ever-gracious serving staff. We will miss you all!

<<Our Dish of the Day comes from The Oceanaire Seafood Room in downtown Seattle, where new executive chef Aaron Valimont is doing an admirable job of filling the very large shoes left by former chef Eric Donnelly.

Lobster Pasta at Oceanaire

Here’s a big, and I do mean BIG, plate of Lobster Spaghetti, happily sauced with Roasted Tomatoes, Basil, Spinach, and White Wine Butter Sauce, with the operative word here being BUTTER–and I’m not complaining.

I made up for this transgression by ordering a side of asparagus simply steamed instead of grilled and served with shaved grana cheese. Leftovers of both dishes made for lusty leftovers the following day. I’m makin’ myself hungry just writing this and looking at the photo again. . .>>

Sunny Restaurants in the Pike Place Market

July 4, 2009

With almost a month of rain-free days in Seattle in June, it seems fitting to highlight two of our city’s (and the Pike Place Market’s) best-loved outdoor dining venues, either or both of which may be a little less well known than the venerable (and ever crowded) Pink Door, which looks like this when the weather is nice.

The Pink Door\'s Lively Patio Scene

Here’s the view from Place Pigalle’s outdoor deck. It’s located right beneath the famous Pike Place Market neon clock and sign.

The Outdoor Scene at Place Pigalle

I couldn’t resist, so here’s one more!

Place Pigalle Patio

And here’s the more “hidden” space. . .atop Maximilien-in-the-Market’s (relatively) new outdoor patio that opened for business once the new building for the Pike Market Senior Center and elderly/low-income housing units was constructed.

I love the views of the ferries and container port just beyond. City sounds were much in evidence here, too!

Northwest Seafood with Simple Soy Glaze

July 1, 2009

Northwest Wild Salmon

Northwest Seafood with Simple Soy Glaze

Varietal: Off-Dry Riesling

Makes 1/4 cup

I have read that most people cook the same eight basic recipes over and over again. If that’s the case at your house, I hope this recipe will become one of your eight favorites because it’s so delicious, easy to make, and versatile that you can use it on almost any fish or shellfish you choose. Suggested seafood partners with the glaze include salmon, halibut, swordfish, black cod (sablefish), sea scallops, or sustainable shrimp (peeled and deveined). Don’t forget to open a bottle of off-dry Riesling from a top-quality producer, such as Long Shadows, Pacific Rim, or Poet’s Leap, all from Washington State.

1 tablespoon light cooking oil, such as canola or vegetable oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce or low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon honey, brown sugar, or maple syrup

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

11/2 teaspoons prepared horseradish

1. In a small bowl, mix together the oil, soy sauce, honey, and mustard. Add the horseradish and blend thoroughly.

2. Lightly oil a broiling pan with a rack or spray the rack with nonstick cooking spray. Place fish fillets or steaks or shellfish on the rack and lightly brush the seafood with the glaze. Broil 3 to 4 inches from the heat source for 3 minutes, then brush the fillets again. If the seafood starts to brown too much, move the pan 4 to 6 inches from the heat source. After 3 minutes, brush once more, then continue broiling until the salmon reaches desired doneness.

Cook’s Hints: Now comes the really fun, creative part of this recipe. If you don’t like horseradish, you can substitute freshly grated ginger, Chinese five-spice powder, Japanese seven-spice seasoning (shichimi togarashi), or hot chili oil for an Asian flair, or Cajun blackening mix for a Southwest touch. Add the alternative seasonings a little at a time, until you reach the level of spiciness or hotness you prefer.

Simple Soy Glaze works well with vegetables, especially asparagus. To prepare fresh asparagus, snap the tough, “woody” white ends off each spear by holding the top half of an asparagus spear in one hand, the bottom half with the thumb and forefinger of your other hand. Bend the spear until it snaps. This will occur naturally where the tough and tender parts meet. Use the bottoms of the stalks to make asparagus stock for soup. Cook the remaining portion as desired. Or, for a more elegant preparation, using a clean, sharp vegetable peeler, peel down from about 2 inches from the ends of the asparagus. Peel all around, then cut off the very end with a small, sharp paring knife.

Fresh asparagus also makes a lovely summer salad when simply grilled with extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper. Cook 8 to 12 minutes, or until just tender. Then transfer to salad plates, drizzle with good-quality balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle with toasted hazelnuts (or walnuts) and plumped dried cherries or cranberries.

To toast small quantities of nuts, heat them in a small, dry skillet over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, or until they begin to turn light brown and/or give off their aroma (mustard seeds begin to pop), shaking the pan back and forth often so the ingredients do not burn. Remove from heat, cool, and add to your recipe, or grind as directed.

To plump dried fruits, add the fruits to a small saucepan and cover with water, stock, or liqueur (such as Madeira, Port, or cream-style Sherry). Bring to a boil, cover, and remove the pan from the heat. Allow to stand 10 to 20 minutes, or until the fruit is plumped.

To speed the plumping process, put 1/2 cup water into a microwave-safe glass dish. Add the fruit and microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds. Stir and repeat. When the fruit begins to plump, remove from the microwave and cover. Let rest for 5 minutes, drain water, and use the fruit as directed.

Recipe reprinted from the “Pike Place Public Market Seafood Cookbook” (Ten Speed Press, 2007, $14.95) by Braiden Rex-Johnson.

A Long Life Predicted for Long

July 1, 2009

We had a good meal at Long Provincial Vietnamese Restaurant recently, where the space was a welcome change from the neon-lime, tangerine, and vanilla colors/starkness of the former QUBE.

Now it’s all gunmetal and royal purple colors. Grass-like screens cover the windows and keep out the street scenes and light so you really focus on your food and friends/significant other. There’s a gorgeous oversize bowl with flames flickering out the middle and a large fish tank that separates bar from dining room–both are calming and very Zen.

The Chicken Salad Rolls at Long

The menu was voluminous (perhaps like Tamarind Tree Restaurant, its popular sister restaurant in the International District)–with nine (count ’em!) kinds of salad rolls ranging from fried tofu to turmeric-marinated catfish to lemongrass beef! I got mine with grilled chicken (above), which was dark meat and really could have been just about anything since it was strangely tasteless. The accompanying peanut sauce helped moisten and liven them up.

The Tamarind Soup at Long in Downtown Seattle

Better results with the Tamarind Tree Soup, above. I loved the interplay of sweet pineapple with the seafood-tamarind broth and the combination of catfish fillet, prawns, and scallops.

We took home more than half for leftovers the next day and added our own shellfish and veggies for protein and texture, plus a can of Fire-Roasted Tomatoes with Green Chiles for additional (spicy) broth. Yum!

The Short Ribs at Long

Spencer liked his entrée of Grilled Beef Short Ribs served with a Mixed Herb Fish Sauce. The Garlic Green Beans were way good and garlic-y, too!

We can’t wait to go back to explore the menu further. Wines by the glass were interesting–I had a Grüner Veltliner and Torróntes, a “hot” new varietal from Argentina that’s supposed to be perfect for summer sipping. It didn’t hit my spot as much as the Grüvee, but also didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the food.

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