Feasting at the Market

September 29, 2009

26th Annual Feast at the Market

On Tuesday, October 6, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., you can experience the best of the Pike Place Market while supporting the Pike Market Medical Clinic. Almost 20 Market restaurants will participate in the 26th-annual Feast at the Market, a fun, progressive dinner where you get to set your own pace, choose which restaurants you want to sample, and in what order!

Grab a seat at each restaurant you choose, then sample an appetizer-sized dish. The Feast benefits Neighborcare Health’s Pike Market Medical Clinic, which provides comprehensive primary health care to low-income and uninsured people in downtown Seattle.

According to the Feast Web site, the 2009 restaurants include:

Cicchetti Kitchen & Bar Update

September 27, 2009

I’m sure I join many other Seattleites in eagerly anticipating the fall 2009 opening of Cicchetti Kitchen & Bar (chi-KET-tee), the Venetian-inpsired snack bar that will adjoin big-sister restaurant Serafina Osteria & Enoteca on Eastlake Avenue East.

According to the Web site, “Cicchetti are the Italian version of the Spanish idea of tapas: small plates of food that can either be eaten as appetizers, or combined (solo or in a group) to form a full-on meal.”

Here’s a link so you can look at updates on Cicchetti’s progress. You can also sign up for e-mail updates.

Artichoke Salad at Barolo

September 23, 2009

Some dishes are (almost) too pretty to eat. Which is the feeling I had when this gorgeous Baby Artichoke Salad with Vine-Ripened Tomatoes, Pine Nuts, and Parmesan was laid before me at Barolo Ristorante in downtown Seattle.

Properly called Carciofi alla Romana in Italian, I was immediately taken by the visual image of baby artichokes made to look like flowers–the artichoke heart’s leaves serving as the flower’s “petals” and sprigs of fresh basil as its “leaves.”

Once I broke down and tasted the dish, I was smitten with the tender flesh of the slow-roasted artichokes, the meltingly gentle tomato sauce, the punch from the basil pesto, and the crunch of the toasted pine nuts.

Willis Hall 2007 Roussanne, produced under the loving hand of winemaker and friend John Bell, formed a clean, crisp foil to the strong flavors of this dish.

All of which more than qualifies Barolo’s Carciofi alla Romana as today’s Dish of the Day.

Artichoke Salad at Barolo

DOH–Decadent Donuts the Dish of the Day

September 20, 2009

Tavolata Lemon Donuts

I don’t eat fried foods very often, so when I do I want to really make it count. These Zeppole–Lemon Donuts with Powdered Sugar–from chef/owner Ethan Stowell’s tantalizing Tavoláta in the Belltown neighborhood of downtown Seattle are the perfect reason to fall off the healthy-eating bandwagon.

They’re light and lemon-y and utterly addictive. Just don’t breathe in the powdered sugar while conversing over the dinner table, or you might choke!

These Lemon-Sugar Donuts join the Made-to-Order Doughnuts at Dahlia Lounge (where they’re served in a paper bag for shaking the sugar, alongside seasonal berry jam and vanilla mascarpone) and the Vanilla-Dusted Donuts for Two at ART Restaurant and Lounge in the Four Seasons Seattle Hotel (which come in a box with sides of Fromage Blanc Sorbet and Northwest Rhubarb Compote) as very-sweet finales to any meal and our Dish of the Day.

The Romance of Olivar

September 16, 2009

The Ambience at Olivar\'s

To me, this simple scene of stained-glass window, bottle of Albariño, fresh flowers in a simple vase, and streetscape outside sets the tone at Olivar, a Spanish restaurant located in the historic, and atmospheric, Loveless Building just off Broadway in Capitol Hill.

Green Salad at Olivar\'s

Here’s the Spicy Mixed Greens with Oven-Roasted Tomato, Croutons, and Aged Sherry Vinaigrette, a beautiful symphony of colors, textures, and flavors.

Olivar\'s Beet Salad

And here’s the fresh arugula salad with tender baby beets (in jewel tones of red and yellow), Caña de Oveja (semi-aged goat cheese), and balsamic drizzle.

Olivar\'s Octopus

A daily special of octopus with giant white beans, slender green beans, and a tomato filled with ratatouille didn’t disappoint, either.

Olivar\'s Scallops

But the star dish, among many, was listed as a “small plate” on the menu, although it was plenty enough as an entrée for me: Sea Scallops with Grilled Corn & Artichoke Relish, sauced with spicy, piquant Romesco.

Olivar\'s Lamb

Spencer’s choice–a large plate of Grilled Leg of Lamb with Nectarines, Roasted Garbanzo beans, and Spinach was chewy (in a good way) and flavorful.

That afore-mentioned bottle of Albariño was fruity, yet elegant, with crisp acidity that worked well with the peppery green olive oil and brilliant flavors of all our dishes.

A Winning Baker’s Hints

September 13, 2009

My latest article for The Sunday Times Pacific Northwest magazine features Alicia Comstock Arter, a prize-winning baker, who shares her recipe for Cool-as-a-Cucumber Snack Cake. It’s a spicy, perfectly textured treat similar to a really good coffeecake with a streusel topping.

Serve it as is (the way Alicia and her family like it) or top with a dollop of crème fraïche or slightly sweetened whipped cream. A scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt forms a healthful choice, while a scoop of really rich, eggy, French vanilla ice cream is the ultimate decadence. Alicia’s tips on winning the big prize at the Puyallup Fair also make for fun, informative reading.

Maximilien Brunch Classics

September 13, 2009

Maximilien Croque Monsieur

There’s nothing more comforting than a good fried-egg sandwich. And the French (as they do in so many culinary endeavors) take this classic to new heights in the guise of the Croque-Madame.

Here is Maximilien Restaurant’s Croque Madame served on the weekend brunch and weekday lunch menus at the restaurant’s waterfront location in the Pike Place Market. It’s made with Black Forest ham, béchamel, and cheese, all topped with two sunny-side up-eggs. You get to choose between hand-cut French fries or green salad.

For more than you ever wanted to know about the Croque Madame (and variations–such as the Croque Monsieur, which is the same sandwich sans the fried egg) here’s a link to WikiPedia.

Maximilien Salmon Salad

Turning to a more heart-healthy option on the Maximilien midday menu, here’s my Salmon Caesar, properly called Saumon Grillé sur Salade Tiède. It features grilled salmon (sadly slightly overcooked on our last visit–be sure to ask for medium-rare if you like your salmon that way) atop meltingly tender butter lettuce (that wilts slightly under the heat of the fish), perfectly steamed new potatoes, pear tomatoes, a bit of red onion, walnuts, and Dijon vinaigrette (which I asked for on the side so I could sauce the salad myself). Think of all the heart-healthy Omega-3s in this main-dish salad, thanks to the salmon and the walnuts. I could eat it every day. . .

Kirkland Book Signing Tonight!

September 11, 2009

I’m off to my big wine event this evening at 7 p.m. at The Grape Choice in Kirkland. We’ll sample four NW wines, I’ll lead a discussion of my book and q/a, with a book signing afterwards. Hope to sell a lotta copies!

A few seats are left if you are looking for something fun to do this evening, but reservations are required. Please call Parkplace Books (this evening’s bookseller) to reserve: 425.828.6546.

Cool Cucumber Cake

September 10, 2009

Cucumber Cake

A couple of weeks ago, in preparation for my “Taste” column that will be published this Sunday, September 13, in The Seattle Times Pacific Northwest magazine, I tested Cool-as-a-Cucumber Snack Cake, which won for both best cake in the vegetable category, and best overall cake submitted, in the 2008 Puyallup Fair.

The recipe was devised by my friend and colleague Alicia Comstock Arter, who’s Washington editor of the Zagat Guide, regional editor of Northwest Palate magazine, a blogger, and on Twitter (@AliciaArter).

Cucumber Cake Slice

Here’s a preview of the light, coffee-cake-like treat, rife with sugar-glazed pecans and a crunchy streusel topping. The recipe will appear along with the article, and the cake would make the perfect bake-sale item or as a treat in children’s lunch boxes this fall. Thanks for sharing the recipe, Alicia!

Le Pichet’s Dish of the Day

September 7, 2009

Roasted chicken is one of those benchmark dishes that Spencer and I love to try at various restaurants because such a seemingly simple dish can really show a chef’s mettle.

The Whole Roasted Chicken pictured below (Note: This very generous serving is meant to serve one person, not two!!!) is one of the best renditions about town, available at Le Pichet in the Pike Place Market, but only with one hour’s notice. And you have to be in the restaurant in person to order it–no phoning ahead!

Le Pichet Roasted Chicken

Butter-basted to order, this Washington-raised chicken from Don & Joe’s Meats in the Pike Place Market has a crispy skin, moist and steamy interior, and tantalizing texture. The evening we enjoyed it, its chicken broth was swimming with fresh English peas, dandelion greens, and bite-sized bits of ham hock.

Half a chicken is way too much for me (especially after the Salade Verte–Butter Lettuce and Hazelnut Salad with Mustard-Hazelnut Vinaigrette–plus an interesting appetizer, such as Friture de Calamars Sur Salade Aux Pois-Chiches et Frisée–Fried Calamari and White Bean-Frisée Salad, pictured below).

Le Pichet Calamari

Luckily for us, roasted-chicken leftovers make for a glorious soup or stew the next day.

Newer Posts »