Scenes from Seattle Bookfest

October 31, 2009

Bookfest 1

I was very proud and pleased to see my Pike Place Market Cookbook prominently on display at the Sasquatch Books booth at last week’s Bookfest.

Braiden and Sarah Smith at Bookfest

Long-time Sasquatch sales and marketing expert Sarah Hanson was on hand to help talk up and hand-sell all the publisher’s books. I also spotted editorial director Gary Luke, who edited my very own Inside the Pike Place Market, which came out in 1997.

Bookfest 3

And here I am in front of the full-on display. Don’t forget that the Pike Place Market Cookbook (Sasquatch Books, 2003, $18.95), the Pike Place Public Market Seafood Cookbook (Ten Speed Press, 2005, $14.95) and/or Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining (Wiley, 2007, $34.95) would all make thoughtful and welcome holiday gifts.

Lunch at IKEA

October 30, 2009

Every so often we get in the car and drive to Renton, where the huge blue box with the yellow lettering that spells IKEA signifies we’ve arrived at the Swedish-based store. It’s a great place for inexpensive but well-made frames for Spencer’s photographs, unusual vases for my flower arrangements, and common houseplants when mine have died.

But until recently, we had never tried it for lunch, and were VERY pleasantly surprised when we finally did.

Braiden\'s Lunch at IKEA

Here’s my heart-healthy choice, split-pea soup, gravadlax salad, and some crispy, crunchy, super-tasty whole-grain crackers. I liked them so much, I bought a pack for at-home munching.

Spencer\'s Lunch at IKEA

Meanwhile, Spencer got the dish of the day, Swedish Meatball and Mashers (which I imagine is DotD on most days). 🙂

IKEA Elk Pasta

The Scandinavian specialty-food section right next door to the cafeteria is a gold mine for foodies; in addition to the rye crackers mentioned above, I stocked up on Lingonberry Jam and whole-wheat pasta shaped like elk.

The Hallowed Halloween Hand

October 29, 2009

Halloween Hand

Every year I rehydrate this hand for some ghoulish Halloween fun. I love the way the hand pops out of the top of the clear glass container and the fingertips are just a bit withered.

In keeping with the Halloween spirit (so to speak), here’s an interesting release from the venerable Columbia Winery in Woodinville that really pulls out all the stops.

HalloWINE Party

Columbia Winery – Woodinville, WA

Friday, October 30th


$30 per person / $25 Cellar Club Members and guests

RSVP online at or by calling 425-482-7383

We’ve added a twist to our HalloWINE Party.  Now at $30 per person ($25 Cellar Club Members), join us for a night of fright and fun.  Located in our Cellar of Terror, party amongst friends and take a stab at a blind wine tasting.  Tease your taste buds with a blind food tasting and kill at our many wine games.  Costumes encouraged.  Prizes and wine discounts will be awarded throughout the evening.  Price includes 5 blind wine tasting tokens.  Wine by the glass/bottle will also be available for purchase.”


Outstanding Oysters

October 27, 2009

Many of you know that once a month, I do a food-and-wine-related blog for Al Dente, one of’s special-interest blogs. For my October entry, I gave suggestions for pairing wine with oysters, along with a truly amazing recipe for Oysters Gratinée.

The recipe is from my book, “Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining,” thanks to Philippe Boulot, long-time executive chef of The Heathman Restaurant in Portland, Ore. Here’s the link to the entire article and the recipe.

The Liberty Bell

October 24, 2009

Although we recently enjoyed six whole days in my hometown of Philadelphia, sadly, only two of them were dedicated to sightseeing. We spent one day downtown and one day in the ‘burbs revisiting my old neighborhood, junior and senior high schools, etc.

The Liberty Bell and Independence Hall

On our “downtown day,” I snapped this shot at the Liberty Bell, which is housed in a stunning building with lots of historical placards that help visitors from around the world grasp the small bell’s significance in American history. I like the way Independence Hall looms in the background.

Philly and Philbert

October 23, 2009

Seattleites love our “Porker with a Purpose,” the Pike Place Market’s very own giant bronze piggy bank, Rachel the Pig. She patiently greets visitors from around the world under the Market’s world-famous neon clock and sign, while raising anywhere from $4,000 to $8,000 a year for the Pike Place Market Foundation. The Market Foundation manages the four social-service agencies within the Market–the Downtown Food Bank, Preschool and Child Car, Medical Clinic, and Senior Center.

Braiden and Philbert

While in Philadelphia, we visited the Reading Terminal Market and met Philbert, who was modeled after Rachel. Philly’s version isn’t as user-friendly as Seattle’s model–since there’s a sign around Philbert’s neck asking that people NOT climb on his back. Harrumph.

Pineau des Charentes

October 22, 2009

Pineau de Charentes

While listening to an audiotape from the International Association of Culinary Professionals last week while at the gym working out on the EFX machine (a classic case of multi-tasking), I learned about the other French “Pinot”–Pineau des Charentes. It’s partially composed of Cognac, although with a much softer, floral nose and lacking its sister spirit’s strong alcoholic aftertaste/burn.

Never having tasting it before, I tried the spirit one evening at the lovely bar at Campagne. Here’s a shot of the bottle and Pineau in the glass. I found out it’s available at two of our Washington State Liquor stores–Fourth Avenue South and Seventh and Bell–in case you want a bottle for your liquor cabinet. This would also make a nice hostess gift for the holidays.

Mummer Memories

October 20, 2009

In a prior, post-Philadelphia post, I shared some of my hometown icons with you–cheesesteaks (well, actually chickensteaks, but you get the idea) and TastyKakes.


Today we salute another Philly favorite–the Mummers. For those who don’t know, “Mummers” comes from a Middle English word that translates as “one of a group of masked performers in folk play or mime.”

The Philadelphia Mummers are a musical group who dress up in colorful costumes and play raucous music at the annual New Year’s Day parade and at other events throughout the year. And although they’re usually men of modest means, they also raise money for numerous charities along the way. Here’s a more complete definition from

“Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, has its own tradition of mummers marching on New Year’s Day. About 15,000 mummers perform in the parade each year. They are organized into four distinct types of troups: Comics, Fancies, String Bands, and Fancy Brigades. All dress in elaborate costumes. There is a Mummers Museum dedicated to the history of Philadelphia Mummers.”

Dancing Mummer!

We were lucky enough to have five Mummers perform at one of our Dames events. They made merry with the crowd, dancing with the pretty girls and playing pranks on the few men in attendance.

Braiden with Mummer!

Here’s my favorite–Frankenstein Mummer–who was so scary he drove me to become a two-fisted drinker. Smile.

Lions, and Tigers, and Vampires? Oh, my.

October 16, 2009

I must admit I’m a “sucker” for anything vampire-related, so the following press release sent my blood racing. This would be the perfect Halloween treat for the Twilight fan(s) in your house. 

“EverGreen Escapes will begin offering a full-day tour to Washington’s infamous Olympic Peninsula, inspired by the best-selling Twilight book series, in October. The tour begins with a ferry ride across Puget Sound followed by a scenic drive to the town of Forks, Washington, home to Twilight characters Edward and Bella.

“Visitors and Twilight fans are invited to traverse the old growth, moss-filled Hoh Rainforest during a guided walk through the Hall of Mosses Trail. Additional tour destinations include La Push, home of the Quileute Native American Tribe and Jacob Black, as well as First Beach, a drive-to beach known for occasional whale spotting. The tour concludes with dinner at La Bella Italia in Port Angeles where Edward and Bella had their first date.”

ARTful Salmon

October 13, 2009

ART Indian-Spiced Salmon

Here’s one of my favorite dishes about town: ART Restaurant and Lounge’s Indian-Spiced Salmon with Lobster Mashed Potatoes.

I love the gently-spicy, perfectly cooked slab of salmon perched atop a mound of buttery, lobster-y spuds (that contains succulent knobs of fresh lobster meat). A glistening green streak of basil oil completes the dish.

Newer Posts »