Dish of the Day

December 30, 2009

Happy to report that Julie Andrés, chef/owner, and Julia Bandy, sommelier, are doing a wonderful job at La Medusa in Seattle’s booming Columbia City neighborhood. Julie A.’s menu offers heartfelt and delectable seasonal food; Julia B.’s wine list is well thought out and reasonably priced.

Earlier this fall, we enjoyed an appetizer of Grilled Sardines (big ones!) perfectly cooked and seasoned with nothing more than chopped garlic, good sea salt, lemon juice, and fresh parsley. They paired perfectly with Julia B.’s suggested wine: a bottle of 2005 Chiarandà Chardonnay from Sicily.

La Medusa Anchovies

Here is the dynamic duo doing its dance on the plate. Which more than qualifies La Medusa’s Grilled Sardines as our Dish of the Day.

Just Say Cheese, Please!

December 26, 2009

Purple Café and Wine Bar, with locations in downtown Seattle (my stomping ground), Kirkland, and Woodinville, does a great job with its cheese plate. I order several cheeses with all the accouterments and a flight of wine and am good to go.

Purple Cafe & Wine Bar Cheese Plate

Here’s the gorgeous platter which I enjoyed with the Local White Flight: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris. What a way to “fly!”

The platter includes Cypress Grove’s Humboldt Fog Goat Cheese (the cheese with the thin line of ash in the middle); a blue cheese from Cashel Cheese, a farmstead cheese maker in Ireland; Mimolette, the hard, dark-orange cheese with the grainy brown rind that looks like a cantaloupe at first glance; and Tronchon, a semi-soft cheese that’s mild and pleasing. Mixed olives, Marcona almonds, quince paste, and apples, plus heavy iron baskets full of crispy crackers, rounded out our cheese-y happy hour.

Remembering Phish

December 24, 2009

During the holidays, our thoughts often turn to the dear departed. On our recent trip to the Olympic Peninsula, I was phondly reminded of a member of our phamily, Phish, who passed to the great beyond earlier this year.

Phish Lookalike

Here’s a little lookalike from Fins (or should I say, Phins?) Coastal Cuisine, a lovely waterfront restaurant in Port Townsend. If we hadn’t watched Phish’s tiny coffin float into Shilshole Bay, we would have sworn our Phish-y phriend had been reincarnated.

A Wine Lover’s Christmas Tree

December 22, 2009

This wine lover\'s Christmas tree was spotted at a lifestyle shop in downtown Carmel, California.

During our eight-day holiday sojourn last year in Santa Rosa and Carmel, California, we ran across this fabu Christmas tree at one of the lifestyle shops in downtown Carmel.

Details of a wine lover\'s Christmas tree spotted in downtown Carmel, California.

We loved the way this tree was totally wine-themed, from the barrel stand to the wine bottles twinkling with lights to the strings of spent corks.

And here’s a final, more detailed view, of this very special holiday bush. Too cool!

Details of a wine lover\'s Christmas tree spotted in downtown Carmel, California.

Support Your Local Bookstore This Holiday Season!

December 21, 2009

As the holiday season rushes by us, please consider supporting an industry that has been hit hard not only by the lagging economy but by readers’ changing reading habits: publishing.

Parkplace Books Signing

Here I am with fellow authors Cynthia Nims and Carol Frieberg signing books earlier this month at Parkplace Books in Kirkland, Washington.

I signed all my books: Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining, the Pike Place Public Market Seafood Cookbook, and the Pike Place Market Cookbook. Too fun!

Happy Hours at TASTE

December 19, 2009

One of our “go-to” places, especially this time of year when we need an fun, festive place to meet friends for drinks and a bite, is TASTE Restaurant at the Seattle Art Museum. Danielle Custer, our friend, colleague, fellow Seattle Dame, über-talented chef, wine expert, and general manager of TASTE, runs a tight ship along with executive chef Craig Hetherington, with an emphasis on local, fresh, seasonal food products and wines.

Happy Hour, which runs 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the days the restaurant and museum are open (Tuesday through Sunday), is a real deal, with every item on the bar menu costing just $6. Here’s one of my faves–Griddled Cheese & Roasted Tomato Soup Shot, which normally sells for $9. Certainly puts Campbell’s and Velveeta to shame.

TASTE Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwich

The boys in the group each ordered two Mini Organic Beef Burgers & Fries with Cumin Gouda, Dijon Aïoli, and Spicy Pickled Red Onions. (The sliders usually go for $6 for one, $9 for two, and $12 for three.) Unfortunately, the guys weren’t in a sharin’ kind of mood, so I snagged nary a bite nor a single fry!

TASTE Burgers and Fries

Pastry chef Lucy Damkoehler was kind enough to send out her Dolci di Taste, a dessert trio in honor of the current Michelangelo exhibit. It included two light-as-air lemon cannolis, Winter Squash Crostata (a savory-leaning butternut-squash rustic tart), and my favorite–Hazelnut Gelato with a crunchy nut crust.

TASTE Dessert Trio

A bottle (or two!) of Lange Estate 2005 “Three Hills Cuvée” Pinot Noir ($67) from the Willamette Valley, paired perfectly with our savory items.

Sustainable Fish Blog

December 18, 2009

Here’s a lovely blog that posted recently and features my Pike Place Public Market Seafood Cookbook. I am so happy that when I updated the original book in 2005, I chose to highlight only seafood that wasn’t (currently) endangered. Now everyone is paying more attention to the overfishing of our seas, thankfully.

The Pike Place Public Market Seafood Cookbook makes a lovely holiday gift, hostess gift, or stocking stuffer. Loaded with 50 recipes and 50 photos, plus seafood shopping tips, Cook’s Hints, and Fun Facts, it sells for just $14.95, and measures six inches by six inches, so is easy and economical to ship.

Touring the Olympic Peninsula

December 16, 2009

Whether you are a fan of the “Twilight” series’ Team Edward or Team Jacob, you just gotta love the Olympic Peninsula, the inspiration for author Stephanie Meyers’s mythical creatures. Here’s a shot from our car window that shows the moody skies that typify this special place in the world. I love how the sun looks like it’s shining behind waxed paper. Temperatures matched the gray landscape, as it was appropriately dark, cold, and windy the weekend we visited for the region’s annual Passport Wine Tour.

Moody Skies on the Olympic Peninsula

First stop on our research trip of Olympic Coastal Cuisine (a newly minted term coined by the Olympic Peninsula Culinary Tourism Association) was Fins Coastal Cuisine, an atmospheric second-story, waterfront restaurant in downtown Port Townsend (PT). These are the absolutely bounteous Mediterranean mussels I ordered that came swimming in a lovely Rosé-based broth (!) flavored with fresh rosemary. I ate each and every one.

Fins Coastal Cuisine

Walking around the charming boutiques and galleries in downtown PT, we happened upon a new waterfront hotel where we’ll definitely be laying our heads next time we are in the area. Clam Cannery Hotel is built in–you guessed it–a vintage clam cannery, and each of the five rooms is unique and beautiful, with Sub-Zero appliances; sweeping water views; and artisan-crafted doors, cabinetry, and floors.

At dinner overlooking Port Hudson Marina (also in PT), we enjoyed these perfectly fried local oysters served as an appetizer at T’s restaurant. They were light and crispy and just perfect with their beautifully piped aïoli sauce and watercress salad.

T\'s Fried Oysters

A hearty breakfast the next morning at Hudson Point Cafe got us ready to face a day of wine touring in nearby Port Angeles. Here is the Smoked Salmon Omelette with a cup of luscious black beans and whole-wheat toast, paired with pink grapefruit juice.

Hudson\'s Omelet in Port Townsend

We enjoyed the six wineries in the area that spread from Port Townsend to Port Angeles. Highlights included Camaraderie Cellars, where Don and Vicki Corson have built a winery that speaks wine in every detail, from the olive-cluster-studded fire pit to the whimsical wine-themed art work to the wood-fire-burning pizza oven embedded with wine bottles. Harbinger Winery and Olympic Cellars Winery, on the main highway through town, also are well worth a stop, as each excels in ambience and well-crafted wines.

Shortly after we returned, The Seattle Times’ editorial page printed a very interesting article entitled, Sucking the Life out of Forks. It documents the problems of notoriety for this small western Washington town as 60,000 tourists in search of “Twilight” moments collide with a permanent population of just 3,200.

It’s Bacon (Chocolate-Chip Cookies)!

December 14, 2009

Bacon Chocolate-Chip Cookie

While researching my latest Pacific Northwest magazine Taste column on Savory Desserts (that was published in yesterday’s Seattle Times), I received this very interesting cookie recipe from Heather Earnhardt, pastry chef at the Volunteer Park Café in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

My article was running long (as usual!) and we weren’t able to print the recipe in the magazine, so I am very pleased it’s finding new life online here in my blog. Many thanks to Heather for sharing her recipe.

And my article was timely. . .a few weeks ago, NPR featured also featured an article on using bacon in desserts.

Bacon Chocolate-Chip Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

This creative cookie recipe comes courtesy of Heather Earnhardt, pastry chef at the Volunteer Park Café in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. It adds a savory element (bacon) to a traditional cookie dough with delicious results. At the Café, the cookie is whimsically called the Miss Piggy Chip and is the size of your hand!

1/2 pound dry-cured, thick-cut bacon

4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs, plus 1 egg white, room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 pound best-quality semisweet chocolate chips, such as Guittard

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat.

2. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon, turning once or twice, until crisp and lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels. When cool enough to handle, chop and set aside. (Alternatively, you can microwave the bacon until crisp or bake it in a 375°F oven for 12 to 15 minutes.)

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and soda.

4. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.

5. Add the eggs and egg white one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly.

6. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour until thoroughly mixed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Gently mix in the chocolate chips, then the bacon.

7. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through cooking time, until the cookies spread slightly and turn light golden brown.

Cook’s Hint: Pastry chef Heather Earnhardt uses a two-ounce ice cream scoop (slightly larger than a golf ball) when making the cookies at home. At the café, she makes four-ounce balls to create larger cookies.

Kathy Casey’s Open House

December 11, 2009

My friend, colleague, fellow Seattle Dame, and Seattle celebrity chef extraordinaire, Kathy Casey, is opening her fab Food Studios in Ballard for a holiday open house. There she will sign her latest tome (her ninth!), Sips & Apps, and sell all manner of her delicious specialty foods.

Here are details straight from Kathy’s press release:

“Mark your calendars or leave Santa a note for the Kathy Casey Food Studios Open House on Saturday, December 12th, 11:00 a.m. to  7:00 p.m. Make sure to drop in!

“There’ll be delectable delights to sample plus gift items for sale. And I’ll be signing copies of my latest book, ‘Sips & Apps.’ You’ll have a chance to sample some tasty tidbits from ‘Sips & Apps’ like my Bacon, Blue Cheese & Pecan Cocktail Cookies, Lamb Sliders on Homemade Rosemary Buns, and Croque Monsieur Puffs!

“There’ll be lots of goodies to fill your favorite foodie’s stocking. From delicious oven-pretty packaged little Spiced Apple Cakes, bags of crunchy Fennel-Roasted Walnuts, housemade candies and our always-popular Maker’s Mark “Over 21” Fruitcake. And that’s not all!

“We’ll also have our Dish D’Lish® specialty products: seasoning salts, Cocktailor® cocktail mixers, and limited-edition preserves, including Fig, Fennel & Orange Chutney, Blackberry Lemon Verbena Jam, and the always-festive Sugarplum Preserves! Well also be offering housemade Hot Buttered Rum Mix, locally made Ballard Bee Honey, and incredible candied pumpkin in syrup from Argentina!”

Kathy Casey Food Studios® Holiday Open House

Saturday December 12th
11:00 am 7:00 pm
5130 Ballard Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98107

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