Walla Walla Sweet Onion Frittata

May 31, 2010

Walla Walla Sweet Onion Frittata

Varietal: Chardonnay (Oaked)

Serves 6 to 8

Walla Walla sweet onions, which are in season from June to September, were declared the official state vegetable of Washington State in 2007. They’re featured here, along with fresh herbs of the season and chèvre (fresh, young goat’s-milk cheese), in a recipe by Seattle chef Mike Davis. If you don’t care for big, oaky Chardonnays, try pairing this plump, flavorful frittata with a dry Rosé, a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, or a big, fat Semillon.

12 large eggs

3/4 cup whole or low-fat milk

1 cup firmly packed mixed fresh herbs, minced, preferably parsley, thyme, marjoram, basil, and chives

Pinch of kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small Walla Walla sweet onion, minced

3 ounces fresh, young goat’s-milk cheese (chèvre) or 1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. In a mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, mixed herbs, salt, and a sprinkle or two of pepper, and set aside.

3. Place a large nonstick, ovenproof skillet over medium to medium-high heat and add the butter and oil. When the butter has melted, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 to 7 minutes.

4. Add the egg mixture to the skillet and continue to cook. When the egg begins to form a light crust on the bottom, lift the sides and allow the liquid eggs to run into the bottom of the skillet. Continue cooking until another crust forms, and repeat the procedure until almost all the liquid eggs are cooked.

5. Remove the skillet from the heat and slide the frittata onto a plate. Using pot holders, place the skillet over the plate and carefully invert the frittata back into the skillet. Place the skillet in the oven and cook until the frittata puffs slightly and is cooked throughout, 3 to 5 minutes.

6. Break the chèvre into small pieces and sprinkle evenly over the top of the frittata, or sprinkle evenly with the Asiago or Parmesan cheese.

7. To serve, cut the frittata into equal portions and serve immediately.

Recipe reprinted from Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining: The People, Places, Food, and Drink of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia (Wiley, 2007, $34.95) by Braiden Rex-Johnson.

Blueacre Seafood a Stunning Success!

May 31, 2010

I’ve been very remiss in writing about Blueacre Seafood, chef Kevin and Terresa Davis’s newest venture, which opened in mid-March in the former Oceanaire Seafood Room space in downtown Seattle.

We were lucky enough to be invited to one of the friends and family dinners offered Wednesday and Thursday before the restaurant set its revolving doors spinning open to the public on March 19.

Blueacre Seafood Exterior

Even standing catercorner to the restaurant (which is located at 1700 7th Avenue-cross streets are Seventh and Olive), you sense a sophisticated, big-city vibe. The space reminds me of some of our favorite seafood restaurants in Vancouver, B.C. (such as Blue Water Cafe & Raw Bar) thanks to its global presence and majesty.

Blueacre Seafood Interior 1

Once inside, you see the bones from the space’s previous incarnation, the Oceanaire Seafood Room, which Kevin opened in 2001 then departed in 2007 to start the Steelhead Diner in the Pike Place Market.

Blueacre Seafood Interior 2

Terresa, wearing her interior-designer cap, has opened up the space, revved up the colors, and covered the simple tables with silk screens of a black and neon-blue butterfly wings. Cool!

Food at the family-and-friends dinner, then on a subsequent Thursday-evening visit, was over-the-top excellent. No break-in, warm-up period for this resto! Kevin and his kitchen crew were spot on right off the bat, while waitstaff (unfortunately) needs a bit more fine-tuning and finesse before I can safely say they are up to speed.

What’s good to eat? In a word. . .everything.

Blueacre Seafood Salmon Collars

I particularly adored the Kasu-Marinated King Salmon Collars, listed within “The Hunger” section of the menu, served with Ginger Nage and a royal crown of Green-Papaya Salad, and a steal at $8.95.

While I was chowing down on the unctuous, sweet-salty salmon cheeks, chef Kevin came out for a chat. He confided that, “All the foodies order this dish.”

I can see the reason why.

Blueacre Seafood Red Chili Judith Squid

Spencer was thrilled to see Red Chili Point Judith Squid on the menu. It was one of his “must-have” dishes when Oceanaire was still in business (chef Kevin originated the dish) and it’s good as ever. . .deep-fried squid in a tempura-style batter that chef Kevin spins his own way with a sweet-hot sauce and lots of serrano peppers, garlic, ginger, Thai basil, and orange zest.


I adored my Fin & Shell Fish Stew teaming with shrimp, clams, and mussels, along with chunks o’ flapping-fresh finfish and shell-shaped pasta amid a rich broth that sucked up every morsel of flavor and aroma after long simmering of lobster and shrimp shells. And don’t forget the rockin’ rouille! Leftovers were equally as good the following evening.

We split a piece of the Mud Pie with our tablemates. Good idea since it was so rich and yummy, a bite or two tickled our sweet tooths, while a whole piece (tasty as it was) would have been overkill.

The wine list is more lengthy than the one you’ll discover at Steelhead, made up predominantly (and blessedly) of Northwest boutique wines, with a few California staples (Mer Soleil Chardonnay, Roederer Estate Brut, Turley “Old Vine” Zin) thrown in for good measure.

As much as we love Kevin and Terresa’s first venture–Steelhead Diner–we embrace, applaud, and welcome Blueacre Seafood as a much-needed addition to the uptown Seattle dining scene.

Additional details from the official launch press release:

A passionate love of seafood has led owners Chef Kevin and Terresa Davis to this moment, bringing their vision of responsible, approachable, amazing seafood to fruition. Creating an affordable, all-American seafood restaurant adds something new and exciting to the downtown Seattle culinary scene, filling a need for locals and visitors.

The Davises feature wild seafood available from United States coastal waters, as well as carefully chosen and sustainably farmed freshwater species, oysters, clams, and mussels.

Farm-fresh meats, game, poultry, vegetables, artisanal cheeses, American spirits, wine, and craft beers on tap continue the American theme.

In addition to seating for 200 in the dining room, Blueacre offers three private dining areas perfect for everything from intimate gatherings to corporate events.

Lunch and dinner are offered daily, along with brunch on Saturday and Sunday. Happy hour takes place each day from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., with a specialty bar menu and happy-hour drink prices.

Tangoing Into Tango

May 27, 2010

For years, we’ve held the Calamari Saltati–an appetizer of squid flash-sautéed in the skillet with an ample amount of minced garlic, a squeeze of lemon, Italian parsley, and a sprinkle of chili flakes, then sprinkled with bread crumbs served at Serafina Osteria & Enoteca–as the number-one calamari dish in Seattle.

Tango Squid

But during a recent dinner at Tango restaurant in downtown Seattle we discovered a worthy contender (pictured above): Calamares—sautéed calamari, fire-roasted tomatoes, poblano pepperss, red peppers, cilantro, land lime juice.

Leftovers the next evening were marvelous thanks to the addition of a can of Fire-Roasted Tomatoes, an array of fresh seafood, and a squeeze of Meyer lemon juice.

Tango Seafood Stew

Another equally inspiring and inspired dish that we didn’t (frankly) expect to see on the Spanish-centric menu was Moqueca de Peixe–Pan-roasted scallops, mussels, prawns, calamari, tuna, potatoes, chilies, and coconut broth–that had a distinctive Asian flair due to the coconut-milk-based broth. Belly-warming and flavorful, all the same.

The Amazing New Marjorie

May 24, 2010

Earlier this month, our friend and local restaurateur Donna Moodie, owner of the much-beloved and long-lamented Marjorie (which saw its location in Belltown close more than a year ago) sent out the welcome word that she’d (finally) found a new location and would swing open its doors to friends and family for a preview run on May 14 and 15.

Marjorie exterior

Exterior shot of the high-ceilinged, airy space at 1412 East Union Street

The lovely buffet spread at Marjorie\'s opening

The lovely buffet spread at the opening of Marjorie on Capitol Hill

We were happy to attend, and glad to report that the new Marjorie embraces some of the same features as the old location, while happily settling into its new Capitol Hill neighborhood like an old shoe.

Marjorie interior

Interior shot of Marjorie

Take, for example, the rich royal-blue walls and dark woods that harken back to Marjorie/Belltown. Or the smallish number of seats (35-40 indoors, counting the communal table; 20 outdoors).

Marjorie eggplant salad

The eclectic eggplant salad served at Marjorie along with a vintage record for the unisex bathroom’s turntable

Or the eclectic menu that draws from Moodie’s mother’s own soulful Islander roots, but also embraces Asian, regional, and international cuisines.

Marjorie kitchen and chef

The good-looking men of Marjorie pumping out dishes behind the line

“We’ll see what the neighborhood brings,” hunky, dred-locked chef Kylen McCarthy (formerly of The Harvest Vine in Madison Valley) confided.

Marjorie fried plantain chips

The ultra-thin, totally addictive fried plantain chips served at Marjorie’s friends-and-family party

Doubtless many good things to come!

The new Marjorie, which officially opened for business on Tuesday, May 18, will serve dinner only (for now) Tuesday through Saturday.

Best of luck Donna, chef Kylen, and Marjorie crew on all good future success.

A Photo You Won’t Often See

May 20, 2010

Braiden Rex-Johnson with Casino Winnings

The proud winner of $100 (me!) holding a crisp new Ben Franklin dispensed from the cash machine

On Saturday morning, we decided it was time to get our poor car (which sits in the garage most of the time since we live, work, and play downtown) out on the road.

Amazingly, we’d never made the trek over I-90 to the (relatively) new Snoqualmie Casino, although we’d heard good things from fellow foodie friends (Kathy and John Casey) about its Monday-evening Dungeness crab buffet, and were curious about it’s upscale restaurant–Terra Vista.

Turns out Terra Vista is open for dinner only, but luckily there were several other dining options.

We opted for the lunch-time buffet, although we could also have chosen the good-looking Kindai Sushi and Noodle bar or the more casual Box Car New-York-Style Deli.

Behind the Falls Buffet line, we watched a cadre of Chinese chefs huddled over the Mongolian grill, were tempted by all the usual breakfast/brunch items one could ask for (scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, Eggs Benedict, Belgian waffles), a nice assortment of salads (one quibble–several of the leaves in my spinach salad were wilted to the point of slimy–a BIG no-no in my book!), standard lunch items such as meatloaf and chicken parmesan, and some really good desserts.

We tried the sugar-free peanut-butter cookies and peppermint cheesecake (which were really good and didn’t taste at all artificial), the chocolate torte (several to choose from–ours was dense as fudge and studded with bittersweet chocolate chips), and the swirl-your-own French Vanilla, soft-serve ice cream (which is as much a treat for big kids as younger ones).

After gorging our way through the buffet (reasonably priced at $17.95, especially for the wide selection of offerings and the fact that you can go back as many time as you can “stomach” it), we decided a coupla turns at the slot machines was in order.

The $20 we pumped into the Lucky 7 machine, wasn’t so lucky. But after moving on to a nearby machine, on the third pull, we won $100! After playing that up to $120, then back down to $100, we stepped away, determined to walk away with something in our pockets. A final $20 stop at a penny slot near the Men’s room that I figured would be “hot” wasn’t very. . .

We figured out that after the $60 we put into three slot machines, plus the $38 we spent on brunch buffet ($17.95 per person, plus a $3 tip), we went home with $2 in our pockets.

The handsome dining room at Terra Vista, along with sweeping mountain views outside and a thoughtful regional and seasonal menu from chef Bruce Dillon (King Salmon Trio–Pacific Northwest, Scottish, and New Zealand) piqued our interest, and had us vowing to return SOON!

A View From My Office

May 16, 2010

Things are slowly, but surely (don’t call me Shirley!) getting back to normal as we get reunited and reacquainted with our condo.

I now punch the microwave buttons correctly (the interfaces between the condo’s 1997 model and the studio’s 2007 model were distinctly different), my office is returning to normal (only a few files and books that I haven’t yet unearthed), and it’s more wonderful than ever sleeping in our own bedroom and lounging on the new sofa.

A View From My Office

So, just for old time’s sake, here’s one final photo of the remodel. Cheers to it being over and done with!

ARTful Breakfast Plates

May 13, 2010

ART Salmon Benedict

As much as we enjoy our neighbor right across the courtyard, ART Restaurant and Lounge, curiously enough we’d never been there for brunch until a couple of weeks ago.

On a sunny-bright day, our dining companions and Spencer and I enjoyed these gorgeous-o dishes.

By now, you’ve probably guessed that the dish above is the Smoked Salmon Benedict with Hollandaise Sauce. A beautiful, blushing version of the classic.

ART Salmon and Bagel

I opted for this gorgeous plate of smoked salmon with a plethora of tomatoes and a sesame-seed bagel.

ARTful Fruit Plate

Even a simple fruit plate rose above the rest thanks to its height (circles of fresh pineapple topped by melon “blocks”).

What a lovely way to start the day off right!

Happy Mother’s Day

May 9, 2010

A special shout out to all the mothers in the world. Today is your day to shine!

Melissa d\'Arabian and Twins

And to commemorate this special day, here’s my latest story for The Seattle Times Pacific Northwest magazine.

Melissa d\'Arabian\'s Twin Girls

It features a very special mother and woman–Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian–cooking with her two twin daughters, Margaux and Ocèane, and was quite a fun one for me to write and for Spencer and Seattle Times staff photographer Ken Lambert to shoot. (These are Spencer’s adorable shots.)

Chocolate French Toast in Preparation

Here’s the beautiful Pain Perdu (Chocolate French Toast) that mère (mother) and the girls whipped up the morning we visited.

Chocolate French Toast Final

And here’s the final product fresh out of the oven with unsweetened whipped cream oozing over the top. Très magnifique!

Wines for “Green” Foods

May 6, 2010

Just in time for spring’s arrival, my colleague Natalie MacLean has compiled a thought-provoking list of wines for  “green” foods, such as asparagus, peppers, and peas, not to mention other fresh vegetables that we’ll enjoy in the coming months. Natalie is an independent and award-winning journalist who is author of the bestselling “Red, White, and Drunk All Over,” and also edits one of the largest wine sites on the Web,

“Green foods are the problem children of the wine world,” Natalie says. “But as a stubborn hedonist, I’ve found some terrific wines to drink with them.”

So forthwith, here are Natalie’s suggested “green” food-and-wine matches.

•Spring Asparagus: Gruner Veltliner

•Field greens salad: Riesling

•Tomatoes: Pinot Noir

• Green peppers: Sparkling Wine

• Grilled veggies: Rosé

•Green peas: Sauvignon Blanc

•Spinach-and-bacon salad: Merlot

•Artichokes: Verdicchio

Thanks, Nat!

Highlights from International Culinary Conference in PDX

May 1, 2010

In a culinary sense, Portland has recently become known as one of the United States’ most cutting-edge cities. Of course, we Northwesterners have known that all along.

In late April, our neighbors to the south proved their expertise to the rest of the world when they pulled out all their food, wine, and hospitality stops as they welcomed the International Association of Culinary Professionals 32nd Annual Conference.

Bud Break in the Willamette Valley, 4/10

Among many memorable moments was a tour of biodynamic and sustainable vineyards in the Willamette Valley. The vines were just undergoing bud break (pictured above) and the air was full of fresh scent of the earth reawakening after a long winter.

Biodynamic Wines in the Willamette

The wines we sampled–Oregon’s famed Pinot Gris, Blanc, and Noir, as well as Dijon-clone Chardonnay–were all drinking exceptionally well even in spite of negative early-on reports by national wine writers about the 2007 vintage. The photo above shows the dried herbs (such as stinging nettle and valerian) as well as the cow’s horns filled with compost that biodynamic farmers plant in the fields during certain times of the year (depending on the moon’s cycles) to create healthy soil.

In addition to outstanding wines from Soter Vineyards, Montinore Estate, and Anne Amie Vineyards, we were treated to a “snout-to-tail lunch” offered up by Thistle restaurant located in nearby McMinnville. This über-local “Modern American resto” (which sources most everything it serves from within a 35-mile radius and changes its menu daily) was a delight for some, while somewhat of a nightmare for non-pork eaters in the crowd (including yours truly).

Pig\'s Head

Here is the poor animal’s head just waiting to be devoured.

Pig\'s Heart

And here’s its heart, blithely draped over the most beautiful farm-fresh local eggs (I ate two of those sans the pork!).

Luckily, in addition to the carefully coddled eggs, there were slabs of a nummy triple-cream cheese on the table, as well as a perfectly dressed salad of baby greens and a platter of pickled veggies and cornichons, so the more faint of heart of us among didn’t go hungry.

Pig\'s Lunch Table

Here’s a shot of the complete groaning board, which one of the hosts described as a spread “like something from King Henry the VIII’s table.” You can see all my fellow foodies scurrying around the table trying to find the best camera angles. No doubt some of them, like Spencer, had been in Delores Custer’s food-styling class earlier in the week.

Pig\'s Lunch Dessert

Dessert was the coup de grace for all to enjoy. . .a dense almond polenta cake with a crown of unsweetened whipped cream. Wish I’d saved enough room for two slices of that.

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