Sea Scallops with Spiced Carrot-Dill Sauce

March 31, 2011

Sea Scallops with Spiced Carrot-Dill Sauce

Varietal: Riesling

Serves 4

Chef Jerry Traunfeld is a James Beard award-winning chef and owner of Poppy restaurant in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. For years he served as executive chef at The Herbfarm restaurant in Woodinville, Washington, and is also the author of two cookbooks. He very generously gave me this recipe for inclusion in “Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining.” When asked about a wine pairing with this vibrantly colored, gently herbed and spiced seafood entrée, Jerry quickly replied, “Without question, this is a Riesling dish!”

2 cups fresh carrot juice (available at health-food stores, juice bars, and select grocery stores)

1/2 cup white wine

1/4 cup diced shallots

One 2-inch piece cinnamon stick

2 star anise pods

2 whole cloves

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning

Freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 pounds fresh or thawed untreated (dry pack) sea scallops (See Cook’s Hint, below)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces

1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh dill

1. Pour the carrot juice and white wine into a medium saucepan and add the shallot, cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves, the 3/4 teaspoon salt, and a few grindings of pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until it is reduced to about 1 cup, 25 to 30 minutes. Set it aside while you cook the scallops.

2. Pull off the small white piece of muscle that is attached to the side of the scallops (some may not have it) and discard. Pat the scallops very dry on paper towels and season with salt and pepper.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl in the olive oil and carefully add the scallops, flat side down, in a single layer without crowding. Cook, without turning, until the bottoms turn a deep brown color, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and brown on the other side, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer the scallops to a warm plate and let them rest while you finish the sauce.

4. Bring the sauce back to a simmer over medium heat and add the lemon juice. Whisk in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Place a fine-meshed sieve over the top of a blender container, and strain the sauce, pressing the solids with the back of a large spoon to remove as much of the sauce as possible. Discard the solids and blend the sauce for 30 seconds, or until smooth. Pour the sauce back into the saucepan and stir in 3 tablespoons of the dill.

5. Arrange the scallops on 4 warm serving plates. Ladle the carrot sauce around them and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon dill.

Cook’s Hint: Whether using fresh or previously frozen sea scallops, it is important to use “dry pack” scallops, or the scallops will not brown (caramelize) properly, and will instead steam in their own juices. Scallops that have been treated with phosphates during processing absorb water. Not only do they not cook properly, but they lack the fresh, sweet, and briny sea flavor of their dry-packed cousins. Sea scallops that are uniformly white in color, or that are displayed surrounded by juice, are most likely treated.

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.

Soul(ful) Wine

March 28, 2011

Our longtime friend and colleague, Michael Teer, owner of Pike & Western Wine Shop in the Pike Place Market (where we buy lots of our vino thanks to its convenient location right near our condo and excellent selection of both Northwest and global wines), recently opened a second location in the hottest new neighborhood/work area in Seattle: South Lake Union.

A couple of Saturdays ago, braving frigid blasts although the skies were (blessedly) sunny, we hopped aboard the SLUT (South Lake Union Transit) and stopped off near SoulWine.

The gorgeous corner-location shop is in the same complex as Seattle celebrity chef Tom Douglas’s second location of Serious Pie and the Dahlia Workshop, a casual take-out biscuit and breakfast/lunch/brunch spot. Both venues were well populated for lunch the Saturday afternoon we visited.

Photo of SoulWine interior courtesy of Reiner Perry, KPIS

“Pike & Western is like a first born that I have grown and nurtured,” Michael told us. “It was one of the first wine shops in Seattle and has a long history of supporting Washington wines. It has afforded me long-lasting relationships with premium wineries domestically and internationally, many of which find their way to SoulWine.”

Here are some snippets from the press release that went out shortly after SoulWine’s soft opening in early January:

*SoulWine features retail wine sales, a tasting bar and a private event space.

*The name, SoulWine, is rooted in Michael’s lifelong appreciation of wines with soul – wines that reflect a sense of place and a sense of the people who made them – and his love for old-school soul music.

*The collection of wines reflects Michael’s passion for supporting the growers and small, handcrafted producers that put their “soul” into the dirt, the grapes, and the wine they produce, with an eye to unique quality and value across the price spectrum.

*Michael thoughtfully selects every bottle that is offered at SoulWine, many of which reflect his strong ties with Italy, France, Germany and Austria as well as wines from Washington and Oregon.

*The 1600-square-foot space houses a careful selection of both high-end and value wines, a tasting bar that seats six, a window counter for casual tastings that seats six and a private-event space that seats up to 20 and can be used for casual gatherings and educational wine events, complete with wine reference materials.

*SoulWine is open Mon. through Sat. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visit the website at

Taste Washington Returns for 14th Year

March 24, 2011

Taste Washington, the largest single-region wine and food event in the country, returns for its 14th year on Saturday, March 26, and Sunday, March 27, in Seattle.

The weekend kicks off on Saturday, March 26, with a series of seminars at Bell Harbor International Conference Center. These fun and educational panels feature renowned wine experts from across the country leading in-depth explorations of Washington State wines. This year’s panelists include Dave McIntyre, Wine Columnist for The Washington Post; Chef Michael Mina of Bourbon Steak and RN74; Leslie Sbrocco, contributor to NBC’s “Today”; Sara Schneider, Wine Editor for Sunset; Bruce Schoenfeld, Wine Editor for Travel + Leisure; and Jason Smith, Master Sommelier and Wine Director at Bellagio Las Vegas.

The highlight of the weekend is the Grand Tasting on Sunday, March 27, at Qwest Field Event Center, with more than 200 Washington State wineries and the region’s top restaurants sampling their latest releases and newest creations. The Grand Tasting also features celebrity chef demonstrations; dessert and coffee bars; and a vineyard tasting area, allowing guests to compare and contrast the wide variety of wines that are made from some of Washington State’s most sought-after vineyards.

“Featuring more than 200 Washington State wineries and the Northwest’s leading restaurants under one roof, the Grand Tasting makes Taste Washington the largest single-region wine and food event in the country,” according to Robin Pollard, executive director of the Washington Wine Commission.

Splintless and Stitchless in Seattle

March 21, 2011

First I lost the splint. . .

Now the stitches are gone, too! Amazing how quickly the human body can heal.

Thanks to all who expressed well wishes for a quick recovery.

On the mend and brushing on ScarGuard (a nail-polish-like substance that purports to diminish scars) twice a day.

Celebrate Saint Pat with a Bacon Whiskey Maple Cupcake

March 17, 2011

On March 1, the good folks at Cupcake Royale, whom I profiled in a Seattle Times Pacific Northwest article last year, rolled out their latest monthly cupcake in honor of St. Patrick’s Day: Bacon Whiskey Maple Cupcakes!

This delicious twist on Irish whiskey features moist vanilla butter cake made from local ingredients like milk, eggs, and butter from Medowsweet Dairy, and specially milled Shepherd’s Grain cake flour from Shepard’s Grain farmers in Eastern Washington.

The cake is hand-frosted with Irish Whiskey Maple Buttercream. Made with Jameson Irish Whiskey and real maple syrup, this malted maple swirl truly takes the edge of. . .a sweet tooth, that is.

Meat eaters will enjoy the real bacon bits from Zoe’s Meats that perch atop the icing; vegetarians can opt for a dusting of organic maple sugar and shamrocks.

Irish eyes will be smiling through the end of March, when Bacon Whisky Maple Cupcakes exit the cupcake case.

So visit any of the five Cupcake Royale locations in the Puget Sound area, including Bellevue, Capitol Hill, Ballard, Madrona and West Seattle for a taste. Or order up a batch for delivery today–St. Patrick’s Day–or any day until month’s end by calling 206.883.7656. You can also order online at

Ever Heard of Alaskan King Crab Tails?

March 14, 2011

We’ve all heard of and enjoyed Alaskan king crab legs and claws. But how many of us have heard of Alaskan King crab TAILS?

I certainly hadn’t until I received a press release from the good folks at Elliott’s Oyster House & Restaurant in Seattle that informed me that although King crab tails are a rarity in restaurants, they are featured on Elliott’s Oyster House’s lunch and dinner menus this month.

Elliott’s executive chef Robert Spaulding describes the texture of crab tails as “somewhat like shrimp and the sweet taste of crab.”Although with the striated strips of flesh and mild taste, crab tails reminded me more of a cross between skate and monkfish.

A quick Google search turned up the following description of where crab tails actually come from: “King crabs have ‘tails,’ or abdomens, that are distinctive, being fan-shaped and tucked underneath the rear of the shell. Female king crab’s abdomen or ‘tail’ is very wide, covering a portion of each basal leg segment. Embryos are brooded under this tail on adults. Male king crabs have triangular shaped ‘tails’ which are only one third the size of females.”

In chef Robert’s preparation, which is served as an appetizer, three meaty crab-tail medallions are marinated with chili sauce, garlic, and shallots. They are then expertly grilled, with the perfect amount of char around the edges. Served with Jicama-Chayote Slaw and Chili-Lime Beurre-Blanc sauce, the Spicy Grilled King Crab Medallions, the generous serving (which was plenty for my entrée) is a steal at just $13.

And the good news is that “the tails are available as long as the frozen stock lasts, often into late summer or early fall,” according to chef Robert. “Fresh are generally not available as they are taken off at the processing plants and frozen.”

Cheers to today’s lesson in Northwest seafood!

Photo courtesy of Elliott’s Oyster House

Pike Place Market Save the Dates

March 10, 2011

It’s never too late to update your calendar with key dates of all the fun events that take place each year at the “soul of Seattle,” a.k.a., the Pike Place Market.

Daffodil Day, Friday, March 18, 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.: The Market community and volunteers take to downtown-Seattle street corners to pass out thousands of locally grown daffodils and celebrate the arrival of spring.

Care for the Market Luncheon, Monday, May 16: Join Market supporters as they gather together to raise money for all the ongoing good work of the Pike Place Market Foundation.

Sunset Supper, Friday, August 19: The best bash of the year as the city’s key chefs and restaurateurs hit the pavers to cook at sunset while lucky party-goers sip, sup, and dance under the stars.

Martha and Me

March 9, 2011

Last weekend will go down as one of the worst in recent memory, since early Saturday morning I fell and cut the base of my pinky finger on the sharp metal edge of a heavy-duty tape dispenser.

It was a pretty deep gash, but I toughed it out for four hours (even enjoying the always-amazing Oyster Stew and Beet and Arugula Salad at Place Pigalle) before the throbbing pain became too much.

Figuring we would not overload the United States health-care system, we opted not to go to our local emergency room, but rather to a nearby Urgent Care Clinic.

There, the doctor suggested he glue the wound back together versus stitches. Sounded good to me, as I hate needles or anything having to do with the sight of blood.

About an hour later, we were back on the street and ready to pick up our day, more or less where we had left off.

Things didn’t go well that night, as we could see blood coming out from underneath the bandages. The pain intensified.

First thing Sunday morning, I was all ready to go back to Urgent Care and get them to fix me up (again).

“No you won’t!” Spencer said. “We’re going to a real ER this time!”

And so we did.

Once there, a very nice doctor, originally from northern England so he had a pleasing Scots-like accent that reminded me of Scotty from the Star Trek television series, said the finger never should have been glued.

After several minutes of irrigation with warm saline solution (which felt wonderful!), he gave me two shots down the nerves in my finger (which hurt like hell!).

Next, he draped the wound with a blue cloth with a hole in the center,  then inserted four stitches made from blue nylon (or whatever stitches are made of).

He said I’d need to be in a splint for about a week, to stabilize my pinky and keep the stitches from pulling out.

So I am now doing all my typing with a splint and four stitches. NOT easy, and so other than for my blogs and articles, I’m sticking to lowercase as it’s too hard to shift.

I found out that Martha Stewart recently had to go to the emergency room for stitches, too, after her dog accidentally butted her in the lip, resulting in a bad split. Here are her gruesome photos, which certainly rival mine.

Get well and heal up soon, Martha!

Meanwhile, I will try to do the same. Splint off on Sunday; stitches out next Tuesday, if I last that long, sigh.

It’s Dine Around Seattle Time

March 7, 2011

Seattleites eagerly await the months of March and November, when it’s easy to experience the best dining the city has to offer, with the return of Dine Around Seattle®.

Now in its tenth year, Dine Around Seattle® will be satisfying cravings throughout the Emerald City with prix-fixe dinners for $30 and prix-fixe lunches for $15.00 (before tax, tip, and beverages) at some of Seattle’s most delicious establishments.

Each restaurant will offer their Dine Around Seattle menu Sundays through Thursdays, now through March 31.

Follow the latest breaking news on the Dine Around Seattle promotioin on Twitter @dinearoundsea and Facebook #dinearoundseattle.

March’s participating restaurants include:

35th Street Bistro

ART Restaurant and Lounge

Barking Frog

Barrio Bellevue

Barrio Seattle

Barolo Ristorante

Beach Café

Bin on the Lake

Blue Acre Seafood

Café Campagne

Chandler’s Crabhouse

Chez Shea

Cutter’s Bayhouse

Earth & Ocean



Hunt Club


Lot 3

Mamma Melina

McCormick’s Fish House & Bar

McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant Downtown Seattle

McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant Bellevue

Monsoon East

Monsoon Seattle


Palisade Waterfront Restaurant

Palomino Bellevue

Palomino Seattle

Ponti Seafood Grill

Purple Café Bellevue

Ray’s Boathouse

Salty’s Alki

Salty’s Redondo Beach


Spazzo Italian Grill & Wine Bar

Stanford’s Northgate

Stanford’s Southcenter

Steelhead Diner

Stumbling Goat Bar and Bistro


Toulouse Petit Kitchen & Lounge


Happy 10th Anniversary to Portfolio Restaurant!

March 3, 2011

A recent press release came with the happy news that The Art Institute Portfolio Restaurant is just about to celebrate its tenth anniversary celebration and that the public is cordially invited to join the students, staff, and faculty in celebrating the restaurant’s big day.

Portfolio serves as an educational dining lab for students from The International Culinary School at AiS. Classical cuisine and white-linen service are de rigeuer here. Last summer, we enjoyed a multi-course meal and perfectly paired wine, thanks to long-time restaurant manager, Dieter Schaefer.

Under Dieter’s direction, upper-level students will create, prepare, and serve several four-course menus to choose from. Wines from Washington’s Willis Hall Winery will be matched to your menu choices.

This event is your opportunity to experience for yourself the outstanding cuisine, unique environment, and lovely Elliott Bay views of one of Seattle’s outstanding culinary institutes.

Event Specifics:

Wednesday through Friday, March 9 to 11, 2011.

Seatings daily at 5:30 and 6:00 pm.

The Art Institute’s Portfolio Restaurant

2600 Alaskan Way, Seattle WA  98121

Dinner with Wine $39, without Wine $29.

Reservations required by phone 206-239-2363.

Info @