Manhattan Clam Chowder

October 30, 2012

Manhattan Clam Chowder

Wine Varietal: Merlot

Serves 4 as an entrée; 8 as an appetizer

Chowder owes its name to the French chaudière, a three-legged heavy iron cooking pot. Fishermen returning to their villages would throw a portion of their catch into the pot as the villagers gathered to welcome the men home and share the meal. In the 1600s, the tradition crossed the Atlantic as French colonists settled what is now eastern Canada. Through the years, there evolved two main types of chowder. In northern New England, chowder is made with milk or cream. In Rhode Island and the New York area, chowder is made with tomatoes and broth. Manhattan-style chowder is generally healthier and more vegetable-based, as in this version. If served with a green salad and crusty whole-grain bread, this makes a one-saucepan dinner for four.

2 cups water

2 pounds Manila or native littleneck clams, purged and shells scrubbed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 white or yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 stalk celery, diced

1/2 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced

1/2 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced

1 carrot, peeled and diced

6 small new potatoes, scrubbed and quartered, or 1 baking potato, scrubbed and diced

1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped, juice reserved

1/8 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

1. In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, combine the water and clams. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low, cover, and steam for 6 to 10 minutes, or until the clams open. Shake the pot occasionally to redistribute the clams.

2. Remove the clams to a bowl and reserve the cooking liquid. Discard any clams that have not opened. Strain the cooking liquid through a fine-meshed sieve lined with several thicknesses of dampened cheesecloth. Allow the clams to cool, then shuck the meat from the shells and discard the shells. Cover and place the clam meats in the refrigerator for later use. Measure 2 cups of the cooking liquid, and discard the rest or save for another use. Rinse and dry the stockpot or Dutch oven.

3. Place the olive oil in the stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook 3 to 5 minutes, or until the onion is tender-crisp, stirring often. Add the celery, green and red bell pepper, carrot, and potato. Cover and cook 8 to 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender-crisp, stirring occasionally. If the vegetables begin to stick or brown too quickly, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water and stir well.

4. Add the tomatoes and their juice, the reserved clam cooking liquid, the Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, oregano, bay leaf, sugar, salt, and pepper and stir well. Bring to a boil, decrease the heat, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, covered, or until the potatoes and carrots are tender, stirring occasionally.

5. Taste the broth and add additional salt and pepper, if necessary. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with water until well blended. Remove the pot from the heat and add the cornstarch mixture. Stir well to blend completely, then return the pan to the heat. Cook 1 to 2 minutes more, or until the soup thickens, stirring occasionally. For an even thicker, creamier consistency, place half of the vegetable mixture (about 3 1/2 cups) in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Add back to the pot and stir well. Add the reserved clams, stir well, and cook until the clams are warmed through. Do not overcook, or the clams will be tough.

6. Remove the bay leaf and divide the chowder among soup bowls.

Recipe from Braiden Rex-Johnson’s personal collection. 
Photo by Braiden Rex-Johnson. 




A Lovely Online Food and Wine Guide

October 26, 2012

I just found out about a food and wine guide that will be useful to anyone contemplating a trip around the Pacific Northwest, or even just for vicarious “travel” for armchair travelers.

The Northwest Food and Wine Guide features page after page of restaurant descriptions and menus for Portland, Seattle, Vancouver (British Columbia), and northern California.

Following the restaurant descriptors comes touring information for wineries, distilleries, and breweries in the same areas.

I loved “leafing” through the magazine’s pretty pages while viewing them on my new computer’s crisp and vibrant retina display.

The magazine’s editors are based in Portland, so the magazine skews heavily toward that town. I’m sure as they sign up more advertisers, and people find out about the Guide, that Seattle, Vancouver, and Northwest wine regions will get more play in the merry mix.



Enological Society Says Goodbye with Fundraiser Dinner

October 23, 2012

When Spencer and I first moved to Seattle more than 22 years ago, we knew nothing about Pacific Northwest food and wine.

Wanting to learn more, we often attended monthly meetings and events hosted by The Enological Society of the Pacific Northwest (ES).

The last ES event we went to was at the Woodmark Hotel on Carillon Point. It was one of those gorgeous, sunny Seattle nights you never forget, thanks in large part to spending the evening sitting next to winemaker John Bell while sampling through his and many other talented Washington winemakers’ prize-winning wines.

Cut to today, when ES will end its run after an impressive 35 years! ES will go out with an evening of wine appreciation featuring a gourmet dinner, distinguished guest speakers, and an open mic opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments of the organization.

The event takes place Thursday, November 8, in the Chateau Ste. Michelle Ballroom (14111 NE 145th Street Woodinville, WA 98072). Proceeds from the evening will benefit the Historical Exhibit at the Walter Clore Center in Prosser, WA.

According to ES board member (and our buddy) Gerry Warren, “This event will serve as the grand finale for the organization and celebrate 35 years of education and awareness that the Enological Society brought to its members.”

The celebratory evening begins with hors d’oeuvres and a wine-tasting reception followed by a three-course gourmet dinner paired with wines from the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates portfolio.

Guests speakers for the evening include Ted Baseler (President & CEO, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates). Brian Carter (Winemaker, Brian Carter Cellars), Myron Redford (President & Former Winemaker, Amity Vineyards) and Allen Shoup (Founder, Long Shadows). Warren will serve as the event emcee for the evening.

Individual tickets for the event are $125; tables of eight can be purchased for $1,000. Visit the ES website to reserve your seat for this exclusive event.

More about ES: 

Started in the mid-1970s by a diverse group of wine enthusiasts, the Enological Society of the Pacific Northwest (also known as the Seattle Wine Society) is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization dedicated to the appreciation of wine and food through educational events in the Puget Sound region. The society was incorporated as an educational organization which gave it considerable latitude in its ability to program events around wine and food.

For 30 consecutive years it presented a Northwest Wine Festival that incorporated a world-class judging, and the Wine Fairs for many years allowed members to explore outstanding old and new world wines. Regular monthly meetings provided educational programing at times for hundreds of attendees and the very popular Regional Dinners were outstanding experiences especially when presented by a volunteer crew.

The society’s educational programming and its prestigious wine judgings had a well-recognized effect on the growth and maturation of the Northwest Wine Industry as it focused the attention of consumers on the pleasures they would experience through their interest and consumption of wine.


Fado Fried Chicken Salad and Pickleback!

October 19, 2012

During our recent birthdays, Spencr and I let down our guards just a little bit while still trying to remain on our low-carb/high-protein diet.

One Sunday last month, after a rather unsuccessful morning trying to tour Pioneer Square galleries for inspiration (most were closed on Sundays), we decided to treat ourselves to lunch at Fadó Irish Pub & Restaurant, about midway between Pioneer Square and our condo.

We’d eaten at Fado before, and knew that the Pub has yummy main-dish salads. And although we’d normally go for the grilled chicken as our protein addition, this day (again, to celebrate our birthdays, and with the urging of our server) we opted for fried-chicken tenders.

My salad–augmented with sliced pears, mandarin oranges, spicy nuts, and blue cheese–was a lovely combo of sweet, salty, and pungent flavors. The crispy, perfectly fried chicken contrasted nicely with soft, super-fresh local baby lettuces.

I had to laugh when I perused the seasonal beverage menu and discovered under the Shots section both Pickleback (Irish Whiskey with a pickle-brine chaser) and Irish Breakfast (Irish Whiskey and Butterscotch Schnapps with an orange-juice chaser and bacon garnish.

Although my father’s side of the family is Irish, and I do love my wine, neither of these tickles my palate, although imbibing one or the other would make me or anyone want to do an Irish jig.

Elliott’s Annual Oyster New Year Bash

October 16, 2012

It’s time to buy your tickets for Elliott’s Oyster New Year, which will be held on Saturday, November 4.

VIP Champagne Reception ticket holders  can enjoy passed appetizers and champagne beginning at 4 p.m., followed by the main event at 5 p.m. ($125 per person plus tax).

General admission tickets (from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m.) cost $95 per person plus tax.

During this exciting annual event, guests can choose among:

• 30+ varieties of local oysters

• Oysters shucked to order along our 90-foot oyster bar

• Fresh seafood buffet

• Over 40 wineries

• Local microbrews

• Live music

• The famous Oyster Luge

• Shucking demonstration and contest

• People’s Choice “Most Beautiful Oyster” contest

In keeping with Elliott’s eco-friendly practices, the restaurant reuses or recycle everything possible from the event, and composts all shells and food waste in partnership with Cedar Grove.

All proceeds from the Oyster New Year Bash will benefit the Puget Sound Restoration Fund. Since 1997 this non-profit organization has been dedicated to restoring the Sound’s water quality and native marine species and their habitats.

Elliott’s is Seafood WATCH®-compliant and actively participates in the Puget Sound Restoration Fund’s Henderson Inlet Project , The Humane Society, and Wild Salmon Supporters.


Happy Halloween Pumpkin Maze

October 12, 2012

Are you hankering for a do-friendly farm and gathering place to scare up some Halloween fun? Then head on over to Arlington, Washington, and meet up with Gary Biringer, wife Julie, and their beloved farm dog Vinny.

The Biringers are the proud owners of Biringer’s Black Crow Pumpkins & Corn Maze Farm. They invite you to bring family, friends, and doggie(s). Romp through the pumpkin patch and search out the new Corn Maze.

The Maze is open now until end of October. Hours are Monday through Thursday noon until 6 p.m., Friday noon until 9 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m until 9 p.m.; and Sunday 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.

There’s free admission to pumpkin patch. Pumpkins are priced by size ($2-12).

To enter the Corn Maze costs before 6 p.m. $8/person includes FREE or discounted pumpkin ($2 value).

Corn Maze after 6 p.m., $9/person, or $8.50/person for groups of 25 or more.

Kids under 46” tall FREE day and night.

Kiddies will enjoy a hay-bale maze, kiddie slide, skeleton graveyard, and picnic in the old covered wagon. FREE Wagon rides to U-Pick pumpkins, decorative gourds, corn stalks, fresh apple cider, and apples. Tours available by appointment.


Arcade Lights at Pike Place Market

October 9, 2012

The Pike Place Market’s semiannual celebration of local artisanal food and beverages–Arcade Lights–takes place again on Friday, October 12, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Located in the Market’s North Arcade, the event brings together all the right elements for a hearty fall harvest celebration including robust drink, savory and sweet treats, eclectic entertainment, and a cozy venue with a sunset view.

To create this unique banquet of handcrafted tastes and small plates, event organizers curated more than 60 breweries, wineries, and small-scale food businesses to participate in this evening event for guests 21 and over.

A short list of participating breweries includes: Iron Horse Brewery (Ellensburg); Odin Brewing Co., Fremont Brewing, Naked City Brewery, Pike Place Brewing Company (Seattle); Fish Brewing Co. (Olympia); Diamond Knot Craft Brewing (Mukilteo); Northwest Brewing Company (Pacific); and 7 Seas Brewing (Gig Harbor).

Washington wineries providing tastes of their seasonal best include: Piccola Cellars, EFESTE (Woodinville); Bunchgrass Winery (Walla Walla); Naches Heights Vineyard (Yakima); Finnriver Cidery (Chimacum); and Vortex Cellars (Redmond).

Sweet and savory handmade small bites will provide a perfect complement to the brews, wines, and ciders. On the sweet side, treats such as mini ice cream sandwiches, Liege waffles (a type of Belgian waffle), cupcakes, gluten-free cakes and tarts, marshmallows, dark chocolate brownies and Ice-pops will be provided by: Trophy Cupcakes and Party, Sweet Iron Waffles, Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream, Six Strawberries, Dolce Lou, Sweet Coconut Bakery, Alaska Silk Pie Co., and others.

On the salty side, CRUST from Port Townsend will be on deck with quince chicken hand pies, and Seattle’s Salumi will serve up salami slices. Uli’s Famous Sausage will roll out meat treats from their shop located in the Market, while Roving Pizzaioli from Normandy Park dishes out delicious slices fresh from the oven.

In addition to all the fun you’ll have, Arcade Lights also benefits the Market Foundation and the human service agencies at the Pike Place Market: Pike Market Child Care and Preschool, Pike Market Medical Clinic, Pike Market Senior Center, and Downtown Food Bank.



Arcade Lights Event Info


Tickets: $25 in advance, $30 at the door.


Online Purchase:


Treats included: 10 tokens to be redeemed for food and beverages and keepsake glass. Additional tokens may be purchased at the event for $2.50 each.


Time: 7 pm -10 pm. Tickets may be picked up at will call or purchased at the door at 6:30 pm.


More info: visit for a complete updated list of participating vendors.




The Pike Place Market is one of the oldest continuously operating public markets in the U.S. It is a Historic District with 250 commercial businesses, 100 farmers, 225 craftspeople, 300 street performers, and 500 residents. In addition, there are social services to help downtown’s low-income residents. It is often called the “Soul of Seattle.”


The Pike Place Market Preservation & Development Authority (PDA) is a not-for-profit, public corporation chartered by the City of Seattle in 1973 to manage the properties in the nine-acre Market Historic District. The PDA is required to preserve, rehabilitate and protect the Market’s buildings, increase opportunities for farm and food retailing in the Market, incubate and support small and marginal businesses, and provide services for low-income people.



Fresh Faces at Sky City

October 5, 2012

The “Fresh Faces of the Future” tasting menu kicked off at the Space Needle’s Sky City restaurant on October 1, and boy, was it delicious!

Fresh Faces partners professional chef  instructors and students from Seattle’s most esteemed culinary programs with SkyCity Executive Chef Jeff Maxfield. Each group prepares one original dish to contribute to the five-course tasting menu.

It was fun to see long-time Seattle culinary authorities including Linda Pal Chauncey, associate dean of Seattle Culinary Academy (SCA) at Seattle Central Community College, and Will McNamara during the evening. I first met chef McNamara years ago when he was working at Place Pigalle in the Pike Place Market. More recently, he served as exec chef at the Washington Athletic Club, and is now sharing his wisdom with students at South Seattle Community College (SSCC).

The other schools represented on the menu are Seattle Le Cordon Bleu and FareStart.

A portion of the proceeds from sales of the month-long tasting menu ($62 per person) will benefit each participating school’s scholarship fund.

Views from Sky City were gorgeous, especially since we arrived at 6:45 p.m., right around sunset.

The Fresh Faces menu was colorful and inviting. . .

As was our first course of Potato “Pinxtos” (Saffron Scallops, Coriander Lox, and Fennel Mojama) created by SCA student Claire Elise Mitchell. The dish was adapted from an award-winning tapa Claire created using Northwest seafood and produce as inspiration.

Next up? Roasted Wild Mushroom Salad, an intriguing juxtaposition of duck rillettes and a dinosaur kale salad rife with chanterelle mushrooms. Douglas-fir gel balls added an interesting textural touch. This dish was created by Varin Keokitvon from FareStart.

Chef McNamara offered up the evening’s third course, and perhaps my favorite: Dry-Rubbed Seared Scallops, spicy good with Moroccan-style garbanzo beans, grilled peppers, spinach, and Charmoula dressing. Chef McNamara feels that, within the next 50 years, the African continent will become a major player on the world stage. His dish was an ode to flavors from those countries.

Sky City’s chef, Jeff Maxfield, served up the evening’s main course–Hay-Roasted Carlton Farms Pork. Because I don’t eat pork, he was nice enough to substitute my favorite protein, wild Alaskan salmon.

The kingly fish danced atop the plate along with black garlic, beet spaetzle cake, creamed collard greens, and huckleberry jam. Chef Jeff describes hay roasting as an old European technique in which meat is roasted in freshly harvested hay; his spaetzle cake was a modern twist on a classic dumpling; and other parts of the dish inspired by home-style canning recipes passed down through the generations.

Richard Carpenter and Brian Figler of Le Cordon Bleu gifted us with an exceptional seasonal dessert. Jones Orchard Apple Financier was accompanied by artistic squiggles of Whidbey Island Port syrup and dressed with cardamom crème Chantilly. Ooh-la-la!

We chose to drink one of Sky City’s featured Winery of the Month wines, a crisp, well-balanced  Woodinville Wine Cellars 2011 Sauvignon Blanc that partnered perfectly with each and every course. Had we wanted red, the menu also included Woodinville Wine Cellars 2009 Little Bear Creek Red Blend.

Pretty Puget Sound Cam Shots

October 2, 2012

On April Fool’s Day, 2009, we introduced a new feature on the Northwest Wining and Dining website called the Puget Sound Cam, or PSCam.

The PSCam is located in my husband’s office/studio five floors below the condo in which we have lived the past 20 years in downtown Seattle.

The PSCam boasts a westerly view of the Waterfront, with views across Elliott Bay to West Seattle and the Olympic Mountains. In the foreground of the Cam’s bird’s-eye view, you can see the new Seattle Great Wheel spinning away, as well as ferry boats and container ships plying their routes.

During this final gasp of summer in Seattle, I’ve captured some of the best shots from the PSCam and wanted to share them with you here.

A sunny day with both a ferry boat and tanker in the distance!

Brooding skies!

Sunset’s majesty.

More glorious sunshine!