Braiden Answers Where to Send Seattle Tourists

April 14, 2015

Space needle seattle city skyline photo northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Tourist season in Seattle must be about ready to hit, judging from an email in my inbox this morning.

“A friend of a friend is coming to Seattle at the end of the month,” my friend explained. “Could you give me a few ideas of restaurants and activities she and her husband might enjoy?”

The “what are your favorite restaurants and things to do in Seattle” question always amuses me. How old is the couple? Are they independently wealthy or on a budget? What kind of food do they like? Are they ambulatory?

Anyway, not having any parameters leaves the field totally open. So here, for your reading pleasure, is the list of things I suggested the “mystery couple” might enjoy.


Steelhead Diner in the Pike Place Market (“the Market”). . .not really a diner (more an “upscale diner,” although ambience is casual and fun). . .some of the best seafood in town.

Cafe Campagne in the Market. . .good for breakfast/brunch or dinner, true French bistro fare.

Place Pigalle in the Market. . French/NW food with beautiful Elliott Bay (ferry boats!) views.

Shuckers in the Fairmont Olympic Hotel. . .the best seafood in town.

RN74. . .especially if they are wine drinkers/wine aficionados as the wine list there is excellent.

Pike Place Market. . .they can just walk around on their own or take a Savor Seattle Market tour (which provides lots of walking and samples from the restos/stalls)

Ride the Ducks. . .I haven’t done this, but the trucks drive by our condo all summer and it seems wildly popular

Underground Tour. . .lots of walking in the under-the streets part of Pioneer Square, the historic part of Seattle. We’ve taken lots of people there and they love it, although it is rather offbeat!

Walk the Waterfront. . .and eat lunch at Anthony’s Diner or Six Seven in the Edgewater Hotel (where the Beatles stayed and fished out of their hotel room window!)

The Space Needle/Seattle Center/Chihuly Glass House. . .panoramic views of the region from the Needle, gorgeous art glass at Chihuly and lunch at Collections Cafe. Tell her to take the Monorail (90-second ride) to get there as that’s also a very Seattle experience.

Experience Music Project (EMP). . .also at Seattle Center. . .if they are into rock music and sci-fi (it’s Paul Allen’s pet project/museum).

Argosy cruise of Lake Union/Lake Washington which takes you by lots of interesting sites/different parts of town including Bill Gates’s home.

So next time you have tourists in town, or are asked the inevitable “what are your favorite restaurants and things to do in Seattle” question, you can crib from my list and/or use it to spark ideas/suggestions of your own.

Happy summer in Seattle!!!

Culinary Tie-Ins to the Seahawks’ Superbowl Game

January 30, 2014

Although I know almost nothing about football, as a 23-year-long resident of Seattle, it has been impossible to resist catching the spirit of the Seattle Seahawks upcoming appearance in Super Bowl XLVIII.

If you are in a similar predicament, not knowing a lot about football or the Seahawks, The Seattle Times has thoughtfully prepared a cover story in today’s paper that will help fill in the blanks.

PS Cam seahawks colors superbowl tie-in 2 northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Downtown has enjoyed a lovely display of brilliant green and blue colors on the Seattle Great Wheel (as seen above on the Puget Sound Cam; The Westin Hotel sports Seahawk colors atop its two columnar buildings; the Space Needle shines proudly in shades of blue and green with a 12th-man flag waving atop; numerous local businesses proudly display Seahawks emblems.

The chance to support, and perhaps even cash in a bit on Seahawks mania, has not been lost on Seattle’s hospitality industry. A press release issued by listed the following Seahawks-themed offers and specials for dining, entertainment, and lodging. Here are some of the more interesting items, plus some other items that came into my inbox from various public-relations companies about town and even farther afield.


For the Thirsty and Hungry 12s

Start hydrating for the big game at the Art Restaurant and Lounge. Beginning January 10, Art Restaurant will show their Blue Pride with two unique cocktails. First up is the brightly blue colored “Super Bowl Sling,” which offers warship rum infused with blue skittles, Benedictine, orange bitters, and more. Next we have the “12th Man,” a bright-action green-colored cocktail that features celestial reposado infused with green skittles, Cointreau, house sour mix and a mini 12th man flag garnish to top it off. Both cocktails will be served through Super Bowl Sunday.

For 12s looking to grab some grub, Art Restaurant and Lounge will provide a special game day menu on Super Bowl Sunday. This Seahawks inspired spread sports the likes of “Seagal’s” crudité, “1984” warm pretzels, “Legion of Boom” wings, “Clink” cheese sauce nachos, “Touchback” Seattle dogs, “Feed the Beast” pizza, and “137.6 decibel” fried chicken and fries. The menu is offered from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.


Get Your Beast Brunch On

BOKA restaurant + bar at Hotel 1000 is doing a special “Beast Brunch” in its Studio 1000 space on Super Bowl Sunday from 12-2:30 p.m. The $25 buffet includes the Beast Brunch and game day bites, plus one Bloody Mary, Mimosa, or juice. Additional Bloody Marys are priced at $6 and additional Mimosas are $5. The Beast Brunch wouldn’t be complete without the room being outfitted with a 70’ flat screen TV. For those wanting to take advantage of BOKA’s usual “Seahawk Brunch” located in its regular restaurant space, prices are $25 per person. Reservations can be made at 206-357-9000.


A Super Bowl Super Stay

Hotel Monaco is offering the ultimate Super Bowl party with its “Super Bowl Super Stay” package. The package includes an overnight stay in Hotel Monaco’s Ambassador Suite, the entire top floor of the hotel rented out for your guests, multiple TVs in the suite to catch all the action, a custom tailgate menu tailored to your tastes from Chef Jason McClure of Sazerac Restaurant, and a staffed bar. Even more, if the Seahawks win the Super Bowl, the individual who booked this package wins a free night in the Ambassador Suite once a year for LIFE. The Super Bowl Super Stay package is priced at $25,000. To book, call VIP reservations at 206-516-5097.


Raise your Glass in the name of the Seahawks

For Super Bowl XLVIII, Oliver’s gives fellow 12s a chance to toast to the Seahawks. For their “Boom Town” special, Oliver’s will be offering select Washington wines priced at $7.50 a glass. For 12s wanting something different, Oliver’s will be offering a Glacier Blue cocktail with Bols Blue Curacao liqueur, gin, vodka and a garnish of lime. The Glacier Blue is priced at $8.

For hungry 12s, Oliver’s will also offer “Golden Tate r’ Tots” with garlic, white cheddar and bacon priced at $6. For something a bit meatier, 12s can take refuge with the “Roast Beast Mode” sandwich. This New York deli-style sandwich comes complete with salad, soup, or fries and is priced at $12 a sandwich. All specials will be served Feb. 1-2 from 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.


Stellar 12th Man Specials

For the big game February 2, Brave Horse Tavern will be offering game day nachos, blue and green jello shots, and happy hour all day. Doors open at 10 a.m. Go Hawks!


One Hauschka Sour, Please

A drink that personifies the Seahawks star kicker, Steven Hauschka, the “Hauschka Sour” is made of gin, lime, sage, apple liqueurs, and an egg white for a foamy texture.

This gem is crafted in the sophisticated bar called The Gerald, located in downtown Ballard, and will be served through Super Bowl Sunday.


Happy Hour for Happy 12s

Gordon Biersch at Pacific Place will be sounding off in the 12th man spirit by providing all-day happy hour specials during Super Bowl Sunday.


Quench your Thirst

For Super Bowl XLVIII, Henry’s Tavern will help quench the mighty 12th man thirst. Doors will open at 9 a.m., a second satellite bar will be available, and of course Beast Mode jello shots and touchdown shots will be offered.


A Seahawk Super Bowl

For Super Bowl XLVIII, Ivar’s is planning to meet all your chowder needs. Priced at $24, Ivar’s is offering a gallon of your favorite red or white clam chowder that serves over 20 six-ounce servings. Pick up your chowder package at any local Ivar’s Seafood Bar for the big game on February 2 and ensure your Super Bowl party truly represents the Pacific Northwest.


For the Finger Lickin’ 12s

For Super Bowl Sunday, Kickin’ Boot Whiskey Kitchen in Ballard will be running beer, whiskey and cocktail specials, along with their lip-smacking barbeque all day long on February 2.


Lab Specials for 12s

Lunchbox Laboratory will give 12s a chance to watch the big game. All three Lunchbox Laboratory locations will screen the Super Bowl on multiple TVs and will offer game-day food and drink specials in bar seating areas.


Get in the Sprit with a Beastronessey

What do you get when you mix Marshawn Lynch’s two favorite spirits with his on-field presence? Beastronessey. To create this unique cocktail, Suite 410 combines Lynch’s two favorite spirits, Hennessey and Patron, with yellow chartreuse, apple juice, maple syrup and a Granny Smith apple garnish. The “Beastronessey” will be served through Super Bowl Sunday.


The Maple Caper shows off a “Showtime Tate”

The Sun Liquor bar embodies Golden Tate with its “Maple Caper.” This cocktail is fashioned together with Sun Liquor barrel aged rum, bourbon, Grade-A maple syrup, heavy cream, and a whole egg. Enjoy this cocktail all the way up to a Seahawk Super Bowl.


Grub 12s can take Home

Volunteer Park Café wants to make sure 12s can sit back, relax, and cheer their heads off without worrying about what to cook. For Super Bowl Sunday, the cafe will be offering Moroccan-spiced organic chicken wings priced at $24 for 12 wings or $48 for 24 wings. The cafe will also offer a three-layer dip for $40 (serves 8-10) and 12th Man cupcakes for $3.50 each or $36 per dozen. Make sure you pre-order by 3 p.m. Thursday, January 30.


Tailgate party menu for the 12th man

Von Trapp’s bier hall will run special Super Bowl menu items from 12 p.m. throughout the end of the game on Sunday, February 2. Chef Pete Fjosne will serve football pretzels, chili cheese dogs and a variety of hot wings. A selection of happy hour menu items will be available and half liters of Bayern VT Lager will be $4. Fourteen TV screens will be showing the game and bocce ball courts are open for playing.


Specials for the 12th Man

World Sports Grille will be opening its doors for Super Bowl Sunday, February 2, at 11 a.m. to welcome hungry and thirsty 12s. World Sports Grille will be offering beer and drinks specials that include $20 beer buckets, a $15 “12th Man” PBR bucket, and $4 draft beer. World Sports Grille will also be offering a game-day food menu with appetizer specials.


12th man wine northwest cellars northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Of course, some of us are more into wine than beer or cocktails, and the good people of Northwest Cellars have something special to suit our tastes: 12th Man Wine. The special-label wine is available at Northwest Cellars’ Kirkland tasting room, Nectar in Spokane, and a long list of stores and restaurants in western Washington. Wines include Adagio, Viognier, Merlot, Madrigal, Intrigue, Petite Sirah, and Malbec. You can also order online (with a minimum order of four bottles) and they will ship to you. Stock up for the big game !!



Kukuruza beast blue green popcorn northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

KuKuRuZa Gourmet Popcorn has created a special flavor just for the big day – Beast Corn popcorn, a colored Kettle Corn! It’s snacking delicious and will be available in-store and online now until game day, Sunday, February 2. Beast Corn popcorn is available in 1 Gallon Bags for $13 each.


Sullivan's steakhouse seahawks cocktail northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Sullivan’s best-seller and signature cocktail, “The Knockout,” has been reworked to show its Seahawks support. Renamed “The HAWKout,” the drink boasts a festive blue hue with the addition of a splash of Curaçoa. Still strong as ever, The HAWKout’s base is a simple combination of Svedka Clementine Vodka and Hawaiian Gold Pineapple. Sullivan’s will be shaking and serving it up for $11 over the next two weeks, through Super Bowl Sunday.


In honor of the Seattle Seahawks’ 12th Man, The Edgewater Hotel — Seattle’s only waterfront hotel — is celebrating the Seahawks return to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2005 with “12 Days of Super Seahawks.” Each day, for the ’12 Days of Super Seahawks,’ Six Seven and The Edgewater will have special offers to get fans in the Seattle Seahawks spirit. The campaign launched on Wednesday, January 22, and here are the remaining specials:

Golden Tini — Six Seven signature pineapple martini – offered on Jan. 30

Hawk-fries — crispy French fries with garlic, parmesan and chive — offered on Jan. 31

Hilliard’s “The 12th Can” a hometown favorite — $3 in celebration to #3 — offered on Feb. 1

Seahawk salumi plate — assorted cured meats, cheeses and grilled bread – offered on Feb. 2

*All items are $12 unless noted.

Taco time blue green chips seahawks superbowl special tie-in northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link


“Champion Chips” & Salsa: Blue and green tortilla chips to support our home team! Available Friday, January 31, to Sunday, February 2, at participating Taco Time NW restaurants. On Friday and Saturday, $1.12 buys a regular order of “Champion Chips” & Salsa and $4.12 will net you a jumbo order of “Champion Chips” & Salsa (includes 100 chips and 2 large cups of fresh salsa). Guests can choose from Taco Time’s Pico de Gallo, Black Bean & Corn Salsa, Medium Salsa, or Mild Salsa. Made with local tortillas from La Mexicana, the chips are handmade daily in the restaurants and are seasoned with a special spice mixture to give them an extra hit of flavor.

And, on Sunday, dine-in guests will receive a FREE order of “Champion Chips” & Salsa.


Beast Mode Waffle Barking Frog woodinville washington northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

And Barking Frog restaurant in Woodinville has devised a Sunday brunch item–the Beast Mode Waffle–to celebrate the big game. The Beast includes Skittles in the waffle and blue and green whipped butter and sells for $12.

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Northwest Wining and Dining Confronts MIRROR

September 23, 2013

SAM MIRROR art installation

This is an open letter to MIRROR, a 120-food-wide LED installation by artist Doug Aitken that wraps around the northwest corner of the entrance to the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), cater corner  from our condominium building, 98 Union. 

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Dear Mirror,

I wanted to like you, I really, really wanted to like you.

For several months, I patiently endured the blasts of hammers and whining of saws while you were installed on the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) facade.

I looked on in wonder as the artist who created you and the technicians who made you possible tested your main LED panel and the flashing spikes that run vertically up the mullions on the north and west sides of SAM.

SAM MIRROR art installation

After many months of construction and testing, it was finally time for your grand unveiling in March. I stood on our tenth-floor balcony, which provided a bird’s-eye view of the crowds who gathered, members of the Seattle Symphony who serenaded your arrival, and even Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn who came to welcome you.

After a few tense moments when it seemed you might not light up correctly, your colorfully choreographed images finally started to move.

The crowd applauded. SAM big-wigs pontificated. The donor’s son waxed eloquent.

I snapped photos and put them on my blog.

A few hours later the stage and podium had been dismantled, the crowds had disbursed, the musicians were on to their next gig.

SAM MIRROR display

But the residents of 98 Union Condominiums were still there, just beginning to realize your unbelievably negative impact on our lives.

From the very first moment, your giant screen overtook our condominiums like an incessant, unwelcome distraction.

The jagged, ever-changing spikes of flashing light invaded our living spaces so much so that many of us have been forced to shut our blinds to keep out obsessive light pollution.

And your hours are extraordinarily long–from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. seven days a week. Unless we want to “live” from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m. when you are dark, we can’t get away from you, as hard as we try.

Your reviews were mediocre at best. CityArts reviewer Erin King said, “Looking at Mirror for eight hours a day beats a plain gray wall. Its sleek sparkle hearkens back to a cheerier 2007, the year it was commissioned and the pinnacle of big shiny Aughties art. But as its light spills over the First Avenue sidewalk, Mirror already feels like a reflection of the past.”

In a review entitled, “Image Grab,” The Seattle Weekly’s Brian Miller says, “The mountains, greenery, orange Port of Seattle Cranes, silhouettes of pedestrians—these source images are too benign. They don’t grab your attention like the signage in Times Square, and they don’t seem grabbed from our immediate, lived world. . . .But that’s also why MIRROR is so boring: It just reflects an anodyne, outsider’s view of the Northwest. It’s tourist Seattle, not our Seattle, and even the tourists aren’t buying it.”

Have you seen MIRROR? If so, what do you think about it?

If you come to look at Mirror, isn’t it better to simply turn around, walk to the dead end of Union Street by the Four Seasons Hotel, take a deep breath of sea air from Elliott Bay, and marvel at REAL-TIME views of the Seattle Great Wheel, ferry boats , and the Olympic Mountains beyond?


Northwest Wining and Dining Visits the Northwest Flower & Garden Show

March 1, 2013

Attending the Northwest Flower & Garden Show has become a beloved annual tradition in our family. This year, it took place during the last weekend in February, and we scheduled our late-afternoon Saturday visit around a lecture my dear friend and gardening and home-design expert Debra Prinzing was presenting.

Entitled, Channel Your Inner Floral Designer: Four Seasons of Beautiful Bouquets, Debra spent her alloted hour showing us inspired and inspiring floral arrangements she had photographed for her latest book, “Slow Flowers: Four Seasons of Locally Grown Bouquets from the Garden, Meadow, and Farm.”

Here are some of the photos I snapped as we made our way around the impressive and expansive, award-winning gardens on the main floor, as well as the numerous vendor booths and two of our personal favorites–the Ikebana and Orchid Society displays.

I love the way food is the focus in these gorgeous metal and acrylic vases. I took home a long, tall version, and can’t wait to start experimenting with new floral arrangements!

How serene and calming is this gorgeous yellow-orchid and dark-wood bonsai?!?! How does the flower get water, I wonder?

Gotta love these rose and celadon Cymbidium orchids!

This baby photographed blue, but it was really a deep purple color.

One of the main reasons I like to go to the Flower & Garden Show is to make use of one of my favorite iPhone apps, Hipstamatic. This shot above, Spiky White Orchids, seems so lace-y and dream-like, thanks to Hipstamatic.

The theme of this year’s show was Hollywood, and we were drawn to this homage to The Hobbit in one of the major gardens. This and all the remaining shots were taken with the Hipstamatic app.

I love the sheer whimsy of  Teddy Bear Tea Party.

This is Green Slippers.

As a writer, I just couldn’t resist this shot. I remember the Smith-Corona my mother gave me right before I left for college. It served me well writing many a term paper, as well as short stories and poems. Thanks for encouraging my creativity, Mom!

Cheers to the Promise of 2013!

January 7, 2013

Hope everyone had the happiest of holidays, and cheers to the New Year!

We will be taking the next few months off to clean out the office, while we noodle around on a new book.

Which means, for the foreseeable future, the Northwest Notes blog is on hiatus. I figure if Seattle Times food writer Nancy Leson could take six months off last year, and Hillary (Clinton) is taking some time off this year, so can I.

Thanks for reading my bl0g over the past many years. It started way back in December 2004 with a recipe for Holiday Crab Boils. . .and wraps up for now, at least, with a total of 707 blog posts as of today.

I will continue to our Recipes of the Month, along with a suggested wine pairing, as recipes are one of the most popular features on the Northwest Wining and Dining website.

And perhaps I’ll write an occasional blog post about a subject of great interest and/or urgency. Got to keep that SEO ranking high as well. J

Please continue to catch up with me on the social-media networks including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Also please don’t forget that my Pike Place Public Market Seafood Cookbook is available in both print and e-versions. At just $14.95 per copy for the print version (substantially less on, it’s the perfect gift book and/or Northwest souvenir.

Thank you for your support so far, and cheers to the promise of 2013!

My Favorite Dishes 2011

November 8, 2012

Here is a look back at some of our favorite dishes from last year. We are posting a series of Dishes of the Day the next couple of weeks as we take some time away from the office and computer to refresh and relax (our very belated “summer vacation”). 

It has been another great year of wining and dining both around the Pacific Northwest, but in other parts of the United States and Canada.

So I thought it’d be fun to throw up photos of some of my favorite dishes from 2011. Herein are the “winners” on that list in no particular order.

The Seafood Skewer served tableside on Holland America’s m.s. Eurodam.

ART Shrimp Cocktail in downtown Seattle’s Four Seasons Hotel

Shuckers Crab Louie in the Fairmont Hotel in Seattle

Antipasti Plate at The Pink Door in the Pike Place Market

Roasted Beet Salad with Grilled Salmon at Purple Cafe & Wine Bar in Woodinville, Washington

Vietnamese Crepe at Bambuza Vietnamese Cuisine in downtown Seattle (now under new ownership with a new name–920 Pike)

Roasted Chicken Caesar Salad with Cheddar Dressing at Dominion Square Taverne in downtown Montreal, Canada

Crab Tails at Elliott’s’ Oyster Bar and Restaurant in downtown Seattle

Beet and Goat Cheese Salad at Place Pigalle in the Pike Place Market

The Abalone Appetizer at The Oyster Bar along the Chuckanut Drive north of Seattle

The Everything Green Salad with Dungeness Crab at The Pink Door in the Pike Place Market

Grilled Oysters with Cheese at The Inn at Semiahmoo in Blaine, Washington

Octopus and Beans at Lecosho on the Harbor Steps in downtown Seattle

Smoked Salmon Appetizer and Side Salad at Luc in Seattle’s Madison Valley neighborhood

Shrimp and Grits at Joule in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood

Tuna Bowl at Revel in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood

And, just for a bit of final fun:

The Fried Mars Bar with Vanilla-Bean Ice Cream at Garde Manger in the Old City section of Montreal, Canada

Happy 100th Birthday to Julia Child!

August 15, 2012

Many years ago, when I had been writing about food for just about five years, I attended The Symposium for Professional Food Writers at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

The Symposium was like the holy grail for food writers, as much because of the quality of speakers and attendees as for the difficulty of getting from just about any place in the country to the small, bucolic town where the world-class resort is located.

I remember the journey involved a red-eye flight from Seattle to Pittsburgh on U.S. Airways, an early-morning connector flight to Charlotte, then a puddle-jumper that finally brought a bunch of white-knuckle flyers, including me, to our hallowed destination.

I attended The Symposium several times, finding that I always learned a lot of new tricks of the trade. Plus, it really helped me feel less isolated as a solitary cookbook author and food and wine writer.

But no year matched the very first time, when Julia Child was in attendance. The first day our group convened for class, under the able guidance of writing coach, mentor, and (now) long-time friend Don Fry, I was (understandably) more than a little bit nervous.

Cookbook-author greats were seated around me; food writers whose bylines I recognized from years of reading were reading over their syllabuses; Julia Child seated right down the row from me.

Don used passages from actual writing samples the participants had submitted prior to convening. One of the first ones he read was mine, an excerpt from an article I wrote about a professional tea tasting for Northwest Palate.

As he read passage after passage from my story, I began to get even more nervous.

How would my writing be received by this august group?

I needn’t have feared. Perhaps because they put themselves in my (now) quaking shoes, they praised the passages, with only one rather disparaging comment from a smart-aleck Los Angeles food columnist who said my article (because I made use of fiction-writing techniques) wouldn’t have been suited to his newspaper audience.

I was most shocked and humbled when Julia herself raised her hand and said how much she liked my writing. It was one of the pinnacles of my career, and did so much to instill in me a feeling of confidence moving forward.

Above, you can see the menu from one of the lavish dinners we  enjoyed at The Symposia. It featured five courses from famous “foodies,” including Lynne Rossetto Kasper, Anne Willan, Dorie Greenspan, Shirley Corriher, Andy Schloss, and Julia.

Her unique autograph, which begins with an outsized, loopy “J,” stands beside the course designed in her honor: Ragout of Duck with Twenty Cloves of Garlic paired with a Rombauer 1996 Zinfandel and Chimney Rock 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Ooh-la-la. She really knew how to live large! Cheers to August 15, 2012, which would have been her 100th birthday.

Help Save Bristol Bay Salmon!

July 17, 2012

Brennon Leighton, Efesté winemaker at The Last Salmon Dinner at Blueacre Seafood

On July 11, Spencer and I were lucky enough to attend a dinner that every Northwestern resident–heck, every American–should know about.

Held at Blueacre Seafood in downtown Seattle, The Last Salmon Dinner was hosted by chef/owner Kevin Davis and his wife and owner Terresa Davis. The couple’s aim, in addition to feeding a five-course, salmon-centric meal to an enthusiastic crowd of 70 people, was to expose the proposal by Pebble Limited Partnership, a consortium of the world’s second largest multinational mining corporation, to build an open-pit mining complex at the headwaters of Bristol Bay, one of our nation’s last great salmon fisheries.

The proposed mine will span 20 square miles, with containment ponds that will hold between 2.5-billion and 10-billion tons of toxic mine waste.

Needless to say, the environmental impact of the proposed Pebble Mine on the surrounding waters of Bristol Bay would be immeasurable, and irreversible.

So much so that chef Davis, a life-long fisher, posed the question: Will the last wild salmon to leave Bristol Bay please remember to turn off the lights?

Efesté (pronounced F-S-T), was the wine partner, and winemaker Brennon Leighton said he was honored when chef Davis chose his wines to represent this event.

But the dinner was not all environmental hand-wringing and finger-pointing. Chef Davis outdid himself with cooking and presenting Bristol Bay salmon at its finest.

Chef Davis’s Assorted Delicacies of The Sea included crispy smelt, albacore tuna poke, chilled oysters, and geoduck ceviche, paired with Efeste Feral 2011 Sauvignon Blanc. This wine is special because it’s fermented using native, wild yeast–no commercial yeast is added–then it’s aged in two-year-old French Oak barrels.

I’ve rarely had such a creative (and beautiful) rendition of gravlax as Davis’s Horseradish-Cured Bristol Bay Sockeye Salmon with lovage salad (its lively notes of anise reminded me of fresh shiso leaf), pickled rhubarb, baby yellow and pink beets, and Austrian pumpkin seed oil paired with Lola 2010 Chardonnay, made from 100% Chardonnay and also fermented with native yeast and (refreshingly) not heavily oaked.

A zippy cup of Rainier Cherry Gazpacho with balsamic croutons, lavender goat cheese, and a flurry of edible flowers made a perfect (summery!) pairing with Babbitt 2011 Rosé, made from 71% Syrah and 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, and normally available only at the winery.

A Roulade of Bristol Bay Salmon, morel mushrooms, summer truffles, and sauce cardinal was a mellifluous melding of earth and ocean. It went “swimmingly” with Ceidleigh (pronounced Kay-Lee) 2009 Syrah, a rich, ripe Syrah rife with dried cherries and plum notes.

Vanilla Pound Cake with the season’s best Skagit Valley strawberries and raspberries, mint syrup, and house-made “cool whip” pulled up the rear in grand style.

I left with pages of notes and much to think about, both in regards to the proposed Pebble Limited Partnership Mine, Davis’s culinary prowess with prized Bristol Bay salmon, and winemaker Leighton’s outstanding wine pairings.

Even if you weren’t able to attend The Last Salmon Dinner, YOU CAN HELP!

Write to your local congressman to STOP the building of the Pebble Mine at the mouth of Bristol Bay. And visit the Save Bristol Bay and Bristol Bay Sockeye websites for more information.

The Latest Formal Flower Arrangements

June 12, 2012

It’s been quite some time since I last posted some of my flower arrangements, so expertly and beautifully photographed by Spencer.

It always surprised me that some of the first posts of this sort, which began in September 2009,  continued in November 2009, and concluded in September 2010, solicited lots of interest and feedback.

But you can see for yourself what three fresh Asian lilies from a flower vendor in the Pike Place Market, plus a bit of bear grass, are capable of producing.

Here is a gorgeous yellow orchid from Molbak’s Garden + Home shop, located in Woodinville, Washington, that really looked at home in this simple purple pot I had on hand at home.

Another Thing to Worry About When Pairing Food

May 29, 2012

We all know that pairing our food with the most suitable wine varietal, microbrew, tea, or coffee has become somewhat of an obsession among foodies during the past many years.

In fact, I’ve based a lot of my career around figuring out what pairs best with what, as highlighted in my Wine Press Northwest columns over the years, and my books including “Pacific Northwest Wining and Dining” and the “Pike Place Public Market Seafood Cookbook.”

But who knew that the type of cutlery we use may also affect how we perceive the flavors in our foods?

A fascinating article in the Financial Times brought forth these conclusions:

Copper and zinc were bold and assertive, with bitter, metallic tastes.

Silver tasted dull in comparison.

Stainless steel had a faintly metallic flavor.

Do you consider the type of cutlery you use when you eat popular “chef-y” foods such as mangoes, tamarind, black cod, or grapefruit? Should you?


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