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!!!

Recipe of the Month: Wild King Salmon with Macerated Cherries and Smoked Almond Beurre Noisette

April 30, 2014

Alaskan Wild Salmon northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Wild King Salmon with Macerated Cherries and Smoked Almond Beurre Noisette

Varietal: Pinot Noir

Serves 4

This recipe from “Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining” was created by Kevin Davis, chef/owner of Steelhead Diner in Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market and Blueacre Seafood in downtown Seattle. It showcases two of the Northwest’s iconic ingredients: fresh, wild salmon and dried cherries and would be perfect to try with Copper River salmon, which begins its annual run in May. Pair it with another Northwest icon—Oregon Pinot Noir—which mirrors the lush berry, earthy, and smoky flavors in the dish. Some of my favorite Oregon Pinot Noir producers include reasonably priced versions such as Willamette Valley Vineyard’s amazing Whole Cluster Fermented Pinot Noir (which winery founder Jim Bernau characterizes as “Pinot Noir candy”) or luxury-priced Pinots from Domaine Serene and Archery Summit.

Macerated Cherries

1 cup dried cherries (Chukar brand preferred)

1 cup port or Madeira

Four 8-ounce Copper River King salmon or other wild salmon fillets (center cuts preferred)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled

Freshly grated zest of 1 orange

1 cup smoked almonds, lightly crushed (Blue Diamond brand preferred)

1. To prepare the Macerated Cherries, place the dried cherries in a heatproof nonreactive bowl. Bring the port to a boil and pour over the cherries. Cover with plastic wrap and steep for 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate if not using immediately.

2. Prepare a medium-low fire in a gas or charcoal grill. Brush the salmon with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the fillets on the grill skin side down away from direct heat. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, turn the fish, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes more (for medium rare) or to the desired doneness.

3. While the fish is grilling, melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until the butter turns brown and gives off a nutty aroma. This is called beurre noisette in French, and translates as “brown butter.”

4. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the chopped rosemary, orange zest, almonds, and Macerated Cherries (drained and patted dry) in that order, pausing between each addition and stirring gently to allow each ingredient to render it essence into the butter. Be careful when adding the first two ingredients, as the butter may sizzle and pop. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Place the salmon fillets on 4 dinner plates, top with the brown butter, and serve immediately.

Cook’s Hint: Wild king or Chinook salmon has a very high fat content and will tend to flame up if cooked too fast. It’s always a good idea to have a water bottle handy, just in case. Don’t leave the grill unattended at any time throughout the cooking process. Also, Chef Kevin has an easy way to prevent overcooking your fish. Simply turn the grill off when the fish is slightly underdone; this allows the carryover heat to finish cooking the fish.

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

Urbanspoon Names Top U.S. Fine-Dining Dining Spots

April 14, 2014

Blueacre seafood bristol bay salmon dinner salmon gravlax photo northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

As thoughts of summer vacation start to creep into our consciousness, thoughts of where to dine while traveling the country also come to mind.

And good news! Late last month, Urbanspoon, a leading restaurant-discovery website and app that aggregates reviews from professional food critics, bloggers, and diners, released its list of the most popular fine-dining restaurants across major metropolitan cities, places where you can enjoy the finest in food, service, and atmosphere.

From perennial favorites like New Orleans institution Commander’s Palace to new hot spots like L.A.’s Hinoki and the Bird, the list was compiled based on factors including price, diner activity, and critic reviews.

How did our fair city “fare,” so to speak? Here are Seattle’s top tables, according to Urbanspoon:


— Ray’s Boathouse

— Matt’s in the Market

— Lark

— Canlis

— Book Bindery

And here’s the entire Urbanspoon listing of top-rated restaurants:


— Bone’s Restaurant

— St. Cecilia

— Chops Lobster Bar

— Bacchanalia

— Aria

— Tomo


— Neptune Oyster

— Hamersley’s Bistro

— L’Espalier

— O Ya

— Menton

— Rialto


— Alinea

— Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse

— Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab

— Topolobampo

— Blackbird

— Spiaggia

— Hamada of Japan


— French Room

— Abacus

— Hibiscus

— Fearing’s

— Eddie V’s


— Sushi Den

— Zengo

— Sushi Sasa

— Frasca Food & Wine


— Brennan’s of Houston

— Cafe Rabelais

— Rainbow Lodge

— Da Marco Cucina E Vino

Las Vegas

— Bouchon Bistro

— Mesa Grill

— Joel Robuchon

— Restaurant Guy Savoy

— Aureole

Los Angeles

— Hinoki & the Bird

— Osteria Mozza

— Ink

— Providence

— Spago

— Matsuhisa

— Nobu Malibu


— Zuma

— Il Gabbiano

— Chima Brazilian Steakhouse

— Joe’s Stone Crab

— Prime One Twelve

— Barton G. The Restaurant

— Casa Tua

Minneapolis-St. Paul

— The Oceanaire Seafood Room

— Manny’s Steakhouse

— Meritage

New Orleans

— Commander’s Palace

— Mr. B’s Bistro

— Herbsaint Bar & Restaurant

New York

— Eleven Madison Park

— Le Bernardin

— Gramercy Tavern

— Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse

— Nobu

— Minetta Tavern

— Per Se

— Peter Luger Steak House


— Alma de Cuba

— Morimoto

— Fork

— Vetri

— Little Fish

— Tashan Modern Indian


— Veritable Quandary Restaurant & Bar

— Andina

— Higgins

— Beast

— Paley’s Place

San Diego

— The Prado at Balboa Park

— Jake’s Del Mar

— George’s At The Cove

San Francisco/ Bay Area/ Wine Country

— Gary Danko

— Farallon


— Quince

— Sons & Daughters

— One Market

— Chez Panisse

— The French Laundry

Washington D.C.

— Jaleo

— 1789

— Restaurant Nora

— The Oceanaire Seafood Room

— L’Auberge Chez Francois

Photo by Braiden Rex-Johnson, taken at Blueacre Seafood in downtown Seattle. 


Seattle Wine and Food Experience February 23

February 10, 2014

Wine Glasses

Buy your tickets today for  the city’s premier food and wine event, the Seattle Wine and Food Experience (SWFE)!

SWFE is back for its sixth year on Sunday, February 23, 2014. VIP tickets are sold out; general admission tickets cost $55 per person and allow entry from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m.

Throughout this unique gastronomical event guests will learn about and taste a wide offering of quality products through “experiences” and event features.

According to my friend and fellow Seattle Dame Jamie Peha, president of Peha Promotions, TableTalk Northwest, and producer of SWFE, “What makes Seattle Wine and Food Experience unique in the marketplace are the ‘experiences’ that guests encounter. Guests have the opportunity to educate themselves about beverage and culinary products from the Northwest and beyond, talk to producers, and taste samples from a variety regions and growing industries.”

Another feature that makes the sixth SWFE unique is that the event’s charity beneficiary is Les Dames d’Escoffier, Seattle Chapter. According to a press release:

This year’s beneficiary, Les Dames d’Escoffier Seattle, brings together it’s talented membership for a special experience at SWFE. Get a taste of the beverages, food, and specialty products from talented members of Les Dames d’Escoffier Seattle including Thoa Nguyen/Chinoise Sushi Bar & Asian Grill, Maria Coassin/Gelatiamo, Lisa Nakamura/Gnocchi Bar, Nancy Donier/Kaspar’s Special Events & Catering, Leslie Mackie/Macrina Bakery, Susan Neel/McCrea Cellars, and Susan Kaufman/Serafina Osteria & Enoteca.

Les Dames d’Escoffier Seattle raises funds for scholarships for women in the culinary, beverage, and hospitality industries, and also supports community-outreach programs and sustainable-agriculture projects based in Washington state.

Other Dames participating in SWFE include Rose Ann Finkel/Pike Brewing Co. and Holly Smith/Cafe Juanita.

Other featured “Experiences” to date at the 2014 event include:

*Featured Wine Region: Woodinville Wine Country – Taste wine from Washington’s up-and-coming destination wine region with more than 30 of Woodinville’s wineries (and all of Washington’s AVAs) including Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Winery, Lauren Ashton Cellars, Patterson Cellars, and many more.

*The QFC Advantage Lounge – In this lounge environment complete with leather sofas, guests will enjoy bites from Murray’s Cheese, Boar’s Head Meats, and Simple Truth Crackers and sips of luxury wine brands including Chateau Ste. Michelle Single Vineyard Designates, Spring Valley Vineyard, Col Solare, and Northstar Winery. You know it’s going to be good!

*Northwest, California, and International Wines – Get tastes of wine regions from the Northwest and beyond with sips from Washington, Idaho, Oregon, California, and international wineries (including Italy, France, Argentina, Spain, and Portugal). With more than 800 wines available to try from the world’s top producers, your palate is in for quite a tour.

*SIP Northwest Distillery Row – Take a run at Sip Northwest Distillery Row featuring many of the region’s hottest craft spirits makers as well as global brands. Sip through their latest creations and learn how grains and botanicals become whiskey, vodka, and gin.

*Tim’s Cascade Snacks Beer and Cider Exhibit – Local favorite Tim’s Cascade Snacks will be serving up its famous salty chips and popcorn that pair great with regional ciders and brews. Discover the new developments in the world of these craft beverages.

*Les Dames d’Escoffier Alley –See above.

*Washington Beef Butcher Block – Washington Beef presents a unique opportunity to “Crave, Cut, & Create” your way to a perfect beef meal. Experience and savor beef’s flavor when prepared with care and paired with complimentary flavor profiles in dishes from Andaluca, bin on the lake, BOKA Restaurant + Bar, and The Georgian.

*Top Pot Doughnut and Coffee Bar – Grab a sweet treat at the event and revive your palate, with a stop at the Top Pot Doughnut and Coffee Bar. Try a hand-forged doughnut and cup of Top Pot Coffee. For an added bonus, grab a sample cocktail from Sun Liquor Distillery.

*Chef Prepared Gourmet Bites – Guests can savor the incredible creations from more 25 of Seattle’s most accomplished chefs representing a global range of cuisines. Featured restaurants include Andaluca, Anthony’s Pier 66 & Bell Street Diner, bin on the lake, BOKA Restaurant + Bar, The Capital Grille, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Chinoise Sushi Bar & Asian Grill, Dirty Oscar’s Annex, Far-Eats, The Georgian, Gnocchi Bar, Gracie’s/Hotel Deluxe, The Hollywood Tavern, The Hunt Club, Kaspar’s Special Events & Catering, La Bodega, Macrina Bakery, Miyabi 45th, Purple Café & Wine Bar, Racha Thai, Ray’s Boathouse, Serafina Osteria & Enoteca, Tai Foong USA, Tilikum Place Café, Trellis Restaurant, and Volterra.

*Chef in the Vineyard with Ste. Michelle Wine Estates – Meet Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Culinary Director John Sarich, sample creative bites and taste through a wonderful selection of Washington’s best wines from 14 Hands, Anew, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Crest, Michelle, and O Wines. Seek out their displays in local QFCs for a special ticket discount.

*Event Feature: Stella Artois – With more than 600 years of Belgium brewing experience, Stella Artois is best known for its detailed method for pulling a pint and their “special” Stella Artois chalice. Enjoy a sip of Stella Artois and its other world-class brands including Cidre, Hoegaarden, Stella Artois, Leffe Brun, and Leffe Blond.

*Northwest Travel Magazine – Test your palate with a blind comparative tasting of the same varietal from different AVAs. Northwest Travel contributor Cole Danehower will be hosting this fun and interactive experience.

Tickets for this year’s event are on sale here. General Admission tickets are $55. New this year is an optional VIP ticket is available to guests for $65 and includes one hour early entry, custom event tote bag, wine glass and tasting plate, plus an opportunity to win a variety of prizes including a wine trip weekend for two to Woodinville Wine Country, tickets to July’s Wine Rocks event, and more. Ticket prices include access to all areas of the event. No one under 21 will be admitted and ID is required.

So please plan to attend the sixth-annual Seattle Wine and Food Experience. . .good not only for you but for the good of Les Dames d’Escoffier, Seattle Chapter.


Recipe of the Month: Crab Veneto

January 31, 2014

Elliott's oyster house spicy-crab nwwd northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Crab Veneto

Wine Varietal: Lemberger, Gamay, Beaujolais

Serves 2 as an appetizer; 1 as an entrée

On Pier 56 on the Seattle Waterfront, Elliott’s Oyster House offers what many consider the definitive Dungeness crab service in town. Elliott’s starts by cooking the live crabs immediately in small batches to preserve the quality of the meat. Once cooked, the crabs are quickly chilled. Each crab is then cleaned and cracked to order for easy eating. Then you can choose to eat your crab in three different ways—steamed, chilled, or marinated. An extra-large crab bib, cocktail fork, shell bowl, a hot towel and plenty of paper towels, a finger bowl brimming with a mixture of hot tea and lemon water, and a crushed cracker hand wash make cleaning up after the messy job of eating Dungeness crab much more enjoyable. If you can’t make it to Elliott’s, try the recipe below, which was given to me years ago by (then) Elliott’s executive chef Andrew Juhl. It is easy, tasty, and would make the perfect appetizer to share with your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day. . .or any time of the year.

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 drops Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon minced parsley

1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons, pure olive oil

1 precooked, chilled, Dungeness crab, cracked into pieces suitable for picking (see Cook’s Hint, below)

1. In a large, deep bowl mix together the garlic, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, and olive oil.

2. Add the crab pieces and toss gently. Let stand 3 minutes before serving.

Cook’s Hint: To prepare a whole, cooked Dungeness crab for picking, hold the crab with one hand from underneath and, with the other hand, pry off the large top shell. Scoop out and save the cream-colored “crab butter,” if desired. Run your thumb along the sides of the body cavity to scrape away the feathery gills. Rinse under cold water to remove any remaining viscera.

Grasp the crab in both hands and break the body in half lengthwise, forming two sections with the legs attached. Remove the legs by breaking off at the joints closest to the body. Separate the claw portion from the leg at the first joint. Bend back and remove the smaller claw pincer, along with the attached claw cartilage. Crack the claw with an aluminum crab cracker, the back of a heavy kitchen knife, or a mallet, being careful not to crush the meat. Repeat with the second claw.

With kitchen shears, cut along each side of the leg shells, or simply crack carefully to open. With the palm of your hand, press the top of the crab body until you feel the interior shells give slightly. Do not press so hard that you smash the top and bottom shells together. Alternatively, ask your favorite fishmonger to prepare your crab for picking, as described above.

You are now ready to eat your crab. Remove the meat from the legs, claws, and body of the crab using your fingers, a crab pick, a seafood fork, or a crab “toe” (the tip of a crab claw)—anything is legal when eating Dungeness crab.

Photo Courtesy of Elliott’s Oyster House. 
Recipe reprinted from the “Pike Place Public Market Seafood Cookbook,” gift edition and e-edition, by Braiden Rex-Johnson, copyright 2005 and 2012. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.


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.

Seahawks banner for superbowl sunday northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link






















Welcome to the ‘Hood: Aragona Restaurant

January 20, 2014

Aragona rendering northwest wining and dining website link

Last summer, we got wind that Thoa’s Restaurant & Lounge would be pulling up stakes. One of several restaurants owned and operated by my friend and fellow Seattle Dame Thoa Nguyen, the restaurant was located in the base of our condominium building at First and Union for an impressive period–10 years.

We wondered who might take over the large space with a bar at the front, kitchen behind glass, and peekaboo views of Elliott Bay.

Soon, word leaked out that über-successful Seattle chef Jason Stratton, the genius behind northern Italian-leaning Cascina Spinasse and Artusi in Capitol Hill, was interested.

We saw the architect’s rendering (above) and learned the concept of the new space, named “Aragona,” would be regional Spanish food. Having studied in Madrid for four months while I was in college, and falling in love with both the people of that Iberian country and its cuisine, I was psyched!

Aragona jason stratton tour northwest wining and dining website link

We watched the construction, heard the whine of the saws and banging of the hammers, and even sniffed the glue and shellac when the workers laid the floors, so felt very invested in the latest iteration at First and Union.

A few weeks before opening, we enjoyed a hard-hat tour, with Chef Stratton pointing out artistic details and the many new facets to the restaurant. . .

Aragona female chef northwest wining and dining website link

And chatting up Aragona’s Chef de Cuisine, Carrie Mashaney, who previously served as chef de cuisine at Spinasse and gained wide acclaim last fall after appearing on Bravo’s “Top Chef.”

Aragona wine guy chris northwest wining and dining website link

Behind the wine table (pouring a dry Fino Sherry and Spanish wines from small producers), we recognized a former buddy from RN74–Master Sommelier Chris Tanghe.

Aragona jason kitchen northwest wining and dining website link

Stratton took us behind the scenes in the gorgeous new kitchen, completely outfitted with new equipment including a plancha (a flat-top grill widely used in Spain and Latin America to cook fish and shellfish).

Aragona column northwest wining and dining website link

This stunning column really spoke to me. . .a modern update of the many beautiful columns and pillars one sees everywhere in southern Spain. In a press release, it’s described as “the visual showpiece of the dining room. . .created by internationally recognized Seattle mosaic artist Kate Jessup.”

The column is surrounded by a central service table that will be used for decanting wine, carving ham, and dishing out paella-like rice dishes.

Aragona food northwest wining and dining website link

We enjoyed a variety of nibbles that afternoon including savory cookies and olives. . .

Aragona food northwest wining and dining website link

flatbread and nut-covered cheese balls.

Aragona group shot northwest wining and dining website link

Here’s an overview of the main dining room taken from the private dining room at the back and looking toward the bar (with the kitchen on the left).

Aragona logo northwest wining and dining website link

And here is the lovely logo that evokes the proud traditions of España.

Just a few weeks later, after many hours of overtime work by the construction workers and staff, the restaurant opened for business on December 9.

Aragona restaurant main dining room interior northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

We were lucky enough to be included in the Family and Friends dinner the evening before, and were blown away by the glamorous transformation of the interior, which manages to be contemporary, warm, and elegant while still nodding to restaurants in Spain. Here (above) is the main dining room.

Aragona bar area northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

The bar offers a separate, more small-plate menu and multiple wine-by-the glass options, which will be perfect for theater-goers and music lovers for pre-Benaroya-hall events.

Aragona restaurant jason stratton owner chef and carrey sous chef northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Here are Jason and Carrie looking relieved that their latest “baby” is finally open for business.

Aragona restaurant octopus cauliflower puree northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

We fought over the Grilled Octopus and Cauliflower Purée with its lovely charry notes and buttery richness.

Aragona restaurant dessert northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Although we didn’t have room for dessert, here’s a photo of one of several tempting options.

Rave reviews are already starting to stream in for Aragona. Please have a look at our friend and colleague Bethany Jean Clement’s complete, and very positive review from The Stranger’s January 15 issue.

Nicole Sprinkle, in The Seattle Weekly, also weighed in with a review in the January 21 issue, while Zach Geballe praised the impressive and inventive wine and Sherry offerings.

Architectural rendering and logo courtesy of Aragona.
Top eight photos by Braiden Rex-Johnson. Remaining photos courtesy of Aragona. 

Enjoy Trapeze Acts This Week at The Pink Door

December 16, 2013

The pink door aerialist northwest wining and dining website link

Are you thinking of doing some holiday shopping downtown or at the Pike Place Market this week?

Want a truly unique place to enjoy a very special holiday lunch?

Then how about making a reservation at The Pink Door, 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., today (December 16) through Saturday, December 21?

Not only will you be able to enjoy Pink Door perennial favorites such as the Antipasti Plate or the Vegetarian Lasagne, but while lunching you can watch the PD’s holiday aerial show–a seasonal spectacle not to be missed!

The Pink Door will feature trapeze performances in the dining room to entertain and delight midday lunch guests, frenzied last-minute shoppers, and children of all ages.

While the highlight of the lunch hour may be the holiday performance overhead, The Pink Door also dazzles on the table.

The restaurant’s lunchtime panini party features five satisfying sandwiches priced from just $11 to $12. And while The Pink Door’s ciabatta bread is a favorite, gluten-free options are also available.

For dessert, don’t miss the luscious Butterscotch Budino (recipe below, generously shared by Pink Door “Padrona,” Jackie Roberts), which is back by popular demand. This incredibly rich and creamy Italian pudding–laced with Dewar’s Scotch!–is sure to satisfy and delight any sweet tooth.

You’ll discover The Pink Door at 1919 Post Alley behind, of course, a pink door!

The Pink Door's Butterscotch Budino northwest wining and dining website linkThe Pink Door Butterscotch Budino

Serves 6

Enjoy The Pink Door’s luscious Butterscotch Budino throughout the holidays for $7. Made in-house, with real Dewar’s Scotch and only the freshest ingredients, Butterscotch Budino is layered in a parfait glass with Chantilly cream and garnished with a Pizzelle crisp vanilla waffle cookie.

1/4 cup milk

3 cups heavy cream

6 oz Dark Moscavado Sugar (Or Dark Brown Sugar)

2 oz light brown sugar

1 oz cornstarch (by weight)

1/8 tbs. salt

Combine above ingredients in a heavy bottom sauce pot. Whisk well. On medium heat, slowly bring up to a boil. Boil briskly while whisking 5 minutes or until very thick. Turn off the heat.

Whisk together:

5 Egg yolks

1/8 cup milk

Temper hot pudding mix into the yolks and then back into the pudding.


1.5 oz. vanilla

1 oz. Top Shelf Scotch

3 oz butter, diced in 1/2 inch squares

Whisk vigorously for one minute or until the butter has melted.

Strain through a fine sieve.

Cool in an ice bath.

To serve, layer in a parfait or other glass with Chantilly cream. Serve well chilled with a vanilla cookie (Pizzelle).

Cook’s Note: While I haven’t had a chance to test this recipe in my home kitchen, I can attest to how wonderful the pudding tastes. It was our designated dessert a year or two back when my BFFs and I were at The Pink Door for a birthday celebration. Incredibly rich and satisfying, there were a few spoonfuls left, which I took home to a VERY appreciative husband.

Photos courtesy of The Pink Door.

Dish of the Day: BOKA Duck and Claret Cocktail

November 11, 2013

BOKA chef peter birk northwest wining and dining website

At a  press dinner last month to celebrate the new Fall menu at BOKA Kitchen + Bar in downtown Seattle’s Hotel 1000 (just a few blocks from our condo), executive chef Peter Birk (formerly with Ray’s Boathouse and McCormick & Schmick’s) wowed the crowd with many lovely courses.

BOKA duck breast northwest wining and dining website link

This is a lousy photo due to the ever-changing rainbow of colors glowing from the wall near our table, but among his best dishes that evening was Crispy Duck Breast with Black Tea Custard, Chanterelles, and Roasted Grapes.

BOKA tea-infused martini northwest wining and dining website link

It paired perfectly not only with a Matthews Cellars Claret, but with a Black Tea Martini with Matthews Claret Mousse created by BOKA’s new bar manager and chief mixologist Cory Duffy.

Cory, who also owns Rain City Spirits (“Seattle’s Craft Vodka”), is taking the BOKA bar menu in intriguing new directions with a carefully curated collection of handcrafted, culinary-inspired cocktails.

You’ll want to try Cory’s house-made tonic water (made with Pinot Gris!) that figures “big” in the House Made (Big) Gin & Tonic.

Cory, a self-avowed “big fan of punches,” wowed the crowd with his Dark Rum Punch. It’s made from roasted figs, orange peel, brandied cherries, Dark Rum, and VSOP Cognac, among other ingredients. Full of rich, spicy flavors, the media members at our table pronounced it, “Christmas in a glass.”

You’ll want to stop by BOKA for its upcoming seasonal events, which include chef Peter’s Thanksgiving Cooking Class on November 14, Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas dinner and three Holiday Hideout Pop-Up Boutiques in December.

BOKA chef peter birk northwest wining and dining website link

Here is chef Peter at evening’s end, relieved and proud after a job well done.


Free, Interactive eCookbook Available from Visit Seattle

November 4, 2013

Fresh from seattle ecookbook cover northwest wining and dining

Visit Seattle has launched a free interactive eCookbook that highlights a range of talented chefs and signature Pacific Northwest cuisine. “Fresh From Seattle” features 26 recipes from 12 noteworthy contributing local chefs, including award winners such as Tom Douglas, Maria Hines, and Thierry Rautureau.

The 92-page eCookbook is a rich compilation of recipes, cooking and storage tips, color photos, food history, chef bios, and more.

Fresh from seattle salmon northwest wining and dining

Seattle chefs contributed original recipes, as well as personal restaurant favorites, that are designed to pique the culinary curiosity of the inspired home chef. In addition to Seattle celebrity chefs, the cookbook also features acclaimed hotel chefs.

Fresh From Seattle is available here, where it is downloadable as a PDF or you can link to Apple iTunes App Store for download. Both options are free of charge.

“Between Seattle’s creative chefs and welcoming hospitality community, we formed the perfect marriage for this project,” said Ali Daniels, Vice President, Marketing, Visit Seattle. “We are a city of gourmands, constantly exploring and finding new ways to share the inspired culinary offerings of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle’s vibrant food culture just has to be shared, and ‘Fresh From Seattle’ does just that.”

Fresh from seattle ecookbook crab cakes northwest wining and dining

“Fresh From Seattle” eCookbook contributing chefs and recipes:

Thierry Rautureau – Luc and Loulay

Northwest Wild Mushroom Salad, Toasted Hazelnut, Aged Balsamic Vinegar

Neah Bay Wild Coho Salmon with Moroccan Olive Tapenade

Skagit Valley Savory Strawberry & Red Wine Soup

Tom Douglas – Tom Douglas Restaurant Group

Tom’s Tasty Sashimi Tuna Salad with Green Onion Pancakes

Peak of the Season Crisp with Brown Sugar Oats

Etta’s Rub with Love Salmon with Grilled Shiitake Relish

Dungeness Crab Cakes

Maria Hines – Tilth, Agrodolce, Golden Beetle

Skagit River Ranch Wagyu Beef Tartare with Dijon and Grilled Romaine

Loki Fishing Vessel Seared Sockeye Salmon with Sweet Corn Salsa

Oxbow Farm Mixed Summer Squash Salad with Parmesan, Hazelnuts and Truffle Vinaigrette

Daisley Gordon – Marche, Café Campagne

Warm Potato & Salmon Roe Salad

Marché Mackerel

Pernod Mussels

Salad Marché

Sarah Lorenzen – Andaluca

Chorizo and Clam Fettuccini

Pavlova with Lemon Cream and Fresh Berries

Gavin Stephenson – The Georgian

Rooftop Honey-Smoked Salmon

The Georgian Black and White Chocolate Soufflé

Kerry Sear – ART Restaurant

Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Salad

Grass-Baked Chicken

Sean Pals – Brella’s Restaurant & Lounge

Grilled Peach Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette

Thomas Horner – Hook & Plow

Razor Clam, Local Sausage, White Bean & Kale Stew

Peter Birk – BOKA restaurant + bar

Roasted Quail with Bluebird Grain Farms Farro

Preston Hagan – Jimmy’s on First

Jimmy’s Bloody Bakon Martini

Chris Lobkovich – Bookstore Bar & Café

Fiddlehead Fern Salad

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