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.


Dynamic Dishes That Made My Day

September 9, 2013

In the movie “Dirty Harry,” beloved actor Clint Eastwood said, “Go ahead, make my day.”

Here are half a dozen dishes I’ve sampled in Seattle; on a car trip to Bow, Washington; and even as far afield as Winter Park, Florida, that have all “made my day.” Enjoy!

Andaluca eggplant appetizer


Beginning with appetizers, here is a beauty we enjoyed at Andaluca in the Mayflower Park Hotel in downtown Seattle: Grilled Petite Eggplant. Brushed with a light balsamic vinaigrette, grilled, and topped with alder-smoked tomatoes and fresh house-made ricotta, it was a soulful and hearty bite!

It paired perfectly with one of Andaluca’s by-the-glass pours–Fontaynes Argentinian Malbec Rosé.

Palace kitchen whole baked idaho trout

The Roasted Whole Idaho Trout at Palace Kitchen is always a winner, but tasted especially clean and fresh–perfectly cooked–on a recent visit. House pours of one of our favorite white blends from Washington State–Southard White–paired nicely with both the trout and the Fire-Roasted Mussels I enjoyed as my entrée.

Place pigalle oysters on the half shell

I downed my first-of-the-season raw oysters on the half shell at Place Pigalle in the heart of the Pike Place Market. They were Stellar Bay beauties from British Columbia waters, grown in the same bay as another one of my favorite oyster varieties–Kusshi. Our pairing that evening was a bottle of DeLille Cellars Chaleur Estate Blanc, as good (and consistent) as ever. Thanks to our friend and winemaker Chris Upchurch!

Rhodendron cafe fried oyster caesar salad

The next day, still jones-ing for oysters, we drove to Bow, Washington and the venerable Rhododendron Cafe for a Fried Oyster Caesar Salad. It was a dish I’d enjoyed there several years ago and never forgotten. And even though it was no longer on the menu, Fried Oysters still were, so the chef was kind enough to accommodate my special request.

It was a fortuitous trip (very impromptu!) as the Rhododendron will close end of the month as the owners retire after 30 years!!! A few down days, then the young owners of the Farm to Market Bakery in Edison, Washington, will take over and make the Rhody Too Gallery (right next door) into a bakery and reopen the restaurant. So stay tuned!

And, as you can see, at lunch we stick to Iced Tea for our beverage pairing.  🙂

Cask & Larder ribeye hotdog

Late last month, we were in Winter Park, Florida, to help my father celebrate his 91st birthday. Although Dad doesn’t get out much any more, my brother, sister-in-law, Spencer, and I made our way to Cask & Larder: Southern Public House, a recently opened, very-popular gastropub and craft brewery in Winter Park, the sister restaurant to award-winning The Ravenous Pig, where we’ve enjoyed many a meal over the years.

Here is the Ribeye Hotdog with sweet Vidalia onion relish, Cask & Larder ketchup, and beer mustard on a celery-seed bun my brother enjoyed along with a house-made Whiskey Stout (which was cask-conditioned in a Jack Daniel’s barrel, aged for five months, and tasted of coffee and chocolate!).

Cask & Larder fried chicken bibb lettuce salad

Spencer enjoyed the Bibb Lettuce Salad with Pickled Watermelon Radish, Candied Squash, Spiced Pecans, and Buttermilk Dressing with an extra side of Southern Fried Chicken (spicy and good). The ladies had the same salad, but with an extraordinary side of smoked chicken. It was so good, the next day for lunch at Dad’s condo, we ordered in the very same salads!

Northwest Wining and Dining’s Dishes of the Day

July 22, 2013

Palomino Seattle Scallops with Pernod Beurre Blanc

Hard to believe it’s been three months since we chose a proper Dish of the Day (last one was The Capital Grille’s stupendous Seafood Tower), so today I’ve chosen not one, but three for your viewing pleasure.

Above behold the glorious Asiago-Almond Crusted Scallops with Pernod Butter Sauce and first-of-the-season grilled asparagus,  which we enjoyed a few weeks ago at the Palomino Restaurant & Bar location in downtown Seattle (truth be known, it is in the CityCentre Building, where Spencer used to go to work at Callison Architecture every day!).

How the chef got the perfect crispy crust and still managed to leave the scallops rare in the middle is beyond me. I tried to figure out how to replicate the dish at home, but just figured I’d eat it at Palomino as often as possible.

Just last weekend, when the temperatures were high (close to 90!) in Seattle, we were lucky to score an outside seat at Le Pichet, right on First Avenue in the Pike Place Market.

Le Pichet Pike Place Market Salmon

The Seared Salmon with baby garlic tops, flageolet beans, carrots, and asparagus was like summer on a plate, the salmon perfectly cooked to rare and the garlic tops more green than garlicky. A very light white broth brought the dish together so perfectly that I lapped up every last drop with the soup spoon thoughtfully provided!

Gordon Biersch Blackened Tuna Salad

Not so politically correct, but still very well executed, is the (blackened) Ahi and Greens salad at Gordon Biersch. I feel a deep twinge every time I order Ahi, since it  (in fact, most species of tuna, except for albacore) is on the endangered list, but every so often it serves as a special treat. This one was served with a well-made miso dressing and wasn’t overly charred or spicy. A Cajun remoulade sauce was also offered, and went surprisingly well with the fish and greens.


Dish of the Day: Capital Grille’s Shellfish Tower

April 8, 2013

Capital Grille Shellfish Platter photo

One of my favorite meals is a good shellfish platter. I still miss the ones at The Oceanaire Seafood Room, which came with lots of pomp and circumstance as the server placed metal stand underneath the metal tray mounded with shaved ice and studded with all sorts of fresh and cooked shellfish–steamed mussels and clams, oysters on the half shell, steamed lobster, and three kinds of delectable sauces.

Luckily, downtown Seattle’s Capital Grille serves up a shellfish platter almost as grand. Although this photo doesn’t do it justice, it contains steamed baby lobster, cooked shrimp, and half a dozen raw oysters, plus two sauces (classic Mignonette and cocktail sauce). Be sure to ask for the rich mustard-mayonnaise, which goes perfectly with the shrimp and lobster.


Dish of the Day: Place Pigalle’s Outstanding Oyster Stew

December 7, 2012

This Dish of the Day was originally published in 2010, but it still holds true today. Thank you, Place Pigalle!

Every now and then, usually in the winter months, when the weather is typically Northwest (gray, gray, and more gray), I get a hankerin’ for Place Pigalle’s Oyster Stew.

This outstanding version of the genre has been on the menu at the venerable Pike Place Market hideaway for god knows how long–I’d bet ever since former bartender Bill Frank took over the famous biker bar in 1982. Whenever it was, I hope new owners (at least by Pike Place Market standards) Seth and Lluvia Walker  NEVER take it off!

Place Pigalle\'s Oyster Stew

Somehow, its creamy smoothness is totally imbued with über amounts of oyster nectar. A coupla perfectly poached oysters lurk within. I always add pieces of broken-up bread (soft inside part only, no crust) to sop up the sensual soup and make it last longer.

One cup, along with the Roasted Beet Salad, is all I can rationalize, although I’d drink vat loads if the calorie count and sat-fat levels were lower. Which more than qualifies Place Pigalle’s Oyster Stew as my Dish of the Day.

Dish of the Day: Artful Mini Burgers

December 4, 2012

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been reprinting some of our favorite Dishes of the Day from the last year or so while we enjoy some time out of the office.

Here are the Mini Burgers from ART Restaurant & Lounge.

Last week I met a local marketing expert/publicist to talk about some possible freelance work. We met at ART Restaurant & Lounge, not only because it’s one of my favorite places in Seattle, but because it’s also very conveniently located right across the courtyard from our downtown condo.

I’d just gulped down a Balance Bar, half a big Fuji apple, and glass of low-fat milk, so didn’t want anything to eat.

The young publicist, however, had skipped lunch due to her heavy workload. So I suggested she try chef Kerry Sear’s legendary mini burgers.

She chose both salmon and veggie, and raved about the curry and cumin spices in the latter.

I loved the whimsical long plate the burgers were served on–printed with a french fry background. Adorable!

Even more adorable was the mini bottle of ketchup that accompanied the burgers.

For both taste and presentation, ART’s mini burgers deserve our Dish of the Day.

Dish of the Day: Tango’s Gambas Picantes

November 27, 2012

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been reprinting some of our favorite Dishes of the Day from the last year or so while we enjoy some time out of the office.

Here are the Gambas Picantes (Spicy Shrimp) from Seattle’s Tango Restaurant & Lounge. 

We enjoyed our entire recent meal at Tango Restaurant & Lounge, so it’s really unfair to single out one dish as the Dish of the Day.

But the Gambas Picantes (Spicy Shrimp) were truly outstanding. . .my small-plate portion a steal at $7.00.

The Spicy Shrimp actually served as my entrée after our appetizers that included Piquillo Rellenos (albacore tuna-stuffed red–piquillo–peppers). The piquillo peppers are smoked over oak, which imparts a lovely mild flavor.

Sautéed Calamari with fire-roasted tomatoes, poblanos, red peppers, cilantro, and lime juice was super succulent and full of flavor from the variety of peppers.

Instead of salad (gotta get those greens among all this protein!), we opted for a small order of Tango’s toothsome Green Beans & Harissa, pan-roasted  with tomatoes, pinenuts, and harissa, a soulful Moroccan spice mix.

A bottle of Viña Ardanza Reserve Rioja–old stuff from 2001!–was well worth every penny of its $80 price tag. We liked the wine so much, we ordered a case for future drinking pleasure.

Dish of the Day: RN74’s Ahi Tuna Tartare

November 23, 2012

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been reprinting some of our favorite Dishes of the Day from the last year or so while we enjoy some time out of the office.

Here is an amazing dish from our neighbor, RN74.

I’ve been having a ball researching an article on Michael Mina’s RN74 downtown Seattle restaurant for Wine Press Northwest’s Spring issue. The restaurant opened last June, and is the sister restaurant to the first RN74 in San Francisco.

The Ahi Tuna Tartare is one of Michael Mina’s signature dishes among his 19 restaurants in major cities spread across the country–Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., Miami, and Detroit, among others.

Served tableside, the waiter gently massages a quail egg yolk into a mass of the most perfect Ahi tuna chunks studded with toasted pine nuts, very finely diced Scotch Bonnet peppers and Asian pear, a hint of fresh mint, and the dense, unmistakable aroma and flavor of Asian sesame oil.

As chef Mina says, “The right tableside preparation creates a memory. For example, we deconstructed the Ahi Tuna Tartare years ago, and it has become one of our signature dishes. We mix the tuna, pear, Scotch bonnet peppers, sesame oil, and a quail’s egg yolk tableside. However, you can’t overdo this–you can’t do too many things tableside if it means other guests’ food is getting cold or if it interferes with the larger experience. Remember, it’s all about balance.”

“Balance” is important as Mina devises his dishes with “four basic elements: spice, sweetness, acidity, and richness.”

For creating such a perfect balance, and such a memorable appetizer, RN74’s Ahi Tuna Tartare more than deserves our Dish of the Day.

Dishes of the Day–Six Top Picks

November 20, 2012

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been reprinting some of our favorite Dishes of the Day from the last year or so while we enjoy some time out of the office.

Here you’ll enjoy not one, but SIX, Dishes of the Day and gorgeous photos from all over our fair city. 

Due to a bunch of social and professional commitments, we’ve been eating out even more often than usual the past few weeks.

The idea of writing individual restaurant reviews on each place is so daunting–and we’ve had so many outstanding and memorable single dishes at various places–that I decided to choose six of my favorite dishes, merge them into one list, and declare them Dishes of the Day (DoD).

Three of my six recent best-of-the-best dishes came from one restaurant alone–Cicchetti kitchen & bar–which is located in the Eastlake neighborhood just north of downtown Seattle.

This is one of Cicchetti’s amazing “small plates,” which was actually pretty generous–I managed to consume every last crunchy bite. It’s called Fattoush Salad, a medley of diced red and yellow bell pepper, red onion, cucumber, romaine lettuce, olives, and a few fried flat-bread strips accented with fresh herbs (lots of mint, which I adore!) and dusted with sumac powder. Superbly tasty and even relatively healthy at the same time (eat your veggies!)!

We also loved Cicchetti’s “Cicchettti” (small bites) appetizer platter, in which you get to choose among a long list of possibilities to custom-craft your desired nibbles.

We opted for the Fried Almonds drizzled with honey and Turkish spices (addictive!), the Mahon Riserva (Spanish) cheese with quince paste, and the Housemade Yogurt with brown butter, all accompanied by homemade flat bread (which we, sadly, couldn’t eat due to our low-carb diet).

My third Dish of the Day–another gorgeous “small” plate from Cicchetti–is the Charred Octopus with Chickpeas, Salsa Verde, Taggiasca Olives, and Caramelized Cauliflower. Who ever thought all those divergent ingredients could be so tasty when cooked together?!?!

This octopus cooked just so–tender and not-at-all chewy–rivals another preparation I count among my all-time favorite octopus dishes. It hails from Lecosho, but, sadly, is off the menu there right now. The lighter, more seasonal substitution features grilled octopus with green beans, smashed fingerling potatoes, cherry tomatoes, chermoula, and baby herb salad.

The Baby Artichoke Salad at Barolo Ristorante in downtown Seattle is one of my perennial favorites, and one I’ve written about before here on my Northwest Notes blog. Once again, it is more than deserving of being named Dish of the Day, and I order it every time we eat at Barolo.

And although I don’t eat pork, so didn’t actually taste these Uli’s Merguez Sausage Soft Tacos with Cucumber Raita and Crispy Shallots that Debra Prinzing, a Seattle- and Los Angeles-based outdoor design expert and dear friend of mine ordered when we celebrated Happy Hour at ART Restaurant & Lounge in the Four Seasons Seattle Hotel a few weeks ago, they deserve a Dish of the Day award for creativity, presention, and the fact that they feature Uli’s Famous Sausage, which is located in the bustling heart of the Pike Place Market.

While sipping, supping, and chatting, Deb gave me a copy of her latest book, “The 50 Mile Bouquet: Seasonal, Local, and Sustainable Flowers,” and I liked this smart, important, well-written tome so much that I chose to review it for my monthly Amazon Al Dente blog post. I

f you’ve ever wondered about the new “slow flower” movement. . .where the flowers that grace your table come from. . .how they’re grown. . .their carbon footprint. . .and how to design your own bouquets at home. . .this book’s for you.

Meanwhile, congratulations to all six of our Dish of the Day winners!

Dish of the Day: Place Pigalle Salmon Gravlax

November 16, 2012

Salmon Gravlax from Place Pigalle in the Pike Place Market

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been reprinting some of our favorite Dishes of the Day from the last year or so while we enjoy some time out of the office.

I adore the Salmon Gravlax from Place Pigalle. 

I know I should probably remain impartial and not go on the record as saying that salmon is my favorite fish. And, to go even one step farther–that salmon is one of my favorite foods.

I take my salmon in any form, be it grilled, smoked, en rillette, or gravlax-style. Sometimes I’ll even have a Salmon Niçoise Salad for lunch, then salmon as my entrée at dinner!

I had the salmon gravlax for lunch at Place Pigalle in the Pike Place Market a couple of weeks ago, and loved it. I was dining with two of my favorite people in the world–Lorelle Del Matto and Martha Marino–whom I refer to as my two sisters or “sises.”

Both my sises are registered dietitians. Closet nutritionist that I am (I’ve known calorie counts of many food since my teenage years), I love to hear them talk about their profession.

Lorelle is also a recipe developer extraordinaire (who’s helped test recipes for several of my books over the years), owner of Food Savvy with Lorelle Del Matto, and blogger. Martha is Director of Nutrition Affairs at the Washington State Dairy Council.

I am so proud of my two sises and documented our long-standing friendship for The Seattle Times in an article entitled, Holiday Food Traditions in the Heart of Seattle, last December. Our lunches (scheduled every two months or so) serve as a cheap form of therapy for the three of us.

Anyway, back to the salmon gravlax above which had been lightly cured and thick-cut. I asked for it to be served on a bed of greens so it could work like a main-dish salad; accompaniments included large caper berries, baby gherkins, and whipped cream cheese.

All of which more than qualifies Place Pigalle’s Salmon Gravlax for our our Dish of the Day award.

Editor’s Note: Turns out our very pleasant and knowledgeable server was herself a well-known blogger–Kelly Doscher–or The Food-Minded Mama. Kelly won blog-of-the-month award from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution last October. Gotta love the Seattle food world!

Photograph by Braiden Rex-Johnson
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