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!!!

Braiden’s Favorite Thanksgiving Potatoes: Double Apricot Sweet Potatoes and Red Curry Mashers

November 30, 2014

Braiden’s Favorite Thanksgiving Potatoes

Tired of the same old side dishes at Thanksgiving? How about trying these favorites from the Rex-Johnson family?

Double Apricot Sweet Potatoes
Varietal: Riesling

Serves 4 to 6

Sweet potatoes get a double whammy of taste and texture when they are flavored with apricot nectar and topped with amaretti, Italian macaroon cookies baked with apricot-kernel paste. Amaretti are available at DeLaurenti Specialty Food & Wine in the Pike Place Market and at upscale grocery stores. Pair the sweets with a stone-fruit-rich wine, such as a Riesling. Its apricot and nectarine aromas and flavors, along with the classic kerosene (think new bike tires!) nose, work especially well with this side dish, as well as other tastes and textures on the Thanksgiving table, such as roasted turkey and oyster stuffing.

12 Amaretti di Saronno cookies (6 individually wrapped packages)
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large, uniform-sized chunks
1/2 cup apricot nectar
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
3 tablespoons dark rum or apricot nectar

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil a medium baking dish or spray with nonstick spray. Unwrap the amaretti, place them in a small plastic bag, and crush with a meat mallet or rolling pin until medium crumbs form.
2. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with cold water by one inch, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 10 to 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
3. Drain the potatoes and put them through a ricer or food mill or mash with a potato masher or fork. Stir in the apricot nectar, orange zest, fresh ginger, and salt, then transfer the potatoes to the prepared baking dish.
4. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the crushed cookies and rum, then spoon the crumbs over the potatoes, smoothing to the edges. Bake 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are heated through.

Red Curry Mashers
Varietal: Pinot Blanc

Serves 6 to 8

Mashed potatoes have become the ultimate adult comfort food. I like this Asian rendition in which the potatoes take on the tawny color and nutty flavor of toasted sesame oil, followed by the slow afterburn of red curry paste. Pair the potatoes with Pinot Blanc, a balanced/refreshing wine that displays delicate fruit aromas and flavors of apple, citrus, pear, and/or melon along with good acidity.

2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into large, uniform-sized chunks
4 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
1 cup regular or nonfat half-and-half
4 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil (Note: Be sure to use toasted or Asian, not regular, sesame oil in this recipe.)
1/2 teaspoon Thai red curry paste

1. Place the potatoes and the garlic in a large saucepan, cover with cold water by one inch and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Drain well, then shake the potatoes over medium heat until they become mealy and dry.
2. Put the potatoes and garlic through a ricer (preferred method) or food mill, beat with an electric mixer, or mash with a potato masher or fork. Do not use a food processor or the potatoes will become gluey.
3. In a small bowl mix the half-and-half, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, and red curry paste until smooth. While whipping the potatoes with a fork, add this liquid, then whip an additional 30 seconds until the potatoes are fluffy. Serve immediately, or spoon into a lightly oiled baking dish and keep warm in a low oven (200 to 250 degrees) until ready to serve.

Nancy’s Pumpkin Cheesecake

September 30, 2014

Market pumpkins northwest wining and dining website

Nancy’s Pumpkin Cheesecake
Varietal: Dessert Wines: Late-Harvest Riesling

Serves 8 to 12

With all the recent interest (some might say hysteria) about pumpkin flavorings in foods and beverages (e.g., Starbucks Pumpkin-Spice Lattes, Pumpkin-Spice Oreos, and even Quaker Foods Pumpkin-Spiced Instant Oatmeal), I thought we were long overdue in looking back at this recipe from Nancy Nipples, longtime proprietress and “head milkmaid” at The Pike Place Market Creamery.

Nancy suggests making her special cheesecake a day or two before you plan to serve it to allow the flavors to meld and intensify. I like to “frost” it with my invention—Rum Cream—for an added layer of decadence, but that is entirely up to you.

The rich, spicy cake pairs perfectly with the medium to viscous texture of a good-quality Late-Harvest Riesling. These wines often exhibit aromas and flavors of apricot and tropical fruits (pineapple!), honey and caramel, flowers and almonds, lovely counterpoints to the seasonal cake.

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 1/4 cups firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (about six 2 1/4-by-4 3/4-inch crackers)
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
Three 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs
One 15-ounce can pumpkin
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Rum Cream (recipe follows), optional

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan. Sift the flour with the pumpkin pie spice and reserve.
2. To make the crust, in a medium mixing bowl stir together 1 1/4 cups of the brown sugar, the graham cracker crumbs, walnuts, and cinnamon. Add the butter and stir until well mixed. Pat the crumb mixture on the bottom of the prepared springform pan and about halfway up the sides. Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.
3. To make the filling, place the cream cheese in a large mixing bowl. With an electric mixer, beat at low to medium speed until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Slowly add the remaining 1 cup brown sugar, beating well after each addition, then add the reserved flour and mix well. Add the pumpkin and vanilla and blend thoroughly.
4. Pour the cheesecake filling into the prepared crust and bake 10 minutes. Lower the heat to 325 degrees and bake 1 hour, or until the top is light brown and slightly puffed. Turn off the oven and leave the cake in the oven an additional 20 minutes without opening the oven door.
5. Remove the cake from the oven, place on a wire rack, and cool completely. Refrigerate at least overnight or (preferably) for 1 to 2 days. Just before you are ready to serve, frost the top of the cake with Rum Cream, if desired.
6. To slice the cheesecake cleanly, dip a long, sharp knife in hot water, wipe off the blade, and slice. Repeat this process between each cut, using a spatula to remove each wedge to individual plates.

Rum Cream

Makes about 1/2 cup
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon dark rum

1. Chill a small mixing bowl and a whisk. Add the cream and confectioner’s sugar to the bowl and whisk until stiff peaks form. Stir in the rum and use immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to use, up to 1 day.

Friends of the Market Celebrates 50 Years

April 28, 2014


pike place market spring northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Have you heard of Friends of the Market (FoM)? It’s the advocacy group, led by Seattle architect and civic leader, Victor Steinbrueck, who saved the Pike Place Market from the wrecking ball in the 1960s.

The group has become much more active and visible in recent years, hosting weekly Market tours on Saturdays during the summer months, helping revamp historic artwork through the Market, and taking an active role in the planning of the Waterfront entrance to the Market.

The group also celebrates its 50th birthday this year, and plans to launch a new website this month.

According to the March 2014 FoM newsletter, “Ritama Design is in the final stages of producing Friends’ new website. It will include concise histories of the Market and FoM, plus a complete pictorial review of the public art in the Market. . .Additionally, the site will keep the archived videos, newsletters, and interactive contact and enrollment features.”

So if you haven’t already checked out the group’s new online presence, please click here to learn more.

And, next time you are in the Market, be sure to pick up a copy of the Market News (a free newspaper available at the Information Booth at the corner of First Avenue and Pike Place). It contains Paul Dunn’s “Post Alley Passages” column, always a voice of authority about what’s happening in the Market (politics, people, even the occasional celebrity link).

Paul is FoM’s vice president, former executive director of the Pike Place Market Merchants Association, and long-time Market dweller. And a good personal buddy, to boot!

Photo courtesy of the Pike Place Market Preservation & Development Authority.


Finding Your “Soil Mate”

April 21, 2014

Victoria, BC, farmers market photo northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

For the past 35 years, my colleague and friend, Vance Corum, has been committed to helping farmers market their products. He’s also the co-author of “The New Farmers’ Market.”

In a recent email, he said that a few weeks ago, while working in British Columbia, he heard about a new website that comes online for consumers next month.

“It’s called SOIL MATE,” Vance says, “like finding your soul mate in the person of a local farmer, anywhere in North America.”

His note went on to say that SOIL MATE’s goal is to connect people to their local food sources within 100 miles. Vance decided to help spread the word because the website seems straight-forward and easy to use. Every farmer, farmers’ market, and winery can list itself for FREE, so it’s a win/win/win for your farm, your markets, and consumers.

You can check out the short YouTube video on Soil Mate.

Farmers, farmers’ markets, and wineries can list their products, selling locations, and hours. They are invited to post photos, videos, a blog, and/or a website. The companies can can also sell products directly online.

Customers can filter by product category, specific items, growing practices, and services (U-Pick, CSA, and online sales).

SOIL MATE’s founder, Matt Gomez, has a passion for local food and a great background in marketing and social media, having helped Fortune-500 and Mom-and-Pop companies alike.

Just go to the SOIL MATE website and list yourself. You can put as much or as little in your profile as you want. It’s faster than applying to a farmers’ market. As a farmer, you’ll be linked to the farmers’ markets where you sell, and vice-versa.

As a CSA farm, you can list your pick-up locations. As a winery, you can list stores and restaurants that carry your product.

It’s even a FREE service, and you can help by getting the word out on social media or by direct (email) outreach.

To good marketing!

Pike Place Market’s Annual Daffodil Day March 20

March 17, 2014

Garden show 2014 yellow flowers northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

That lovely downtown-Seattle spring tradition we all know as Daffodil Day returns this year on March 20, when downtown streets will be awash in cheery yellow as legions of volunteers hand out over 10,000 daffodils to workers, residents, and shoppers to celebrate the first day of spring.

Mark your calendar now to take a stroll at lunch hour that day to pick up your little ray of spring sunshine–gratis, thanks to Pike Place Market flower vendors.

Arcade lights pike place market logo northwest wining and dining downtown seattle websiteAnd, while you have your calendar open, don’t forget to save-the-date for Arcade Lights, which returns to the Main Arcade on Friday evening, April 25. The annual springtime celebration of all things artisanal offers you a chance to taste handcrafted savory and sweet bites, washed down with craft beer, local wine, and nonalcoholic beverages, all made by local artisan food and drink purveyors.

Each ticket includes 10 tokens redeemable for food and beverages of your choose, plus a keepsake glass. Extra tokens can be purchased at the event. Proceeds benefit the Market Foundation.


Celebrate the Holidays at the Pike Place Market

November 18, 2013

Pike place market xmas photo northwest wining and dining website link

Pike Place Market brings the magic back to the holiday season with the fun and joyful event, Magic in the Market, on Saturday, November 30. The festivities take place from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., with the Market shops and restaurants open all day.

Meet Santa and his favorite elf in front of the Pike Place Market clock and take your own family photos while also finding original stocking stuffers, specialty foods, and handcrafted gifts for everyone on your list.

Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition Teams will perform for holiday shoppers from 1 p.m. to 4:30 pm under the Market Clock.

Kids 12 and under will have fun decorating cookies made by Pike Place Bakery in the new Atrium Kitchen located on the first floor of the Economy Building from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The lighting of the 20-foot holiday tree as well the Market Swine Deer, Carrot, Strawberry, and Pear will be led by Santa with the help from Figgy Caroling teams at 5 p.m.

Event Details

What: Magic in the Market holiday celebration featuring free photos with Santa, a tree lighting ceremony, Figgy Pudding Carolers, and cookie decorating for kids.

When: Saturday, November 30, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Where: Santa, tree lighting ceremony and Figgy Carolers will be located near the Market clock and sign; cookie decorating held in the Atrium Kitchen, Economy Market Building at 1st and Pike St.

October Events at the Pike Place Market

October 14, 2013

Arcade lights pike place market logo northwest wining and dining website

Friday, October 18, marks one of the Pike Place Market’s most fun events of fall–Arcade Lights.

Seven p.m. to 10 p.m. that evening is the time to join your fellow foodies, locavores, beer lovers, and wine enthusiasts in the Market’s historic Arcade to taste handcrafted savory and sweet bites, handcrafted beer, local wine, and nonalcoholic drinks by more than 60 local artisan food and drink purveyors. Adults (over 21 years of age) only, please!

This after-hours event, which benefits all the good works of the Pike Place Market Foundation, provides the perfect setting in which to taste the latest creations of Seattle’s famously innovative food and drink purveyors.

The Pike Place Market Foundation, a non-profit organization supporting the following human service agencies at the Pike Place Market: Pike Market Child Care and Preschool, Pike Market Medical Clinic, Pike Market Senior Center and Downtown Food Bank

More than 60 local food and drink artisans will be showcased at Arcade Lights, including Drummin’ Up Wontons, Mt. Townsend Creamery, Ellenos Real Greek Yogurt, Sweet Iron Waffles, Whidbey Island Ice Cream Company, Finnriver Farm and Cidery, Naked City Brewery, Naches Heights Winery, Patterson Cellars, and more.

Pair your favorite must-have tastes with a glass of seasonal ale, Washington wine, or bubbly fruit soda in what has become known as the ultimate tasting event of the season!

Advance tickets, which cost $28, allow advance ticket holders to enter the event at 6:30 p.m. Day-of tickets are limited, and cost $35.

Ticket price includes 10 tokens, a tasting glass, and a cloth napkin. Additional tokens can be purchased at the event entrances.

Market pumpkins northwest wining and dining website

A more family-friendly event takes place on Saturday, October 26, when the Market offers up a Halloween celebration presented by the community’s very own Orange Dracula.

Kids and parents can snap photos with friendly witches, explore a spooky kiddie haunted house, and find the perfect carving pumpkin.

Pets in costume can join in the fun too! Trick or treat through the crafts market and participating Market businesses.

The fun begins under the Public Market clock and continues to Orange Dracula, which has Halloween decorations, costume,s and a Dracula pinball machine. Orange Dracula is located on the third lower level of the Market.

So, all in all, October is shaping up to be a VERY fun time in Seattle’s venerable Pike Place Market.

San Juan Islands Great Island Grown Festival October 1-13

October 1, 2013

Crow Valley Farm Orcas Island

Bountiful farms, stunning pastoral landscapes and superb local food…that’s the San Juan Islands way of life!

The Great Island Grown San Juan Island Festival

Beginning today, and lasting until Sunday, October 13, farmers, restaurants, the Island community, and visitors will come together to celebrate this unique and coveted destination at The Great Island Grown Festival.

The Great Island Grown Festival features two weeks of events and workshops, from distillery tastings and plein-air farm painting to shellfish tours and sheepdog demonstrations to farm parades, bike tours of farms, and vineyard harvests. And, of course, farmers’ markets, harvest festival, and farm-to-table meals.

Island Grown in the San Juans is a membership organization of San Juan County farmers, restaurants, and supporters. The organization celebrates the bounty of the Islands’ rich agricultural heritage, and inspires Islanders, visitors, and businesses about the many benefits of buying locally grown and harvested products from land and sea.

The complete festival calendar and more details including dates and locations are available on the Island Grown in the San Juans website.

And here’s some really interesting historical information about agriculture in the San Juan Islands (from the media release):

The San Juan Islands are blessed with a temperate climate and were once considered to be the breadbasket of Western Washington. The local fruit industry began in earnest in the 1890s, with the introduction of Italian prune plums, and grew to include thousands of trees bearing apples, cherries, peaches, and pears.

During the early 1900s, farmers shipped boatloads of fruit from all the major islands to Salish-Sea ports, where the produce was transported by rail throughout the country. Although the islands no longer dominate Washington’s fruit industry, the legacy of historic orchards with local varieties such as the Orcas pear bear witness to the rich history of Island fruit-raising and distribution—a heritage that is still cultivated by San Juan County growers today.

Island Grown in the San Juans chose a logo with a pear in a boat as a symbol of the rich agricultural heritage of the island archipelago situated in the waters of the Salish Sea. Pears played a key role in fruit raising in the San Juans during the period from the 1890s to the 1930s.

The pear represents an Orcas pear, a delicious heritage variety that was discovered by Joseph C. Long along a roadside on Orcas Island in 1966. The Orcas pear (Pyrus communis) is listed as an American Heirloom Pear in Slow Foods USA “Ark of Taste,” and is suitable for fresh consumption, canning, and drying.

The boat was, and still is, one of the primary means of transportation in the islands. Even today, islanders are known to transport their farm produce by boat to markets on other islands.

Photo courtesy of Island Grown

Northwest Wining and Dining Applauds Farmers Markets in Victoria, British Columbia

July 29, 2013

Victoria, BC, farmers market photo

Thinking of visiting our neighbor to the North, the charming town of Victoria, British Columbia, for a little r&r this summer?

A recent press release reminded us to be sure to visit one of the city’s bustling farmers markets, which are now in full swing. Local favorites include the Victoria Public Market, Moss Street Market, and the Chinatown Night Market.

The Victoria Public Market at the Hudson Building is Victoria’s newest culinary experience! Vendors include everything from a butcher to a baker to a sweet-and-savory pie maker, with popular names such as Salt Spring Island Cheese, Vij’s, Olive the Senses, and Wildfire Bakery among the mix. Hours for the market are 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. from Tuesday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays and closed on Mondays, with the larger farmers markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

The Moss Street Market is now in its 22nd season of providing local and organic farm-fresh produce, local foods, handmade crafts, artisan clothing, live music, and community education to visitors. Found at the corner of Moss Street and Fairfield Road, this vibrant  market operates from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. every Saturday, May through October, rain or shine.

Finally, the Chinatown Night Market, located in Canada’s oldest Chinatown, happens every second Wednesday of the month from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on July 10, August 14, and September 11, 2013. This market focuses on culturally relevant entertainment, food, and artists, making it a showcase of Asian culture and a completely unique market in Victoria.

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