Fresh Faces at Sky City

October 5, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fresh Faces menu was colorful and inviting. . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Debut of an Important New Cookbook: “Roots”

September 28, 2012

My good buddy and fellow cookbook author, Portland, Ore.-based Diane Morgan, has just release her 14th book, and it’s a dandy.

For anyone who has ever picked up a strangely shaped, gnarly looking vegetable at the farmers’ market (in the author’s case, burdock root) and said, “What’s this?,” “Roots: The Definitive Compendium with More than 225 Recipes,” is the ultimate go-to guide to the hearty, healthful, nutrition-packed, budget-friendly veggies found underground.

“Roots” uncovers everything from beets and potatoes to jicama and salsify to such relatively unknown specimens as cassava, galangal, and crosnes. Discover the fascinating history and lore of each one, their nutritional content, how to buy and store them, and—the best part—more than 225 simple yet creative recipes that bring out their best flavors.

Good news is, Diane will be here promoting her new book beginning this Sunday, September 30. Here’s a list of her upcoming Seattle appearances throughout the holiday season s0 you can meet her and have your book personally autographed by the master herself.

Welcome to Seattle, Diane!


Sunday, September 30, noon to 2:00pm

Book signing/tasting, free

Metropolitan Market at Proctor (Tacoma)

Sunday, September 30, 4:00 to 6:00pm

Book signing/tasting, free

Metropolitan Market Admiral (West Seattle)

Monday, October 1, 6:30 to 9:30pm

Hands-On Cooking Class/Dinner, $70

The Pantry at Delancey

Seattle, WA

Tuesday, October 2, 11:00am to noon

Book signing

Chef’s Collaborative National Summit/Seattle Art Museum

Seattle, WA

Tuesday, October 2, 6:30 to 8:00pm

Demonstration/book signing, free

Book Larder

Seattle, WA

Saturday, October 6, 7:00 to 8:30pm

Book signing/tasting, free

Village Books in Fairhaven

Bellingham, WA

Sunday, October 14, 11:00am to 4:00pm

Book signing/author appearance

Pacific Northwest Book Sellers Trade Show

Tacoma, WA

Wednesday, December 5

Tom Douglas’ 2012 Cookbook Social

The Palace Ballroom, 2100 5th Ave, Seattle

Meet the Author/ Book signing

Thursday, December 6, 7:00pm

Meet the Author/ Book signing, free

Third Place Books

Lake Forest Park, WA

Friday December 7, noon to 2:30pm

Book signing/Q&A

Mrs. Cooks

University Village

A New Seafood Café Along the Seattle Waterfront

August 14, 2012

Elliott’s Seafood Café during construction

Over the past several months, we’ve enjoyed watching the old, outdated Steamer’s Cafe space on the Seattle Waterfront transform into the sleek, new Elliott’s Seafood Café.

Designed as an energetic sidewalk oyster bar, the new Café offers a casual complement to Elliott’s Oyster House.

Elliott’s Seafood Cafe Oyster Bar

Elliott’s Seafood Cafe features an outdoor oyster bar where guests can sit or stand, a full-service bar, and happy-hour offerings. The menu comprises casual and fun seafood dishes; table service is available all day. Take-out food and retail items are also for sale.

Interior of the new Elliott’s Seafood Cafe

The restaurant’s interior features copper and wood with a “warm pier look.” Outside, guests can enjoy patio dining with a view of waterfront boating activity.

“Elliott’s Seafood Café brings a new look and culinary offering to the Seattle waterfront neighborhood. We’re especially eager to introduce the outside oyster bar, which we believe is a first of its kind in Seattle for guests to enjoy the freshest, local seafood at the peak of the season,” said Robert Spaulding, Executive Chef at Elliott’s Oyster House, who will oversee the Elliott’s Seafood Café kitchen as well.

Chop Chop Salad

A sample of menu items featured at Elliott’s Seafood Café includes:

*A rotating selection of fresh Washington Oysters: Penn Cove | Calm Cove | Eld | Mystery Bay with Horseradish, cocktail sauce, mignonette.

*Fresh Shucked Clams | Cape Cod little neck.

*Shellfish Ceviche I Bay scallops and shrimp, calamari, citrus marinade.

*Surf and Turf Slider | Seared scallop, root beer braised beef, preserved lemon cream.

*Halibut Tostadas | Grilled halibut, avocado, pancetta, tomatillo salsa, flour tortilla.

*Smoked Apple and Bacon Oysters | House alder smoked apple, bacon, red onion.

*Fried Oyster Wilted Spinach Salad | Yearling oysters, spinach, hot bacon-potato dressing, red onion, mushroom.

*Seafood Salad Brioche Rolls | Dungeness and Jonah crab, bay scallops, Oregon shrimp, celery, onion, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, waffle-cut fries.

We’ll weigh in with our thoughts on the new Seafood Café just as soon as we can get down there to sample these delicious-sounding items. May be time for another spin on the Seattle Great Wheel, the café’s cool neighbor.

Construction photo by Braiden Rex-Johnson; other photos courtesy of Darren LaMarr

Oysters, Oysters, Oysters!

July 6, 2012

I know many people think it isn’t safe to eat oysters in months that don’t contain the letter “r,” but I am here to share with you some pretty compelling evidence to the contrary.

Above is a gorgeous trio of bivalves I enjoyed a few weeks ago at ART Restaurant & Lounge in the Four Seasons Hotel Seattle.

And another glorious trio from Etta’s, Tom Douglas’s seafood restaurant just north of the Pike Place Market. The oyster in the middle was particularly delicious and had a gorgeous white shell with tan zebra stripes. It was called a Malaspina and hailed from Malaspina Inlet on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast, according to our very knowledgeable server that evening.

In this shot you can see the Malaspina’s beauteous shell. I saved it for my “Found Objects” bowl!

By now any of you who read my “Northwest Notes” blog know that I love to take photos with my Hipstamatic iPhone4 app. And one of my favorite subjects is “Remains,” a collection of empty dinner plates of food.

Above is a “Hip” shot of the leftover shells from Etta’s.

And here are remainders of half a dozen raw oysters enjoyed at Crow Restaurant.

My all-time favorite “Remains” shot, however, “remains” this one of an empty dish of crème brûlée, taken at my father’s 89th birthday celebration last August.

He will celebrate number 90 this year, and I’ll be there to capture another “Remains” shot to share with you.

Go, Dad!


Seattle Great Wheel and Cupcake Royale Arrive in Downtown Seattle!

June 29, 2012

We’re thrilled to welcome two new neighbors to the West Edge neighborhood: Cupcake Royale and the Seattle Great Wheel!

We’ve enjoyed watching the Wheel take its place on the Seattle Waterfront at Pier 57 and blogged about it on June 5 along with lots of photos. Even if you’re not a downtown dweller or visitor, you can watch the Wheel from the Puget Sound Cam. It is truly a magnificent sight!

The Wheel starts spinning and is open for rides today. Purchase your tickets here.

And ART Restaurant & Lounge, in the Four Seasons Seattle Hotel, has created a special dessert to welcome the Great Wheel.

The carnival-inspired “Ferris Wheel Cool Spin” has cinnamon-sugared elephant ears; a trio of housemade strawberry shortcake, raspberry scone, and deep-fried peanut butter ice cream; and is topped with truffle pops in cotton candy on a cool ice carving of the center ferris wheel. Man, it sure looks good!

Meanwhile, lots of news to report on tomorrow’s opening of Cupcake Royale’s sixth cafe, in the former Chocolate Box space at 108 Pine, just a block from the Pike Place Market.

Cupcake Royale’s new location is not only a cupcake bakery, but an ice creamery that will simultaneously launch Cupcake Royale Brand Ice Cream in all six cafes.

According to the company’s press release, “Cupcake Royale Brand Ice Cream, features a signature line of the original Cupcakes ‘n’ Cream ice cream as well as other amazing ice-cream flavor combinations that will have unique and delicious inclusions, all baked in-house.”

Our pal Jody Hall, whom we’ve profiled in The Seattle Times Pacific Northwest magazine, is owner/founder of Cupcake Royale (the first cupcake bakery in Seattle, if you can imagine that!).

Jody says, “We’ve always wanted to offer ice cream for our customers. It’s just such a natural pairing with cake—add delicious artisan espresso to the mix and it’s an amazing trifecta.”

I can’t wait to try flavors such as Burnt Caramel with Sea Salt, Blueberry Lavender, and Bananza (roasted banana, homemade gooey brownie, caramel).

But I’ll take a pass on Whiskey Maple Bacon Crack (bacon brittle) made with locally produced Woodinville Whiskey and Zoe’s Meats bacon, thanks.

Other flavors in the Cupcakes ‘n’ Cream line are based on the company’s most beloved cupcake flavors–Red Velvet, Dance Party, Salted Caramel, Peppermint Party, and Triple Threat.

In total, Cupcake Royale will carry 14 flavors of ice cream, two flavors of homemade ice-cream sandwiches, and Cakeshakes and Babyshakes (which are blended with either a cupcake or a babycake-size cupcake).

Even better news? Ice Cream flavors will rotate based on seasonality. And, as with its cupcakes, Cupcake Royale will source local ingredients for their new ice-cream line.

During construction of the latest cafe, Cupcake Royale has been operating an ice-cream cart in front of the new location. Chocolate Box, which formerly occupied the space, has consolidated it operations into a smaller space next door at 106 Pine.

Photos courtesy of ART Restaurant & Lounge and Cupcake Royale

Tamara Murphy’s Tantalizing Terra Plata

June 19, 2012

Although Spencer and I eat out quite a bit, with such a wide array of cuisines and restaurants outside our front door, we usually just stay within blocks of our condominium building in downtown Seattle.

So I am embarrassed to admit that, up until a few weeks ago, we hadn’t enjoyed the many tantalizing tastes at Tamara Murphy’s “new” (at least to us!) Terra Plata, just up the hill from our condo in the Melrose Market.

“Earth to Plate” sums up the zeitgeist and ambience of this remarkable restaurant. Two long, hard years in the making (Tamara’s stories about landlord problems could curl your eyelashes!), the wait was well worth it.

Here’s the gorgeous Deviled Duck Egg with Salmon Roe that Tamara sent over as a pre-dinner surprise. Gamy, rich, and super-creamy, this perfect-for-sharing appetizer was the epitome of divine excess (in the very best of ways)!

We also ate way more than we should have (at least for our waistlines’ sake) of chef Tamara’s super-fun Blistered Shisito Peppers. Part of the Snacks and Small Plates offerings, the deep-fried peppers were accompanied by a super-smooth aïoli, and sprinkled with really good, crunchy sea salt. These things are addictive!

From the “Earth” section of the menu came a delicate Spring Mesclun Salad studded with tender baby radish slices, green-apple wedges, candied hazelnuts, Cabrales (Spanish blue) cheese, and Champagne vinaigrette.

From the “Sea” section of the menu came The perfectly cooked Mediterranean Mussels with Sofrito (“a sautéed mixture of seasonings and finely chopped vegetables, such as onions, garlic, and peppers, used as a base for many Spanish, Caribbean, and Latin American dishes, according to The Free Dictionary), Olives, Anchovy, Lemon, and Parsley.

Spencer’s Whole Fish–a black sea bass that evening–was annointed with lemon butter and served with a wild watercress-and-radish salad. This bad-boy bass was almost too good-looking to eat, but Spencer managed to devour every last bite.

We washed down this earth-to-ocean feast with a bottle of Barolo that played surprisingly well with both our entrées.

Terra Plata’s interior space is beautifully executed, with an open timbered ceilingk, hardwood floors, plenty of ambient light from the wrap-around windows, and an inviting bar that welcomes locals and regulars, many of whom seem to who know each other and the bartender.

A rooftop garden is opening this summer. . .if “summer” ever arrives this year, what with our especially long stretch of “June-uary” weather so far.

Here’s chef Tamara and crew working the line. . .keeping Terra Plata the earthy, homey, and comforting–yet tantalizing– culinary treasure, it is.

Springing into the Season at The Pink Door

May 22, 2012

We always enjoy eating at The Pink Door, the fun and funky restaurant with seriously good food located in the Pike Place Market along upper Post Alley.

But there’s no better time than spring.

The restaurant recently announced its new seasonal food-and-drink offerings, and they sound delish.

The Pink Door’s Duo of Spring Crostini

On the food side, we’re anxious to sample the Duo of Spring Crostini (fava-pea purée, radish, and sea salt. as well as shrimp, limoncello, and lemon-zest gremolata).

Spaghetti with Artichokes (spaghetti, fresh artichokes, parsley, garlic and artisanal olive oil) and the Bucket-O-Peas also sound so fresh and seasonal.

The Pink Door’s Fernet Mint Julep

New cocktails that signal spring include La Porta (Gin, Dimmi, Luxardo, and fresh grapefruit juice) and the Fernet Mint Julep (Bourbon, Fernet-Branca, and muddled mint, topped with soda). The latter sounds especially bracing and refreshing.

I’ve really been getting into the whole bitters thing (such as Campari and Cocchi Americano) lately. Both marry well with diet or regular tonic water as a mixer.

The Pink Door’s Everything Green Salad

Of course, nothing compares to the Pink Door’s Everything Green Salad with fresh fava beans, asparagus, English peas, and pistachios, all set atop lacy butter lettuce leaves and sauced with Green Goddess (creamy tarragon-tinged) dressing.

I’ve written about it many times in Northwest Notes, and love to add a mound of sweet, succulent Dungeness crab to turn it into a main-dish salad.

I also included the Everything Green Salad among my Favorite Dishes from 2011.

Crostini and Mint Julep photos courtesy of The Pink Door; Everything Green Salad photo by Braiden Rex-Johnson. 


30 Years of Wonderful Memories: RIP Chez Shea

April 24, 2012

It seems almost surreal that I am writing this Ode to Chez Shea, the über-romantic and sexy restaurant in the Pike Place Market, rather than the totally glowing Resto Review entitled, Chez Shea Shines Anew, that I had originally intended.

When announced last Wednesday, April 18, that the 30-year-old stalwart in the Market was closing its doors. . .to be replaced by a coffee company, no less (just what Seattle needs is another coffee shop. . .not!), I was heartbroken.

For over the 22 years we’ve lived in Seattle, we’ve dined there many times. Original owner Sandy Shea gave me a recipe for my very first Pike Place Market Cookbook. And then-chef Peter Morrison shared his Oysters Chez Shea recipe for my original Pike Place Public Market Seafood Cookbook. We had our favorite oh-so-French female server there and have known Lotta Hashimura, the general manager, for years.

If I had been able to write my review, I would have raved about the classically prepared Escargots, pictured above. Pure garlicky, buttery bliss in a single bite.

Or the absolutely decadent Prawns Barcelona. More garlic, crispy kale, sherry, and more butter. . .but also crunchy toasted almond flakes. And such a generous serving!

A lovely bottle of Meursault (French Chardonnay) paired perfectly with both dishes and was served at exactly the right temperature (not too cold, as is often the case with white wines in restaurants).

A bite of salad to pep up the taste buds again. This one included Anjou pear, orange segments, toasted Marcona almonds, and a sprinkling of fresh goat cheese for saltiness and tang. Don’t forget the Tangerine Vinaigrette!

This Dungeness Crab Salad is one of the most simply perfect things I’ve tasted in months–the freshest crab meat interspersed with green mango, wild watercress, paper-thin radishes, citrus segments, kaffir lime leaf, and Asian herbs, including cilantro and the magic ingredient–shiso–a Japanese leaf that has minty/menthol-y/astringent flavors, and that I love. This one was lightly tossed with Honey-Lime Vinaigrette. Perfect!

Chilean Sea Bass with darling baby zucchini and just the right amount of Saffron-Tomato Sauce. . and a beguiling ring of Parsley Oil.

Spencer’s Rack of Lamb Persillade aligned with military precision and sauced in a Rosemary Jus. . .

RIP and thanks for the memories, Chez Shea.

Welcome Pike Place Public Market Seafood Cookbook E-Edition

April 20, 2012

It was both a happy moment and a sad moment, the best of times and worst of times, when Spencer came back from his morning coffee and workout session in the Pike Place Market a few weeks ago and showed me the photo above on his cellphone.

As he’d been wandering the Market’s nooks and crannies, he discovered my “Pike Place Market Cookbook” on the shelves at Metsker Maps along First Avenue.

Sad because the book was recently declared out of print; I bought 30 of the last 60 copies available; a new book entitled “Pike Place Market Recipes” will be published by Sasquatch Books next month. . .and I am not the author!

But out with the old and in with the (very) new as my “Pike Place Public Market Seafood Cookbook,” which was published in 2005 by Ten Speed Press in a hardcover gift edition that remains in print, has just been released in an e-edition!

The electronic version of the seafood book, complete with gorgeous four-color photos, Fun Facts, and a How to Buy Seafood section (all part of the hardcover original), can be viewed on a Kindle.

IPhone and iPad users (such as myself) don’t despair! Simply download the free Kindle Reading App and you’ll soon be on your merry way.


Oyster Wines Revisited

April 6, 2012

Oysters on the half shell from Shuckers in the Fairmont Olympic Hotel Seattle before. . .

Sad to say, but the arrival of the first wave of fresh halibut last week at Pike Place Market fish stands, signals that we are nearing the end of raw oyster season here in the Northwest.

Now I know oysters are available year-round, and that the age-old advice about eating them only in “r”months may no longer be true.

But I simply don’t feel like eating raw oysters on the half shell in the summer months. . .they seem more like a fall and winter food to me and my palate.

With that in mind, here are some last thoughts on oysters on the half shell and which wines pair well with them. This list thanks to a seminar that examined the ins and outs of pairing wines from across the world with raw, local oysters.

The afternoon session featured Lissa James of the Hama Hama Oyster Company and winemakers from Girard Napa Valley, the Crossings winery in New Zealand, and Barone Fini from Italy. And even though I was unable to attend the seminar and sample the wines and oysters personally, the organizers were nice enough to share the results, which I find fascinating.

And for additional suggestions on pairing Pacific Coast wines with raw oysters, here’s an article I wrote last year for Wine Press Northwest. The link takes you to an e-edition of the magazine which requires a few extra moments to download due to all the text and graphics, so be patient. You’ll find my article if you flip to page 10.

Featured wines, and their suggested oyster pairings:

  1. Girard Sauvignon Blanc 2010 & Kumamoto Oyster
  2. Barone Fini Valdadige Pinot Grigio 2010 & Olympia Oyster
  3. The Crossings Sauvignon Blanc 2011 & Hama Hama Oyster
  4. Girard Chardonnay 2009 & Point aux Pins Oyster
  5. Barone Fini Alto Adige Pinot Grigio 2010 & Blue Pool Oyster
  6. The Crossings Unoaked Chardonnay 2009 & Totten Inlet Pacific Oyster

Oysters on the half shell from Shuckers in the Fairmont Olympic Hotel Seattle after!
Photos by Braiden Rex-Johnson
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