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!!!

Northwest Wining and Dining Update

March 13, 2015

You may have noticed that here at Northwest Wining and Dining things have been pretty quiet since our last post over the holiday season.

That’s because, as of December 31, Braiden “officially” retired from food and wine writing.

However, not to worry! Ever the writer, Braiden is now hard at work on her next book, NOT food and wine related, but a more personal endeavor.

Think “memoir!”

It feels fabulous to be creating/creative once again. As Lynne Rossetto Kasper once said to a group of us at the Symposium for Professional Food Writers at The Greenbrier, “Writing a book is like weaving an intricate tapestry. . .you have to make sure all the threads are interwoven.”

We’ll keep you posted from time to time on the book’s progress; hoping to have a rough draft by early May (my self-imposed deadline).



Warm-By-the-Fire Holiday Wishes from Northwest Wining and Dining

December 15, 2014

Cheers to the delights of the holiday season–gathering with family and friends, eating and drinking usually forbidden goodies, taking some time off from work and daily cares to reflect on the wonders of the season.

Here at Northwest Wining and Dining, we would like to wish you and yours a memorable Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, or whatever else you celebrate.

Pike place public market seafood cookbook cover at pac place northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

And encourage you to consider the gift that keeps on giving–a copy (or three!) of my Pike Place Public Market Seafood Cookbook, which is available in both print and e-editions. With 50 recipes from the Market’s fishmongers, chefs, restaurateurs, and specialty-food shops, not to mention 50 gorgeous color photos, the book is great for home cooks and armchair travelers alike.

In honor of the season, here’s a photo and accompanying 10-second video that is bound to make even the biggest grinch feel warm and cozy.

Warm by the fire photo northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Warm-by-the-fire video

Happy New Year!

Happy Summer!

June 2, 2014

Sandals on the beach northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Hope you are enjoying the first couple of days of June.

This is a quick heads up that here at the Northwest Wining and Dining Northwest Notes blog we will be taking a hiatus during the summer months and into early fall.

For the first time in more than 10 years, when this blog began, we want to begin some new non-food- and wine-related projects, catch up on our reading, and feel the sand between our toes.

And I’ll continue to post a Recipe of the Month even during this hiatus, so please check back the first of the month for a tasty bite from Seattle.

Doing Simple Things Today Can Make You Feel Better Tomorrow

May 26, 2014

Elliott bay marina photo northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

My father died last month, and the four months leading up to his death were especially tough, fraught with all-too-abundant amounts of stress and heartache.

Now that we’ve celebrated his life with a touching memorial service, had our meetings with the lawyers and accountants, and cleaned out his condo in central Florida, I’ve been reveling in being back in Seattle and returning to our “normal” lives.

It’s strange how a death in the family can help you focus more on life, taking at least a little more time to reflect and muse about the nature of things.

So, when a press release about three simple things you can do today to feel better tomorrow came across my desk, I paid special attention.

Its opening sentence was intriguing.

“Imagine you’re a spider with just one leg,” says Dr. Frank King, a chiropractor, doctor of naturopathy specializing in homeopathic remedies, fourth-generation farmer, and author of The Healing Revolution: Eight Essentials to Awaken Abundant Life Naturally! (

“You put forth immense effort to try to haul yourself around and not only does it wear you out, it’s frustrating and you don’t get far.” 

“It gets a bit easier with two legs and easier still with four legs. But it’s not till you have all eight legs that you can really dance.”

Dr. King explains that the eight legs represent Eight Essentials we need for optimum mental, physical and spiritual health: Empowering your human spirit; Water; Nutrition; Fitness; Sleep; Nature; Relationships; and Hands On Techniques (touch).

“It would be overwhelming and self-defeating to look at all eight areas and think, ‘I have to make significant changes in every area immediately!” Dr. King says. “You don’t have to and who could? I know from my experience with countless patients and friends, and even in my own life, that you can see immediate results by making a few small changes at a time.”

Dr. King describes three that are easy to make and will have you feeling better quickly.

•  Drink half your body weight in ounces of spring or well water every day.
If you weigh 150 pounds, that’s 75 ounces of water (about 9 cups).

“Many of us walk around dehydrated without realizing it and that can have a significant effect on our health and how we feel,” Dr. King says. Dehydrated bodies trap toxins and encourage water retention – a natural defense against the chronic “drought.”

“Our bodies need the steady flow of pure, spring or well water. If you don’t like the taste, try mixing up to a teaspoon of sea salt into a quart of water,” he says.

A simple test for dehydration: Pinch the skin on the back of your hand and hold for three seconds. When you release, if the ridge from the pinch remains for more than a second, you’re probably dehydrated.

•  Take at least a few minutes every day to connect with nature. Nature brings perpetual revitalization and ongoing renewal, especially when experienced through multiple senses:  the smell of freshly turned earth or evergreens in the woods; the touch of cool stream water on your face or feet; the sight of birds on the wing and budding blooms.

“These are not just pleasant little gifts to experience – we need them for restoration, renewal, revival and rehabilitation,” Dr. King says. “The more disconnected we become from the Earth, the more we inhibit our body’s natural ability to heal.”

•  Take a brisk, 10- to 20-minute walk every day. Walking is the simplest, most natural form of exercise. You might walk a nature trail, walk to the store instead of driving or take your pet for a stroll.

“Three brisk 10-minute walks a day are as effective at lowering blood pressure as one 30-minute walk,” Dr. King says, citing an Arizona State University study.

“Outdoor walking is preferable to walking on a treadmill or other machine, since the uneven surfaces and changing directions of natural walking will engage more muscles and tendons.”

Swing each arm in synchronization with the opposite foot to strengthen your cross-crawl functionality and mind-body balance.


May 24 Red Mountain Food-and-Wine Extravaganza

May 19, 2014

Cicchetti kitchen and bar octopus photo

Want to support Washington State University’s Viticulture and Enology Program while tasting wines from 24 Washington wineries, all expertly paired with gourmet food?

Then plan to attend Revelry on Red Mountain this Saturday, beginning at 6 p.m. Enjoy an unforgettable tasting event while enjoying gourmet food crafted by Chef Jake Crenshaw of Olive Catering and panoramic vineyard views of Red Mountain, the Horse Heaven Hills, and the Yakima Valley.

Twenty-four leading wineries will be pouring their current releases on the terrace of Col Solare Winery; the event also includes a silent auction.

Tickets are $95 and can be purchased online.

Hungry for more?!?!

The very next morning (May 25th), the extremely popular Red Mountain Walking Vineyard Tour & Lunch takes place. Join Scott Williams, Jim Holmes, Jackie Hightower, and Pete Hedges as they lead you through the new and old vineyards of Red Mountain. Sample fabulous wines along the way, while enjoying the spectacular scenery of Red Mountain. The tour will end with wines and hors d ‘oeuvres at Hedges Family Estate.

Tickets for both events–Revelry on Red Mountain and the Vineyard Tour & Lunch–are $195, and can be purchased here.


World’s Best 50 Restaurants Named

May 12, 2014

The willows inn on lummi island soup northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Late last month, Restaurant Magazine released its list of the world’s 50 best restaurants during a ceremony in London.

Copenhagen’s Noma, a four-time winner, reclaimed the title from El Celler de Can Roca, located in Girona, Spain, which came in at number two, after having knocked out Noma last year.

It is fun to look at the world’s 50 best and see how many you have eaten at (or, in many cases, even heard of)!

Seven U.S. restaurants made the cut this year, including Eleven Madison Park, Le Bernardin, Per Se, and Daniel (all in New York City); Alinea in Chicago; Coi in San Francisco; and the French Laundry in Yountville, Calif.

Here’s the complete list. I like to print it out every year and save it on my computer in case we travel to any of the world’s best 5o spots.

The willows inn smoked salmon appetizer northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

The world’s top-50 restaurants are as follows:

1. Noma, Copenhagen, Denmark
2. El Celler de Can Roca, Girona, Spain
3. Osteria Francescana, Modena, Italy
4. Eleven Madison Park, New York
5. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London
6. Mugaritz, San Sebastian, Spain
7. D.O.M., Sao Paulo, Brazil
8. Arzak, San Sebastian, Spain
9. Alinea, Chicago
10. The Ledbury, London
11. Mirazur, Menton, France
12. Vendôme, Bergisch Gladbach, Germany
13. Nahm, Bangkok, Thailand
14. Narisawa, Tokyo, Japan
15. Central, Lima, Peru
16. Steirereck, Vienna, Austria
17. Gaggan, Bangkok, Thailand
18. Astrid Y Gastón, Lima, Peru
19. Fäviken, Järpen, Sweden
20. Pujol, Mexico City, Mexico
21. Le Bernardin, New York
22. Vila Joya, Albufeira, Portugal
23. Restaurant Frantzén, Stockholm, Sweden
24. Amber, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
25. Arpège, Paris, France
26. Azurmendi, Larrabetzu, Spain
27. Le Chateaubriand, Paris, France
28. Aqua, Wolfsburg, Germany
29. De Librije, Zwolle, Netherlands
30. Per Se, New York
31. L’Atelier de J?el Robuchon Saint-Germain, Paris, France
32. Attica, Melbourne, Australia
33. Nihonryori RyuGin, Tokyo, Japan
34. Asador Etxebarri, Atxondo, Spain
35. Martín Berasategui, Lasarte-Oria, Spain
36. Mani, Sao Paulo, Brazil
37. Restaurant André, Singapore
38. L’Astrance, Paris, France
39. Piazza Duomo, Alba, Italy
40. Daniel, New York
41. Quique Dacosta, Denia, Spain
42. Geranium, Copenhagen, Denmark
43. Schloss Schauenstein, Fürstenau, Switzerland
44. The French Laundry, Yountville
45. Hof Van Cleve, Kruishoutem, Belgium
46. Le Calandre, Rubano, Italy
47. The Fat Duck, Bray, UK
48. The Test Kitchen, Cape Town, South Africa
49. Coi, San Francisco
50. Waku Ghin, Singapore

Photos by Braiden Rex-Johnson, taken at The Willows Inn on Lummi Island (Washington State), during dinner at the restaurant there, manned by former Noma employee and James Beard award-winning chef this year, Blaine Wetzel. You can read my Seattle Times review of our experience here. 

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!

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. 


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