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.

Recipe of the Month: Alaskan Salmon with Warm Blackberry-and-Shallot Compote

May 31, 2014

Berries photo northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Alaskan Salmon with Warm Blackberry-and-Shallot Compote

Wine Varietal: Merlot

Serves 4

Years ago, when I attended a class entitled “Cooking with Great Seafood Chefs” and watched a former executive chef from a well-known Seattle seafood restaurant prepare this dish, I was instantly impressed with his use of seasonal ingredients in a simple, yet tasty way. This would be the perfect dish to make right now—at the height of summer—when blackberries are prime and Alaskan king or sockeye salmon are running strong. And after the recipe was published in my seafood cookbook, it was chosen a Recipe-of-the-Year by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer!

3 to 4 shallots, peeled

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 cups fresh blackberries, gently rinsed, drained, and patted dry

1/4 cup raspberry vinegar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon minced fresh chervil

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Pinch of kosher salt

Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 pounds salmon fillets, skin and bones removed, rinsed, drained, patted dry, and cut into 4 (6-ounce) pieces

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. In a mixing bowl, toss the shallots, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and the sugar. Spread in a baking pan and cook 10 to 15 minutes, or until the shallots are lightly browned and soft. Remove from the oven and spoon the shallots and syrup into a nonreactive mixing bowl with a lid. Add the blackberries and raspberry vinegar and toss gently to mix the ingredients, being careful not to break up the berries. Cover the bowl and set aside.

3. Heat a nonstick skillet large enough to hold the salmon fillets without crowding over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. While the oil is heating, mix together the flour, chervil, parsley, salt, and pepper on a plate or a piece of waxed paper. Pat both sides of the salmon fillets in the flour mixture, then shake off the excess.

4. When the oil is hot, add the salmon fillets and cook 3 to 5 minutes. Turn and cook 3 to 5 minutes more, or until the fish just turns opaque.

5. To serve, transfer the salmon fillets to individual plates and spoon the compote over the top of the fish.

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

Photo by Spencer Johnson 

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.

Take Me Out to the Ball Park

April 7, 2014

Although I’m not much of a baseball fan (Confession: I have never even been to Safeco Field to watch the Mariners), I am interested in what they’ll be serving up during the 2014 season.

Cracker jack bag northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

A recent press release quelled my curiosity, and proved that Mariners fans can opt for more than just peanuts, popcorn, and Cracker Jack.

For once again Seattle’s very own Ethan Stowell (Tavolàta, How to Cook a Wolf, Anchovies & Olives, Staple & Fancy Mercantile, Ballard Pizza Company, Rione Xlll, Bar Cotto, Mkt., and Red Cow) is working with the Seattle Mariners, and Centerplate (a global leader in live-event hospitality), a successful collaboration that has won Safeco Field a reputation for serving locally inspired ,restaurant-quality food in a ballpark setting.

Wondering what’s on the menu?

Swingin’ Wings

Located in the popular area known as The ‘Pen, Swingin’ Wings offers three takes on America’s favorite finger food, smothered in sauces that get their kick from Bonache Sauce of Ballard.

—  Classic Wings–Tossed with housemade “classic” wing sauce spiced with Bonache’s Socorro hot sauce.

—  Honey Serrano Wings–Tossed with housemade honey-serrano sauce spiced with Bonache’s Hatch hot sauce.

—  Barbecue Wings–Tossed with housemade whiskey-cola barbecue sauce.

Don’t forget about our local seafood:

A wealth of fresh, local seafood is readily available at the Sound Seafood stand, located in the Third Base Terrace Club.

—  Fish & Chips–Single plank of fresh Pacific cod, hand-dredged in Manny’s Pale Ale batter, served with thick-cut sidewinder chips and housemade remoulade sauce.

—  Oysters & Chips–Taylor Shellfish freshly shucked oysters, hand-dredged in cornmeal flour, served with thick-cut sidewinder chips and housemade remoulade sauce.

—  Salmon Sandwich–Fresh local salmon served on a brioche bun with pickled red onion, arugula, and housemade remoulade.

—  Crab Roll–Local Dungeness crab served on a soft roll with shredded lettuce, tomato, and housemade remoulade.

—  Oyster Po’ Boy–Taylor Shellfish freshly shucked oysters, hand-dredged in cornmeal flour, served on a soft roll with shredded lettuce, tomato, and housemade remoulade.

—  Applewood Smoked-Salmon Chowder–House-smoked local, wild-caught salmon in a creamy chowder.

—  Clam Chowder–Housemade classic, creamy, New England-style chowder.

Pick up some scandalous snacks:

—  Dirty Tots–Crispy Northwest tater tots topped with Beecher’s Flagship Cheddar, Carlton Farms pork belly, and Bay Valley pickled peppers.

—  Fried Cheese Curds–Deep-fried Beecher’s Flagship Cheddar cheese curds (in a light cornmeal breading) drizzled with Ballard Bee Co. honey and topped with Bay Valley pickled peppers.

—  Deep-Fried Pickles–Crispy dill pickle spears dredged in a light batter.
Sound Seafood

Don’t forget the alcoholic offerings:

Cask Ale

Wash down  the new menu offerings with cask-conditioned ale from local brewers. For those who (like me) were unsure about exactly what “cask ale” is, the press release said it is “unfiltered, unpasteurized beer that completes its secondary fermentation in the container from which it’s served. Known by some as ‘real ale,’ cask ale is gaining devotees among those in-the-know in the beer community.”

Cask-conditioned ales from brewers from around the Pacific Northwest will be served in two locations on the Main Concourse: at the Power Alley bar in the Mariners Hall of Fame and museum, which features Northwest craft beers on tap; and at a station located near Section 129, just behind home plate.

Cask ale joins an already outstanding lineup of more than 50 beers available at Safeco Field, including craft beers from area breweries such as Georgetown Brewing Company and FremontBrewing of Seattle, Diamond Knot Craft Brewing of Mukilteo, Skagit River Brewery of Mt. Vernon, No-Li Brewhouse of Spokane, and GoodLife Brewing Company of Bend, Oregon, among others.

Local Spirits

Seattle’s burgeoning craft distillery community is represented at Safeco Field with a line of hand-crafted cocktails created by Rob Roy’s Anu Apte. The cocktails, which are available at the Sound Bar, located near Sound Seafood, feature local, small-batch premium spirits from Woodinville Whiskey Company, Oola Distillery, Rogue Spirits, and Fremont Mischief Distillery.

And even:

Hot Cakes Desserts

The gooey, molten chocolate cakes, cookies, s’mores, and other desserts from Hot Cakes in Ballard, which has won rave reviews and a devoted following, are coming to the Safeco Field private-suites menu. Chocolatier/Founder Autumn Martin has created an array of cakes, tarts, cookies, and other treats for guests in the ballpark’s premium suites.

Trending across the nation:

In his Sideline Chatter column in the Sunday, March 30, edition of The Seattle Times, Dwight Perry calls out these dishes from various baseball parks around the country:

12-Scoop Sundae ($17, White Sox)–four scoops each of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice cream plus two bananas, all topped with caramel, strawberry sauce, chocolate syrup, whipped cream, and cherries, served in a full-sized batting helmet.

Bacon on a Stick ($7, Rangers)–A 3/4-inch piece of Hungarian-smoked bacon dipped in maple syrup.

D-Bat Dog ($25, Diamondbacks)–An 18-inch corndog stuffed with cheddar cheese, jalapeños, bacon, served with a side of fries.

To read more about baseball food in Seattle, check out Rebekah Denn’s recent blog post from The Seattle Times.

More Top Trends for 2014

March 10, 2014

Northwest seafood photo

I love to see what famous public-relations firms, national restaurant magazines, and culinary websites predict as the trends for the new year.

And with that in mind, here are half a dozen trends that I saw mentioned time and again from various reputable sources including Andrew Freeman, chief executive of San Francisco-based hospitality consulting firm Andrew Freeman & Co. (my favorite source); MSLGROUP’s specialized North America food PR and marketing team;; and the January 2014 issue of the Washington Restaurant Association magazine.

1. Desserts Go Savory! But we all know savory desserts were already a trend in Seattle years ago.

2. Locally Sourced Meats, Seafood, and Produce; Sustainable Seafood; Nose-to-Tail and Root-to-Stalk Cooking: Plankton Conchiglie Pasta is on the menu at Craigie on Main in Massachusetts; author Tara Duggan wrote an entire cookbook on using the whole vegetable.

3. Home Cooking and Childhood Favorites Making a Comeback: Creative takes on comfort foods encompass the entire menu at Haute Dish in Minneapolis; Ice-cream sandwiches are on trend in flavors such as milk chocolate and malt at Hardwater in San Francisco.

4. Chef and Home Cooks Experimenting with Unusual Nut Butters and Nut Oils: For the first time ever, the Good Food Awards offered up prizes for small-batch oils, such as squash seed and avocado: JIF now offers several versions of “Hazelnut Spread,” no doubt inspired by the popularity of Nutella.

5. Crazy for Coconut (Milk, Butter, Water, Etc.): I knew the coconut-water craze had become mainstream when my 91-year-old father’s caregivers started offering this to him to drink–and he even liked it! NPR weighs in on whether the coconut-water craze is all it’s “cracked up” to be.

6. Pleasing Pickles and Fantastic Fermenting: Perbacco Chef Staffan Terje is experimenting with as garum, a fermented fish sauce, in braised-meat dishes; Wente Vineyards’ Chef Matt Greco uses wine lees in the restaurant’s house-made bread.

Later on this month, we’ll discuss trending cocktails, wine, beer, tea, and other popular beverages.  So please stay tuned! 

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.


Food and Beverage Trends for 2014

January 13, 2014

The Spontaneatini is a hot new cocktail at BOKA in downtown Seattle northwest wining and dining website link

Would you pay $55 for a cocktail that boasted five different flavors of infused ice cubes?

According to JWT, the world’s best-known marketing communications brand, infused ice cubes will become one of 2014’s top trends.

The company has just released its ninth annual forecast of key category trends that will drive or significantly impact consumer mindset and behavior in 2014.

Some topics of interest include:

Beer in Church: With church membership declining across the U.S., some churches are using beer as a focal point for gatherings, making the leap from communion wine to kegs. Some brew their own, while others hold services in pubs to attract curious bargoers. In addition to attracting newcomers, bringing beer to the church or the church to the bar can also build stronger relationships between congregants, improving retention. Examples include Beer & Hymns in Portland, Ore., The Pub Church in Boston, and Church-in-a-Pub in Fort Worth, Texas.

Cocktails on Tap: We’ve seen wine moving into taps, and now cocktails are being mixed and stored in kegs. It saves bartenders time and can lower the price tag for imbibers, who get the added bonus of being able to ask for sample tastes. With many cocktails, premixing doesn’t compromise quality—and may enhance it by enabling ingredients to mesh over time—though it only works well for some concoctions.

Orange Wine:  The result of using red-wine techniques with white-wine grapes, an ancient technique from the Caucasus region, orange wine offers the best of both worlds, according to its proponents. (The color isn’t exactly orange; it’s more in the range of light gold to amber.) While this wine will likely remain a niche product, we’ll be seeing it more often thanks to the efforts of vintners in Italy, France, California, and beyond.

Infused Ice Cubes: Taking cocktail culture to yet the next level, mixologists are starting to push the flavors of their concoctions with infused ice: cubes of different shapes and sizes that are made with juices, fruits, syrups, and herbs. They enhance the look of the beverage, and as they melt, rather than dilute the cocktail, the cubes add complementary flavors. They also up the cost. At Chicago’s Trump Hotel, for instance, the signature Opulence 5 includes five differently flavored ice cubes and can be had for $55; reportedly the taste changes completely by the last drop.


Tavolàta Sunday Feast: Wagyu Beef

January 1, 2014

Volunteer Park Cafe Beef Stew northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Want to start the New Year off with a unique dinner treat?

Then how about signing up for Tavolàta’s first Sunday Feast of 2014?

Chef Brian Clevenger has planned a robust meal of Wagyu beef for the first Sunday Feast of 2014 on January 5.

The meal begins with Beef Tartare and moves through three more preparations of the sumptuous beef.

Dinner is $90 per person and, as the Sunday Feasts often sell out, reservations are highly recommended.

So here’s the beef. . .it’s what’s for dinner!


Beef  Tartare with white anchovy, radish, and champagne vinegar

Veal Consommé with baby turnips, carrots, and celeriac

Mixed Greens with chioggia beets, hazelnuts, and ricotta salata


Strozzapreti with beef cheeks, red wine, and oregano


Roasted Kobe Coullote Steak with wild mushroom, Brussels sprouts, and croutons


Bay Leaf Panna Cotta with winter fruit compote and orange tuile

I’ve written about Sunday Suppers for The Seattle Times Pacific Northwest magazine in an article entitled, “Family-Style Supper’s on at Seattle Restaurants.”

At Tavolàta’s Sunday Supper in January, dinner will be served family style at the communal table (tavolàta) where seating is limited to just 26 guests.

Dinner begins at 6:00 p.m., and the cost is $90 per person.

Reservations are required. Please call 206.838.8008 to reserve your spot.

And if (like me) beef isn’t our thing, here are other options for Sunday Feasts in 2014.

2014 Sunday Feasts – SAVE THE DATE!!!

February 9 – Roasted Duck

March 9 –Strictly Seafood

April 6 – Cuisine of the Mediterranean

May 4 – Suckling Pig

June 1 – Wild Mushrooms & Garden Vegetables (Vegetarian)

James Beard Foundation’s Top-10 Best Dishes (Plus 5 Cocktails!) of 2013

December 23, 2013

Fat-Rice-Galdones-PhotographyFat-Rice northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Ever wonder what an organization as venerable as The James Beard Foundation considers the best dishes of 2013?

Canon restaurant seattle jamie boudreaux hooker cocktail northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Me, too. Here’s a link where you will find 10 best dishes, and five cocktails, including one from Seattle’s very own Jamie Boudreau, owner/founder of Canon: Whiskey and Bitters Emporium, for The Hooker.

There’s even a link to the recipe for this intriguing amalgam of Bourbon, Scotch, and beer, inspired by a song by John Lee Hooker, of course.

The cocktail is a very popular option at Canon. Way to go, Jamie!

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.


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