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.

Are You a Liberal or Conservative Drinker?

February 24, 2014

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

Could your political party predict your propensity for partying? An intriguing new study published by the Journal of Wine Economics finds that alcohol consumption in American states rises as the population’s political persuasion becomes more liberal.

The Journal of Wine Economics, which is published by the Cambridge University Press, is the official publication of the American Association of Wine Economists (AAWE) – a nonprofit, educational organization dedicated to encouraging and communicating economic research and analyses and exchanging ideas in wine economics.

Findings from the study into the relationship between drink and politics across 50 states in the U.S. over the past 50 years suggest a direct correlation between political beliefs and the demand for alcohol.

Economists from Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University reveal that, as states become more liberal politically over time, their consumption of beer and spirits rises – while their consumption of wine tends to fall.

For example, the research reveals that more politically liberal states like Nevada tend to consume up to three times more alcohol per head than more politically conservative states like Arkansas and Utah.

The study by Pavel Yakovlev and Walter P. Guessford reviewed more than five decades of data between 1952 and 2010 and measured alcohol intake against “citizen ideology,” which was inferred from the voting patterns of congressional representatives.

“In this study, we show that liberal ideology has a statistically significant positive association with the consumption of alcohol in the United States even after controlling for economic, demographic, and geographic differences across states,” the authors say.

“Holding everything else constant, our findings suggest that when a state becomes more liberal politically, its population consumes more beer and spirits per capita, but possibly less wine per capita.”

The authors’ findings are relatively consistent with recent sociological studies in other parts of the world showing that people with more socialist views tend to engage in more unhealthy behavior, such as excessive drinking.

For example, they cite one 2002 study, which found that Russian pro-socialists were significantly more likely than anti-socialists to drink alcohol frequently. Another 2006 survey in Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine found that adults with anti-communist views had healthier lifestyles than their pro-communist peers.

Explanations offered by the authors of this latest study include the suggestion that people of a more liberal persuasion tend to be more open to new experiences, including the consumption of alcohol or drugs – or that they might feel more confident in government healthcare and social welfare to pick up the pieces of their socially irresponsible behavior.

The authors suggest that further research is needed to explore the relationship between political beliefs and other unhealthy behaviors in future.



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!

Here’s the “Scoop!” from Northwest Wining and Dining

July 15, 2013

Cupcake Royale ice cream scoop

There’s still time to take advantage of a great summertime deal: Two Dollar Tuesdays offered up by our friends at Cupcake Royale.

July is National Ice Cream Month (who knew?!?!) and so Cupcake Royale is celebrating in grand style, and passing along a screaming-hot (or cool!) deal to their customers; $2 ice-cream scoops on Tuesdays.

So stop by tomorrow, or any Tuesday this month (the offer is good any time of the day) and get a scoop of premium, hand-churned ice cream for just $2 a scoop.

Churning 14 flavors in their downtown ice creamery, you can try one of the newest flavors including Orange Hibiscus sorbet, Honey + Snickerdoodle, Theo Malted Milk Chocolate, or Peppermint + Fudge Ribbon.

More traditional ice-cream lovers can opt for one of Cupcake Royale’s classic flavors–Burnt Caramel with Smoked Sea Salt or Stumptown Coffee with Fudge Ribbon.

And don’t forget about cupcakes! July kicks off the Washington blueberry season, and the Blueberry Brown Betty cupcake is Cupcake Royale’s featured Cupcake of the Month.

This adaptation of the American classic features vanilla and blueberry cake with a brown sugar-cream cheese top, finished with  buttermilk cake crumbs and a single dried blueberry. .

Which just goes to show (borrowing from the famous words of Marie Antoinette), Cupcake Royale is the kind of place where you can have your cake (and ice cream) and eat it, too!



My Favorite Dishes 2011

November 8, 2012

Here is a look back at some of our favorite dishes from last year. We are posting a series of Dishes of the Day the next couple of weeks as we take some time away from the office and computer to refresh and relax (our very belated “summer vacation”). 

It has been another great year of wining and dining both around the Pacific Northwest, but in other parts of the United States and Canada.

So I thought it’d be fun to throw up photos of some of my favorite dishes from 2011. Herein are the “winners” on that list in no particular order.

The Seafood Skewer served tableside on Holland America’s m.s. Eurodam.

ART Shrimp Cocktail in downtown Seattle’s Four Seasons Hotel

Shuckers Crab Louie in the Fairmont Hotel in Seattle

Antipasti Plate at The Pink Door in the Pike Place Market

Roasted Beet Salad with Grilled Salmon at Purple Cafe & Wine Bar in Woodinville, Washington

Vietnamese Crepe at Bambuza Vietnamese Cuisine in downtown Seattle (now under new ownership with a new name–920 Pike)

Roasted Chicken Caesar Salad with Cheddar Dressing at Dominion Square Taverne in downtown Montreal, Canada

Crab Tails at Elliott’s’ Oyster Bar and Restaurant in downtown Seattle

Beet and Goat Cheese Salad at Place Pigalle in the Pike Place Market

The Abalone Appetizer at The Oyster Bar along the Chuckanut Drive north of Seattle

The Everything Green Salad with Dungeness Crab at The Pink Door in the Pike Place Market

Grilled Oysters with Cheese at The Inn at Semiahmoo in Blaine, Washington

Octopus and Beans at Lecosho on the Harbor Steps in downtown Seattle

Smoked Salmon Appetizer and Side Salad at Luc in Seattle’s Madison Valley neighborhood

Shrimp and Grits at Joule in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood

Tuna Bowl at Revel in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood

And, just for a bit of final fun:

The Fried Mars Bar with Vanilla-Bean Ice Cream at Garde Manger in the Old City section of Montreal, Canada

Happy Halloween Pumpkin Maze

October 12, 2012

Are you hankering for a do-friendly farm and gathering place to scare up some Halloween fun? Then head on over to Arlington, Washington, and meet up with Gary Biringer, wife Julie, and their beloved farm dog Vinny.

The Biringers are the proud owners of Biringer’s Black Crow Pumpkins & Corn Maze Farm. They invite you to bring family, friends, and doggie(s). Romp through the pumpkin patch and search out the new Corn Maze.

The Maze is open now until end of October. Hours are Monday through Thursday noon until 6 p.m., Friday noon until 9 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m until 9 p.m.; and Sunday 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.

There’s free admission to pumpkin patch. Pumpkins are priced by size ($2-12).

To enter the Corn Maze costs before 6 p.m. $8/person includes FREE or discounted pumpkin ($2 value).

Corn Maze after 6 p.m., $9/person, or $8.50/person for groups of 25 or more.

Kids under 46” tall FREE day and night.

Kiddies will enjoy a hay-bale maze, kiddie slide, skeleton graveyard, and picnic in the old covered wagon. FREE Wagon rides to U-Pick pumpkins, decorative gourds, corn stalks, fresh apple cider, and apples. Tours available by appointment.


Feeling Artsy? Love to Taste Wine? Corks and Canvas to the Rescue

September 7, 2012

A Corks and Canvas class held this summer on the patio at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood

With September comes the start of school for children, but what about classes for adults?

If the thought of trying your hand at something new inspires you this fall, consider attending a Corks and Canvas event, which combines a lesson in painting with Washington wine tasting!

Corks and Canvas Events, a local company that combines wine tasting with painting, was co-founded by Washington wine enthusiasts Lisa Cryder and Stefanie Hare.

In a local winery or hotel and nonjudgmental atmosphere, you spend the evening sipping Washington wine and painting a beautiful acrylic masterpiece.

Cost: Corks and Canvas events cost $45 per person, which includes art instruction, supplies, and the first glass of wine for inspiration. Everyone goes home with their very own masterpiece.

When: Check out the Corks and Canvas calendar page for specific dates and times.

An actual Corks and Canvas painting done by Spencer Johnson

Monthly Event Locations:

Apex at Alder Ridge Tasting Room, Woodinville, WA

J. Bookwalter Tasting Studio, Woodinville, WA

Matthews Estate Winery, Woodinville, WA

VoVina Wine and Vodka Tasting Martini Bar, Kirkland, WA

Urban Enoteca, Seattle, WA

Pan Pacific Hotel Lobby Bar, Seattle, WA

Vino at the Landing, Renton WA

Wine Styles, Bothell, WA

Happy 100th Birthday to Julia Child!

August 15, 2012

Many years ago, when I had been writing about food for just about five years, I attended The Symposium for Professional Food Writers at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

The Symposium was like the holy grail for food writers, as much because of the quality of speakers and attendees as for the difficulty of getting from just about any place in the country to the small, bucolic town where the world-class resort is located.

I remember the journey involved a red-eye flight from Seattle to Pittsburgh on U.S. Airways, an early-morning connector flight to Charlotte, then a puddle-jumper that finally brought a bunch of white-knuckle flyers, including me, to our hallowed destination.

I attended The Symposium several times, finding that I always learned a lot of new tricks of the trade. Plus, it really helped me feel less isolated as a solitary cookbook author and food and wine writer.

But no year matched the very first time, when Julia Child was in attendance. The first day our group convened for class, under the able guidance of writing coach, mentor, and (now) long-time friend Don Fry, I was (understandably) more than a little bit nervous.

Cookbook-author greats were seated around me; food writers whose bylines I recognized from years of reading were reading over their syllabuses; Julia Child seated right down the row from me.

Don used passages from actual writing samples the participants had submitted prior to convening. One of the first ones he read was mine, an excerpt from an article I wrote about a professional tea tasting for Northwest Palate.

As he read passage after passage from my story, I began to get even more nervous.

How would my writing be received by this august group?

I needn’t have feared. Perhaps because they put themselves in my (now) quaking shoes, they praised the passages, with only one rather disparaging comment from a smart-aleck Los Angeles food columnist who said my article (because I made use of fiction-writing techniques) wouldn’t have been suited to his newspaper audience.

I was most shocked and humbled when Julia herself raised her hand and said how much she liked my writing. It was one of the pinnacles of my career, and did so much to instill in me a feeling of confidence moving forward.

Above, you can see the menu from one of the lavish dinners we  enjoyed at The Symposia. It featured five courses from famous “foodies,” including Lynne Rossetto Kasper, Anne Willan, Dorie Greenspan, Shirley Corriher, Andy Schloss, and Julia.

Her unique autograph, which begins with an outsized, loopy “J,” stands beside the course designed in her honor: Ragout of Duck with Twenty Cloves of Garlic paired with a Rombauer 1996 Zinfandel and Chimney Rock 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Ooh-la-la. She really knew how to live large! Cheers to August 15, 2012, which would have been her 100th birthday.

Dish of the Day: Shuckers Whole Roasted Dungeness Crab

August 7, 2012

Every now and then I get a hankering for Dungeness crab. And one of my favorite places to indulge my craving is at Shuckers in The Fairmont Olympic Hotel in downtown Seattle.

I love the restaurant’s ambience, the kind of bustling, clubby sort of place place you’d want to claim as your own personal watering hole. Rather surprising to learn that the space–all beautifully carved oak paneling and pressed-tin ceiling–served as a haberdashery in the 1930s.

Shuckers is a good choice for just about any type of seafood–oysters on the half shell, the superlative Lusciously Loaded Louis Salad with shrimp or crab, daily-changing catches of the day that are simply, but perfectly, grilled. (Ruby trout and steelhead are two of our particular favorites).

But the Whole Roasted Dungeness Crab with Rosemary Potatoes and Grilled Asparagus truly stands apart from any other seafood dish in town.

The thing that sets this crab apart is the use of fresh sprigs of rosemary in the roasting process. It’s a truly brilliant use of this aromatic, pine-y herb that works a particular magic, making the crab more hearty and savory tasting than it usually is.

A bit of butter gives the dish richness, but not enough to overwhelm the crab. The dish usually comes beautifully roasted potatoes; since I’ve been trying to follow a low-carb diet lately, I asked for extra asparagus and was entirely sated (and even took half my and asparagus crab home for next-day nibbling).

Whole Roasted Dungeness Crab is a Fairmont Lifestyle Cuisine option–“dishes created using fresh and nutritionally balanced ingredients that are natural and organic so that they contribute to optimal health and wellness”–so you can feel good about eating it while you pick and pile the sweet crab nubbins.

For all of these reasons, Shuckers Whole Roasted Dungeness Crab more than merits our Dish of the Day.

The Latest Formal Flower Arrangements

June 12, 2012

It’s been quite some time since I last posted some of my flower arrangements, so expertly and beautifully photographed by Spencer.

It always surprised me that some of the first posts of this sort, which began in September 2009,  continued in November 2009, and concluded in September 2010, solicited lots of interest and feedback.

But you can see for yourself what three fresh Asian lilies from a flower vendor in the Pike Place Market, plus a bit of bear grass, are capable of producing.

Here is a gorgeous yellow orchid from Molbak’s Garden + Home shop, located in Woodinville, Washington, that really looked at home in this simple purple pot I had on hand at home.

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