Smoky Clam Chowder

January 31, 2013

Smoky Clam Chowder

Wine Varietal: Pinot Blanc or Pinot Gris

Serves 4

The addition of salmon jerky gives this rendition of clam chowder a hearty flavor and a real Northwest flair. Salmon jerky is available at the four fish stands in the Pike Place Market, although I am especially fond of the version made by Pure Food Fish.

2 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 cups 1/2-inch cubes boiling potatoes

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped white or yellow onion

1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice

2 cups milk

Pinch dried thyme, crumbled

Pinch crushed red pepper flakes

2 (6.5-ounce) cans chopped clams, with juice

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 to 3 tablespoons diced salmon jerky

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the potatoes, celery, and onion. Cook until vegetables are tender-crisp, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.

2. Add the clam juice, milk, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.

3. Add the clams, whipping cream, and smoked salmon, and stir well. Cook several minutes more, or until the mixture is warmed through. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

4. To serve, ladle the clam chowder into soup bowls and serve right away.

Cook’s Hint: For informal croutons, lightly butter Saltine crackers, place them in the bottom of the soup bowls, and pour over the chowder.

Recipe reprinted from “Pike Place Public Market Seafood Cookbook,” by Braiden Rex-Johnson.


Dish of the Day: Place Pigalle’s Outstanding Oyster Stew

December 7, 2012

This Dish of the Day was originally published in 2010, but it still holds true today. Thank you, Place Pigalle!

Every now and then, usually in the winter months, when the weather is typically Northwest (gray, gray, and more gray), I get a hankerin’ for Place Pigalle’s Oyster Stew.

This outstanding version of the genre has been on the menu at the venerable Pike Place Market hideaway for god knows how long–I’d bet ever since former bartender Bill Frank took over the famous biker bar in 1982. Whenever it was, I hope new owners (at least by Pike Place Market standards) Seth and Lluvia Walker  NEVER take it off!

Place Pigalle\'s Oyster Stew

Somehow, its creamy smoothness is totally imbued with über amounts of oyster nectar. A coupla perfectly poached oysters lurk within. I always add pieces of broken-up bread (soft inside part only, no crust) to sop up the sensual soup and make it last longer.

One cup, along with the Roasted Beet Salad, is all I can rationalize, although I’d drink vat loads if the calorie count and sat-fat levels were lower. Which more than qualifies Place Pigalle’s Oyster Stew as my Dish of the Day.

Dish of the Day: Place Pigalle Salmon Gravlax

November 16, 2012

Salmon Gravlax from Place Pigalle in the Pike Place Market

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been reprinting some of our favorite Dishes of the Day from the last year or so while we enjoy some time out of the office.

I adore the Salmon Gravlax from Place Pigalle. 

I know I should probably remain impartial and not go on the record as saying that salmon is my favorite fish. And, to go even one step farther–that salmon is one of my favorite foods.

I take my salmon in any form, be it grilled, smoked, en rillette, or gravlax-style. Sometimes I’ll even have a Salmon Niçoise Salad for lunch, then salmon as my entrée at dinner!

I had the salmon gravlax for lunch at Place Pigalle in the Pike Place Market a couple of weeks ago, and loved it. I was dining with two of my favorite people in the world–Lorelle Del Matto and Martha Marino–whom I refer to as my two sisters or “sises.”

Both my sises are registered dietitians. Closet nutritionist that I am (I’ve known calorie counts of many food since my teenage years), I love to hear them talk about their profession.

Lorelle is also a recipe developer extraordinaire (who’s helped test recipes for several of my books over the years), owner of Food Savvy with Lorelle Del Matto, and blogger. Martha is Director of Nutrition Affairs at the Washington State Dairy Council.

I am so proud of my two sises and documented our long-standing friendship for The Seattle Times in an article entitled, Holiday Food Traditions in the Heart of Seattle, last December. Our lunches (scheduled every two months or so) serve as a cheap form of therapy for the three of us.

Anyway, back to the salmon gravlax above which had been lightly cured and thick-cut. I asked for it to be served on a bed of greens so it could work like a main-dish salad; accompaniments included large caper berries, baby gherkins, and whipped cream cheese.

All of which more than qualifies Place Pigalle’s Salmon Gravlax for our our Dish of the Day award.

Editor’s Note: Turns out our very pleasant and knowledgeable server was herself a well-known blogger–Kelly Doscher–or The Food-Minded Mama. Kelly won blog-of-the-month award from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution last October. Gotta love the Seattle food world!

Photograph by Braiden Rex-Johnson

Outstanding Chef Demos at Pike Place Market

July 27, 2012

The Pike Place Market’s Sunday chef’s demo line-up is one of the strongest I’ve seen in recent years, with such Seattle icons as Ethan Stowell (Staple & Fancy Mercantile), Melissa Nyfeller (Dinette), and Nathan Lockwood (Altura) all cookin’ along the cobblestones Sunday at noon or 2 p.m. during the months of August and September.

On Sundays, Pike Place is closed to car traffic from Stewart to Virginia to create a lively pedestrian plaza of shoppers, farmers, and chefs. It’s a fun time for both locals and tourists to get a real “taste” of the granddaddy of all farmers’ markets.

Open up your calendar and mark the following dates for an unforgettable way to meet the chefs and pick up helpful shopping, cooking, and plating techniques.

Here’s the complete chef-demo line-up through the end of September: 


Aug. 5 Anthony Polizzi – Steelhead Diner Noon

Aug. 5 Nathan Lockwood – Altura 2 p.m.

Aug. 12 TBA* Noon

Aug. 12 David Sanford – Belle Clementine 2 p.m.

Aug. 19 Brent Harding – Le Pichet Noon

Aug. 19 Melissa Nyffeler – Dinette 2 p.m.

Aug. 26 Ethan Stowell – Staple & Fancy Mercantile Noon

Aug. 26 Jacob Wiegner – Blackboard Bistro 2 p.m.


Sept. 9 Pranee Kruasanit Halvorsen – I Love Thai Cooking Noon

Sept. 9 Seth Caswell – emmer & rye 2 p.m.

Sept. 23 Simon Zatyrka – Cutter’s Crabhouse Noon

Sept. 23 Jeff Maxfield & Ivan Szilak, Collections Café 2 p.m.

Sept. 30 Phyllis Rosen – Catering by Phyllis Noon

Sept. 30 TBA*


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!


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. 


Save the Date: Pike Place Market Flower Festival May 12-13

May 1, 2012

You know Spring has sprung when it’s time for the Pike Place Market Flower Festival AND Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 13).

This year marks the fourth annual flower fest, which begins on Saturday, May 12, as the Market’s 40 flower farmers pull out all the stops, selling outside on Pike Place as well as inside the arcades.

Very simply, with the extra elbow room to bloom, the Market becomes Seattle’s largest flower marketplace.

Get bouquets of beautiful flowers in time for every special mom in your life. After all, May 13 is Mother’s Day!

Plus, watching the farmers engage in the art form that is bouquet making is fun in itself.

In addition to buying flowers, the public is invited to create free Mother’s Day cards in the Card Making Booth.

Make it a special day and shop from Market craftspeople for flower-themed handcrafted gift items, too.

Cap the day with a delicious meal from any of the Market’s restaurants. There are dozens of dining options, such as some of our favorites including Steelhead Diner, Cafe Campagne, and Place Pigalle.

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.

Time to Dine Around Seattle!

March 6, 2012

The amazing mussels appetizer from Steelhead Diner, one of the participants in Dine Around Seattle® 

March may bring the dreaded Ides, but also ushers in the ever-popular Dine Around Seattle®, Seattle’s original dining deal.

Now in its 11th year, Dine Around Seattle® will satisfy the fine food cravings of diners throughout the region with three-course, prix-fixe dinners for $30 and lunches for $15 at some of Seattle’s most delicious establishments.

New participants include Betty, Volterra, Local 360, Bako, The Scotch and Vine, Carmelita Vegetarian Restaurant & Bar, Assaggio, and BOKA Kitchen + Bar. (Prices do not include beverage, tax, or gratuity.)

Each restaurant will offer its Dine Around Seattle® menu Sunday through Thursday, from now until through March 29. Diners interested in making reservations can do so via the OpenTable reservations widget on the website and at the Dine Around Facebook page.

Dine Around’s blog features a lively play-by-play from participating restaurants. Diners are encouraged to check in during their dining experiences via Facebook, Twitter (@dinearoundsea), FourSquare, and Instagram.

The complete list of participating restaurants includes:

35th Street Bistro, Andaluca, ART Restaurant & Lounge, Assaggio Ristorante, Bako, Barking Frog, Barolo Ristorante, Barrio Mexican Kitchen and Bar, Betty Restaurant, Bin on the Lake, Blueacre Seafood, BOKA Kitchen + Bar, Carmelita Vegetarian Restaurant & Bar, Chandlers Crabhouse, Chez Shea, Chiso Sushi, Eva Restaurant, Fresh Bistro, Hunt Club, Le Grand Bistro Americain, Lecosho, Local 360, Lot No. 3, Mamma Melina Ristorante & Pizzeria, Monsoon East, Monsoon Seattle, Nishino, Palomino- Bellevue, Palomino-Seattle, Palisade Waterfront Restaurant, Peso’s Kitchen and Lounge, Ponti Seafood Grill, Preservation Kitchen, Purple Café and Wine Bar – Bellevue, Purple Café and Wine Bar – Kirkland, Purple Café and Wine Bar – Woodinville, Ray’s Boathouse, Shuckers, Spazzo Italian Grill & Wine Bar, Steelhead Diner, SZMANIA’S Steakhouse, Tango Restaurant, The Scotch and Vine, Toulouse Petit Kitchen & Lounge, Urbane, and Volterra.

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