Culinary Tie-Ins to the Seahawks’ Superbowl Game

January 30, 2014

Although I know almost nothing about football, as a 23-year-long resident of Seattle, it has been impossible to resist catching the spirit of the Seattle Seahawks upcoming appearance in Super Bowl XLVIII.

If you are in a similar predicament, not knowing a lot about football or the Seahawks, The Seattle Times has thoughtfully prepared a cover story in today’s paper that will help fill in the blanks.

PS Cam seahawks colors superbowl tie-in 2 northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Downtown has enjoyed a lovely display of brilliant green and blue colors on the Seattle Great Wheel (as seen above on the Puget Sound Cam; The Westin Hotel sports Seahawk colors atop its two columnar buildings; the Space Needle shines proudly in shades of blue and green with a 12th-man flag waving atop; numerous local businesses proudly display Seahawks emblems.

The chance to support, and perhaps even cash in a bit on Seahawks mania, has not been lost on Seattle’s hospitality industry. A press release issued by listed the following Seahawks-themed offers and specials for dining, entertainment, and lodging. Here are some of the more interesting items, plus some other items that came into my inbox from various public-relations companies about town and even farther afield.


For the Thirsty and Hungry 12s

Start hydrating for the big game at the Art Restaurant and Lounge. Beginning January 10, Art Restaurant will show their Blue Pride with two unique cocktails. First up is the brightly blue colored “Super Bowl Sling,” which offers warship rum infused with blue skittles, Benedictine, orange bitters, and more. Next we have the “12th Man,” a bright-action green-colored cocktail that features celestial reposado infused with green skittles, Cointreau, house sour mix and a mini 12th man flag garnish to top it off. Both cocktails will be served through Super Bowl Sunday.

For 12s looking to grab some grub, Art Restaurant and Lounge will provide a special game day menu on Super Bowl Sunday. This Seahawks inspired spread sports the likes of “Seagal’s” crudité, “1984” warm pretzels, “Legion of Boom” wings, “Clink” cheese sauce nachos, “Touchback” Seattle dogs, “Feed the Beast” pizza, and “137.6 decibel” fried chicken and fries. The menu is offered from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.


Get Your Beast Brunch On

BOKA restaurant + bar at Hotel 1000 is doing a special “Beast Brunch” in its Studio 1000 space on Super Bowl Sunday from 12-2:30 p.m. The $25 buffet includes the Beast Brunch and game day bites, plus one Bloody Mary, Mimosa, or juice. Additional Bloody Marys are priced at $6 and additional Mimosas are $5. The Beast Brunch wouldn’t be complete without the room being outfitted with a 70’ flat screen TV. For those wanting to take advantage of BOKA’s usual “Seahawk Brunch” located in its regular restaurant space, prices are $25 per person. Reservations can be made at 206-357-9000.


A Super Bowl Super Stay

Hotel Monaco is offering the ultimate Super Bowl party with its “Super Bowl Super Stay” package. The package includes an overnight stay in Hotel Monaco’s Ambassador Suite, the entire top floor of the hotel rented out for your guests, multiple TVs in the suite to catch all the action, a custom tailgate menu tailored to your tastes from Chef Jason McClure of Sazerac Restaurant, and a staffed bar. Even more, if the Seahawks win the Super Bowl, the individual who booked this package wins a free night in the Ambassador Suite once a year for LIFE. The Super Bowl Super Stay package is priced at $25,000. To book, call VIP reservations at 206-516-5097.


Raise your Glass in the name of the Seahawks

For Super Bowl XLVIII, Oliver’s gives fellow 12s a chance to toast to the Seahawks. For their “Boom Town” special, Oliver’s will be offering select Washington wines priced at $7.50 a glass. For 12s wanting something different, Oliver’s will be offering a Glacier Blue cocktail with Bols Blue Curacao liqueur, gin, vodka and a garnish of lime. The Glacier Blue is priced at $8.

For hungry 12s, Oliver’s will also offer “Golden Tate r’ Tots” with garlic, white cheddar and bacon priced at $6. For something a bit meatier, 12s can take refuge with the “Roast Beast Mode” sandwich. This New York deli-style sandwich comes complete with salad, soup, or fries and is priced at $12 a sandwich. All specials will be served Feb. 1-2 from 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.


Stellar 12th Man Specials

For the big game February 2, Brave Horse Tavern will be offering game day nachos, blue and green jello shots, and happy hour all day. Doors open at 10 a.m. Go Hawks!


One Hauschka Sour, Please

A drink that personifies the Seahawks star kicker, Steven Hauschka, the “Hauschka Sour” is made of gin, lime, sage, apple liqueurs, and an egg white for a foamy texture.

This gem is crafted in the sophisticated bar called The Gerald, located in downtown Ballard, and will be served through Super Bowl Sunday.


Happy Hour for Happy 12s

Gordon Biersch at Pacific Place will be sounding off in the 12th man spirit by providing all-day happy hour specials during Super Bowl Sunday.


Quench your Thirst

For Super Bowl XLVIII, Henry’s Tavern will help quench the mighty 12th man thirst. Doors will open at 9 a.m., a second satellite bar will be available, and of course Beast Mode jello shots and touchdown shots will be offered.


A Seahawk Super Bowl

For Super Bowl XLVIII, Ivar’s is planning to meet all your chowder needs. Priced at $24, Ivar’s is offering a gallon of your favorite red or white clam chowder that serves over 20 six-ounce servings. Pick up your chowder package at any local Ivar’s Seafood Bar for the big game on February 2 and ensure your Super Bowl party truly represents the Pacific Northwest.


For the Finger Lickin’ 12s

For Super Bowl Sunday, Kickin’ Boot Whiskey Kitchen in Ballard will be running beer, whiskey and cocktail specials, along with their lip-smacking barbeque all day long on February 2.


Lab Specials for 12s

Lunchbox Laboratory will give 12s a chance to watch the big game. All three Lunchbox Laboratory locations will screen the Super Bowl on multiple TVs and will offer game-day food and drink specials in bar seating areas.


Get in the Sprit with a Beastronessey

What do you get when you mix Marshawn Lynch’s two favorite spirits with his on-field presence? Beastronessey. To create this unique cocktail, Suite 410 combines Lynch’s two favorite spirits, Hennessey and Patron, with yellow chartreuse, apple juice, maple syrup and a Granny Smith apple garnish. The “Beastronessey” will be served through Super Bowl Sunday.


The Maple Caper shows off a “Showtime Tate”

The Sun Liquor bar embodies Golden Tate with its “Maple Caper.” This cocktail is fashioned together with Sun Liquor barrel aged rum, bourbon, Grade-A maple syrup, heavy cream, and a whole egg. Enjoy this cocktail all the way up to a Seahawk Super Bowl.


Grub 12s can take Home

Volunteer Park Café wants to make sure 12s can sit back, relax, and cheer their heads off without worrying about what to cook. For Super Bowl Sunday, the cafe will be offering Moroccan-spiced organic chicken wings priced at $24 for 12 wings or $48 for 24 wings. The cafe will also offer a three-layer dip for $40 (serves 8-10) and 12th Man cupcakes for $3.50 each or $36 per dozen. Make sure you pre-order by 3 p.m. Thursday, January 30.


Tailgate party menu for the 12th man

Von Trapp’s bier hall will run special Super Bowl menu items from 12 p.m. throughout the end of the game on Sunday, February 2. Chef Pete Fjosne will serve football pretzels, chili cheese dogs and a variety of hot wings. A selection of happy hour menu items will be available and half liters of Bayern VT Lager will be $4. Fourteen TV screens will be showing the game and bocce ball courts are open for playing.


Specials for the 12th Man

World Sports Grille will be opening its doors for Super Bowl Sunday, February 2, at 11 a.m. to welcome hungry and thirsty 12s. World Sports Grille will be offering beer and drinks specials that include $20 beer buckets, a $15 “12th Man” PBR bucket, and $4 draft beer. World Sports Grille will also be offering a game-day food menu with appetizer specials.


12th man wine northwest cellars northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Of course, some of us are more into wine than beer or cocktails, and the good people of Northwest Cellars have something special to suit our tastes: 12th Man Wine. The special-label wine is available at Northwest Cellars’ Kirkland tasting room, Nectar in Spokane, and a long list of stores and restaurants in western Washington. Wines include Adagio, Viognier, Merlot, Madrigal, Intrigue, Petite Sirah, and Malbec. You can also order online (with a minimum order of four bottles) and they will ship to you. Stock up for the big game !!



Kukuruza beast blue green popcorn northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

KuKuRuZa Gourmet Popcorn has created a special flavor just for the big day – Beast Corn popcorn, a colored Kettle Corn! It’s snacking delicious and will be available in-store and online now until game day, Sunday, February 2. Beast Corn popcorn is available in 1 Gallon Bags for $13 each.


Sullivan's steakhouse seahawks cocktail northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Sullivan’s best-seller and signature cocktail, “The Knockout,” has been reworked to show its Seahawks support. Renamed “The HAWKout,” the drink boasts a festive blue hue with the addition of a splash of Curaçoa. Still strong as ever, The HAWKout’s base is a simple combination of Svedka Clementine Vodka and Hawaiian Gold Pineapple. Sullivan’s will be shaking and serving it up for $11 over the next two weeks, through Super Bowl Sunday.


In honor of the Seattle Seahawks’ 12th Man, The Edgewater Hotel — Seattle’s only waterfront hotel — is celebrating the Seahawks return to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2005 with “12 Days of Super Seahawks.” Each day, for the ’12 Days of Super Seahawks,’ Six Seven and The Edgewater will have special offers to get fans in the Seattle Seahawks spirit. The campaign launched on Wednesday, January 22, and here are the remaining specials:

Golden Tini — Six Seven signature pineapple martini – offered on Jan. 30

Hawk-fries — crispy French fries with garlic, parmesan and chive — offered on Jan. 31

Hilliard’s “The 12th Can” a hometown favorite — $3 in celebration to #3 — offered on Feb. 1

Seahawk salumi plate — assorted cured meats, cheeses and grilled bread – offered on Feb. 2

*All items are $12 unless noted.

Taco time blue green chips seahawks superbowl special tie-in northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link


“Champion Chips” & Salsa: Blue and green tortilla chips to support our home team! Available Friday, January 31, to Sunday, February 2, at participating Taco Time NW restaurants. On Friday and Saturday, $1.12 buys a regular order of “Champion Chips” & Salsa and $4.12 will net you a jumbo order of “Champion Chips” & Salsa (includes 100 chips and 2 large cups of fresh salsa). Guests can choose from Taco Time’s Pico de Gallo, Black Bean & Corn Salsa, Medium Salsa, or Mild Salsa. Made with local tortillas from La Mexicana, the chips are handmade daily in the restaurants and are seasoned with a special spice mixture to give them an extra hit of flavor.

And, on Sunday, dine-in guests will receive a FREE order of “Champion Chips” & Salsa.


Beast Mode Waffle Barking Frog woodinville washington northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

And Barking Frog restaurant in Woodinville has devised a Sunday brunch item–the Beast Mode Waffle–to celebrate the big game. The Beast includes Skittles in the waffle and blue and green whipped butter and sells for $12.

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Welcome to the ‘Hood: Aragona Restaurant

January 20, 2014

Aragona rendering northwest wining and dining website link

Last summer, we got wind that Thoa’s Restaurant & Lounge would be pulling up stakes. One of several restaurants owned and operated by my friend and fellow Seattle Dame Thoa Nguyen, the restaurant was located in the base of our condominium building at First and Union for an impressive period–10 years.

We wondered who might take over the large space with a bar at the front, kitchen behind glass, and peekaboo views of Elliott Bay.

Soon, word leaked out that über-successful Seattle chef Jason Stratton, the genius behind northern Italian-leaning Cascina Spinasse and Artusi in Capitol Hill, was interested.

We saw the architect’s rendering (above) and learned the concept of the new space, named “Aragona,” would be regional Spanish food. Having studied in Madrid for four months while I was in college, and falling in love with both the people of that Iberian country and its cuisine, I was psyched!

Aragona jason stratton tour northwest wining and dining website link

We watched the construction, heard the whine of the saws and banging of the hammers, and even sniffed the glue and shellac when the workers laid the floors, so felt very invested in the latest iteration at First and Union.

A few weeks before opening, we enjoyed a hard-hat tour, with Chef Stratton pointing out artistic details and the many new facets to the restaurant. . .

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And chatting up Aragona’s Chef de Cuisine, Carrie Mashaney, who previously served as chef de cuisine at Spinasse and gained wide acclaim last fall after appearing on Bravo’s “Top Chef.”

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Behind the wine table (pouring a dry Fino Sherry and Spanish wines from small producers), we recognized a former buddy from RN74–Master Sommelier Chris Tanghe.

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Stratton took us behind the scenes in the gorgeous new kitchen, completely outfitted with new equipment including a plancha (a flat-top grill widely used in Spain and Latin America to cook fish and shellfish).

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This stunning column really spoke to me. . .a modern update of the many beautiful columns and pillars one sees everywhere in southern Spain. In a press release, it’s described as “the visual showpiece of the dining room. . .created by internationally recognized Seattle mosaic artist Kate Jessup.”

The column is surrounded by a central service table that will be used for decanting wine, carving ham, and dishing out paella-like rice dishes.

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We enjoyed a variety of nibbles that afternoon including savory cookies and olives. . .

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flatbread and nut-covered cheese balls.

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Here’s an overview of the main dining room taken from the private dining room at the back and looking toward the bar (with the kitchen on the left).

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And here is the lovely logo that evokes the proud traditions of España.

Just a few weeks later, after many hours of overtime work by the construction workers and staff, the restaurant opened for business on December 9.

Aragona restaurant main dining room interior northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

We were lucky enough to be included in the Family and Friends dinner the evening before, and were blown away by the glamorous transformation of the interior, which manages to be contemporary, warm, and elegant while still nodding to restaurants in Spain. Here (above) is the main dining room.

Aragona bar area northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

The bar offers a separate, more small-plate menu and multiple wine-by-the glass options, which will be perfect for theater-goers and music lovers for pre-Benaroya-hall events.

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Here are Jason and Carrie looking relieved that their latest “baby” is finally open for business.

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We fought over the Grilled Octopus and Cauliflower Purée with its lovely charry notes and buttery richness.

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Although we didn’t have room for dessert, here’s a photo of one of several tempting options.

Rave reviews are already starting to stream in for Aragona. Please have a look at our friend and colleague Bethany Jean Clement’s complete, and very positive review from The Stranger’s January 15 issue.

Nicole Sprinkle, in The Seattle Weekly, also weighed in with a review in the January 21 issue, while Zach Geballe praised the impressive and inventive wine and Sherry offerings.

Architectural rendering and logo courtesy of Aragona.
Top eight photos by Braiden Rex-Johnson. Remaining photos courtesy of Aragona. 

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!

Celebrate the Holidays at the Pike Place Market

November 18, 2013

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Pike Place Market brings the magic back to the holiday season with the fun and joyful event, Magic in the Market, on Saturday, November 30. The festivities take place from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., with the Market shops and restaurants open all day.

Meet Santa and his favorite elf in front of the Pike Place Market clock and take your own family photos while also finding original stocking stuffers, specialty foods, and handcrafted gifts for everyone on your list.

Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition Teams will perform for holiday shoppers from 1 p.m. to 4:30 pm under the Market Clock.

Kids 12 and under will have fun decorating cookies made by Pike Place Bakery in the new Atrium Kitchen located on the first floor of the Economy Building from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The lighting of the 20-foot holiday tree as well the Market Swine Deer, Carrot, Strawberry, and Pear will be led by Santa with the help from Figgy Caroling teams at 5 p.m.

Event Details

What: Magic in the Market holiday celebration featuring free photos with Santa, a tree lighting ceremony, Figgy Pudding Carolers, and cookie decorating for kids.

When: Saturday, November 30, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Where: Santa, tree lighting ceremony and Figgy Carolers will be located near the Market clock and sign; cookie decorating held in the Atrium Kitchen, Economy Market Building at 1st and Pike St.

Free, Interactive eCookbook Available from Visit Seattle

November 4, 2013

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Visit Seattle has launched a free interactive eCookbook that highlights a range of talented chefs and signature Pacific Northwest cuisine. “Fresh From Seattle” features 26 recipes from 12 noteworthy contributing local chefs, including award winners such as Tom Douglas, Maria Hines, and Thierry Rautureau.

The 92-page eCookbook is a rich compilation of recipes, cooking and storage tips, color photos, food history, chef bios, and more.

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Seattle chefs contributed original recipes, as well as personal restaurant favorites, that are designed to pique the culinary curiosity of the inspired home chef. In addition to Seattle celebrity chefs, the cookbook also features acclaimed hotel chefs.

Fresh From Seattle is available here, where it is downloadable as a PDF or you can link to Apple iTunes App Store for download. Both options are free of charge.

“Between Seattle’s creative chefs and welcoming hospitality community, we formed the perfect marriage for this project,” said Ali Daniels, Vice President, Marketing, Visit Seattle. “We are a city of gourmands, constantly exploring and finding new ways to share the inspired culinary offerings of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle’s vibrant food culture just has to be shared, and ‘Fresh From Seattle’ does just that.”

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“Fresh From Seattle” eCookbook contributing chefs and recipes:

Thierry Rautureau – Luc and Loulay

Northwest Wild Mushroom Salad, Toasted Hazelnut, Aged Balsamic Vinegar

Neah Bay Wild Coho Salmon with Moroccan Olive Tapenade

Skagit Valley Savory Strawberry & Red Wine Soup

Tom Douglas – Tom Douglas Restaurant Group

Tom’s Tasty Sashimi Tuna Salad with Green Onion Pancakes

Peak of the Season Crisp with Brown Sugar Oats

Etta’s Rub with Love Salmon with Grilled Shiitake Relish

Dungeness Crab Cakes

Maria Hines – Tilth, Agrodolce, Golden Beetle

Skagit River Ranch Wagyu Beef Tartare with Dijon and Grilled Romaine

Loki Fishing Vessel Seared Sockeye Salmon with Sweet Corn Salsa

Oxbow Farm Mixed Summer Squash Salad with Parmesan, Hazelnuts and Truffle Vinaigrette

Daisley Gordon – Marche, Café Campagne

Warm Potato & Salmon Roe Salad

Marché Mackerel

Pernod Mussels

Salad Marché

Sarah Lorenzen – Andaluca

Chorizo and Clam Fettuccini

Pavlova with Lemon Cream and Fresh Berries

Gavin Stephenson – The Georgian

Rooftop Honey-Smoked Salmon

The Georgian Black and White Chocolate Soufflé

Kerry Sear – ART Restaurant

Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Salad

Grass-Baked Chicken

Sean Pals – Brella’s Restaurant & Lounge

Grilled Peach Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette

Thomas Horner – Hook & Plow

Razor Clam, Local Sausage, White Bean & Kale Stew

Peter Birk – BOKA restaurant + bar

Roasted Quail with Bluebird Grain Farms Farro

Preston Hagan – Jimmy’s on First

Jimmy’s Bloody Bakon Martini

Chris Lobkovich – Bookstore Bar & Café

Fiddlehead Fern Salad

Recipe of the Month: Mussels in Pinot Noir Butter

October 31, 2013

Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir

Mussels in Pinot Noir Butter

Wine Varietal: Oregon Pinot Noir

Serves 4 as an appetizer

Although many people believe that red wines and seafood don’t mix, this recipe proves them wrong with delicious results. Cornichons are tiny crisp, tart French pickles. They are available in specialty stores and better supermarkets.

3/4 cup Oregon or other good-quality Pinot Noir

2 dozen large mussels (about 1 1/2 pounds), scrubbed and debearded just before cooking

2 tablespoons finely minced shallots

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces

6 tiny cornichons, cut lengthwise into quarters

1. Bring 1/2 cup of the Pinot Noir to a boil in a large nonreactive saucepan or Dutch oven. Reduce the heat to medium-high, add the mussels, cover, and steam until the mussels open, about 5 to 7 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to redistribute the mussels. With a slotted spoon, remove the mussels that have opened and continue cooking the remaining mussels 1 to 2 minutes longer. Remove the open mussels and discard the rest. Reserve the mussels and cooking juices in separate containers for later use.

2. While the mussels cool, place the remaining 1/4 cup Pinot Noir, the shallots, and lemon juice in a nonreactive medium skillet and reduce over low heat, about 5 to 7 minutes, or until the liquid is almost gone. Stir in the reserved mussel cooking liquid and reduce over medium heat until the liquid thickens slightly and is reduced to about 3 tablespoons. In the final stages, the liquid thickens rapidly, so watch it carefully and do not allow it to burn.

3. Remove the pan from the heat and add 1 or 2 small pieces of butter. Add the remaining butter one piece at a time. Whisk steadily until blended. The butter sauce should have the consistency of homemade mayonnaise, neither too solid nor too liquid. (The warm skillet should retain sufficient heat to do this smoothly; if the temperature drops too much, return the skillet to low heat. If the butter separates or curdles, whisk rapidly to emulsify.)

4. Remove the mussels from their shells and discard the upper shells. Place a cornichon quarter in the lower shells, place a mussel on each cornichon, and cover with sauce.

5. To serve, divide the mussels among individual plates or place on a large serving platter and serve immediately.

Recipe reprinted from “Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining: The People, Places, Food, and Drink of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia” (Wiley, 2007, $34.95) by Braiden Rex-Johnson.

Electronic Tongue Evaluates Washington Wines

October 21, 2013

Charles daiko electric tongue wine evaluation washington state university northwest wining and dining website link

Washington State University Ph.D. student Charles Daiko uses the e-tongue to evaluate red wine.

One of the worries that every wine “expert” harbors, whether he or she admits it or not, is how “good” their nose, a.k.a., their perception of wine aromas and flavors, really is.

Now, according to a press release from Washington State University’s Viticulture and Enology Department, there is  an “electronic tongue” that is hard-wired to taste wines in a way that human tongues cannot.

According to Carolyn Ross, associate professor of food science and viticulture and enology, unlike human taste buds, this so-called “e-tongue” never tires or takes a day off, even after hours of around-the-clock sampling. Ross runs the sensory evaluation lab on the Pullman campus.

Ross is evaluating wines produced in the state of Washington, which is the second largest producer of premium wines in the United States. Working with Ross is her Ph.D. student, Charles Diako, originally from Ghana, who is a super-taster himself.

Diako appears to have met his match, though, working with the e-tongue to evaluate Washington wines.

While humans can detect flavor attributes, the e-tongue identifies taste compounds at the molecular level, said Ross. “The e-tongue gives an objective measurement of taste profiles and we try to correlate that to what happens in human sensory evaluation,” said Diako.

Automatic Wine Taster

The e-tongue works by dipping its “tongue” into a beaker filled with wine on a rotating platform called an autosampler. Then it reads a profile of sensory attributes ranging from metallic and savory to sweet and bitter. After the tongue recoils from the sample, the platform turns to present it with the next beaker of wine.

While human taste buds can get saturated and lose their keen ability to accurately distinguish taste features, the e-tongue never gets fatigued. But that doesn’t mean human taste testers and sommeliers will find themselves out of work. Many companies and institutions, including WSU, use tasters–some volunteer, some professional and paid—to sample products and provide feedback that fine-tunes the development process.

“Human evaluation is more sensitive and integrates a huge amount of information and perceptions in response,” said Ross. “This new technology won’t replace human evaluation.”

For example, the e-tongue might be able to give some information about the mouthfeel of a wine, but it isn’t designed to do this, said Ross. A wine’s mouthfeel provides sensations of physical and chemical interactions among the human palate, often described in terms like tannic, aggressive or “chewy.”

And while the e-tongue interprets data by using biosensors and statistics, Diako uses his taste buds and brain. “The human tongue is the primary taste organ of the body,” said Diako. “Being a living tissue and being integrated with the most sophisticated computer the world has ever known–the brain–its perception of taste is absolutely matchless.”

Flesh-and-Blood Wine Taster

Just as fortuitous as pairing a good wine with the right cheese, the new e-tongue has been paired with the right scientist. Diako joined Ross’s lab a year ago, shortly after WSU purchased the e-tongue for its expanding role in Washington’s wine research. While there’s no way to know if the e-tongue enjoys its work, it’s clear that Diako loves what he does in the lab. Always smiling and often laughing, Diako knew little about wine or e-tongue technology when he came to WSU, he said.

“I didn’t even know there was a difference between Washington the state and Washington, D.C.,” he said, throwing his head back in laughter.

But he does know sensory science and, now, what makes a good wine. Diako’s research history includes work on aromatic rice, an important staple food in his native African country. Diako plans on applying his expanded sensory skills to the research and higher education needs of his country upon returning home.

“I love research. I love teaching,” he added.

Diako is often sought out by lab members for his ingrained expertise at detecting precise tastes. Advanced taste sensitivity is often genetic and he was born with finely-tuned taste buds, he said.

“You need that to be able to work in this field.”

Raising a Glass

The sensory lab is evaluating 60 red wines from Washington state, including a planned follow-up-study on the same number of Washington-produced white wines.

“The use of the e-tongue for assessment of this many red wine samples hasn’t been undertaken before,” said Ross.

The information gathered from the evaluations is important to the Washington grape growers and winemakers to guide fruit and wine flavor development, said Diako. After all, a great bottle of wine begins in the vineyard. Will the e-tongue know if that bottle does contain, in fact, a good wine?

Absolutely, by providing it with a gold standard, said Diako, adding with a smile, “But it doesn’t know the price.”

Photo credit: Chelsea Pickett/WSU

Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival October 11-13

October 7, 2013

Dungeness Crab Festival

It’s that time of year again. . .time for the 12th Annual Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival, which takes place from Friday to Sunday, October 11 to 13, 2013, in Port Angeles, Washington.

“Crabfest is the annual celebration of our region’s diverse bounty, the seafood, agriculture and maritime traditions, and the breathtaking coastal environment that is home to the Dungeness crab,” says festival producing director Scott Nagel. “The event will once again take place downtown at the Port Angeles City Pier, Gateway Center, and Red Lion Hotel overlooking the beautiful Strait of Juan de Fuca and Victoria, British Columbia.”

A nationally renowned event, the Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival was named one of the Top 100 Events in North America by the American Bus Association in 2011. Coastal Living Magazine designated it one of the Top 10 Coastal Events in 2012. The festival will also be featured in an upcoming issue of national food magazine, Saveur.

This year festival organizers are honored to host the return visit of our friend and colleague Graham Kerr, whom we’ve written about in The Seattle Times. Graham was the first television chef, known as the “Galloping Gourmet,” working with his wife and producer, Treena.

Graham will prepare his favorite crab cakes, talk about his world view of food, and have books on hand for sale and signing. Additionally, he will serve as the celebrity judge of the festival’s first-annual chowder-making competition, the Captain Joseph House Chowder Cook-off, to be held Sunday afternoon. The public will not only have several opportunities to connect with Graham, but will participate in the tasting and rating of the amateur and professional chowder cooks.

Festival hours are Friday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is FREE and the big-top tent provides covered seating.

There are several ways to get to Port Angeles: Drive route 101 to Port Angeles; fly Kenmore Air Express with connections to SeaTac and the world; and visitors from Canada will find special packages on the Coho Ferry from Victoria, which docks right next to the Festival!

For more information including transportation, accommodations, directions and the detailed program, please go to the Festival website.

Other Festival Highlights:

In the 9,000-square-foot Kitsap Bank Crab Central food tent, visitors will find an old-fashioned “crab feed,” complete with large kettles of fresh whole crabs ready to be enjoyed with fresh corn and cole slaw. The crabs are caught live locally – the freshest you can get!

At Crab Central and throughout the grounds, 15 local and regional restaurants will provide visitors with many delicious seafood dishes including crab cakes, grilled wild salmon, fish tacos, crab enchiladas, crab Rangoon, clam chowder, crab bisque, seafood gumbo, Northwest paella, fish ‘n’ chips, barbecued oysters, steamed clams, oyster stew, mussels, grilled scallops, and more. New this year is the Taylor Shellfish Farms Raw Oyster Bar!

In addition, there will be live music, Olympic-Peninsula wines for tasting, Northwest microbrews, and the Peninsula’s own Bedford Sodas.

But that’s not all! More than 80 booths will be featured on the city pier including juried crafts, merchants, nonprofit environmental organizations, and festival sponsors.

And The Columbia Bank Gateway Center will be home to the Chef Demonstration Stage, featuring ongoing cooking demonstrations by Graham Kerr and outstanding local and regional chefs, as well as a wine garden, food, and exhibits.

The Crab Revival will take place on Sunday morning from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The program includes a non-denominational service directed by Michael Rivers, gospel music from the Peninsula Men’s Gospel Singers, and other local musicians.

On Sunday afternoon all are invited to Crabfest’s first annual chowder cook-off sponsored by the Captain Joseph House Foundation, which provides respite and healing for families of our fallen warriors. All proceeds will go the House. Visitors can taste chowders from both amateur and professional cooks, and then vote for their favorite! The more tickets visitors buy, the more chowder they get and the more votes they can enter.

“Get crabbing” during the First Federal and Wilder Auto Grab-A-Crab Tank Derby, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Located on the city pier, the entire family can participate in this unorthodox derby by crabbing from large holding tanks using crab snares and bait. The $5 entry fee allows participants to crab for 10 minutes, no license or gear needed. Festival volunteers will be on hand to demonstrate how to catch, cook and clean the famous crustaceans. Purchase whole crabs to take home cooked or uncooked.

Stop by the Feiro Marina Life Center for a hands-on educational experience or to enjoy children’s activities.

The Peninsula College Athletic Department is a great Crabfest partner. Saturday and Sunday on Hollywood Beach is the Crabfest Sand Volleyball Tournament; Saturday is the Crabfest 5-K Fun Run/Walk with proceeds supporting the women’s basketball program. When visitors get their Crab Derby crabs cleaned and packed to go, the men’s basketball team does the work. And every night the soccer team cleans Crab Central.

Fresh cooked, chilled and cleaned crab will be available to take home throughout the festival (cooked crab can be taken to Canada).

San Juan Islands Great Island Grown Festival October 1-13

October 1, 2013

Crow Valley Farm Orcas Island

Bountiful farms, stunning pastoral landscapes and superb local food…that’s the San Juan Islands way of life!

The Great Island Grown San Juan Island Festival

Beginning today, and lasting until Sunday, October 13, farmers, restaurants, the Island community, and visitors will come together to celebrate this unique and coveted destination at The Great Island Grown Festival.

The Great Island Grown Festival features two weeks of events and workshops, from distillery tastings and plein-air farm painting to shellfish tours and sheepdog demonstrations to farm parades, bike tours of farms, and vineyard harvests. And, of course, farmers’ markets, harvest festival, and farm-to-table meals.

Island Grown in the San Juans is a membership organization of San Juan County farmers, restaurants, and supporters. The organization celebrates the bounty of the Islands’ rich agricultural heritage, and inspires Islanders, visitors, and businesses about the many benefits of buying locally grown and harvested products from land and sea.

The complete festival calendar and more details including dates and locations are available on the Island Grown in the San Juans website.

And here’s some really interesting historical information about agriculture in the San Juan Islands (from the media release):

The San Juan Islands are blessed with a temperate climate and were once considered to be the breadbasket of Western Washington. The local fruit industry began in earnest in the 1890s, with the introduction of Italian prune plums, and grew to include thousands of trees bearing apples, cherries, peaches, and pears.

During the early 1900s, farmers shipped boatloads of fruit from all the major islands to Salish-Sea ports, where the produce was transported by rail throughout the country. Although the islands no longer dominate Washington’s fruit industry, the legacy of historic orchards with local varieties such as the Orcas pear bear witness to the rich history of Island fruit-raising and distribution—a heritage that is still cultivated by San Juan County growers today.

Island Grown in the San Juans chose a logo with a pear in a boat as a symbol of the rich agricultural heritage of the island archipelago situated in the waters of the Salish Sea. Pears played a key role in fruit raising in the San Juans during the period from the 1890s to the 1930s.

The pear represents an Orcas pear, a delicious heritage variety that was discovered by Joseph C. Long along a roadside on Orcas Island in 1966. The Orcas pear (Pyrus communis) is listed as an American Heirloom Pear in Slow Foods USA “Ark of Taste,” and is suitable for fresh consumption, canning, and drying.

The boat was, and still is, one of the primary means of transportation in the islands. Even today, islanders are known to transport their farm produce by boat to markets on other islands.

Photo courtesy of Island Grown

Northwest Wining and Dining Confronts MIRROR

September 23, 2013

SAM MIRROR art installation

This is an open letter to MIRROR, a 120-food-wide LED installation by artist Doug Aitken that wraps around the northwest corner of the entrance to the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), cater corner  from our condominium building, 98 Union. 

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Dear Mirror,

I wanted to like you, I really, really wanted to like you.

For several months, I patiently endured the blasts of hammers and whining of saws while you were installed on the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) facade.

I looked on in wonder as the artist who created you and the technicians who made you possible tested your main LED panel and the flashing spikes that run vertically up the mullions on the north and west sides of SAM.

SAM MIRROR art installation

After many months of construction and testing, it was finally time for your grand unveiling in March. I stood on our tenth-floor balcony, which provided a bird’s-eye view of the crowds who gathered, members of the Seattle Symphony who serenaded your arrival, and even Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn who came to welcome you.

After a few tense moments when it seemed you might not light up correctly, your colorfully choreographed images finally started to move.

The crowd applauded. SAM big-wigs pontificated. The donor’s son waxed eloquent.

I snapped photos and put them on my blog.

A few hours later the stage and podium had been dismantled, the crowds had disbursed, the musicians were on to their next gig.

SAM MIRROR display

But the residents of 98 Union Condominiums were still there, just beginning to realize your unbelievably negative impact on our lives.

From the very first moment, your giant screen overtook our condominiums like an incessant, unwelcome distraction.

The jagged, ever-changing spikes of flashing light invaded our living spaces so much so that many of us have been forced to shut our blinds to keep out obsessive light pollution.

And your hours are extraordinarily long–from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. seven days a week. Unless we want to “live” from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m. when you are dark, we can’t get away from you, as hard as we try.

Your reviews were mediocre at best. CityArts reviewer Erin King said, “Looking at Mirror for eight hours a day beats a plain gray wall. Its sleek sparkle hearkens back to a cheerier 2007, the year it was commissioned and the pinnacle of big shiny Aughties art. But as its light spills over the First Avenue sidewalk, Mirror already feels like a reflection of the past.”

In a review entitled, “Image Grab,” The Seattle Weekly’s Brian Miller says, “The mountains, greenery, orange Port of Seattle Cranes, silhouettes of pedestrians—these source images are too benign. They don’t grab your attention like the signage in Times Square, and they don’t seem grabbed from our immediate, lived world. . . .But that’s also why MIRROR is so boring: It just reflects an anodyne, outsider’s view of the Northwest. It’s tourist Seattle, not our Seattle, and even the tourists aren’t buying it.”

Have you seen MIRROR? If so, what do you think about it?

If you come to look at Mirror, isn’t it better to simply turn around, walk to the dead end of Union Street by the Four Seasons Hotel, take a deep breath of sea air from Elliott Bay, and marvel at REAL-TIME views of the Seattle Great Wheel, ferry boats , and the Olympic Mountains beyond?


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