Recipe of the Month: Northwest Seafood with Simple Soy Glaze

June 30, 2014

Northwest Wild Salmon

Northwest Seafood with Simple Soy Glaze

Varietal: Off-Dry Riesling

Makes 1/4 cup

I have read that most people cook the same eight basic recipes over and over again. If that’s the case at your house, I hope this recipe will become one of your eight favorites because it’s so delicious, easy to make, and versatile that you can use it on almost any fish or shellfish you choose. Suggested seafood partners with the glaze include salmon, halibut, swordfish, black cod (sablefish), sea scallops, or sustainable shrimp (peeled and deveined). Don’t forget to open a bottle of off-dry Riesling from a top-quality producer, such as Long Shadows, Pacific Rim, or Poet’s Leap, all from Washington State.

1 tablespoon light cooking oil, such as canola or vegetable oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce or low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon honey, brown sugar, or maple syrup

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

11/2 teaspoons prepared horseradish

1. In a small bowl, mix together the oil, soy sauce, honey, and mustard. Add the horseradish and blend thoroughly.

2. Lightly oil a broiling pan with a rack or spray the rack with nonstick cooking spray. Place fish fillets or steaks or shellfish on the rack and lightly brush the seafood with the glaze. Broil 3 to 4 inches from the heat source for 3 minutes, then brush the fillets again. If the seafood starts to brown too much, move the pan 4 to 6 inches from the heat source. After 3 minutes, brush once more, then continue broiling until the salmon reaches desired doneness.

Cook’s Hints: Now comes the really fun, creative part of this recipe. If you don’t like horseradish, you can substitute freshly grated ginger, Chinese five-spice powder, Japanese seven-spice seasoning (shichimi togarashi), or hot chili oil for an Asian flair, or Cajun blackening mix for a Southwest touch. Add the alternative seasonings a little at a time, until you reach the level of spiciness or hotness you prefer.

Simple Soy Glaze works well with vegetables, especially asparagus. To prepare fresh asparagus, snap the tough, “woody” white ends off each spear by holding the top half of an asparagus spear in one hand, the bottom half with the thumb and forefinger of your other hand. Bend the spear until it snaps. This will occur naturally where the tough and tender parts meet. Use the bottoms of the stalks to make asparagus stock for soup. Cook the remaining portion as desired. Or, for a more elegant preparation, using a clean, sharp vegetable peeler, peel down from about 2 inches from the ends of the asparagus. Peel all around, then cut off the very end with a small, sharp paring knife.

Fresh asparagus also makes a lovely summer salad when simply grilled with extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper. Cook 8 to 12 minutes, or until just tender. Then transfer to salad plates, drizzle with good-quality balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle with toasted hazelnuts (or walnuts) and plumped dried cherries or cranberries.

To toast small quantities of nuts, heat them in a small, dry skillet over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, or until they begin to turn light brown and/or give off their aroma (mustard seeds begin to pop), shaking the pan back and forth often so the ingredients do not burn. Remove from heat, cool, and add to your recipe, or grind as directed.

To plump dried fruits, add the fruits to a small saucepan and cover with water, stock, or liqueur (such as Madeira, Port, or cream-style Sherry). Bring to a boil, cover, and remove the pan from the heat. Allow to stand 10 to 20 minutes, or until the fruit is plumped.

To speed the plumping process, put 1/2 cup water into a microwave-safe glass dish. Add the fruit and microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds. Stir and repeat. When the fruit begins to plump, remove from the microwave and cover. Let rest for 5 minutes, drain water, and use the fruit as directed.

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 

May 24 Red Mountain Food-and-Wine Extravaganza

May 19, 2014

Cicchetti kitchen and bar octopus photo

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

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

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

Tickets are $95 and can be purchased online.

Hungry for more?!?!

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

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


Oregon Wines Fly High!

May 5, 2014

North Willamette Wine Trail

Planning a winery tour to Oregon this year? Flying on Alaska Airlines?

If so, then, you’re in luck. Because when you fly on Alaska Airlines, that case of Oregon vino you pick up flies home for free!

Beginning on May 1, in honor of Oregon Wine Month, the Oregon Wine Board, Travel Oregon, and Alaska Airlines partnered to bring back the Oregon Wines Fly Free program. The program enables visitors traveling from Oregon on an Alaska Airlines flight to check a case of Oregon wine for free.

Oregon is the first state to partner with the airline on a statewide-wines fly-free program. More than 250 Oregon wineries joined the program in 2013!

Oregon Wines Fly Free began as a two-month test last fall. The pilot program was so popular that Alaska Airlines has renewed the program for a year.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan members may check one case of wine free on their return flight out of four Oregon airports. In addition, passengers showing their Alaska boarding passes within a week of their arrival in Oregon will receive complimentary tastings at any of more than 300 participating Oregon wineries. Customers may join the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan for free.

Alaska Airlines offers nonstop service to Oregon’s most popular wine regions, including the Willamette Valley via Portland and Eugene, Ore.; the Rogue Valley via Medford, Ore.; Central Oregon wineries via Redmond, Ore.; and Eastern Oregon wineries via Walla Walla, Wash. Alaska Airlines is also an official partner of Feast Portland, the flagship food and drink festival in the Pacific Northwest that runs from Sept. 18 to 21, 2014.

“Oregon Wine’s partnership with Travel Oregon and Alaska Airlines was a tremendous success in 2013 and we’re expecting the new program will be even more successful,” said Tom Danowski, executive director of OWB. “We had more than 250 wineries participating in the program in 2013 and with the interest it generated then, our goal is to have more than 300 wineries participate in the yearlong program.”



Top Beverage Trends for 2014

March 24, 2014

The Pink Door Mint Julep cocktail northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Following a blog post earlier this month about possible food-and-wine trends for 2014, here are the top beverage trends we may see this year.

The first six come from the latest annual trend-prediction webinar given by Andrew Freeman, chief executive of San Francisco-based hospitality consulting firm Andrew Freeman & Co. Theme of the webinar was, “Blurred Lines.”

• Infused ice: Last year, bars and restaurants were making distinctive cubes or shaving their own ice. Now they’re infusing cubes with herbs and other ingredients to enhance flavors, Freeman said.

• Wine by the ounce: “People don’t like commitment,” Freeman said, noting that they also like to try different things, which is why more restaurants are offering wine by the ounce, as well as recommending wine flights.

• Artisanal spirits: Local craft beer is well established, but local spirits are trending, too. “Local spirits are infusing cocktails like I have never seen,” Freeman said.

• “Tippler nibblers:” Expect more food-drink combinations such as potent snow cones and graham cracker squares in root beer floats.

• Local and Iberian wines: Every state in the union now makes wine, and they’re becoming more popular — and so are wines from Spain and Portugal, Freeman said.

• Tea cocktails: “Tea is going crazy right now,” Freeman said, noting that it’s in food and desserts, but also in cocktails.

BOKA tea-infused martini northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Here are other possible beverage trends, as predicted by Washington Restaurant Magazine, a publication of the Washington Restaurant Association.

• Non-Alcoholic Beverages: In this category, look for housemade soft drinks and gourmet lemonade (freshly muddled), specialty iced tea (such as flavored or Thai-style), dairy-free milk (soy, rice, almond), and the ubiquitous coconut water.

•Cocktails and Cocktail Ingredients: Cocktails aged in barrels onsite and culinary cocktails (made with fresh, savory ingredients) will continue trending, augmented by regional signature cocktails, edible cocktails, and food-and-liquor/cocktail pairings.

•Alcoholic Beverages: Locally produced beer/wine/spirits and micro distilled/artisan spirits will continue strong; “new-make” whiskey, gluten-free beer, and food-and-beer pairings will pick up steam.

Wine glass photo northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

The beverage trend below was taken from a report by the Food & Beverage team of MSLGROUP, which operates in offices throughout North America, representing leading food and beverage brands, and manages a state-of-the-art Culinary & Nutrition Center in Seattle.

• “Wine-y” Millennials? Consumers ages 21-34 drink more wine than any other demographic. They’ll make up 40 percent of the population over the next few years, so the popularity of wine is expected to rise for years to come. Cheers to that!

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! 

Ever Dreamed of Owning a Vineyard (or Three)?

March 3, 2014

The Willamette Valley

Ever wondered what it would be like to buy a winery or own a vineyard?

Well, you are in luck! A recent press release relates that approximately 694 acres of productive land in Washington State’s highly regarded Horse Heaven Hills Appellation will sell at auction on Friday, April 4. Musser Bros. Auctions and Real Estate will conduct the auction.

The land, approximately 335 acres of which is planted to various wine grapes, will be offered in four parcels, according to Scott Musser, spokesman for the auction company.

“The Horse Heaven Hills Appellation is home to 25-percent of the state’s vineyard acreage. It just made the Forbes list of Six Exciting Wine Regions to Explore in 2014, and with good reason. It is a source of four of the state’s 100-point wines, from the 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2007 vintages,” said Musser.

Grapes currently planted on the parcels are Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Sangiovese, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot.

The American Viticultural Area (AVA) is home to such vineyards as Columbia Crest, McKinley Springs, Chateau Ste. Michelle Canoe Ridge Estate, Chateau Champoux, and Alexandria Nicole Cellars at Destiny Ridge.

The land will sell in four parcels using Musser Bros.'”Power Parcels” system of bidding, which allows bidders to enter bids on just the land that suits their needs.

Parcels include:

*200.97 acres with 83 vine acres, two shop buildings, a residence and a well site. Vines planted include Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Sangiovese, and Syrah.

*119.98 acres with 78.7 vine acres, currently planted in Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Syrah.

*75.96 acres with 63.17 vine acres, planted in Cabernet Sauvignon.

*297.91 acres, with 116.8 vine acres, planted in Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Syrah.

Individuals interested in additional information may visit the auction company’s website or call 509-416-6060.

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.



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.


Valentine’s Day Dining Options

January 27, 2014

Heart cookie photo

A few weeks ago, a friend and consultant of mine told me he was going out on a first date and asked me to recommend a few restaurants with the following parameters:

I am seeking a a restaurant in downtown Seattle. . .perhaps somewhere in or around the Market. Here is what I am kinda of shooting for in terms of requirements:

• good place to meet for drinks

• good wine selection

• maybe dinner or good Happy Hour menu

• not too $$$

• good first-date place

• view of Waterfront

• small/intimate. . . .yes, perhaps even romantic

• not noisy and crowded

And, after a bit of thinking, I answered:

Man, you don’t have too many parameters here. Ha! Hard to find one bar/resto that meets everything you desire, but here are some suggestions:

Il Bistro in the Market (dark, romantic, nice bar area, inexpensive and good-value Happy Hour [HH]). However, no water view.

Steelhead Diner in the Market (more casual than Il Bistro and probably more noisy, but wouldn’t seem like such a commitment. Also less price-y.) Peek-a-boo water views depending on where you sit. Not sure about HH menu or pricing. . .

The Pink Door in the Market is fun and funky but you’d need a reservation for dinner for sure. . .bar is fun but crowded and possibly noisy. Good price points, wine list, food, etc. Water views in summer on the deck but not in winter (but there is a trapeze artist on certain nights!).

Andaluca in the Mayflower Park Hotel has no water view but think romantic, tapas, and good wine list. . .perhaps better for a second or third date.

If you want a real “bar” bar, then Oliver’s in the Mayflower is a really well-established bar, noted for its martinis. They have a HH and also free appetizers.

If you want a real water view, there is also 67 at the Edgewater. . .we haven’t been there lately and never for HH but you might consider it.

So cheers to everyone near and dear in our lives as we approach Valentine’s Day 2014. . .

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. . .

Aragona female chef northwest wining and dining website link

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.”

Aragona wine guy chris northwest wining and dining website link

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.

Aragona jason kitchen northwest wining and dining website link

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).

Aragona column northwest wining and dining website link

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.

Aragona food northwest wining and dining website link

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

Aragona food northwest wining and dining website link

flatbread and nut-covered cheese balls.

Aragona group shot northwest wining and dining website link

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).

Aragona logo northwest wining and dining website link

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.

Aragona restaurant jason stratton owner chef and carrey sous chef northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

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

Aragona restaurant octopus cauliflower puree northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

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

Aragona restaurant dessert northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

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. 
Newer Posts »