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!


Feeling Cheesy

May 4, 2012

Have you ever had one of those meals where the entrée was good, but the dessert (in this case, a cheese plate) was stellar?

We had that sort of experience last week at Prelude restaurant in Seattle’s McCaw Hall. Prelude is where opera, theater, and ballet-goers often dine pre-performance since the service is expert and fast, and the food is reliable and often-times, even surprisingly good considering the large crowds and fast turn-around.

Here is the Ahi Tuna Niçoise Salad we enjoyed, with extra flavorful elements that lifted it apart from the norm: roasted tomatoes, kalamata olives, baby potato circles, and a hearty Mustard Vinaigrette.

But as good as that salad was, the Artisan Cheese Plate (which served as “dessert” since we are still on our low-carb/high-protein diet and wanted a little bit more to eat) with house-made preserves and red grapes was even more satisfying.

After we ordered the cheese plate, our knowledgable server raved about one selection in particular–Barely Buzzed cheese–made by Beehive Cheese Co., from Utah.

According to the company’s website, “The full-bodied cheese, with a nutty flavor and smooth texture, is hand rubbed with a Turkish grind of Colorado Legacy Coffee Company’s (the Cheesemaker’s brother) ‘Beehive Blend.’ The blend consists of a mix of South American, Central American, and Indonesian beans roasted to different styles. French Superior Lavender buds are ground with the coffee and the mixture is diluted with oil to suspend the dry ingredients in the rub. The rub imparts notes of butterscotch and caramel which are prevalent near the rind, but find their way to the center of the cheese. The cheese is aged on Utah Blue Spruce aging racks inhumidity-controlled caves, and moved to different temperature during the aging process to develop texture and flavor. The name ‘Barely Buzzed’ comes from Andrea at Deluxe Foods in California. She was the winner of the name-this-cheese contest.”

Barely Buzzed has won awards including First Place, American Cheese Society Annual Competition 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011.

Our server told us it is available at Whole Foods Markets, and is well worth searching out.

The wine (and Ahi) paired nicely with a bottle of àMaurice 2008 Gamache Vineyard Malbec, made by our buddy Anna Schafer, the winery’s founder and winemaker.


Capital Grille Glorious Happy Hour

March 16, 2012

Now that we are living the low-carb/high-protein lifestyle, downtown Seattle’s Capital Grille has become one of our go-to places for a simply grilled piece of fish and a wedge salad.

The Grille is located in the venerable Cobb Building. It served as a medical/dental building for many years (our very own , now-retired dentist had an office there) before being converted into apartments. . .and home to The Capital Grille.

Here’s a gorgeous piece of ivory salmon I enjoyed a few weeks ago. Although a bit more cooked than I would have liked, the fish was flapping fresh and the simple tomato sauce and sautéed spinach didn’t overpower.

At a business appointment in the Grille’s bar earlier that afternoon, I enjoyed a glass of good-quality Sauvignon Blanc while Spencer had a California Pinot Noir. We didn’t have appetizers (knowing we were coming back for dinner in a few short hours) but watched in amazement as several of the tables around us partook of Miniature Lobster and Dungeness Crab Burgers, Pan-Fried Calamari, and Parmesan Truffle Fries.

Happy Hour is offered weekdays 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., with all selections just six bucks apiece. Signature cocktails including the Stoli Doli (Cap Grille’s Signature Martini, infused with fresh pineapple!), Hemingway Daiquiri, or Adults Only Arnold Palmer, along with select wines by the glass are also available.

I’ll be back for such low-carb options as the Prawn Cocktail, while Spencer can enjoy red-meat options including the Miniature Tenderloin Sandwich or Miniature Signature Cheeseburger. Just hold the bread, please!

Cheesecake Factory’s Skinnylicious Menu

February 28, 2012

While many people who read Northwest Notes regularly might not believe it, Spencer and I are aficionados of The Cheesecake Factory in downtown Seattle and often enjoy Saturday or Sunday lunches there while we are downtown running errands or going to the nearby Meridian or Pacific Place movie theaters.

A few Saturdays ago, we were pleased to discover the popular chain restaurant now offers a Skinnylicious menu, described as “a collection of fresh and delicious menu options with lower calories and signature rich taste. Skinnylicious redefines low-calorie flavor in The Cheesecake Factory tradition.”

Intrigued, especially since we have recently adopted “la vida low-carb” (the low-carb lifestyle), we were pleased to find not only Skinnylicious Small Plates & Appetizers (all under 490 calories), Salads (590), Specialties (590), Fresh-Baked Flatbreads (490), and even Skinny Cocktails (150 calories or less).

Here is the Beets with Goat Cheese small plate I enjoyed, although I turned it into a main-dish salad by adding a piece of grilled salmon.

Spencer adored his B.B.Q. Chicken–charbroiled chicken breast (three of them pounded thinly) served with green beans and corn succotash. (While the corn succotash is probably not the most low-carb item, a guy has to splurge every now and then!)

We’ll be back to try the Chicken Lettuce Wrap Tacos (butter lettuce leaves filled with grilled chicken and your choice of Asian, Mexican, or Mediterranean accompaniments) or the Skinnylicious Asian Chicken or Herb-Crusted Salmon Salads, perhaps even accompanied by a Skinny Margarita or Red Sangria.

Now, if they could just figure out how to make the cheesecakes and tortes Skinnylicious, too!


A Pound of Flesh

February 21, 2012

Have you ever wondered what five pounds of fat looks like?

Since we began living the low-carb lifestyle, we are reminded about once a month when we meet with our diet doctor.

The five fat pounds are the yellow ones on the left-hand side in the photo above.

The red blob is lean muscle mass; interestingly it weighs about six ounces more than the fat does, just as trainers and weight-management articles have been preaching to us for years.

You can imagine what losing even one five-pound blob of fat must feel like, not to mention two or three (or more!).

It’s such a boost to the cardiovascular system, not to mention major joints such as the knees and hips.


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