Food from around the Puget Sound. It is about good sources, great eating and unusual foods.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Trying to get back to writing, just eating too much

Had a wonderful meal with some of the guys; guys night out and we tried a place I have been wanting to try for since they opened. Bar del Corso on Beacon Hill has been on my punch list and because it seemed to be hard to get to, I have put it off for sometime. I have been trying to get friends and associates to go so I could get a review vicariously, but no one has offered?

As luck would have it a friend called and said let's get out and check out something we haven't done so this was the chance to give it a try.

I have only one pic, but I will be back. We all enjoyed out meal and as you can see from the lack of pictures we were too busy eating.

Till next time, here is at least one shot. Just to let you know everything was tasty and well received, somethings more then others. Crust on the Pizza's was something special.

The Lemon Meyer Polenta desert was unbelievable.

Everything else was worth going back for soon.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lou who?

It has been a long time since I've written something in the blog........I have been busy to say the least and I hope to get back to all the other entries I have started.

But first things first, while it is still fresh in my memory! We just came back from our oldest's graduation from Cal Poly SLO, for those of you not from California, that is in San Luis Obispo which is the central coast of Cal. It has been a fast 4 years but she did it and is off to new adventures but not without one last good bye.

We arrived on the Friday before the ceremony in what has to be one of finer days in June, usually known for June Gloom this time of year, it was sunny warm with a little on shore breeze. What's not to like, we just came in from Seattle where it was drizzling and overcast, I know it's summer in the NW.

So getting our bearings and figuring out where and how to eat were of course one of my jobs, but we were here for graduation and that would have to take priority. I was not holding out for too much of a food experience on this trip. We started out with a marginal Chinese meal because it was quick and easy. But for Graduation we hosted a gorgeous Santa Maria Tri Tip and Chicken diner with all the fixings from Ribline. Run by a young couple that put up some great food up and super service, if you are ever in need of something along those lines by a means have Krystal and her husband feed you well.

The following night we finished off the remaining Tri Tip, but I added some variety to the meal with some fresh rock crabs from the Hartford pier out in Avila Beach. It is the last pier in San Luis Harbor and is still used as a commercial pier. If you ever get a chance buy your meal at BJ's Live Seafood on the pier about half way to the end. Locally owned by the same family going on it's third generation, great seafood and super nice people. They will even shuck the oysters for you on the spot. We also were lucky to get some of the last of the Copper River Salmon for the season. Don't ask me how and why it was down here but it was a great find and be were able to put it on the BBQ for some wonderfully smokey grilled salmon and cut up veggies on the que.

The next few day's we helped my parents around their house and found ourselves figuring we really need to find some Mexican food and what better place than Guadalupe. Better known for the Far Western Tavern, it also has some of the best home style Mexican food at most of the many restaurants in this one street town. By the way the Far Western Tavern is moving out of town to Old Orcutt at the end of this year, if you get anywhere near Santa Maria it would be worth the effort for one of their STEAKS at the original location. Needless to say Guadalupe is an experience in itself, it has a multi-cultural history with Portugese and Chinese immigrants flavoring it long history. I can personally recommend the light snack we had a Charley's, my tacos al pastor and carnitas were very good, seasoned perfectly with just the perfect char, the salsa just hot enough and the pinto beans cooked in lard. It calls itself a Traditional American Place????? It has the usual offerings like burgers and such, but for me the Mexican was homey, fresh and well prepared by madre.

More to come, I bet you are wondering who or what is Lou. The hint it's not Reed, Rawls or Ferrigno. But Melrose and Vine.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Come on Down For "Share Our Strength"

Seattle Food Bloggers to Participate
in Great American Bake Sale

Bloggers Share Cake to Serve the Cause

SATURDAY, May 14th, 2011
9:30 AM to Noon
at Metropolitan Market Uptown 
100 Mercer St., Seattle
(Free parking while at the store)  

Keren, thank you for organizing this wonderful opportunity to bring attention to such an important cause.  It is hard enough for so many and when it effects children it is even more important that we all do something to help.

I am posting the recipe for the cookies I made, I found Cathy's recipe a while back and have had great success modifying with what I have had on hand. Different kinds of nuts or chocolates and what ever you have in the house.

The ones I did for you today was made with Ibarra Chocolate in place of the unsweetened cocoa, which is Mexican chocolate and it gave it a great twist on the flavor. Cinnamon!

Hope you enjoyed them and make this recipe your own, I know my family has enjoyed the different tweaks I have given the recipe.

Cathy Lowe's Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies from Food Network.

Thanks, Loren

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Nothing like new toys

Two different mills and a dish of  Hawaiian Red Alaea 
I have been enjoying two books one is a re-read of The Pat Conroy Cookbook, Recipes of my life and the other is Mark Bitterman's Salted. Having my friends Chris and Marc just come back from a visit to Portland, Oregon they report having a wonderful visit to The Meadow which is owned by Jennifer and Mark Bitterman.  Both have been informative as well as fun reads, Pat's has peaked my interest in low country food and I am looking forward to trying out some of the recipes. As for Mark's book, it is a lot of information to take in but I have found clarification in the types of salts I have been collecting and using over the years.
Getting ready to load up a mill

But this is about "Toys", I know that many of you have salts and spices that you have acquired through shear curiosity. Sometimes you don't always have the best means to get it to the right consistency to use it properly. With all the different products and the hype that surrounds the techniques that go with each one, one never knows or can shift through so many choices. I have the usual things that one acquires over the years, motar and pestles, coffee grinders, different types of pepper mills or for that matter a rolling pin/meat mallet have brought mixed results over the years. Having been through many trial and errors I started to collect pepper mills to place my coarser salts and types of spices in, wanting to have immediate access to season on whim. One of the most irritating things was the lack of truly controlled and consistant size of the grind. And most of the mills always leave a mess on the counter after you use it.
Hawaiian Pa'akai, Red Alaea and Himalayan 

In doing a search for a coffee grinder to grind my beans, ruling out a blade type for all the reasons they say you don't want use one. I decided to look into finding a burr type of grinder and found that there is a faction of coffee fanatics (you know who you are) that insist that hand burr grinding your beans is the only why to go. The more I looked the more I found that what was really missing from my pepper mills was adjustable ceramic burrs. So why not find the same technology for my salts and spices?
Mill from World Imports, top is the Himalayan and the bottom is black pepper

So it was off to research what was available and I have great news, there are a lot of choice out there and many of them function very well. I also found that there are some very affordable units out there that gave me a chance to place a large selection of my salts and spices in their own mill making it much easier to use it when I want. Having the ability to adjust the coarseness of the grind has also given me one more facet to play with my food. Nothing like a really fine grind when you need one.
The burrs are ceramic very durable and infinitely adjustable, Ikea

Hope you find this helpful and you enjoy your cooking that much more.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Eltana Wood-Fired Cafe

Much thanks goes to Keren the FranticFoodie for organizing a great show and tell at Eltana for a whole lot of  Seattle's food bloggers. Only months old on Capital Hill, the shiny, airy and open cafe is the work of  partners Stephen Brown and Daniel Levin.  Both were on hand to show us what their Wood-Fired Bagel Cafe was all about.  Inspired when Stephen was attending McGill University and eating Montreal-style bagels 25 years ago. They felt that the this style of bagel needed a larger audience and knew that it was different enough from NYC bagels to be a real hit. Fitting well with the NW's love for local artisan foods this cafe was packed with a lunch time crowd, stacked from the counter to the door, we were lucky to have the large table reserved for our group for a tour and tasting.
Daniel discussing their bagel
Not only is the taste quite different then it's cousin to the south, but how it is formed and cooked makes this northern version speak a different language. Breaking us up into two groups, Daniel took us back to the kitchen which is easily seen from anywhere in the cafe. We saw the process from start to finish getting a detailed explanation from ingredients to technique and the differences that contribute to the Montreal-style. 

Hand Formed
One at a time
Notice the Honeyed water bath at the far end

Making two basic doughs, a whole wheat and regular flour, they use a fresh yeast and nothing else besides salt. It is mixed and then hand formed after being stretched and rolled. It was fascinating to watch the baker form the bagels by hand and get such a consistant product. Then the bagels are boiled in a honeyed water bath and then dipped in the different seeded mixtures. The big difference here is you get a bagel the has no bottom and you have your seeds around the whole bagel not just on the top. 

Seeding the bagels
Getting a long paddle ready for bagels
The bagels are then placed on this very long pine paddle and placed into the oven, which is gas fueled on one side and wood burning on the other. It wasn't long before the 450 degree oven finished the bagels to a golden brown then pulled and sorted. 
Two planks in the oven
From there we got to try first hand the whole selection of bagels and some new flavors. The Cafe theme is based on an Eastern Mediterranean street food, which goes wonderful with the bagels and flat breads that they bake. 
Date walnut, Eggplant pomegranate, Red pepper and walnut, Fava bean mint 

Roasted cauliflower tahini and Crispy chickpea and leek salads
Sitting us down to a table of selected spreads, sweet and savory. I especially liked the Date walnut cream cheese, red pepper and walnut and the eggplant pomegranate spread.  They also surprised us with a beautiful roasted cauliflower tahini salad as well as a crispy chickpea and leek selection. They also had some herbed olives to round off the whole taste experience. 

Thanks again to Keren, Stephen and Daniel introducing all of us to such wonderfully new foods and a fun cafe. Make sure you check it out when you're in the neighborhood. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Just got back from Terry Ave. Preview

Tom Douglas had his Cuoco restaurant preview tonight, the first of three for his new restaurants on Terry Avenue in the midst of the Amazon Campus. It was fun, irreverent and informative. If the restaurants are  half as much fun and tasty it will help bring traffic down to SLU. Those of you that don't know the area, it is the new home of Amazon and the vison of Paul Allen, at the South end of Lake Union, hence SLU. It is the up and coming turf for new and motivated restauranteurs, Tom mentioned the adjustments and timing as well as the risks involved with bring his brand to the neighborhood.

Already there with Serious Pie 2 and Dahlia Workshop Biscuit Bar, Tom has created a venue that fits the neighborhood. Giving not just his take on good food but drawing people in to ask the questions and seek the answers. The tables at SP2 are above the workshop/bakery and it is all to bare, a great view of all the wonderful things being baked for all of the restaurants in the group.  

Enough of that, tonight was about the new restaurant Cuoco, Italian and evolving. The head chef is Stuart Lane, who cut his teeth at Juanita's and also brings his experiences from an immersion in Italy's small kitchens. He is the first "outsider" to lead a Tom Douglas kitchen in the last 5 expansions. And from the chatter it is going to be fun and wonderful. 

Also on the program tonight was a small glimpse of the two other restaurants the will be previewed the next week on Friday and Saturday. Unfortunately it is sold out. So it is Cuoco on the first floor and the The Brave Horse Tavern on the second, with the Tibetan "Ting Momo" in the back of the building, I can't wait to see the build out. They hope to see it opening in the first of April with an abbreviated schedule for all the restaurants. 

We started with a wonderfully tasty proseco that came in a box, everything tonight was about disclosure and analytics. For a "jug" wine it had great potential and as the staff pointed out the only thing lacking was a need for more carbonation. We then started down the list of the preview dishes with explanations of not just the dish, but how it was conceived, evolved and how we the previews would like it changed.

So here it is in a straight forward line up, all comments are mine, because I got to eat the food. 

24 hour rosemary cured beef: not enough seasoning, too smoky/burnt and the beef to bread was too small a taste for the bread.

bombolini, tuna: two choices, one with a stuffed tuna puree and the other with the tuna puree on the outside. They both did have some taste success but I think if you stuffed it and provided a puree to dress it you would have the bang it needed. 

grilled duck gizzard spiedini radicchio and green garlic bagna cauda on rhubarb bruschetta: again not enough seasoning on the gizzard, could have used some of the the fat they cut away and should have brought back some of the taste profile with it to caramelize the gizzard. The greens were competing but I can see an argument to lean either way, spring with the radicchio or green garlic to keep it more savory. The rhubarb on the bruschetta was inspiring.  The will be working on this one and I am sure they will get it right.

agnoltti dal plin: this too was a face off between the old and the new. I have to say I like Stuarts better, earthy, savory and more direct in its taste profile. The "older" version was more, which many liked, but lacked the finess that the new Cuoco version has.

tagliata of cotechino sausage with bob's re mill polenta: one of the top dishes tonight if not the top! The polenta was toothy, rich, creamy but not heavy. They explained how they got it and it was truly a revelation. The sauage, in house made, was perfect. Unlike many sausages, with mixtures that are too finely ground, this one was even but course, small grained so you could taste the different meats and seasoned perfectly. Truly a potential star if it stays on the menu. 

Lastly, the desert was two versions of a vanilla rice pudding, one cold and the other warm: unfortunately I did not enjoy either one, I am not a rice pudding kind of guy, but I can appreciate a good desert. This was not one for me and I hope they consider taking it off the menu.

This said, tonight was about the dialog, Tom wanted feed back and the 60 of us were more that willing to enjoy and share our thoughts on some good food and wonderful company. It is so nice to see, learn and hear about how much work and passion goes into creating a restaurant. Now we know why we love going to Tom's, they work hard to get there and they keep working even harder to improve the experience for us the diner.