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

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Off before dawn

Trying to get to Logan before a 7:30 AM flight shouldn't be a problem except for all the traffic, it's 6 AM and dark. It turns out that Boston starts pretty early, I am driving to get to the tunnel and find myself jockeying around traffic just to get to the freeway. Then the really driving begins, for all the places I've driven, Boston seems to take their driving to a go out and take no prisoners attitude. If it were not for the fact that all the roads seem to be marked differently than most places, the locals obviously have the upper hand. But make it we did and I said good bye to my wife and she wished me the best on the first leg, telling me that I should stop for coffee. As you can imagine the adrenalin is pumping and it is still dark, you just got to go for it.

As I got out of the city the traffic started to build until it was packed bumper to bumper going into the city and almost as crowded going north out of the city. There was more than once that I figured stopping and getting something to eat would add an hour to the trip north to Freeport Maine were I was going to pick up a co-pilot and see some old friends. As I was driving I started to think about the last time I was in Maine, 26 years ago, I was wondering how much it had changed. As it turned out the whole trip had moments that brought back the same thought, and just like the Professor in the Wizard of Oz said "I can't come back".  But sometimes you can, even though things have changed a lot.

Coming into to New Hampshire I had really only driven through it in the past, so I was going to take the opportunity to stop off in Portsmouth. As daylight finally came I stopped at the first rest stop, Seabrook, one of  many to come. Up to that time it was very overcast and threatening rain. It was showing signs of clearing and the temperature was still reasonable for this time of year. The fall colors were vibrant and I was looking forward to breakfast in NH. I checked out the maps and realized how much I had missed in the state. But it turned out that I didn't add much more to my knowledge of New Hampshire, getting off in Portsmouth and touring the town left me with no place to eat and a feeling that Portsmouth was just a series of businesses set up for the tourist season. Maybe next time I will try to hit it in the evening and see if there isn't more of a local feeling and some place that might be open.

 So it was off to Maine and hopefully some food, it wasn't long and I was taking the exit for south Portland driving into the harbor and there it was the first sign that I had arrived. Fresh seafood, live lobster $4.99 a pound, I had made it to Maine. Right past the sign I couldn't resist stopping at Becky's Dinner. Open 4 AM to 9 PM! Breakfast was calling and it was a great way to start seeing Portland again. I drove up and down the water front looking for the changes and then climbing up through the streets looking at all the new improvements but recognizing most of the old buildings. Many of the buildings had the same facades and some even had the same businesses in them. Mostly I noticed that the city looked much more prosperous, it's amazing what 26 years can do.

Monday, November 8, 2010

On the Road Again

I just made it back from the east coast, I went to see my daughter for parents weekend in Boston and picked up the van she drove out this summer with her friends. It was a great time to see her in school and get the tour of all the things she is so exited about.

We arrived Friday night with windy and cold conditions but it didn't stop her giving us the tour of the North End and eating an Italian meal, of course no visit there doesn't finish with an Italian desert. Walking quickly through Faneuil Hall Market Place, mainly to get out of the wind, we cut through the light crowds to emerge into packed streets of Friday night revelers. We not only there with groups of Parents and their kids, but that weekend was the Head of the Charles Regatta and a lot of rowers were carbo loading. After the meal we were taken to the place for desert, Mike's Pastry, everyone had cannoli's except me, I had a selection of macaroons.

The next day we met up with her as she was giving a tour of the campus for perspective students and parents. Some great questions and a great job of providing information for potential students. We then walked over to Newbury street and had a great brunch at Charley's Eating & Drinking Saloon. the price of brunch included you choice of beverage and it was worth half the cost of your meal.

Next it was off to retrieve the van for me and shopping for the others. I was off to Randolph by public transportation, up the orange line and down the red to Quincy Center Station and on to the #238 bus until the stop in front of the storage place. If you ever have to store or park something in Boston I can highly recommend Extra Space Storage, I shopped around and they offered some real bargains.

Once I had the van I drove back to our "neighborhood" and explored all the streets on foot, it is the South End, Boston not to be confused with South Boston. Right next to the Back Bay, it was centrally located and walking distance to most things. I do think they work on making it hard for the none locals with naming of all these tiny neighborhoods.

The up side was some great restaurants but very little parking. I rounded up the girls and we had dinner at a near by restaurant, being a Saturday night it was not just a hard choice of what we wanted to eat but how to get in. So we settled for the wait and restaurant we wanted, Hamersley's Bistro on Tremont street which had restaurant after restaurant. This meal was cooked precisely, presented professionally worth the wait and the money, we would recommend it. If you would like to get to a more of a neighborhood experience in Boston this is it.

On the way to meet Isabel the next morning, we saw the usual sights and monuments you expect to see in Boston. History is everywhere.

 She met us at the Christian Science Plaza reflection pool in the Back Bay. We wanted to see the Mapparium which is in the Mary Baker Eddy Library, if you don't know about it read about it on the link and if you get a chance take the tour to see it. You get to stand inside this three-story glass globe of the world as it was in 1935. You see another perspective of our world and see how close we are in proximity to each other. My daughter made the observation the it is because we usually see the world from the outside as in a globe, not from the inside out. The building is also a great example of fine architecture and craftsmanship.


 From there it was a walk to the Commons with a stop at the Thomas Moser store next to the Arlington Church just as the bells were tolling. Then is was on to the Swan Bridge, over the lake nearing Beacon Hill, then my wife want to see Joy street and Louisburg Square, when she was young she read about Boston through Frances Parkinson Keys, as an added bonus we saw where Louise May Alcott stayed when she first came to Boston and later stumbled on her own residence and Robert Frost's house all on Beacon Hill. We learned about the back filling of the bay and the Black freedom trail, a lot of history in on morning.

 And then more food, we met up with my daughter's friends and waited in line for what seemed like days, for a wonderfully late brunch at the Paramount on  Charles Street in Beacon Hill. The usual fare, but I had Reuben on Marbled Rye, good and filling as the rain started to come down and the wind picked up, just what you would expect in Boston.

Back into the Commons and on to the other side we called it a day and rested for dinner. The it was off to a local restaurant and an early evening for a 6:30 flight and a road trip waiting to happen.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The season is winding down

I have been enjoying this year's farmers markets, I can tell from the lack of sun and warmth that this season's bounty should be lacking in areas, but I have found that as the season is winding down that some of the best produce has come to the market. I for one will miss the FM's that shutter for the winter and will of course cherish the ones that continue through the weather. Support them as you can, I know it isn't as much fun getting up in the cold winter days to do what a city forager does. Just think of the growers, the market workers and all the supporting staff that brave the elements so we can have our fun in the kitchen and health in the winter.

Looking around and what you see is a kaleidoscope of colors and I don't mean fall colors. The last two weekends I made the effort to go to the University District Farmers Market. Big, full of wonderful things, but all I wanted was a couple of items. We got cranberry beans, multicolored carrots, peppers, some of the youngest baby bok choy I have ever seen at market and of course tomatoes. If you have the time it is worth the effort to get some tomatoes, I took advantage of one growers bulk sell off of second heirlooms and used them for tomato sauce, roasted some and kept the good looking ones for raw applications. Granted they were not the prettiest, but tasty all the same. 

And you thought summer was gone

Ok! so it wasn't quite summer weather, it might have been a little cool today but it was sunny and warm in Freemont.  Dropping in,  just in time for a snack at one of Seattle's newest food trucks. Fusion on the Run was parked at EVO's in Fremont today providing some wonderful food for the people enjoying what might be our Indian summer.

Fusion has a short menu, but big tastes, from little tacos packing a big punch, I had the 3 for $5. One Ono Kalua pork with mango salsa and surfer sauce. Two KV Fusions with marinated beef, cilantro and onions, of course it had the cilantro lime cream on top. They also have sandwiches with marinated short ribs, pickled veggies, cucumber, cilantro with a cilantro lime cream all on a soft French bread. Sliders with the same fillings are 3 for $3, what a deal for the hungry crowd. They haven't forgotten the vegetarians,  a wrap with home made fire roasted red pepper hummus, slaw, feta, cilantro on a tortilla.

I can't wait to try the rest and see if the menu will expand, in the mean time they do EVO every Tuesday, SODO on Thursday.  Follow them on Twitter and Facebook! All you need now is a morning session with some waves.

Texas Hill Country

I just got back from attending my nephew's wedding and I have to say it was Big Skies and BBQ. We had so good a time that I forgot to take any pictures of food, pretty crazy but true. We went on a whirlwind tour that took us to Austin so we could drive to the Hill Country, those of you that have not been need to put this on your bucket list and figure it all out.

After landing, we headed south on I 35 to Kyle, which is a getting off place for the trip into Wimberley where all of us would be staying at different places around the Hill Country. We stayed on the Blanco River and had a great house with the river right in the back yard. It was nice to have something cool to dip in as the weather bounced up and down around 95 degrees and the humidity must have been in the 80's.

That evening we headed into Wimberley for food and found out Thursday night rolls up at 8,  so we were directed to a road house a ways out of town and I was disappointed that they were not a BBQ joint and had nothing that resembled it. So I settled for a steak, how could you go wrong in Texas with beef? I had two sides of Collards and Green Beans. The steak was good and the sides better, over cooked served in their Pot likker. Only problem was it was the smallest sides I have ever seen.

 The next morning I needed to find something that resembled some Texas food, so we went into town and sat down for an early lunch at the Wimberley Cafe
I had the Chicken Fried Steak with fries, corn on the cob, Pepper gravy with a tall glass of ice tea.  I have to admit I don't get the Chicken Fried Steak thing, as many times as I have tried it, and I love fried food, I just don't know? But the Gravy was to die for and if you ate enough of it you will die young.  Peppery hot and savory, not sweet or salty but artery clogging good. Great dipping sauce for your fries. As for the corn, I think it must have been in the pot since the day before.

Later in the day we went up river about 6 miles and inner tubed it down, a little shallow in areas but a great time just floating along and seeing the sights. Turkey buzzards and blue herons going back and forth. The river was just stunningly beautiful and the water refreshing.

 Tex-Mex in Texas, for those of you that love Mexican Food, there has got to be a place in your heart for this.
That evening we had the rehearsal dinner at a place call Milagro's Hill Country Tex Mex it was big portions of Tex-Mex and some good flavors with plenty to drink, margaritas, Shiner Bock beer. You don't don't often see this beer outside of Texas but we just saw a sign outside Laredos Grill on lower QA, we are told that they have Shiner on Tap.

The best was yet to happen, the next day we sent some more people down the river and just hung out on the water building dams and rock sculptures. Later it was time for the evening wedding at the Red Corral Ranch about 20 minutes away on the other side of Wimberley from us. As it turned out it had the feel and look of a completely different part of the Hill Country, dryer with more rolling hills.

We had a beautiful wedding outside the James Pavillion and then had a hay ride to the Red Party Barn for what turned out to be the best meal of the trip. Real, fork tender BBQ. With all the fixings.

For such a short trip, it was Texas at it's best, doing what it does. Truth be told, I was hoping to check out the Austin food scene but everything is Bigger in Texas and not the easiest place to get around. Next time Austin City Lights.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A sign from above?

I have been going up to Lake Forest Park on Sundays and people told me about the Thriftway on Ballinger Way in Shoreline, said that when the local peaches came in that they were good and that the prices were good. Since it is on the way I thought I would check it out. I have gone a few times for last minute dinner and fruit, enjoying the change of routine with the stores that I frequent in Seattle.

Some of the things were interesting, but nothing too exciting until I found that they had cuts of beef that I couldn't find anywhere else except at specialty butchers. Then I found myself needing some fish for dinner and to my surprise the Fish Department was well stocked and expertly staffed.

You might wonder where this is going, as it turns out I have been too lazy to do my own research and to my surprise there are a bunch of Thriftways in the Seattle area. I was told that there was one on Queen Anne Hill at one time? So rather than trying to find the cut that I wanted or the quality that I desired by running around to my usual haunts, I now have a closer choice to fill in the gaps. Magnolia!

                                                                  Let there be Light!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lead off dinner for youngest

Sending a child off to school is never easy, I remember asking my mother to cook certain specials before the summer was done. Of course you have the last big meal, all the things you might have forgotten to ask for, or repeats of the best of, maybe things that you know you can't cook yourself at school. Well this is the lead up to the last meal......for my youngest.

We had to cover the right products and have the combination work. We knew what was going to be the kick off meal, Tri-tip, risotto and green beans. So this is the catch meal that covered all the things that might not be enjoyed for the next couple of months or years.

Chicken Wings, baked crisp with a salt rub that we mixed ourselves, 400 degrees to crisp them up.


Beet and yellow tomato salad with goat cheese, and caramelize carrots. The starch was mashed potatoes and for the vegetarian, a roasted tomato, garlic and herb dish.

This was your basic, lets eat and be happy!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Summer BBQ in Seattle

Rain in the forecast, cloudy and cool. I am flying back from a hot and dry Los Altos summer, thank goodness I was only there over night, I might have had to ask to stay. Thinking about coming back to Seattle's weather sounded dreadful, on top of that I am going to a BBQ that I was really looking forward to and I couldn't imagine eating BBQ "indoors".

My wife picks me up at Seatac and we head North under a mid-day hazy sky, seems to be the norm here this summer. As we get closer to our friend's house, lo and behold there is sunshine. We find ourselves in a warm lull before the rain we get later in the evening and through the next day, so enjoy it while you can.

We knock on the door and we walk into paradise, a beautiful back yard set up for the BBQ of the summer. We could have not dreamed, bought or stole a better afternoon. The sun was up and the the shade of the beautiful landscape was welcomed as the temperature was perfect and the sun was out. We walk in and what do we have but White Sangria, I haven't had a great White Sangria since NYC. I won't tell you how long that was, but one I am too lazy to make them, two I was always afraid I couldn't do it justice. These were great, sorry no Pic's. Less tropical, more seasonal, Muy bueno. Thank you to our hostesses for a fantastic call, couldn't have matched the weather and drink better.

As we were introduced to the rest of the benefactors of this BBQ, I noticed that the Big Green Egg was not smoking. This was one of the focus' for the BBQ? As it turns out our host spent the last 5 hours doing the ribs and he was ready to finish the meal off. In great anticipation I looked around to see if there were loose ends that needed to be picked up, there by making my invitation to the party valid, but to no avail everything was relaxed and taken care of. The theme of the BBQ was not just great food, but the summer and for me the Big Green Egg. We had talked about it during one of our lunch/food functions and the fact that our host was the proud owner of an Egg brought the conversation around to "how good", "how does it work" and when can we taste the results? And it true Hospitality, we got an invitation!!!!!! But isn't any excuse a reason to BBQ/smoke/grill and eat?

Well our host went all out, he smoked, grilled and put the spread out that was picture perfect. As you can see there wasn't the last minute rush from the grill, I would have taken pictures but only the last details and the assessment were necessary before we all jumped in. (Just to let you know he did grill off the links on the Weber to make sure they were hot and ready).

Here is the Grill Master making sure everything is perfect.
This is our host placing his homemade Carolina style BBQ sauce in place, vinegary with the spiciness that added to the smokiness of the pork. He just was in KC doing a BBQ recon earlier this year and by his own admission tried as much BBQ that was humanly possible.

Here is Bruce giving us the details on his side dish of eggs and multi-pepper dish, very good, balanced spicy and savory. It was enjoyed by everyone there even though it seemed like a dish that you wouldn't bring to a BBQ but it was perfect. The softness in texture made the meat seem like it had crunch even though is was so soft and tender.

Next was the spread, looking at all the beautifully laid out dishes, corn bread muffins, salads, green and potato, relishes and of course more meat than you can imagine.

Two kinds of Links, spicy and not. Some grilled pork tenderloin? waiting for some condiments or sauce. Egg and pepper casserole, with Corn Muffins.

Green Salad, mustn't forget our greens with a French Vinaigrette. The potato salad that had the right "bite" to the potato, dressing was creamy but not heavy.  And a spinach salad to give depth to all the wonderful meat.
Needless to say there were great condiments to pair with the meats and balance the other dishes, pickled red and yellow pickles being one my favorites. Pretty and tasty with a crisp crunch of season freshness.

Notice the KC BBQ sauce, it had a bite that made the ribs something special and worked great on the hot links. 

Looks like the Ribs took a beating and seconds aren't even up. 

Desert was a hostess special she did a  Momofuku's Crack Pie, she put a Northwest spin on it and I tell you just sealed the deal! It would have been trouble if we started with it. Might have passed on the BBQ, well maybe not.

Outdoors, great weather and even better company. What's left, oh! Great BBQ! And Food, love it! Isn't summer Wonderful? Let's hope it isn't over.