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

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.

Friday, February 4, 2011

First Friday on Thursday

Some times change doesn't work out but this Thursday's "First Friday Lunch Club" at Spring Hill was not only the largest turn out but one of the of a long string of hits for Darryl. He was able to talk Mark Fuller into hosting a large group of old and new friends for a lunch showcasing his wonderful spin on NW tropical Luau food. So rather then go through my explanation of the meal here is Darryl's link to the invitation. Seattle Foodies Pictures and comments are mine and hope you enjoy. We had wonderful company to share some great food and Mark's wife Marjorie and staff hosted our meal like welcoming us into their home. Truly an Aloha meal.

The lull before the storm, the start of the pupu plates.

The finished pupu's, crispy kalua duck, bulgogi beef, ahi poke and kim chee.

Mark was constantly on the move, quickly as you notice.

Even when he was moving slower his hands were a blur.

One of the few times you saw him still.

Roasted chicken, stir fried emmer with hedgehogs, baby sweet potato, yolk, watercress.

Roasted pineapple sorbet, li hing mui, haupia.

What I didn't show was some of the best chocolates you could imagine that are made in house.
Thank you again Darryl for a wonderful meal and a great time.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thank you Darryl SFFFLC 2011 starts with Sushi

Seattle Foodies First Friday Lunch Club hosted it's first lunch of the new year, if this is the start, it is going to be a great 2011. Darryl deserves much thanks for not just appreciating this fine chef, but keeping tabs on his resent move to Eastlake from Fremont. Chef Taichi Kitamura displayed not just the deaf touch of someone that appreciates locally sourced ingredients but has the finess to bring out the excellence in the subtleties of their flavors.

I am going to post Darryl's invitation with the great back story on how this meal came to be. I will include pictures and comments and leave the the rest for your imagination. By the way thank you Chef for being a gracious host and coming to all the tables a number of times to explain your philosophy, fantastic ingredients and your techniques. Chef Kitamura emphasized that almost all of the ingredients for the lunch were from the Pacific Northwest, two of the few that were not from the NW were soy sauce and wasabi.  Even though there is wasabi being grown in the Portland area, he preferred a Japanese wasabi that is freeze dried, we all commented on how different if was than what is available at most Sushi restaurants and it was excellent in texture and taste. His staff was very attentive and well informed, their understanding of the ingredients and locations added to the appreciation of this great meal.

Darryl's invitation in black: my comments in rose

Hey Foodies,

Two summers ago, Taichi Kitamura (then chef/owner of Chiso in Fremont) came to culinary camp and blew us away, the deep grilled beef flavors in his succulent yakiniku leaving a permanent mark on my taste memory. Which left me fantasizing about a First Friday lunch at Kappo, the omakase space above Chiso, so we could wallow in a multi-course version of his Japanese magic. But before I could make that happen, Taichi closed the Kappo space, turned Chiso downstairs over to one of his very capable chefs, and set his sights on re-opening in his own building. So, unhappily, I waited.

And finally, Sushi Kappo Tamura (2968 Eastlake Avenue East) is open, and, oh boy, was it worth the wait.

Normally, because they won't let me eat it, I pay little attention to restaurant decor. But the new place is a marvel of woodwork and art-as-serving-ware. Those gorgeous expanses of clear fir, both very Japanese and very Pacific Northwest, remind me how similar are the growing environments, and therefore foods, we share. Which becomes obvious once you taste Taichi's regionally sourced creations, like the earthy maitake mushrooms, tender wagyu beef shoulder, sweet dungeness crab, meltingly fatty salmon and tuna belly, succulent duck, perfect shigoku oysters, and rich grilled hamachi collar he dished out during a recent omakase (chef's choice) session. Fresh and intense flavors that keep me coming back for more.

And while Sushi Kappo Tamura is closed for lunch, Taichi will be hosting our next Seattle Foodies First Friday Lunch Club on January 7th. He's excited to showcase the local, seasonal winter fare of the region in a special four-course lunch. Here's what he's thinking:

- Full Circle Farm organic mustard greens and Washington Albacore tuna dressed with Wasabi Almond sauce (the Almond sauce at first tasted like a Thai peanut sauce, but this was much more nuanced in it's flavor profile) (the Albacore was almost creamy in texture in a very good way) 

- Chawan mushi savory custard soup with Alaskan Dungeness crab and black cod (everyone raved about this dish, the saltiness of the cod, sweetness of the crab and creamy texture of the custard came together in this savory dish that was way too small)

- Bara Chirashi sushi with sustainable selection of seafood, cucumber, radish sprouts and house-marinated local chum salmon Ikura (all the different ingredients had their voice, I know it sounds impossible, but every piece tasted like it came from a different part of the ocean or garden)

- Dessert to be announced (dessert was Chestnut creme brulee, not sweet with fine pieces of chestnut)

We'll start at 11:30am, and the cost will be $30 (plus drinks, tax, & tip). He'll be offering an optional special feature sake or cocktail pairing. But here's the challenge: because it's a special opening, we need 30 people to make it happen. So please R.S.V.P. by January 5th if you can join us.

Until then, have a terrific holiday and New Year!

Happy eating,

Eastlake Ave. E. & E. Allison

Chef Kitamura

The dinner wear was almost as beautiful as the food

Custard soup

Bara Chirashi Sushi

Chestnut Creme Brulee

Thanks Darryl

On the road again, well almost

Front Stairs
Great river rock foundation

As I had mentioned in the last post, I was off to pick up Hal, my co-pilot in crime. We had both really enjoyed the meal that Judy had fixed for us, as sparse as Lobsters, clams and all the trimmings seem simple. It is how you put it together with all the right things and treating beautiful local ingredients right. And the only thing not local was the white wine. Even the vodka is distilled in Freeport by Maine Distilleries we started with their Cold River Classic Vodka which is a potato vodka. Maine was a large producers of potatoes until Idaho came along and they provided plenty of potatoes for the 13 colonies. I wanted to visit the distillery but they were closed on Monday, I won't make that mistake again. I would have really liked to try their gin. One note, the potatoes made the vodka sweet but finished very smooth and clean with no sweetness in the mouth.

So back to the road trip or at least the start of it, picking up Hal in South Freeport, we took a tour of his house as I had never been to it before and we checked out all the features and improvements he's made.
There really is a South Freeport
 From there we needed to stop off at the Post Office to mail his letters and then we cruised the back roads to Yarmouth to his bank for some money. Along the way we had to reminisce about the changes and memories it brought back, as you can imagine we thought nothing of the time we only had 3,000 miles or so to go. Although we were expected for dinner at my brother-in-law and his wife's house for dinner in Pittsford, New York, only about 500 miles away and 8.5 hours if we didn't stop or goof off.

But off we went, right on down I-95 taking all the short cuts Hal could throw out. Being originally from Connecticut helped even though we missed one of the cut offs to I-90. But westward we continued seeing some beautiful scenery in western Massachusetts, around Sturbridge the hills were spectacular. Fall colors were still on the trees and we passed some very large manufacturing facilities that had grounds surrounding them that were like topiary gardens. Around Stockbridge the hills were fading to the flats that would bring us into New York state and on to Albany.
That's the Turnpike on the other side of the sign!
Well Albany was further away then it looked on the map, hunger set in and off the highway at Miller road Castleton, NY. Turning right on the old Columbia Turnpike, go about a mile and we are in another city called East Greenbush, NY. We find this dinner called, ready for this, East Greenbush Dinner. Did we luck out, we struck the mother lode. Yelp even had it rated with 4 stars.  It was a large two sided dinner, great menu, funny waitress and very good food. The waitress was on speed and gave us the pitch, making sure we didn't overlook anything. I had the Pork Hot sandwich with Ice Tea and Hal ordered a big breakfast with a large milk, all day you know. Instead of trying to do the food justice I found this review that really sums this place up. Highly recommend it if you ever get the chance. The East Greenbush review.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Freeport Maine home of Brown Goldsmiths

I know most of you think Freeport, Maine is the home of LL Bean, but they just happen to be in the same town as one of Maine's premier jewelers. Brown Goldsmiths, housed in Freeport's old Masonic building, has been a fixture on 1 Mechanic Street since 1971, owned by good friends Judy and Steve Brown, they make custom designed jewelry from their beautifully store and studio. When I was there years ago LL Bean was just a small building with a lot of stuff in it and now it is the massive retail campus with multiple buildings. 

1 Mechanic Street
Just as Bean's has grown, so has the scope of Brown Goldsmiths reputation as one of the finest jeweler stores in New England. They have designed and created jewelry that has made them an international destination for everyones jewelry passion.

Along with Judy's creative talents and Steve's gemological expertise their professional staff of jewelers, designers and sales staff are waiting to show off their treasures. Drop on in next time you have to pick something up at that outdoor store just up the block. You will be enticed to browse their cases full of beautiful jewelry and fine gemstones, you may even want to start to design something for that special occasion you have.
No trip down memory lane would be complete without seeing places I used to wonder if they were real? 26 years ago I thought I had gone through a time warp, I needed to see for myself how good my memory was and did it really seem as strange as I had remembered it. As it turns out some of the old places are still there and some had not changed that much, but change is in the making and many of the places have changed and more are going through some major renovations. One such place was Bow Street Market, I used to buy some of my food there, especially local seafood. You could go into the market and if you were early enough you might find some fresh catch that just came off someones boat in South Freeport by Harraseeket Lunch & Lobster Co. just waiting to become your dinner that night. The first time I ever cleaned and prepared fresh spot prawns came for this very market, but as time marches on, so does the the market. Big changes in the works, I drove by and there was the gigantic hole ready to accommodate the New Bow Street Market. (just a note, great lobster rolls at the HL&L, only open for the season)

South Freeport
And then there are somethings that just stay the same, walking up and down Main Street I dropped in at Derosier's since 1904 feeding Freeport through 5 generations, even older that famous boot maker across the street. As you can see from the menu, dropping in for some interesting items, catch the WTF! ice cream and the history link for some great pictures. One of my fondest memories is getting my Ballantine Ale from them, they carried the now defunct ale with the green bottle and special xxxx caps. For a more comprehensive history of the Ale here is the link. I think you can still find it in cans in some states but it in not the same product and doesn't have the "crown ticklers" with the rebus on the under side of the cap. Sometimes you just can't go back, except in your memories. Got to thank Hal for introducing me to this drink, he always said one day will keep you healthy and better than an apple.
Small town Maine

Main Street USA

As you can see from the pictures Freeport has changed from that small New England town but friendships and memories are forever. That evening before a great New England lobster and steamer clam dinner we headed off to hear Steve play stand up bass with his country western group for residents of a retirement home. They got them up dancing, clapping and having a good ole' time, we were in western Maine you know.  But is was that evenings meal with all the fixings including Steve's home brewed beers (which were awesome) and some great wines. I could have that dinner once a week with great friends and wonderful food/drink. Thanks again Judy and Steve!

Steve QC'ing the Home Brew
Judy slaving away on a fine meal after a long day of  making beautiful Jewelry

The next morning I pick up my partner in Crime, just down the road in South Freeport a tour of Hal's house, a stop at the local Post Office and we are off like a herd of turtles. We had plenty of miles to go and we thought we had even more time so we thought.