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

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.