Saturday, September 13, 2008

Moving Day

Hello food friends!

So after a bit of time here at Blogger and 20 or so posts, I've decided to close up shop and move over to Wordpress. Please come visit me there as we explore the world of food & wine. Look forward to seeing you around the table!


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Caught in a Blind

A blind tasting is a good way to test your wine drinking palette. When you add the criteria that no bottle surpasses $15, it can make things rather tricky. This is what happened last night at Seattle Uncorked.

David LeClaire is the main dude behind Seattle Uncorked; he knows a thing or two about wine and events. Seattle Uncorked is a social networking and drinking club that has events every few weeks. Great chance to network and drink wine. Business cards aren't required, nor is snootiness. Last night, the blind tasting fee was $10 and we were treated to some good wines (and some not so good) but we also had some good food courtesy of Herban Feast.

Events like this happen all the time, so sign up today to join the fun of Seattle Uncorked. Membership is free if you sign up by the end of the year! Next up is a BC/Okanagan tasting of wines that David personally brought back from Canada. I'm intrigued, as are you, eh?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Internal temp. External joy.

If you find yourself overcooking or undercooking food, might I suggest this snazzy little tool? Yes, it's a bit spendy, but isn't your dining enjoyment worth it? I learned about Thermoworks' Thermapen while reading Cook's Illustrated. As Cook's is apt to do, they rate what they think works the best in the kitchen. Fine by me if someone else does the research. But this little wonder can instantly read internal temps of food, which is really the only way to know if things are done. Take solace in that there are tools to help us avoid grey, dry meat that leaves us grasping for the ladle to spoon on more sauce.

Here is a nice little breakdown for knowing temps.

And they come in an array of colors! I have the orange one.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Sprung for Spring Hill

In the last few years, West Seattle has started to shed its sleepy reputation and evolved into a distinct and vibrant neighborhood. Nowhere is that more noticeable than along the Junction; home to some of West Seattle's best restaurants and shops to check out. Spring Hill is a welcome addition to the strip.

Located at California and Oregon (funny cross streets... maybe call it Jefferson Junction?), Spring Hill comes to us from Mark Fuller and his wife Marjorie. Mark's a graduate of the renowned Culinary Institute of America and served as the head chef at Tom Douglas' Dahlia Lounge. Mark moved on to open Spring Hill to showcase his take on the haul that the Pacific Northwest and all points north could provide. With glowing recent reviews, a visit to Spring Hill was on the docket.

The theme of the menu is geared towards all the great stuff that is available to us locally. Shellfish from Washington, beef from Oregon, fish from Alaska, all are meant to utilize the bounty of our local farmers and fishermen. Armed with this knowledge, we were excited and curious from the local buzz, we looked forward to our dinner at Spring Hill.

The small dishes we started with were the bread & butter and the beef hot & cold. Warm, fresh rolls with a butter spiked with sea salt. Sounds basic and simple, but the taste is anything but. Too bad it wasn't on the house. The beef steak hot & cold was a fun idea; hot side is a grilled piece of ribeye with a strong, smoky flavor; the cold side is raw steak tartare and it's explosion of beefy flavor. All in all, off to a nice start.

The next dish that came to us were a pair of Kushi oysters and Olympia oysters. We love oysters, which is funny, because growing up I couldn't stand them. Now? Give me more. Both oysters were small in size, but that's not a bad thing with oysters; with the potential for so much flavor, don't hold the size against them. We knew Olympia from our experience having them from Mashiko's down the street, and they delivered their briny goodness. Kushi we knew less about, but it's already vaulted to our favorite bivalve. The brine is nice, but the finish is where it's at; creamy, buttery, and awesome. If you see these on a menu, order them.

The Manila clams were excellent as well. In the dish was diced pork belly and lemon mayo. The olive oil grilled bread was a nice touch and great for dipping. The key to any good clam or mussel dish is the broth. And this one was great. A bit of spice and great flavor from all the ingredients. Two courses down, main course to go.

Out came the trout. The trout was nice; soft, sweet and subtle flavor. The skin was nice and crisp too. Don't be afraid to have fish skin! However the highlight of the dish wasn't the fish (although quite good), it was the spaetzle. They call it 'crispy little dumplings'. And it was awesome. This was a nice dish, get a good-sized portion of fish and the dumplings.

I love duck. It's sweet, juicy and full of flavor; it's something I'll always order if I see it on a menu. Spring Hill does the bird justice. It's a duck breast that's been sliced and is suitably undercooked, perfect for duck. The brightness of the orange mustard sauce was a nice touch. Great flavor and perfectly prepared. And the quinoa biscuit that comes with it? Genius! This was really good. Luckily you get a side of duck with it.

As for dessert? Sadly, wasn't able to partake in dessert this evening. With a couple of courses already, a bottle of Lange Pinot Noir and a fair share of starch, we limped across the finish line. but the race was definitely worth it.

If you find yourself looking to have a great dinner, make a date to go check out Mark Fuller's talent on full display at Spring Hill. I have no doubt that it will evolve into one of the finest restaurants in Seattle and is the fountainhead for the neighborhood. Much as Canlis represents the best of Queen Anne, Cafe Juanita to Kirkland, Sitka & Spruce to Eastlake; Spring Hill will represent the best of West Seattle.

Photo courtesy of Ross Mantle and The Seattle Times

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Doughy goodness

The Pike Place Market is a mecca for food lovers. One could explore and discover great produce, seafood, cheese, coffee, and restaurants; the places to see at the market are limitless. Filled with nooks and crannies, Pike Place Market is deserving of exploring, next time you go definitely explore. This is how we stumbled on Michou's Bomboloni.

Michou is quietly tucked away in the Soames-Dunn Building of the Market; they have this doughy drop of heaven called Bomboloni. Slightly denser than a doughnut but you'll get the same satisfaction from it. Definitely filling. And the cinnamon sugar dusting is always a crowd-pleaser. We each got one and know that it'll be something we'll grab on the run down the road. Skip past the mini-donut place and definitely go here.

The folks at Michou have all sorts of other stuff from baked goods to Mediterranean fare. And a great fresh squeezed lemonade too. Definitely partake in the bomboloni though.

And that sense of discovery? We found it in a little courtyard tucked in the back. It felt like a little oasis in the Market. Down the steps from Post Alley. That little area also houses Sabra's and Emmett Watson's Oyster Bar.

Go out and explore your Pike Place Market, you'll be glad you did.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

àMaurice is aMazing.

Earlier this year we went to a Winemaker Dinner at The WAC celebrating the wines of àMaurice
. A big reason why we went is because one of us knew the winemaker, Anna Schafer. We had a great time getting to know Anna and tasting her wines created a fondness for àMaurice that most of us carry to this day. So imagine my surprise when I found out they were making a table wine.

Based in Walla Walla, àMaurice
is creating some exciting stuff..or as Stephen Tanzer mentioned at Art of the Table "... àMaurice was a surprising and exciting winery.... " Very cool stuff. They make awesome wines, ranging from Malbec to Merlot, Viognier to Chardonnay, and more.

So imagine my surprise this week when I went to the Uptown Metropolitan Market and noticed a white table wine from them called "Pour Me". Table wines are usually a blend of grapes and have a lot of flavor that's pretty front and center. In this case Pour Me is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, and Chardonnay. And Pour Me clocks in at under $15. Sold!

We were excited to try it, because we knew Anna's talent and the quality of vine that
àMaurice plays with. When we tasted it, Pour Me exceeded our expectations. A pretty full body with good acidity and evident fruit; this was a really nice wine. And it had a great finish! Creamy and lush: malolactic fermentation perhaps? This is a really fun wine. Definitely as good as some Washington whites at twice it's price.

Another cool thing about Pour Me is that it's a Metropolitan Market exclusive. In other words, once they're sold out, you've missed your chance. You've been properly warned; get yours.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Spotlight on Salumi

Of Seattle's food destinations, Salumi would be on that list. With good reason too. Its modest storefront on the edge Pioneer Square welcomes visitors from all over the world craving good food. Much has been written about Salumi from writers much better than myself, so instead we'll talk about their sublime Agrumi Salumi,

I discovered Agrumi before a trip to the Upper One of Alaska. I wanted to grab some salumi as a gift, because who doesn't love cured meats? Even vegetarians break for the right kind. Salumi opens at 11am, and I made my way around 10:45. And yup, the line was already starting. By the time Armandino Batali opened his doors, we were 30 deep. Glad I got their early. If you're at the back of the line the wait is worth it. Sandwich suggestion? Get the Porchetta and thank me later.

As I rummaged through the cured meats, I asked about one called Agrumi. I was told that it was a new flavor incorporating citrus and cardamon. Citrus? In salumi? I gave it a shot, and I was sprung. The flavor of the citrus is restrained and delicate. Softly touching on your palette with a slight zing. It's already my favorite of theirs and that's saying something.

Thankfully you don't have to wait in the lines to grab some. You can order some through their website and Metropolitan Market also carries Salumi at some of their deli counters

And the folks that I gave it to in Alaska? They were in cured meat heaven as well.