Monthly Archives: August 2009

Cake Wrecks coming to Seattle!

Jen Yates, the brilliantly hilarious mind behind Cake Wrecks, will appear at Third Place Books September 26 at 6:30 p.m. Jen will be promoting her new Cake Wrecks book. There will be cake for all (of course) and a fun contest. Bring the Wreckplica of your choice…on a cupcake. Click here for all the details.

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“But it’s breakfast for supper. Your favorite, Paulie.”

I didn’t need to watch Juno to know that having breakfast for dinner kicks butt.

My Thursday night dinner crew shares the sentiment, and in June, we had a potato and leek frittata, waffles, bacon, sausage, fruit salad and mimosas in honor of our friend Jill’s birthday.

Who needs cake when you've got a birthday frittata?

Who needs cake when you've got a birthday frittata?

Tara brought her circus waffle maker, which produces waffles in the shape of a lion, elephant, circus tent and clown (shudder).

Tara brought her circus waffle maker, which produces waffles in the shape of a lion, elephant, circus tent and clown (shudder).

Decisions, decisions

Decisions, decisions.

All together now: mmmm...bacon.

All together now: mmmm...bacon.

A balanced breakfast.

A balanced breakfast.

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Filed under Savory, So right, Sweet, Thursday night dinners

Oh Mioposto

The best pizza I’ve ever had came from a shop in the Venice train station. It was a slice of margherita pizza with basil, fresh tomatoes and mozzarella cheese and a thin but perfectly crisp crust.

That was six years ago, and as I recently told my friend Mary, who was with me on that trip, I still dream about that pizza.

We were sharing lunch at Mioposto, an Italian pizzeria and cafe located in Seattle’s Mount Baker neighborhood.

Like the pizza of my dreams, the pies at Mioposto have a cracker-thin crust and focus on getting the most flavor out of choice ingredients. Mary and I had the Pinnochio with salami, hot Italian sausage, pepperoni, salsa di pomodori, mozzarella, mixed olives and fresh tomatoes.

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And we also tried the Pizza Del Giardino with artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, garlicky mixed olives, fontina, mozzarella and salsa di pomodori.

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We paired our pizza with the delicious Della Casa salad, which had carmelized onions in a vinaigrette.

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I’ll still pine for that perfect slice in Venice, but it’s nice to know that good Italian fare is not so far away.

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Ninja-tastic!

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I snagged these totally awesome ninja glasses earlier this month at the Urban Craft Uprising, which showcases the work of independent crafters, artists and designers. I’ve given the glasses as wedding gifts and housewarming presents, and they never fail to delight.

Val Lord of Sweet & Cool Design sandblasted each glass by hand and has a bunch of other designs available through her Etsy store. She also does custom orders.

I’ll drink to that.

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Figs, pigs and lions

My friend Tara and her husband H. recently purchased their first home, and they graciously hosted this past Thursday’s Girl’s Night dinner at their new digs.

We started the night with some cheese, figs and meat treats from Salumi. I bought them at the Metropolitan Market in West Seattle, which has a robust selection of Italian cured meats. We tried four varieties: sopressata, mole salami, mollinari hot salami and finnochiona salami.

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We had pan-seared pork loin for our main course and an interesting side dish–roasted baby carrots with black olives and garlic.

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I didn’t think I would enjoy these three flavors together, but the sweetness of the carrots and saltiness of the olives complemented each other, and the garlic wasn’t overpowering.

In remembrance of the “lion of the Senate,” Ted Kennedy, Lynn made a commemorative cocktail. It consisted of light rum, bitters, lemon juice, grenadine and powdered sugar. According to the recipe, it was called the “White Lion,” which was very confusing because the drink is actually pink.

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Mahnaz made a pudding dessert with bananas and vanilla wafers from Trader Joe’s, which she claims are far superior to the classic NILLA Wafers. I call for a blind taste test! And plenty of milk.

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Filed under Alcohol, Savory, Sweet, Thursday night dinners

Bluebird is no fly-by-night operation

Since I’m training for a half marathon, probably the last thing I should be eating is snickerdoodle ice cream. But there I was last night at Bluebird Homemade Ice Cream & Tea Room enjoying a scoop. I had also gotten a kids-size scoop of chocolate pudding ice cream for my son, and he did eat much of it, but let’s be honest–it was really for me!

Bluebird is located in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood in an area that is also home to Molly Moon’s and Old School Frozen Custard. That’s a lot of frozen dairy for essentially a four-block radius, but each shop has its unique character and treats.

Bluebird definitely has the best space. There’s ample seating, and all of the furniture has a story. Much of it is made from reclaimed materials. In addition to ice cream, it serves sandwiches, pastries and a wide variety of teas.

The snickerdoodle ice cream was way too sweet for me, but I really enjoyed the chocolate pudding ice cream. It was velvety smooth and had a deep cocoa flavor.

Definitely worth going an extra mile for.

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Filed under Ice cream, Reviews, Sweet

Olive 8 ALMOST makes you forget you’re eating hotel food

Photo by Sarah Albano

Photo by Sarah Albano

If there is a part of hell reserved for food lovers, I’m sure that it is a hotel ballroom where the damned must eat endless supplies of rubbery chicken breasts, dried-out beef, gummy pasta and mushy vegetables.

So I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy the dinner at my friends’ wedding reception at the Hyatt at Olive 8 in Seattle. Olive 8 is sleek and modern and the food aspires to be that way too.

The starter salad was grilled crimini mushrooms with mizuna lettuce and crumbled bleu cheese. I liked the flavors in the salad, but unfortunately, someone in the kitchen had a heavy hand with the bleu cheese, which overwhelmed everything.

The salad was served with rosemary bread, which was warm and soft–a nice departure from the rock hard dinner rolls found in most hotel ballrooms.

Guests had three main courses to choose from: Alaskan black cod, braised beef short rib, or leek and ricotta croquettes with mushroom ragout. Entrees came with jasmine rice and asparagus.

I had the fish, my husband had the beef and my friend Aileen had the croquettes. I was very impressed with my dish because the cod was cooked perfectly. It was moist and perfectly flaked when I put a fork to it. I also appreciated that the preparation was fairly simple so that the cod could shine. My asparagus was tender-crisp and hallelujah–the rice was cooked properly! Too many times when dining out, I’ve been expecting sticky rice and get some kind of soggy rice pilaf impostor instead. Props to Olive 8 for getting the rice right for the mostly Filipino guests at this wedding reception.

The beef shortrib looked great on the plate, but when I asked my husband what he thought of it, I got noncommittal mumble in reply. Not a good sign. When I tasted it, I was again impressed. The hotel kitchen had kept the meat moist and tender. However, the meat was woefully underseasoned and could have used some sauce. I’ve heard judges on Top Chef and Chopped go on and on about how a dish could have used a sauce, and I’ve never really known what they meant. When I had the Olive 8 shortrib, I finally got it. A sauce would have added some much-needed flavor and personality to the shortrib. And the shortrib would not merely be moist–it would have been succulent. On its own, it was just a piece of meat that was luckily not overcooked.

I got just a bite of the leek and ricotta croquettes, and I thought they were pretty tasty. It was nice to have a vegetarian entree with some imagination.

Olive 8’s food wasn’t perfect but represents a welcome change from the usual hotel fare.

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Oh yes, it’s ladies night

So the Thursday morning after the Top Chef Masters finale, I was a little bummed because Hubert Keller lost, but I wasn’t down for too long because I had dinner at my friend Ellen’s house to look forward to. As I wrote a few months ago, every Thursday Ellen hosts a “Girls Night” at her home.

Ellen is a fabulous cook and host. She usually prepares an entree and then the rest of us sign up to bring salad, bread, wine or dessert. Along with Ellen, my weekly dining companions are Mahnaz, Tara, Jill, Lynn and Michelle. Although it’s “Girls Night,” men are welcome so Ellen’s husband, Jeff, is also at the table and other spouses make frequent appearances. Half of us are new moms so there are also a few babies in the mix as well as Jeff and Ellen’s dachsund, Chaplin.

This past Thursday, we celebrated the return of Project Runway with an all-appetizers menu.

Jill made garam masala deviled eggs and ham tartines.

Garam masala deviled eggs

Ham tartines

Tara brought a fancy cheese plate and a not-so-fancy, but delicious, sweet dip for strawberries made with cream cheese and marshmallow fluff.

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Strawberries and dip

Ellen prepared Italian meatballs and Jamaican chicken bites.

Meat balls

Jamaican chicken bites

Mahnaz roasted an assortment of vegetables dusted with curry powder.

Roasted vegetables

And I attempted to recreate a Tom Douglas appetizer I had tasted at an event. It was a thin slice of granny smith apple topped with smoked salmon, creme fraiche and dill. I couldn’t find any creme fraiche at the grocery store so I used sour cream instead. They turned out surprisingly well!

Apples with salmon and dill

Lynn rounded out things with amazing chocolate and peanut butter brownie bites.

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Tara and Mahnaz dressed up for Project Runway viewing and looked fierce. (I wore sweats.)

Tara and Mahnaz

The lone male that evening was Ellen’s baby boy, Jonah.

Ellen and Jonah

The food was awesome, the company divine. And Project Runway? I enjoyed the All-Stars edition much more than the season 6 premiere, although there was way too much Santino for my taste. Season 6 has way too many designers to keep track of, and I thought the challenge of creating an outfit for a “red carpet event” was pretty dull.

Speaking of fashion, who designed the outfit for the lead singer in this video? If your client says, “I’d like a floor length jacket that looks like a brick wall,” you should say no.

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Filed under Savory, Sweet, Thursday night dinners

Head Master

Tonight is a TV food competition feast with the finale of Top Chef Masters followed by a supersized season premiere of Top Chef Las Vegas. I’ve really been enjoying watching world-class chefs (and in many cases, former Top Chef judges) duke it out. It’s been fun to see which classic quickfire challenges get brought back too. My favorite was the mise en place relay race. From the very start, I wanted Hubert Keller to win, and I hope he takes the title tonight. He totally rocked the dorm room challenge. Although I wouldn’t mind if Rick Bayless won either. I think I have a celebrity crush on him. (This has never happened before with a chef.) I think he’s really hot! I’ve always enjoyed Michael Chiarello’s cooking shows, but I don’t like him on Top Chef Masters. He has come off as an arrogant jerk. I wonder if the producers were looking for a villain and decided he should be the one. In any case, his neediness to win has really turned me off. Go Hubert!

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