Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Vessel: An Unexpected Juxtaposition

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So, last Saturday I went to Vessel (1312- 5th Avenue, Seattle WA 98101 and http://www.vesselseattle.com/). I have been there several times before and I am always VERY impressed with both the ambiance and food at this lovely little wine bar.

The decor at this bar is nothing short of fabulous: modern, expensive and swanky. Lime green walls, fancy black and white wall paper, leather ottomans, ghost chairs and Bertoia style chairs at the bar. There is also a window bar area where you can sip your drink and watch the traffic on Fifth Avenue . . . like you are a live mannequin. Sexy. Did I mention that when you step in here you look like you travel with your own personal lighting crew? Always a plus, it is wonderful to look fantastic when you are visiting a place to see and be seen.

Here is the interesting twist: in this super mod world all the cocktails and small plates come out of the era epitomized by Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, 1930s chic. The cocktails have titles like: Aviator, Rubicon and Cablegram. The cocktails are made with bitters made in house and premium liquor . . . delicious. In addition to great cocktails they also have rare wines from around the world, including some wines available in half bottles which give you about 2 and a half glasses of wine for the prices of 1 and a half glasses-- can't go wrong with that kind of a bargain.

The food is the reason I keep coming back to Vessel. Oh. My. God. The truffle oil mac and cheese (picture above), one word: amazing. There is plenty of other stuff on the menu . . . pot pie with ratatouille, etc. However, if you go to Vessel you MUST order the Mac and Cheese. It is a gourmet twist on a classic and it absolutely the best in Seattle, bar none.

On December 5th Vessel is throwing a party to celebrate "Repeal Day" . . . discount cocktails and food. Anyone interested in coming with me to sample drinks from a Casablanca-esque drink menu and the best mac and cheese ever???

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Melting Pot has Nothing on Miss T

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How did I spend my Election Evening? Well, I spent it drowning in a pot of comfort food, while watching Obama's landslide victory over John McCain. I went to the best fondue place in Seattle . . . well its actually on Mercer Island. I brought a granny smith apple, roasted garlic bread and a bottle of pinot grigio with me, because this time it was Tiffany's turn to cook yummy food for me (hooray!).

I don't know how she does it but without fail the girl can turn gruyere cheese (3 types of it actually), garlic, fume blanc, brandy and nutmeg into melted deliciousness in about half an hour. My only job is to cut up the bread and the apple and uncork the wine-- quite the fair 'trade agreement' if you ask me. Her fondue is actually WAY better than the infamous Melting Pot. I kid you not. I recently went on a business trip to Spokane (or Spo-Kompton as some people like to call it) and went to the Melting Pot over there for a lonely fondue pot for one. Not only was the company bad (me, myself and I) but the food left a LOT to be desired after being spoiled by Miss Tiffany's fondue.

So, if you are ever in town visiting me and I ask you if you want to go to Tiff's for dinner . . . say yes, because its worth it!

Monday, November 3, 2008

$50 GG Grilled Cheese Sandwich

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So this weekend I was not feeling so wonderful (emotionally or physically), so I decided that I would have a low-key Halloween and make some comfort food. I had recently read one of my bazillion magazines that I get every month and it had a bunch of places to buy truffle oil and truffle butter-- you know-- those lovely 'infused' oils with the essence of the $2,000/ounce rare mushrooms. I decided to go buy some truffle oil ($24 at Williams Sonoma) and do research on the internet for the best truffle oiled grilled cheese sandwich, mostly because I had no idea what type of cheese to use. After a few google searches I found the $50 Gossip Girl Grilled Cheese. Now, embarrassing as it is, I love that tween-dramedy and suddenly I remembered the scene where they ate these lovely, decadent treats. I decided that THIS was the recipe I had to try out. So, I called up Tiffany, told her I was coming over armed with cheese (cheese is pretty much her kryptonite), and cooking her dinner.

I went to the store and purchased: fontina cheese, the QFC roasted garlic bread (which, btw is fantastic) and truffle oil. Now, in Gossip Girl the sandwiches actually have shaved truffles on them, but I don't even know where a commoner like me can purchase such an expensive piece of fungus, so I substituted the actually truffles with the WS truffle oil. I was also a little annoyed because I had done some research on fontina cheese and apparently it is an Italian cheese, which is nutty like gruyere, but more pungent as it ages (marked with a darker rind). Fontina cheese is also made in Denmark, but the Denmark fontina is supposed to be something of a knock off and not as yummy. Unfortunately, all I could find was a batch of Denmark's finest (boo) and nothing from Italy. I think I might need to go to a specialty cheese store to find the Italian stuff, but I had no time, so the Denmark fontina had to do.

I went to Tiff's and invaded her kitchen (which is MUCH larger than mine). I sliced the bread and the cheese, and layered the cheese on the bread. Then I brushed the inside of the other piece of bread with truffle oil using a pastry brush. Then on the exterior of both pieces of bread I spread on sweet cream (unsalted) butter. I grilled the sandwich with even more sweet cream butter and truffle oil in a skillet. Two minutes later . . . voila . . . a FABULOUS $50 Gossip Girl grilled cheese sandwich!!

Tiff and I both thought that they were little pieces of heaven (they even SMELLED savory), but of course we both started thinking of other stuff we could add. We came up with pieces of turkey after Thanksgiving and a mixture dungeness crab meat with artichokes. Something tells me I have a lot of fatty cheese in my future, but hey, eating fatty foods is okay on weekends, right???