Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I Need A T-Shirt That Says: I Freaking Survived Hosting Christmas Dinner

Well, loyal readers I am happy to say that THE HOLIDAYS are OVER!!! Woo-hoo-hoo!!! I love my family very much, but man alive can those people EAT. They eat so fast that my cooking can't keep up and by the time I was finally able to sit down on Christmas Day I was completely and utterly exhausted. Above is a picture of the brunch that I made Christmas morning: mimosa's, fruit salad and a bacon, tomato and cheddar breakfast bake with eggs.

You can find the recipe for the breakfast bake at www.foodandwine.com/recipes/bacon-tomato-and-cheddar-breakfast-bake-with-eggs . The recipe is slightly complicated, but I was able to make most of it the night before and put it in the oven in the morning when I woke up. I have to say, it was quite delicious. The bread crumbs taste like perfectly seasoned potatoes and the runny egg yolks combined with the crisp crust are quite yummy. It was a big hit with everyone, even my exceedingly picky brother.

Next, I put together the lunch/appetizer platter and cocktails for everyone. This included: shrimp with cocktail sauce, chips and garlic dip, a veggie tray, mini cupcakes and my baked brie en croute. I made pink sugar rimmed cosmos for Mom and my brother's girlfriend, followed by margarita's and made sure Dad's glass was always full of pinot noir.

Meanwhile, I seasoned and baked the salmon, peeled and mashed the potatoes (with some help from Mom and Dad) and steamed the broccoli for dinner. I seasoned the salmon by generously sprinkling it with salt and pepper and then coating it with olive oil. I then completely covered the meat with minced garlic and followed up with lemon zest, dill and lemon juice. It came out tasting delicious, but man did it stink up my apartment!

After cooking all of that food and doing the dishes between each course (I only have six sets of plates because I live alone and normally only dirty one or two at a time) I was ready for bed. It made me happy to be able to prepare enjoyable meals for my family to make the holiday special though. My Mom said to me, "I always wondered what it would be like to go to one of my children's house for Christmas dinner and now I know! You did a great job!" It felt nice to hear her say that . . . but after all that work I don't think I'll be hosting again for quite some time.

I hope everyone had wonderful Christmas feasts with their families this year.

Below is a picture that really has nothing to do with this post, other than I thought it was cool. My Mom and I went to Anthony's last week and ordered the coconut prawns appetizer and this is what it looked like . . . pretty fru-fru arty and fancy for Anthony's! It tasted pretty good too.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010 Appetizers

Thanksgiving 2010 was definitely a year of firsts: the first time I can remember that it freaking SNOWED on Thanksgiving in the Pacific NW, the first time I went to Matt's parent's house for the holiday and the first time I tried out a new appetizer recipe. A year of firsts, but definitely a wonderful year and I wouldn't have had it any other way (well, maybe other than driving in the snow).

I was asked to bring a couple appetizers as my Thanksgiving meal contribution, which I was more than happy to do. I made my tried and tested baked brie en croute with apple compote (picture above). However, this time I used the Williams Sonoma fall leaf cut outs to make the dough extra festive. I was quite pleased with how it turned out, except the cut out portions got much more brown than the rest of the dough . . . I don't know what's up with that, but it all tasted the same and that is what matters.

I also made a new appetizer this year and I am fairly pleased with how it turned out. I made fig, prosciutto and ricotta bruschetta. I sliced and lightly toasted a baguette with olive oil to start. This baguette came from Marcrina bakery on the top of Queen Anne and it was quite a trek through the ice and snow to buy it, but I was not going to let my cooking plans get ruined because of the stupid snow. I braved the elements and walked to the bakery. Many near falls down the hill on ice patches and three hours later I returned to my apartment victorious with my cooking supplies! I worked for that damned bruschetta to happen, believe me! Anyway, after I spread the fig jam on the top of each piece of toast, topped that with a dollop of whole milk ricotta and finally with a piece of salty prosciutto. It was a tasty combination and I would make it again, but next time I will be more generous with the meat to balance the flavors better.

I forgot to get a picture of the bruschetta after I made it because I was so shaken up after our drive up to Snohomish. The ground looked like this (see pic below) on Thanksgiving morning outside my apartment window and Snohomish was much worse than Seattle.

We got out of Seattle just fine and navigated the freeways just fine, but the hill in Matt's parents neighborhood was a sheet of ice and we had to solicit the help of some random neighbors to push my car into the driveway. Needless to say, after the drive up there I was a bit stressed . . . but it was nothing that a couple cocktails and good food couldn't fix.

I hope everyone had a great (and delicious) Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Best Part of New Orleans? The Beignets!

Well, I am back from my New Orleans trip and I am happy to report that we had a GREAT time! New Orleans feels like it's on a completely different planet than Seattle: the people are actually friendly, it is 40 degrees warmer, the food is completely different and it has more culture in one neighborhood than all of Washington state combined.

The whole trip was great, but the foodie highlight of my trip was definitely Cafe De Monde (1039 Decatur Street, New Orleans 70116 or www.cafedumonde.com). Cafe Du Monde sits directly between Jackson Square in the French Quarter and the Mississippi River. It has sat in the same spot since 1862 and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It's charm is augmented by the steady stream of horse drawn carriages walking down the street and the street jazz band sitting in front of the cafe entertaining the enormous line of patrons waiting to enjoy their fabulous beignets and coffee.

Matt and I stood in line and enjoyed the scenery for about 15 minutes before we could get a table. When we sat down we were amazed at the ridiculously low prices. We ordered two orders of beignets, a coffee and a diet coke and got out of there for $9 (including a tip!). On top of all that the beignets were amazing! Cafe Du Monde definitely lived up to the hype and I am so happy that we stood in line and waited to sample the beignets. In my opinion, Cafe Du Monde is a MUST for anyone visiting New Orleans.

We sampled lots of other things too. We at jambalaya, gumbo and alligator sausage at the Gumbo Shop on St. Peter's; we had wonderful burgers at Yo' Mama's; and we had an elegant dinner at Arnoud's on Bourbon Street. However, those little french donuts still take the cake!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Heading To The Big Easy

Steam boat on the Mississippi River

So, it is official: Matt and I are going to New Orleans next month to celebrate his 30th birthday! We will be leaving Seattle on Thursday, October 21st and returning Monday, October 25th. It should be a good time to go to the South because hurricane season is over and they still have 75 to 80 degree weather . . . it will be a welcome break from the fall showers in Seattle.

I am super excited on many levels, but VERY excited about sampling the local cuisine. Louisiana and particularly New Orleans have a reputation for amazing food. I am excited to suck the meat out of a craw fish at a street vendor stand, eat a beignet at Cafe Du Monde and to try and find the best po-boy in the city. We are planning on taking a steamboat jazz, dinner cruise on the Mississippi River and taking a New Orleans cocktail tour (where you are guided to the best bars in the city and given samples their most famous cocktails). Matt is trying to get tickets to the Saints game on his actual birthday, which would be a great experience as well . . . Who dat!

I will definitely be taking pictures and writing about our little adventure. So, look for a cajun/creole, New Orleans inspired blog in late October. If you have been to the Big Easy and have any suggestions about what we should do and see please send me an email.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Thursday Evening at the Ballard Firehouse

Last Thursday night Matt and I visited the Hi-Life at the Ballard Firehouse (5425 Russell Ave NW, Seattle 98107 or www.chowfoods.com/hilife) for a light dinner and drinks. It seemed to be the proper choice because fall is definitely in the air and the Hi-Life is a warm, cozy environment with plenty of wood fire pizza and other comfort food.

Honestly, the highlight of my meal at the Firehouse was the Cherry Limeade (picture above) which is a boozy concoction of muddled lime and liquors, topped with a cherry which comes out pretty damn delicious.

The food at the Firehouse was okay, but not great, it is basically just bar food trying to trying to put on a fancy costume. For example, we ordered the calamari which came with what they described as "summer herbs" and a lime vinaigrette. Well, it was actually fairly chewy, unseasoned calamari COVERED in arugula and very little dressing. The bitterness of the arugula stole the whole show and the calamari flavor was barely present: it was kind of sad.

However, the wood fired pizza was very good. It had thin, fresh, crispy crust and just enough savory sauce. It would have been perfect with just a little bit more cheese, but overall the pizza was quite tasty and light. Just what I was looking for on that particular evening.

I'll probably go back to the Hi-Life at the Ballard Firehouse again, but I'll stick to their pizza and cocktails . . . no over-hyped, seemingly high end, bar food in disguise for me.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

White Trash Dinner Night: Spuds & Suds

Last weekend I decided (after being inspired by a Seattle Weekly, Voracious "Food Porn" slide show featuring tater tot casserole) to do a "White Trash" dinner night. I made good ol' tater tot casserole (picture above), served with a VERY classy accompaniments: cheez-its in a plastic bowl, paired with Miller Lite and Hostess cupcakes and oreos for a decadent finish. I have to be honest, the dinner was quite yummy and it was nice to take a break from all the fru-fru, pretentious, yuppie food that I normally make; we totally had fun!

I was a little afraid that Matt wouldn't like my tater tot casserole, but he responded with, "What's there not to like?!? It's little kid food." He's right too, all ingredients are fairly kid friendly: meat (ground beef or turkey), green beans, seasonings, tater tots and cheese a plenty. Very kid accepted, generally not Mom approved though.

Anyway, I just thought I would share a few pictures from our fun themed dinner night. Enjoy!

Cheez-its served in a plastic bowl atop a crystal Tiffany & Co platter . . .
Tot casserole, covered in ketchup and half eaten next to a Miller Lite . . .
and the decadent, dessert finale of hostess cupcakes and oreo cookies . . . delish!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Husky Picture Day 2010

Hi All!

So, this is definitely NOT a food post, but it definitely reeks of Seattle local flavor and I just had to write about my time at Husky Picture Day 2010. Everyone knows that I LOVE my Husky Football Team and that I have a silly, school-girl crush on Jake Locker.

Matt and I woke up early on Sunday morning, which was not easy because both of us had ridiculous hangovers from a long day of drinking in the pool on Saturday (we went through 5 bottles of liquor and 2 bottles of champagne between the 5 of us!) and dragged our cranky selves out to Husky stadium in the hopes of getting a picture with Coach Sark and Jakey-Poo. By the time we got there at 11:30, when the event started, the line to meet Jake was already hundreds of people long. We still stood in line, braving the 95 degree weather and the crying, vomiting children to try and get a picture with Jake. Unfortunately, we were not successful, but we did get a few fun pictures (posted below) and Coach Sark posted a cool video of the event on his blog (linked below).

Fan enthusiasm at the stadium on Sunday was VERY high and people are very optimistic about the upcoming football season. To tell you the truth, I am too! GO DAWGS!!!

Matt and I above the tunnel at Husky Stadium

Coach Sark signing autographs in his flip-flops.

Sark's tent at picture day (he was the only one that got a tent!)

Video from Sark's Blog. You get a good look at Sark, Locker and the other players.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Summer BBQ: Grilled Salmon with Mango Salsa

This summer hasn't really been the summer of going out and trying new restaurants, but the summer of staying in and trying out new recipes. It has actually been really fun and surprisingly delicious! On Saturday night Matt and I made grilled salmon (with olive oil, dill, garlic and s&p seasoning), roasted asparagus, bread and mango salsa paired with a bottle of La Crema pinot noir that I had been saving for such an occasion. I also made grilled honeydew melon with lime sugar for dessert, which was refreshing and interesting. We pretty much ate until neither one of us could move and then vegged on the couch watching movies for the rest of the night.

Matt really liked the mango salsa that I made and wants me to remake it for us to take down to Cannon Beach in August. The salsa was sweet, salty and had quite the kick. I made it out of: lime juice, olive oil, cumin, cayenne pepper, cilantro, garlic, cucumber, red bell pepper, green onions, s&p and, of course, mango. It paired well with the flavor of the salmon, but would also be great as a stand alone with chips and sour cream. Definitely a cooking success story, although I had to buy out half the produce section at Whole Foods to make it happen *smile*.

This was our second barbecue of the year, but last weekend (when it was crazy hot outside) we did a picnic in the sculpture park. I made us some extremely yuppie sandwiches for the occasion: ciabatta bread, creamy brie, nectarines, arugula, roast turkey and honey mustard. They were pretty good, but next time I think they need more honey mustard and red onions, but overall quite tasty. I also brought along fruit, hummus, gouda and a bottle of gewurztraminer that I bought on my Woodinville wine tasting trip. It was a nice, relaxing date night and it inspired me to purchase an actual insulated picnic basket with utensils and wine glasses for us to use next time.

I am going to attempt to make jerk chicken with mango/peach chutney, black beans and rice sometime this week as well. I have been craving jerk chicken since I left St. Thomas last December and I think it will make a yummy summer evening dinner. I'll try to take a picture of that experiment and report back soon!

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer days as much as I am because they are numbered this year. We need more sunshine, but if it could stay under 90 degrees I would appreciate that too.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Celebrating at the Metropolitan Grill

The front entrance to the Met on Second Avenue

Matt and I before dinner
Last Saturday Matt had his big CFA test (and is finally done studying . . . for awhile anyway) and he wanted to go to the Metropolitan Grill to celebrate afterward (820- 2nd Avenue, Seattle 98104 or www.themetropolitangrill.com). Everyone in Seattle knows that the Met is completely amazing and I won't bore you with a review of the great service, impressive wine list and spectacular food, because the rumors are indeed true. However, I will say that the garlic mashed potatoes are to die for; so much to the point that when I forgot my doggie bag in Matt's fridge I made a special trip back to his place to claim them!

I also tried something new this time: lobster bisque. Oh. My. God. It was so decadent and amazing (Lord knows probably a million calories too, but to hell with it). So, I am on the look out for a kick ass lobster bisque recipe now. A recipe with actual lobster, butter, chives and heavy cream (see what I mean about the calories?). I looked on Williams Sonoma and All Recipes, but no luck. If anyone out there has a good one please send me a line and let me know!

You definitely have to drop some big coin for a dinner at the Met, but it definitely makes a celebratory night on the town extra special.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Barking Frogs, Peacocks & Wine Tasting in Woodinville

Tiffany, Beth and I at Chateau St. Michelle with our freshly purchased wine.

Cheers at Januik/Novelty Hill winery

Over Memorial Day weekend Beth, Tiffany and I decided to drive up to Woodinville and explore their wine country. We left my apartment at about 12:30 pm and arrived in Woodinville shortly after 1. We planned on visiting as many as 6 wineries, but we only got to 3 because, as it turns out, Woodinville wine country on a Saturday is busy! I knew that I definitely wanted to visit the two 'big name' wineries: Chateau St. Michelle and Columbia, and a handful of smaller wineries. As it turns out, the two 'biggies' are the only 2 traditional wineries around (with gorgeous grounds, stately buildings, tours, etc.) and the rest are quite industrial looking. It definitely doesn't have that country-swank vibe that Napa gives its visitors. Alas, it was still a pretty fun day overall.

Our first stop was Columbia Winery (14030 NE 145th Street, Woodinville 98072 or www.columbiawinery.com). The Columbia winery is a beautiful estate and has amazing grounds. It would be the perfect place for a wedding or a rehearsal dinner (if anyone out there is looking for a venue). When we walked in the front doors the place was completely crowded with people and there was no room at either of the two tasting bars. We hovered around the larger tasting bar waiting for an opening when a bartender looked at me and said, "Miss there is an opening at the other bar." We walked over to the other bar, and still had to wait a few minutes until a couple cleared out their tab, but-- we got in! Unfortunately, there was only one bartender working at this bar and it took FOREVER to get service and our tasting lasted well over an hour. I will say that the bartender was very knowledgeable about the wine and truly wanted us to have a good, educational experience. At Columbia you get five tastes for $10, and I tasted: a 2007 dry Riesling (meh, I've had better), a Viognier (fruity with a tangy, zippy aftertaste that I didn't care for), a 2005 Chardonnay (notes of melon and lemon zest, but WAY too oakey for me), a Milestone Red (blend of five wines, a lot of berry notes, pretty tasty) and a 2008 Gewurztraminer (notes of lychee fruit, super yummy and summery). I was looking for fun, sweet, summer whites to take home for barbecue season and I couldn't resist buying a bottle of the Gewurztraminer for my collection.

Next stop, Chateau St. Michelle (14111 NE 145th Street, Woodinville 98072 or www.ste-michelle.com), which is literally right across the street from Columbia. Chateau St. Michelle is absolutely beautiful and HUGE, had the weather been better I am sure a walk around the grounds would have been quite pleasant. They have beautiful gardens and peacocks running around (see photo below).
Wild peacock on the Chateau St. Michelle grounds!

Once you get inside the Chateau you are offered a tour (which is free and leaves every 30 minutes) and then ushered into the enormous, over priced gift shop. Once you wind your way through the over crowded gift shop you enter a room with wine barrels and the tasting bar. Unfortunately, this tasting bar was even MORE crowded than the bar at Columbia and we ended up waiting almost half an hour to get a spot at the bar. Luckily, once we were at the bar the service was quick and efficient, but the bartenders weren't as helpful and were too busy getting people served to talk to and educate the patrons. At Chateau St. Michelle you get 4 tastes for $15, and I tasted: a 2008 Pinot Gris (it was fine, nothing to write home about), a 2007 Pinot Noir (too earthy, and just not as good as California pinot's . . . by a long shot), a 2009 limited release Midsummer White (blend of Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Muscat with notes of asian pear, orange blossom and spice-- SO GOOD!), and a 2009 harvest select Riesling (their 2008 batch was better, this was way too syrupy, sickly sweet). Needless to say, I bought a bottle of the midsummer white, which I was given a 20% discount on because we did a tasting. At this point we were getting hungry, tired and our feet were killing us from standing and waiting. So, we decided to hit one more winery and then go to dinner.

Our final stop was the Novelty Hill/Januik winery (14710 Woodinville-Redmond Road NE, Woodinville 98072 or www.noveltyhilljanuik.com), which was of the smaller, more industrial variety. I was more impressed with this winery for it's interior decorating than anything else: very modern, minimalistic with a tribal edge, funky cool. Anyway, we did not have to wait at all for a spot at the tasting bar. We were given menu's right away and told to choose a $5 tasting or a $10 tasting, I opted for the $5 tasting as my palate was completely exhausted by this point and I had started getting two of those horrible 'swollen taste buds' on my tongue from drinking wine for hours. I'm not even really sure what I tasted here because I was unimpressed with all of it and dumped most of my tastings. I do remember thinking that the Pinot Gris was absolute piss. Needless to say, I feel no compulsion to ever visit this particular winery again.

Finally, after a long day of wine tasting, we were scheduled to have dinner at the Barking Frog restaurant at Willows Lodge (14580 NE 145th Street, Woodinville 98072 or www.willowslodge.com/wine_dine/barking_frong.html). It was my idea to eat at the Barking Frog because I have read great things about it in Seattle magazine and other various blogs. The plentiful awards all over the walls of the restaurant seemed to back up the Barking Frog's reputation. However, it is the opinion of this amateur food blogger that the Barking Frog has grown way too big for its britches. Why you ask? Well, to me and to Tiffany, the bar menu looked much more appetizing than the actual dinner menu. To the point that Tiffany actually ordered her dinner from the bar menu.

We started with cocktails in the bar (which is how we saw the better looking menu in the first place). The staff at the front desk, the bar staff and the waiter were all extremely friendly and helpful; their service was absolutely five star. Then when our table was ready we moved to the dining room and started off our meal with an appetizer of 'popcorn' lobster with lemongrass sauce ($22). It was fine, but nothing special. If someone had told me there was chicken inside the dough I probably would have believed them as the lobster was definitely NOT the star of this dish. In my opinion it is just WRONG and vulgar to cover up delicate lobster with heavier ingredients. The whole thing was lackluster to me and definitely not worth the hefty price tag.

Then Beth and Tiffany ordered salads (between $10-$15). Beth ordered a roasted beet salad which came with oranges, beets, cheese and a bit of a green garnish. It was absolutely gorgeous, and she seemed to like it. Tiffany ordered a classic caesar salad and she didn't have any complaints either. I wanted to save room for my entree and skipped the salad, so I can't tell you my experience. I just noshed on the complimentary bread they brought over with some tomato and olive tapenade, and it was quite good.

Moving on to the entrees: Beth and I both ordered the king salmon ($36) and, as stated before, Tiffany ordered the steak frites off the bar menu. The king salmon came and it was gorgeous and colorful and I couldn't wait to dig in. However, once I did I was slightly disappointed. It was so visually stunning but the flavor was lacking, what was there was good, but once again nothing special. Perhaps I have gotten spoiled dating Matt because he introduced me to the seafood at the Metropolitan Grill and Elliott's and nothing really seems to compare . . . *sigh*. Paying $36 for rather blah salmon when I can go to the Met and get knock your socks off, blow your mind salmon for a few bucks more just seems stupid.

Needless to say, I was disappointed by the whole experience because I was expecting greatness and I got mediocrity. My advice: if you want to spend money on a quality seafood dinner, go elsewhere. If you want to order some heavy, sober up food post-wine tasting in Woodinville, head to the Barking Frog and order some steak frites or mac 'n' cheese off the bar menu.

Grilled king salmon, with asparagus puree, roasted veggies and a dungeness crab ravioli

Popcorn lobster with lemongrass sauce

Steak frites

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Supersonic Gin & Tonics at Joey's

A couple weekends ago, when the sun was still shining and the temperature hadn't dipped below 60, Matt and I went to Joey's on Lake Union (901 Fairview Avenue N, Seattle 98108) to get some dinner and enjoy the view. We hadn't been to Joey's together since the first time we decided to hang out five years ago (all in unison: awwwwww). Anyway, we ate in the bar and people watched, as we always do . . . nothing is more amusing than judging other people while drinking! I am kidding (okay, not really).

The waitress came over and gave us a run down of the drink specials, which included a Supersonic Gin & Tonic for $5.99. Needless to say, I was intrigued. Turns out the Supersonic is a double gin and tonic with lime and a citrus vodka float (which is a big, boozy, ball of lemon slushy ice). I ordered one to go along with my evil chicken salad (chicken, mango, avocado, cucumbers, crunchies, a wedge of lettuce and spicy vinaigrette dressing). All in all a very summer appropriate meal. The Supersonic gin and tonic arrived and it was really yummy! It was like a cross between a margarita and a gin and tonic. All the slushy, citrus deliciousness of a blended margarita combined with the simple refresh of a gin and tonic. Matt tasted my drink and after he finished his martini he ordered one (and then another one) for himself!

Overall a great summer date night on Lake Union. If you make it out to Joey's this summer you must order a Supersonic Gin and Tonic, I know it sounds cheesy, but it is really yummy and a great price. It is rare to find a double well drink anywhere in Seattle for $6 and the Supersonic is a double plus a vodka citrus float; a great bargain in my book.

Let's hope this rain goes away soon and the sun starts making appearances on a regular basis! I am sick of this stupid rain and I am looking forward to barbecues and drinking on patios very soon.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Dangerously Delicious Viognier Sangria

Yesterday was a gorgeous Seattle day! 70 degrees and super sunny . . . thank God May is here! Matt and I had a barbecue at his place and I decided to make a 'spring-y' cocktail for us to go along with our salmon, corn on the cob and bread (dinner was soooo good, btw!). I found a recipe for viognier sangria in Food and Wine magazine a couple years back and I have been waiting for an excuse to make it ever since. Of course, I have to wait until mangos are in season and available, lucky for me I spied some at Whole Foods last week.

The sangria is beautiful and yummy, but drinker beware because it packs a serious punch. It got me very drunk very fast, but I had a great night because of it.

To make the sangria you will need: 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup water, 1/4 cup fresh mint, 1 whole mango cubed, 2 peaches sliced thin, 1 cup of Grand Marnier (I'm pretty sure this ingredient was the drunken culprit) and one bottle of viognier. You simply make a simple syrup out of the water and the sugar, wait until it cools and then stir all of the ingredients together. Serve in a highball glass over ice.

I just had to share this recipe with my on-line followers. Next time the Lord blesses us with some sunshine mix up a batch of this and I can guarantee you a fun filled, great day. I will, however, make no such statement about the next morning: painful and not-so-fun. Consider yourself warned.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Cinco De Mayo 2010 Celebration

Below are a few pictures from my Cinco de Mayo celebration at Ricardo's Mexican Restaurant (4065 Factoria Blvd SE, Bellevue 98006 or www.ricardosmexicanfood.com) with Tiffany yesterday. Margaritas and chimichangas and tacos . . . oh my!

Me with a margarita the size of my head.

Tiffany enjoying her Corona.

Drinks with chips and salsa . . . yum!

The food at Ricardo's is pretty good, I personally am usually a very loyal Azteca lover, but Tiff hates Azteca so we always go to Ricardo's for Mexican together. The restaurant was CRAZY busy yesterday, but we were able to get seated after only a ten minute wait and our food and drinks arrived fairly quickly. Overall a delicious mexican feast. I left the restaurant stuffed!

Hope everyone had a happy Cinco de Mayo and made it to work this morning with out a pounding headache. Viva Mexico!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Saturday Brunch at Anita's Crepes

On Saturday morning I met Matt at Anita's Crepes (4350 Leary Way NW, Seattle 98107 or www.anitascrepes.com ) for brunch. It was a gorgeous, sunny morning and apparently a lot of people had the same idea as us. When we arrived the place was absolutely hopping and we ended up sitting at the bar (in the exact spots in the picture above) so we didn't have to wait for a table. I actually liked sitting at the bar because we got to peek into the kitchen and see all the elements of a french kitchen at work, including a GIGANTIC, industrial stand mixer whipping up the 'chantilly' (whipped cream) and the many, many kitchen staff hard at work.

I had been wanting to visit Anita's since I read about it in Seattle Magazine's 'Best Breakfasts' issue earlier this winter. I love french pastries/breakfasts (who doesn't?!?) and Seattle magazine crowned Anita's crepes the best in town. Plus, they only use fresh, local and organic ingredients in their dishes. I think it is a completely luxurious treat to eat a decadent meal that I can feel good about putting into my body. Unfortunately with this luxury comes a certain price point . . .

That being said, the prices at Anita's are a bit steep. I ordered an apple confit crepe with chantilly ($9), a side of potatoes ($2) and a glass of champagne ($10). Once you add in tax and a tip this is a $30 breakfast, which is a lot of money for something that was very delicious but barely satisfied my hunger. Matt ordered a full breakfast (cinnamon crepe, eggs, and sausages), a bowl of french onion soup and coffee (which came in its own small french press!) and his breakfast was about the same price. Needless to say, we will not be planning a weekly excursion to Anita's, but it was a very nice treat and perhaps in a few months we will be back.

The staff at Anita's is very friendly and accommodating, not frenchy-snobby-fru-fru as one might expect. The waitress didn't even give it a second thought when I asked her exactly what 'chantilly' was. The staff was also very kind to the children that were present and believe me some of the children were acting like little brats.

So, if you are ever feeling in Ballard on a weekend morning, with pockets that are a little fatter than normal: stop by Anita's for an escape to Paris via crepes and champagne (with out all the snobby non-sense)!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Spicy Friday Evening at Tango

Just a quick note here . . . on Friday Matt and I went to Barolo (1940 Westlake Avenue, Seattle 98101 or www.baroloseattle.com) for happy hour (which is always great, but surprisingly packed full of people this time) and then decided to head somewhere else for dessert.

I suggested that we head up to Tango (1100 Pike Street, Seattle 98101 or www.tangorestaurant.com) because I had walked past it nearly every day last summer-- while I was trekking my broken self up to the chiropractor's office after my car accident-- and had always been curious. Turned out that Matt used to live a few blocks from there and claimed that their 'El Diablo' dessert was awesome.

We walked the 6 or 7 blocks up to the First Hill neighborhood and went to Tango. We ordered cocktails first. I had a mojito and it was pretty good (it didn't really compete with the pear mojitos at Ray's Boathouse, but it held its own). Then we ordered red wine and the 'El Diablo' (picture above). The dessert was spicy, chocolatey and decadent, and the unusual, surprising spicy kick went very well with my cabernet sauvignon. The dark decor and candles made the whole experience feel quite romantic as well. I would definitely recommend stopping in to Tango for dessert and wine . . . it definitely made for a wonderful, relaxing Friday evening for us.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

SAM Remix: More Fun Than I Expected

This isn't a restaurant review per se, but it is a review of a Seattle local flavor activity . . . definitely something that fits under the "Good Life" heading.

On Friday Matt and I went to the Seattle Art Museum Remix event. I am a member of the museum and had never been to an event. They have three Remix events every year and from the description it seemed like it could go one way or the other: super fun and hip or really lame and boring. I am pleased to report that the result was the former of the two!

Thank God that I had walked down to the museum during my lunch hour and bought tickets because when we got there around 8:30 pm (event went from 8 pm to midnight) the line for tickets was wrapped around the block. The next day I read on the SAM facebook page that they were sold out and turning people away! We were able to walk right in the front doors, wait in a short line to get our tickets checked and then another short line to get our ID's checked for our drink bracelet (this is an 18 and over event . . . note to SAM: it would be easier if you would just make it 21 and over, like any other event worth attending).

When we finally got to the main floor we were both pleasantly surprised. The normally stark white museum was transformed with colored lights, a DJ and several bars all under the blinking lights of the car installation overhead. The music was pretty good and the people at the event were mostly well dressed 'hipsters' (God, I hate that word and the fact that it is a necessary part of a Seattle dwellers vocabulary). Although I did see one chick wearing some Frederick's of Hollywood thigh highs with red bows . . . it's not Halloween honey. There were live models posing for people to draw on easels, dancing performance artists, and randomly a bearded lady contest (hilarious).

Our first order of business was to order drinks and people watch. We ordered two double vodka sodas to start, which only cost us $19 plus tip, not bad at all. We sat on a bench and watched the interesting people walk by . . . and believe me, there were many fun characters to watch. Then we went and explored the museum. Matt had never been in the museum. Do not ask me how this is possible, especially considering that he has been dating me all this time and I LOVE the museum. Anyway, we walked around the galleries and it was really fun for me to see his reactions to all the amazing pieces we have in our city. He was like, "Wow! Is that a Warhol?" I walked him around and showed him the Warhol's, the Lichtenstein's, the Pollock and even the Calder exhibit (which neither one of us really "got", but that is okay). After we wandered around the galleries, we went back downstairs ordered more vodka sodas, listened to the DJ and watched the drunk people dance. We both had a good time and it was definitely a fun, out of the norm night for us. I think that I'll go to a Remix event once a year from now on, just to see the people and mix it up a bit.

On a side note, after we left the museum we walked across to the ART bar at the Four Seasons. If you are a loyal reader you may remember that I reviewed this restaurant about a year ago to the conclusion that only geriatrics frequent the joint. However, this time around (at about 11:30 pm in the bar) I had a much different experience. All the people were around our age and seemed sophisticated and generally good looking. What a difference! Unfortunately, our service was not as great as it was the first time I was at ART. Our waitress took FOREVER to take our order, bring us our cocktails and even longer to offer to bring the bill. Needless to say we only stayed for one drink, but it was a VERY pleasant environment and the drinks were yummy.

SAM Remix followed by drinks at ART made for a fabulous, colorful Friday night on the town in otherwise dreary, gray Seattle.

Another view of the car installation at SAM . . .

I really need to start taking my own photos at these things. I will try to remember my camera next time for sure!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hardrock Cafe Seattle: My Personal Hell

On Friday I asked Matt if he wanted to check out the newly opened Hard Rock Cafe (116 Pike Street, Seattle 98101) in downtown Seattle after work for happy hour. Happy hour was a poor choice of words since they DO NOT offer a happy hour in their bar . . . WTF? It is a recession people! Lack of a happy hour menu was problem number one of many.

I walked down to the Hard Rock right after work (well, actually, after bouncing out a few minutes early!) and arrived right around 4:40 pm. The bar was already completely packed with people and the single bartender and bar back were having a hard time keeping up. We somehow managed to snag a table near the window and sat down. 5 minutes goes by . . . ten minutes goes by . . . fifteen minutes goes by . . . no waiter in sight. So, finally, I get out of my seat, flag down the bartender and ask her who is supposed to be serving in our section. She gives me a glare, motions to the bar back and asks him to take care of me.

The bar back comes to our table and proceeds to tell me (in front of my boyfriend!) that he was forgot to come take our order because "[he] was too busy looking at [me] because [I] am so gorgeous" and that "it must be tough being so ugly". Then for some random reason he started asking Matt if he was from England (okay, wtf?). It was definitely one of the top ten most painfully awkward conversations I have ever had in my entire life. He took our drink orders, I had a purple haze (ha ha . . . get it? *groan*), and returned the drinks promptly, along with the tab (trying to rush us out much?). Unfortunately this was his opportunity to make more odd/completely inappropriate comments . . . thank God I had a stiff drink at that point!

The bar back didn't return to check on us until he saw us putting on our coats to leave, at which point he rushed over and asked us how we wanted to handle our tab. We gave him a dirty look, handed him the receipt he had given us earlier and a wad of cash . . . we really weren't planning on drinking and dashing, but he seemed pretty paranoid about it. Needless to say, the service at the Hard Rock Cafe gets a big, bold F-.

The one positive aspect of the Hard Rock Cafe is the fantastically hilarious people watching. This restaurant is in a relatively crappy part of town (on Pike between 1st and 2nd Avenues) and therefore the people that walk by the front window are a motley crew. We saw a brassy haired, fake breasted, leather skinned woman wearing a Canadian tuxedo. We saw a VERY drunk guy staggering, staring at his reflection in the window and barely keeping himself standing. We saw a really old man in a hideous cowboy hat walking along, then he stopped and made a "Imma push something out/grunting" face for about two minutes, and then kept on walking . . . prompting me to wonder if he was making good, public use of his depends diaper. These were just a few of the memorable characters we saw walk by us. God, I love Seattle sometimes! However, we did make sure to get the hell out of that area of town before it got dark. No one wants to get mugged for their iPhone.

The other problem with the Hard Rock Cafe was the patronage. I will say that my friend Tiffany and her boyfriend had gone the night before we went and she said that the place was full of 'young professionals'. So, I don't know if we went on the wrong day or something, but the majority of the patrons in the Hard Rock that day were just as scary as the passers-by on the street. The whole bar reeked of cigarettes and body odor because of the clientele. Sorry, but that is just NOT my scene.

So, the verdict on the Seattle Hard Rock Cafe (at least with my experience) is: SKIP IT!!!! Unless, of course, you enjoy terrible service, uncomfortable conversations with socially inept wait staff and smelly bar patrons. Ewww.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Sweet Little 28th Birthday Celebration at the 35th Street Bistro

Nestled in a neighborhood north of downtown Seattle, a few blocks away from the infamous Fremont troll (which I saw for the first time on Friday!) sits a little bistro in the heart of Fremont (709 N. 35th Street, Seattle 98103 or http://www.35bistro.com/) called the 35th Street Bistro. Once upon a time (last Friday) a Birthday Princess (yours truly) was whisked away to dinner at this cute little bistro under the bridge near the troll by her Prince Charming (otherwise known as Matt). The Birthday Princess loved french food and wine, and she ate and drank until her heart was content and her head was in the clouds (you know, from the wine buzz).

Back to the real world (the proximity to the troll and the bridge made the fairy tale spoof a little too easy . . . sorry, I couldn't help myself), my birthday dinner was really wonderful. Matt picked the restaurant. I had never heard of it before, but he sent me a link to the menu and I was very excited to go!

The restaurant was very cute and I think he did a wonderful job picking a restaurant to match my tastes. As you can see in the picture above, the restaurant is small and cozy. It is covered in twinkling lights and has a tree in the middle of the dining room (also decorated in lights). The tables have candles and white table cloths . . . all very romantic. However, the floors are hardwood and a little slick; the clumsy, tipsy Birthday Princess almost fell on her well-heeled, royal ass on the way to the ladies room!

The food was great, but to be honest our server really made the experience at this restaurant great. When we sat down he brought bread and asked us if we would be drinking wine, we said yes and started reviewing our menus. Quite unexpectedly, the waiter returned a few minutes later with his two favorite wine selections-- one white and one red-- and offered to give us a taste to see if we liked the wine and so he could get a sense of our tastes so he could make good recommendations. Seriously? Wow. Service like this NEVER happens in Seattle unless you know the bartender or proprietor. I was impressed. When it came down to selecting dessert I told the waiter it was my birthday and he offered to bring us special birthday shots. Matt and I aren't ones to say no to free alcohol, and so he brought us two flatliners (stoli vanilla, godiva white chocolate, frangelico, espresso and a few other elements I can't seem to remember). The shots were very yummy and I was definitely appreciative. Like I said, the waiter really made our experience.

Now on to the food! We both ordered french onion soup to start. It was very flavorful and they were generous with the gruyere . . . can't go wrong with plenty of melted cheese! Then I ordered the poulet en cocette and Matt ordered the steak frites. I didn't try and of his steak, but it was gone by the time dinner was over and he said that the butter on top of it was really good. I did try the frites and they weren't bad (but it is pretty hard to screw up french fries). The poulet was very good, and the broth it was served in was wonderful. My only complaint is that the chicken was on the bone and really difficult to cut properly and the potatoes were so tender that they kept falling apart before the fork could reach my mouth. However, it tasted great and that is what is important. I paired my dinner with a chardonnay and I think that was the right way to go, even though our thoughtful waiter recommended a pinot gris. For dessert we ordered the orange creme brulee, which came with chocolate cookies, and the cookies paired with the orange flavor was really, really good.

I would definitely go back to the 35th Street Bistro again. Seasonally they have duck confit (not right now though) and I'd like to try that dish. They are also rumored to have an amazing Sunday brunch and I think that would be a great way to spend a lazy Sunday morning.

Overall my birthday and Valentines day weekend was great! I am very blessed.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Bathtub Gin & Co: Modern Speakeasy, 1929 Glamour

Who knew that a bar that looks like this on the outside . . . . . . could look like this on the inside?
Talk about a reason not to "judge a book by its cover".

Last Friday night after work I met Matt at the Bathtub Gin & Co (2205 Second Avenue, Seattle 98122). I had read about it in the latest issue of Seattle Magazine and kind of wanted to check it out. I knew from reading the article that it would be a bit of a challenge to find because it is located in an alley and has no sign (except the address numbers). I forgot to mention this to Matt and a few minutes before we were supposed to meet up he sends me a text that says: "where the f*** is this place?". Needless to say we both ended up finding the place, which was a complete and total pain in the ass in the pouring rain, but I guess that is kind of the idea.

The back alley way and lack of sign sort of make you feel like you should know a password to get in a la 'Some Like It Hot' , but (thankfully) the owners decided to leave that step out. Once you walk in the door you have the option of heading up the stairs to the smaller room of the VERY small bar or down the stairs to the 'larger' lounge space, complete with a comfy couch and chairs. The interior is exposed brick decorated with old fashioned polished wood, books and candles . . . oh, and, a LOT of booze.

We sat at the one small table in the top room right next to the bar. The only reason we were able to secure this table is that we got there right as the bar opened at 5, and by about 5:30 the place was packed. The cocktail menu has a speakeasy, New York in the late 20s vibe to it as well. I don't exactly remember the names of all the cocktails, but I ordered a Park Avenue West (well, actually, I had three) which was comprised of gin, pineapple and a few other things . . . delicious, but dangerous. It tasted like it was 75% pineapple, but after the way I felt the next morning, I am guessing it was 75% gin. Matt ordered an old fashioned or three (not on the drink menu), and they were quite generous with the bourbon in it . . . I tasted it and my eyes almost popped out of my head.

We had a great time exploring this little Belltown treasure, but there were a few problems. One: there is only ONE unisex bathroom stall. This is bad when you have a packed bar full of people drinking liquids. Chances are more than one person is going to have to pee at the same time-- duh. However, the bathroom is super cute and clean. Two: they are extremely understaffed. After the bar got packed at 5:30 ordering another round was quite the project because the bar tender was so busy and the only had a bar back-- no wait staff. Even after putting in our order we had to wait like 10 minutes for our drinks . . . leaving us to swirl our ice around and frown.

We left the bar at about 8:15 and the place was still packed and getting fuller. So, if you are planning to go, go early and secure yourself a place at the bar so you can easily get the bartenders attention for easy reloading. Overall, it was a cute place, with a fun vibe and I would definitely recommend that people give it a try.

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year's Eve at Elliott's

The day before NYE Matt texted me and asked me if I wanted to go to Elliott's (1201 Alaskan Way, Seattle 98101) for dinner on New Years. I, of course, wanted to go (are you kidding me?!?) and so I met him at the restaurant after work. We had a wonderful time. I have absolutely no complaints other than that the waiter kept telling the same lame ass joke to everyone when he brought their check: "Here is your student loan application". Ha ha . . . not so much. Other than that though, the service was great the food was wonderful AND we got a table with a water view (the company wasn't too bad either). The perfect way to ring in 2010 if you ask me.

I ordered the alder planked, white king salmon and it was great. Apparently only one in a hundred king salmon's is white and it is a somewhat rare menu find . . . who knew? Learn something new everyday, I guess. I found a picture of the entree on google, which I posted below, although mine came minus the cardboard underneath the filet. We also ordered salads, a very nice bottle of pinot noir (which I wish I written down the name of the winery), cocktails and dessert. The cheesecake at Elliott's is fantastic btw.

I hope everyone had a fantastic NYE and I hope 2010 brings everyone great things! I have a good feeling about this one. Cheers!