Restaurant hopping around Seattle & Halibut cheeks

We spent the day (a sunny, 70 degree one I might add!) eating our hearts out with our friend Mark. We met late this morning to run in Discovery Park and then stopped at the Fishermen’s Terminal to see what was fresh to cook for dinner. The fishmonger recommended we try the fresh halibut cheek which we then purchased. (Apparently, halibut cheeks are sweet-flavored and considered a delicacy. We had to buy them!) While we were waiting to pay for our fish, Mark went around the corner to buy some “chips” (without the fish) as an appetizer before we moved along to eat spicy delicious cuban sandwiches at Paseo in Ballard.  Since we were in the area, we then stopped at Cafe Besalu for dessert which for me consisted of a buttery lemon cookie covered with tart lemon curd. YUM!

For dinner, we oiled, salted, peppered, and then broiled some asparagus “Sarah-style” to make what she has termed “asparagus french fries”. Then we made mashed potatoes with leeks and the halibut cheeks. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the cheeks were richer and more buttery than halibut fillets. Using Ice Cube’s words, “Today was a good day!”

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Mashed potatoes with Leeks

2-3 yukon potatoes
1/3-1/4 cup milk
2 TB butter
Salt and pepper
2 leeks, coarsely chopped (white and light green parts only)

Peel and slice the potatoes into 3/4 inch squares. Drop into a large pot of boiling water and boil until tender. Drain and put back into the pot. While you are boiling the potatoes, saute the leek in the butter on low until slightly brown (about 5-7 mins). Add the leeks to the potatoes (after they are drained) and the milk. Mash as desired. Add salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Halibut cheeks

Halibut cheeks (we had 1 lb but I’d recommend 3/4 lb for 2 people)
2 TB butter
Salt and pepper
2 TB flour

Salt and pepper both sides of the fish and lightly dredge in flour. Heat the butter in a nonstick pan until completely melted. Add the cheeks and cook for 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook until done. Top the fish on the potatoes and drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice, or both.

Road Trip to South India

We had the extreme good fortune of being invited on a 2.5 hour road trip to Vancouver today to experience the glory that is Saravanaa Bhavan. Had I been blindfolded and impervious to the cold, wet weather outside, I would have thought I was in Kerala, India. The food reminded me of our homestay cooking class in Kochi.

We were able to taste nearly everything as it was a buffet lunch for only $11.99 Canadian ($11.29 USD, woohoo!). It was very tempting not to make return visits to the line though Alex and Vijay had no issues with seconds and thirds. I’m totally ruined for Indian food now as it was incredibly fresh, light (Indian food isn’t always so gravy-like), and delicately spiced. It’s great to know that such an awesome spot exists only a few hours away. I think our next food adventure will be down to Kent to find a decent burrito. Between Thanksgiving on Thursday, leftovers for lunch and tapas at Tango last night, and our Indian feast today, I think tomorrow I’ll be eating a lot of salad. Vijay and Lakshmi: thanks for an awesome day!

A night out on the town

True statement: Alex’s cousin is a rock star. His band, Stephen Kellogg and The Sixers, came through Seattle last night and we had the opportunity to watch the show and hang out with Stephen backstage for a few hours afterward. It was entertaining to hear all the murmurs in the crowd as Alex and I followed him to the dressing room after he signed autographs and took pictures with adoring fans. The band has been on the road for weeks and is happy to have two “down” days now where they only have to drive 10 hours/ day for two days. Their schedule would put any CEO’s to shame. Stephen is passionate about his music (he went and sang for the troops in Kuwait and Bahrain earlier this year) and is one hell of a dancer (fancy footwork!). We were happy to get a small glimpse into what his life is like on the road.

Since we had to be downtown for the show at 9pm, we decided to make an evening of it and try a new restaurant, Anchovies and Olives, in Capitol Hill. I’m happy to say we found another winner! Actually, we found a great Indian place on Friday night too, so luck has recently been on our side. Back to last night, their specialty is fish and the menu changes daily. Everything is seasonal (we saw a lot of brussel sprouts, pomegranates, and persimmons on the menu) and done in a very simple fashion. The plates are small which allowed us to taste a variety of items. We started with a hamachi ceviche with grapefruit and then a persimmon and prosciutto salad (divine).  For entrees, we had a flaky white fish with pomegranates, and a fresh strozzapreti pasta with pig cheek and leeks (yummmmm).

Good fun all around!

First snow (and hot chocolate) of the season!

When we left mild, sunny Seattle yesterday morning to hike the Mt. Kendall Catwalk, we had no idea what was waiting for us at the top of the mountain. Tad and Karen were smart enough to bring warm hats but Alex and I didn’t realize how cold it would be. All we could think about on the way down was how to find a cheeseburger and some hot chocolate.

Lucky for us, Karen recommended Red Mill, a local burger joint on the west side of the lake. It is no Ikeda’s (though just as crowded), but it hit the spot. The vanilla and boysenberry milkshakes and the onion rings were the perfect end to our day.

Now that it’s raining more in the city, we’ve started looking for the ideal cup of hot chocolate. Lucky for us, we didn’t have to go very far today because Chocolati is only a few blocks down the street. I just tried their house blend and Alex had a half chocolate/half coffee. Both were awesome and very reasonably priced. Uh oh…

Carmelita

Tonight we decided to take advantage of the Urban Eats 3 entrees for $30 deal at Carmelita with our friends Sarah and Mike. It is a vegetarian restaurant down the street from our house and has been on my “to-try” list since I got here. The restaurant was packed at 7:30 which is a great sign in Seattle. Oddly, restaurants and bars don’t really seem to fill up around here.

The best part of the meal was at the beginning; a roasted sunchoke soup with truffle oil and chanterelle mushrooms. None of us could accurately describe a sunchoke, which is actually a type of sunflower that looks like ginger, after seeing it on the menu. Intrigued and sold by our server who swore it was better than the butternut squash special, we all ordered it to start. It had a nutty, creamy consistency and was absolutely delicious.

I wish I could say I was as excited about the rest of my meal. I had the grilled corn risotto with sweet peppers, smoked jack cheese, and tomato pesto which was somewhat bland and boring. My dessert was a bit better; an English breakfast flan caramel topped with three blackberries, though I much prefer my childhood neighbor’s creme caramel recipe. Sometime I’ll have to dig that up and make it at home.

While I won’t be planning a second visit anytime soon, I’m glad I went for the soup alone. If you have any recipes that use sunchoke, please send them over!

My first visitor!

My friend Allison from San Francisco flew up to visit last weekend. When I asked her what she wanted to do, she said that she was just along for the exploration ride. Throughout the weekend, we hit up a variety of neighborhoods, shops, restaurants, cafes, and had an exciting visit to the University of Washington ER (it’s really nice!).

I’d been dying to check out the University District Farmers Market which we did after an early start on Saturday morning. Allison was a bit shocked at the 45 degree temperature at 9am but I was just happy to see some blue sky. We picked a fantastic day for the market as there happened to be an apple (and cider) tasting of 20 different varieties and we learned which ones are best for baking, eating, sauce, etc. I’m still amazed at how cheap (and gorgeous) the flower bouquets are in Seattle.

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We noticed a cute little cafe (Blue Dog Kitchen) near our parking spot so we popped in seeking some coffee and warmth. The employees behind the counter were so friendly and welcoming that we decided to stay for lunch. I’m glad we did. They had just finished making tomato and butternut squash soups! They have a chai lavender tea on the menu which I’m curious to try on my commute home one of these days.

That night we paid a return visit to Via Tribunali for pizza and then went around the corner to Molly Moon for ice cream. Although I wasn’t very impressed with my tasting a couple of months ago, this time I was obsessed. We shared a cup of boysenberry sage and a cup of chocolate. The chocolate was dark, rich, and simple. They might actually have something on Bi-Rite, though I can’t say that for their honey lavender, salted caramel, or scout mint.

On Sunday, we went over to Fremont and marveled at the treats in the display at Flying Apron. There are some adorable shops in the neighborhood that I would love to spend more time in if I had more time and a job. Our last outing was to Macrina Bakery in Queen Anne. YUM! They seem to be more of a breakfast and baked goods cafe rather than a lunch spot, but we enjoyed our pre-made veggie and goat cheese sandwiches and spinach salad nonetheless. I loved their coffee too.

It was so nice to have a friend from home up here with whom to share my new surroundings. Seattle is especially beautiful now that the trees are changing and there is a “winter is coming” crisp feeling in the air (sorry Allie!). Thanks for coming to play!

Allie and I in the ER

Allie and I in the ER

Green in Seattle

I thought I would start a food journal to record my favorite findings as I eat my way through my new city. I have a long list of cafes, delis, restaurants, coffee shops, and bakeries to try, so why not share the love/intel with others who are hungry and don’t know their way around Seattle. I’ll also use this as a way to keep track of any memorable recipes that I find and recreate at home.

It’s been a little over a week since we moved up from San Francisco and we’re slowly starting to find our way around Green Lake, our new neighborhood. So far, the best discovery has been Bottega Italiana, an Italian gelato shop with authentic stracciatella ice cream. The most disappointing was Rosita’s Mexican Restaurant which made me truly ache for home.

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Sunset on Green Lake

Pikes Place Market

Pikes Place Market

We spent our anniversary weekend exploring around Pike’s Place Market, stopping for green eggs at the famous Crumpet Shop, and eying the brightly colored flowers (HUGE bouquets for $5!) and seafood and produce displays which line the alleys throughout the market. We also hit up the Stumbling Goat in Phinney Ridge, which I’m happy to note, is less than five minutes from our house. I can easily see this place turning into our go-to spot. Since we had a $100 Open Table gift certificate, we went a little crazy. After a lemon-thyme vodka drink and an Old-Fashioned, we enjoyed the corn and chanterelle bisque and a spicy steamed clam dish. Following that, we went big and shared a peach glazed pork dish and a melt-in-your-mouth salmon with barely sauteed greens. For dessert, we went with the Bailey’s Bread Pudding which didn’t last more than a few minutes on the table.

I’ve had a bit of time to play in the kitchen since orientation didn’t start until last Thursday. I tried the DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte from The Kitchn which works if you don’t mix up the measurements for vanilla and pumpkin pie spice. Oops. It’s a nice way to use up an opened can of pumpkin. I found a rather large piece of Coho salmon at the PCC grocery store for $5 and grilled it with olive oil, salt, and pepper which made for a tasty meal. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted such a nice piece of salmon before. Sadly, it’s the end of the run so I’ll have to eat up.

So yeah, I think we’re doing pretty well for ourselves so far. We also tried 35th Street Bistro in Fremont last weekend and Via Tribunali in Capital Hill. VT gets extra points because the owner is Italian and I had an opportunity to brush up on my language skills. His pizza is as authentic as my favorite pizzeria in Bologna. Next time, I’ll try their Fremont location to see if it’s as good without “Il Capo” present.

I have my first visitor, Allison, coming this weekend so the adventures will continue…