My recently found favorite soy sauce (for sushi
and some Japanese dishes) is
Soy Sauce Less Salt 45. I don't think I ever realized that there were
some brands of soy sauce that were
not made from fermented soy beans.
There's a new book out about looking at
American history through food (even surveying cookbooks) - "From
Hardtack to Home Fries". The Boston Herald writes about it
here. And in case you're wondering (as I was) - what the hell is "hardtack"?
doing more cooking at home. I do all the cooking at our house.
(New York Times - free registration required)
Satay is delicious. For some time now I have
told myself I will figure out how to do a decent job of making delicious
grilled meat at home. This article has some
basic tenets for grilling - asian style. I was salivating within
10 seconds of seeing this page load.
Yesterday I heard a story on the radio about
how they're using DNA to tag and authenticate sports collectibles. Here's an
article that talks about doing the same thing with rare and expensive
Here's a cool article from the New York Times
(free registration required) about making
more refined soups. She asks why onion soup should be dark and
sludgy. Come to think of it... I wonder the same thing.
A slew of Jewish holidays are coming up - all
with a relatively major focus on food. Don't want to just boil the life out
of everything? Here's an
overview of some resources for cooking for the holidays including having
honey tasting. Neat.
Does it really matter how you
swirl your wine in the glass?
Back to Seattle's
for lunch today - Chinese food at
Seafood Restaurant. The Chinese food scene in Seattle is not top grade
unfortunately. That said, we have some good (not "oh my god" good but good
nonetheless) Chinese restaurants here. Hing Loon is one of my favorites. The
Chicken with Black Bean Sauce was a star as were the shrimp and pork wontons
they served in the wonton soup. The French Black Pepper Beef was also
interesting and tasty (peppery) and the potstickers were yummy as well. The
soups - wonton broth and the hot and sour soup were really good but too
subtle. They were almost a touch diluted. The core flavors of the soups were
actually great. They just needed to be more concentrated. I'll definitely be
Tonight we went out on the search for east
coast pizza in Seattle. The following is a relatively convoluted explanation
of how I'm trying to judge the quality of the pizza we had tonight. There
are many foods I "love". I "like" pizza. It's not that I'm anti-pizza, it
just doesn't occupy the same place in my head as sushi for example.
Debbie "loves" pizza. And I do mean
"loves". Living in Seattle is trying for her because essentially the pizza
here is pretty crappy. Either some west coast weird riff on pizza, or a pale
copy of the Pizza on the east coast. Debbie's favorite pizza is New York
style as served in her hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts at
Patsy's. Kira and Deb
ultimately agree that the best pizza in the world is from New York City.
That said, Kira feels that
Brookline, Massachusetts is the best in the Boston area. Deb who has also
eaten at Pino's feels that tonight's pizza at
Post Alley Pizza
in Seattle is as good as Pino's. So what conclusions can we draw from this
complicated algebra equation? 1) We may have finally found east coast
quality pizza in Seattle - thin, tasty, hot, yummy, 2) the folks at Post
Alley were really nice... they stayed open a few minutes late to accommodate
us as we didn't realize they closed at 8, 3) Post Alley Pizza may be the
best in Seattle (more research required to make that statement definitively)
but it still won't equal what you can get in NYC (according to Debbie and
Kira). We'll definitely be back there. Now if only we could find a place
that had great subs as well as east coast ambience. (BTW, the best sub in
the world is served in Brookine, Massachusetts at
Presto's - 4
doors down from Pino's).
Monday during the day I grabbed a few bites of
sushi at a new branch of
in the International District of Seattle by the gorgeous and huge
Uwajimaya Asian market. Tough to
judge in too much detail since I only had a bit to eat, but it was very
decent. Big pieces of fresh fish.
Monday night we all went out for
Chris' birthday dinner to
Dahlia Lounge owned by
semi-famous Seattle Chef Tom Douglas.
Apparently before I moved to Seattle, Dahlia moved from their original
location to their current one. Many locals have told me that they preferred
the restaurant at the old spot - but having nothing to compare it to, I
think the food is just great. Bunch of "tastes" and appetizers including
scallop sashimi with yuzu and shiso, smoked salmon with a very spicy mustard
(I love this even though I sometimes wish it the salmon were more like
the thicker (more "cooked") smoked salmon they serve), Alaskan spot prawns
with young coconut and chilies, super delicious (and I mean super)
shrimp and scallion potstickers, and five spice duck leg with a nectarine
duck sauce as well as little buns to make sandwiches. The Tuscan grilled
bread salad was really yummy - much to the dismay of
Lauren who's a vegetarian -
because we think the yumminess came from cooking the bread in bacon fat. The
baby lettuce and goat cheese salad was good but not very special. But the
mozzarella with heirloom tomato terrine made up for it by being spectacular!
Entrees included white bean ricotta raviolis with zucchini, albacore tuna
with roasted beet and mint aioli, Alaskan halibut with sugar pea broth, and
3 of us had the chili-soy flat ron steak with Chinese bacon and black
jasmine rice. I don't think i'm that into black rice, but the steak was so
juicy, flavorful, and delicious. All of this and the traditional Belgian
fries on the side. Everything was just great. Even better, dinner was topped
off with a bunch of desserts including their signature made-to-order
doughnuts with apricot jam and vanilla mascarpone. Lauren asked for
chocolate sauce... they didn't bring us any but it didn't matter. I love
those little doughnuts. They remind me of the ones they sell fresh in
Pike Place Market. There's
something about the french fries and doughnuts that brings Dahlia Lounge's
high end food down to earth a bit, and makes the whole experience that much
One other note:
Alex brought a couple of
bottles of wine. I am pretty much never a Merlot fan, but the 1996
Oakville was delicious.
Yesterday for lunch we went looking for
Cheesesteak. Poor planning meant we didn't have time to go to
Jim's. Instead we went to
Tony Luke Jr.'s (a location on 19th
street in Philadelphia) - it sucked (though
Lauren said her veggie sub was
good). We should have known. The guy at the hotel told us it was almost as
good as one of the top places. Luckily, Kira and Steve went to
Jim's today. They said it was much
better than Tony Luke Jr.'s but still not as good as a Steak and Cheese sub
at Presto's in
the Boston area. On a side note - on my last visit to Presto's I tried to
convince them to open a Seattle branch - no dice.
Cheesesteaks aside, the star of the day's
dining was our trip to
Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto's
Morimoto restaurant - his
first solo gig since leaving
Nobu in NYC. This marks the completion of our quest to go to every
(current) Iron Chef
restaurant (to be accurate we still haven't done the second Japanese and
first French Iron Chefs, but we have eaten at the other 5 restaurants - 4 of
them in Tokyo). Dinner was amazing.
Chris and Leslie had gone the
week before, so we had advance scouting to help us figure out our approach.
For 8 people we ordered 9 appetizers, 1 soup, 5 entrees, 4 or 5 vegetarian
dishes, 2 Omakase meals (top
level tasting menus), an assortment of sushi, 3 bottles of wine (including a
Caymus Cabernet) and dessert. The meal
was worthy of an Iron Chef, and justified our trip to Philadelphia.
Appetizers included: toro tartare, yellowtail tartare, shira ae - mixed
vegetable with tofu dressing, seared kobe beef tartare - just delicious,
tuna pizza - tuna and sauce on a crispy flatbread - clever and yummy,
Morimoto sashimi - 5 "blocks" of gorgeous sashimi with 7 different sauces -
amazing, suzuki carpaccio on japanese cucumber with some type of yuzu sauce
- a bit understated yet the favorite dish of many of the people at dinner,
rock shrimp tempura - unbelievably good/incomparable, drunken shrimp 'yopparai',
10 hour pork 'kakuni' - pork belly in porridge (I figure anything they
took 10 hours to prepare is worth me trying - and it was), a gorgeous plate
of small Kumamoto oysters with different sauces including one with osetra
caviar, and Iron Chef's chicken noodle (ramen) soup. If that wasn't enough,
the entrees included black cod miso - a classic dish expertly prepared,
crispy whole fish 'ichi yaboshi' - and you could eat the whole fish -
delicious, lobster epice - just amazingly spiced and cooked to perfection,
seared Japanese river trout on top of a base of Japanese mountain Yams
(shaped like a scallop) and a layer of seared foie gras with cilantro and
Morimoto teriyaki sauce, Chilean sea bass with black bean sauce, shaved
ginger, and hot oil, and finally ishi yaki 'buri bop' - yellow tail prepared
at our table on hot river stones - very cool. When it was time to bring out
the dessert plates that came with the tasting menu, our excellent waiter
Clint told us that since we'd ordered just about everything on the menu,
they were reconfiguring our standard tasting menu dessert offerings to
contain samples of every dessert on the menu. The star of the desserts was
definitely the wasabi tiramisu with the yuzu white chocolate sauce. While
the sushi handrolls (tuna and shrimp) were definitely very very good, the
rest of the sushi was surprisingly just ok. The pieces of rice were
relatively small, and other than the tamago, the items on top (tuna, etc.)
were kind of small. The sushi just didn't leave the same impression as
everything else. Surprising, but not fatal. The overall dinner was
absolutely fantastic. No doubt about it.
Flying to Philadelphia for the weekend to eat
was definitely worth it.
Debbie and I we're in Philadelphia for a food-filled weekend with
Steve, and Kira. Things started
off last night with dinner at Pasion.
Dinner was "fantastico"! We had read about
Guillermo Pernot's restaurant in
Gourmet's Top 50 Restaurants in America and were super excited to eat
there. We were not disappointed. The six of us ordered roughly 20 dishes of
the "Nuevo Latino" cuisine. Appetizers included: Guacamole Cubano -grilled
pinapple and avocado, conchitas gratinadas - an incredible scallop dish with
melted parmesan, a ton of garlic, and a
sabayon sauce, pork empanadas on top of frisse dressed with yummy
dressing with pumpkin seeds, costillitas - sweet and tasty guava glazed
ribs, camarones y pollo - amazingly tasty spiced shrimp and chicken on rice
that came in a baby thai coconut branded on the side with the restaurant's
logo, arepas - colombian corn cakes topped with pork, shrimp, and foie gras,
and the ceviche tasting platter with baby octopus, shrimp, giant clam with
squid ink, eel, and lobster drenched in some sort of fruit juice with these
little french fries on top - one of our most favorite dishes of the night.
Baskets of warm bread kept coming throughout the evening with a 2 kinds of
sweet and creamy butter - herb and garlic for spreading. The best was the
little "pain de bono" (sp?) that populated each basket - a single tiny
munchkin sized fresh hot roll that was unbelievably good. We eventually
asked our waiter for a basket with just those. Entrees included
churrasco - an
amazing skirt steak dish, a sampler that included an amazing salmon item as
well as a crab cake morsel, a grilled vegetable collection, and an awesome
flavorful roast chicken dish with a goat cheese tamale on the side. There
were a bunch of sides as well including "creamy fufu" a mashed potato like
dish made from plantains. We also drank Sangria throughout the evening. When
we first walked in, Pasion seemed a little trendy, and we felt just a tiny
bit out of place. That quickly faded. The kitchen is open and fun to watch,
the service was great, and the food was absolutely incredible. Every dish
was a winner - bold flavors with lots of spice, citrus, and general
yumminess. As our gracious waiter Jose said when we asked him how we did at
the end of the meal: "You destroyed the menu!" We'd return to Pasion in a
heartbeat. The chef also has a cool
ceviche cookbook for sale. I just bought a copy.
The weirdest thing happened. On
Tuesday, I linked to the
Salon article about
Yesterday, Alex told me a
story about how they were visiting Napa the previous weekend, and didn't
have any wineglasses, so they borrowed a bunch of Riedels from one of the
vineyards they visited. Then, last night
Debbie gave me an early anniversary present of - you guessed it - 4
beautiful Riedel Cabernet
Sauvignon glasses. Neat. :)
The LA times (free registration required) has a
great article talking about an upcoming (2006) edition of the
Joy of Cooking. I never realized there could be so much intrigue and
maneuvering around a cookbook.
Tomorrow starts a crazy food weekend. I'll fill you in as it
Martha" is a new German film about a Chef who is obsessed with food.
According to the article the food scenes are super accurate.
Joel Robuchon - an icon of French cooking - is
opening a new
restaurant (free registration required) in Paris. One of the coolest
parts is that the food will be prepared in full view of the customers. They
describe it as a "sushi bar without the sushi."
The LA Times (free registration required) has a
piece talking about
heirloom tomatoes. It got me to thinking about how deprived I often feel
on the tomato front. The best tomatoes I have ever had are grown in Israel.
I consider it Tomato
Heaven. Most tomatoes sold there will do - though the ones I ate on the
kibbutz - farm collective - were spectacular. I am particularly fond of firm
tomatoes with a definite lean towards an bit of sourness. Some people like
soft and sweet - not me. The tomatoes in Israel really remind you that they
are fruit - so incredibly juicy and flavorful. I guess there may even be
Israeli heirloom tomatoes. The closest I've ever come to the
flavor and texture of the great Israeli tomatoes was when buying organic
tomatoes at the
Certified Farmer's Market near Santa Cruz during February when they were
Slate has an article all about
Riedel wineglasses. The
writer is both taken with the glasses and self-consciously skeptical about
whether they're just the product of great marketing.
Speaking of equipment, I'm trying to decide
which brand of pots and pans to standardize on. I'm leaning towards the
All-Clad - stainless. The copper ones
look cool too.
Debbie and I went out to dinner at
Typhoon in Redmond,
Washington. Since I ate Thai food earlier in the week and have been longing
for a really good Thai place, it seemed smart to give Typhoon another try.
First some background -
Ginger is a very popular restaurant in Seattle. It is a modern Thai
place, and up until last year it was a place I LOVED! Wild Ginger was always
packed and eventually moved to a new home. Their homey/hip exposed brick,
wood raftered, packed place with the satay bar at the center was replaced
with a cavernous/non-descript rectangle. Now ultimately all I really care
about is the food. And the food at Wild Ginger is still very good. But for
some reason it doesn't taste quite as good. I hesitate to blame this all on
the new lame atmosphere, but there really is something missing from the food
itself. I guess it got lost in the translation... Now, back to Typhoon. I've
been to the Redmond location 3 or 4 times now. They've consistently struck
me as a Wild Ginger wannabe. (They even opened a
Seattle branch in Wild
Ginger's old pad down by the pier). And while Typhoon is decent in a pinch,
it just doesn't seem to have any depth. We weren't famished last night so we
ordered a bunch of appetizers - Chicken Satay, Superwild Shrimp (the "wild"
was some jalapenos - really "wild"), this interesting ahi sashimi wrapped in
nori and then fried in an egg roll shell, the Thai salad sampler, some and
some Vietnamese fresh salad rolls. They didn't really nail the pan-asian
fusions, and the Thai dishes seemed a little bit one dimensional. I loved
the idea of a summer menu, and the Thai salad sampler seemed great -
promising beef/chicken/shrimp salads from different regions of the
country. Neat! They all tasted the same to me - fish sauce, lime juice, etc.
Many of the other dishes did as well. They did have a very
extensive menu of teas.
Debbie seemed to like hers. I'm not a good judge as I hate tea - tastes like
flowers to me. I'll likely go back to Typhoon - maybe I'll try one of the
other locations. I'll definitely go back to Wild Ginger at some point, but I
won't rush, and when I'm there I'll be wistful for the way it used to be.
Just noticed, the best food TV show ever -
Iron Chef - has 4 hours of specials on
tomorrow night. At 8pm is the "2000th
Plate Special" in 2 parts. At 10PM is "France
Battle" where the Iron Chefs travel to France to "defend the honor of
the Gourmet Academy". Very very cool!
Alex and I went out for Thai
food. I've been to the (almost hidden - it's down an alley)
Chantanee Family Thai Restaurant
once before and I recall the food as being really good and the atmosphere
family friendly - an unlikely combination. On the food side, tonight didn't
quite live up to expectations. Things started off well with the
appetizer - take little bits of browned shredded coconut, roasted peanuts,
garlic, shallot, lime (with the peel - neat), hot pepper slices, and tiny
dried shrimps, wrap them in spinach leaves and dip in delicious Thai sauce.
I was psyched. The rest of the dishes were a bit inconsistent. Some were
good (not amazing) - Lamb Satay, Tom Yum Goong soup, Garlic Prawns, and some
were just "ok" - Heavenly Beef,
Papaya Salad. I would not rule out returning to Chantanee but it didn't
make me fall in love. I'm wondering if they had an off night.
And although I haven't found Thai food nirvana
in Seattle yet, Chantanee was still better than downtown Seattle's
Toi. We went there a few weeks ago.
Things started off well as the Satay was simply the best I've had so far in
Seattle. Unfortunately the rest of the dishes were pretty mediocre.
Toi is "Trendy Thai and cocktails for the beautiful people." Maybe we should
have been scared off by the mention of the trendiness. But I think I
romanticized the self-describe "Royal Thai Cuisine" that they served. After
all, if it's Royal it's likely to be good. Not only was the food a bummer,
but the people weren't that beautiful.
The best Thai food I've ever had was at
Thai Basil in the small beach town of Capitola, California, just south
of Santa Cruz. The place is tiny - 5 tables? It's been a few years since
I've been there though.
This guy seems to agree with my evaluation of Thai Basil.
I love sour candy.
SweeTarts are my perennial favorite. But I am interested in trying these
Altoids sour candies.
Yumfood.net has a really cool guide to the "top
125 movies about or featuring food" -
Cuisine. What's especially neat is the suggested food (and sometimes
recipes) to eat while watching each movie. I haven't even begun to make a
dent in seeing all the movies listed. That said, my favorite food movie of
all time remains -
On Sunday night we went over to
DebDu and Peyman's house for
dinner. Peyman made two dishes from the
Tetsuya cookbook. His book title says he's Australia's most acclaimed
chef. I asked my Australian friend Victor
if he'd ever heard of him. Nope. Doesn't really matter either way as the
dishes were tasty. We had a tuna sashimi appetizer and a duck entree. The
food was awesome, the cookbook is on it's way. Peyman said the recipes were
surprisingly simple to make considering how complicated the end result
looked. I'll keep you posted on my progress.
Avenue One recently went
out of business. Major bummer.
Debbie and I went out for dinner at
Le Gourmand Restaurant in
the Ballard neighborhood of north Seattle. For a long time I'd heard how
this unpretentious classical French restaurant was fantastic, and last night
did not disappoint. One of us had the tasting menu, the other went a la
carte. Being French, sauces were of course the foundation of the evening and
they did not disappoint. Among the dishes that blew us away were: Blintzes
sheep's milk cheese in a chive butter sauce - blew me away with how
flavorful and light they were; zucchini lavender mint soup - I don't like
mint but for some reason this soup was great, the mint was present somehow
only in the aroma; foie gras in red currant and sour cherry sauce - which
Debbie described last night as perfect; Albacore tuna in shiso and nectarine
sauce - which was excellent though my love of Japanese food had me secretly
longing for the tuna to be much closer to raw; Boeuf a la Ficelle which was
beef tenderloin cooked in stock served with a sauce of cabernet pressings
and included homemade mustard and marrow (though the texture of the marrow
was not my favorite, it did have a really interesting aftertaste - I was
glad I tried it); a sorbet of pineapple and sage - the sage was super subtle
and a surprisingly good complement for the pineapple; and chocolate Kirsch
mousse and amazing profiteroles (which were super good, but almost too
sweet if such a thing is possible). The only slight low points (all things
being relative) of the evening were the Quail with chanterel mushrooms which
was slightly dry and chewy though the fantastic sauce helped make up for
that, and the mixed greens salad with edible flowers which could have used
more of the vinegar in the vinaigrette - a little too much oil. To be clear,
the meal was fantastic and a little slice of organic French heaven right in
Seattle. One other highpoint of the evening was the butter -
Plugra - which has a higher
percentage of butterfat making it creamier than American butter. All in all,
Bibim Bap (Korean mixed rice dish) is all the
rage in Los Angeles according to the
LA Times (free registration required). My understanding is that this
dish is typically served with a
floating at the top. Doesn't seem like that's a facet of the LA instance of
the dish. The truth is that my favorite Korean dish is a variation called
Hwe Dup Bap. This is somewhere between Bibim Bap and the Japanese Chirashi
Zushi. Good description
you scroll down to the review of "Sushi Bar Golf." I still need to work on
finding a proper recipe but essentially you fill an extra large soup bowl
half way with rice (short grain sticky) and then put a layer of widely
sliced lettuce strips on top of the rice (Bibb/Boston would be good).
Carefully place 4 small-medium piles of raw sliced fish (tuna, salmon,
octopus yellowtail, etc.) at opposite ends of the bowl (forming a plus
sign). Sprinkle slivered cucumbers (vinegared) and thin strips of Nori on
top. Serve with a small bowl of spicy Korean sauce (typically based on
bean paste) on the side. The trick is to get rice, lettuce, fish,
cucumber, nori, and spicy sauce all into one bite - and every bite. Very
very good. The most reliably good place I've ever had this was
in Harvard Square, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Haven't been there in years
Tonight we went out to dinner in Seattle at
St. Clouds. We were lucky enough to
stop at a friend's house so he could pick up a couple of bottles of wine to
bring to dinner - the Paradigm
Cabernet Sauvignon 98
was yummy. The appetizers were very good. In particular (as we'd heard) the
Panzanella was very good. At first I was a little overwhelmed by how
much balsamic vinegar was used in the dish, but in the end I decided it was
really distinctive. Almost sweet. The shrimp ceviche tostadas were decent.
Entrees didn't go as well. Ranging from bland fish, to dry steak, to fries
that we're a bit limp we were just underwhelmed. The onion rings that came
with my steak were an exception as well as the ribs which were juicy and
flavorful. 8 of us split one (large) dessert. The ice cream sundae. It came
with a great chocolate sauce that inspired friends to make the following
Scharffen Berger Chocolate Fudge Sauce. (I've since made the recipe - it
rocks. Need to melt it a bit in the microwave before serving.) Bottom line
on the night out - St. Clouds scores points for having a very "homey" feel
but like many restaurants of late starts decently with the appetizers but
falls down on the entrees. I often wonder why more restaurants don't just
turn into Tapas bars.
Ketchup is starting to evolve. :) The LA times has a short
article about the
history of ketchup (requires free registration) as well as
talking about some enhancements to modern tomato ketchup. Weird that there's
no mention of some major new advancements from the king of ketchup Heinz.
They recently released
as well as the new
flavored ketchups (scroll down a bit). One funny thing I noticed while
poking around the Heinz site is that they also sell
tomato seeds. My
favorite seeds (based solely on the arugula they grew which was incredible
large and peppery) are from
seeds of change.
We recently went on a trip to Boston. Before going
we spent a bunch of time researching which restaurants to go to. In the
recent issue of Food and Wine, Thomas John was featured as one of
America's Best New Chefs of 2002 in the country. He is the Executive
Chef at Mantra, in Boston,
Massachusetts. Mantra is said to be a fusion of French and Indian
cuisines. Dinner was fantastic. The restaurant is in an old bank lobby. The
downstairs (where the kitchen is located) is replete with huge bank vault
door. The bar is the former teller counter. The bread tray made many trips
past our table with the best item being small warm
nan. They were so good the bread lady kept running out. The staff was
very attentive, but the service seemed to get even better when we started
looking at the expensive wines on the wine list. As always, I was looking
for a big Cab. The assistant sommelier ended up recommending
Sauvignon Napa Valley 97. She nailed it. The Snowden was huge and tasty.
All in all the meal was incredible with the attention to detail of French
cooking and the spices of India. From the
review "The tendril-like tangle housing the hookah smokers and the gimmicky
bathrooms seem calculated to please the adolescent taste of new money." The
hookah room was cool, the bathrooms did have a cool trick (i won't spoil the
surprise) and the people at Citysearch seem a trifle insecure about my
newfound ability to afford dinner at Mantra. Whatever...
Last night we went over to a friends' house and
made a variety of foods. The most interesting part of the evening (other
than the fact that I finally made decent sushi rice for the first time) was
a unique American delicacy -
Deep Fried Twinkies. I am not a fan of
Twinkies, and I only had one bite, but it was surprisingly yummy. They were
fried in a rotofryer. The St. Petersburg Times recently reported on an
upscale version of this delicacy.
One other note from last night, someone brought up
the Fancy Food Show
- this bears further investigation. We might have to attend.