May 17 - Cheese! and other stuff.

What a beautiful day for cheese!

Lucky for my Fargo friends, they happened to be in town the same weekend of Seattle's amazing, spectacular Cheese Festival!

This was actually something I had missed last year. The thought of pulsing hoards of cheese-hungry tourists. *shudder* But this year I thought I'd brave it to show my friends a good time. And because, let's face it, cheese is awesome.

There are no lines. It's madness. MADNESS!!

We were at the Market at an unreasonably early hour. Why? I'm not sure, but thank god - avoiding the crowds by going early is so the way to work it. And now forget that I just said that, because I don't want you people getting in my early bird cheese next year.

Another tip you can forget I'm giving you is that there are no lines. Sure, your 2nd grade teacher told you it's kosher to wait in line, quietly and politely, but reason goes out the window at the Cheese Festival. It's every man for himself. And there's cheese on the line, people.

Oh, that's what the wait is about.

After trampling on young children and the elderly to get to the cheese, we were rewarded by myriad free samples of every kind of cheese imaginable. Well, except for that nightmare Italian cheese. That stuff is proof that god doesn't love Italy. But all of the little creameries that came out to promote their wares really represented. There was some damn good cheese in attendance.

My favorite cheese haus!

Even though I see them every weekend at the Broadway farmer's market, I was pleased to see Mt. Townsend Creamery out at the Cheese Festival. They have a small selection of cheeses, but they're all done remarkably well. Their Trailhead cheese is totally kickass. And I think that's a completely valid way to describe a cheese.

So much cheese!

I think we probably only wandered half of the cheese gamut, but we were pretty much on the verge of vomiting free cheese all over the ground. And as funny as it would be to do that to all the tourists, we decided to give the cheese a rest. I can't believe I'm saying that.

Luckily, a break from cheese doesn't necessarily mean a break from caloric onslaught. Guess what's just off the cheese route. . . Le Panier!

Oooh. . . . pretty. . .

As tempting as those beautiful little eclaires were, I was in the mood for something lighter. A palmier? Well, usually, but not on this occasion. I know, it's weird. Those little heart-shaped happy makers are usually a no-brainer for me, but on this cheese-filled day, I felt like getting something slightly fruity. And gnawing on it until it oozed it's raspberry innards all over my hands, leaving me a sticky mess. I love croissants!

Oh, the carnage.

Xtine, who is not (yet) bound by the siren's song of the palmier, made the seemingly painless decision to go with . . . . that thing that looks like a rectangular madeleine. I forget what they're called. Man, I should know that. Anyway, she seemed to enjoy it.

nom nom nom

Brenna was taken in by that thing that's always kind of scared me. She got a merengue, which to my understanding is sweetened styrofoam. She sure did make it seem tasty, though.


After having walked off some of the "yeearrg I'm going to vomit" feeling downtown, we jaunted over to the international district for some Japanese food.

Unfortunately, the Japanese apparently have something against eating before 5:00 pm. Every Izakaya bar and restaurant was closed. WTF? Not awesome. So we decided to check in on Green Leaf, for some loud, red headed fat man-approved Vietnamese cuisine.

Nothing to sneeze at.

Aside from winning approval from that Food Network buffoon, Green Leaf has also won the hearts of almost every publication having to do with food in maybe the entire country. I don't know how they managed, that, but kudos. And more kudos to them for adding a second floor so that I no longer have to wait hours for a table.

Decisions, decisions.

It was ridiculous hot out that day, so they set us up with some lovely iced tea and we set about ordering way too much food for three people. But it's Vietnamese food, so it's calorie free! Right? Right??

Well, not if you order the cha gio, those magical little deep fried beauties served up with nuoc mam, otherwise known as the greatest juice to get squeezed from fishes ever. Stop being grossed out, whitey, it's delicious.

Hot, tasty innards.

To counter the grease of the cha gio (because that's how eating works), we had an order of the fresh green spring rolls. These things are ridiculously easy to make and I usually feel silly ordering them at restaurants, but the ones at Green Leaf are special. They have a roll of deep fried eggroll skin inside them that brings a surprise crunch to the party. Does it negate some of the healthy of the springroll? Maybe. Is it worth it? Many times over.

Surprise inside!

Xtine loves mushrooms. I do not. It is the source of some tension in our relationship. I remember that time we got into a spat about mushrooms and it got so bad we ended up painting a line down the middle of our apartment that no one could cross. It got really wacky when I realized the kitchen and door to the outside were on her side of the apartment, and the only thing I had to eat were the cans of mushrooms she kept throwing to my side of the line.

Anyway, she ordered these skewered mushrooms on a bed of green stuff underneath some fried crispies. While I didn't eat them, I did enjoy that they were impaled with sticks. Die, mushrooms, die!!

Death to the mushrooms!

Food time! Following her mushroomstravaganza, Xtine tucked into a plate of rice noodles topped with stir fried vegetals and more of that crispy stuff. You know, I have no idea what that stuff is. Is it Vietnamese? I don't remember any of it from my youth. Hmm.

Noodles and veggles.

Even though it's something I can make at home and that always makes me feel guilty, I had to order the bun - vermicelli noodles topped with green stuff and meat stuff. It's perfect hot weather food. Especially with a liberal dose of nuoc mam. Mmmmm. . . fish sauce. . .

I want some right now. . .

Afterward we wanted something in the way of sweet and cold, so we headed to Oasis for some bubble tea. Bubble tea!! Man I love that stuff. Icy slush with chewy tapioca balls and a flavr. I tried avocado flavr for the first time that day - it was crazy weird, but oddly refreshing. Would I have it again? . . . maybe.


I think Xtine got passionfruit flavr. It was apparently amazing.

. . . not happy.

Brenna, on the other hand, was not on board. Apparently sucking balls of chewy goo with fruity slush through a massive straw is just not up her alley. Go figure.

That night we went to Can Can for their burlesque-y caberet type show. It's dancing and gymnasting and all sorts of entertaining. How can you not fall in love with that? Xtine and I did, as you can see. I also want to point out that I don't like wearing glasses. Look, the frames are in the way of me seeing the camera. Irony.

Asians in this picture: one total.

Is the Brenna and Xtine madness over? Not yet!

May 16 - Oaxaca, Rock show, Yanni

Brenna and Xtine. Just waitin' for the bus.

Hey guess what! I had more visitors last week! And that's why I've sucked so badly at getting a new blog up! I'm . . . sorry. Man I suck at this.

So anyway, Brenna and Xtine from glorious Fargo came to visit me in my new hometown of Seattle. Lovely. Brenna requested we go eat something that she couldn't get in the Midwest, so we headed off to get some Oaxacan delicious in us.

It's electric!

In true hotspot fashion, there was a crazy wait for a table at La Carta de Oaxaca. Sigh. But we were determined to get a table so we stood right next to some people who were eating and made them feel guilty about taking so long.

Actually we went across the street to Fu Kun Wu to use the secret entrance in back and enjoy aphrodisiac-laced cocktails. Sexy!

Having staved off hunger with alcohol, we wandered back to La Carta and sat down with some strangers to a delicious meal. I unfortunately don't have many pictures of the meal because Brenna and Xtine both ordered the same thing - the tacos al pastor. They are boring and have good taste. My friends, not the tacos. Those were delicious little barbeque pork taste sensations and came with homemade tortillas which make me wish they were made in my home.

Not carnitas. There's a difference. I guess.

According to both parties involved, they were crazy good.

Well, it was incredibly difficult for me to order anything but the entomatadas. The last time I got it my mouth almost exploded out of sheer delight. But I had to be strong and try something new, so I went with the molotes. They involved those awesome tortillas wrapped around potato and beef sausage topped with guacamole and Oaxaqueno cheese.

Is that a radish? That's weird.

They were really cute. Like delicious little footballs. With guacamole. I had hoped that the hot sauce they came with would be a bit hotter, but it was nice and flavorful, and gave me an opportunity to utilize the sassy salsa bar in the restaurant. Salsa!

After dinner, we headed over to Sunset Tavern for a show. Wanna see some pictures? Okay!!

First up: Lund Brothers! I think they should change their name, they're not all brothers. I didn't want to call them liars, but they kind of are.


Up next: The Young Sportsmen! My friend David thinks they should name their next album Young Sportsmanlike Conduct. Get it? It's a play on words!

And a play on logos!

Headlining the show: Thee Sgt Major III. Again, not crazy about their name, but that bald guy was amazing. He was seriously that intense for the whole show. I want him at my birthday party.

Watch out behind you!!

The next day we went to a happy hour in Greenwood. There was no food, so that is sad, but there was this reservation at The Rickshaw:

But he never came.

And I have to include this photo of Xtine and Maverick. Because I love it.

He just karate chopped her eye. But she had it coming.

Brenna and Xtine's weekend isn't over! Stay tuned for more!


May 11 - Gastropub, overnight museum snacks

This is what I started my day with. That could've killed someone. It almost killed that poor sandwich board sign. Danger!

Normally this would be a sprite, but at a
gastropub it's a homemade-mint-cucumber-muddled-soda.

Anyway. After hitting the Emerald City Comicon, a few friends and I headed up to Capitol Hill to check out Quinn's - one of those fancy new gastropubs. So, kind of high-concept, gourmet pub grub.

Hee hee. Grub.

Because my friend Diane is a sucker for overfed goose liver, we started off with the fois gras. Mmmm. . . gras. . .

That is some phat liver.

So. . . I honestly don't remember much about the fois gras. The bite I had was tasty, and that picture sure makes it seem like there was a lot of it. Hmm. It was perched atop some kind of fluffy pancake thing? With some. . . mango. . . stuff. . .

Okay. I was honestly far more fixated on the roasted bone marrow. My culinary anti-hero, Anthony Bourdain, has named it as his ideal last meal on earth. I'd never had it, but imagine my excitement when I discovered Quinn's serves it as a small plate. Score!


So they set before me a lovely presentation of animal bones, roasted for my pleasure. I scooped some of the business from the bone and spread it on the toast, topped it with some sea salt, and went to town. My first reaction was, jeebus this is oniony! That's all I taste!

Well. . . turns out I was doing it wrong. The marrow is inside the bone. Quinn's just chooses to top it with a sweet and pungent onion goo that I mistook for the marrow. How am I supposed to know what marrow looks like?? Once I got a taste of the actual bone goo, I was a little disappointed. It was pretty overpowered by the onion. There has to be more to this dish. I'll make it someday and review it for real.

While I was struggling with dem bones, my dinner buddies tore into some rabbit pot pie. Seems like I've been eating a lot of rabbit lately. . .

They served the bunny pie with carrots. how cute.

Despite making me feel sad inside for the adorable fuzzies that got murdelized for this dish, I did guiltily enjoy the pot pie. Actually, I think more things should be served under a buttery pastry. I was going to try to think of something that would be awful and make a joke by saying I wanted to eat it under a flaky crust, but I honestly can't think of anything. Pot pie is the perfect serving method.


Being in a pub, we felt that a cheeseburger and fries would suit the mood of the evening. I'm trying to remember something to say about them, but I'm coming up zeros here. Umm. . . check out that little cow on top of the burger. That's neat!


Back to the weird food. The special of the day was slow-cooked beef tongue. I felt I needed to get it. When can I pass up tongue? It's like eating tasting.

Yeah, I couldn't really get a good angle on the tongue.

The flavor of the tongue wasn't super impressive (irony!) but it was remarkably tender. It practically fell apart under my fork. That sauce was pretty good too, though I can't remember what was in it. It sure was yellow.

One of their desserts of the day was a chocolate financier. We had a dinner-long argument about what a financier was before ordering it to resolve the conflict. We thought it might be like a napoleon. Or perhaps like an eclaire. Or maybe like a sugar daddy. Turns out it's just a cake. What a disappointment.

It was fennel on top. Not celery, like we originally thought.

Less of a disappointment was the other dessert we ordered - a rhubarb crisp topped with a little flavored creme fraiche. That was some tasty edible root of a toxic plant.

No, really. The leaves are toxic. Srsly.

Also that weekend, the Seattle Art Museum was open for 35 hours straight to give people ample opportunity to get bored by the Roman art exhibit on loan from the Louvre. While I'm really not a fan of the Roman art (boring. boring!) I never pass up an opportunity to be in an art museum at 3 in the morning. Awesome.

I would have more pictures of that, but apparently you're not supposed to take pictures in a museum. So I got yelled at. And now I have illegal pictures of art on my computer. If I ever get arrested in a computer raid, you'll know why.

Even the salt is artsy!

Man, all that appreciating art can sure work up an appetite. Lucky for us, TASTE, the art museum's restaurant, was also open all night. Sweet!

They were running their happy hour menu from 10 until breakfast, so our options were limited to some small plates, fried things, and a giant ice cream sandwich. Since it was freezing outside we decided to keep to the first two categories.

In the small plates category was a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup shot. A winning combination, to be sure, but I did wish we had the option to upgrade from a shot to a cup. A bowl even. That stuff was delicious.

We didn't take the shot in one shot. That would have been silly.

In the fried food category, we ordered rosemary frites with remoulade. Or, in non fancy pants terms, seasoned fries with tartar sauce. Since when do we need to make french fries sexy? You don't need to trick me into ordering them, TASTE, I would have anyway. I love french fries. Everybody does.

Frites: fries in disguise.

Maybe the best part about the Roman art exhibit was the message on the marquee across the street. At the nudie bar. Yikes! That Lusty Lady - so clever. So topical.

Get it? It's a double entendre!

Since this post started out so awful (falling streetlights! excercising!), I'll end it with some cuddly critters. Goats! That you can rent by the day! And an adorable puppy! Gah!


April 26 - Biscuits and Gravy

You and me both, vibes.

Something's been making me sad.

Ever since I decided I wanted to cook things, I've been fairly successful in most of my endeavors. Generally with a little internet research and Alton Brown know-how, I can get most dishes approximated. All except for. . . biscuits and gravy.

Why would I ever want to make them? Well, that Moos of mine loves them. And ever since he told me that it's been fail after fail. To the point that he told me to just give up. Well, I was having none of that. I figured since my past attempts had all involved pre-packaged ingredients to one degree or another, I should give it one last shot making everything from scratch. Time to consult the master.

Quickly! Lest the shortening melt!

Alton Brown's Southern Biscuits

2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons shortening
1 cup buttermilk, chilled

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using your fingertips, rub butter and shortening into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs. (The faster the better, you don't want the fats to melt.) Make a well in the center and pour in the chilled buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky.
Turn dough onto floured surface, dust top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times. Press into a 1-inch thick round. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter, being sure to push straight down through the dough. Place biscuits on baking sheet so that they just touch. Reform scrap dough, working it as little as possible and continue cutting. (Biscuits from the second pass will not be quite as light as those from the first, but hey, that's life.)

Bake until biscuits are tall and light gold on top, 15 to 20 minutes.

So. . . sticky. . .

The batter was incredibly thick - to the point that it made me nervous, but I went with it.

Backwards Pacman!

I also don't have a biscuit cutter. Who does? But you know what I do have. . . an onigiri mold.

Not just for riceballs anymore.

And it worked great! Not only was it the right size, but all of my biscuits came out this cute triangular shape. Alright!

Ready for the oven.

Despite my fears about the batter consistency, the biscuits turned out pretty great. Light and fluffy inside, crunchy on the outside, and pretty tasty with some butter and honey. But that wasn't what was going on here. I had some sizzlin' to do.

Toasty goodness!

I had gotten some country style sausage at my local foodmart. It looked just like ground pork to me, but apparently there are some differences in what goes in there. Something involving Southern magic, I think. It turned out to be the perfect gravy fodder.

Ahh. . . the sizzle of pork!

Alton Brown's Sawmill Gravy

1 pound bulk breakfast sausage
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk

Salt and pepper to taste. Cook sausage in a cast iron skillet. When done, remove sausage from pan and pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat. Whisk flour into the fat and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and whisk in milk a little at a time. Return to medium-high heat and stir occasionally while the gravy comes to a simmer and thickens. (Be sure to scrape up any brown bits that might be stuck to the bottom of the pan, that's where the flavor is.) Check seasoning, add crumbled sausage and serve.

Just like from the ol' sawmill.

In the past I'd used things like pre-seasoned breakfast sausage, packaged biscuits, or other unsuitable things. Making everything myself in the syle of AB turned out to be the perfect solution for perfect biscuits n gravy. Awesome.

I think Mr. Brown would be proud. I hope.

And now, for my new regular feature:

This is the segment where I will see how whatever foodstuff I've prepared (or purchased) compliments my new signature drink - Babycham!

So the biscuits and gravy? Well, it doesn't do much to enhance the perry pear flavor of the Babycham, but the saltiness and porkiness of the gravy certainly does its part to kill the slightly sulfuric aftertaste. I'll put it in the "works okay" column.

Babycham: now for breakfast!