Tuesday, September 30, 2008

1616 Eastlake Ave E

so the title....yeah, i know it's about as boring as it gets, but i just thought it was funny because one of my labs is actually in this building, thus i reference this address all the effing time at work. anyhow, on to more relevant matters...namely the food!

grand central bakery and i have a long, delightful history. when i was in middle school, i would take the bus to pioneer square with my friend to visit her dad's office (which was right above the og GCB) and oggle the stationary at long-gone Paper Cat next door. every time we went, we'd get a hot ciabatta square for $0.69 and fill it with two squares of melting butter. ah, the memories.

fast-forward to my new location in south lake union, and the GCB at 1616 is a mere 3 minute drive from my office (or 5 minute Trollop ride).

i always like to try seasonal specials and signature dishes, so i ordered the Tomato, Sweet Onion, and Avocado sandwich. i mean, the title says it all. the sandwich was slathered with house mayo (uh, YUM), kosher salt and peppered, and finished with a little romaine. it was bomb. and of course, since GCB is a bakery after all, the bread was blue ribbon banging.

i also ordered a bowl of the soup of the day, which was an indian spinach and lentil with tofu (i assume a vegan substitution for paneer). it was pleasant...nothing special, but i did finish it all.

grand central bakery is a nice, area lunch option, though a touch on the pricey side if you get a whole sandwich and soup. there are locations scattered around seattle and portland, so they have the northwest covered.

Grand Central Bakery
1616 Eastlake Ave E

M-F: 7-5
S/S: 8-4:30

Grand Central Baking Company on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 22, 2008

st demetrios greek festival

last weekend A. called me up asking if i wanted to go to st. demetrios. i replied, "for what?!?" every september st. demetrios (a greek church in montlake, btw), holds a greek festival as their major, annual fundraiser which includes food, music, dancing, a "this-and-that" shop, and other greek groceries. i thought it would be fun, so M., A., and i were off to soggy montlake in the rain.

as soon as we walked in, i purchased 30 tokens to use at all the different food stalls under the big top. M. and i started with dolmades, spanakopita, and a simple salad. everything was good, but nothing was superb. i didn't have super high expectations since i knew it was a fundraiser, and it would be food prep on a huge scale. i enjoyed the comforting grape leaves, tangy salad (high on the cheese quotient!), but the spanakopita was a little sad. it could have used a little bit of salt and a lotta bit of crispness. it was soggy, and that wasn't ideal, but it didn't stop me from finishing it, oh no.

A. got the souvlaki, which came with a little bun to eat the skewered lamb with. apparently there was a vat of oil and sauce that the server dipped the skewer in right before serving, and A. went back to the stall to ask for a little dish of that sauce. instead he returned with a bun dipped in the sauce. why? i'm not quite sure.

M. also tried the gyro (it was either that or a lamb sandwich). it looked pretty damn good. they had quite the machine of younger boys assembling those jammies with toasted pita, sauce, tomato, onion, and gyro patties.

right before we left, i had to snap a picture of the whole lamb they just put on the spit to roast. epic!

after we wandered around the church grounds for a little bit (A. bought a bag of olives and a block of cheese), we ended up at the dessert station. we went with the kataifi, which is basically a nest of phyllo threads wrapped around walnuts and sugar, then flooded with honey. i also chose the standard baklava, just because i had to. the baklava was intensely buttery, a little soft (i think in part due to the humidity), but the kataifi was insanely sweet. there was far too much syrup on the bottom, so i just avoided that part.

thanks for the greek tastes last weekend, st demetrios!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

chilies: so undercover it's not even googleable

this tiny hole-in-the-wall joint is sri lankan/indian party in the front and cold beer/convenience items in the back. chilies is a great little place next to pam's kitchen on 50th and the ave which serves a very limited, but tasty, menu of curries, soup, samosas, and dosais.

A. and i stopped here for lunch the other day. there's a bit of a language barrier, so be confident in what you're ordering and just insist that that is, indeed, what you want. while we waited at the card tables in the back for our food, we laughed at the random drugstore items on shelves, like the "macho" aftershave and "stick" deodorant.

for a tiny place, they had quite the selection of microbrews, domestic beers, and malt liquor. it was interesting watching people come in solely for the convenience store aspect of chilies.

this soup came with my dosai, but A. also ordered it a la carte. it's a tangy, tomato-based soup of potato, cilantro, cauliflower, and carrots. there was definitely black cardamom, fennel seed, and some other tiny, black eyeball-looking spice floating in it. whatever it was, the combination was tasty. my only complaint is that it wasn't (temp) hot enough.

A. also ordered the vegetarian samosas, which were bangers. the pastry was tender, and the filling was warm, comforting, and well-spiced. what really made the dish, though, was the mint chutney. i don't really know if it's technically a chutney (what is, technically, a chutney?!?), but it was grassy, fresh, and bright. though they look a little sad here, don't trust the picture. they were great. and cheap ($3.25)!

i ordered the masala dosai, which is a crispy crepe wrapped around masala-spiked onion, potato, and garlic. the dish is super simple, fast, cheap, and satisfying. the dosai also came with the mint chutney as well as some finely-grated radish...at least i think it was radish...it was white, a little fibrous, and cold. to be honest, it wasn't especially flavorful, but i ate it all anyways. my favorite part of the dosai ie the crepe's ends since they're so crispy and taste great dipped in the tangy soup.

i also snagged a pack of gum for the road (yeesh, garlic potatoes), and including the $.50 fee for using a card, my total was $7.06. thanks for lunch, chilies! if you're in the market for a 22 of camo ice and a plate of lamb curry, hop into chilies. it's seriously the shit.

NB: tip of the hat to Nancy Leson at the seattle times for these tidbits: 1. the cool, white relish was grated coconut, and not radish! interesting. and 2. it is, in fact, a mint chutney!

Spring Hill

The chef of Spring Hill is one of the funniest people I've ever met. I met him back when he worked with my brother like 8 years ago. I would show up to meet up with them for some late night beers and some great food at the Dahlia Lounge. Mark is a great chef and is truly passionate about food so waiting for him to open his own restaurant was very exciting. My mom and l. nopen invited us to dinner and were also anxious to visit Mark in his new space.

When you walk into the restaurant you immediately feel something interesting is happening-- from the unique but simple decor to the noisy open kitchen setting this place has that it factor. We were immediately seated in a spacious booth where we could easily watch the chefs' make their magic. The place was packed for a Saturday night at 9pm in West Seattle, apparently the buzz is catching on.

The one page menu was broken into three sections: Small Dishes, Shellfish and Main Courses.

We started with a few selections from small dishes, first the roasted beets with pears, salty smoked hazelnuts, rogue blue cheese and a little bit of basil. I love beets and these were perfect with the tangy cheese. We all enjoyed this plate, great flavors.

L. and l. nopen shared the beef steak hot & cold, which is wood grilled rib eye cap steak & raw steak tartare with some potato cracklings. Both of them raved about this dish, I will take their word for it...I can tell you that it had nice presentation.

We also shared a starter from the Shellfish section, the wood grilled prawns & creamy grits, topped with a poached egg, hen of the woods (mushroom) with rich shrimp gravy. I could have eaten this dish and left, it was my favorite thing I tasted that evening. The grits and the creamy gravy matched perfectly with the grilled prawns. The egg was perfectly cooked, I was very impressed. I might need to recreate this myself.

We also shared a few bottles of wine thanks to mom and l. nopen who know way more about wine than I do. Spring Hill has a large selection of northwest wines we enjoyed the nota bene cellars, syrah, 2005. Tasted good to me, but like I said I am not so sure I can tell the difference besides being white or red.

Now onto the main courses, my mom who only eats veggies or fish went for the king salmon. The salmon dish looked interesting and tasty when it came out topped with salmon crackling. I tasted the creamed corn along with the kale which had a hearty taste with a touch of sweetness from the red pepper relish.

L. knew he was going to order the 1/2 pound burger before we even got there. I have met so many chefs whose passion is a good burger and this was no different. The burger is topped with made in house bacon, teleme and special burger sauce. Stacked on the side are hand cut beef fat fries. L. was in heaven, this burger looked very bold and tasty.

l. nopen always takes a chance when he orders. He went with the roasted duck which looked rich and glazed sitting along side a quinoa biscuit. He enjoyed the dish and ate every bite.

Upon reading the menu I wanted to try the pork, but it was out for the evening. I wasnt upset, because I was also interested in trying the halibut. The halibut was coated in a crispy smoked clam panzanella and olive oil sauce sitting on a bed of escarole. The fish was perfectly cooked with a crispy pan sear. The dish was very well designed with a balance of light and hearty.

I was ready to throw in the towel and call it a night when the dessert menu showed up. We all read over the options but to our surprise Mark had his own plan for our dessert choices that evening. He sent out every dessert on the menu. Insane. Amazing.

Made in house sorbet/ice creams. Raspberry, Blueberry, Nectarine, Salted Peanut and Ovaltine.

Fudge cake with more salted peanut ice cream. So delicious.

Damn if I can remember what this was. Blueberry or something...maybe, damn. I don't know, I was on dessert overload. Very good.

Spring Hill is full of northwest fare done right with a simple approach letting the fresh local ingredients shine through on their own. The look and feel due to Mark's partner and wife Marjorie combined with the creativity of Mark's menu have left me excited to go back. Go to their website for better photos and full menu. Congrats Mark and Marjorie.

5:45pm - 11:00pm

4437 california ave sw
seattle, washington 98116

Closed Monday
Reservations accepted

Spring Hill on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 18, 2008

talariri's: a funny thing happened on the way to the office

these pictures are obviously a couple months old, but that doesn't make my overall opinion about talarico's any less valid (i've been there at least 15 times). please excuse the shitty myspace page for talarico's. if i were them, i would hire someone (or a friend, shit!) to design a quality site with general info...i mean, at the very least publish the hours and menu. their $3 slices for happy hour really are something to write home about. i'll keep this short and sweet since i know this isn't the first time i've commented about my favorite west seattle pizza haven on k&s.

M. and i went to talarico's for an easy dinner (and i had to pick work up from my office). we noticed a couple new appetizers on the menu and decided to try the polenta served with spicy sausage ragu. mark my words: THIS. IS. THE. BOMB. the polenta cake was light and fresh, unlike the logs of dense polenta you can buy pre-made in the store (my nemesis), and the sauce was bright, full of chunks of tomato and easily-removed sausage (so i ate a little meat sweat; sue me). i also loved the fresh bites of flatleaf parsley (you already know this is a personal fave).

the only improvement M. and i could think of was to broil the polenta (perhaps w some parm) for a crisp finish. also, not that i really care about this at a pizza joint, the plating was beautiful. if you haven't yet eaten a monstrous talarico's slice, i would suggest getting out to The West for pizza and polenta.

oh yeah, we also got pizza. i got the aglio e olio (garlic and oil) with arugula and goat cheese. it's basically my go-to, but i'm not tired of it yet. shoot, and i said i would keep this short.

anyhow, go to talarico's. it's awesome. i think on tuesday's they have a special recession happy hour menu. you'll just have to go to find out the details.

well shoot, nevermind. after searching urbanspoon, they DO have a website!

Talarico's Pizza

4718 California Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98116

hh daily 4 to 6

Talarico's Pizza on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

marin farmer's market

i almost forgot about this morning jaunt to the marin farmer's market while i was in california. this north bay event is seriously circus-like in the amount of vendors and patrons who turn out every weekend to buy organic peaches, artisan breads, and gluten-free goodies. there were also a couple craft booths, like lampwork glass jewelry and kid's clothing, but nothing serious.

apparently on the day we went, the crowd was "sparse," but i kept my eyes forward so i didn't run into anyone. maybe i'm just not used to farmer's markets being that crazy up here in wa. we stopped at a french baker's tent and bought an olive fougasse (my favorite is from tall grass bakery in ballard only available during the winter months on sundays) and later returned for an anchovy fougasse. the olive one was a little too chewy...we still devoured it, though. the anchovy was the bomb-bomb: toothy but light, crisp exterior, and perfectly salty. yum. sorry for the lack of pick. i didn't have my wits about me.

we also stopped to peruse a seafood vendor hawking oysters, a variety of fish, and smoked tuna. the adjoining grill offered garlic and butter oysters. one for $3 or three for $5. clearly we had to get three...and i wasn't disappointed. oysters can be a little funny for me....especially if they're big. these suckers were pretty hefty, so i ended up cutting mine in half. they were hot (temp) as hell, improved with some cholula and a squeeze of lemon, and effing delicious. sheesh they were good.

on our way out, M. decided to get a pupusa (basically a tortilla stuffed with whatever then grilled). the stand he went to offered vegetarian, gluten-free goodies; so california. anyhow, the tortilla was thick and obviously hand-shaped (which i love), but the pinto bean stuffing majorly-lacked salt. i guess with all this CA healthy living people are afraid to add hypertension-intensifying SALT!!! OMG! the salsa bar was nice, too...the only unfortunate part was that he didn't add enough salsa, and in the end i ate the last pieces because they lacked flavor and dried out. oh well. i can't throw food away, now, can i?!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Home Edition: big dinner

one of the inner circle was about to embark on a big journey, so we decided to fest him the night before the big day. a. and i decided to do seafood since that's one of his faves. we went a little nuts, but what else is new?

we started with some tasty olive bread, rice crackers, brie, and semi-dry iberico cheese. nothing crazy...but always tasty.

our simple salad was a mixture of arugula, romaine hearts, baby tomatoes, red onion, and cucumber. i dressed it with a clean lemon, olive oil, anchovy, and salt/pepper dressing. bright and sharp!

the pièce de résistance was the seafood medley. a. and i picked up fresh alaskan spot prawns, mussels, manila clams, and king crab. one of my favorite shellfish preparations is also one of the simplest: 1. clean shellfish, debeard mussels; 2. sautee red onion, garlic, and chili flakes in olive oil; 3. when translucent, add all shellfish, one can of stewed tomatoes, fresh halved baby tomatoes, salt/pepper/oregano, and a heavy pour of white wine; 4. cover for 2-3 minutes or until shells open; 5. uncover, sprinkle fresh flatleaf parsley, and mix; 6. serve.

we sure enjoyed ourselves! hope you try out this recipe as well while the weather is still nice.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Several people who know I love sandwiches were shocked to hear I had never been to Paseo. Paseo apparently now has two locations but we went to the original in Fremont. They do not have a website but I can tell you this Caribbean/Cuban inspired menu is full of meat. They have chicken, prawns and lots of pork. I did notice a few tofu things however...and the sides host everything from corn, beans, rice and salads. We went for lunch but apparently their dinners which include half chickens are also amazing.

Since it was my first visit I went with the original grilled pork sandwich and a side of corn.

The place was packed and no available seats so we carried our sandwiches down the street and camped out. When I was eating the sandwich I couldn't get over how messy it was but it tasted so good. I loved the combination of the big grilled onions, tasty cilantro and spicy jalapeños. The creamy sauce which is mayo based, was also a nice touch. The pork was grilled like a hamburger patty and a bit tough but the overall sandwich was amazing. I also enjoyed the corn but it was over steamed barely letting the garlic and butter get through, but that could be because we took it to go. L. also got a pork sandwich but it was more like pulled pork than a patty. I would have taken a picture we were attacked by bees.

I have read a lot about how this place runs out of bread, how the service is horrible, how they don't care to advertise because they have "too much business" and how the owner closes up spontaneously and goes on vacation...until something horrible happens to me I will certainly go back and possibly check out the new location!

Paseo, 4225 Fremont Ave N, 545-7440 or Tues-Thurs 11:30 am-9 pm, Fri-Sat 11:30 am-10 pm, Sun noon-9 pm


6226 Seaview Ave NW


Monday, September 1, 2008

save your sol

well shit. when i emailed my pictures from this excursion from my phone, i deleted the images because ive never had any transfer problems. not receiving my first set of pictures just goes to show that i can never be too cautious. so i'll just tell you that youre missing out on my plate of bacalao and some house specialty limeades. anyhow, on with the show.

last time we were in novato, T wanted to take me to sol food, which was down the street from his internship at a newspaper. i love puerto rican cuisine, and was ready to be impressed. their full menu is on their website, but on location they have some unlisted specials (such as my bacalao). sol food originally started out as a small walk-up outpost with sparse outdoor bar seating, but soon expanded to a sit-down restaurant just down the block. since there was no seating at the smaller sol, we decided to try our luck at the restaurant.

sol is fast-paced at busybusybusy. as soon as you walk in, grab a menu and place your order with the host whos perusing the line for people ready to go. (s)he hands you the check, then you take it up to the register to pay and take a number. we were lucky to find some spots at the bar and just made do with the narrow tabletop.

T went with the cubano, which is a pressed sandwich of roasted pork, ham, mustard/mayo, pickles, and swiss cheese. he said he enjoyed it, but there was a bit too much mayo for his liking. just on the right edge of this picture you can see my plate and a leaf from my salad. dammit dash!!!

both J and M ordered the bistec sandwich upon the urgings of one of J's high school buddies. this (also pressed) sandwich includes thinly-sliced steak, grilled onions, avocado, garlic mayo, and swiss. J devoured his sandwich, and M said that it was just "alright."

as noted several times above, i effed up and am without pics of the fizzy limonatas and my bacalao plate. my dish included sauteed bacaloa over sticky rice, a cup of saucy pinto beans, a field green, lime-dressed salad, tomato slices, and an avocado quarter. the bacaloa was tasty, but bones thwarted a glowing review. the rice was bomb and soaked up their housemade, sloshy hot sauce. the salad was tasty as well, but there was no crunch in it, which would have aided in forking it. the avocado was a nice touch, though. oh yes, my plate also included plantains, my favorite! sorry, J's homie, but you were too excited and kind of fudged the details of my order. i ordered frijoles negros, and i received pintos; i ordered one tostone and one platano dulce; i received two sweet plantains. they were good....just too much, too sweet.

i liked this place...it just wasnt the bees knees. i bet if i worked close by, i would be visiting the walk-up outpost quite often.

Sol Food on Urbanspoon

soft serve beach

the other day we took a short field trip to stinson beach about 30 miles southwest of novato. the way in, we took the long, twisty road through fairfax to the beach....i seriously thought i might lose my cookies in the backseat if i didnt reign it in and mentally conquer my motion sickness. i was pretty quiet for those first 45 minutes until the road opened up to more exposed terrain, and i was most thankful at the sight of the beach.

oh, wait, did i mention that we got the idea to go to stinson beach after seeing a story on the news about a great white sighting? yeah, that's right, pep, a damn shark warning. this is the permanent signage at the beach.

and this is the swimming/surfing closure notice as of 8/28. awesome. the news reports and closure warnings didnt seem to deter children and adults from playing in the waves as far out as 50 yards, though. i was jealous, though, the waves looked perfect for surfing.

after walking a great length of the beach (beautiful!), we were all thirsty and decided to stop at the turfside cafe where they serve burgers, fries, shakes, and other beach-appropriate fried foods.

this bastion of burger delights was the perfect beachy/60's-authentic food shack. cash only, walk-up window, take a number.

i was thirsty, but mostly i wanted a vanilla, soft serve cone. i love that shit and probably hadnt eaten one in at least 5 years. also, the sun forced my hand, and i had to devour the melting tower of delicious, semi-frozen goodness. rats.