Tuesday, February 24, 2009

a proper chinese birthday

my mom's birthday was last week, and being the low-key woman that she is, i asked if she even wanted to do anything...a sunday dinner, perhaps? she said she wasn't sure and would let me know later. the last thing i wanted was for her to prepare dinner for "the kids"...it was her birthday, after all.

a couple days later, my e-nbox pinged, and my mom invited us out to her house for hot pot! yay! i love hot pot, but it wasn't really a food tradition in my family. heck, i didn't even think my parents would break out the burners for the real deal. boy, was i wrong.

my parents bought the hot pots with the divider in the center so that we had both a hot and a "normal" broth. they went for extreme variety, offering chicken, beef, and vegetarian broth (whee!).

yeah, i took a picture of the blue flame, so sue me for nerding out!

the spread included spinach, baby bok choy, lotus root, bean sprouts, snow peas, green onion, purple basil, cilantro, fresh and fried tofu, shrimp, chicken, pork loin, and two types of beef, one sirloin (i forget..?) and one "ungraded" per vietwah. mmm, check out that red broth! i would've gone hotter, but with the temp and the spice combined, i was pretty satisfied.

here's my brother dunking some chicken into his broth. delicious.

i had a lot of fun engaging in the communal activity that is hot pot. i love interactive food, and this was super tasty, filling beyond words, and a fantastic way to celebrate my mom's birthday.

thanks for dinner, guys!!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Frozen Custard!!!!

While walking to work the same way I walk everyday I came across a new poster in a store window about a new restaurant opening...

(check the link for a menu!!!)

As you may have read in prior posts, I love custard and haven't had anything close to the stuff I grew up on in the puget sound area. I am so excited and can't wait to try it. After doing some research I found out they will open this spring and they will also be serving Nathan's hot dogs. L. Nopen and I will be the first people in line.

Located at 1316 E. Pike

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Fish Story

It was a dark and stormy day as we boarded our chartered 36' Bertram for a day of deep water fishing between Cozumel and Playa del Carmen. Several of our party of 6 were a little green from a night of Tequila in Playa but were determined to give it their best effort.

Pushing thru 14 to 18 foot swells and with Jim (you will learn more about him later) chumming his last 2 meals over the side of the boat, I heard the mate yell "Fish On!" I pulled back on the pole and set the hook. It was then man against fish. I was determined to win. In the 45 minutes it took to boat the 40+ lb Dorado (aka Yellow Fin) we went through a down pour of rain and increasing swells. By the time the fish was in the boat my arms were rubber and my back was
screaming uncle. By now the weather had worsened and the rest of the charter boats had headed in. We did the same.
Once tied up at the marina, we were the stars of the day. We were one of only 3 out of 14 boats out that caught fish that day. My fish was by far the largest.
The mate quickly and efficiently filleted my catch. We knew we would never be able to eat the whole thing, so we gave the other half to the captain & mate.

That evening we fired up the grill at our villa and Jim proceeded to put together a meal of saffron rice, refried beans, tortillas and, of course, grilled Dorado in a lime butter marinade. Which was washed down with ice cold Sol and tequila! It should be noted that even after grilling enough of this fish for 6, there was enough for 2 large bowls of ceviche and a breakfast.

5 Spot......Another Great Place For Breakfast!

1502 Queen Anne Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 285-SPOT
8:30 am to Mid Nite Daily

Most know of this venerable breakfast spot in Upper Queen Anne. Get there on a week end after 9:30 and you likely won't get a seat for awhile. On a recent week day B, Principal R, and myself set off to the 5 Spot for breakfast and Bloody Mary's.
We were fortunate enough to get a table right away with a great view of the open kitchen. Our server was on us like a fat kid on a cup cake with waters, menu's and a rendition of the Special Specials!
B and Principal R both had Huevos Rancheros. Lots of places make this dish, but the 5 Spot's set up is by far my favorite. It is simple, but fresh with 2 fresh salsas. a black bean chili with cheddar cheese and 2 eggs, perfectly sunny side up.

I had the Red Flannel Hash. The hash is corned beef, potato, and beets with a couple of eggs on top. It was pretty good and really filling. But was a little bland. I took care of that with some Tobasco and another Bloody Mary! BTW....this is probably the best Bloody Mary next to Etta's. No mixes here. Each made to order with plenty of heat!
I haven't done more than breakfast here so can't say how lunch and dinner are. But I drive home over the top of the Hill on my home from work and there is always plenty of people waiting for seating.

Voula's Off Shore Cafe.....Good Food * Good People

Recently a customer of mine invited me to breakfast. He had been raving about this place and wanted to share it with me. So on the appointed day and time we set out for Voula's Off Shore Cafe.
This is an easy place to miss as it is tucked into a working neighborhood near Gas Works Park. But once you have been there, you wi
ll not forget it!
Apparently it made enough of an impression on the producers of The Food Networks "Diners, Drive Ins and Dives" to do
a segment on it.

Voula's Off Shore Cafe
658 NE Northlake Way
Seattle, WA 98105
Monday - Friday: 6 am - 3 pm
Saturday - Sunday 8 am - 2 pm
phone: (206) 634-0183

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

5 minute dog food

so i read this recipe the other day for a 5 minute, microwave chocolate cake. i was skeptical and the greater part of me knew it would be bullshit, but since i had all the ingredients on hand, i figured, why not give it a go.

i mean, shoot, in the end if it sucked, i would only be out a few tablespoons of ingredients and an egg, which i find disgusting in the first place.

sweet ninja email, i know.

everything i needed. yeah, imitation vanilla. you see it. why use the good shit on this experiment, right? vaniller is 'spensive, dude!

mix dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa).

add egg. mix thoroughly. then add oil and milk.

stir until uniform and blended.

microwave on high for 3 minutes in a 1100W nuker. don't fret as it explodes over the top of the mug.

let cool for a couple minutes.

invert onto a plate, or bowl in this case. stare at what looks like it could potentially be dog food. do not feed to animals. chocolate = no-no!

i ate the couple bites that stuck to the bottom of the mug and was severely disappointed. it was strangely cooked, completely bizarre in texture, and almost flavorless.

so yeah, i made a quick salty peanut-chocolate frosting. i heated up some peanut butter and butter, added cocoa and mixed. then i added a touch of sugar and milk, stirred until glossy. then more sugar and milk in the same technique until the consistency was right. plopped on top of 5 minute dog food.

the "frosting" was fine...a little too salty for my taste, but it made a couple bites of the kibble tolerable. all-in-all it was too rich (due to the frosting) but mostly dense and sick.

sorry for subjecting you to this, m.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

tasty kakes

after a lackluster brunch at senor moose, we made a quick, run-in-the-rain stop at belle pastry's newest outpost on leary way in ballard. G had been craving a croissant all morning and his french pastry breakfast was vetoed in favor of moose. needless to say, french tasties were still on G's mind.

somehow i deleted a couple of the pictures off of my phone, so please excuse the lack of visual entertainment and poor pic quality.

as soon as we walked in, we were greeted by one of the bakers whose name i've shamefully forgotten. the interior is a little too fluorescently bright (almost clinical), but it just accentuated how clean the space is. perhaps some warm red decorations would help stimulate my appetite?

i guess my appetite didn't require a cattle prod for me to quickly settle on an apricot/creme anglaise/croissant confection. meanwhile, G picked up an eclair, napoleon, croissant, and baguette!

the buttery layers of flaky pastry were a perfectly crisp contrast to the soft, poached apricot. the entire pastry was lightly glazed...just enough for me to lick my fingers afterwards. J, G, M, and i all shared the goods in the car on the way back to phinney ridge. the only thing that made it past the stoplight at 15th and market was the baguette.


ps, out of recession v-day ideas? why not pick up a special pastry from either of belle pastry's locations and celebrate at home.

Belle Pastry on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Brian should be the next Top Chef

ET and my brother (back right) at the James Beard Awards in 2008

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

sometimes mediocre hits the spot

a couple friday's ago, my friends called me up to see if i felt like sushi. better question is, when do i not feel like sushi?!?! J suggested shiku in ballard, which she and her husband enjoyed several weeks earlier. i'd never been, so of course i was into it!

of course it's a friday. and ballard. so by the time we walked in at 6:30, all the tables were full and the wait was approximately an hour longer than we were willing to stand around in the freezing cold. so we walked to sam's sushi just up the street across market.

in all my years living in ballard, i had never eaten at sam's...gasp! i figured that if i wanted sushi, i would go to the places i already loved (maneki, mashiko, etc) instead of this amazingly-convenient, 2-block-away restaurant next to my old shoe repair go-to.

as soon as J and i walked in, we saw the place was pretty packed, but there was only one couple in front of us. we weren't greeted and there was no visible wait list. after wondering if i would have to walk across the crowded restaurant to the "front" desk for 10 minutes with no acknowledgment from any of the staff, i got up and asked someone who i mistakenly identified as the host how long the wait would be. she said she wasn't sure. i let her know we had a party of 5, and she said about 10 minutes. during those ten minutes, i watcher her approach a solitary patron seated in a booth if he could move to a 2-top, and he obliged. weird, right?

anyhow, enough talk. not enough pictures.

we ordered the large sashimi appetizer plate, which took about 20 minutes to arrive. isn't the point of an appetizer to come before the entrees? if so, sam's missed the point. we were all ravenous by the time any food arrived! perhaps hunger and nothing to eat is the best appetizer of all.

m chose the lobster roll. i actually didn't have any because i'm not a huge fan of lobster, and since there were only 5 pieces, i figured everyone else would appreciate a taste more than me.

next came the rainbow, spicy scallop, and spider rolls. the rainbow roll is a perennial favorite if only because of the variety of fish draped over the top. it was solid. the salmon, maguro, and whitefish were nothing special. in fact, it wasn't flavor but texture that really distinguished them. hrm. the spicy scallop was nice. sushi is pretty much the only application where i enjoy scallop crudo. however, it was severely lacking the "spicy" portion as advertised on the menu. the spider roll was the best out of these three. sweet, fried softshell crab...i mean, c'mon. the only way to ruin this is to use old oil or burn the crab.

hmm, caterpillar roll. i don't think i had any. or did i? apparently this was an extremely memorable dish. success!

and last were the red dragon and california crunch rolls. the red dragon was supposed to be spicy (i assume...either that or a super-secret, underground ninja crime syndicate!), but 'twas not. the maguro and mild kewpie mayo stripe-age was nice, though. ah yes, the california crunch roll was basically a california roll (amateur, i know), but with tempura shrimp millefiore'd inside and them tempura-ed itself! again. frying. hard to eff up.

overall sam's was nothing special. it was solid. no offensive errors. no stellar standouts. sam's hit the spot when we needed it the most. ...and were on a schedule (K had to work at 9).

Sam's Sushi Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon