Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Best Seattle Things I've Eaten (So Far) in No Particular Order

1. Lunchtime Bahn Mi at Pho Bac
Not far from the office is a little Vietnamese spot with the best sandwich you can buy for $4. It's become an addiction at work, and all anyone has to say is "Bahn Mi?" around 1pm and we're all gathering up our coats and badges and walking toward the elevator. I once brought takeout back to the office after a doctor's appointment near the place (I swear that's not why I picked my doctor) and discovered I had committed a serious offense. I could write a whole post about this place but I'm worried more people in South Lake Union will catch on and then we'll never get a table.

2. Foie Gras Milkshake from Nosh food truck
Okay actually it wasn't as amazing as I thought it would be. It was kind of liver-y but mostly vanilla. Extremely rich (not to mention ELEVEN DOLLARS). But like Everest, I did it because it was there. Or something like that.

3. Hand-shaven Dan Dan Noodles at Seven Stars Pepper
I did not know that noodles could taste like these noodles do. Usually I am the only white person here which is an excellent sign.

4. Dungeness crab dip at Alibi Room
Usually I skip over crab dip on a menu because I'm from the Midwest and the crab dip there is about as real as those Louis Vuitton purses you can buy on the street. Real-crab crab dip is a dip to behold. This place does a really nice one, even though they're a pizza joint. And they do really good pizza.

5. Scallops and Rice Pilaf at Fall Fisherman's Festival
A drunk Italian guy in line ahead of us insisted that we order these scallops and not the ones with bacon. This was a big gamble on our part, but the dude wasn't kidding.

6. Chocolate chip cookie from DiLaurenti's
My friend Brianna (who I think used to work here) tipped me off to these. They always taste like they just came out of your grandma's oven. If your grandma made chocolate chip cookies. I'm actually not sure that either of mine did.

7. Roast Pork Sandwich at Paseo
I came here as a tourist and made the trip back as a newly-minted local. Same process both times - you wait in line at what seems way too early to be ordering lunch. You place your order and load up on wet naps, maybe grab a table if you're lucky. The sandwich arrives - you pick it up as it's passed over the counter, marveling at how heavy it is. You take a bite and your eyes swell with tears. What is this? Has God himself assembled this sandwich? How does a thing like this exist? What in my life have I done that is of equal importance to this sandwich? Nothing, that's what. Because it's the best sandwich anywhere, ever.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The First One's Free

Raw footage.
Metropolitan Market is a local version of Whole Foods, except it's a little cheaper, open 24 hours a day and per Washington's lax liquor laws, sells booze. It's a few blocks from my new place in Queen Anne, and I'd be there all the time if it wasn't for the Safeway just a block away. Last week something arrived in the mail that was well worth the extra blocks to get to MM - a 'buy one get one free' coupon for aged top sirloin steaks. A beef BOGO.

Kevin and I have been eating a lot of frozen pizzas. We had a hard time getting into a habit of cooking meals regularly and find we can talk each other into going out for Thai food pretty much any night of the week. But when you're offered two premium steaks for the price of one - well what else is there to do?

La vaca.
He did the dirty work and picked up the goods. We didn't have a plan in place per se, so when I got home googling commenced and it was decided that the Alton Brown Broiling Method would be applied. Alton recommends broiling directly on your oven rack, starting in the middle then moving the meat up to the top position. The steaks got a rub down in olive oil, salt and pepper, made the magical journey through the stages of the oven, and finally spent a little time resting while we put together the makings of Ridiculously Good Steak Tacos.

Steak excitement.
Such steaks were maybe never meant to be eaten in taco form. The sirloin's 'skirt' or 'flank' brethren are most often recommended for taco use, but we didn't worry about any of that. We had meat and we wanted tacos. And they were Ridiculously Good Steak Tacos. The leftover meat also made for Ridiculously Good Breakfast Tacos the next morning.

No disrespect to Pad Thai, but it was way more exciting than takeout.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Crashing the Garden Party

I found a mention of Serafina Osteria's garden party on some twitter feed of things to do in Seattle and I didn't read much more than "sangria" and "pig roast" before I clicked "I'm Going" on the Facebook event. So I guess I bought my way in and didn't technically 'crash.'

In typical fashion, I overbooked myself. Seattle's Gay Pride parade was the same day and would be the perfect place to test the camera I'm shooting (colors! a variety of skin tones! thrusting!). Also, the forecast called for 85 and sunny with a 0% chance of my temporary apartment being air conditioned (apparently nobody has central AC here). I did what any enterprising young lady would do and I put on some sunscreen, clinical strength deodorant and wore the only thing in my closet that seemed appropriate for both - a striped maxi dress.

It says everything about Seattle that I've been here for exactly two weeks and I've already seen two parades with naked bicyclists. The Fremont solstice parade was the first, and that's sort of their 'thing,' painted naked bicyclists, so much so that on the local news the night before the anchor reminded us that body paint doesn't count as sunscreen. I guess I wasn't totally shocked to see nude cyclists at the Pride parade either, but boy are some people eager to strip down and hop on a bike. Maybe if it was cloudy ten months out of the year where you live, people would ride bicycles au natural there too.

The Pride parade was sweet, and weird, and colorful and festive, with big contingents of marchers from the corporations that call Seattle home, like Starbucks. The police and fire departments had marchers too, some of the uniformed men and women walking hand in hand with their boyfriends/girlfriends/husbands/wives. It was pretty touching. And then there was gay Batman on rollerblades.

Mixology as a sport:
lllet's get ready to muddle!!
A few blocks north of the parade route I hopped on a bus and arrived at Serafina, a charming little Italian restaurant on the east side of Lake Union. When I walked onto the patio I noticed first that the pig was buried in "La Caja China" and not available yet for photos (damn it) but there was a kind of Iron Chef of mixologists going on in an adjacent building (awesome). The room was crowded and it was hard to get a view of the action but man, if mixology is now a sport then count me as a fan. Outside I had a glass of perfect sangria with bite size chunks of boozy melon, took some photos of a guy breaking down a massive salmon with a knife, and talked to a couple who had just moved from my birthplace, Iowa.

I traded some food tickets for a generous piece of grilled salmon (not that one, a different one) and some asparagus. As someone who grew up in landlocked states, I can tell you honestly it was one of the best pieces of fish I've ever had.

Every day is like this in the summer.
I'm getting the impression that Seattle doesn't take summer lightly. I guess when it's dark for months on end, the sun finally coming out is a Big Deal. And here's a little-known fact: when it's nice out in Seattle, it's flat out perfect. They're like that meme I'm too lazy to look up. They don't always do sunny, but when they do, they do it right. Or something to that effect but funnier. You know what I mean. Now if they just had central air they might be onto something here.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Skyline Time

Former Cincinnati residents eat frozen Skyline.
I didn't like Cincinnati chili when I moved there after high school. I'd see the lines forming outside of the late-night window in Oxford after the bars let out and I'd think, "Why?" But enough of my native Cincinnatian friends dragged me there consistently over the years, that I think I built up a kind of critical mass of it in my system. Suddenly I started craving it all on my own.

Cincy's is a Cincinnati-style chili parlor in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina. I know, I was shocked too. Located on a side street in downtown, it's a stone's throw away from the iconic Woolworth's lunch counter that's now commemorated by a civil rights museum. The restaurant is small, but it was packed on a Friday at lunch (they're only open for lunch). The place shows its age. There are faded Bengals and Tallstacks posters on the walls. It doesn't look anything like a Skyline Chili, isn't trying to look like a Skyline, and in fact from the street it barely looks like it's open for business. The comments in the local Yelp reviews are funny. "The cheese was processed!" "The chili wasn't spicy at all!" Yep, that's good old Cincinnati chili at its finest.

How I Knew I Wasn't Actually at a Cincinnati Chili Parlor in Cincinnati:
  • It took more than 40 seconds to get my food.
  • My waiter, bless his heart, called my coney a "chili cheese dog."
  • Lunch cost almost nine bucks.
  • My chili arrived with a completely reasonable amount of cheese.
I was impressed by the North Carolinians around me as plates of chili came out one after another from the kitchen. I kinda thought they'd all order sandwiches. I didn't give them enough credit.

I got my small three way and cheese coney (they do offer it with mustard and onions on the menu) and - thank god - a package of oyster crackers. At first glance it seemed there wasn't quite enough cheese on my little three way, and my coney was suspiciously hot-dog length, but when I twirled a bite of spaghetti around my fork, I got a whiff of the cinnamon in the chili and it smelled like the real deal. I actually closed my eyes and for a second, could convince myself I was in a booth at the Skyline on Ludlow and it was 2:30 in the morning.

The flavor was right on, but of course, there were some differences. The noodles Cincy's uses are thick, and more pasta-ish than Skyline noodles. And of course, the cheese. I realize how silly it is to quibble over processed cheese, but the texture of Skyline's shredded cheese is like nothing else. Actually, that's probably for the best. Cincy's gets some key things right, including the York peppermint patties at the register.

Cincinnati friends, do something for me - go to your favorite chili parlor this weekend. Blue Ash, Dixie, Camp Washington, Gold Star, I don't care. Just go, maybe bring someone who's new in town, and lift a forkful of authentic Cincy chili in honor of everyone you know who moved somewhere else.