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All You Can Eat

Seattle Times food writer Nancy Leson serves up the best info and tips on Northwest food, cooking, dining and restaurants.

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June 30, 2008 3:30 PM

Cock-a-doodle . . .Hey! Wait a minute!

Posted by Nancy Leson

When my neighbor Lori called to ask, "Did you hear that crow?" she wasn't referring to the joyful noise of satisfied customers eating roast chicken in Lower Queen Anne:



Nor was she talking about the "caw-caw-CAW-ing" of these hungry neighbors, who were sampling take-out in the parking lot at our local QFC yesterday:


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June 30, 2008 7:55 AM

Chinese-restaurant chat: Your favorites?

Posted by Nancy Leson

Last week, I talked about my lifelong love for Chinese food -- and the many restaurants that serve it -- with my pal Dick Stein, on KPLU. Everyone seems to have their favorite Chinese restaurant. I've got several -- Hing Loon in the I.D. and Szechuan Chef in Bellevue, among them. The ones I frequent most are my neighborhood places, T&T Chinese Seafood Restaurant in Edmonds, where my son's always begging me to order the "House Special Crab" (a worthy splurge, and one of my favorite dishes here, too), though we more frequently choose less expensive fare, like beef with gailan and chow mein:


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June 27, 2008 10:30 AM

The Vacation, Part Three: in which Seattle chefs loom large

Posted by Nancy Leson


It's been just shy of a week since I returned from the last leg of my two-week vacation -- my family's annual trip to Orcas Island, where we stayed in this cabin on the waterfront:



We brought fishing poles and a tackle box, plenty of books, umpteen different kind of salt and my Le Creuset Dutch oven for making many loaves of "Almost No-knead Bread". . .


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June 26, 2008 3:39 PM

P.S. on the Ernestine Anderson dinners

Posted by Nancy Leson

Some additional news regarding my previous post -- just sent via an official press-release. Anderson will stop by for a visit at each of the participating restaurants during the course of the evening, and there will be two seatings -- at 5 p.m. and 7p.m. Reservations are advised.

Updates will be available on the Pioneer Square Community Association website, www.pioneersquare.org, through Sunday. Questions about the fundraiser, including information on participating or supporting the efforts of the fundraiser, should be directed to Dany Mitchell at Mitchelli's.

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June 26, 2008 12:04 PM

Ernestine Anderson needs help: Pioneer Square restaurants offer it up

Posted by Nancy Leson


Jazz and blues legend Ernestine Anderson's home is facing foreclosure, and friends and fans are rallying to her cause. They're hoping to raise $45,000 to keep the septuagenarian singer's Central District home from being sold at auction June 30th. Dany Mitchell, owner of Mitchelli's (still known to many of us as "the Trat"), is coordinating a fundraising event. Several Pioneer Square restaurateurs have stepped up to the plate to join him. Here's how you can help:


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June 26, 2008 8:25 AM

Where's the (grass-fed) beef?

Posted by Nancy Leson

"I thought you might be the right person to ask what Seattle-area restaurants are serving grass-fed beef," writes Karen Wirkala. "I mean 100%, not just grass-finished. I've been inquiring around, and it is incredibly difficult to find! I can get it at PCC to cook myself but we like to go out once in a while!"

Here's a start, Karen:

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June 25, 2008 4:15 PM

The Vacation: Part Two

Posted by Nancy Leson


So, once I left NYC and the James Beard-centric part of my trip, I rented a car (with one of those "no-key" ignitions, don't get me started -- so to speak) and hit the Garden State Parkway, heading south to my old adopted "hometown," Cape May, NJ. Cape May, for those of you've who've never been, is located at the southernmost tip of the Jersey shore and home to hundreds of Victorian-area homes and other period architecture, including the place where my professional life began: the Chalfonte Hotel:


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June 25, 2008 12:05 PM

Give us a "V": for vegetarians and vegans

Posted by Nancy Leson


Today my pal Karen Gaudette takes a look at Seattle's eating scene and finds it deliberately wanting. If you've yet to read her report on Seattle as a veritable "paradise for those who steer clear of meat (vegetarians) and those who avoid meat, eggs, milk and other animal products (vegans)," be sure to check it out. Then tell me: Where are your favorite places for a great vegetarian and/or vegan meal?

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June 25, 2008 8:50 AM

Delta blues: No commercial harvest of Yukon kings

Posted by Nancy Leson


There's very bad news this week from the Yukon River Delta. News that personally affects the Yu'pik Eskimo villagers who live there -- including my friends seen lunching at the Space Needle, whom I wrote about in an earlier post:



In keeping with the decline in numbers of last year's harvest, "So few king salmon returned to the Yukon River this month that fishery managers ordered drastic cuts to subsistence fishing. There will be no commercial harvest," notes Barry Eastabrook on Gourmet.com. Read the full story. It's a sad one for those of us who love "the King of Kings," but far more importantly, for the native villagers whose livelihoods are dependent on them.

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June 24, 2008 8:20 AM

What I did on my not-quite-summer vacation, Part One: NYC

Posted by Nancy Leson


I had a "blogmare" on the last night of my not-quite-summer vacation, involving a broken camera and a deadline. Apparently, once you've got a blog, especially one that comes with a steady paycheck and paid vacation -- as I so fortunately do -- everything and anything becomes "material": even that vacation. Which started on June 6th when I flew out of cold, dreary Sea-Tac at o'dark-thirty, arriving in NYC where the thermometer was inching toward 100-degrees.

Landing at JFK, I grabbed an un-airconditioned cab before arriving at the Empire Hotel, sorely in need of a shower and a cocktail so that I'd feel refreshed in time to make an 8 p.m. dinner reservation at Anthos -- the modern Greek place vying for "Best New Restaurant" at the 2008 James Beard Awards. Those awards, not incidentally, were set to be held across the street from the Empire at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall, where, two nights hence, I chronicled Seattle's wins (and losses) from the comfort of . . . "Live, From New York! It's Nancy Leson's New Office!":


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June 23, 2008 8:08 AM

Counter Intelligence: Where do you eat?

Posted by Nancy Leson


Good morning, Eaters. After a two-week vacation, it's back to work for me. Before I tell you about where I've been, what I saw and, of course, what I've been eating, I've got a query.

Next month's restaurant roundup will highlight counters: places where I can belly up to the bar, watch the cooks in action and get in on the drama of an open kitchen. My question? Where are your favorite open-kitchen counters? And let's leave cocktail bars, wine bars and sushi bars out of it -- that's another story altogether, perfect for other roundups.

OK. I'll start. With one of my favorites: the quick-service Filipino-food counter at Oriental Mart in Pike Place Market. There, you'll regularly find me eating a bowl of bony-salmon soup afloat with fresh greens. Or -- if chief-cook-and-bottle-washer "Auntie Lei" has some on hand -- a platter of fried milkfish. And, if I'm really lucky (as I was the last time I ate there) both:

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June 9, 2008 9:17 AM

Live from New York! And now, I'm really on vacation

Posted by Nancy Leson


Hopefully, you've read my news about who-won-what at the James Beard Awards ceremony last night, and saw my dispatch from my hotel room at the Empire Hotel. Which was conveniently located across the street from Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center -- home to the "Oscars of the Food World." I flew out of there like a cabbie on a mission to report Seattle's big win last night: Holly Smith, Best Chef Northwest. And the big honor: for Jean Nakayama -- owner of Seattle's 103-year-old Maneki, an "America's Classic." I've got lots of great photos and New York stories to go with them, which I'd share with you if only I wasn't having "technical difficulties" posting the photos to my blog-site. But wait a minute! Wasn't I supposed to be on vacation? Yes, indeed, I was. And check-out time here at the hotel has come and gone (it's after noon already here). So I'll leave you with this thought: it's 90-some degrees in New York, and as I understand it, cold and rainy in Seattle. I plan to soak up some rays for you in Cape May, NJ, where I'm heading in a minute to visit family and friends. I'll tell you all about my trip -- to New York, New Jersey and elsewhere -- when I return from vacation in a couple of weeks. Have fun without me, and I'll pray for sun for you!

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June 6, 2008 12:04 AM

Eating "ethnic": What's on your plate?

Posted by Nancy Leson


I've always had a taste for adventure, culinarily speaking, and today in Ticket I round-up a handful of ethnic eateries -- among the many that make living here such a wonderful thing. You've got to love inexpensive joints that offer everything from whole grilled squid to chicken gizzards:




And chile-stoked Sichuanese cold jelly or, for the less adventurous, dry-cooked green beans:




Or spongy injera meant for wrapping other, more colorful Ethiopian treats, available for eating in or taking out:



And what about one of my favorite underappreciated foods? Like this garlicky Korean banchan -- the many complimentary side dishes served here, alongside delicious kalbi ribs:



So, howzabout you? Which little ethnic restaurants are on your local version of the globetrotter's tour?

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June 5, 2008 11:11 AM

I'm gone fishin' -- but first, NYC and the James Beard Awards

Posted by Nancy Leson

I'm taking a two-week vacation (pray for sun!). But before I "vacate" for good, you'll hear from me Sunday night from NYC, where I'll be keeping an eye on the red carpet -- and the stage -- at the 2008 James Beard Awards at Avery Fisher Hall.

I'll be cheering Seattle's own Maneki -- honored this year as an "America's Classic" -- and keeping my fingers crossed for our local nominees. So, I'll talk to you Sunday night, OK?

And after that? This:

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June 4, 2008 2:56 PM

Portable pleasures: The truck stops -- where?

Posted by Nancy Leson


So, it's taken how many years? But Seattle's finally gotten hip to the trucked-food trip. These days you can buy pizza from a portable wood-fired pizza oven hauled on the back of a trailer. Mexican food's served out of taco trucks everywhere, including my favorite, Taqueria La Fondita in White Center:



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June 4, 2008 9:08 AM

Eat fish. Not too big. Try sardines.

Posted by Nancy Leson


Taras Grescoe wants to teach us how to eat fish, starting at the bottom -- of the food chain. Grescoe was in town recently, delving into the subject on KUOW's "Weekday" -- whose guests also included Seattle Times reporters Lynda Mapes and Warren Cornwall, discussing their impressive series on the state of our own Puget Sound. I've only just begun reading Grescoe's new book, "Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood." And like Michael Pollan's latest, "In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto" (urging us to "Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.") it hooked me from the start.

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June 3, 2008 11:45 AM

And for pizza lovers with allergies and intolerances. . .

Posted by Nancy Leson

Janet Duran, co-owner of Haley's Corner Bakery in Kent, has the answer for pizza lovers with allergies and intolerances that may keep them from enjoying the likes of Veraci Pizza, discussed earlier today. She contacted me recently, noting that one of her customers had read what I had to say about dining with allergies, and urged her to introduce me (and you) to Haley's Corner.

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June 3, 2008 7:34 AM

Veraci Pizza parks shop in (where else?) Ballard

Posted by Nancy Leson


Ballard doesn't need another pizza joint -- as everyone who's watched the pizza proliferation there keeps telling me. But I'll bet even detractors will make an exception for Veraci Pizza, whose portable wood-fired pizza ovens make guest appearances at farmers markets and catering gigs all around town:


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June 2, 2008 12:16 PM

You call it soft serve. I call it custard.

Posted by Nancy Leson


Talk about "Old Hunger" (as I'm wont to do): When I was a kid, my sisters and brother and I used to beg our parents to take us out for what we called "custard" (and folks around here call "soft serve"). Our favorite custard stand was next to a toy store called Kiddie City, in Northeast Philadelphia. When I was old enough to pay for my own ice cream and living in Cape May, N.J., I regularly made a pilgrimage to a joint called Drydock, where I'd get a cone for myself and a cup for my Golden Retriever. But for the life of me I can't seem to get my hands on any quality soft-serve ice cream:

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June 2, 2008 7:00 AM

They're gonna love you come rain or come shine

Posted by Nancy Leson


Uggh. It's Monday, and back to work:


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Food for Thought | Nancy Leson on KPLU

Listen to Nancy at 5:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. during Morning Edition, at 4:40 p.m. during All Things Considered and again the following Saturday at 8:30 a.m. during Weekend Edition on KPLU 88.5.

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