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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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July 31, 2008 12:00 PM

What are you doing tonight?

Posted by Nancy Leson


Me? I'll be volunteering at FareStart's Guest Chef Night where tonight's guest chef Seth Caswell -- late of Stumbling Goat Bistro and now president of Seattle Chefs Collaborative -- will oversee the preparation of a three-course dinner.

Meanwhile, you can lend FareStart and other deserving non-profits a hand tonight by buying a ticket to Share Our Strength's Taste of the Nation, held this year at South Lake Union's Naval Reserve Building. (General admission tickets are $85 and available at the door at 6 p.m.) That annual bonanza of food and drink donates 100 percent of its profits to help end hunger throughout the nation. In addition to FareStart, local beneficiaries include Food Lifeline, Solid Ground and the Pike Place Market Foundation.

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July 31, 2008 9:09 AM

Sending food back: a how-to

Posted by Nancy Leson


Gaynol Flora teaches cooking for Operation Frontline and is familiar with the goings on in professional kitchens -- having worked in them for the past eight years. Though she's well aware of how hard chefs work, she says she's still uncertain how to handle a problem we've all come across when dining out:

"Could you provide some guidance on the best way to send food back to the kitchen? My husband and I were dining out on a recent Friday night and our appetizer and one of the entrees was so incredibly salty they were inedible. They had a big party in the house, our server was distracted and inattentive, and the kitchen looked like it was really busy so we didn't send the food back. Now I wish I would have been more assertive. How do you tell your server the food is bad? What's the best way to get problems with your meal taken care of?"

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July 30, 2008 12:05 AM

Marjorie is moving out -- and outward

Posted by Nancy Leson

After five years in business, Marjorie -- Donna Moodie's Belltown bistro and bar -- has lost its lease:



That's good news and bad news. "When I found out I had to move, I felt really devastated," Moodie says, recalling the day she learned the historic building that encompasses Marjorie was to be sold. "But then I looked around and saw it was a great opportunity, too":


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July 29, 2008 11:15 AM

It's in the bag!

Posted by Nancy Leson


Well, Mayor Nickel's proposal to charge shoppers 20 cents for plastic or paper bags in Seattle grocery, drug and convenience stores has been approved by Seattle City Council. The per-bag charge will go into effect in January, as will a food-service ban on polystyrene clam-shells (among other take-out containers) like these:



Some of the city's restaurants and food-service operations have already gone green, using recyclable -- or even compostable -- tote-your-take-out ware, but why wait to be environmentally proactive? Yes! I can see us all now:


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July 29, 2008 7:29 AM

Thai-ing one on at Pen Thai

Posted by Nancy Leson


Now that Pen Thai's sister-restaurant Chantanee is closed (soon to re-open in swankier Bellevue digs) it's slammed more than usual here in charming old-town Bothell. I can certainly see why. The contemporary copper-toned design is as appealing as what's on the plate, and Pen offers everything from an expansive wine list to fancy cocktails to my finger-food favorite miang kum -- bits and bites of lime, coconut, dried shrimp, fresh ginger among them, meant to be wrapped in spinach leaves for a festival of flavors:



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July 28, 2008 9:38 AM

Smellin' the melon

Posted by Nancy Leson

In the heat -- if we can call it that -- of summer, you'd think every melon you get your hands on would taste sweet, ripe and delicious, right? Wrong. I don't know about you, but for the life of me, I can't seem to crack the code on choosing melons. I've been burnt a zillion times, having spent real money expecting a thrill, and inevitably getting something tasteless and under-ripe or mushy and over-ripe. During melon season, no less. Then, this weekend, while shopping at Shoreline Central Market, I ignored the watermelon samples over at the "Taste me!" kiosk and let my nose lead me to nirvana: a perfumed pile of Galia melons:


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July 25, 2008 8:12 AM

Pregnant with anticipation? JUNO is set to deliver

Posted by Nancy Leson

Enough about the movie. What about that other JUNO? The overdue restaurant in the historic Arctic Building makes its debut tomorrow in Pioneer Square, following the July 9 opening of the royally reenvisioned Arctic Club Hotel.

GM and executive chef Thomas Kollasch (late of the Alderbrook Resort and Spa in Union, WA) will hie to the seasons with a Contemporary American menu. His crew includes chef Alex Nemeth (photo, center), whose resume (Waters, Bandoleone, Brie & Bordeaux) is rife with local color -- including a recent gig as chef-exec at Purple Cafe and Wine Bar. On board as manager/sommelier is Aaron Angelo (at right), whose able ministrations I much appreciated at the Steelhead Diner.


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July 24, 2008 7:41 AM

The truck stops here: Kaosamai Thai

Posted by Nancy Leson

Maybe you know about Kaosamai -- one of Fremont's many Thai restaurants. Perhaps you can even pronounce it correctly (say GOW-sa-MY). But are you hip to its roving step van -- a retrofitted restaurant-on-wheels parked at the Shell station across from SPU?



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July 23, 2008 11:07 AM

You say tomato, I say. . .

Posted by Nancy Leson


Check out Karen Gaudette's Seattle Times story today re: prolonging the life of your produce. Among the helpful hints was a quote from supermarket anaylst and "Today" show food editor Phil Lempert, who says to better horde your harvest, stick with that old standby: paper towels. Lempert suggests layering a paper towel in the bottom of the crisper drawer (something I do) and regularly replacing it (something I don't do often enough) -- which helps remove excess moisture. "A paper towel is produce's best friend," he says. Anybody have any other produce life-enhancing tips? Feel free to comment, below.

Speaking of produce, in today's New York Times, Julia Moskin takes on one of my favorite subjects -- tomatoes that taste like tomatoes. In her tale "The Return of a Lost Jersey Tomato," she profiles that elusive fruit: the one whose mythic food-memory is deeply imprinted on this (adopted) "Jersey"-girl's soul. In its honor, I plan on eating this homegrown -- and appropriately "cold tolerant" -- Stupice for lunch today, with only a sprinkling of sea salt. If it tastes anything like the Jersey tomatoes of my girlhood, I'll eat my hat:


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July 23, 2008 6:30 AM

Au revoir, Crepe de Paris

Posted by Nancy Leson

Annie Agostini -- born in Corsica, raised in Marseille and owner of Rainier Square's French restaurant and cabaret, Crepe de Paris -- will serve her last crepe July 31, lift a glass of Champagne and bid the restaurant business a fond adieu. "After 41 years, it's time," she says. "I need to retire, to rest my legs, my feet and my head." At 72, she deserves to do just that.

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July 22, 2008 11:55 AM

Fix-it for KitchenAid -- and other small appliances

Posted by Nancy Leson


Jay Rogers wrote, wondering:

"Do you know of any places to take my KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer to get it fixed? Sadly, when making a full batch of bagels a few weeks back, it started to groan and then quit-out on me (it is only 4 years old). It looked like a little oil was seeping out of the top and my guess is that I blew the motor. Just wondering if you have had any similar experiences with this mixer."

Funny Jay should ask. Twenty years ago I became the happy owner of KitchenAid standing mixer -- a small appliance I'd longed for but never bought because they were way too expensive. One day, while visiting a friend, she showed me her latest purchase: a beautiful cobalt blue version of the very mixer I coveted. "Guess how much it cost?" she asked. "Uh, $250?" I replied. "Nope. Half that. Want one?" "Where'd you get it?" I asked. "Don't ask. Just tell me -- do you want one?" I didn't (ask questions). And I did (want one). I got one, too. It's still in business:


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July 22, 2008 10:23 AM

Pull over, chef, and let me take your picture

Posted by Nancy Leson


Here's another one to add to my post on food-related vanity plates, in which I suggested that my license plate should say ETZALOT and Eaters replied with ideas of their own (my favorite: XTRVRGN):



Don't worry, officer! I didn't take the photo while I was driving south on I-5 yesterday. Honest.

So, anybody know the guy in this Toyota? What's he COOKED 4 U?

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July 21, 2008 12:10 PM

Squab, by any other name?

Posted by Nancy Leson


My grandfather raised homing pigeons in South Philadelphia, and once I was surefooted enough to navigate the steep stairs that led to the roof -- and his lovingly tended coop -- he'd invite me up to admire his flock. Which leads me to wonder: Had he lived long enough to read "Pigeons: The Next Step in Local Eating (No, Really)" -- as my trusty culinarily-minded correspondent Glenn Godden did -- would he have forwarded that Wired Science blog post, which says, in a nut graf :

"When you look at a pigeon, you might see a dirty, rat-like bird that fouls anything it touches with feathers or feces, but I see a waste-scavenging, protein-generating biomachine. At a time when rising demand for meat across the globe endangers the food system, and local eating has gained millions of (T-shirt wearing) adherents, it's time to reconsider our assumptions about what protein sources are considered OK to eat."

As an immigrant from Ukraine and a kosher butcher who lived through the Great Depression, my "Zayda Sol" knew what it meant to be poor and hungry. So, pigeon protector though he may have been, chances are he'd have read that locavoracious take on his fine-feathered friends and said, "So, nu? Roast me two!"

Me? I'll take mine minced with Chinese vegetables, served in a lettuce cup. You?

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July 21, 2008 7:30 AM

Eater Feeder: Simba's Chicken & Kabob Indian Cuisine

Posted by Nancy Leson

This first installment of Eater Feeder -- restaurant recommendations from All You Can Eaters -- comes from Wendy Woldenberg, a high school art teacher from South Park. As a Fulbright scholar, Wendy traveled throughout north and south India in 2003 and remembers that time as "a culinary feast" for her artistic senses.

Chatting by phone, she explained that she first came to know Simba's in its earlier incarnation as Mehra's Indian Cuisine, a White Center joint where she wasn't crazy about the physical space but regularly ordered takeout -- until one day last year when she tried to call-in an order and no one answered. Heading over to investigate, she says, "I found a closed sign -- and I almost cried." Cut to recent months when her husband came home from work after eating lunch at Simba's in Pioneer Square. "I think I found our restaurant," he told her, and when Wendy hightailed it over to check the place out, she recognized the owners immediately. "I've already been there five times this summer," she says of her new favorite lunch spot. Here's her letter of recommendation:

Continue reading this post ...


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July 18, 2008 3:15 PM

Count on it: she wants a Monte Cristo

Posted by Nancy Leson


Kate Malone's got a question:

"Years ago I came to love Monte Cristo sandwiches when they were a lunchtime staple. I am having a difficult time finding them on menus today and am currently in search of the best Monte Cristo sandwich in the Greater Seattle/Bellevue area. Do you or your readers have any recommendations?"

Now, there's an old standby I haven't stood by for a long time. In fact, the last time I ate one was at the Downtown Deli & Cafe in Anchorage some 20-plus years ago, owned by then-mayor and now former governor Tony Knowles. For those of you too young to appreciate the joys of a Monte Cristo (still available at the Downtown Deli if you happen to be making a trip to the Great North anytime soon), allow me to introduce you to what is basically a ham, turkey and Swiss cheese sandwich dipped in batter a la French toast, fried in butter, dusted with confectioner's sugar and served with jam or jelly. Like today's hot-setting sandwiches -- say, the Crispy Drunken Chicken at Baguette Box , or the seared rare ahi tuna sandwich at Matt's in the Market -- the Monte Cristo was considered sandwichified ooh-la-la back in its day.

Trolling the net for some answers, Kate, I came across this helpful thread . Of course, you can always use the classic Monte Cristo recipe and make yourself one at home this weekend.

So, what do you say, Eaters? Had a good Monte Cristo in a local restaurant lately? Kate's counting on you.

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July 18, 2008 11:56 AM

Show me the Beast!

Posted by Nancy Leson


When my 17-year-old niece was a tiny tot, she had a toy that cracked me up -- a talking Beauty and the Beast mirror that said "Show me the Beast!" when you pressed a button. And having made the unforgivable error of missing the Burning Beast event I blogged about last week, I'm beholden to The Stranger's Bethany Jean Clement and her video camera-toting cohort Kelly O for chronicling that Carnivale of Carnivorousness . Show me the Beast, indeed:

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July 18, 2008 7:44 AM

Eater Feeder: Restaurants you love

Posted by Nancy Leson


Hey you! You're been writing to me for years, telling me all about your favorite restaurants, your gotta-go-there holes-in-the-wall and those new spots that are so great you can't keep them to yourselves. What did I do with all those letters of recommendation?

Well, during my lengthy tenure as the Seattle Times restaurant critic, I compiled go-to lists that you helped fashion, filed your comments away for future reference and -- not infrequently -- reviewed restaurants at your suggestion. Now, with All You Can Eat, I've found another use for those "love letters": Eater Feeder, a new blog feature where you give a shout-out to restaurants you love. Here's how it works:

Keep those cards and letters coming (for now, via e-mail to nleson@seattletimes.com), dishing the who, what, where and why. Include your full name and be sure to send me your phone number, too, so we can talk. If you hear from me, I'll share your joy right here on the blog. Got a digital photo of the place? the owners? your favorite dish? I'm happy to share that, too.

So eat up, then fess up: Who da ya love?

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July 17, 2008 12:28 PM

Cook's chorus: Porcella fella looking for a few good men -- and women

Posted by Nancy Leson


Wondering what's up with chef Kelly Gaddis now that he's closed Porcella? He's preparing for a night -- OK, a lot of nights -- at the opera. In his new starring role as McCaw Hall's executive chef, Gaddis is looking forward to running the show, catering to patrons of Seattle Opera, PNB and special-event goers at the Seattle Center performance venue. And, as a former restaurant owner, he says he's especially excited to have "an opportunity to do some great stuff that the budget at Porcella never afforded me." Meantime, though, he's in the market for rousing chorus of qualified sous-chefs, cooks and stewards to help get his show on the road. "The food and beverage contract was awarded to a new vendor," Gaddis explained in an e-mail after his first day on the job early this week. He says he's pretty much "starting from scratch" with his opening act: staffing. Anybody up for an audition? You can contact him here.

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July 17, 2008 9:19 AM

Take a stand on produce stands

Posted by Nancy Leson

Marty House wrote, wondering: "Do you or any of your readers know of a place to find a list of farmers with roadside produce stands? I can easily find farmer's markets, but would love to have a directory of roadside farmers. Nothing better than produce straight from the fields!"

Ain't that the truth, Marty -- though I'd amend your comment to suggest that produce is even better when it comes straight from your own "fields" -- a homegrown advantage that more and more folks are taking advantage of these days. While the potatoes on my "back forty" look pretty good in the photos, below, if you were to take the wider view or my garden, you'd see that with exception to those spuds, the pickins' are slim -- thanks in large part to bad husbandry (mine, not my husband's) and my very brown thumb:


Continue reading this post ...


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July 16, 2008 7:19 AM

I do -- use these wedding gifts. You?

Posted by Nancy Leson


Today in the Seattle Times, Karen Gaudette takes a look at hot-selling wedding gifts . Meanwhile, I took a look back, discussing which among my kitchen-worthy wedding gifts continue to get a workout more than a decade after I said "I do." On my list were registry items like these broad white bowls, used for everything from soup to prep:



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July 15, 2008 5:25 PM

Olivar: Third time's the charm for Capitol Hill bistro

Posted by Nancy Leson


Hey, what do you know! After more than a year of sitting vacant and forlorn, the charming little restaurant space in the Loveless Building has gotten a new tenant. With a Spanish accent, no less. Olivar is set to open for dinner July 22nd. You know the space -- the one famously vacated by the much anticipated and extremely short-lived dessert house Coco La Ti Da, and its much-anticipated and almost-as-short-lived predecessor, Fork:


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July 15, 2008 8:59 AM

You Bite, I'll Bash

Posted by Nancy Leson



I haven't been to the Bite of Seattle -- coming up this weekend -- in years, but there's another annual food-focused event I haven't missed for the past four: the Samish Bay Bivalve Bash and Low Tide Mud Run, to be held this Saturday, July 19th, at Taylor Shellfish Farms in Bow. Admission is $5 (kids six and under and registered mud-runners are free), and you buy scrip for food, drink and games. The bash is a fundraiser for the Skagit Conservation Education Alliance, and helps the MudUp campaign clean and restore the water and shoreline of Puget Sound. That do-gooding aside, I go because watching the ridiculously filthy and strenuous mud run on the tideflats is a kick in the pants (though I've yet to duct-tape my running shoes to my ankles and have at it myself):


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July 14, 2008 7:30 AM

'Tis the season to get cracking: DIY Dungeness crab-feed

Posted by Nancy Leson

Last week, my heart beat a little faster when, standing in front of the seafood counter at QFC I saw that whole fresh-cooked Dungeness crab was selling for $4.99 a pound. That's six bucks off the "regular price" -- so long as I brandished the card that has that freaky disembodied voice at the self-checkout saying, "Thank you, QFC member!"

I'll take two, I told the gal behind the counter, who fished around in the cracked ice for a couple of nice-sized specimens, weighing-in at about a pound-and-a-half each. "You want me to clean those for you?" she asked. I did. And then I took them home, dismembered the legs and body and prepared the crab "Asian-style" -- which I'll describe below. Lickety-split -- so to speak -- I had an amazingly easy-to-fix and downright delicious dinner.

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July 11, 2008 1:30 PM

Stormin' the gates: Viva la France!

Posted by Nancy Leson


The French-American Chamber of Commerce presents a weekend-long Bastille Day Festival beginning tonight at Seattle Center with the Bal des Pompier (Fireman's Ball). Always one to have a ball, "Chef in the Hat" Thierry Rautureau of Rover's will be on hand at Fisher Pavillion to prepare a four-course dinner to go along with the music and dancing, while chef Dominique Place (whose name is on the label of some of the Northwest's finest smoked seafood) will accept the Medaille de l'ordre du Merite Agricole from the French consul-general. The celebration is set to continue on Sunday, spilling out of the Pavillion and onto the lawn and the Center House with festivities for all.

French restaurants everywhere are celebrating Bastille Day Monday, July 14. Among them are Campagne and Cafe Campagne (promising to party like it's 1789 with "a full-day schedule of food, drink, music, entertainment and fun-filled debauchery"); Le Pichet (with their annual Bastille Day Bash set to last from 6 p.m. till the wee small hours); and Maximilien in the Market , offering a three-course dinner and French accordian music. And if you've been thinking it might be a good time to check out the newly remodeled Le Gourmand, chef/owners Bruce and Sara Naftaly are opening their Ballard restaurant to honor the storming of the Bastille with a special five-course seasonal prix-fixe menu ($65) served, if you like, with matched wines ($35). Or you could just check out the Monet-like garden at Le Gourmand's petite adjoining cocktail lounge, Sambar, and raise glass in a French toast to la belle France.

Anybody else out there celebrating Bastille Day? Restaurants I missed? Chime in, s'il vous plait!

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July 11, 2008 8:38 AM

Encounters at the counter -- the list goes on

Posted by Nancy Leson


When it comes to restaurants, I like to watch. That's why my favorite seat in a restaurant is the one in front of an open kitchen -- as I discussed with my jazz-jiving pal Dick Stein on KPLU last week. In a June blog-post, I asked Eaters which view-of-the-kitchen seats gave them a thrill, and many let me know -- some of those are included in my restaurant roundup today in Ticket. If I missed your favorite open-kitchen counter, feel free to voice your opinion right here.

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July 10, 2008 10:08 AM

Hungry? Urbanspooners shake it up with "Magic 8 Ball" for iPhone

Posted by Nancy Leson


No one has a more primitive cell phone than mine -- and that's the way, uh-huh uh-huh, I like it:



Call me old-fashioned, but I'd rather take photos with an actual camera. Text messaging? Uh, what's that? "Mom! You're from the Stone Age!" says my kid -- and he's only off by a few millennia. But lately I've been considering upgrading my phone to something more, oh, 2008. Like an iPhone. Which captured my attention when it debuted last year, thanks to David Pogue's right-up-my-corny-alley music video. I laughed, I cried, it was better than "Cats"!:

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July 10, 2008 7:24 AM

Trader Joe's: cooking with the book

Posted by Nancy Leson


Stacey Lampkin, of Kirkland, needs some advice. Here's her query:

"I have heard a bit about the Trader Joe's cookbook (that is not affiliated with Trader Joe's) and am very intrigued by it as I shop at Trader Joe's a lot. Have you seen this book and if so, have you tried any of the recipes from it? It is getting good reviews on Amazon, but before I plunk down $25 for a cookbook, I'd love to hear the good word from a pro."

Well, this "pro" has yet to get her hands on the book -- "Cooking with All Things Trader Joe's" by TJ fans Deana Gunn and Wona Miniati:


Anybody seen it? Cooked from it? If so, what's the word?

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July 9, 2008 10:47 AM

Sorry! I'll take plastic: I left my eco-friendly bags in the trunk

Posted by Nancy Leson


When it comes to the mayor's proposal to put a 20-cent-per-bag fee on paper or plastic, I'm with Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat, who says: "We Don't Need the Bag Police." Meanwhile, I've taken to carrying a trunkful of eco-friendly bags, though I can't tell you how many times I forget to bring them into the store with me:



My burning question to Mayor Nickels is this: Will you also propose a fee -- say, a dime -- on those little frozen-food plastic bags that keep the Dreyer's strawberry ice cream from melting onto my box of Product 19? And what about the plastic bags I use to wrap meat products -- keeping the Draper Valley chicken "juice" from seeping onto my fresh ears of corn? P.S. : What in the heck am I going to do without any of those paper bags with the easy-grab handles? I use those for conveniently recycling newspapers and magazines, and for gifting my son's outgrown clothes to friends' boys who can use them?

So, here's my question to you Eaters: What do you make of this "Paper? Plastic? NOT!" conversation? Have you started using eco-friendly bags while grocery shopping? If so, which ones do you like the best?

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July 9, 2008 8:55 AM

Seattle chefs on fire: feel the Burning Beast

Posted by Nancy Leson

Too bad I've got other plans on Sunday. Otherwise, I'd reserve a ticket and attend what promises to be a carnivorous feast of dramatic proportion: Burning Beast. Brasa's Tamara Murphy is always up to something, and this weekend she's hosting a fire-centric festival of food and fun with help from some of her chef-buddies (Maria Hines, Matt Dillon and Gabe Claycamp among them) at the appropriately named Smoke Farm in Arlington. The event, which promise to segue into a Monday morning hangover (you're encouraged to bring camping gear and spend the night) involves lots of great eats, including spit-roasted lamb and goat, coal-roasted seafood, plus roaming musicians, storytelling and surely, at some point, a rousing chorus of "Kumbaya." Sounds like something you may not want to miss. Rebekah Denn dished more details on her blog earlier this week, and when I saw the Brasa newsletter in my e-mail box today, reminding me of what I'd be missing, I came thisclose to changing my Sunday plans. Hey Tamara! Do it again next year, OK?











































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July 8, 2008 8:00 AM

Teach your children well: Kids who cook

Posted by Nancy Leson


Cathy West sent an e-mail yesterday (justly) bragging about her son. "You won't believe this, but Will, my youngest, loves to cook," she wrote. Actually, I do believe it, because I knew Cathy when she was a professional cook -- one who spent her days at Saleh al Lago making Linguine Buon Gusto and little lemon-custard tarts that still have me mentally salivating 17 years later. Will -- who turned 14 on Saturday -- answered the phone when I called her to chat. When I introduced myself, and asked him how his love for cookery came to be, he explained, without pause: "I've been cooking with my mom my entire life."

Continue reading this post ...


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July 7, 2008 4:15 PM

First you can't, now Yukon

Posted by Nancy Leson

After the bad news about the king salmon fisheries on the Yukon River Delta, this good word just in from the Great North: the Alaska Department of Fish & Game are allowing a limited harvest of Yukon River king salmon, taken as "incidental catch" during the chum (keta) salmon run. Which will explain why you might find the "king of kings" on restaurant menus and at seafood counters this week. I just put in a call to a handful of restaurants I thought might have gotten their hands on the goods. No dice (so far) at Flying Fish, Ray's and Oceanaire Seafood Room. But you can grill your own at home. As I type, they're moving swiftly at Mutual Fish ($26.99/pound steaks, $29.99/pound filets), where a shipment was received this morning. And you can also find the kings at Wild Salmon Seafood Market at Fisherman's Terminal, where filets are selling for $24.99 pound. Get 'em while they're hot. Dinnertime's in the offing and they're not likely to be available for long. And if you're out and about and see the kings for sale, come back here and let me know, OK?

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July 7, 2008 3:03 PM

Bull shirt: Txori wants your blood

Posted by Nancy Leson

How's this for fun? You might know them better as the couple who brought us that bastion of Basque cookery The Harvest Vine, but Joseba and Carolin and the rest of the folks at their Belltown pinxtos bar, Txori, kick off their week-long San Fermin Fest today with "Run with the Bulls" fundraising event. The festivities are described in Txori e-mail newsletter thus: "a mass of participants will run up the two alleyways behind Txori in an effort not to get `gored' by one of the human-powered bulls dripping with red paint." Which, they promise, will wash out of your souvenir T-shirt.

Runners can sign-up till 7:30, but I might suggest getting there sooner, plunking down the necessary $20 for your uniform (the aforementioned T-shirt) and donating some blood to the Puget Sound Blood Center first. The Bloodmobile is parked outside Txori right this minute and they'll be happy to take your bright red donation from 4 to 7 p.m. At which point you may then step inside the pinxtos bar, raise a glass of sherry, down some smoky octopus and alley-oop.

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July 7, 2008 12:30 PM

Holy moley, where's the cannoli?

Posted by Nancy Leson


Jim Somborovich wrote complaining about his Old Hunger:

"I'm a long time Seattle resident originally from Detroit, Michigan. One of the food items that I miss from Detroit is a good cannoli. Yes, we have cannoli on the West Coast, but they really aren't the same as Detroit's. Maybe you know what I mean? I have been disappointed in the cannoli I've tried here and in San Francisco. A relative says the same about the Las Vegas area. Any suggestions?"

Sure Jim: Move to South Philly. Only kidding. Sort of. And yes, I think I know what you mean, because I, too, miss the cannoli I remember from my youth. I grew up in Philadelphia where Italian bakeries were a dime a dozen. Cannoli -- that crackling pastry! the delicate, lightly sweetened ricotta filling! -- remains a taste-memory I cherish.

The closest thing I've tasted to those simple sweets hereabouts were the cannoli at La Vita e Bella in Belltown. They're sold at its sister restaurant, Mondello in Magnolia. And co-owner Corino Bonjrada's mom, Enza Sorrentino, also offers traditional Sicilian-style cannoli at her restaurant Sorrentino, on Queen Anne Hill. I've had some especially memorable cannoli at Serious Pie , though those are tiny, and probably not what you're after. They taste like ricotta-stuffed rugalach, offering me something even better: two childhood taste memories in one!

Anybody else want to tell Jim where to go for a good cannoli?

In the meantime, Jim (and anyone else longing for a sweet, simple taste of Italy), here's a dessert tip for you: Go to a decent supermarket or cheese shop and buy a small container of fresh ricotta cheese. Then get your hands on some chestnut honey, like the kind sold at specialty shops under the brand name Rustichella d'Abruzzo . Now, drizzle some honey over the ricotta: it's kind of like eating cannoli filling straight-up. And if you can find some Amaretti cookies to crumble over the bowl, all the better:



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July 7, 2008 8:52 AM

Camp stove cookery: any ideas?

Posted by Nancy Leson

July 4th has come and gone, which means it's really summer, right? For my friend Laura -- and maybe for you, too -- that means it's time to go car camping. She wrote with this query:

"I'd love to get some suggestions for good, fairly simple meals to make on a camp stove. Tired of Hamburger Helper, spaghetti, hash, etc., we're hoping for something that tastes fresh, and maybe local. We can haul some prepared ingredients in our cooler when car camping. Backpacking can complicate plans, but dehydrated rice-and-bean pouches are dreary after a long hike. Don't you think your readers would have some great menu ideas for either situation?"

Indeed I do. Eaters? What say you? It's been way too long since I went car camping, but I'd make certain to tote along a variety of fresh herbs and interesting spices ("snack size" Ziplocs work well for transport). Everything tastes better with fresh herbs and spices. Don't forget the good salt and you might want to invest in a mini peppermill. I've got one that comes in a pouch and fits right in my hand.

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July 3, 2008 4:09 PM

Cream Puff Daddy

Posted by Nancy Leson


When Karen Gaudette saw the dispatch about Beard Papa's cream puffs at Safeco Field on Daily Candy this morning, she absolutely freaked. How do I know? I got my work-mate's memo at 6:35 a.m., complete with uppercase letters and exclamation points. Karen -- who couldn't believe I hadn't heard about these sweet treats -- patiently explained that Beard Papa's have been spreading around the U.S. almost as fast as Red Mango locations -- now selling frozen yogurt at Pacific Place, Alderwood Mall and U-Village. And she's obviously not the only one who thinks the puff daddy's goodies are worth e-mailing your friends about before you've even downed your first cup of coffee.

Continue reading this post ...


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July 3, 2008 12:56 PM

Qube closes today

Posted by Nancy Leson


Qube closes shop today at Second and Stewart, unfortunately proving that a number multiplied by itself three times -- add lukewarm reviews and a downturn in the economy -- may add up to zero. This info just in, hot off the press-release:

"Owners Fu-Shen Chang and Kerry Huang are sad to announce the closure of Qube. The last day of operation is today, July 3, 2008. Qube opened in December of 2006. `We've really enjoyed the challenge of having our own restaurant and seeing the pleasure people have had from tasting the seasonal menus,' says Fu-Shen. Qube brought something new to Seattle, a sophisticated, urban look and feel with matching modern food. Guests loved the Qube Sets and innovative a la carte plates. Qube was also known for its cocktails using infused alcohol, herbs and fruit. With the economic downturn, people have reduced their fine dining budget and Qube has felt the impact."

Anybody want to buy a restaurant? Realtor Laura Miller (206-726-3451) is handling the sale, according to the release.

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July 3, 2008 7:45 AM

Super! Natural.

Posted by Nancy Leson


Ooooh-EEEEE-oooh. I just found this note in an email from a reader in Darrington, with a link to the photo that ran with my story yesterday about Captain Bay-Schmith's chicken. She wrote:

"I don't mean to alarm you, however, [in] the picture of you with your BBQ, there's a face in the smoke. . .very strange yet very clear .. let me know if you see it":



Saints be! I DO see it! My husband's convinced it's the late Captain Bay-Schmith keeping watch over "his" chicken, which would only make sense. What do you think? Look like anybody you know? Elvis, maybe?

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July 2, 2008 7:47 AM

Girl meets grill -- and no, I wasn't chicken

Posted by Nancy Leson

Looking forward to the July 4th weekend, I was determined to assert my independence. So I asked my husband to teach me how to clean, prep and light our charcoal grill -- dirty-work I heretofore deigned not to do. Then I smoked one of his justly "famous" Captain Bay-Schmith's chickens, posing for the camera -- and Seattle Times cameraman Dean Rutz. You'll find my shocked expression (and the accompanying smoke) in today's big spread-- along with the chicken recipe and Mac's grilling tips. But what you won't find there, that you will see here is the glamour-shot: the "sanitary gloves":


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July 1, 2008 6:13 PM

Gone from Matt's in the Market: Matt!

Posted by Nancy Leson

Matt Janke celebrated his 47th birthday on June 27, 2007 with the debut of his Market restaurant's much-anticipated expansion. I had the great good fortune of being there, happily (and anonymously) celebrating with him, and later reporting the event in my column.

Today I stopped into Matt's for lunch and got what I came for: a fabulous pan-fried catfish sandwich and confirmation that the news I'd just heard -- that Matt's business-partner Dan Bugge now owned the restaurant and Matt was no longer in the house -- was, indeed, true.

Continue reading this post ...


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July 1, 2008 12:00 PM

Food-shopping tips are in the bag

Posted by Nancy Leson

Reporter Ron Lieber provided a great read -- and some savvy food-shopping tips -- in a "Your Money" column that appeared last weekend in the New York Times. For the record, the best food-shopping tip I ever got came my way a couple of years ago when I was gnashing my teeth at the supermarket while trying to open a plastic produce-bag. I was cursing those unyeilding rolls found in every grocer's produce aisle when a woman squeezing the avocados beside me said, "Here, try this." I watched as she wet her fingers on some damp produce, grabbed the plastic bag I was angsting over and -- voila! -- open sesame.

Got any food-shopping tips you want to share? Let me have 'em.

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July 1, 2008 7:03 AM

Harbor City closed (for now): customer mourns its passing

Posted by Nancy Leson

I got an e-mail from John Hom of Kirkland, who works in the Chinatown-International District, alerting me to the sale of his favorite Chinese restaurant, Harbor City. I thought it was a beautiful eulogy for the restaurant, and a lovely honor for the Ngo family -- who apparently ran the place with love and care.

John noted that Harbor City is slated to reopen with the same name under new ownership in a month or so, and I'm sorry to say (after reading his e-mail, and this post from those ID-lunch fanatics at MSG150) that I only ate there once. It was too long ago to recall the details, but I'll leave those to John, whose emotional ties to the place clearly run deep. He writes:

Continue reading this post ...


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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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