Monthly Archives: December 2008

Foodista Launches

I think I just fell in love with a new food site, Foodista. Another recipe site launched in Seattle, however this isn’t any site, it’s an encyclopedia of all things food related- yes, I am certain it’s a good thing. A collaborative  effort- it’s like wikipedia but for recipes, ingredients and so much more. Food is meant to be shared, so a site that encompasses technology and brings people together through food, I am certain it could revolutionize how we interact with our recipes. I’m excited to start using the site, rather than turning to my standard epicurious.com. I personally am trying to cook more, as a single person I am often challenged to find economical recipes especially cooking for one. Monday night a friend and I made a cabbage soup featured in the NYTimes, we doubled the recipe so both of us would have plenty of leftovers, well after three soup meals in a row I was ready for a break. I am curious to see if the site will be a bit more advantageous for the cooking for one crowd compared to most other sites which are standard serves 4-6. Regardless, the lovely pictures, easy to use format already have engaged me. Oh and I’m also smitten with Bitten.

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Austin Cantina

In efforts to support my local economy, I dined at Austin Cantina tonight literally a few blocks from my house. The Austin inspired restaurant promises to bring the taste of the Southwest and Mexico to Seattle. After reading in several blogs the impending closure of the restaurant I finally made the 4 block trek. As much as I really wanted to like the place I found myself reaching for the salt to flavor the lackluster food. Ironically the last time I had dined at that location was at Dandelion the oh so wonderful organic restaurant with the Peugot salt and pepper shakers that my dining companion at the time was very smitten with.

It’s a charming space, warm and cheery even during the Seattle freeze. My dining companion and I happened to strike up a conversation at first with our gracious server but after receiving our meals they neglected to fill my water glass that was empty pretty early into the meal ; I had pho earlier today, needless to say, I was pretty thirsty. We both ordered a combination enchilada  plate- mole chicken and brown sugar roasted pork. I applaud their commitment to local ingredients, the sustainable and healthy cooking, however the flavor of the food needs some work.

The chips and guacamole we ordered was average, chips were most likely store bought unlike the lovely hot and fresh ones at La Oxcarta and the guacamole was a bit bland- I thought Southwestern food had a kick, fire- spice? I just bonded with the salt shaker. Next, the rice was dry and tasteless- I added some of the chipotle salsa but really it didn’t help. Beans, room temperature and blah. Meat was actually pretty decent, however the actual enchiladas were dry. Granted I can do without the ones at family Mexican dripping grease from too much cheese, but seriously they needed some kind of sauce and again spice.

Would I be crushed if they don’t make it, sadly no, I like local businesses and don’t want to see one fail, unfortunately this one needs to revamp their food to make it a place I would return to. I just felt like it was lacking the zsa za zu. I want my Southwest/Tex Mex to have spice, fire and interesting flavor. Hopefully in its place will be a great neighborhood eatery with affordable, delicious food. For now, I’ll have to trek to Cactus for good Tex Mex. Or really cross my fingers that La Oxarta has an open spot.

Cache aka Super Secret Dinner Club

Honestly I wasn’t sure what to expect. Instead of exchanging gifts this year two wonderful girlfriends and I decided to do a special dinner together. We had originally planned to do the Corson Building, but after Noelle heard about the mac and cheese at Cache, my mac and cheese lover friends suggested we do Corson in the spring and try the underground dinner club in Columbia City.

The menu:

First course

Mini gruyere sandwiches and roasted tomato soup

Third course

Our award-winning 5 cheese mac n cheese and balsamic-glazed meatloaf

Dessert

the BEST giant, warm El Rey chocolate chip cookies, salted peanut butter brownies, and a glass of boozy egg nog

In a darling 1920 bungalow tucked away in Columbia City is a foodies paradise- communal dining table with 12 strangers who also love good food, conversation and of course wine. We were greeted with champagne flutes with pomegranate seeds. I thought to myself, I can do this. At first I was mostly observing the surroundings, mostly trying to figure out how to incorporate our host’s style into my apartment. We struck conversation with the couple across from us and the evening flowed from there. Beautifully presented courses, some served family style. The theme of the evening, rich. Tomato soup with Gruyere crostini, the best tomato soup I’ve had in awhile, conversation slowed down a bit as we savoured our soup. A perfectly paired white, not a single bit of after taste, rather clean, smooth, now if only I remembered the name of the wine. Next, the ultimate in indulgence, the mac and cheese and balsamic meatloaf with bacon on top. All I can say is that I am very excited for my leftovers tomorrow. I’ll let the experts write about the mac and cheese, but this is for sure one of the top mac and cheese’s I’ve had including my mom’s homemade. Perfectly cheesy with a crumb topping. Rich and satisfying. Oh and red wine with this course, lovely, rich and not a bit of bite.

Lastly homemade boozy egg nog that almost made my toes curl and a Jacque Torres chocolate chip cookie with Del Rey chocolate and salt on top. Damn, the best chocolate chip cookie I’ve tasted. The brownies was super dense rich and good, but I’m not a fan of peanut butter so I let Noelle and Susanna split mine to bring home for later.

The Cache hosts were absolutely lovely. The food fantastic. I cannot wait to try another one of their gourmet dinners. I might even try flying solo!


Restaurant Zoe

In honor of my favorite promotion dinner club finally resumed for Dine Around Seattle in November. I had been to Restaurant Zoe about 4 years ago, however it had been long enough that it was like trying it for the first time. I have to say I was thoroughly impressed with my second experience. Having previous done the “3 for $30” at Lola’s the week before, feeling less than satisfied with my meal, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

I was of course very excited to see the infamous gnudi on the menu, which all I can say is wow, they are in fact spectacular. Little bits of heaven filled with ricotta cheese. Perfectly cooked semolina balls resembling traditional Italian gnocchi but with a twist, more like ricotta encased in a semolina light dough entrenched in a beautifully rich and creamy sauce served with the perfectly crisp sage. A few other dinner club members tried the pear and celery soup which they said was good, but nothing special. The mixed green salad seemed to be pretty standard fare.

The majority of us chose the “whole hog” more out of intrigue turning out to be the hit of the night. Imagine slowly roasted pulled pork that is coated in a lovely batter, cooked to be perfect crisp on the outside and moist and flavorful in the center. Accompanied by caramelized apples, braised endive and a lovely crisp apple fennel salad with pistachios garnished with cilantro.  A combination of flavors I would of never picked together that perfectly complimented each other. I went out on a limb with this dish, not what I would normally pick, however I was pleasantly surprised. A few others picked the delicious and flavorful roasted chicken with a succulent broth and roasted root vegetables. This chicken may have outdone Crow’s (my favorite restaurant/dish in Seattle). Individual flavors shined in both entrees, yet truly melding together to create a delightful entree.

Dessert of course still remains my favorite part of the mail. I wish I had picked the maple vanilla panna cotta, perfectly prepared served with cranberries and walnuts. I chose the dense and uber rich chocolate souffle cake. The pumpkin ice cream was exquisite, served with whipped cream and caramelized pumpkin seeds. And last but not least the special dessert of the night, described to us by our waiter as a gourmet snickers bar turned out to be a delicious salty, chocolaty, caramel concoction that did not resemble a snickers bar in the least rather beautifully rich but not overly rich layers of chocolate, caramel, nougat encased in dark chocolate.

Zoe has earned a spot on my list of favorite place to eat in Seattle. Not only does the food shine, but the service including attention to detail. I of course loved that we each had our own bread plate with a few pieces of bread already waiting for us upon arrival. The large windows overlook Belltown give a bright airy feeling to the restaurant. I call the design, smart, modern, sophisticated without being too pretentious. Our waitor was able to suggest two bottles of wine in our under $40 price range, both Sangiovese, turning out to be completely different both complementing them meal well. As always enjoyable company makes the meal.