Monthly Archives: February 2010

Tako Truk Is Back

I don’t normally post about events, however, this upcoming event excites me. Two places I love coming together for a cause. Drumroll please…. Tako Truk and Two Beers Brewery. One day only. March 6, 1-6pm (ish) at Two Beers. I promise I’ll be there. Two fantastic forces raising money to buy Shelterboxes to send to Haiti. Shelterboxes (Rotary International project) for $1000 a piece provide basic necessities including clean water and shelter for up to 10 people. Their goal is to buy as many as they can from the proceeds of the event.

Suggested donation aka the golden ticket, $20, buys you 4 tickets to use as you like (beer, tacos or bad beer toss). This summer like many others I became infatuated with Cormac’s (did I mention he used to work at Sitka & Spruce) delicious tacos, especially the pork belly and octopus. For detailed information on their greatness, check out what my good friend Frank has to say at Going for Seconds. Two Beers Brewery  (may I mention how excited I am that my new office will be a mere two blocks away from them) produces fantastic beers such as their 20:20 blonde, Immersion Amber and Echo IPA.

RSVP to wewannaparty@takotruk.com so they can plan accordingly aka have enough food to feed us. Follow @takotruk and @twobeersbrewing on Twitter for the most up to date information. I know Two Beers knows how to throw a party, so of course there will be live music, good people and hopefully some sun! See you all there. Two Beers Brewery is located i n SoDo just off of E. Marginal Way: 4700 Ohio Avenue South Unit A, Seattle WA 98134.

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Reviews: Authentic vs Opinion

As humans we have opinions, whether we want to admit to them or not, we do. With the growth of the internet, our ability to share our thoughts and critiques is exponential. In the food world, everyone wants to share their opinion, critique or proclaim their knowledge. Sites such as Yelp, Urban Spoon and CitySearch enable us to do so. No background checks or filtering, anyone instantly has access to state their authority on subjects such as the best taco, burger, pizza or pho. Restaurants are scrutinized, sometimes accurately, more often not. Professional restaurant reviewers often spend more time than people realize, researching, writing and tasting on multiple trips to make an accurate assessment of the establishment. Opinions are formed, transcribed and produced to a general audience. Much like in psychology they are held accountable to standards. We may disagree with their assessment, however the process should be respected.

User generated review sites on the other hand operate in a completely different fashion. These sites are mostly driven through advertising with local companies. Yelp for example currently being sued for their business practices; largely considered unethical by some. Companies paying more to be featured, biased reviews and negative reviews shuffled under the table. Full disclosure, I am part of a user-generated review group for CitySearch, I am not paid for my thoughts/opinions, although we are rewarded for actively posting and generating lists/reviews.

I sporadically use Yelp/Urban Spoon for information, ideas and recommendations. I highly suggest a few caveats when using user-generated sites. Most on Yelp self-proclaim themselves to be experts. I will not take advice from someone who names Taco Time as “the real deal” or compares Palace Kitchen to Claim Jumper. The “best” is subjective. What one person considers the best burger, the other may disagree, it’s personal taste. My favorite Seattle burger, Palace Kitchen. Instead tell me/describe what you liked about the pizza, the taco or burger; why was it so “good.” Why is a place so delicious? Favorite dishes? That’s what makes a useful review. Second, keep the review succinct, readers don’t want to know your life story or why you are such an expert on ramen, OK you lived in Japan, doesn’t mean you understand quality food. A powerful review explores the multiple attributes of an establishment.

Personally I know several Yelpers, who are not professional reviewers by trade who write witty reviews in search of quality food. These individuals have discerning palates, refined taste buds and are well-traveled. Unfortunately they seem to be too few and far between, finding quality reviews is cumbersome. Alas, I find myself turning to other sources such as Twitter.

Do businesses deserve to be scrutinized? In my opinion, yes, they do. It’s the nature of the business. With respect of course, candor should be expected. Did we experience poor service on a visit? Were the eggs over-cooked? Food under-salted? If that’s an individual’s experience then it’s likely others shared similar experiences. Do we return to places because they are our friends or the owner is nice, of course, does that mean everything is perfect, no. I work near a well-known bakery in the Seattle area, that I frequent often. On more than one occasion a macaroon was rock hard or a sandwich bland. If that was my experience as a first time patron I may not return. Luckily there are many other items I love about the place, so I return, knowing what to order.

We patronize the places we love for many different reasons. When researching places to eat, I look to multiple sources: professional reviewers for published trade, user-generated review sites, friends and Twitter. I formulate my own opinion based upon the culmination of their experiences and my own. Our world is changing, information is available to us faster and in a multitude of forms. Think before you type, tweet or write. And remember if you don’t want it shared, don’t say it.

Reality Check

A few months ago, I made Laurie Colwin’s Nantucket Cranberry Pie, as I chopped my cranberries several thoughts came to mind. My cranberries purchased from the farmers market, a few weeks before, were not “perfect.” Unlike mass produced ones, these were not perfectly round, brightly colored berries. Rather different sizes, shapes and colors. Inherently different, one no better than the other. Food fuels my soul. I find passion in cooking, eating and sharing food with others. I adore learning about new foods, trying a new recipe and exploring new flavor combinations. Yet, another part of me despises food. Food is the enemy. My weight and body issues continue to be a struggle. I remember being 10, recording my weight in my mom’s gradebook.  My battle is not one I face alone, I realize many of you fight the same battle. Those cranberries I patiently chopped reminded me not to focus on the defects rather celebrate the differences. So what if one is slightly less red than the others? In the end will I notice the differences in the pie? No, the pie well actually it’s more like a cake turned out delicious, a nicely dense dessert filled with fruit, nuts and the slightest hint of almond.

Of course should I eat everything in sight? No. I know my waist line is growing. My clothes remind me of that often. I’m not your typical dieting person though, I am aware of the foods that are healthy and I thoroughly enjoy a juicy summer peach, roasted eggplant or fresh mixed greens. Several years ago I lost a significant amount of weight. This year my weight began to slowly crept up again. I find myself using more butter, heavy cream and all of the ingredients that make food taste good. But there has to be balance. Finding that balance is tough. I jokingly call it the Twitter Twenty or Thirty. How do we enjoy the delicious foods we love without compromising dedication to our health? Balance. I believe this is crucial. Sometimes we need a bit of a reality check. Portion control. Making choices. Educating ourselves about the food we eat. And sometimes as hard as it is, saying no.

Food is not entirely personal. It’s about community. So we have to be honest with the community we share it with. So here is my honesty. I adore food. I promise that will never change. What is changing is my approach.  How do you approach food and maintain balance in your eating?