Staple & fancy

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We happened to be in Seattle earlier this week for a consultation for my new tattoo (I’m so excited!) so we took ourselves out for a belated anniversary dinner. We had gone out with friends on the actual day, so it was fun to do something just the two of us. We decided to try the chef’s choice tasting menu at Staple & Fancy in Ballard.

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back in K.C.

lazy afternoon

One of our recent trips involved flying out to Kansas City to visit my father-in-law (and dog-in-law, Bruni). As with our last visit, we never made it into the city proper, but contented ourselves with the food and drink options in the Leawood area. Despite the rather drab, upper-class-strip-mall look of most of the restaurants, there’s really some good stuff there.

North

For our first night we went with my FIL to North, a nice Italian place that was recommended by Jon’s uncle. The day was so humid, with a hot wind blowing, that the patio was deserted, but inside it was hopping. Continue reading

the trail boss

Trail Boss sandwich

We don’t normally drive over Snoqualmie Pass these days, but every once in a while we have a reason to head straight into Seattle from my folks’ house so we take I-90 over. The last time we did this we had the dog and some artwork and our instruments in the car, so we needed to find somewhere to stop for lunch where we could get some quick takeout. Thank god for cell phones. A little googling led us to pull off at a gas station in North Bend, where we obtained Trail Boss sandwiches from Rhodies Smokin’ BBQ. Who knew?

So how were the sandwiches? Not bad! While I’m not sure I’d put it on a par with Oklahoma Joe’s in Kansas City, as one particularly enthusiastic online commenter suggested, the pulled pork was very good, the sauce was pleasantly spicy, the rolls were just the right combination of squishy and crispy, and they didn’t stint on the sandwich filling. I wouldn’t have objected to a few pickles, though.

mac salad

Jon got coleslaw for his side, which he said was fine but a bit bland. He got mac salad for me (because he knows I always have to have mac salad when it’s an option), and it was positively Hawaiian – nearly equal parts macaroni and dressing, with minimal vegetables. I quite liked it.

The restaurant is hidden inside Ken’s Gas & Grocery, which is very convenient to get to from the freeway, and has several picnic tables and a small lawn for airing the dog. I would definitely stop here again.

What’s your favorite quick lunch stop on the I-90 corridor? Anywhere good in Issaquah?

spring break

cold but cheerful

Last week for spring break we flew out to Kansas City for a family visit, so I had hoped to come home with a pile of food photos to share. Unfortunately a number of things came up that limited our excursions.

fending off starvation

The low point culinarily was probably when I was standing in a hospital cafeteria that hadn’t opened yet for the evening, staring at the vending machine options and weighing the pros and cons of an expensive packet of peanut butter crackers or, frighteningly, a cheeseburger. Yes, a vending machine cheeseburger. No, I was too chicken to try it. I ate the crackers. Continue reading

Tweets

Tweets

My review of Tweets came out in the Cascadia Weekly week before last. I had hoped to link to the article, but they never put it online. Fortunately you can read the original PDF here, and I thought I’d put up a few extra photos from my “research” trips.

today's menu

To sum up: it took us a while to try Tweets, since it’s so close to our other favorite hangouts Slough Food and The Edison, but it’s now become our go-to breakfast outing. You order at the counter, pay in cash, then wander around with your coffee cup hoping a table will open up. There’s no guarantee you’ll find a spot, especially when the weather’s bad and there’s no outdoor seating, but people seem to be pretty good natured about shifting around to make room. Continue reading

dinner at The Walrus

Walrus and the Carpenter

Our last dinner at The Walrus and the Carpenter was two months ago, but the delight of it is still fresh. One of the most fun evenings out we’ve ever had in Seattle, in fact. The food was perfect, including the absolute best steak tartare I’ve ever eaten in my life, delicate gnocchi in duck brodo, a salad made of paper-thin ribbons of celeriac in a creamy dressing, and a mug of warm frothy cajeta for dessert, but that was only part of the appeal.

Walrus and the Carpenter

Walrus and the Carpenter

What made it so great was the company. Shortly after we sat down at the bar, the gentleman on Jon’s left congratulated us on getting a seat, and forced us to eat all the salty, crispy fried Brussels sprouts left in his bowl. They were incredible. The two men on my right complimented me on my choice of cocktail (the unfortunately named but delicious Sexy Old-Fashioned, spiked with Allspice Dram), and I helped them argue with the (extremely competent) bartender over what to have to drink with their dessert. The couple who came in after them were bar hopping around Ballard to celebrate a birthday, and after convincing me to eat some of their duck lardo (twist my arm…), ordered a Moscow Mule in a copper mug and we all had to try that. The Seattle Freeze was nowhere to be seen – everyone was pleased to be there, eating wonderful food and drinking fabulous cocktails, and we were all friends who had never met before.

Walrus and the CarpenterWalrus and the Carpenter

weekend eats

pass crossing

We visited my folks in eastern WA this weekend, rehearsing for our band’s annual Saint Patrick’s Day concerts.  Of course we made time for plenty of good food. One night I helped my father make a spinach lasagna – he informed me that he had read over a dozen recipes and intended to follow none of them, so we made it up as we went along, and ended up with a very delicious concoction of chicken, button mushrooms, dried morels and their soaking liquid, spinach, ricotta, and a little bechamel sauce. A salad of bosc pears, lettuce, and walnuts from my parents’ tree rounded it out nicely.

The next day my mother and I went to a yoga class, and afterward we all had lunch at South, which is always exciting and wonderful. I talked myself out of getting yet another fajita sandwich, and instead tried their Revolución shrimp burrito. It was spectacular – the shrimp were intensely spicy and perfectly cooked, studding the delicious matrix of cilantro rice and beans. As always, the citrusy cabbage salad on the side was the perfect accompaniment. Despite having had the owner send me the ingredient list for this salad, I’ve never been able to quite replicate it. Must keep trying.

Our trip home was less successful food-wise, as we decided to finally try having lunch at the Alpen Drive-In outside of Startup. Since Gracie-the-dog can’t as yet be trusted in the car by herself, we’ve been doing a lot of drive-in or take-out food on our trips over the pass, usually Zeke’s or the School Bus or Sultan Bakery, but we hadn’t tried the Alpen yet. I regret to say we will never go again. The food was slow to arrive and rather expensive, which wouldn’t be a deal-killer if it hadn’t also been nasty. The milkshake was fine, but it was the only thing that was. Jon’s hamburger was meh, with cold unmelted cheese. Fries were certainly hot and fresh, but oddly mealy, and came with no condiments at all. My chicken sandwich was not only tasteless but actually too tough to eat – I felt my jaw pop while trying to take a bite. I ended up throwing out the chicken and stuffing the bun with french fries, which was at least edible if not particularly nourishing.

fried rice and beer

As a result, I was starving by the time we got home and unpacked the car. Fortunately, we still had some Chinese sausages and one last jar of homemade kimchi (which has been slowly leaking and making the basement fridge smell very interesting), so I whipped up a big batch of fried rice. We ate it by the fire in the living room, cats draped all over us, while watching a dorky British comedy and drinking Tecate. That made up for a lot.

birthday weekend

On the weekend of my 40th birthday we took the ferry out to Orcas Island.

We took the pup with us. She had a great time. So did we.

The place we were staying had a fabulous kitchen, a huge hot tub and really comfortable furniture, so we did some cooking (and mixing of cocktails) and stayed in a lot instead of going out doing touristy things, which made a nice change. Continue reading

Kneading Conference West (long)

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the 2nd annual Kneading Conference West, which happened to be right here in Mount Vernon at the WSU Research and Extension Center. I was thrilled to get a press pass for it, as the conference sold out some time ago. This is an amazing event!

naan samples

The remarkable thing about this conference was how happy everyone was. It was more like a music festival than a professional conference. Everyone there was equally obsessed with bread and grains and ready to talk with everyone else about it.

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