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.


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

getting my bearings again

Sheesh, this has been a crazy month. It’s been so long since I’ve posted here I haven’t the slightest idea where to start. There was a trip to Orcas Island to scatter my grandparents’ ashes, immediately followed by a trip to Kansas City for a memorial service for my mother-in-law. A few great dinners with friends at which I took no pictures because it seemed too much like work, and a few meals cooked at home in between various outings. I definitely have some great stuff to post here but my brain doesn’t seem to working in a straight line (the 90 degree heat may have something to do with that). How about I start with our last supper club event?

Birch Bay

The theme was Tuscan family dinner. It was a lovely evening on Birch Bay, and we started with a bocce tournament, at which Jon and I stomped everyone until the very last game where we were soundly defeated. I have seldom met a sport better suited for playing while holding a glass of wine in one hand. The only downside of winning so many games is that we hardly had any opportunity to help eat the wonderful prosciutto and steamed artichokes that Jenise put out for antipasti. 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?

harissa tacos

grilled harissa shrimp

When I made that big batch of harissa a couple of weeks ago, I gave some of it away but kept a small jar for myself, even though I wasn’t sure what I would do with it. We had already planned to make grilled shrimp tacos that week (back when we were still having an unseasonable spell of beautiful weather and could reasonably eat outside), and Jon had the brilliant idea of bathing them in harissa instead of our usual lemon-garlic butter after taking them off the grill. The primary flavors in the harissa are chile pepper, cumin and caraway, so it works perfectly in a Mexican food context.

shrimp and cactus tacos

We built the tacos on flour tortillas with the grilled spicy shrimp, guacamole, sour cream, and lots of nopalitos (pickled cactus strips). It was delicious and I probably ate too much sour cream.

island time

happy dogs

We were lucky enough to spend last weekend at our friends’ house on Whidbey Island. The weather wasn’t perfect, but it was clear enough to see the mountains, and it only rained a little on our last day (this is basically ideal spring weather for this area). And there was a beach! Continue reading

Rock the Casbah

the table is set

Another extremely wonderful supper club event! This time our theme was “Rock the Casbah!” which guaranteed that all of us had The Clash stuck in heads the entire previous week. And we got to eat a lot of amazing Moroccan food.

Continue reading

corn dogs and pie

corn dogs

The Tulip Festival street fair was this past weekend, which for many years has also meant our Annual Corn Dog and Pinot Grigio Wine Pairing Event. Unfortunately our friends no longer own a wine shop downtown, so we can’t pick up a hot, greasy corn dog at a street vendor and carry it through the crowded festival to the shop for our wine pairing. Instead we had a sit-down dinner party with storebought corn dogs (which it turns out you can eat a LOT more of than the greasy street fair kind), and I made macaroni salad and rhubarb custard pie to go with.

corn dog dinner

I don’t remember all the wines we tried this year, but the two (by far) best were an Italian bottle that was light, sweet and slightly effervescent, which held up well to the sweet corn dog coating, and a complex and astonishing 2007 Weingut Knoll Grüner Veltliner. Maybe it was cheating, since it wasn’t a Pinot, but dang, it was good.

rhubarb custard pie

For the pie, which was made with my first harvest of rhubarb for the year, and bright orange local eggs, we drank the last of some amazing tawny port. I would never have thought of the pairing, but it worked splendidly.

Not sure how everyone else did, but I only needed to take one Tums that night, which I thought was getting off easy.

spice and daiquiris

sunset over Bellingham

It was Caribbean night at supper club. The day had started unpromisingly with a dense spring snowstorm, but by evening it was clear and almost warm. We ate and drank and admired the incredible view across Bellingham Bay.

Hemingway daiquiri

Jon mixed up a batch of Hemingway Daiquiris. I like classic daiquiris, but these are even better: tart, refreshing, and with a nice depth from maraschino and fresh grapefruit juice (recipe at the bottom of the post). Cocktail umbrellas were a must. Continue reading

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