Monday, June 30, 2008

Seattle Eats: Matt's in the Market

Matt's in the Market
94 Pike Street No.32
Seattle, WA 91801
(206) 467-7909

After the Savor Seattle food tour, it was time for lunch. I was not really all that hungry after eating sample after sample during the tour, but I was on vacation so I decided to head to Matt's. I had heard many good things about this place.

I ordered the pan-fried cornmeal-crusted oyster sandwich and tomato soup. The tomato soup has great color no? Usually tomato soup looks like watered down ketchup. It had a robust tomato flavor and a nice acidity to it.

The sandwich was just awesome. The cornmeal crust was crunchy, but the oysters were big, fat, briny and just barely warmed through and provided a texture contrast to the cornmeal. It was perfectly seasoned and the bread was crusty enough to stand up to the rest of the sandwich.

The Pike XXXXX Stout beer was a little more that I should have. That's a 22 oz bottle not your normal 12 oz. It was a touch sweet/sour and lush. I finished the meal, but went into a food coma and took a nice nap.

Tomato soup

Pan-fried cornmeal-crusted oyster sandwich on potato bread, with spicy mayo & shredded lettuce

Matt's in the Market on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Savor Seattle Food Tours

Savor Seattle Food Tours
8521B Interlake Ave. N.
Seattle, WA 98103
(800) 838-3006

"Savor Seattle Food Tours specializes in guided walking food tours of some of Seattle’s tastiest neighborhoods. Our signature tour invites you to sample the gems of Pike Place Market, a beacon in Seattle’s vibrant culinary scene."

Anthony Bourdain best sums up the reason I like to stop at the local food markets first, "Food is maybe the fastest, easiest and best way “in” to an unfamiliar place and culture. Once you’ve sat down with people and eaten their food, their whole world opens up to you in ways that wouldn’t ordinarily happen. Food, after all, is the purest expression of a country, of a culture, a region and a personality."

Seattle is not a foreign country that I am unfamiliar with, but one can always get good tips from the locals and vendors about where to eat and places to avoid. The Savor Seattle food tour is a good place to start your exploration of Seattle if you like food since Pike Place is where many of the local chefs shop.

I have been on a few food tours and the Angela's was a well-oiled machine. One of the good things is that you are provided with a wireless earpiece so you do not have to stand in one place while she describes the food and vendor. It’s easy to do a little exploration of your own and see some of the other sights of Pike's Place and still hear the information. You can see that she also has a great relationship with each of the vendors; it is like they are old friends. When you complete the tour you get a 10% off card for any of the vendors that you visited. I would highly recommend this tour to anyone visiting Seattle.

Here are a few highlights of the tour.

Where they throw the fish and they are interesting characters to talk to. They whipped the fake pillow salmon at me while I was not looking, but I still caught it. Ha! :)

Chukar Cherries

We had sorts of samples: salsa, trail mix and several kinds of candy.

The Confectional

This is where we sampled Colombian drinking chocolate. How was it? Holy cow! If you like chocolate they you have to try a sample.

Beecher's Handmade Cheese

Got to sample the Flagship cheese, "Flagship is a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese with a uniquely robust, nutty flavor. It is carefully aged for one year under the watchful eye of the cheesemaker to fully develop its complex flavor and ever-so-slight crumble. Outstanding on a Beecher’s Cracker!"

Etta's Seafood

Monday, June 23, 2008

Paul Martin's American Bistro and Crush 29

Paul Martin's American Bistro
1455 Eureka Rd
Roseville, CA 95661

I heard a lot of good things about this place, but the drive to Roseville is a little far. We decided we would go shopping and then head there for dinner.

We started with five oysters or should I say two and a half. These were the tiniest oysters that I had ever seen; one was about the size of a nickel. The mignonette was fine, but the cocktail sauce tasted too much like ketchup.

Short Ribs braised, with mashed potatoes, horseradish cream and beef jus.

The short rib was tender, but the flavor was flat. One of the reasons I love braised dishes is that the flavors of the stock and vegetables form a complex flavor with lots of layers. All I could taste was the beef which was good, but nothing special. Where is the side of vegetables?

Hill Farm Pork Chop with fingerling potatoes, bacon and onion marmalade.

I barely remember this dish. The fingerling potatoes were under seasoned, and the bacon and onion marmalade did not add anything to the dish they seem to be added as an afterthought. The pork chop was a little overdone and tasted like a pork chop, nothing interesting at all.

Overall the meal was middle-of-the-road at best and definitely not worth the drive to Roseville.

To top it off, none of the dessert choices sounded interesting so we decided to head across the street to Crush 29 and check out their desserts.

Paul Martin's American Bistro on Urbanspoon

Crush 29
1480 Eureka Rd
Roseville, CA 95661

We finished off the night with a "Chocolate Bomb". It was OK, not really the explosion of chocolate that I had anticipated, maybe because the cake/pastry inside was a little dry and after the first bite everything tasted the same. I think it was a little overkill on the presentation because the sugar sculpture at the top was distracting and not making the dessert any better. Also the berries were overpowered by the chocolate and did not make the dish any better.

The dish could be simpler and better by eliminating the fluff and just plating the chocolate with some whipped cream.

Chocolate Bomb

Crush 29 on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 20, 2008

Seattle Trip: Piroshki on Broadway

Piroshki/Pierogi (also perogi, perogy, pirohi, piroghi, pirogi, pirogen, piroshke or pyrohy), from the Proto-Slavic "pir" (festivity) is the name most commonly used in English speaking areas to refer to a variety of Slavic semicircular (or, in some cuisines, square) stuffed dumplings of unleavened dough and varying ingredients. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

I saw Anthony Bourdain eat at the piroshki place in Pike's market and happen to walk by this place on the way back to my hotel. I had not eaten dinner yet so I decided to try this place.

The beef and mushroom piroshki was OK, the flavor was flat. The sausage piroski tasted (and looked) like a hot dog; again kinda blah.

The good things were the desserts. Their version of a cherry streusel was different than ones I ate in the past. It was dense with cherries, sweet, tangy and crunchy and buttery. A little heavy to eat by yourself so it would be great to share with someone. The second dessert I had was the poppy seed cookie. The cookie was soft, buttery, not too sweet and the poppy seed provided a nutty flavor. It was an interesting flavor combination that I have not encountered before.

The piroshkis were OK, but the dessert was good so if you are in the neighborhood or visiting Seattle I would stop buy grab some lunch and make sure you save room for dessert.

Sausage piroshki

Beef and mushroom

Cherry streusel

Poppy seed cookie

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Happy 25 Years, Le Panier

Le Panier Very French Bakery
1902 Pike Pl
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 441-3669

June 17, Le Panier—the Pike Market's Very French Bakery—will celebrate 25 years of baking fabulous French breads, croissants and pastries. Le Panier was created by a French man, Hubert Loevenbruck, who missed his daily baguette and croissant. Ever since, they've been providing a genuine taste of France in an authentic setting: French bakers, classic French recipes, natural ingredients—baked every day for 25 years. I wondered why Le Panier and I clicked right away, we share the same birthday!


Rhubarb tart

This was my very first stop in Seattle after dropping off my bags at the hotel. I walked around Pike's place a little and since it was only about 9:00 am I decided to get some breakfast. I walked into Le Panier... It was love at first sight (and smell)!

I was drawn in by the scent of freshly baked bread and the butter used to make pastries in the air. There was an overall warmth to the place and seeing the different types of pastries made it all the better. The first day I had a ham and cheese croissant and a chocolate croissant with a great latte. The croissants were so good I forgot to take pictures of them! The croissant dough was an even balance of crispy, flaky, buttery and tenderness and complemented the fillings nicely.

I had the rhubarb tart the third time I had breakfast there. It was just as good as the croissants the crust was balanced like the croissants against the sweet and sourness of the rhubarb and another great latte.

What makes it great? Most of the lattes I drink usually require a little sugar to add some sweetness, but here as in other places I drank coffee at the milk was heated enough to turn just a touch sweet. The lattes were good as it, no additions needed. Coincidentally I discovered the lattes at Old Soul. They make them as good as any that I had in Seattle.

This will always be on my list of places to visit in Seattle.

Le Panier on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Slow Food Nation

Ticket sales commenced last week for the inaugural and much anticipated Slow Food Nation event, to be held in San Francisco at the end of August. Designed to demonstrate the bond between ‘planet and palate’, this four-day celebration is the first national American event dedicated to Slow Food goals.

The inspiring program will bring visitors into contact with the best of America’s good, clean and fair food and producers as well as providing an opportunity for cooks, farmers and artisan producers, academics and students, authors and activists to come together to discuss today’s pertinent issues around food production.

Among several key features, fifteen Taste Pavilions will each tell the story of a different American-produced food, offering tastes, demonstrations and workshops. At the cheese pavilion, for example, exhibitors will demonstrate how cheese is made and samples of more than 200 artisan cheeses will be available. Other pavilions will focus on beer, charcuterie, chocolate, coffee, fish, honey and preserves, ice cream, native foods, olive oil, pickles and chutney, spirits, tea and wine.

Slow Food Nation will also include a Market in the Civic Center Plaza, where sixty Californian producers will offer their goods. Visitors will be able to purchase directly from the farmers, breeders, fisherfolk and artisan producers as well as having the chance to learn more about the region’s biological and cultural diversity and local food traditions. Market vendors have been approved by Slow Food Nation organizers for their commitment to using good (delicious), clean (environmentally friendly) and fair (socially just) production practices.

Also in the plaza, the ornamental edible garden Victory Garden will be established on July 12 at a Community Planting Day. This example of urban agriculture will feature an array of local heritage vegetable varieties and demonstrate a range of food production practices. Produce harvested during and following Slow Food Nation will be donated to those with limited access to fresh, organic food.

Culinary icon and Slow Food International vice-president Alice Waters has played a pivotal role in organizing this national celebration and will speak at the Food for Thought series being held over August 29 - 30. Other renowned speakers include Michael Pollan, Marion Nestle, Wendell Berry and Slow Food President Carlo Petrini.

For further information or to purchase tickets:

Friday, June 13, 2008

Seattle Trip Day 1: Olympic Sculpture Park

Olympic Sculpture Park
1300 First Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101-2003

Typewriter Eraser, Scale X, model
1998, fabricated 1999Stainless steel and fiberglass painted with acrylic urethaneClaes OldenburgAmerican, (born in Sweden), 1929and Coosje van BruggenAmerican, born 194219 ft. 4 in. x 11 ft. 11 1/12 in. x 11 ft. 8 1/4 in.

1971 Painted steel Alexander Calder American, 1898-1976465 x 390 x 390 in. (1181.1 x 990.6 x 990.6cm); estimated weight 6 tons

This one is my favorite.

Wake, 2004
10 plates, 5 sets of locked toroid forms, weatherproof steelRichard SerraAmerican, born 1939each set, overall: 14 ft. 1 1/4 in. x 48 ft. 4 in. x 6 ft. 4 3/8 in.; overall installation: 14 ft. 1/4 in. H. x 125 ft. L x 46 ft. W. ; plate thickness 2"; weight: 30 tons (each plate)

For Richard Serra, space is a substance as tangible as sculpture. He uses materials and scale to alter perception and to engage the body, encouraging consciousness of our relation to space. The towering, curved steel forms of Wake were achieved with computer imaging and machines that manufacture ship hulls, including a demilitarized machine that once made French nuclear submarines. It is composed of five identical modules, each with two S-shaped sections positioned in inverted relation to one another—gently curving serpentines of convex and concave parts that suggest tidal waves or profiles of battleships. The surface of acid-washed, weather-proof steel reinforces this industrial effect. Wake's powerful silhouette belies a complex configuration of parts: the whole cannot be known at once, only experienced with physical movement and progressively over time.

Elliott Bay

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Seattle Trip Day 1: Seattle Aquarium

I went to Seattle for a week to get away and unplug for awhile. I'll post pictures of each days events. Do not worry there are plenty of food pictures that I'll post later.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Mulvaney’s Building & Loan

Mulvaney’s Building & Loan
1215 19th Street, Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95814

This is the second time that I ate dinner at Mulvaney’s and was one of the best meals that I have had in awhile. Mulvaney's has become my new favorite restaurant, it is that good.

Here are a few shots of the all elusive menu. Since Patrick Mulvaney shops the local food markets everyday, the menu changes frequently. I usually like to see a menu ahead of time to see if the flavors sound like a good match, but I do not think I will have to worry about it the next time I eat here.

Bread, the stuff of life. The bread is from the Grateful Bread Company, a great local purveyor. It's serve with butter with some bacon bits. mmmm....bacon.

The amuse bouche

(I love free stuff, who doesn't?). Two bite sized medium rare lamb ribs with a tomato (or pepper) sauce that provided a nice contrast and addition of a little acid.

Grilled Durst Farms Asparagus Prosciutto ~ Grana Padano ~ Poached Egg
This had nice balance; the crunch and earthiness of the asparagus, the saltiness of the cheese and prosciutto and richness of the egg yolk.

Local Artisan Foie Gras Chunk pear gastrique ~ Crispy Toast ~ Del Rio Greens
Foie gras, I think it is one of those dishes that people love or hate. I have not had it awhile, so I thought I would give it a try. It's your classic foie on toast with the gastrique's sweetness complementing the foie and toast.

Double Cut Adobo Niman Ranch Pork Chop Bacon and Green Chili Mash ~ Arugula Rapini ~ Pickled Red Onion.

I do not superlatives too much, but this was the best pork chop that I have ever eaten. That includes the Mongolian Pork Chop at Mustard's. It was cooked to a perfect medium rare, moist, tender, the red onion providing some nice sweetness and crunch and seasoned properly. The mash with chili was just a little spicy and was nice and creamy.

Dixon Lam Three Ways ~ Leg ~ Sweetbread ~ Bacon Del Rio Braising Greens ~ Spring Onion Polenta ~ Natural Jus

This was good overall and not too gamy. All three components had a distinct texture to them. After talking to the server, the bacon is more of a carnita, from the the shoulder because lambs do not have much of a belly. What really surprised me was the polenta. I hate polenta, at least I though I did. The polenta was nice and creamy and had an overall subtle flavor to cut some of the lamb and was perfect with the jus.

Valhrona Ding Dong Devil’s Food Cake ~ Mousee ~ Granache.

A nice dense chocolate cake, that was moist and gooey. A nice end to the meal.

The food was excellent and the only real nit picky thing that I was not enthralled with were the wines by the glass. We had four different wines and they were all OK. C'est la vie, I'll bring a bottle the next few times I go.

Mulvaney's Building and Loan on Urbanspoon