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Special K

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Everything posted by Special K

  1. My first mouthful of rosemary ice cream with a reduced balsamic vinegar syrup is the most memorable. Absolutely, a taste of heaven! I've learned not to tell people what this is - otherwise I get, "Ewww, rosemary in ice cream? With VINEGAR?!" So I just say, "Here, have some ice cream" and watch them as they totally bliss out. Then I tell them what it is. After that, they trust me to feed 'em anything! Also memorable - and NOT in a heavenly way - a big old lick of garlic ice cream, years ago at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. It was the first thing I ate (it was about 100 degrees that day) and I couldn't get that taste out of my mouth for days. Totally overpowered everything else there.
  2. Have some baked beans! Please!!
  3. I will never again let myself get so involved in conversation with my guests that I put the tenderly marinated, lovingly stuffed pork chops in the oven and neglect to switch it from "Preheat" to "Bake" AND forget to set the timer! Umm! Smells good! Pork jerky.
  4. Worst meal NOT eaten at someone's home - We were invited to the CEO's home for what was clearly advertised as the "New Grill party." We show up, with about 100 other chosen ones, and sure enough, there's the grill. It's beautiful! Like a really nice outdoor kitchen - I'd kill for it. But there is no food in sight. Ever. We smiled through a (very, very bad) guitar solo by our host, put up with the behavior of his atrocious brats ("My father OWNS this company" - now where did he hear that?), wandered around the fantastic back lawn (waterfront property, nice view of the boat) -- we weren't allowed in the house. . . no food, no drinks . . . After a couple of hours people started coming up with inventive excuses to leave and go get some FOOD -- actually, the party *after* the party was memorable! Shortly thereafter there was a huge layoff - everyone was so relieved. Our friend in Finance told us later that the CEO submitted a huge bill for food and drink to the company for this party.
  5. Haven't moved in a while, thank goodness, but over the years we haved picked up and put down new stakes 19 times. (Got one more to go, I think - from Seattle to Phoenix in a few years). We'd always throw a big goodbye party at the old place, and give away whatever perishables were left afterwards. The people who actually helped us pack and move got the good stuff (but we had the wine shipped and stored until we got settled). In the new place, we'd set up one room (the one with the stero and the TV and the bed) as completely as possible, and then, while we were waiting for the kitchen to become operational, we'd order pizza from every place within walking (or delivery) distance. That way we learned which one would be The One in the new town.
  6. Yes, Extra MSG, we like the Portland El Gaucho better than Seattle's, and we had a gift certificate from some dear friends (which we forgot all about - I think we'll use it to check out Chez Gus here, or maybe we'll go back to Waterfront, which we liked). The meal at El Gaucho was really wonderful. I don't know if they pulled out all the stops for us because it was our anniversary, or just because. We also lucked out with the cigar room - had the place all to ourselves (last time we were there, for our 30th, we shared the place with a frat party). I want that Gerald Murphy-style poster to hang over my bar! K
  7. Oh, I have waited so long to tell this tale to people who would truly understand! June 20, 1998, Lyon, France. The restaurant Paul Bocuse. My husband and a whole bunch of other biotech types from around the U.S. were invited by some French government officials to meet with French biotech types to discuss possible business collaborations. We traveled first class all the way, stayed in a very fine hotel, went on some nice day trips, etc., even got to see the U.S. get whupped by Iran at the World Cup Soccer finals. The hightlight of the trip, of course, was dinner at Bocuse. We arrived by boat, were ushered in with great ceremony, met the Chef himself, and were treated to a wonderful meal. Unfortunately, this was also my worst meal in memory. You see, I'd gone off exploring by myself during the day and found the open air market - an experience I wouldn't trade for anything - but, since I have absolutely no sense of direction whatsoever, I got lost and ended up wandering around for a bit before finally finding my way back to the hotel. July. France. Hot. Heat-stroke hot. I really shouldn't have gone to dinner with the group, but, you know, wild horses . . . Anyway, I didn't exactly disgrace myself, but since I was the oldest, er, most mature woman in the group, I was seated in the place of honor at our host's right, and my being slightly green and sadly, heart-breakingly unable to eat much of anything was noticed. Everyone was full of kindness and treated me so well, though, that I still remember this is one of the greatest experiences of my life. But dang, it was also the very definition of Hell! To be there and not be able to eat! Aaarrrgggghhh!
  8. We just got back from five lovely days in Portland. Special D had a class, and I went along for the eats (and the shopping). We had dinner Friday night at Daily Grill, Saturday at Ringside, Sunday (our 32nd anniversary) at El Gaucho, Monday at Red Star, and Tuesday rooooooom service at the Hilton. We usually ate breakfast at the hotel's Bistro 921, and one morning I walked down to the waterfront and got a nice omelet at Little River cafe. I can recommend them all - great food, top-notch service every place we went. (Maybe because we're just such darned enthusiastic eaters?) Also, we accidentally timed our visit to coincide with the Bite! As for the shopping, I visited the nice, big Safeway near the University campus one day for lunch makings, and also Whole Foods in the Pearl District, for wine, cheese, bread, and chocolate for a nice picnic on the train headed back home. Of course, I also came back with a nice big stack of books from Powells and In Good Taste, a few goodies from Sur la Table, AND the cutest pair of yummy sushi pajamas you ever saw from urbane Zen! Now back in Seattle, trying to adjust back to no air conditioning. K, who LOVES Portland
  9. Kaspar's is about five blocks from McCaw. C'mon, the walk will do you good! Also, I'd very much prefer my fellow opera lovers smell like garlic than like the lady who used to sit next to me, who insists on dousing herself with what must be an entire bottle of perfume! We changed our seats this season to get away from her, but it's all-too-common. Are you going to see Lohengrin? Oh, boy, are you in for a treat! You'll want to take the swan home with you! K
  10. I just got my food handler's permit last week, after a short lecture and a couple of videos before the test. The instructor's take-home message: "It's NOT OK to kill your customers!" He did mention the county website.
  11. Well, I'm glad things have improved! Do you think you could have gotten the "special" 25 for $25 dinner? The place certainly wasn't stuffy and formal Friday night! We actually felt like the "oldsters" there - but that's OK; I find that the older I get (I'm 52) the better service I get. I have to agree with you about the desserts; the last minute save by our waiter probably was better than anything actually on the menu.
  12. "It's the man, not the pan."
  13. Ah! "While we were at it . . ." Right up there with "This will be a very simple renovation when you get right down to it." I was really lucky; the folks we bought this place from had just done the remodel (exactly as I would have done just about everything) before deciding to sell. I've seen "before" photos! Guess I'm lucky I am right-handed -- I'd hate to have to rip the left-handed faucet out of the granite!!
  14. I have heard the rumor that wine does come in other colors, but I've never felt the need to stray from red!
  15. Just a random note about kitchen sink faucet placement - I noticed that in your sketch you have the faucet in the center over the sink, where it usually ends up. In my current kitchen the faucet (a Grohe Eurodeck single-lever with a retractable sprayer) is mounted (thanks the the house's previous owner) on the right hand corner, instead. Being right-handed myself, I find this much more comfortable, just as I'm sure a lefty would greatly appreciate having it over on the left side. I never would have thought of it myself, but it really is much more user-friendly than working from the center. I have just the one large, deep sink, which I'm very happy with, but I don't think it would make a difference if you did this on a double sink. Of course, if one of you is right-handed, and the other is left-handed, I guess centered would be the way to go Maybe that's why it's the default position.
  16. Alas, we may now invite Emile Peynaud to this party (died last Sunday at the age of 92). I know, not a chef, but if you want to learn about wine, he's your man. K
  17. OK, here's the Ponti report, as promised. Please let me know if this is too long. First, a caveat. We were with old friends whom we hadn't seen in a while, so I wasn't quite as aware of my surroundings as I might have been. I did look around and notice that the decor doesn't seem to have changed at all since we were last there, two-plus years ago. We started out with the Dungeness crab spring rolls with red curry aioli and cilantro. I seem to remember these used to be encased in thin, translucent skins in the days of yore, and now they have a thicker, crispy skin - just as yummy. Every bit of the aioli was licked. . . er, mopped up with the excellent bread. My companions, Special J, Special B, and Special D, also enjoyed the grilled marinated calimari with picholine olives, tomatoes, garlic, watercress and gremolata (I didn't get to it fast enough). Special J ordered the house smoked Alaskan black cod with lemon caper risotto, sauteed kale and red pepper coulis. It was a very large portion, and she pronounced it very good (and didn't share). Her husband, Special B, had the rosemary braised Australian lamb shank with wild rice pilaf, sauteed spinich and dried fruit compote (he only ate the lamb, not bein' a vegetable-eatin' kinda guy). It, too, was a big portion, and he usta liked it, because it, too, disappeared completely. Special D had the heirloom tomato salad (which he did share - but he has to - he's my husband and them's the rules) - ah, real tomato taste!! He also had the Thai curre penne with grilled Alaskan weathervane scallops, Dungeness crab and tomato-ginger chutney (which he was happy not to have to share, because by then I was fully occupied with my own dinner ). I had - for the first time in my life - the softshell crab, and I just want to say, right here, right now, that I am seriously pi**ed at everyone on the planet who knew about this delicious goodness all these years and didn't INSIST that I try it before now!! (The leftovers were just as delicious at brunch this morning on a po' boy with a nice dollop of Alligator Soul chipotle mayo). Oh, yes, the wine. We shared a bottle of 2002 L'Ecole Syrah (Walla Walla). Perfect. When we asked the waiter for the wine list again, he saw us pointing to the bottle and heard "again" through the din (it was a very busy night - temperatures reached 96 degrees here in Seattle yesterday, and everybody in town apparently decided to let somebody else do the cooking -- even when we got there at nine it was still very hot outside, but inside the restaurant it was very comfortable). So anyway, instead of the wine list he brought us another bottle of the Syrah, which was just fine with us. For dessert I didn't see anything dark and chocolaty on the menu, so I ordered the Key lime pie. Turns out they were out, but our waiter (he said he did it) put together a nice cornmeal shortcake/mixed berry concoction that was just fine. Special D and I enjoyed that while Specials J and B raved over their cheese plate - they expecially liked the nice reduced Balsamic vinegar dressing. All told, we left the place happy. Special D grumbled a little bit later about the slow service, but I defended the poor waiter, who'd had to contend with a treacherous fellow wait-person who stole our calimari appetizer, a couple of large, rowdy tables, and one extremely persnickety couple (yes, I did come up for air after my first crab to have a look around). Now, LEdlund, I'd be interested in hearing your experience (I was afraid to ask before we went!). K
  18. Alas, now we can invite Emile Paynaud to the party. Not a chef, but if we want to learn about wine, he's the go-to guy. K
  19. Thank you. I'll take notes and report back. K
  20. Haven't been in a couple of years; taking out-of-town guests who have fond memories of the place there tonight. Any recommendations? Thanks K
  21. Hello all - newbie here. A thread about cooking scars and lessons learned somehow seems like just the right opportunity to jump in. First major burn: Frying bacon, got "popped" on the wrist, jerked reflexively, ended up with contents of pan on back of hand. Result: Nice dark patch (kinda looks like a birthmark), still visible 25 years later. Lesson: Cook bacon in the oven. First major cut: Tried to remove the pit from an avocado by holding in one hand (no towel) and popping my chef's knife into the pit to twist it out. Unfortunately, I missed the pit altogether and instead sliced down into the space between my first two fingers. Me: Excuse me, I've cut my hand and I need stitches. Nurse: Is it spurting? Me: No, it's not spurting, but I can see bone. Does that count? Nurse: That counts. Come on down, I'll fit you in. Result: Inch-long scar, slight residual numbness after about seven years. Lesson: Protect that hand with a towel. Some people are able to learn from others' mistakes. Some of us need to learn these things first-hand! K
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