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    Seattle, WA (back at long last!!)
  1. Thanks to a gc we won at our daughter's preschool auction, we finally got a chance to try Marjorie this weekend and weren't disappointed. With Matt Fortner now over at Tavolata, we're happy to report that the kitchen is in able hands with chef Fernando Martinez. The atmosphere is very moorish with multi-colored silk pillows embellishing the ceiling, and though it seemed crowded while we waited for our reservation proprietor Donna Moodie managed to seemlessly tuck everyone in. The menu is eclectic with south asian and carribean influences, and seemed to have a little bit for everyone to enjoy. We started with their signature Trenchtown cocktail (Appleton Estate Extra rum, ginger syrup and coconut water, fresh lime) and a Mandarin Martini while waiting for our Madras Curry Mussels and Kurobuta Country Pork Rib with Sweet Potato Fries. Our waitress tried to warn us that the sizes were large (small plates really...not appetizer portions), but so were our appetites and thank goodness there was enough to share! Though the plump and fragrant mussels had juices so well deserving of being soaked up with extra bread, instead we fought over and devoured the rich, sweet pork chasing it down with salty-sweet potato fries! So good we cleverly enquired whether we needed to return soon and frequently before it went off the menu but were relieved to find it's a favorite and not going anywhere soon. WHEW!! We enjoyed a tri-tip with chive mashed potatoes, and the market fish -- cumin spiced and roasted Mahi-Mahi on a bed of puy lentils, both with bacon-sauteed vegetables (brussel sprouts, collards, baby carrots, shitakes). I just love a chef who attends to his vegetables as much as to the meat -- and there was lots of LOVE in those sides. Not a bite was left on our plates. Of course we couldn't miss out on the desserts (how often do parents of young children get to eat out?? Not often!) My husband had a lovely banana-passion fruit sorbet -- three little scoops served atop a bit of shortbread; while I indulged in their banana cream tartlette -- served in a cocount laced crust that cut easily with a fork to scoop up the cream and bruleed bananas along with the (rum?) caramel sauce on my plate. (HEY! Eat your own dessert! Haven't we shared enough for one night?? ) As luck would have it, though we considered getting their cheese plate as an appetizer, and then for a dessert, we held off for other things....but then while we were awaiting our desserts, we were surprised by a visit from the chef bringing us a complimentary cheese plate because he had witnessed a slight service faux pas at our table. We had the fortune of sitting in line with the open door to the kitchen so we could watch the kitchen ballet during our dinner, and the chef could see us enjoying our meal as well. The chef noticed that a busser started to clear our plates as my husband was still finishing his last 2 bites, and did not want that service slip to affect our evening. I do admit, that we notice such things, but when the meal is as exemplary as the one we had, we always overlook such a little slip. It was extremely impressive to us, though, that the chef cares not just for the food but for the comfort and service of the guests...something that I know people have complained about with regard to seattle restaurants in the past. My husband likes to linger over a latte after a filling repast, and even that detail wasn't overlooked as the coffee was smooth and aromatic, decorated with leafy coffee art. With all that food plus a glass of wine with dinner, we only just managed to spend our $125 gift certificate. Delicious and reasonable -- we will definately be returning!
  2. Definately the place to be last night! It seemed like the whole world stopped by -- even the Seafair Pirates made a showing, waving at everyone from an open-topped vehicle along 1st Avenue. This was my second time going out to a fabulous dinner with a large group and sharing everything family-style, and I must say that it is revelatory. Finally I can try EVERYTHING on a menu. Of course, we absolutely needed 2 of every dessert -- the men's end of the table (don't judge us, they wanted to talk "shop") practically inhaled theirs. My favorite stand-outs of the night were the Pork Belly, Sea Bass leeks and artichokes in a wonderful lemon butter sauce, and the Butterscotch Creme Brulee. It was all really delicious, not a bad bite to be had and I even sampled my first Uni. It was very nice to finally put some faces with the names of some of the regulars. Great to meet you White Lotus, LittleMissFoodie, SeaGal, LEdlund, and to run into Rocky again. I hope we'll be able to get out to these gatherings more often (a standing babysitting engagement?? ) in the future. BTW, It's come to my attention that everyone thinks I'm "22" tango. But it's really supposed to be read as "two to tango".
  3. Ditto to all the rec's above, TD and Atkinson are great. I prefer John Sarich to Kathy Casey, and adore Traunfeld's "Herbfarm Cookbook", BUT I still haven't seen anyone mention one of my favorites: "Kingston Hotel Cafe Cookbook" by Judith Weinstock. Really inspring PNW recipes broken down by season -- really love her Grilled Salmon with Miso-Orange-Cilantro glaze and Hazelnut Torte with Chocolate-Rum buttercream (though I prefer to fill mine with raspberry bc and then glaze the torte with the chocolate-rum glaze.) I also like "Northwest Food & Wine" by Dan & kathleen Taggart, my Fran Bigelow ("Pure Chocolate"), Dana Taylor Davenport ("The Dilettante Book of Chocolate and Confections"), and Cafe Flora cookbooks. Funny...I saw a rec for "Celebrate the Rain" somewhere, bought it, and haven't cooked anything from it either!
  4. Yep, it is. I haven't been to ONE of these places . Silly (because I know their wonderfulness is arguable), but that actually bothers me a little. ← I have to say that there is no way Canlis should be on this list! Just seeing it there I can tell that the list is combined for the average american who has bucks in his wallet and is easily impressed and likes to name drop- IMHO of course. Having not been to Canlis, I find it interesting that this restaurant's ranking (or existence) on the list has raised the most eyebrows thus far... and it climbed from 2001. I was shocked as well when I first saw Canlis on the list as opposed to others more worthy -- but then I figured it had to be about more than just the food. As others have said, politics come into play. Also, Canlis has one of the best wine lists in the world, an incredible view, stellar service, generations of satisfied customers, etc..., etc... While it may not be cutting-edge, their food is certainly not mediocre. I've no idea why it should be as high (and have recently risen) up Gourmet's list, but it may actually have enough points going for it to deserve being on the list.
  5. When we were in Pittsburgh for grad school, the things I craved were: Smoked Salmon, of course! But also.... Fran's Chocolates (can't go wrong with their Chocolate Lover's Box! http://www.franschocolates.com/catalog/pro...tail.asp?pid=11 ) Market Spice Tea Nutty Mountain Goodness Granola Chukar Cherries Local berry jams Tom's Salmon "Rub with Love" WA-state wines stuff from Trader Joe's Seafood (wild salmon, penn cove mussels, etc...) -- although not very shippable
  6. I'm certain they'll be mine as well... I found their website with all the lovely pictures and saw the Napoleon (which is ALWAYS my favorite). I'd already planned that when we make the pilgrimage that my daughter will get the lemon tart while I'll be indulging in the Napoleon!
  7. We LOVE Portland! We just don't get out there as often now that a 3-hour drive with little ones can be so frustrating. I'll certainly try yours out the next time we're there! Mmmmmm! It looks like a stop at l'artisan is called for the next time we're up in Everett for the Children's Museum. http://www.lartisanfrenchbakery.com/ I'm still hoping the next trip to downtown Seattle will yield me the much recommended lemon tartlet from Dahlia....
  8. The new restaurant taking the place of Barbacoa, Portage according to the sign out front and in the times article: http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/...5&date=20060705 is due to open sometime in August. They have a placeholder website: http://www.portagerestaurant.com/ and a sample menu posted in the window so everyone can get a chance to "lèche les vitrines"
  9. ALAS! We went to the Dahlia Bakery today and they were OUT of the lemon tarts!!! (I was told they wouldn't be done for another 2 hours and that they usually would have them available at lunchtime when we went.) The excellent quality of their chocolate tartlet gives me hope though....
  10. Thanks, I have the P&C books...unfortunately, theirs was one of the first I tried and the filling was unpleasantly "mealy". Perhaps it was overcooked? Sounds like a good reason to visit the West Seattle Farmer's Market!
  11. Thanks for the recs! It seems we must try Dahlia's lemon tart soon and report back. If I get a little more time, then I'll certainly be experimenting in the kitchen -- but that's the problem when you have 2 little ones, no time!!
  12. Don't keep me in suspense....! Will you divulge your recipes??
  13. My three-year-old and I are on a quest. Before A La Francaise (University Village) closed back in January, we had a tradition of enjoying lemon tartlets together. We were both so sad to see them and our mother-daughter tradition go. Since then, we've tried lemon tarts whenever we come across them, but no success in finding something as nice as before. We've run across too many with mealy lemon fillings and/or thick-chalky crusts. This morning's jaunt to Macrina yielded a lovely slice (they don't offer the mini tartlets, but I was impressed with their service when they agreed to sell us just a slice of their tart) with light filling and tender crumb. A great choice, although my preschooler put it best when she declared it "sweet". The lemon filling didn't have enough "tart" for our tastes, and the sweet crust, though delicious, was too thick at the edges for her to bother with. The A La Francaise tartlet seemed to convey much more tart lemon flavor while their crust was almost a cross between pate sucre and a tuile with it's delicately thin crispy edges. So, I put it to you PNW egulleteers....where would you send us in search of YOUR favorite lemon tartlet??
  14. I have to add my voice to the chorus praising Mistral's incredible food and excellent service! Although in earlier years my husband and I ate out often and richly -- now with two very young children (one who's still not sleeping thru the night) our recent fine dining experiences are very few and far between. So when an occasion presents itself and we grab an opportunity (ie: babysitter!!!), we always turn to the advice on eGullet to find our next pilgrimage. This past weekend we were enticed by the gorgeous photos and descriptions Henry and Ling shared above into making reservations at Mistral for my birthday dinner, and we were not disappointed. We opted for the seven course tasting menu and were graciously treated to several extra courses complements of the chef and pastry chef in honor of my birthday and egullet connections. With the addition of the amuse and petit fours, we enjoyed twelve amazing courses in all! Amuse Kanpachi Sashimi topped with Apple-Tarragon Ice, Salad of Shaved Asparagus, Celery Leaves, Citrus Dressing(?) No bite was the same, each had little bursts of flavors/textures -- wonderful contrasts yet everything harmonized. Delicious. First Course English Pea Soup with Seared Scallop and Carrot Foam Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc (2003??) The scallop, dusted with orange powder, was seared on one side only and then the other side finished cooking in the soup. Meltingly tender...the Cloudy Bay really made all the flavors melt together and smooth out. Second Course Seared Fluke on bed of Morels, torn Brussels, Favas, Broccoli, and Red Pepper-Rhubarb Sauce Premier Cru Chablis One of my favorites -- especially the morels with the torn vegetables, and the slightly sweet-tart sauce marrying the accompaniments to the tender fish. Third Course Seared Foie Gras with Hawaiian Red Sea Salt, Granny Smith Apple Chips, Roasted Pineapple and Passion Fruit Puree(?) Sauternes (Castelnaud? 2001?) Was this really Foie?? Completely BLEW US AWAY!! I've never been much of a foie gras fan...I've had it as a terrine at the Painted Table (helped make it myself as part of my externship), at the Herbfarm when I worked one of their Halloween shindigs under Eric Leonard (seared with quince brunoise & fleur de sel), at Rover's, etc, etc... But, still, never really got it. This was sublime. My husband is a recovering vegetarian, and it was his absolute favorite of the night. The Sauternes just elevated what was already swoon-worthy to heavenly. Extra Course Sous Vide Pork Shoulder, Asparagus, Olives, Watercress, Celery Foam and Charred Scallion Oil What a nice counterpoint to the rich and sweet Foie Gras course before it. Chef William sent us this experimental dish with his complements and it added a distinctly savory note in the progression of our night's menu. The briney olives, charred scallions, bitter watercress, earthy asparagus and meaty pork gave me visions of a spring forager's meal. Fourth Course Oregon Lamb on Fingerling Puree, Red Wine Gastrique, Zaatar, Baby Carrots and Truffled Salt Chateauneuf du Pape My favorite dish of the night -- if only because of the addictive fingerling potato puree comprised of 50% Plugra butter! No, really, the lamb, the gastrique, the zaatar, all combined with that decadent puree just hit all the right buttons for me. I really wanted to gnaw every bit of lamb off it's perfectly frenched rib at the end! (And god help me...I'm already re-reading Henry's Food Blog to figure out how to make that Plugra, um I mean potato, puree!) Cheese Course Spanish Goat?, 4-yr Aged Gouda, Goat (Pavé de Jadis??), Double Cream Cow, Persille de Beaujolais (blue), Asian Pears, Candied Nuts, Walnut Bread Getting late...all the food and the wine and the bottle of Veuve Clicquot we started the night with before arriving....I'm forgetting the names of everything (or they're just too quick for me). I know I got the blue cheese right. I hope I got the goat...those two were my favorites! I just love a good cheese course -- so civilized and YUMMY! First Dessert Mango & Passion Fruit Sorbets on Tapioca/Coconut bed with Saffron Sauce Wow...clean fresh fruit flavors. The saffron sauce added a nice tart note to balance the sweet mango. Extra Dessert Tuscan Golden Melon & Honeydew Sorbets Another complementary treat from the kitchen. Like biting straight into the fruit -- only better!! Main Dessert Warm Chocolate Cake with Mint Chocolate Ganache Center, Vanilla Ice Cream, Fig & red fruit??, Raspberry-Strawberry Sauce Mmmmm...I'm not sure what the red fruit slices were with the fig on top, but they didn't last long, just like this dessert!! 20-yr old Tawny Port Petit Fours Basque Cakes filled with Pastry Cream At this point we had the distinct pleasure of meeting Henry and Ling who'd just flown back to Seattle from LA and stopped in to see the Mistral crew. What a nice surprise to finally meet some eGulleteers...especially after I've read and appreciated their writing in the past!! I inadvertently let it slip that we'd come to Mistral for my birthday (not that I was hiding it exactly...but next year I get to start counting backwards!! ) So one more course was generously sent out to us... Birthday Treat Chocolate Ice Cream in Tea Syrup +++++++++ All in all, my husband and I couldn't help making comparisons to some of the best meals we've ever had in the past. We both agreed that this one topped them all -- even our cherished memory of eating at Virazon when we were experimenting with the wine list and chef Rueda shared with us his homemade lemon brandy, and the highs (food) and lows (service) eating at Arpege in Paris. The food was outstanding. The space was simple and comfortable with a sense of being in a cozy oasis...magnified by the rosy sunset filtering thru the verdant trees in front and decorating the walls. The service was exemplary...such an experience of being taken care of without pretension and with competence and "personal" care. Both my husband and I agree that we plan to return.
  15. Where on QA is it? ← It's in the old Dolce Vita spot. I noticed a sign in the window as I walked by directing employment inquiries to the Queen Anne Cafe nextdoor, so I wonder if it's a burger offshoot of the cafe?? It's called Flame.
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