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Everything posted by SparrowsFall

  1. >I haven't tried that many and haven't tried the rustic breads at Grand Central or Essential yet. The Grand Central Rustic Baugette is my favorite. Not a classic french baugette, I admit. (Though even in France these days, bakeries commonly offer variations that are often conspicuously labeled as "artisan" breads.) The GCRB is thicker and larger, very crunchy outside (thicker crust than a traditional baugette), with a spongier, somewhat denser inside. Traditional baugettes sort of don't have much to them--not all that much bread in a loaf, really. That's fine, but I like the meatier style of the GCRB. It sops up lamb gravy admirably. I don't like Essential so much--too dense and solid for me (the organic influence embodied in the bakery name, I think), with a chewy/elastic rather than a crunchy crust. Steve
  2. >>To keep the sediment out of your wine glass, get a tall, narrow decanter. This allows the >>sediment to fall to the bottom. You want one that's about the height and width of a half gallon >>milk carton. I heard this recently from a teacher, and raised my eyebrows pretty high that time as well. I gotta disagree. The (this) whole purpose of decanting is to leave the dregs in the bottle. When I explained this to the teacher (who shall remain nameless, but graduated from a notable culinary school) who gave the above advice, he replied, "gee, that's not the way we do it in restaurant service." I am sad to say that he is all too often correct. I don't like to think about the number of times that I've brought a nice old bottle to drink on corkage, given it to a waiter or even sommelier, and had them cheefully dump the whole bloody thing glug glug into the decanter. This is the worst of all possible approaches, because it mixes all the dregs up with the wine irremediably. And yes, it has a very significant negative impact on the enjoyment of the bottle. (Write for details.) The method that works: put the bottle upright for at least an hour or three (24 is better), then pour off carefully into the decanter. If you look through just below the neck with a white piece of paper behind, you can see the dregs as they get close. (Some use a candle, but I think that's affected. <g>) (This is perhaps why Bordeaux bottles have a shoulder--to hold the dregs back--and Rhones don't, as they tend to be drunk young....) When you've finished the wine in the decanter, the die-hards sneak into the kitchen and pour the dregs in their glasses. These people (never me, I assure you!) are easy to spot by the dark red grit in their teeth, from straining. This method is admittedly problematic in a restaurant, of course, where the bottle may need to go from horizontal to glasses in minutes. My recommendation: if you're thinking of ordering something old (>10 years) and red from a restaurant wine list, try to decide a day ahead, call them and ask them to set it upright. It really makes a difference, especially at restaurant markups for old wine. I generally won't buy old bottles unless I've done this in advance. If you do buy an old bottle in a restaurant, I say *don't decant it.* It's impossible to avoid the dregs getting all mixed in. Pour carefully into glasses in advance, trying to avoid pouring the dregs. The dregs that do end up in glasses will settle out a bit. I suppose a wide-bottomed decanter make sense when you're trying to open up something closed by giving it lots of air. But as Kim says, you can get the same effect by pouring it back and forth. (But don't do that with good old wine--it tweaks the taste and mouth-feel--subtly but noticeably.) I personally love the classic wide-bottomed "sailor's decanter." It makes me feel like Jack Aubrey belting down the last of the '85 (that's 1785) Lafite somewhere off of Mauritius, while he packs on more sail to put his frigate across the hawse of some French 74 so he can rake her stem to stern. ("Gentlemen: The King!" "The bottle stands by you, sir." "Killick! Light along another bottle there. And don't get up to any of your purser's tricks!") Cost Plus in the market has one for like $15. Not fine crystal, but it's huge--holds a magnum (1.5 liters). Also eats a lot of shelf space, of course, and can be a bit heavy even with one bottle in it. Alternately, another clean empty wine bottle and a funnel works fine. I've never tried a coffee filter but I'm going to try it out when I find myself lacking in foresight. Oh one more correction. Just cause a wine is unfiltered doesn't mean it has dregs. Most don't, unless the have some years on them. Dregs result from complex molecules clumping together and precipitating. (Not the same as lees.) Takes time. Thanks for listening.... Steve
  3. Trivially Easy Everyday Bread Bread (basic bread, anyway) has *way* too much mystique about it. I developed the following to suit my lazy nature. It's almost easier than buying it. Basic everyday sandwich and toast bread. Nothing special. In a regular-size cuisinart with the normal blade, put in: 2-1/4 cups warm-to-hot tapwater a few tablespoons sugar a packet of yeast (couple of teaspoons) 6 cups flour 1 tablespoon salt Run it until it has trouble turning and you start smelling electricity. Turn into an oiled bowl and let rise in a warm place for a couple of hours. Cut into three pieces and form into loaves. (Knead it a bit while you do so to get rid of the big bubbles. Do it in your hands to avoid having to clean off a floured board.) Press into lightly oiled loaf pans (can you say aerosol canola?) and let rise 20-30 minutes. Bake 30 minutes at 350. Eat first hot pieces with butter and honey. (This step is crucial to the success of the recipe.) Freezes wonderfully in ziploc bags. Defrosts in an instant in the microwave. Thassit! Steve p.s. Don't clean the loaf pans every time. Too much work and not necessary. Just put them away until next time.
  4. Ancient history, I know. But I just got around to reading this column of Matthew's. I searched for years for the perfect canister. My sister finally found it and sent me a bunch. I bought a bunch more. By "perfect," I mean that it: o Is square/rectangular not round, and in the best of all possible worlds each different size just happens to fit or stack to within a quarter inch of (my) shelf height. Check. o Has a comfortable grippable shape. Check. o Is clear (*not* translucent). Check. o Is pretty much unbreakable. (These guys are like soda bottle material but thicker.) Check. o Has an airtight lid. Check. o That you can open and close with one hand. (After lifting it down with one hand [see "grippable," above]). Check. o That *stays open* when you're pouring from it. Check. (And hallelujah.) o Comes in multiple sizes. Check. (Only three, but...) Snapware. I guess to be really perfect they'd have to be cheap. But these are right in there with rubbermaid. Steve
  5. >This recipe is dead easy Gotta say, Abra, when I see any of these kind of instructions, "dead easy" isn't what I think of. >let mixture cool to 120 to 130 degrees F (49 to 54 degrees C). >1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter. >Shape dough into 40 balls But maybe it's just cause they say "1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons" instead of just "six tablespoons." What I *really* hate is when it's like, one gallon plus one and two thirds teaspoons... <g> Steve
  6. I'm interested in Barking Frog depending on date: Mr. and Mrs. Toast Really Nice Matsutakekichigai Sparrowsfall
  7. I'd just like to second Girl Chow's comment on the service: utterly transparent. IOW, they don't constantly come by and interrupt your conversations to ask "Are you enjoying your meal??" And they don't disappear or (I just hate this, though it happens everywhere) avoid your eyes. They're there when they need to be, unobtrusively and pleasantly. And when you do raise your eyes to ask for something, they're standing over there waiting. I missed out on talking with Thierry and his wife (had to pick up the kids), but while I was there, as has been my experience in the past, the service was perfect. Steve
  8. Yes. The original on Madison serves really great sushi--among the best I can remember having the pleasure of putting in my mouth. The few times I've eaten at branches, I've found them to be fairly standard pan-asian places--good food, but nothing exceptional.
  9. Oh, can I come too? Is it possible to add a seat? I promise to actually show up this time! Steve
  10. Citysearch sez: Mon-Thu 5:30-12am Fri-Sat 5:30-2am
  11. Sambar is south of Le Gourmand. So from the front door of Le Gourmand (which faces northwest), walk a dozens paces south.
  12. Just checked the bill (they actually gave me the handwritten bill to take home with me, which is kind of extraordinary). $14, actually. More than a bit steep, that, being off-menu and all... Steve
  13. If you, like me: 1. Seek only bacon, eggs, and hashbrowns (and their ilk) 2. Are more comfortable of a morning in a dive than a diva's haunt. 3. Are happy with workmanlike, everyday coffee (perhaps having downed a latte or two at home before venturing out)... I recommend Beth's on Aurora just south of Winona. Shitbox of a building outside, cracked vinyl seats inside, wacky patron-created cartoon art stuck up all over the walls. More tatoos and assorted piercings than you can shake a stick at. Dissolute-looking biker and rock-n-roller types just coming off a hard day's night. Very pleasant and prompt service. And, the best hash browns in town. (Ask for them crispy; they actually listen.) Over medium gets you over medium. Every time. Four big thick pieces of bacon--gotta ask 'em where they get it. That's where I go. Somewhat more often than I care to admit. Steve
  14. Sambar has Belgian frites! See my posting here. Small serving, $4, eaten sitting, not walking down the street. But.... Steve
  15. Hey All: Regulars here will know that I'm a fan of Le Gourmand--both because it's crawling distance from my house, and because of (and in despite of) its idiosyncracies. (For those who don't know, it's the hole-in-the-corner-of-Ballard-across-from-Dominos restaurant that Bruce Naftaly has been running for it must be nigh on twenty years now.) Bruce just opened Sambar next door. It's a tiny place (though not crammed--comfortable)--probably twenty seats inside and a dozen outside, around four tables--but it's a whole new scene for Ballard. It feels like a little bar/restaurant that you'd find on a shady back street in Montpellier or Valencia (the Seattles of France and Spain, respectively). It feels very hip and trendy (but not hard-edged or uncomfortable) inside; outside feels quiet and peaceful. (Standing radiant heating units made it comfortable even on a sixty-degree night.) Cocktails are the frontlist, with some amazing original creations. The Surpasse Tout ($10)--aptly named--is made of citron flavored vodka, peach brandy, framboise, and--I know you all make this at home--house-made rose syrup. Garnished with dried rose petals. It's just ethereal, like nothing you've ever tasted before. Also interesting is the Mango Batida ($9)--mango puree, lime juice, and Cachasa (Brazilian liquor that tastes like a cross between rum and tequila, most commonly sighted in caiperinia's, which are like mojitos without the mint). On that front, the Moskiso ($9.50) is rum, lime juice, club soda, and crushed shiso leaf (familiar from Japanese meals). Amazing selection of other fine liquors. As an example, of the six beers offered (all imported, I think), I'd only heard of one. Food: I started with a small cone of Belgian frites (!) to take the edge off. Seasoned only with sea salt and pepper, made with idaho russets, but surprisingly flavorful; I thought there were other spices involved. Pretty perfect texture, though I'm not an experienced afficionado of these. Twice-baked spinach souffle ($9). I asked the bartender what the theory was behind this, cause it seemed pretty odd to me. "I think it has to do with timing." Sort of what I thought and feared, and the event bore it out. Spinach souffle is rarely light and fluffy at its best (nature of the beast), and this--2-1/2 inches around, with bechamel and cheese added for the second cooking (cheese melted to the point of brown chewiness)--was more like a timbale or mini casserole than a souffle. Not a winner in my book. But the off-menu pork entree ($14.50) was stunning. Perfectly cooked just-pink all the way across the slices, with just a quarter-inch of well done around the outside to give it the necessary tooth. Topped with a subtly ginger-flavored compote, and raspberry sauce on top of that, surrounded by a calvados sauce and perfectly cooked apple eighths. Could have been a little hotter, but still one of the tastiest things I've put in my mouth recently. An amply sized main course. Dessert ($14.50): A perfect gateau garibaldi--coconut macaroon tart--topped with a thick layer of dark chocolate ganache. Surrounded with lavender-honey creme anglaise, with multiple dollops of marionberry coulis and raspberry coulis. Small scoop of ginger ice cream on top. Only quibble is that the amount of chocolate overwhelmed the other more subtle flavors--could be a thinner layer. Very yummy, though. The place ain't cheap. Pretty much any drink, including a glass of wine, is $8-$10, though the food seems more reasonable. For a cocktail, two glasses of wine, frites, souffle, pork, dessert, and coffee, I dropped ninety buck after tip. So even though it would be a great place to hang out in the neighborhood (very comfortable for a single diner, both while reading and when talking to neighbors), I dont' expect to go there frequently. As I was leaving I ran into a friend going in who's the most Seattle-restaurant-savvy I know. (From a long-time Seattle family, she knows all the chefs and such.) Given that she lives in Montlake, it seems that Sambar is proving to be quite a draw to boring old Ballard.... Steve
  16. I don't know what this says about me--but the first thing I said upon examining the cheese list was, "We definitely want the one that's barnyard." And it was good. It says that you have good taste. But we knew that already. Steve
  17. They're good, but not as good as they were when Tamara was there--excruciatingly thin, which optimizes the fat-absorbed-to-carb ratio, to great effect. (Hmm...would that make them Zone-friendly? I guess not.) Sad thing is, Tamara hasn't re-created those great frites at Brasa. Again, they're good but not as good as when I was a boy (well, younger anyway) I always go for Brasa's fried onions instead, which seem to have channeled the spirit of the old Campange frites.
  18. Just had a very nice meal there. The pork (soft) tacos were delicious and complex. The corn meal in the tamale was a little more congealed, less grainy than I like, but the pork inside had a nice sweetness to it. The five-salsa selections was very good, with the tomatillo my favorite. That, and the tacos, were way cilantro heavy--what's not to like? Kind of funny to find that in Ballard, so laden as it is (was?) with Norwegian-genetic-cilantro-tastes-like-soap folks... I'll be back. Edited to add: $15 plus tip for two dishes and a beer. Steve
  19. I'm almost certainly in. I've got a 10:00 in the U district, but it should only last 20 minutes... What Tighe said about "weak in the knees." Steve
  20. Rovers is the best restaurant in Seattle. I would venture to say our one truly world-class restaurant (though I haven't tried quite all of them). If you're after an over-the-top, all-night meal, you'll find it here. Harvest Vine, right up the street, is a whole different game (it's in a converted garage, with garage door still in residence!), but it's also verging on world-class. Tapas, and a spanish/portugese/basque/SW french wine list to die for. It's where the top chefs in Seattle go. Long waits during prime time. Brasa makes one of the top meals in Seattle, very urban, downtown, beautiful modern decor. I've eaten there a couple of dozen times. Tamara Murphy, former chef at Campagne. Her work is glorious. Brian's wine list epitomizes smart and itneresting. If you don't mind eating at nursing-home hours, the bar menu is half-price 5-7, 7 days a week. (Not the drinks, though.) Le Gourmand is a special gem in the corner of nowhere (Ballard) but though I adore it, it's not to everyone's taste. Very french with a kitchen garden, and a style of cooking and presentation that is all Bruce's own. Also perfect for a multi-hour meal. Herbfarm is way overrated. Not worth the drive or the money, IMO. Comparing it to Rovers is ridiculous. Cafe Campagne is consistently *great* bistro food. There have been no few times eating in France when I thought how I could be eating better at Cafe Campagne. Avoid Canlis. That's what comes off the top of my head (besides my steadily thinning hair... )
  21. Scheilke: >I think we waited about 20 min to get it and then it took a >long time for them to pick up the credit card. I took nearly >40 min to get out of there! A truly European experience. Those guys get everything right.
  22. I gave Brian a call at the last minute Wednesday on the off chance. No way. Talked to him last night and he said it sold out in about a day. I said "do more" and he acknowledged as how that would be really smart.
  23. Just got Brasa's monthly enews. Be afraid. Be very afraid. ====== Tamara has returned from Spain refreshed and ready to delight you with some new and exciting dishes. She and her staff are eagerly working (more like playing) on the new summer menu influenced by her recent travels. :: The Communal Table :: Wednesday, June 11th Dinner starts at 7:30 pm Joseba Jimenez from The Harvest Vine is joining Tamara in the kitchen and they are cooking tapas, tapas, tapas. For those of you who are not familiar with Joseba, he is the Northwest's authority on Basque cooking. A meal at his Madison Valley restaurant is a must. You will absolutely fall in love with him and his food. Join us at our table and spend the evening eating, drinking and visiting with Joseba, Tamara and friends. Bryan will be pouring from the Northern region of Spain's remarkable wine country. The Communal Table seats 24 guests, so please call soon to reserve your spot. Credit card information will be requested when you make your reservation. Joseba, Tamara and Bryan look forward to seeing you. Dinner and wine is $75 per person. This includes, food, wine, tax and gratuity. This promises to be a very fun evening. Not offered with any other promotions. :: Cooking with Tamara :: The Catalan Country Kitchen Saturday, June 21 Class begins 10:30 am Lunch 12:30 - 1:30 pm ish Join Tamara in preparing food from the Pyrenees to the Mediterranean seacoast of Barcelona. Catalan cuisine is cooking from the heart. It encompasses flavors we all love-tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, onions, nuts, dried fruits, lots of fresh herbs, fish and shellfish. You will learn new flavors that you can easily incorporate into all your summer outdoor cooking. Please bring an apron and your favorite knife. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday and the first day of Summer! Classes are sixty-five dollars per person, all inclusive. Classes are limited to 12 students. Reservations accepted with your credit card. A 24- hour cancellation notice is kindly requested.
  24. I'm in! Left a message last week including my CC#, didn't get a call back. Left another message three days later, asking for confirmation callback. Got one that day. If he's been screwed on getting people signed up and paid for these things in the past, maybe his staff's poor followup has something to do with it....? Might pass on a word to the wise.
  25. What you guys said (except T Square). I think HV is one of the best reasons to live in Seattle. Not a bit surprised to hear Tom and Thierry eat there. Haven't heard mention of the wine list here. It's like somebody spent twenty years collecting obscure Portugese, Spanish, and SW French wines, then put his cellar on sale at pretty reasonable prices. (That is, in fact, about what happened.) An astounding selection of wines you've have never heard of, many with utterly unpronounceable names that begin with "Xt." The waits are legendary. I have a business appointment in that neck every month or two, and I always arrange it for end of day around 4:30 so I can wander into HV and sidle up to the bar. Eating dinner at this hour is, I acknowledge, contrary to all civilized behavior, but I make an exception for Harvest Vine.
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