DOTW: Jolly Roger

Posted by Anita on 09.19.06 7:56 AM

jolly roger (c)2006 AECMatey, don’ tell me ye din’t knows today were Talk Like a Pirate Day?? Avast!

In honor of this fair occasion, Drink o’ the Week be moving to Tuesday. We raise ye a fyne tipple from Sir Rrrrobert of Hess.

Jolly Roger
2 ounces dark rum
1 ounce orange juice
1/4 ounce Falernum (or simple syrup)
dash of bitters

Shake with ice, and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Drink of the Week, drinks, holidays & occasions, levity, recipes


Hay, you tart!

Posted by Anita on 09.15.06 8:33 PM

tomato tart (c)2006 AECTami of Running with Tweezers is the hostess of this month’s installment of , a very cool meme dedicated to Down Under food-magazine diva Donna Hay. The whole thing was started by another antipodean, Barbara at Winos and Foodies. The blogger who creates the best entry for each month gets to pick the following month’s theme. And — happily for those of us who love the oven — Tami chose savory tarts for .

Given how much we’ve been enjoying caprese salads and other variations on the tomato/cheese/herb axis this summer — and knowing that the end certainly must be right around the corner for both heirloom tomatoes and the basil on the back porch — it seems only fitting to honor Donna Hay’s “turn simple into special” tagline with a rustic tart based on all the flavors of late summer. Coming late to the party as always, I turned to store-bought — but 100% butter — puff pastry for my base, a truc that I know Ms. Hay would approve.

Caprese Tart
1/2 package (or 1/2 recipe, if you’re feeling more Martha than Donna) puff pastry
4 smallish heirloom tomatoes, preferably various colors
3oz. Crescenza or other soft-ripened cheese
rosemary salt, or coarse salt + herb of your choice
basil, preferably small leaves, for garnish
basil-infused oil, or good olive oil, for brushing

Preheat the oven to 400F. Briefly thaw the pastry as directed on the package, and cut to fit your tart pan(s) — I used four small 4-inch rounds — and press the dough into the pans. Alternately, go freeform and cut pastry into four rectangles. Dock the crust with a fork or a toothpick. (If you’re not using pans, leave the last 1/2 inch undocked, all the way around). Spread the cheese thinly over the docked portion of the crust.

Slice the tomatoes into shapes that make sense for your crust (about 1/4-inch thick, regardless), salt lightly, and set aside for a few minutes. Blot the tomatoes’ excess moisture, and layer the slices in alternating patterns over the cheese.

Sprinkle the tarts lightly with rosemary salt. Bake for 10 minutes at 400, then reduce heat to 350 and continue cooking until pastry is puffed and throughly golden brown — mine took almost 30 minutes more. Brush with the oil, then garnish with small basil leaves (or chiffonade, if your basil is large). Serve with a salad as a light main course, or as a side dish for grilled meats.

cooking, magazines, other blogs, recipes


E. coli in bag spinach

Posted by Cameron on 09.15.06 10:12 AM

E. coliI guess it’s nice to see the good ol’ U-S-of-A getting into the spirit of Noche del Grito, but perhaps food-borne illness caused by raw vegetables isn’t the best Mexican tradition to adopt.

All kidding aside, pass the word. The FDA has issued a warning that bagged fresh spinach may be the cause of an E. coli outbreak. More details in the NYT story.

news, shopping
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DOTW: Margarita

Posted by Anita on 09.15.06 7:33 AM

margarita (c)2006 AECTonight is Noche del Grito, the big celebration on the eve of Mexican Independence Day. Now, I know you probably think that Cinco de Mayo is the equivalent of our July 4, but we gringos concocted that caca del toro… probably in order to sell more Cuervo and Coronas.

When I was in Puebla last May and mentioned that norteamericanos celebrate May 5 as a Mexican holiday, the poblanos were understandably perplexed.

But el 16 de Septiembre is the real deal, so it seems only fitting to make up a batch of Margaritas. Don’t touch that blender, Sancho: The real thing’s served either up or on the rocks, and made with lime juice… none of that sicky-sweet “sour mix.”

2 oz. good-quality silver tequila
1 oz. Cointreau
1 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice

Shake all ingredients with ice. Strain into a chilled, salt-rimmed cocktail glass, or serve on the rocks in an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with an orange twist or a wedge of lime.

Drink of the Week, drinks, Mexican, recipes, travel


Community kvetch

Posted by Anita on 09.14.06 5:52 PM

MF screengrabI promise not to do this very often, but I can’t resist a hearty “hear, hear!” to Sam over at Becks & Posh for her recent crankiness on a subject near and dear to my heart: The tyranny of online food communities. Reading about Sam’s recent (re-)disillusionment with the new-but-not-really Chowhound brought up a lot of old stuff for me.

Looking on the bright side — as Kevin from BaconPress quips in Sam’s comments — I suppose I owe the food-board troglodytes a thank-you note: This blog (like many others) was born out of our frustration with the politics and personality disorders that inevitably infest even the best-intentioned food communities, and from our desire to keep sharing all the fun food stuff we stumble across in our wanderings.

I dug up an email that I sent to a MouthfulsFood friend who asked me if I was ever going to return to the fold, after I staged a one-woman boycott following a vicious personal attack by one of the board’s resident nutjobs:

I am blessedly glad to be free of the axis of snivel; I hadn’t realized how much that negativity wore me down, day after day.

I do miss the community, and every now and then I have a pang of wanting to share something wonderful. But the more I think on it, the more I realize that (a) I’m not missing much in terms of useful info and (b) I don’t need the angst.

I’m lucky that I have the best parts of my online experience integrated into my ‘real’ life, now, and I realize that that’s where the biggest payoff is going to happen.

OK, rant over. Thanks for indulging me… not just today, but all the time.

Cameron says:

I’m so glad that Anita put this up. Superkudos and much admiration to Anita, Sam and all of those (special shout out to S. @ RG) who can absorb the acid and vinegar and still come out balanced and smooth on the other side.

food boards, other blogs


Luscious leftovers

Posted by Anita on 09.14.06 4:52 PM

cornbread pudding (c)2006 AECWe had the Prather chili last night. What can I say? Even a few days’ rest in the fridge didn’t make it taste much better. But, while puzzling over what to serve alongside it, I realized that we still had cornbread left over from a batch Cameron made with Bob’s Red Mill coarse-grain cornmeal. It was all dried out, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt terrible throwing out a batch of cornbread just in time to turn around and make a fresh pan. Too bad there wasn’t a way to revive it. Or was there??

Thankfully, I didn’t have to go far for inspiration: One of our favorite chef-type-guys, Tom Douglas, offers recipe for Etta’s Cornbread Pudding in his first cookbook, Seattle Kitchen. I made a few tweaks and voilá… recycled food at its most-utterly luxurious! Custardy, corny goodness with a kiss of cheesy love. Even Cameron — certified bread-pudding loather — licked the bowl clean and asked me to put the recipe in the permanent file.

Tom-Meets-Bob Cornbread Pudding
2-2/3 cups 1-inch cubes of leftover cornbread
– preferably made with coarse-grind, whole-grain cornmeal
1T butter (plus a little more for buttering the pan)
1 cup thinly sliced onions
3/4 cup grated Dry Jack or other semi-hard cheese
2 tsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 tsp. chopped rosemary
1/2 tsp. chopped thyme
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup chicken stock or broth
4 large eggs
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Preheat oven temperature to 350 degrees. Butter an 8×8* baking dish and set aside.

Melt butter in a sauté pan over medium-low heat and carmelize the onions very slowly until golden brown, at least 20 minutes. While the onions are cooking, cube the cornbread and place cubes in the buttered pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the cream, stock or broth, eggs, salt and pepper and set aside.

When onions are done, sprinkle them evenly over the cornbread, followed by the cheese and herbs. Pour custard mixture over the cornbread cubes, and let sit for 10 minutes to absorb. Bake until custard is mostly set and the top is golden, about 40-45 minutes, and serve hot.

* Note: A 9×9 square pan is too large; the custard won’t adequately cover the bread cubes. Use a pan with a maximum bottom area of 64 square inches. A deep 9-inch round cake pan would do, as would a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan. I happen to have a rectangular 6×8 inch Pyrex baking dish that worked fabulously.

cookbooks, cooking, recipes, restaurants, Seattle
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Five things to eat…

Posted by Anita on 09.13.06 8:13 AM

Foodblogger's Guide to the GlobeOver at The Traveler’s Lunchbox, Melissa posed a challenge to her fellow food-bloggers: List the five things everyone should eat before they die.

Erin tagged us to participate back at the end of August, and we’ve been bickering about it ever since. Does it mean five natural foodstuffs? Five prepared dishes? Five culinary experiences? Five meals? Being a rather ecumenical gal, I’m inclined to interpret the question in the broadest terms; Cameron’s being a little more dogmatic, and — hey, no value judgement here — is not surprisingly having a very hard time coming up with his answers. I, on the other hand, am having a terrible time limiting myself to just five. Argh.

But, after a couple weeks of pensive nail-biting, I think I can safely say that you, my foodie friends, should go forth and eat the following five items. But don’t go dying on me any time soon, ok?

1. street food in Thailand, preferably breakfast at the Damnoen Saduak floating market. I recommend kanom krok, soup noodles, thai coffee, and a mango, but feel free to sample whatever’s being made by the ladies with woks in their wooden boats. We spent 3 weeks in central and northern Thailand this past January, eating street food every day. And while we did have some nice meals in restaurants, it’s the noodle-shop nosh and street-stall snacks that still haunt me.

2. heritage pork in Britain. Your choice: a pork & stilton sandwich at Borough Market, or roast middlewhite at St. John. Or both, hey… don’t let me stop you. Even the best pig I’ve eaten stateside is a pale, pasty shadow of the succulent swine they’ve got over in Blighty. Despite the weakness of the dollar and the superstrength of the pound, it’s a taste-memory that’s worth the cost of airfare.

3. tacos from a taco truck, preferably carnitas at the El Asadero taco bus on South Rainier in Seattle. This was the year I got over my fear of street food. I shudder to think of all the amazing food I missed. I’m not particularly squeamish or germ-phobic, but I am a total wimp when it comes to busting out of my cultural comfort zone. For some reason, having mastered the the taco truck experience over the last couple of years made it easier to go outside the boundaries and let 2006 become the Year of Eating Dangerously for this former fussy eater. So far this year, I’ve eaten sushi at 6am in Tokyo (prepared by chefs with whom I shared absolutely no common language), all kinds of crazy nutty wacky stuff in Thailand, escamole in Mexico, and a host of other oddities… and the year’s not yet over.

4. a meal made entirely from peak-season farmer’s market finds. Although I’ve always been dedicated to the idea of seasonal and farm-direct cooking, this summer was the first time we could honestly say that 100% of the ingredients for certain meals — including staples like oils and salts — came from the market. The cynical me is surprised that it really makes such a difference, but the nutty-crunchy side of me realizes this is one of them-there culinary no-brainers.

5. the tasting menu at The French Laundry. A quick glance at other blogger’s contributions to this meme shows I’m not alone on this one. But really… it’s one of the few high-end dining experiences that’s objectively worth every penny that you pay for it. This meal will genuinely change the way you think about dining out and — if you’re particularly introspective — about cooking as well. My photos certainly don’t do it justice, nor do any of the (admittedly plentiful and generally well-written) first-hand accounts you’ve read online. Clear your morning schedule, put the phone on speed-dial, and pray for an opening: I promise you won’t regret it.


Oh, I almost forgot to pick the next five other bloggers — which is getting really hard, as it seems like nearly everyone‘s already taken a crack. So, tag… you’re it!

  1. Sean at Hedonia
  2. Lucy at Lucy’s Kitchen Notebook
  3. Cheryl at Cupcake Bakeshop by Chockylit
  4. Matthew at Roots & Grubs
  5. Mary at Jalapeño Girl

breakfast, cooking, farmers markets, meat, Mexican, other blogs, restaurants, Thai, travel


Hot links!

Posted by Anita on 09.12.06 1:52 PM

FairTip logoSeems like today’s a big food-news day, and I couldn’t resist sharing some of the headlines.

Another hilarious coffee-related news article from Seattle: Baristas having a cow over dairy “thefts”.

The AP latches onto a blogosphere favorite: Waiters get miffed about the unfairness of tipping.

Do we need smart linen? The Chron reports on a new high-tech, E. coli-detecting napkin.

And apparently they’re eating raw crabs in The OC… and getting really sick.

coffee & tea, geekery, news, restaurants, Seattle, SoCal
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Beta Toast

Posted by Cameron on 09.11.06 3:57 PM

toast pass (c)2006 AECThe food took forever to come out. It wasn’t good when it arrived. The servers were tripping over each other. There was a waiting list as long as your arm at 9:15 on a Sunday morning.

But hang up the sarcasm phone for a second and listen: we’re really, really pulling for Toast Eatery, a contemporary diner recently opened in Baja Noe Valley.

Ever since we finally threw up our hands over Al’s Cafe Good Food on Mission street, we’ve been longing for a good breakfast place that didn’t require a visit to the peninsula. Anita had been hearing about Toast’s debut so we planned an early (for us) attack on the corner of Church and Day streets.

We were completely unsuccessful in beating the crowds that inevitably surround any halfway-viable brunch joint in Noe Valley. The interior isn’t large, but Toast boasts a number of sidewalk tables. A little flexibility bought a significantly shortened wait for seating: we scored two stools at the bar, a choice that paid dividends later in the meal. The interior is invitingly painted and tiled, and sports cute light fixtures and accoutrements. It’s a clean, well-lighted place for grinds.

The menu at Toast could be taken from any one of a million diners across the nation: scrambles, omelets, pancakes, french toast, eggs benedict, corned beef hash, and chicken fried steak. Lunch/dinner options include soups, salads, burgers, and sandwiches, with plenty of traditional favorites: french dip, club sandwich, cheese steak, hot pastrami, and chili.

We chatted with one of the proprietors who was running herd on the front of the house and handling the counter traffic. I asked if they had real maple syrup, and he said that they were planning on adding it for an extra charge, but they hadn’t yet. Major points. I encouraged him to follow through. In my book, real maple syrup is one of the simple things that a breakfast joint can do to rise above the crowd. I’m happy to pay the extra buck, and I won’t order pancakes without it.

The servers were obviously still getting their act together, but everyone was hustling and mostly friendly. Anita ordered chicken fried steak and some orange juice, while I went for eggs benedict and coffee.

Half an hour later we’d finished the Sunday paper, I was on my third cup of coffee (not bad tasting, nice big cups), and we were hungry. When the food finally appeared, it became clear that the kitchen is still getting its act together, too. The hollandaise was a strange dark brown color, watery, grainy, and inedibly salty—as if it was made from a mix and someone used a cup of powder instead of a tablespoon. Anita’s food was no better: Sysco battered steak patty cooked with zero love and covered in gravy from a mix. Our hashbrowns were just barely cooked. Finally, in a barely believable bit of irony, the english muffins on both our plates were completely…wait for it…unToasted.


I complained (nicely) about the benedict and our seating choice paid off. The man in charge got instant feedback, and I was quickly supplied with a replacement (bagel with lox and cream cheese). Anita struggled through her plate, as there wasn’t anything returnably wrong with it. The scrambled eggs weren’t bad, at least.

We’ll almost certainly return, for two reasons. First, we badly need this kind of place nearby. With the exception of Joe’s Cable Car, it’s impossible to get a non-ethnic meal in our neck of the woods for less than $70 (for two) that doesn’t suck five different kinds of ass…and even then you’re taking your chances. Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack doesn’t count because you have to be on the ice to score and if you don’t take credit cards, you get to stay in the penalty box. Plus you can end up waiting for an hour for a table if you don’t whack someone first.

The second reason that we’ll return is that I think the folks at Toast have their heads on straight and they’re very obviously still sorting out their kitchen. The response to my complaint was fast, professional, and there was genuine interest in what went wrong. Plus, there were lots of positive little we’re-paying-attention details: organic, Fair Trade coffee served from thermal carafes instead of left cooking on burners; a small, low-end, but intelligent wine selection; very cool silverware; and, of course, real maple syrup on the way.

No guarantees (witness the continued incompetence and eventual fall of Chez Maman Bernal), but consider this review a bug report and give Toast a try after they’ve had a chance to pump through a few release candidates.

breakfast, Noe Valley, restaurants


Mermaid corrupts kids

Posted by Anita on 09.11.06 2:17 PM

the hussy! This just in from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer… Starbucks’ original logo causes an uproar:

A Kent elementary school principal, according to a local TV station, asked teachers last week that if they were bringing their daily joe to school that they make sure they get a sleeve to cover the image of a topless mermaid on Starbucks cups.

The Seattle-based coffee giant, as part of its 35th anniversary, this month put its original logo with the bare-breasted mermaid on its cups in stores in Washington and Oregon.

Not that Kent is the most progressive of Northwest communities, but do they really think that elementary-school kids have never seen boobies before?

coffee & tea, levity, Seattle
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