October 13, 2013

black cod

Crispy black cod, mussels and chorizo with creamy cauliflower puree and dashi-pernod caramel. Happy birthday to Kelly S.

August 21, 2013

August 18, 2013

This sandwich is a beast...

Pork belly biscuit sandwich with heirloom tomato. Just brunching at Mistral, an underappreciated oasis of calm on a Sunday afternoon.

June 3, 2013

young chard

One of the benefits of having an overproductive set of swiss chard in the garden is perpetual access.to young, tender chard leaves. Dressed with a simple mustard vinaigrette and a healthy showering of parmesan. Add in some foccacia from Columbia City Bakery and a glass of a crisp white wine... Simple, healthy, and satisfying.

May 27, 2013


Feeling grateful that the warmer-than-usual spring has brought us a bountiful garden already.

May 25, 2013

copper river salmon

Crisped skin off the grill. Garlic-chili spot prawn oil. This is a great time of year.

May 19, 2013

Vietnamese pork chop

Sweet, smoky, earthy goodness. A solid recipe from Bon Appetit, and a beautiful cut from Tails & Trotters.

April 20, 2013

soop naw mai

I'm in D.C. for one final work trip here in D.C. before the baby comes, and I knew exactly where I wanted to go: Little Serow.

This place has been open for a year and a half now, and it's still jammed, with lines extending around the block as people try to get their name on the list before they book up for the evening, usually in the first 10-15 minutes.

Flying solo, I totally lucked out and scored a seat at the bar at 8 pm with no wait. It was a coincidentally unfilled seat because of an odd number of people for the seatings. My parking karma has extended to restaurant seatings!

This place is serving some legit Thai food... Spicy, sour, funky... My taste buds took a beating tonight.  This plate of grilled bamboo and barely cooked shrimp was outstanding. One of the best things I've tasted all year. Couple the great food with some of the nicest servers I've encountered, and it's no wonder the crowds are still jamming this place.

April 13, 2013

now this is tasty stuff

Fresh made bánh cuốn, filled with pork and wood ear mushrooms, topped with pork sausage and fried shallots. Made by Mr. Chau--who steams the rice sheets fresh, to order--at Ba Bar on weekends. Oh man, so good.

March 31, 2013

simple goodness

Crostini of grilled asparagus, bacon and soft folded egg. With a showering of parmigiano and a glass of unoaked chardonnay. Spring has arrived.

March 27, 2013


A nicer husband would have refrained from nigiri to support his pregnant wife and her raw fish restriction. But the tai looked terrific that night at Miyabi. Besides, I ordered her a salmon skin temaki...

March 25, 2013

redd fox

At Maximilien, taking a moment to savor a lovely sunset over the Sound. And a Redd Fox: Maker's Mark, Calvados, Lillet and Benedictine, with an orange twist.

March 10, 2013

Just when I thought Portland had us...

As brunching goes, Portland has a ton of great options... and folks down there take brunch seriously. Like hard core. Sure, we've got reliable standbys (like Geraldine's and Boat Street), but the endless options of our southern neighbor had me feeling a little beat...

Until we went back to an old friend, who reminded us again of how good it can be here in Seattle. A beautiful scone with apricot preserves and creamy butter. Next, a remarkable yeasted croissant and fantastic ham (really, ham? REALLY). Roasted kale shoots with potatoes, anchovies, aioli and a poached egg? Rockin'.

And then there was this dish of Whidbey kamut, celeriac, chanterelles, cranberries and tahini. Unexpected and utterly outstanding in its perfect balance of flavors and textures. That's why you're in the pantheon, Sitka and Spruce.

March 3, 2013

little big burger

People's opinions are all over the map on this one, but I'm a fan. Quarter pound patty of cascade natural beef. Local brioche bun and cheese. Tasty camden's catsup. Cooked medium, but with a nice crust. For just $3.75? Awesome.

Add some very good, crispy fries (though I'd prefer them without the spritz of truffle oil) for $2.75 and a can of Boont Amber for $2, and you have a great deal. No tax... It's Portland!

February 17, 2013

huitlacoche and squash blossoms

One of the great breakfast items during our quick jaunt to Mexico: quesadillas, made with a variety of interesting fillings. These two are filled with huitlacoche (corn smut) and sauteed squash blossoms, along with cheese. The tortillas were also made from scratch each morning.

Still craving quesadillas...

February 16, 2013

snow cream

Shaved ice cream from Blockheads Shavery in Los Angeles. This is combo #2: green tea ice cream, rice cake, red bean and condensed milk... Plus some honey pearls and mochi. A new twist on Hawaiian shave ice, and crazy good.

February 13, 2013

The best salsas

Made fresh every day with mortar and pestle, lightly smoky from the char off the grill, and a perfect level of heat. No unnecessary sweeteners here, just pure goodness. The love of Mexico continues...

February 12, 2013


Just a little poolside snack. Avocados are always so much creamier and more luscious in Mexico. Not fair...

February 4, 2013

Pulled pork sliders

The day after a brutal Super Bowl loss, a bit of consolation awaits. Sliders with the leftover pulled pork from the party. Unlike my mood, this improved overnight. Caramelized onions, tangy cabbage slaw, melted mozzarella and hot sauce. A salve for wounded sports fans' hearts.

February 2, 2013

แกงไตปลา "Gang Tai Pla"

A new dish at Little Uncle. Traditional southern Thai fish curry with eggplant, kabocha, bamboo and fermented fish paste. Powerfully spicy, warming to the core on a chilly February afternoon.

January 27, 2013

taking a stab at pho

I've always wondered how hard it would be to make a good bowl of homemade pho. We found some oxtail bones in our freezer and happened to have all the spices for the broth in our pantry, so we figured it'd be a good time to try. This is the gold standard for pho recipes and I'll try it next when I've got time to make a big batch for that really beefy punch. For now, the oxtails were a good start for two bowls of broth. Slowly simmered for 4 hours with fennel seed, star anise, cardamom, cinnamon, onion and ginger... not too shabby.

January 26, 2013

french toast

Saturday morning... Option 1, pound out a 5 mile training run in the drizzle of Seattle. Option 2, hang back and fix up some caramel french toast. Let's just say half marathon training is a little behind schedule.

January 24, 2013

steak, again?

Why not? This time with a glossy merlot reduction. Yum.

January 20, 2013

NFC championship

A warm bowl of spaghetti for today's 49ers game. Just a little red and gold for the Red and Gold. Go Niners!

January 17, 2013


Quality grass fed beef, blistered broccoli and crispy potato for a simple weeknight supper.

January 13, 2013

lobster risotto

Creamy risotto, fortified by just a bit of cream and butter. Slices or raw lobster stirred in at the last minute, cooked primarily by the residual heat. A bit of luxury during the month if frugality... at about $3 per serving.

January 10, 2013

look mom, i'm on top chef!

Some people have 15 minutes of fame... I got 1.3 seconds.
I shouldn't be getting as big a kick out of this as I am... I mean, really, it was two split second shots. But darn it, it was exciting. Getting to be on one of my favorite shows--which I actually tried out for back in 2009--and having the chance to see how they film this stuff and edit it down to a watchable 1-hour episode... good stuff.

Getting on to "Restaurant Wars" would have been the real coup, but for now this nifty shot next to Padma will do just fine. She looks happy that I'm there.

Props to the judges on this episode. They called it exactly as it was. Kristen's and Sheldon's dishes were by far the best... the onsen egg with camembert-mustard sauce & buttered radishes was well-composed and elegant, with pure, clean flavors. Sheldon's Filipino tamarind soup with pork belly, shrimp & snapper popped with flavor. Totally addictive. (Side note: I told Kristen to ease up on the salt on her dish 5 min. before the judges went to her booth. And she won. Bam. Just sayin'...)

And thanks to B.H. and E.H. for getting us into the taping! Also spotted Mark, Angela, and a bit of LaV's head in the episode.

January 6, 2013

prosciutto pasta

One of the outcomes of this weekend's experiments was this prosciutto pasta, made by rolling a very thin slice of prosciutto between two pasta sheets. Once it is rolled to the thinnest setting, the pasta sheet itself looks a lot like a slice of prosciutto. The flavor of the prosciutto actually comes through really well, making this an interesting vehicle for all sorts of new dishes, like prosciutto papparadelle with peas, hazelnuts and dry charred kabocha puree.

January 5, 2013

January 2, 2013

A month of frugality

Our annual tradition begins. No alcohol, no excess, and no dining out. Everything will be homemade. It's a great way to get back to the basics. Like hot chicken soup on a cold day.

January 1, 2013

Best bites of 2012

2012 was another year of terrific eating. Sure, there were some disappointing moments. Like the time I had to give up my reservation at Little Serow when an unexpected addition to our party took us over the four-person table limit. Or the average experiences we had at Rionne XIII and The Whale Wins. I was particularly bummed about not being able to score a reservation at the amazing-sounding Restaurant Abri in Paris, with its 38€ 6-course prix fixe. Even still, there were some truly delicious new tastes. Here are the top 10:

ahi tuna poke, da poke shack (Kailua Kona): We were in Hawaii for a cousin's wedding, and we cruised by this nondescript counter in a parking lot for lunch. Shockingly great poke. Pay by weight and sit on the bench outside. No frills because none are needed. A must go in Kona.

corn and zucchini fritter, kedai makan: Kevin and Alysson rocked the Seattle food scene this year when they opened up their sweet little Malaysian food stand at the Capitol Hill farmers' market. My first taste of their nasi lemak left me dazed in sparklingly deep flavors--and had me going back for 7 straight weeks. At the height of the summer, they did this corn and zucchini fritter whose amazing crunch was accompanied by sweet bursts of market-fresh goodness. For 2013, they'll be at a fixed location on Olive Way.

bibim naeng myeon, Yu Chun (Los Angeles): Most people envy L.A. for its weather. I envy L.A. for its Korean food. This summer, we had a chance to try Yu Chun for the first time, and the naeng myeon rocked our world. Fundamentally simple, but truly amazing when done this well. The envy increases...

albacore, charred onion ash, radish, seaweed, castagna (Portland): We wondered how Castagna would fair after Matt Lightner went off to cultivate more success in New York (which he achieved, apparently). But under Justin Woodward, things are still humming along. I had three perfectly cooked pieces of fish this year. This was one of them.

grilled sweetwater oysters, chipotle garlic butter, hog island oysters (Tomales Bay): I usually dislike cooked oysters. These, however, are divine little guilty pleasures. The chipotle garlic butter explodes with flavor, and you can't beat the combo of these oysters and a sunny day next to the water.

pork chop, obelisk (D.C.): This was an unexpected find... a D.C. restaurant featuring Italian food where the cooking is kept as simple as possible to highlight the quality of the ingredients. Terrific antipasti and pastas, but the knockout was, of all things, an exquisitely prepared kurobuta pork chop. I've never had a pork chop so perfectly cooked, so tremendously flavorful, and so incredibly juicy. Best I've ever had.

cuttlefish carpaccio, hawksworth (Vancouver, B.C.): Hawksworth is a beautiful restaurant serving beautiful food to beautiful people. Props to their staff for accommodating us and providing fantastic service even though we arrived without a reservation (scored the only open table) and severely underdressed. Cuttlefish should not be this meltingly tender. Very well executed.

ya pla grab, little uncle: We always love whatever we get at Little Uncle, but this crispy smelt salad was a knockout. Perfectly crunchy whole smelt served with a zesty and uber-fresh salad. I remember this dish absolutely made my day.

utah beach oysters, pear, watercress, saturne (Paris): This was the best dish from the best meal we had this year. Firm, lightly briny, and with faint hazelnut notes, these beautiful oysters from Normandy were accompanied by little pearls of sweet pear, then blanketed in a sheet of watercress gelee. simple, pure, and illuminating.

éclair with raspberry-rose filling, l’éclair de génie (Paris): How about some dessert to round out this list? I was never a huge fan of éclairs, but I'd never had one like this. Light and airy pâte à choux with a delicately balanced interplay between raspberry, rosewater and chocolate. Christophe Adam is a master.

Some honorable mentions... kouign amman (blé sucré), financier (erik kayser), frosted madeleine (blé sucré), neba neba (kamonegi), shrimp (sweet d's shrimp shack), lobster carpaccio (corduroy)