In last week’s “Offal Good” article, I showcased a liver mousse at LloydMartin that was simply luscious. The week before, in an “unofficial” offal piece, pig’s head was the prime attraction at the new Radiator Whiskey.
Across the hall from Radiator is the iconic Matt’s in the Market. I like to give new love to good, older restaurants, and with new chef Shane Ryan on board, Matt’s is well worth a (re)visit. Ryan is making the most of the market below the restaurant, maintaining Matt’s in the Market’s mission to procure naturally raised meats, sustainable fish, and local, organic products when available. And with Ryan’s resume including two years at the Amankora Resorts in Bhutan, he has an understanding of Asian ingredients that would likely add wow factor to the food when he’s ready to reveal it. (I enjoyed Ryan’s bold use of Asian ingredients during his recent participation at Cochon 555; especially memorable was his fried pork wrapped in betel leaf with coconut, fried shallots, peanuts, and lime.)
One of my favorite dishes on the current menu is smoked Roosevelt elk tongue with soft poached quail egg, caper berries, and grilled wild spring onion ($13). The tongue is thinly sliced and a bit earthy in flavor, though to me sweeter than beef tongue. Notice how perfectly cooked the quail eggs are, with soft yolks adding further richness to the dish. The caper berries are a welcome counterpoint with their briny and citrusy qualities, while the grilled spring onions complement the smokiness of the meat.
I’d like to see more dishes like this on menus in the city. Tongue is terrific, and needn’t be limited to a meat served on sandwiches in Jewish delis—which we’re also lacking here in Seattle.
It’s been nearly a year since first introducing LloydMartin here, and then later listing the restaurant as one of my new favorites for 2012. Since then, LloydMartin has received numerous other accolades from area publications, and the crowds continue to come to the quaint dining room with quaint dishware in the Queen Anne neighborhood.
I remain impressed with the quality of the food. As an example, I recently ate the chicken liver mousse from the starter section of the ever-changing menu. Soon, a precious plate appeared containing a petite canning jar of the mousse, along with cornichons, apricot mostarda, Dijon mustard, and a side of bread.
I almost scoffed at the size of the jar, wondering whether it was worth the $8 charge. But it’s always best to taste before judging. The rich mousse, made richer with duck fat preserve, was incredibly creamy and smooth, bringing incredibly sensual pleasure. While I enjoyed the mostarda and mustard as complimentary condiments when spreading the mousse on the bread slices, I could have simply spooned the mousse to my mouth from the jar. In fact, I did.
“Eat your liver,” some parents admonish their children. No problem for me. If I were a baby today, I’d be insisting on LloydMartin’s jars of liver mousse as my baby food.
The world’s going kale crazy.
That’s not a complaint or a bad thing. In fact, it’s a good thing. These days, kale’s showing up in slaws and Caesar salads, coming crunchy as chips, and even topping some pizzas. It’s truly a superfood, lowering cholesterol, combating cancer, and providing numerous nutritional benefits.
Some are getting their fix of this healthy vegetable the blended way, as part of a juice or smoothie. If you’re not juicing (or smoothing?) at home, a great place to get introduced to kale and other vegetable/juice drinks is Juicebox. You can currently pick up Juicebox’s organic, cold-pressed juices at The Pantry at Delancey or LAB5 Fitness, or you can visit their pop-up juice bar at La Bête on Thursday and Friday mornings. (There’s also juice during the restaurant’s Sunday brunch service.) When I was at the juice bar last week, ABCG (red apple, red beet, carrot, and ginger root) and Fennel (fennel and frond, cucumber, apple, and garden mint) intrigued me, but I ultimately went Green: lacinato kale, cucumber, romaine heart, celery, lemon, and apple. Some may say it’s pricey at $7 for a 14-ounce glass, but you pay more for a cocktail that’s far less fresh and healthy.
So what does Juicebox’s “Green” teach us about sex?
It’s all about masking unwanted flavor.
Kale is extremely bitter. I happen to like bitterness, but some may find the green flavor a little too harsh. Fortunately, ingredients like cucumber, apple, and lemon combine with kale to sweeten up the drink, hiding any harsh flavor. (It’s actually possible to lose the kale flavor almost completely, but what I enjoyed about Juicebox’s Green drink was the perfect balance that retained a little of the bitterness.)
In the world of sex, specifically oral, some people aren’t fond of fellatio because of the harsh flavor. Yes, semen can be the “kale” of sex—a barrier to blowjobs.
Fortunately, there’s a fun new product for those who fear the flavors of fellatio. Masque Sexual Flavors are orally dissolvable flavored gel strips (Listerine-like) that counter the salts, bitters, and proteins in semen. The pleasure-giver simply puts a strip on his or her tongue and lets it melt in mere seconds. Masque comes in strawberry, watermelon, chocolate, and mango, and the flavor will last for about fifteen minutes.
With newfound confidence (and no bitter feelings or flavors!), the pleasure-giver gets to work with infectious exuberance, enabling the pleasure-receiver to enjoy the experience even more—hopefully with desire to reciprocate. It’s easy to get the juices flowing with Juicebox’s drinks building sexual stamina and Masque’s gel strips sweetening up sex lives.
First published in Seattle Weekly’s Voracious on April 30, 2013.
Tags: Sexy Feast
Today, Serious Eats posted my “Sugar Rush” article about doughnuts at Chez Boris and Cafe Sardine in Montreal. An excerpt:
At Chez Boris, Russian doughnuts (known as pyshki) are done as on the streets of St. Petersburg: made to order in less than a minute and served warm. I ordered the traditional Beigne Sucré (pictured above, 80 cents each, 6 for $4.20), a delightful little donut with a generous sprinkling of sugar. This is the carnival-like fried dough of doughnuts, light and puffy and pretty quickly melting in the mouth.
Boris puts its own twist in making other flavors, like chocolate or cinnamon and clove. The more adventurous can indulge in a Beignewich—a savory sandwich made with doughnuts—such as salmon with sour cream and red onion, guacamole with cheese and peppers, or a Momofuku-inspired pork belly with hoison sauce.
It’s just a seven-minute walk along Fairmount (far enough to easily burn a Boris doughnut?) to reach Sardine, which is a café by day and a restaurant by night. Early morning can be mellow, affording an opportunity to check out the baking in the small open kitchen. At the bar counter you’ll find the red Mastercraft toolbox with the day’s doughnuts.
Flavors change frequently; this day featured gingembre (ginger with chocolate glaze), café (coffee-glazed), and the one I would ultimately choose: the Sucre and Orange Donut ($1.75 each, 2 for $3, 6 for $8). The doughnuts here are a little larger than those at Chez Boris, with a different texture. Sardine’s doughnut is cakier and yet somehow still puffy and melty after the initial sinking in of the teeth. The orange flavor is subtle but pleasant, and the sprinkling of sugar adds just enough sweetness without overpowering the dough.
For more information about the doughnuts, check out the Serious Eats story, here.
Tags: beyond Seattle · sweets
Yesterday, Serious Eats posted my “A Sandwich a Day” feature about the Corned Beef Tongue Reuben Panino at Duckfat in Portland, Maine. An excerpt:
Made with ciabatta instead of rye, the fresh bread had a crunchy crust while maintaining a chewy interior. And who needs brisket when you have tongue, which was terrific—succulent with a salty, almost gamey flavor. The cabbage offered contrasting crispiness and slight sweetness to the meat, while the melted cheese and the dressing lubricated the whole affair in a tasty way without turning it into a mess.
No stop at Duckfat is complete without an order of Hand-Cut Belgian Fries made with local Maine potatoes and fried (double-fried, actually) in duck fat, of course. Served in a paper cone, mine were perfectly salted, crispy, and delicious. There are eight homemade dipping sauces available; I think my choice of horseradish mayo helped pull the whole meal together.
For more information, check out the Serious Eats story, here.
If Matt’s in the Market is one of the most romantic restaurants in Seattle, its new sister Radiator Whiskey is one of the most carnal.
When you walk into Radiator, across the hall from Matt’s at Pike Place Market, you get a Prohibition-Era feel. Belly up to the bar and you’ll immediately notice a 7-foot high wooden barrel that dispenses a changing selection of spirits from seven smaller, separate barrels. There are over 100 kinds of whiskeys available, including a Radiator Whiskey-branded moonshine from 2Bar Spirits that is 100 proof (a few drops of water lets the flavor open up). If you go bonkers over brown drinks, you can even join the Radiator Whiskey Flask Club. For $500, you get a personalized flask filled with the spirit of your choice, specially stored in a hollowed-out book. (There will be other special benefits.)
If, like me, you’re a fan of what David Letterman loved to call the “variety meats,” you’ll love Radiator Whiskey. As with Matt’s, ingredients are seasonal and locally sourced. (Read: from just downstairs at the market.) Owner Dan Bugge and chef Tyler Palagi (who you can see next week with Gordon Ramsay–and me!–in the Kitchen Nightmares episode shot at Prohibition Grille turned Prohibition Gastropub in Everett) like to joke that the liberal use of organ meats is an attempt to be fancy, but an act of frugality. (Note: Charlie Garrison works with Palagi as part of the chef team.)
Frugal’s fine by me. At a media preview, I sampled deep-fried beef lips, Buffalo-style chicken livers, and half of a smoked pig head served with brains and tongue. Don’t worry: The smoked pig heads weren’t just for the journalists. They’ll be on the menu most every night, though due to limited space (it’s a very tiny kitchen), only be a handful will be available. Order yours early. I promise you that the pig is delicious. Actually, the whole meal was great…an orgy of flesh, fat, muscle, and more.
And if that’s not carnal enough, get a seat by the window where you can get a view of the Deja Vu marque while enjoying a cocktail called The Showgirl, with bourbon, Ramazotti Amaro, and rhubarb bitters. It’ll get your blood flowing.
7-foot tall wooden barrel which houses seven separate barrels dispensing different spirits.
The meaning of moonshine.
Cornflake-crusted chicken livers, Frank’s RedHot, and green onions. Unfortunately, the liver flavor gets lost, but still lots of fun.
Deep-fried beef lips with Dijonnaise. Delightful!
Opal apple salad with celery, pickled golden raisins, and sherry vinaigrette. Nice flavor and texture; great counterpoint to the meaty dishes.
Sauteed asparagus with house Canadian bacon and Hollandaise. Spring has sprung.
Chefs Charlie Garrison (left) and Tyler Palagi in the open kitchen.
Pig heads, pig heads, roly-poly pig heads?
Platter of smoked half pig head with fritto misto, onions, brains, ears, tongue, loin, and coppa.
The aftermath: pigged out.
The evening’s menu.
Willie Nelson presides over the kitchen.
A room with a carnal view.
This week, Serious Eats posted my article about the fried chicken at Hattie’s Chicken Shack in Saratoga Springs. An excerpt:
Said to be the same recipe since 1938—developed by Hattie Grey, who came to Saratoga via Louisiana and Chicago—this is the same stuff served at the restaurant [Hattie's Restaurant], but the Shack is more casual with an order-at-the-counter setting. To accompany my fried chicken, I picked up “light” sides of cucumber salad and Cajun coleslaw ($3.00 each) in contrast to the tempting but heavier fresh-cut French fries and hushpuppies.
The order arrives in a deep metal tray, looking like a Southern picnic sitting upon the red and white checkerboard tablecloth. (Hattie’s Restaurant uses the same tablecloths.) No sign of grease—just the allure of golden brown chicken that’s plump, juicy, and delicious. The wing is best at showing off the simplicity of the batter, which doesn’t put forth strong flavor, but is perfectly crisp. The breast is meaty and moist, but I really enjoy the leg and especially the super juicy thigh.
For more information about the desserts and the restaurant, check out the Serious Eats story, here.
Tags: beyond Seattle
Dish: Bitter Melon Beef Chow Fun
Place: Happy Times Bistro, International District
On the plate:Pan-fried noodles with slices of beef, bitter melon, green onions, mushrooms, carrots, and black bean sauce.
Supporting cast/What to do: Your main decision with this mein dish is what type of noodles you want. Choices include rice noodles, rice vermicelli, egg noodles, spaghetti, and udon.
Noodling around: This dish jumped out at me on the menu, as I’m a big fan of bitter melon. It’s a tough taste for many Westerners, but worth exploring, perhaps even just for the fruit’s nutritional and other health benefits.
The bitter melon is cut into smaller pieces as compared to how I’ve had it in Japanese and Vietnamese preparations. This means eating less of the fruit in one bite, but a good ratio of melon-to-noodle throughout the dish. And that bitter flavor fully permeates the noodles, which was a welcomed surprise.
The noodle choice was a no-brainer for me. The rice noodles are the wide ones, which I like for their size and chewy texture, so that’s what I chose for this chow fun. There’s something fulfilling and comforting about wide noodles, and I especially liked how they soaked up some of the black bean sauce. Just about each bite of the dish gave me noodles, meat, melon, other vegetables, and bold flavor from the sauce.
If you want more: There are filling fruit drinks, milkshakes, and desserts (like sweet sago soup with jellygrass), but more intriguing is the selection of toasts and sandwiches. You can go simple like toast with condensed milk and peanut butter ($2.25), or more complex with a corned beef and egg sandwich ($3.75).
If you’re with a dining companion and craving more noodles, Happy Times offers customized soup bowls. For $5.99, you get your choice of noodles. In addition to the above-mentioned noodles, there’s macaroni, wide egg noodles (though they were out of this the day of my visit), rice balls, and even instant noodles. In addition, you get to pick two (extras are $1.25) from a long list of non-meat items (like radish, seaweed, and bean curd stick) to meat (the usual suspects, like beef, pork, and chicken, to the more exotic, like ox tripe, pork stomach, pork blood, and the lovely “luncheon meat”).
Be aware/beware: Happy Times Bistro is located across from the International District branch of the Seattle Public Library. This is one of my favorite branches, full of Asian-language books, videos, and more—plus an interesting selection of books in English, as they don’t fly off the shelves as at other branches. It’s a comfortable place to hang out when killing time in the area, like if you’re trying to create space between lunch and dinner.
Next to the library is perhaps my top current pick for Chinese food in the International District: Gourmet Noodle Bowl, discussed in a previous Mein Man column. Their hot pots are a great deal, and you’ll find that all-you-can-eat action at nearly every table, though I’ve enjoyed my simpler noodle bowls here as well.
But if bitter flavor is for you, go to Happy Times Bistro instead. The bitter melon beef chow fun made me happy, though the Celine Dion-like soundtrack might leave you more bitter than happy.
First published in Seattle Weekly’s Voracious on April 17, 2013.
Tags: Chinese · noodles
This week, Serious Eats posted my “A Sandwich a Day” feature about the Matty Melt at Meltz Extreme Grilled Cheese in Coeur d’Alene. An excerpt:
From the Uncommon Menu, I ordered the Matty Melt ($4.95 half, $7.50 full), containing fontina, blue cheese, lightly smoked roast beef, grilled red onions, horseradish, and huckleberry BBQ sauce. Cooking takes a little time, but it’s worthwhile as the cheese melts out and gets that crispy texture that’s so tantalizing. The fontina and blue cheeses are strong and earthy, standing up strong to the horseradish and roast beef, with the onions and BBQ sauce adding sweet notes.
These are behemoths—a half-sandwich is plenty, and comes with homemade potato chips. (I believe the whole can feed a family of four.) If you want a little more, but not a full sandwich, there’s a half-sandwich and soup combo for $6.75. You get your choice of a custom sandwich plus a cup of the soup of the day or, surprize surprise, Meltz’s Extreme Tomato Soup.
For more information, check out the Serious Eats story, here.
Tags: beyond Seattle · sandwiches
Seattle Restaurant Week has returned to town, this year adding even more restaurants to bring the total to over 160 participants. This week and next (Seattle Restaurant Week is actually two weeks), Sunday through Thursday (April 7-11 and 14-18), diners can indulge in a three-course menu (appetizer, entree, and dessert) for just $28. (Drinks, tax, and tip are extra.) An even better deal, in my view, is that many of these restaurants offer a three-course lunch for just $15. (Note that Sunday brunch is excluded.)
My caveats are the same as in the past. The three-course menus are limited—typically to three choices in each category, with the option to order additional items from the regular menu. And the restaurants tend to be especially busy for this two-week period.
To the first point, I still believe that Seattle Restaurant Week is a great (and affordable) way to check out a place that’s been on your must-try list for too long, and to know that some of the dishes will be the restaurants’ signature dishes. And to the second point, I’d say to simply adjust your expectations accordingly. Recognize that kitchen crew and waitstaff might be a little more stressed than usual for these two weeks. Though if the restaurant is already popular, you probably won’t see much difference in service or overall quality.
If you’re still concerned, go early. I did. I kicked off this go-around by grabbing Anchovies & Olives’ first seating of the very first night of this Seattle Restaurant Week. My dining companion and I got a nice table and great service from an unhurried staff. It was our first time to the restaurant together, and the food was terrific—definitely a bargain for the price.
We thoroughly enjoyed three courses each, plus a pasta dish (the signature bigoli—we wanted anchovies to go with the olives in one of our other entrées!) for good measure. Dinner started with fried oysters and salmon crudo for our first courses, then grilled Spanish mackerel and cioppino for our second courses (prompting a discussion about “regular” mackerel vs. horse mackerel vs. Spanish mackerel), and finally buttermilk panna cotta and gianduja terrine for our desserts.
Read on for photos and information about each dish, as well as a little more about mackerel.
Starter of fried oysters with Napa cabbage, goat horn chili, and tarragon aioli. Perfectly fried with great texture to the batter, these oysters were briny and delicious. One of the best versions I’ve had of this dish. Cabbage offered nice contrast. I’d be worried about anyone who eats this much aioli, though.
Another starter: salmon crudo with frisee, horseradish, and citrus. While I’m normally a big believer in eating all components of a plate together, I actually preferred the salmon on its own to enjoy the fish flavor, followed up by the frisee.
Bigoli with anchovy, garlic, chili, mint, and pangrattato (pan-fried breadcrumbs). This big pasta is one of three entree choices on the Seattle Restaurant Week menu. As we were each leaning toward the seafood choices, we decided to order the pasta on its own as a side dish. Bigoli makes for a BIG side dish.
Cioppino with mussels, Manila clams, spot prawns, and Controne beans. The broth is so good that you’ll be begging for more bread. Small-ish portion.
Grilled Spanish mackerel with baby artichokes, navel orange, and olive tapenade. Nice portion, nicely prepared, with nice flavors. But made me look at the Seattle Times’ website for SRW, where the dish is listed as mackerel instead of Spanish mackerel. “Regular” mackerel is known as saba in Japan, where saba shio (grilled salted mackerel) is a popular dish. I think I actually prefer saba (and aji, which is horse mackerel in Japanese) to Spanish mackerel (sawara in Japan), as it’s more oily and more “fishy,” whereas this Spanish mackerel might appeal more to many Westerners. (I’m glad to see any mackerel on an American menu.)
Buttermilk panna cotta with strawberry compote and milk crumble. Delicate flavors made this a delicious dessert.
Gianduja terrine with hazelnut brittle, blackberry coulis, and gianduja gelato. This dessert is quite the contrast to the panna cotta, and ultimately appealed more to the chocolate lover in me.