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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Eden Hill

The space that Eden Hill occupies, as seen many restaurant come and go.  As this is my neighborhood, I am sad to see a restaurant close down.  I do have to admit as sad as I am see to see a restaurant to close down, there is a bit of excitement to see what might open next. Hoping this might be the one that will make it.  After my recent visit, I think Eden Hill might just be here to stay.

The space is small, just a handful of tables and a bar.  The menu too is small, but boasts some pretty amazing selections.  The plates are meant to be shared, and feasibly could order every item on the menu especially if you have a group of four or more.  We opted for four plates, and this was a good amount for two people.  We felt satisfied, but not so full you could not move.  Each dish we had was executed perfectly. When you order small plates like this there seems to be one that you thought was done very well, and is the memorable dish of the night.  All of these dishes were delicious and memorable. 

The menu changes daily based on locally sourced ingredients.  The menu is a bit on the cutting edge.  You don’t see a lot of menus in Seattle with “sweetbreads” and “crispy pig head”.  You will also find “normal” dishes on the menu as well.

This night we opted for a little normal.  I have never had sweetbreads before.  Since this was my first visited, I thought safe was the best route.

Duo Oysters – 1 oyster was topped with beet kvass bubbles and the other oyster was smoked and was served with compressed cucumber noodles.  I preferred the smoked oyster.  The smokiness lingered in your mouth.  It was so good.

Cauliflower “Chilaquiles” – who new cauliflower could taste soo good.  If this is on the menu. I highly recommend you order.  Such delicious flavors

Lummi Island Salmon – the salmon was layered with a salsa verde gelee, caper, red onions, and crème fraiche, and white asparagus.  It sounds like a lot, but the flavors were all balanced, and did not overpower the freshness of the fish. The salmon is captured via reefnet fishing.  Wild Pacific salmon
reefnet fishing is a historical method of fishing, and still done today by the fisherman of the island. San Juan Islands are the only place in the world that performs this method of fishing. Because of the handling during the fishing process it produces the highest quality fish.

Smoked Pork Belly – Like the oysters the pork belly had the wonderful smoked flavor.  It tasted like a really good smoked ham, tender and flavorful.

Eden Hill also offers a 5 course blind tasting menu.  It is described as dishes that the chef came up with that day with the ingredients he has.  The table next to us ordered this, and it looked delicious.  The plates were nothing that was on the menu.  So needless to say I will be back, and doing the tasting menu.

Eden Hill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Bar Ferd'nand (Upper and Lower)

Bar Ferd’nand has expanded. To those of you that might not be familiar with Bar Ferd’nand, it is a little wine shop in the Melrose market.  It offers a great selection of old world wines and some new world wines as well.  Bar Ferd’nand is owned by Marc Papineau and Matt Dillon (Sitka and Spruce, Corson Building, Bar Sajour, and London Plane). If you have not eaten at any Matt Dillon restaurant, you need to go NOW!  I had the pleasure of first meeting Marc in 2008 at the Corson Building when I attended dinner there. The food alone at the Corson Building is amazing, but Marc just takes it over the top with his wine parings.  His choices for that night were not from vineyards I had ever heard of (mostly old world), but enjoyed every single one I had…even the white ones. (I prefer reds)  What I also remember about that evening, Marc seem to have a story about the vineyard or the winemaker.  Which I actually enjoyed.  To me it seemed how passionate he is about the wine and that passion resonates in the wines he pours.

Bar Ferd’nand (now referred to Lower Bar Ferd’nand) opened in 2010 in the Melrose Market. It allowed us ordinary people into the mind and wine of Marc.  To see and experience wines you normally do not have access to or even knew to look for.  On a recent visit to LBF we purchased a Rioja wine that had just recently been their wine society that month.  The wine was called Monte Real. I am not good with my wine descriptors.  I can just say it was delicious, and you should try it if you can.
In December 2015, Upper Bar Ferd’nand (UPF) opened in Chophouse Row on Capitol Hill.  UPF offers the same variety of wines.  The wine selection did not seem to be as big as LBF’s selection. However, UPF has a small kitchen that provides shareable plates. UPF has a cozy, intimate, kind of personal feel to it.  You can just sit at the bar enjoy a conversation over a lovely glass of wine, while you sit and view into the open concept kitchen watching your food being prepared.  Just like you went over to your friend’s house.  UPF offers house made cured meats, seafood and meat dishes, and grilled clay pot dishes. They are planning to do flatbreads/pizza in the future.  The night we visited Marc was behind the bar and Matt in the kitchen.  The Dynamic Duo!!!

We had “BeastMode” and Spot Prawns & Shishito Peppers with green sauce.  Now BeastMode is not Marshawn Lynch served on a platter.  It is several of chef’s choices (some on the menu and some not) that he puts together for you.  Kind of like a little tasting plate of delightful items, and a great way to sample a few of the items on the menu.  There was some cured meats, chorizo, pickled veggies, sheep’s milk cheese from Whidbey Island and quince jam (this was so decadent tasting), and cured pork neck and buffalo mozzarella.   The spot prawns were good as well.  There was a bit of a spice, but not where it overpowered the prawns.  The green sauce provided that bit refreshing coolness from the spice. 

UPF offers about 5 or so wines for the classes for red and white.  The glass price range from $10 -$20.  We opted for a bottle of wine from the Loire Valley which complemented our food nicely.

If you are new to wine or wine lover like me, I highly you recommend visit one of the Bar Ferd’nand.  You are in for a wine treat and will not be disappointed.

Upper Bar Ferd'nand Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Lower Bar Ferd'nand Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Sideways Snow, Truck Stops and the State Meal of Oklahoma

I will admit that most of the time I am a bit of a food snob.  I will drive by some eating establishments that look a little sketchy and wonder who would eat at a place like this.  However, I do know there are some of these sketchy places/greasy spoons that end up having some pretty decent food. Perhaps not 5 stars or Michelin stars, but still pretty good food.  Sometimes you just need to get over the food snobbery and give that place a try.

Over the holidays, I visited my parents in Albert Lea, MN.  For those of you not familiar with the area, Albert Lea is located at the interchange of Interstate 90 (East-West) and Interstate 35 (North –-South).  Needless to say it sees a lot of drivers, cars and 18 wheelers that drive these roads.  Like any good American highway driving, you will always find a truck stop along the way.  Truck stops can be a haven for weary drivers, especially truck drivers on long hauls.  They offer a lot of services; food, showers, restrooms, and a place to stretch your legs.  I would have never considered the truck stop restaurant a go to restaurant, until my recent visit to Albert Lea.

I probably had not been in the car for more than 30 minutes after dad picked us up at the airport, when he began talking about the chicken fried steak at Petro (the local truck stop).  He goes on and on about how good it is, and that he and my mom have been out several times just to have it.  He then suggests we should go out there for dinner during our stay.

In previous post, I have written about growing up in Oklahoma.  According to Wikipedia, “chicken fried steak is among numerous popular dishes which make up the official state meal of Oklahoma added to the list in 1988.” I don’t need Wikipedia to tell me this.  I grew up eating chicken fried steak.  This is my comfort foods, and one of the few dishes I MUST eat when I visit Oklahoma.  I’m sure any kid from Oklahoma probably says this, but my grandmother made the best chicken fried state.  My mom and I tried to learn how to how make it, but it never turned out or tasted as good.  I can never get the crust right or the gravy never turns out right. Granted the preparation is the same, finding that restaurant that makes the perfect chicken steak is very important.  Even then  it will not taste as good as my grandmothers, but it is close as I am going to get. This is why I have given up ordering country fried steak outside of the state of Oklahoma.  It is never cooked right, the gravy is bland, and I end up disappointed. So now you can see why I was a little dubious about my father’s positive reviews of the chicken fried steak at the local truck stop.  Minnesota + Chicken Fried Steak = I don’t think so!  I attempted not to take his recommendation for dinner at Petro seriously, and thought it just might get forgotten.  However, on Monday afternoon when I ask my mother what we are doing for dinner, her response was “Petro, your dad said you wanted to try the chicken fried steak…Don’t you?”.  I was now fully realizing I was going to be eating chicken fried steak, in Minnesota, at a truck stop.

So most of Monday it snowed, and there were moments were it came down pretty hard.  Now if we were in Seattle with this weather, I would for sure have a definite out.  No one ventures out in the snow in Seattle.  However, in Minnesota you venture out no matter whatever the weather is.  10 inches of snow..ahh… that is nothing.  Snow blowing sideways…ahhh… don’t worry about it. A little snow never stopped anyone!

So Monday night, my parents and my husband jump into the SUV, and head out into the frozen tundra, through the blowing snow, and head to the truck stop.  We pull into the parking lot, and my parents remark how empty it seems.  I think to myself this is because all the sane people stayed indoors, out of the snow to be warm and safe.  Although the good thing about this, is we got a parking spot right by the door.  So my trek through the snow to the door was not so frozen.
As you walk into the establishment you are greeted by grand Viking and his shield maiden.  I’m pretty certain I just did not just enter Valhalla.  We make our way back to the bar area to sit at a table
there.  Although I am not clear why we did not sit in the dining area, the bar did make for more of a colorful dining experience.

The menu reads like a typical diner; burgers, pastas, chicken, ribs etc. My dinner had already been decided, so there was no need to study the menu. However, if you are vegetarian, vegan, watching your figure, have high cholesterol and/or blood pressure then this is not the place for you.  The food is supposed to fuel the drivers and trucker patrons to allow them to carry on to their final destination. All I can say once I finished my meal, I was ready for nap and not for driving 200 miles.

Orders are placed, so now it is just sit back wait and listen to some interesting conversations at the bar.  There were probably about 7-9 what I assume to be truckers sitting at the bar.  Conversations ranged from NASCAR, the boss telling him not to sleep in his truck, one complaining about the size of his cab for sleeping (his belly hit the roof), and hearing the waitress being called sweetheart a handful of times.

Finally dinner arrived.  The infamous truck stop chicken fried steak had arrived!  At first look it didn’t look bad.  It was definitely generous portion of steak and potatoes.  Now for any chicken fried steak connoisseur, like myself, what really makes the steak is the crust and the gravy.  At first glance, the steak seemed to have a nice coating and looked good and crispy. The gravy was a white and thick, which is also a good sign.  You would think I was a Top Chef Judge, as I sat and analyzed the presentation, and was silent for my first couple of bites as I savored the flavors in my mouth to make my judgments about this fine steak I was consuming. My critique, was the crust was a little over seasoned with salt and pepper for my taste, whereas the gravy was a little under seasoned. All in all, for a steak in the Northern frozen tundra, it was not all that bad.  I have definitely had worse.  I least enjoyed the meal, and was not disgusted with it.  I can tell you I was a little surprised.  My expectations were a little on the low side, but I managed to be a little impressed.  Now does this mean I will be running out to my local truck stop to eat chicken fried streak??  UMMM..NO!  I can guess though I will be going back to the truck stop on my next visit home, and I am good with that.  Makes for some interesting storytelling.

Dinner is over, my belly full and pretty happy.  The family treks out into the freezing temperatures, the blowing snow, and begin our short journey home.  I’m just thankful we are going 5 miles instead of 200 miles.  As we pass an 18 wheeler struggling to make the hill in the snow, my day is cheerfully says see wasn’t that worth the trip out to tonight?

My recommendation is if you are going to eat chicken fried steak, go to Oklahoma and eat it.  However, if you do happen to be in Albert Lea, MN stop at Petro and treat yourself to some Northern style of chicken fried steak.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Eating and Drinking in Barcelona - My Picks

Boadas Cocktails – this bar was located right down from hotel.  And what grabbed my attention about the bar is that it is the oldest cocktail bar in Barcelona, dating back to the 1930’s.  It does not get more authentic and Spanish this.  When you walk in it is like stepping into a speakeasy in the 1930’s.  The bar is cozy, intimate, with a touch of class and nostalgia. The bartenders are wearing tuxedos, and make martins with a certain flair that I have never seen before.  It was such a treat to find such a place.  I only wish there was one of these in my neighborhood.  If you go, try the cocktail of the day.  More than likely you never heard of and it may not be familiar with the ingredients. When in Barcelona, drink like the locals!

Tapas 24 – This restaurant was within walking distance from our hotel.  I decided to go here based on the reviews I read.  All the reviews said it was delicious, and it was. We had to wait about an hour to get in.  I about have up, and went down the street to a place that did not have a wait, but I am glad I waited it out.  Try whatever looks good to you, because it will be good.  The atmosphere is little crowded and little loud, but also fun and lively.

Quimet & Quimet – this wonderful treasure we stumbled across by chance, and what a wonderful chance it was.  We visited Montjuic, and were ready for something to eat.  The choices in the area where were limited.  I used Foursquare to see what was nearby, and this Quimet & Quimet came up as a top choice.  It is located at the bottom of the hill, which is about a 5 or 10 minute taxi ride.  After walking around for most of the afternoon, I was ready to sit have a cold drink and some good food.  Well sitting is not much of an option.  There are just a couple of tables, but it is mostly belly up to the bar, and rub elbows with your neighbors has you eat your tapas.  No one seems to really care that we are kind of squished in the bar, because we are all just enjoying the wonderful tapas. One of the best tapas we had was the montadito (a small, open-faced sandwich) of smoked salmon with Greek yogurt and truffled honey.  It doesn’t like these items goes together, but it is the perfect balance of sweet and savory.

An Adria Brothers restaurant – if you are a foodie then you know Ferran and Albert Adria or El Bulli.  Since El Bulli closed, the brothers opened Tickets and 41 Degrees.  From what I could tell 41 seemed to resemble El Bulli, with a couple of items that were on the El Bulli menu, but had a cocktail focus.  41 has since closed, but Albert is working on a revamped 41 Degrees called Enigma.  When is Barcelona  make a reservation at one of Adria brother’s restaurant. It is an eating experience that cannot be missed!  http://www.winespectator.com/blogs/show/id/52459

Monday, October 26, 2015


It was Friday, we just got off work, and we just wanted a cocktail and a bite to eat.  In my search to find a place to meet this criteria, was close to home, I stumbled across Barnacle.  I had never been to Barnacle, but just passed on my way to Walrus and Carpenter (which is right next door).

Barnacle is a small little bar (probably sits about 20 people), and is considered an Italian aperitivo bar.  A place to get a pre-dinner cocktail and small bites to eat with your cocktail.  Never  been to Italy, it reminded me of a Spanish tapas bar.  You grab a couple of snacks and a drink, and then you move on to another bar or go to dinner. Most of the customers were doing just this while they were waiting for a table at Walrus and Carpenter. Since usually the wait at WC is always over an hour, it is quite genius to place this right next to the restaurant

At most cocktail bars you might get some nuts or pretzels, at Barnacle you get Lays potato chips.  It has been a long time since I have munched on Lays. They were a pleasant surprise, and I have to say they went will with my cocktail.   Barnacle offers Italian red and white wines, Italian beer, and Italian inspired cocktails.  The cocktails are a little on the spendy side ($12 -$14), but I think it is worth it.   They are made with quality ingredients, and well made.  I had the Autumn in New York.  This is a take on a Manhattan, but made with cranberry to give it a a little woodsy, tart taste.  A perfect fall cocktail. My 2nd cocktail was The Other Woman with limoncello and presecco. This was a little cleaner in taste and bit refreshing after my first drink.

Food is small plates.  The menu as a Spanish/Italian theme/taste. In addition to the menu, they offered 3 specials, oysters, duck liver pate, soup.  We selected the octopus terrine.  Thinly sliced octopus that swim in a delicious Italian olive oil with a squeeze of lemon.  This dish is delicious!  If you like octopus, you will love this dish.  After we finished the octopus there was still some olive oil remaining.  I wanted to pick up the dish and start licking it off the plate,  The bartender offered up some pieces of bread to sop up the remaining in a more civilized fashion.  Another item on the menu which we did not have is hand shaved serrano jamon.  If you have been to Spain, you are familiar with the delectable Spanish ham.  The ham sits beautifully in a Spanish restaurant is thinly sliced to order. I have yet seen a Seattle restaurant that has the same Spanish presentation until I went to Barnacle.  It was a good thing I was not sitting in front of the ham or i would have been salivating the entire evening.  It is just a beautiful thing to see.  I will be back to eat this, and enjoy some lovely cocktails.

If you have not been to Barnacle, stop by and check it out.  The food, drinks and staff are great!

Barnacle Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Curbside Food Truck

I have driven by the Curbside food truck many many times on my way home. They advertise Pho and Banh Mi sandwiches I would see a few people lingering in front of the truck, but never knew anyone that had visited the truck.  I am not an anti food truck person.  However, I have been a little slow in adopting and enjoying Pho. So it just one of these places I had not not jumped up to visit.

So this week I had a cold, and just wanted some hot soup.  As I was scrolling through FB in between sneezes, there was a post of the Top 10 Pho places in Seattle.   As I reviewed the list, I see Curbside Food Truck. Hey this is the place down the street.  I did a little more research, and social media comments could not say enough good things about this food truck.   Forget the cold medicine, I am going to get Pho.

I showed up around 12:30, there were 3 people in line and probably about 5 or 6 people waiting. This is a good sign.  They have quite a selection of Pho, Banh Mi sandwiches, rice and meat combos and noodles.  In addition, to their array of selections their prices are really good.  Pho is $7 sandwiches are $4.  I got the brisket Pho and my husband got the vegetarian spring rolls ($4).  It probably took about 10 minutes to get our order.

By the time I got home the soup broth was piping hot, and all the ingredients packaged separately. The soup had a great flavor, the meat was tender, and just what stuffed up nose needed.  The spring rolls were much bigger than we had expected.  They were made with fresh veggies and tofu.  I cannot say much for the sauce the rolls came with.  I think they would have been better with a chili sauce or peanut sauce.  Something to ask for next time.

So if you are in the area it definitely a place to check out.  I know I will be going back!

Curbside Food Truck Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, August 25, 2014

Cederberg Tea House

I visited South Africa in 2007.  During my visit I fall in love with the country, the people, and the food, and Rooibos tea.   Rooibos is a staple among South Africans, and had it with almost every meal I had.  I could not get enough of it while I was there.  When I returned home, I thought I would for sure find the tea in a store in the states.  I did find a version of Rooibos it just did not taste the same.  So for years I was always on the lookout.

Last summer, Cederberg Tea House opened on top of Queen Anne Hill.  Unfortunately, it took me a year to finally get to Cederburg. ( I did try a couple of times, but they were always closed :()  I'm sad I am late to the party.  For a year I have missing out on Rooibos and Rooibos latte's (Red lattes).  Red lattes are like regular latte's, they just take Roobios tea and finely grind it into the coffee.  Red Latte's are my new favorite thing in the world.  They also have a few grocery items that they have exported from South Africa.  They have the Lipton tea of Rooibos from South Africa.  I am now in my happy place.  I can't really explain what both of these taste like.  You just need to to QA, and try one today!

Cederberg also has South African dishes (bunny chow, savory pies and pastries), and sweet treats.  They also have all the makings for a nice little tea party that you schedule for you and your friends.

When we visted, we just had some treats as we had already eaten lunch.  We had the Mulva Pudding. it is a little loaf of spongy goodness that has been soaked in some other tasty goodness.  Surprisingly enough it not overly sweet, it just has a nice apricot taste to it.  We also had a apricot tart.

If you are on top of Queen Anne, get yourself a taste of South Africa.  You will not be disappointed.  The staff is very friendly and will answer all your questions about their menu.

Cederberg Tea House on Urbanspoon