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06 December 2018

South Seattle Spotlight: Wicked Chopstix

Today I want to launch a new feature, one that I have been contemplating since moving to our current home in the Rainier Beach neighborhood of Seattle. South Seattle Spotlight will feature the dishes from the restaurants on the south side of the city that really speak to my heart. So much is written about the restaurants of Ballard, Fremont, Capital Hill, and the Downtown core, but head just a bit south and you find a bounty of diverse restaurants fully deserving of acclaim.

First up is a relative newcomer to the Othello neighborhood, Wicked Chopstix. Located on MLK Blvd in the heart of one of America's most diverse zip codes, this modern minimalist restaurant is a bastion for the cuisine of the northern Vietnamese port city of Hai Phong. The single sheet menu is packed with tasty classics such as Bánh Bao Bà Chi (classic pork steam buns), Com Gà Thap Cám (Chicken clay pot), and the dish that won the heart of a President, Bún Chà Obama (Obama Noodles).

Now all of these are amazing and should be enough for a stop, but they aren't what I keep coming back for. For me it's all about the Phó, and specifically the Phó Tai. I know, how boring, everyone has a good Phó...but trust me this one finds a way to elevate above the rest. To most people Phó Tai is the entry level. Sliced rare tenderloin beef is considered the least exotic meat option for this Vietnamese staple. To me, however, it's the perfect protein vehicle to move the stunningly deep and complex broth from the bowl to my mouth. The abundant delicate slices of meat cook quickly in the broth, and the aromatic punch is mouthwatering. The broth itself has a beautiful earthy bottom with strong notes of star anise and charred onion, and a light sweetness that rounds it out. There is a familiarity to the taste, something I can't put my finger on, that seems so comforting and safe. As the days get darker and wetter, nothing in Seattle warms me up or soothes my cold better. And that is why I keep coming back.

04 October 2018

Tonight's Episode: A Shuckin' Good Time

So just before the start of the summer season we took a road trip out toward Long Beach, as one does in Washington. Passing through tiny South Bend we saw a little shack looking out on the Willapa River with the magic word OYSTER. Well, of course we stopped in! Boy was that a good decision. Perfectly located near the Washington summer hotspot (or the Oregon coast if you are planning to spend a week there and write about it in an upcoming post), we popped a couple of local craft beers, took in the view, and enjoyed a lazy lunch in a town most people don't even realize they drove through.

Only open for three days at this point, Oyster Bay Seafood Restaurant has the benefit of being located in the heart of the best oyster beds in America. Owners Dan 'The Man' Lindt and Shane Moncy aim to wow with stunning views, a relaxed setting, and the freshest local ingredients.

Now if you don't know about Willapa oysters, you should realize these are hands down the best you've probably never had. They don't ship well, which is sad considering their sweet light brine flavor. Make sure you grab a dozen or so to tide you over until your sandwich arrives.

The sandwiches (or Po Boys) may not be the initial draw of this oyster shack but they are the reason you will be back. Starting with the chipotle-lime chicken ($9) and the similarly spiced shrimp ($12), you have wonderfully cooked, bright and beautiful sandwiches stuffed to almost excess. That may be the only complaint I have with the po'boys, that they might actually be TOO big. If value is your biggest concern then rest assured you get your money's with these massive sandwiches.

The heftiest two po'boys are the super stuffed Tsunami crab melt ($14) and the 3 day marinated pulled pork ($10). The crab melt is big on flavor, and big on crab meat. If this sandwich was on the menu in Portland or Seattle it would top $20 easily, and frankly I would order this to share. The pulled pork has a beautiful flavor and is topped with a crisp and bright slaw that enhances the house made bbq sauce flavor.

The large outdoor dining space overlooking the Willapa River is a communal space that encourages you to get to know your fellow dinners. This relaxed neighborly atmosphere really drives home a sense of authenticity in a seafood shack that feels like it has always been there. Amazing food, treated simply and with respect, in an amazing setting, by good people should alway be a win. Especially when your only complaint is "the sandwiches are too big." 

31 December 2017

Tonight's Episode: 2017 wasn't THAT bad

As 2017 comes to a close, it is natural to look back at what was great about the year that was. While I haven't kept up with the blog like I once did, (and I promise to fix that in 2018) we did have quite a few adventures this year. Trips to Canada, England, Denmark, Sweden, Boston, and Charleston filled the calendar. Further explorations of our new home state of Washington has us even more in love with the Pacific Northwest. We are both optimistic for the future and what it holds for us. For followers of the blog, the future includes a recap of the best Loco Moco in Western Washington, a Seattle Pizza crawl, and an attempt to find the PERFECT Instant Pot recipe. But for now here are a few of our favorite things from 2017.

Best Dessert: Creme Brûlée Donut (Copenhagen Street Food)

I thought about just mentioning Copenhagen Street Food as the single best atmosphere of the year. Located just across the canal from the historic Nyhaven, Copenhagen Street Food is a collective of food carts that run the gamut from Brazilian to Thai and everything in between, with a large stage, flowing beer, and picturesque views. The highlight, though, is the creme brûlée donut. Bavarian cream sugared donut, rolled in more sugar, torched, and topped with vanilla ice cream and fudge sauce. This is the donut that dreams are made of.

Best Bagel: Salt Bagel with Bacon Scallion Spread (Davis Square Donuts)

On my recent trip to Boston to visit my best friend Summer, I fell in love, and I fell hard. I had the salt bagel at Davis Square donuts EVERY. SINGLE. MORNING. The huge flakes of salt, perfectly crisp exterior, fluffy interior, and the cool creamy spread.....all this alone is worth the price of a flight to Boston.

Best Danish Souvenir: A little wooden wiener (Kay Bojesen)

Kay Bojesen was one of the fathers of Modern Danish Design, and his monkey is an absolute icon. It is the Dachshund that takes high marks from us, though. Whimsical, adorable, and elegant, this little hound is the perfect reminder of days roaming about Copenhagen.

Best Seattle Tourist Activity: Get Your Chihuly On (Rainier Glass Studio)

When you live in Seattle people like to visit. When people visit, you do tourist activities. When you do tourist activities, you get burnt out on the Space Needle RULL quick. Our new go-to is glass blowing at Rainier Glass Studio in Georgetown. A hands-on activity that lets your guests take home a souvenir they made that invokes the beauty of the Dale Chihuly Gallery.

Best Book: The Cooking Gene (Michael Twitty)

If you follow me on Twitter than you already know my unabashed love of Food Historian, old ways activist, and all around amazing human Michael Twitty (@KosherSoul). In his debut book The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South, Michael takes us along the beautiful and painful path many of today's hottest culinary trends took from slave quarters to the James Beard House. This personal memoir is touchingly honest and leaves me recommitted to the idea that the pain and hurt and injustice of centuries can't be healed over a single meal, but the dinner table is a great place to start.

Best Museum with an Entire Wooden War Ship: Vasa Museum Stockholm 

On August 10, 1628, the shores of Stockholm were lined with citizens ready to cheer their newest and grandest warship as it set sail. The Vasa, sporting intricate design work and two decks of cannon slipped its moorage and grandly exited the harbor. Less than an hour later it sat on the ocean floor entombed for the next three hundred years. Raised intact and now in one of the most interesting museums on the planet, the Vasa is a testament to an age of emerging military technology, beauty, and utter hubris.

Best Street Food: Any Hot Dog Stand in Denmark

As far as I can tell, you are never more than a five minute walk from a hot dog stand in Denmark. Omnipresent throughout Copenhagen, these bastions of cheap eats provide not only a cost effective but extremely tasty meal almost any time of day. My suggestion is to go with the classic Ristet: a grilled dog with mustard, ketchup, hot dog sauce (a mayo/remoulade), grilled and fried onions, and pickles.

Best Museum Exhibit: The Danish Chair (Danish Design Museum

An entire hallway of chairs. Chairs from many ages. Chairs from many designers. Chairs that speak to ethics and philosophy. You won't understand why this exhibit is so powerful until you see it for yourself.

Best Place to Drink: Finn River Cider Garden (Finn River Cidery)

Think of what you love about a rural Beer Garden. A music stage, communal seating, amazing food, relaxed family atmosphere. Now instead of beer, substitute Cranberry Rosehip Cider or maybe Lavender Black Currant. Finn River, located just outside the quaint Victorian harbor of Port Townsend, has found a way to make the wonderful beer garden concept an upgrade.

Best Curry for Someone who Hates Curry: Chicken Korma (Himalayan Cafe)

This Renton, WA gem has made a world of difference in my life. Being a true Scot, I LOVE curry. Scottish cuisine is equal parts fried mystery meat and curry. Unfortunately not everyone loves, or even tolerates, Indian food, including The Girl. In comes Himalayan Cafe with its Nepalese takes on Indian classics. There is something about the spice melange that is warming and comforting and accessible that just doesn't seem to be the case for traditional Indian. So skip the meatballs at IKEA and head across the street for the Korma. The Girl is finally eating curry!

Those were just a few of our favorite things of 2017. Every year, no matter how exhausting or draining, is full of little moments of wonder and beauty. These are the moments that matter, the ones you should never let go. I know 2018 will be full of many such moments that I hope to share with you. If you have a moment, a meal, a activity that brought you a moment of pure joy in 2017, please share in the comments. I love you all and wish you a Happy New Year!

18 December 2017

Recipe: Instant Thai Chicken Bowl

So I finally bowed to the pressure and bought an Instant Pot.  Most of you are already familiar with the pressure cooker slash slow cooker slash yogurt maker slash rice cooker slash lead guitarist on November Rain slash sauté pan so I won't bore you with the background. I will say through, the first few weeks I have been very impressed by the pressure cooker, but underwhelmed by both the sauté and slow cooker settings. The sauté has led to some burning once the pressure cooker has engaged. I have only used the slow cooker setting once, so I'm still reserving judgment.

My first Instant Pot recipe is frankly an addiction now, and with maybe five minutes of prep time, it is now a go-to weekday dish.

Instant Pot Thai Chicken Bowl


- 2 pounds Chicken Thighs
- 1 cup long-grain white rice (uncooked)
- 3 Tablespoons lite soy sauce
- 1/2 cup nam chim kai (Thai sweet chili sauce) store bought or recipe below
- 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
- 1teaspoon oyster sauce
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1/2 tablespoon Sambal Oelek
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
- 1 zucchini, shredded
- 1 carrot, shredded
- 1/4 cup peanuts
- 2 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
- Sriracha to taste


*The following instructions are for a 7-in-1 Instant Pot. Some controls vary by device.

1) Select the Sauté setting on your device, allow it to heat 2-3 minutes, then add sesame oil. Allow oil to heat 3 minutes.

2) Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper on both sides, then add to Instant Pot. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side, browning lightly. Remove to a large glass bowl. Press cancel on the Instant Pot.

3) Mix the Thai sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, ginger, garlic, lime juice, and Sambal Oelek together and pour over chicken thighs, coating well.

4) Select the Sauté setting. Add two tablespoons of the chicken stock to pot to help scrape any remaining browned chicken. Press cancel.

5) Add rice and peas, stir. Top with chicken, sauce, and remaining stock, and secure lid with pressure valve set to Sealing.

6) Select Pressure Cook, High Pressure, 10 minutes. When finished, allow for natural release.

7) Using tongs and a fork, shred the chicken and mix with the rice.

8) Serve with zucchini, carrots, peanuts, cilantro, and Sriracha.

For the Thai Sweet Chili sauce

- 1/2 cup rice vinegar (or white vinegar)
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. white sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons cooking sherry
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 to 1 tablespoon dried crushed chili (1 tbsp. makes spicy-hot sauce)
1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 3 to 4 tbsp. cool water

1) Place all ingredients - except the cornstarch-water mixture - in a sauce pan or pot. Bring to a rolling boil.

2) Reduce heat to medium and let boil for 10 minutes, or until reduced by half. (Note that the vinegar will be quite pungent as it burns off--rice vinegar isn't as strong as regular white vinegar.)

3) Reduce heat to low and add the cornstarch-water mixture. Stir to incorporate and continue stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes.

4) Remove from heat and taste-test. You should taste sweet first, followed by sour, then spicy and salty notes. If the sauce isn't sweet enough, add a little more sugar. If not spicy enough, add more chili.

5) Pour sauce into a small bowl or jar and serve.

26 May 2016

Tonight's Episode: Touring Seattle one bite at a time

Heading into the heart of the tourist season here in Seattle, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to introduce you the "Eat Seattle Tours." I had the chance to spend the day with the delightful and engaging Chef Liz McCune as we wandered the Pike's Place Market and all its bounty. Through her connections with the amazing local purveyors we were able to taste local cheese, bean to bar chocolates, tangy pickles, rich non-corporate Seattle coffee, and much more. 

 What is "Eat Seattle" and what do you think people will enjoy most in spending some time with you?

Eat Seattle is a company that operates food tasting tours and cooking classes in the Pike Place Market. We focus on the “Meet the Producer” motto of the market by highlighting what’s local and seasonal in the Northwest. We only do one public tour a day Thursday thru Sunday and 1-2 public cooking classes a month. We have lots of fun private party/team-building options for food tours and cooking classes as well that can be scheduled based on our team’s availability. 
How did "Eat Seattle" come about, and what is your background in food?

In 2014, my husband and I spent a year vacationing in Europe. We knew that being a tourist for a year would become exhausting so we sought out ways that would help us integrate into each region faster. Since I’m a trained Le Cordon Bleu (from Paris) graduate and food has always been a large part of my life, it seemed natural to discover each region through its local food scene. We would seek out food bloggers, do cooking classes with chefs, use apps that would allow us to dine with locals in their homes (, wine tours etc. As I learned about agriculture, the state of the Mediterranean, farming practices, traditional dishes, I started researching more about what we were doing in the Northwest. I was fascinated to learn about how much the Northwest was producing, the steps we make to take care of our environment and I was anxious to seek out these types of foodie experiences when we returned home. Unfortunately, I didn’t find this educational element and thought it was  an opportune time to create a platform where chefs educate visitors and locals about our special area by tasting delicious food and, for our cooking classes, actively use our ingredients to create a meal. 
We all know the amazing diversity of Seattle food. What about this region's bounty inspires you most?

What impresses me the most about our bounty in Seattle is that we live in a cosmopolitan city and we don’t have to go far at all to forage for our own food, if we so choose. We have an array of wild products right in our own city: nettles, mushrooms, crab, blackberries, seaweed just to name a few. It doesn’t get cooler than that! 
What 'Tourist Trap' is still worth braving long lines for?

If you’re referring to a touristy experience then I would say the Underground Tour is incredibly interesting. I recommend it for locals and tourists.  Otherwise, I’d like to point out that the Pike Place Market isn’t a ‘tourist trap’ what-so-ever. I work closely with the Market and they make sure that they are supporting local producers providing the best products. This approach organically attracts top Seattle chefs and appreciating locals who shop and hang out in the market year-round.
The one dish in Seattle that you can't live without?

There isn’t one dish per se. The types of restaurants that capture my palette’s attention are those that use fresh locally sourced ingredients. I’m a big fan of Rene Erickson’s restaurants.  I love what Blaine Wetzel is doing on Lummi Island.

The dishes that we eat in our cooking classes are made using the finest Northwest products and the recipes are designed by talented chefs. We even grow some of our own food. Some of my favorite meals last year were in our very own cooking classes! 

The one culinary trend you hope sweeps Seattle next?
Understanding where are grains are coming from and how they are processed! This movement is just beginning and I look forward to seeing it take shape to bring awareness and change as to how our country grows, processes and labels our grains. 
Any plans to expand Eat Seattle in the near future?

No plans to expand. Right now, we are focused on providing the best quality experience possible. I would only consider an opportunity if it added more value to what we currently offer.

Eat Seattle Tours is a wonderful introduction to the bounty of Pike's Place Market and the history of the Market. At $49 + tax, it is a fun and affordable way to spend a few hours in the heart of the Emerald City.


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