Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Milestones

Today is the last day of NaBloPoMo. I am truly relieved. By some miracle, I managed to post all 30 days in November. While I considered (on multiple occasions) not following through on my commitment to myself to complete the whole month, I'm glad I did. As a matter of wrapping up the whole ordeal, here are a few thoughts on what I learned, what I enjoyed and what wasn't the best.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Easing into Monday... {Barrio}

So, we've already used up our one dinner out cushion for the week. We have our Thursday dinner planned with friends this week, so between the two, we should be staying home otherwise. We'll see how that goes. We stopped on Capitol Hill on our way home and walked the familiar corridor of restaurants trying to decide what to eat. We had Tavern Law, The Local Vine, La Spiga and Barrio to choose from. I hate to say this about TLV because it was a place we held so close to our hearts in Belltown, but it's just not the same. I'm pretty sure we don't know anyone left working there. It's still very nice and the food is good. It just doesn't have that familiar Cheers feeling to it anymore. We settled on Barrio. Barrio is a member of the Heavy Restaurant group which also includes Purple (another of our Seattle favorites... Lobster baked Mac and Cheese, anyone?) in various locations around the Seattle area. I hesitate to call Barrio Mexican, though it's more Mexican than any other type of food. It's more modern than just regular Mexican food, though.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Family Secrets

My mom makes great soups. Potato soup, beef stew, clam chowder, chicken and rice soup.... lots of great soups. Of all of them, though, the only one I've learned to make is her chicken and rice. It's cold outside and we've eaten too much lately, so this sounded like the perfect meal for dinner. I won't share the actual recipe since it's not mine to share. I'm not sure if that's in line with or a deviation from food blog etiquette, but nonetheless...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Reset {Barracuda Taqueria}

We have a nearly empty refrigerator. That's a rarity for us, but between all the travel and the snow keeping Amazon Fresh away, it's just cleared out. So tomorrow we'll actually visit the grocery store and restock. Truly, it's good timing. In addition to picking up a few items to make some holiday favorites, B and I just plain need to reset.

Overindulgence has been a bit of an issue lately and we really need to reign it in. The best way I know of to do this is to create a menu that we can stick to predictably. This helps us to limit our meals out to once (and sometimes twice) a week. Tomorrow perhaps I'll share some of what we put on our menu. Tonight, though, as we shared our last Barracuda Street Nachos for awhile, I'm a little more focused on what we won't be eating much of any time soon.

Friday, November 26, 2010

And in an Instant, Christmas Arrived {Ruth's Chris}

We ventured out into the madness today and shopped in record speed. In just about 30 minutes, B bought a shirt, I bought two sweaters, a rolling pin, two dresses and we bought a Peanuts Christmas tree complete with Linus blanket. The crowds were a bit distressing... at least to me. I blame all the many years in retail, but when I get into situations with that many people anymore, I start to panic. I really can't imagine how I dealt with it for a decade and I'm incredibly grateful not to deal with  it any longer... After our shopping adventure, we dropped into Hard Rock and then jumped in a cab and headed home to set up our tree.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

New Traditions and Comforting Memories

As it turns out, cancelling our Thanksgiving was the right decision. While the weather has calmed considerably in the city, the roads to Salish are still a mess and the snow is still coming down at higher elevations. It would have been a beautiful dinner with the snow and the waterfall, but we can't be entirely certain we would have made it to that beautiful dinner.

Since our plans changed, we spent the whole day at home. We'll go out to dinner in a couple hours, but it likely won't involve turkey or stuffing. Normally this combination is something I would really enjoy. Today, though, I admit the extra time at home left me susceptible to a little homesickness and nostalgia. I remember why I wanted to stay busy today.

I'm thankful for a lot of things this Thanksgiving including the many big family Thanksgivings I've had over the years. I imagine they had the same lovely meal we've had so many years before. My Aunt Linda is always in charge of the turkey, my Aunt Julia, the stuffing. My mom contributes a lot of wonderful dishes, but it's her mashed potatoes and her rolls I miss most today.

Happy Thanksgiving. May you be grateful for the joys of today and take time to enjoy favorite memories.

"Forever on Thanksgiving Day, The heart will find the pathway home."
~Wilbur D. Nesbit

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gratitude {Marjorie}

It's no secret that I'm a Marjorie fan girl. It isn't without reason, though. I was reminded enough of those reasons tonight to merit a second post for the day.

We've had a few not-so-great dining experiences lately. We've also had some really, really good experiences. I don't mean to downplay those, but we just haven't been on a roll. One of the biggest challenges of Thursday Night Bites is the risk we take with our time and money choosing a new restaurant every week. I don't mind spending money on a great meal. It's frustrating to continually make a disappointing investment, though.

"First Thought, Best Thought" We Should Have Gone to Marjorie {Belltown Pub}

I follow Advice to Writers on Twitter. Last night wasn't a great night for dining in Belltown. I remembered a tweet from a couple days ago that simply quoted Allen Ginsberg. "First thought, best thought."

We planned to visit Marjorie last night (I'd had it on the schedule for a couple weeks), but the temperatures in the area are between 7-17 degrees, so we still weren't feeling great about the road conditions given that there is at least one decent hill between us and Marjorie. We were also eating quite late tonight since there was a UK basketball game on tv. We changed our plans and decided instead to visit La Vita e Bella. This is one of our favorite restaurants in the summer. They have a fanstastic patio. The service has always been a little hit or miss, but their food is wonderful.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Boots in the Bathtub and Other Snow Day Traditions {Macrina Bakery & Cafe}

B and I worked from home today. We're lucky enough to be able to do this and not take any chances if the roads are bad. Last Winter was very mild so we didn't have any snow days at all. Two years ago was quite the opposite story. Between snow days and the holidays, we were out of the office for 21 days. If you believe the meteorologists, we're in for a crazy season this year. When it comes to snow, many people in Seattle are extremely critical of everyone else in Seattle's driving, the city's response, Mother Nature, you name it. Then there are those folks who think the snow is no big deal since they grew up in (insert Midwestern or East Coast city here). They get on the roads with all the Seattle drivers and their lack of snow savviness. The results are rarely positive. Why take a chance when this might be what you get?


Monday, November 22, 2010

Snow in Seattle and My Old Kentucky Home {Pope House Bourbon Lounge}

It's snowing in Seattle. This means a lot of things, but mostly it means pandamonium on the roads. Really, it's not very much snow... a couple of inches. Seattle can't handle the snow. In the four years I've lived here, I haven't figured out if it's the reaction people have, the actual way the area is laid out or the city's reaction that causes all the problems. Regardless of the reason, though, any snow in Seattle is an event.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Familiar Favorites in a New City {Park Avenue Cafe}

We finally made it home from Portland early this afternoon. While we definitely took the scenic route on our way down, we made the return trip as quick as possible. We planned a visit to VooDoo Doughnuts on our way out of town, but when we arrived just after 9AM, the line was too long. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. I don't know if or when we'll return to Portland, but I hope to someday try one of their unique flavor combinations. If we have another chance, we won't wait until the last morning.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Can You Feel the Love? Beer and Basketball {Deschutes Brewery}

It's hard for me to write this post without giving a bit of background. I'm gluten intolerant. I eat gluten-free at home (which is clearly not that often). I try to avoid it in restaurants, but I don't make even a fraction of the effort someone truly living gluten-free must.  I'm not Celiac and I'm not barley sensitive and this makes it easy for me to cheat and just accept the consequences. Depending on how much gluten or what type was in my meal, my stomachache will range from a slight nuisance to a crippling pain (Cheese Nips were the culprit I first identified in a more severe attack). I've always considered Seattle to be a fairly gluten-free friendly city. Lots of places identify their menus as having gluten-free options, but often when you look at them, that just means they have salads and if you choose carefully, you can get some gluten-free dressing.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Oregon Trail {Silver Salmon Grille}

First things first... People in Portland are absurdly nice. I've never wanted to visit Oregon, but it's sort of ridiculous how nice and friendly and sincere people here seem. Maybe I've just gotten used to how passive aggressive people in Seattle can be, but I don't think that's the case.

Today we took the scenic route from Seattle to Portland which included a stop in Astoria, OR and a visit to Mikey's house (from The Goonies). We ate at the Silver Salmon Grille in downtown Astoria. It smelled a little funny... sort of old inside. B said it smelled like home. It sounds like a strange thing to say, but I understood what he meant. It really did smell reminicent of a grandparent's house, but it was nice and the people were so friendly!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Products I Love: Thomas Kemper Ginger Ale

I can't believe the week has already flown by. Tonight we're packing to leave for Portland first thing tomorrow morning. It's leftovers for us tonight. We both got new cell phones today and we needed to set those up, pack for our roadtrip tomorrow and try to clean up the condo a bit. That's not to mention the fact that work has kept up its insane pace. No time for cooking, no time for takeout and certainly no time for eating out.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Meal for a Winter's Night {Branzino}

I can no longer say that the weather is turning.  It's downright cold. It's snowing in the higher elevations and we hear there is a good chance of snow in the city on Sunday. This is pretty exciting. I don't really like partially cold weather. I'd actually prefer to just know to bundle up than wonder how to dress from day to day. That said, there is a certain danger in the weather turning completely from Autumn to Winter. It becomes all too easy to just curl up on the sofa and become a hermit. B and I have promised ourselves and each other that we won't let that happen this year.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Second Thoughts, Chicken Skewers and Smoke Detectors

Today marks the beginning of the second half of NaBloPoMo. I admit it. I'm over it. While I certainly appreciate the forced discipline of making a daily habit of writing, I've recently felt that even more than forcing a habit, it's forcing me to put insufficiently significant or relevant words out into the world. Perhaps NaBloPoMo is more appropriate for a general topic blog than for something as specific as this. Maybe B was right to say that it's impossible to be true to the spirit of Thursday Night Bites while posting every day. I haven't completely decided yet, but I committed to the whole month and that's what I intend to complete.

Moving on...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Putting the Brakes on a Breakneck Pace {Tutta Bella}

I've started writing this post three times now. The first day back to work after vacation, even a short vacation, is always hectic. That's to be expected. Today, though, I walked into a practical whirlwind that kept me spinning from the minute I walked in the door until B picked me up at the end of the day. I think my brain may be just a touch too fried to form any fully coherent thoughts. Bear with me.

We decided to stop somewhere on the way home to eat since we have almost no food in the house and Amazon Fresh didn't have any available delivery times until tomorrow. I wasn't really in the mood for something super nice or heavy given we really overdid it over the weekend. We're also in the middle of what appears to be a freak wind storm. 520 was swaying as we drove over it, street lights were swinging, flags were flapping uncontrollably. Walking anywhere to eat wasn't exactly appealing. This didn't leave a whole lot of options, but the perfect idea came to me as we were sitting in traffic and we headed for Tutta Bella Neopolitan Pizzeria. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunny Sunday Girls' Brunch {Caffe Boa}

We arrived safely in Seattle just about an hour ago despite quite a lot of turbulence at the end of the flight. Barracuda Tacos saved the night once again. With unpacking and laundry plus all our normal pre-work week tasks to do before kicking off a hectic Monday, cooking dinner was out of the question. Tonight I'll place an Amazon Fresh order and tomorrow we'll start to detox from all the excess of a very fun weekend.

Since arriving in Phoenix on Thursday night, I'd tried to connect with my cousin, his wife and their daughter who live in Scottsdale. The stars weren't aligning for us to meet, so even though my cousin had a work conflict keeping him from joining us, I was thrilled that our midafternoon flight left time for me to have brunch with his wife and daughter while B met his friends at Starbucks. I was on a bit of a tight schedule and they were kind enough to meet me at Caffe Boa across the street from our hotel.
The temperature today was the warmest we had while in Tempe. The evenings since we arrived were outright cold. B and I don't make the mistake of taking sunshine for granted, so I was happy to sit on Caffe Boa's patio.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Southwest Sunsets and Sangria {Bocca Urban Pizzeria & Wine Bar}

Last night before dinner, we hiked a trail up a hill (that felt like a mountain) behind our hotel to watch the sunset with a few other people who are here in Tempe for the same wedding we are. It didn't look like much of a climb, but once we started up, we quickly realized that it was a bit more of a challenge that we expected. The view from the top was beautiful, though.

By the time we got back to the bottom, we were all ready for dinner. We ended up eating at La Bocca Urban Pizzeria & Wine Bar. We'd walked by earlier in the day and thought it would be a good choice for dinner. By the time we sat down at the table, though, we realized we hadn't even looked at the menu before going inside. That's not something we typically do, so we were relieved to see a variety of salads, pizzas and sandwiches on the menu.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Delicious Heart Attack in a Paper Bag {Five Guys Burgers and Fries}

One of the most fun parts about being in an area you aren't familiar with is exploring the local shops and restaurants. This can also be one of the most frustrating aspects of a trip. You see a sushi place or a Mexican restaurant. Is it safe or will it be a total disaster? Even though I'm not a big fan of chain retaurants, there is something to be said for having at least somewhat of a guarantee of what you're getting.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Travel (Food) Traditions! {SeaTac Alaska Brewery}

B and I arrived in Phoenix a couple of hours ago for his friend's wedding this weekend. We don't really travel often, but all the same, there are a few travel traditions we've established along the way. One tradition we have when we travel early in the morning is breakfast from the Great American Bagel Company at the airport. The bagels aren't that great (though B would disagree). It's more a matter of the fact that we've done it on so many trips before.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Products I Love: Vosges Haut-Chocolat

Today was a long day packed with meetings. I ran from conference room to conference room all day so by the time I arrived home, I was very grateful to just sit on the sofa and watch the news. One story in particular caught my attention. Apparently, due to a West African drought as well as general unrest along the Ivory Coast (not to mention consumer demand for higher cocoa content chocolate) there is a shortage in cocoa. This will inevitably bring a rise in the cost of chocolate products. I'm not here to deliver a news report. A simple Bing search with offer more effective information, but the story did make me think about how much I would be willing to pay for my favorite chocolate.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Brussels Sprouts Worth a Dark and Soggy Walk {Dahlia Lounge}

B and I are traveling to Phoenix for a wedding on Thursday night so chances are we'll be eating airport food or whatever else we can get our hands on for dinner. Thus, this week, Thursday came on Tuesday. After having a lovely brunch at Seatown Seabar & Rotisserie two weekends in a row, we were in the mood for a Tom Douglas dinner. It's impossible to choose a favorite Tom Douglas restaurant, but we rotate most often between Dahlia Lounge, Palace Kitchen and Lola. Tonight we made the rainy walk to Dahlia.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Steak Frites pour Deux! {Cafe Presse}

Today was something between horrifying and hilarious. It started with a level of intensity and stress that shouldn't be maintained for more than a few minutes and stayed there all day. By 5:30 I had a pounding headache and felt on the edge of either hysterical laughter or hysterical tears. I'd planned to make chicken skewers on our new cast iron stovetop grill tonight, but B suggested we go to Marjorie instead.

A couple of blocks from the restaurant, we realized it's Monday night and they are closed. We changed the plan and decided instead to visit Barrio just around the corner. Remember when I said we're getting the hang of Capitol Hill parking?  Yeah, well, I take it all back. After driving around for quite a long while, we passed Café Presse and changed our plan to stop there instead. Several more trips around the nighborhood, we finally found a spot several blocks away.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Foods I'm Afraid to Cook: Bratwurst Edition

There are a few simple foods out there that, for whatever reason, intimidate me when it comes to cooking them. Bratwursts are very near the top of that list. I didn't start out afraid of them, but after a couple of failed attempts, I've become increasingly more wary. When I say previous attempts failed, they were certainly edible enough, but always ended in a nightmare mess of a pan for not all that great a result. Last weekend during our Pike Place Market trip when B's eyes lit up at the sight of all the all the various options in the case at Uli's, I knew I was in for another attempt.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Wax That Binds

About six months after moving to Seattle, I decided I to make steak with a bourbon marinade. I wandered around QFC for at least 20 minutes trying to find the liquor section. I found beer and wine, but no liquor. It turns out the issue is that, in Washington state, we must purchase our liquor from state run liquor stores. Four years and two failed propositions in last week's election later, this is still the state of affairs. Liquor stores are few and far between and not especially easy to find. The prices are high, the selection of bottle sizes is minimal. We visit about twice a year, most often to restock B's bourbon supply.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Forget to Eat? Who Me? Shocking, I Know...

Today is the first day of NaBloPoMo when I've actually had to think about what to write about. Granted, it's only November 5th so you shouldn't be impressed by that. It's Friday, though, at the end of a very long, very exhausting week and my creative juices aren't flowing in quite the way I wish they were. 

Perhaps I'm a bit malnourished. I worked from home today and that usually means I forget to eat. Maybe it's just that my routine is thrown off, but on days like today, it's not uncommon for me to realize it's 3PM and I haven't had a meal yet. So, what did I eat today? Kale chips. At some point today, I looked inside our refrigerator and realized I hadn't used the kale I bought last weekend at the Pike Place Market and it was just beginning to wilt a little. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cheers to Four! {Book Bindery}

Four years ago today, I arrived in Seattle on a plane coming from Albuquerque amidst a torrential rain. Naturally, the fact that it was raining in Seattle on a cold November night wasn't remarkable in itself, but this particular rain storm was the beginning of major flooding across the whole area followed quickly by massive wind storms, leaving many without power for weeks. It was the worst November in many years and that's no small feat given it already has a well earned reputation for being the worst weather month in the Pacific Northwest. I didn't mind the rain or the wind, though. I wasn't coming to Seattle for the weather. Fast forward four years and the weather looks a bit different. Yesterday, Seattle set a record high temperature of 73 degrees under a cloudless sky. We hear we're in for a cold, snowy winter and I admit I'm not at all bothered by that prospect. Aside from a few typical November days, though, we haven't seen any inklings of it yet.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Potato Skins and Merlot: Placating My Inner Type A

Merlot and potato skins aren't exactly a match made in heaven, but that's what's on my menu tonight. First, the potato skins...

Potato skins are one of B's favorite foods (not that I'm likely to turn them down). They are notoriously unhealthy, but I never understood why they were so bad.  I know potatoes aren't the lowest calorie food in the world, nor are cheese and bacon, but still, they didn't seem that bad. When I thought about making them myself and searched for recipes online, though, I figured out the real problem. Maybe I'm just that ignorant, but I had no idea most restaurants deep fry the potato skin after baking the potato! Now I get it. I obviously see the problem with deep fried potato skins filled with bacon and full-fat cheese, dipped in full-fat sour cream and ranch dressing. I also see how easy it is to cut out huge portions of the fat and calories. Bake the skins, use less bacon and add ground turkey instead, use low fat cheese and fat free sour cream. So simple! I also added a little bit of Hatch green chile for spice. Maybe I'm a bit biased, but I think my healthier version tastes just as good. The cheese might not be quite as gooey, but it works!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Thursday Came Early This Week and it Brought Fried Chicken {Tavern Law}

If you look carefully, you will see that Needle & Thread's name is also on the menu.Slight change of plans. At some point today, I looked at the calendar and realized, come Thursday, I will have lived in Seattle for four years... This also means B and I have lived together for four years. Naturally, this merits celebration, so I did a bit of schedule rearranging. Tavern Law was on the calendar for this coming Thursday. Since it was new to us, I felt better choosing something a bit more reliable and instead opted to move Tavern Law to tonight and visit Book Bindery on Thursday. Very exciting!



Monday, November 1, 2010

Tom Won't Let Me Down! {Seatown Seabar & Rotisserie}

I love it when the meteorologists' mistakes are in our favor. I shouldn't call them mistakes, really. It must be nearly impossible to forecast the weather in this city with its multiple personalities.

I awoke Sunday morning expecting to see overcast, heavy skies and rain much like we had on Saturday. Instead, we got this!
It's not exactly a cloudless sky (and it was pretty chilly), but beautiful! B suggested we venture out for lunch. I can rattle off 25 amazing places for dinner in our area in under a minute, but lunch is a different story. Since we don't work close to home and don't eat lunch out often on the weekends, I always have a hard time finding inspiration when the mood strikes. Yesterday, though, I had the perfect place in mind!