Archive for the ‘Seattle’ Category

One Night Only: Chef Mark Fuller and Georgetown Brewing

October 18, 2012

Launched earlier this summer, the One Night Only Project, brainchild of Julien Perry and Melissa Peterman, takes the supper club dinner party concept to a new level: participating chefs create a special menu, available for one night only, for around 40 guests. Each chef is paired with a winery, brewery, or mixologist to create pairings for the food, and the dinners are held in offbeat locations which can include event spaces or private homes.

The stand-alone nature of ONO events allows for some very creative themed pairings: past dinners have included Josh Henderson of Skillet stepping away from diner food for a night to prepare a meal of upscale seasonal favorites paired with wines from Efeste and Manuel Alfau of Blind Pig Bistro and  La Bodega preparing a Dominican pig roast paired with rum cocktails by Rob Roy’s Anu Apte on the patio at Bottlehouse, Madrona’s awesome wine shop-tasting bar.

Manny Chao of Georgetown Brewing and Marjorie Chang Fuller of Ma’ono discussing the menu and beer pairings.

When we heard that the latest ONO dinner would feature Chef Mark Fuller of West Seattle’s Ma’ono (formerly Spring Hill) cooking up a six course Mexican feast paired with beers from Manny Chao of Georgetown Brewing Company, we knew this would be an evening not to be missed.  We were right!!

First Course: smoked clam salsa on a porky crouton, with a tequila aperol cordial

The dinner was held at VUDE (Velvet Underground Dining Experience), a very cool private event space and dining club in South Lake Union owned by the Seattle-based proprietor of Argentina’s Hand of God Wines. The candlelit South American vibe of the room – paintings of Eva Peron and matadors, dark wood tables, and swaths of brick red paint on the walls – along with the mellow tunes spun by Andrew Means provided the perfect atmosphere for Fuller’s inspired menu, which paired perfectly with Chao’s beers. What’s better than great Mexican food and beer, right?

While every course was delicious, the standout courses for me came early in the evening. A rich and satisfying pork meatball soup with slices of smoky sausage, preserved tomatoes, and avocado was paired with Georgetown’s Belgian Ale for a light palate refresher to cut through the rich fattiness of the sausage and meatballs; and the undeniable star of the night, Fuller’s crispy pork shoulder tacos, served simply on corn tortillas with  chopped onion and cilantro, a drizzle of smoked tomatillo sour cream, and a crumble of housemade brined cheese. The tacos were served family style on a platter that would have defeated our table even if we hadn’t already consumed huge bowls of soup, and paired with Manny’s namesake crisp and malty Pale Ale.

Second course: pork and rice meatball soup with sausage, avocado, and preserved tomato broth

Third course: crispy pork shoulder tacos with housemade cheese, tomatillo sour cream, onion and cilantro. The showstopper of the evening.

One of our fellow guests opined that these were the best tacos he’d ever eaten in Seattle, and I’d have to agree they they definitely beat anything I’ve had in a restaurant here in town. We stuffed ourselves and consequently were not able to appreciate the final three courses – grilled skirt steak with pickled peppers, corn cakes stuffed with lard-fried beans, and a cucumber shrimp salad; Beecher’s jack cheese tamales with chocolate mole sauce; and dulce de leche rice pudding with Corn Pops (yes, breakfast cereal!) and horchata – nearly as much as they deserved. And trust me, everything Fuller and his team of cook-helpers prepared deserved a lot of appreciation.

Chef Mark Fuller (second from left) and his team hard at work

Hostesses with the mostest: ONO Project founders Melissa Peterman and Julien Perry

In the end, we could eat no more, and literally rolled ourselves back out onto the street, clutching the stylish canvas Ma’ono tote bags and growlers of Manny’s IPA that served as takeaway gifts and hoping against hope that Mark Fuller will someday open a Mexican taco joint somewhere in town – preferably in our neighborhood.

The next One Night Only dinner will be held November 3rd with Chef Eric Hellner of the Metropolitan Grill – who I can attest smokes some of the best ribs this side of the Mississippi – and the Met’s Master Sommelier Thomas Price. I highly recommend you check out this or any ONO event. Information and tickets here


Breakfast at the Brave Horse Tavern

October 13, 2012

The Elvis Pretzly sandwich at the Brave Horse – peanut butter, banana, and bacon.

I visit Tom Douglas’s Brave Horse Tavern in South Lake Union for lunch a lot: it’s close to my office, offers service that can be quick or more leisurely depending on your needs, and the upscale pub food menu of pretzels, burgers, and beer is fun, filling, and inexpensive by neighborhood standards. It’s the perfect clubhouse, and it’s always packed and lively.

Not content to rest on their laurels, the team at the Brave Horse have been expanding their offerings lately. On a recent lunch visit, a platter of tender grilled beef skewers, braised greens, spicy smashed potatoes, and lemony feta spread was a bright mix of exotic and comforting flavors, and a variety of pretzel sandwiches with toppings including pork schnitzel and house-smoked ham, are tasty alternatives to a burger.

In another burst of creativity, the Brave Horse folks recently introduced a weekday breakfast menu to complement their weekend brunch program. One morning last week, I met my friend Robyn, who works in marketing for Tom Douglas Restaurants, to try out some of the new offerings.

Pretzel French toast sticks (front) and breakfast sandwich

Chewy, salty German-style pretzels are a star of the Brave Horse menu, and breakfast is no exception. One of my favorites from the Brave Horse brunch menu, a peanut butter, honey, and bacon pretzel sandwich known on the weekends as the “Elvis Pretzly,” is also available on the weekday menu ($7). I couldn’t resist ordering one, although the cream cheese and marinated Prosser Farm green tomatoes ($5) and braised kale and fried egg ($6) pretzelwichs sounded great too.

From there, we dug into a Cheesehead breakfast skillet of scrambled eggs, cheese curds, housemade bratwurst, and crispy potatoes ($8), a Texas Toast egg sandwich with scrambled egg, pimento cheddar, and bacon ($7), and pretzel French toast sticks with mascarpone and maple syrup ($6). Everything was fresh, delicious, flavorful and filling. The star of the show, again pretzel-based, was the French toast: toothsome and custardy, with just enough saltiness from the pretzel crust to balance perfectly with the sweet syrup and creamy mascarpone.

Bacon, egg, and pimento cheddar cheese on Texas Toast from the Dahlia Bakery

I was also impressed by the breakfast sandwich, which was elevated above the ordinary by the addition of cheddar pimento cheese cooked into, rather than smeared on top of, the egg, and thick cut bacon. Breakfast sandwiches start at $4 for a basic egg on toast, with optional add ons including cheeses, caramelized onions, braised kale, bacon, or house cured ham, which I would highly recommend.

For those looking for freshly made, locally sourced, fast and inexpensive breakfast in South Lake Union (Amazonians, I’m talking to you!), the Brave Horse can’t be beat. I look forward to heading back there soon.

Photo credits: Robyn Wolfe

Tuna Tinning With Slow Food Seattle

January 31, 2012

For the past two years, I’ve had the pleasure of serving as a board member for Slow Food Seattle, our local chapter of the international organization dedicated to, among other things, preserving local food traditions, increasing awareness of and interest in the foods we can grow and enjoy in our own backyard, and promoting the use of good, clean, and fair practices in food production.

Our group puts on several hands-on events each year, and without a doubt my favorite is the annual “Time to Tin A Tuna” workshop, coordinated by SFS’s resident fisherwoman Amy G, and presided over by Bellingham fisherman Jeremy Brown.

Once a year, Jeremy comes down to Seattle with about 1000 pounds of Northwest wild Albacore tuna,  and  guides a group of Slow Food members and friends through the steps of breaking down the fish and processing it into 8-ounce jars. The result is, in my opinion, the best canned tuna you’ll ever have,  and so a few Sundays ago I put on old clothes, picked up my chef’s knife, and headed down to Gourmondo‘s South Seattle catering kitchen to get my tuna on.

Step One: skinning and cutting tuna into boneless chunks.


Step Two: trimming tuna chunks and stuffing into jars

After the first team breaks down the tuna into fist-sized chunks, removing large bones and skin, the fish is taken on large trays over to a second station, where a group of us trimmed it into smaller, even pieces and removed the smaller bones and cartilage. Then another group packed it into jars with about a quarter cup of olive oil, pinch of salt, and the secret ingredient – a chunk of carrot. Why carrot? It adds a hint of sweetness and keeps the fish from developing a tinny taste when it’s cooked at high temperatures. 
After their rims are wiped clean, the jars are sealed and placed on racks, awaiting their turn in the line of pressure cookers that Gerry and his team man throughout the day. The jars cook for 90 minutes and come out sealed and shelf-stable. 

Step Three: Clean rims, seal jars, and place on racks to await cooking


Step Four: Cook the heck out of the tuna in a pressuer cooker to make it shelf-stable.

Step Five: Check seals, wait for tuna to cool, take home and enjoy!

All in all, the tuna tinning is a great afternoon with a bunch of fun people and, as I mentioned, there really is no comparison between the finished product and the stuff (even the good stuff) you get in a grocery store.

Last year I bought two cases of our Slow Food tuna and gave several away as Christmas gifts. This year, I hope to keep a bit more of it for myself  and use it in healthy, delicious recipes like the one below, which I have made several times for a quick, filling dinner. In the spring, I substitute chopped asparagus for the olives and you could also probably use spinach.

My Slow food buddies are a great group of people and I highly recommend checking out your local chapter. If that chapter happens to be Seattle, I hope you’ll join us for our next event!

Lemony Tuna Pasta

Serves 3-4 with leftovers


1 lb. penne, bowtie, or rotini pasta

 8 ounce jar or 2 cans tuna fish

juice and zest of 1 lemon OR dice of one preserved lemon

1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped

2 tbs parsley, chopped

2 tbs olive oil



parmesan cheese


Bring water to boil in a large pot and cook pasta as directed.

While pasta is cooking, drain tuna and mash with a fork in a bowl with olives, parsley, and lemon zest. Add lemon juice to taste.

When pasta is cooked, drain and return to pot. Add olive oil, tuna mixture, and more lemon juice to taste. Season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with parmesan cheese.


Fried Chicken at Spring Hill

August 1, 2011

Much has been written about Spring Hill‘s acclaimed Monday night fried chicken dinners, at which a group of four could nosh down on a feast of fried chicken and a variety of sides, and then stumble out holding their sides, for just about $25 each.

Sadly for us finger lickers, the restaurant discontinued the Monday night tradition this summer (you can still get an excellent meal there any night of the week). Luckily, they gave plenty of notice, and in late February our friend Gina was able to secure a table for one of the last chicken dinners in early June. (Really!)

Fried chicken, spaetzle, blasted brocoli, and mashed potatoes at Spring Hill, shortly before the carnage began.

You may be thinking to yourself – isn’t 25 bucks a little steep for some chicken and potatoes? Well, friends, this was no ordinary chicken and potatoes. The platter carrying two chickens’ worth of pieces, fried to crunchy perfection, glistened in the fading sunlight from near our table in the front window. Surrounded by platters of mashed potatoes and gravy, herbed spaetzle, blasted garlicky broccoli, refreshing cucumber salad, and moist jalapeno cornbread with honey butter, it was a feast fit for the King himself.

“You’ll never be able to finish the whole platter, there’s always tons of leftovers,” laughed owner Marjorie as she stopped to see how we were doing. We took it as a challenge, and I think even Elvis would have been impressed at the wreckage of our table once we finally called it quits. A few lonely pieces of chicken, a swipe of creamy potatoes, some cornbread crumbs.

We may have seen the last of Spring Hill’s fried chicken, but I’m looking forward to seeing what new and delicious replacements Mark and Marjorie come up with next.

Sometimes You Just Need A Burger

May 22, 2011

Painted Hills chuck burger with cheddar and fries at the Bravehorse Tavern. Other Seattle favorites: Palace Kitchen, Spring Hill, Zippy’s, Dick’s. What are yours?

Walrus and Carpenter Low Tide Oyster Picnic

February 17, 2011

Although I grew up a stone’s throw from Tomales Bay and have always loved a good bowl of steamed mussels, pile of fried shrimp, or mess of crab legs, I was never an oyster eater.

Something about swallowing the gooey, briny little knobs always made me a little queasy. And chew them? Forget it!

Elliott's Chef Robert Spaulding shucking Olympias

Even when I lived in Boston and frequented the bar at McCormick & Schmick’s with a bivalve-loving co-worker, the best I could do would be to douse one or two small oysters in Tabasco sauce, close my eyes, and gulp them down with a healthy swig of whatever white wine was on hand. I appreciated the ritual of oyster eating, but it just wasn’t my thing.

Then I met Carl, whose years cooking at Elliott’s Oyster House on the waterfront in Seattle had given him a healthy knowledge of, and appreciation for, the bountiful oysters of the Pacific Northwest. 

Every November Carl returns to Elliott’s to shuck hundreds of oysters at the restaurant’s Oyster New Year bash. It was at this huge party, wandering through a massive tent on the end of Pier 56 and sampling scads of oysters whose names I’d never even heard of,  that I finally began to “get” the appeal of these tasty little shellfish, to enjoy the sweet succulance of a perfect bite of cold fresh Kumamoto or Skookum or Snow Creek.

I am lucky to have my own personal shucker

Like a nice wine, a good oyster is a perfect encapsulation of a specific terroir, in this case the waters from which it came, redolant of  cold seawater and (in my imagination at least) clean air and pure earth and sand.

In the flush of my new way of considering the oyster, I was thrilled to get a chance to attend this winter’s final Walrus and Carpenter Oyster Picnic, organized by oyster impressario Jon Rowley and held at low tide in the dead of night on the shores of the South Puget Sound’s Totten Inlet.

Our host, Bill Taylor of Taylor Shellfish Farms, giving us the oyster lowdown as the bus approaches the beach

The idea: a group of eager oyster lovers dress in many layers and gather with Jon at Elliott’s. In a light rain, we hop a bus south. At a gas station off of Highway 101 we pick up a man in a red jacket – no ordinary hitchiker but Bill Taylor, fourth generation owner of Taylor Shellfish. Bill guides us off the main highway and down a dirt road to a stretch of tidelands near Steamboat Island where his family has farmed shellfish for over a century. The bus parks, we eagerly disembark, turn on head lamps and pull up hoods, and set off down the beach, which is littered with oysters of all shapes and sizes, there for the plucking.

Shucking Kumamotos and Pacifics

Winter low tides are the best time for picking oysters right out of the water, and the Taylor team has set up a line of oyster and wine-tasting tents along the sand, with lanterns illuminating other stations where harvesting and shucking lessons attract small groups up and down the tideline. A bonfire provides warmth and the opportunity for rustic oyster roasting.

Carl and Marcia examine a Virginica

Carl, his friend Marcia, and I have a blast roaming the beach, pulling oysters from their tide-exposed perches, and savoring them with copious amounts of ice cold, Oyster Wine award-winning vinos (which I was also helping to pour for the group).

Delicious “Oyster Wines”
Carl finds a bunch of Olympias, the only oyster native to the Northwest, nestled in the sand and shucks them open for us to enjoy. Olympias are tiny, about the size of a quarter, and have a coppery yet creamy taste – sort of like eating a penny, if pennies had the consistency of butter. A little weird, but oddly appealing.

Shucking lesson with Waterfront Chef Peter Levine

As the rain begins to pour down harder and the moon disappears behind full cloud cover, we trudge back up the beach to enjoy a steaming cup of oyster stew prepared by Chef Xinh, a former star Taylor shucker who now runs her own seafood restaurant in nearby Shelton. It’s a warm, comforting end to a fun and delicious evening.

Chef Xinh serves up oyster stew

End of Summer Barbecue

November 22, 2009

To mark the end of summer, my birthday, and just for fun, we had a few friends over for a backyard barbecue. Ku, Adrian, Mia, Dave, Shelly, Hank, Nhi, Katrina, Leya, Ewan, and Leo helped us eat a mountain of kebabs, sausages, potato salad, tomato salad, margaritas, guacamole, and Carl’s special blackberry pies from berrys foraged along the Beacon Hill bike path.

The spread. Note the many near empty wine bottles in background.

Ku and Hank, hangin’ in the shade

A highlight of the afternoon was the Liangs’ gift of a bottle of Bakon vodka, a new, Northwest-produced vodka that tastes scarily like everyone’s favorite cured pork product. After a round of shots, our reactions were mixed. Some liked the vodka, some felt it would be best served in a Bloody Mary or other savory cocktail, and some agreed with Ewan’s assessment:

We all had a great time hanging around in the back yard, eating, drinking, and laughing – the perfect way to end summer in Seattle!

Leo and Mia enjoying blackberry pie

Nhi and Carl


Pig Roast at Chez Liang

August 31, 2009

Every year on his wife Adrian’s birthday, Kuo-Yu performs the ultimate act of husbandly love and procures a whole roasted pig for her from Chinatown. The Liangs then prove their love for all of their friends by inviting us over to feast on all the porcine goodness, making Adrian’s birthday not only a day for celebration but one of the happiest of the year!

Adrian’s pigs come from Kau Kau, famed in Seattle for its barbecued and roasted pork and duck. The meat is succulent and juicy, with just the right richness and tang from the spice rub. Nestled into a bed of banana leaves, the pre-feast pig looks like this:

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Although we’ve not yet tried actually roasting an animal out in the back yard, Ku plays an excellent butcher:

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Although Carl was a little unnerved by Ku’s plastic gloves, he did enjoy the pig skin. mmmm. crispy. Even Chowder had a good time.

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In addition to the piggy (although what more could you want?) we enjoyed some delicious sides including Jenni’s bleu cheese potato salad, Carl’s Asian slaw, grilled corn, zucchini bread, and Cupcakes Royale for the big finale, which were also enjoyed by all, especially the birthday girl and Miss Mia, whom I had to fight off for that salted caramel cupcake. Three year olds can be quite wily!

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By the time we finally stumbled home we were full of pig, cake, and wine, but still in better shape than our porcine friend. Thanks pig! and thanks Ku and Adrian for another great party!

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August 17, 2009

Every year, Carl and his sister Pamela special order chile peppers from Hatch, New Mexico – apparently the “Chile Capital of the World” – which come overnighted to Pam’s door at the height of the harvest in August. When the boxes – three bushels this year – show up, they get some friends together, grill up all the peppers, vaccum pack them, and freeze for use the rest of the year. This year, I got to help with the packing of two huge boxes of Big Jim medium-spicy peppers, and one bushel of Sandia hot peppers. Let me tell you, that is a lot of peppers.

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The first batch of Big Jims.

After washing the peppers, Carl and his brother-in-law Brad tossed them on the grill and took turns blistering them until they were nice and charred.

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Peppers, blistered and off the grill!

After cooking and cooling, I helped man the Foodsaver and we vacuum-packed all the peppers for freezing and future use in delicious enchiladas, chile stews, taco sauces, etc. Since I benefit from the use of these delicious peppers, I was more than happy to seal and freeze until the machine overheated!

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Carl, workin’ the old Foodsaver.

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The finished product, ready to be eaten in a few weeks, or whenever.

Cheese and Charcuterie at Oddfellows

June 7, 2009

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Met up with the girls at one of Cap Hill’s newer hot spots, Oddfellows, for drinks and snacks on the hottest night of the of the year so far. As you can see, the space – located in the old Oddfellows Hall on Tenth between Pike and Pine – is open and airy, with high ceilings and huge windows that made it feel pleasant even though it was hot outside and packed inside with a mixed crowd of Hill hipsters, young families, and neighbors looking for a cold beer before braving the line at Molly Moon’s around the corner.

We had a lot to catch up on (see below), so our focus was mostly on procuring cold beers and a cool breeze, but we also enjoyed the house cheese plate – wedges of Point Reyes blue, triple creme brie, and parmesan, with almonds, dried fruit, and lavender honey – and the charcuterie board, which was chock-full of mortadella, salumi, and prosciutto, along with some delicious stone-ground mustard and olives.

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Ms. Jen enjoying some salty cured meats.

The snacks and ice-cold pilsners were just right for the hot day and a much-needed and anticipated dish session with three great friends I don’t see nearly enough. I look forward to getting back to Oddfellows – possibly for brunch sometime soon – although I doubt my visit can replicate the excitement of Shanon’s news!

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Congratulations Shan and Steve!