Curious Appetite

The Walrus and the Carpenter.

“I weep for you,” the Walrus said:

“I deeply sympathize.”

With sobs and tears he sorted out

Those of the largest size,

Holding his pocket-handkerchiefs

Before his streaming eyes.

“O Oysters,” said the Carpenter,

“You’ve had a pleasant run!

Shall we be trotting home again?”

But answer came there none—

And this was scarcely odd, because

They’d eaten every one.

…Indeed eaten every one. Sgulp!

Hama Hama. Kumamoto. Penn Cove.  Those were the ones who made the fateful leap into my belly. Almost painfully cold, kinda made your teeth squeal and your molars zing. Sgulpy, milky, meaty and slippery, these ones were ever so munchy munchable.  So good, they were ordered to the 3rd power.

As far as small plates goes, they got it going on. Fried oysters (seemingly southern style in the fryage) with a thick creamy cilantro aioli.  Pork Belly over lentils and greens. Alright Seattle, enough with the Pork Belly. Except you, Carpenter. These were THICK smokey SLABS of MEATY GREASY SWINE. Mmmm. And, salty. Fried brussel sprouts. Crispy buttery and cruciferously wicked. Steak tartare with a farm egg and crostini. At first I thought, who the hell would order steak tartare from an oyster bar. At last, I realized: smart people. It was as if the egg was a a silky olive oil custard creme and the taboo minced steak was lusciously mustardy and made my stomach butterfly with infatuation at this pinnacle moment: my life’s very first bite of raw cow flesh. Romantic, I am.

I love this place. did i mention that yet?

Nettletown

One morning, as I was restlessly slept-in, I was feeling spontaneous and felt compelled to venture out for brunch. I urbanspoon’d “brunch” and found this “Nettletown.” I thought, what a peculiar name. It seems that Nettles have become a culinary trend in the Pacific Northwest, i.e. nettle papparadelle, nettled sausage, nettle gratin. Nettles are medicinal as they are delicious. They are amazing towards combating allergies. And amazing in curing the experimental palate.

I was quite surprised to see this place tucked next to subway in the seemingly convenience strip of Eastlake. I walked in, and was covered by colors, mural-inspired decor, and a counter lined of eccentric sweets. Dark chocolate covered noodle haystacks to mexican chocolate (sliced) coconut bars.  They were delicately arranged and gastronomically full of beauty. And the best part? COST. $1.60 for that chocolatey coconut blissy bar that I enjoyed much with some full-bodied organic coffee that was served in a cute modestly sized Japanese-like styled light blue ceramic mug, and as I waited for my baked truffled sunchoke eggs to arrive.

Menu items seem baked and/or cooked to order (allow 20 minutes for this special): and I was impressed by all of the choices. Simplicity, yet complexity. Traditional, yet experimental. There was something truly special about the vibe inside. It really seemed like a little hole in the wall that no one knew about, and that would only be exposed by Anthony Bourdain. I found that to be completely false once I stumbled upon the latest Eater Heat Map http://m.eater.com/archives/2010/12/29/the-eater-seattle-heat-map-where-to-eat-right-now.php

I feel like homey little hole in the wall joints that you can fill up on precious gourmet comfort meals for less than ten bucks is a rarity in Seattle, unless you hit up the I.D., Beacon Hill, White Center, or maybe Korean joints along HWY 99. Usually, so-called “foodie” and well-ranked venues like Springhill (bless your hearts and please forgive me for the following profiling:)  are in high-profiled spaces with seemingly high-profiled snooty clientele. And that with coffee and tip and maybe a slice of brioche will let you escape for those ten $mackers.

The point IS…these baked eggies were creamy, truffly (of the black variety) and had semi-firm savory sunchokes baked in with a creamy cheese crust. The green spinach salad was a great way to polish off the palate and still leave the truffle lingering and mingling with the olivey vinaigrette.

As I lurked through the website, I discovered the owner’s inspirations come from her Swiss and Chinese roots. TOTALLY made sense, after I was confounded by the melange of modern European Ikea-eske ideas of Elk-Balls and Swiss Knoepfli (swiss spaetzle) yet Asian style-comfort foods like 5-spiced Berkshire pork ribs buried in wild mushroom noodle soup.

I am so bewildered by this place, not only for the way you can get sweet unpretentious treats for under $2, its small yet bursting  selection of brunch items, the fact that its hard to spot along Eastlake ave and sits right next to a franchise that is belittling the gastronomic integrity of America, and the fact that they actually utilize a CSA farm/produce box  scheme to provide its whole food ingredients.

So, my question is, how good is a lemongrass elk meatball?

Sunshine on the mindful appetite- Lunch @cafefloraveg

Today was one of the glorious sunny fall days that make Seattle worth living in- and Cafe Flora is a great spot to be indoors when choosing to eat-in. It is full of open windows and cozy rooms, one with an actual flowing fountain as if vegging out in the whimsical garden of vegetarian bliss,  and you could bask in its gastronomic glory (and sun) for hours.

I used to always think of Cafe’ Flora as the restaurant for people who wanted to be vegetarian or vegan on the week-ends, as its menu is exclusively vegetarian and vegan, now w/ many gluten-free options. And it used to always seem like a heavily fakon’ bakon soy imitation kind of novelty place. Well, that was over 5 years ago and its menu has diversified to celebrate the beauty of vegetables, not its imitation meat inventions.

 

I was in for lunch. And boy was it yummy. (and sunny)

This was their Lentil Pate Platter w/ In-House Pickles Veggies (including purple cauliflower, beets, red peppers and of course a cuke), Marinated Olives, a Raspberry confit, crisp sweet tarty sliced (I bet local honeycrisp) apples to finish and daggered with these crispy olive oily sea salt Panzanella Croccanti (crackers). ====== $9 ====== best gourm-deal of 2010.

The lentil Pate was as you would expect, creamy yet grainy, sticky, lentily, rich and delicious. Perfect pair of Croccanti dagger crackers to schmear with.

You would think that I suffered a salt-lick coma from all the pickledness, but everything was pleasantly unbriney and full punched with flavor. Good crispage concerning the pickledge and good meaty herby olives. as I was soaking in sun in our greenhouse-like room, I saw a waitress take a sandwich board in the back that said “Happy Hour.” And that’s when I’ll be back.

Cafe’ Flora, thank you for showcasing palatable gourmet veggie plates for those of us who would like to be vegetarian on the week-end, or at lunchtime =)

sEATtle Restaurant week: POPPY.

For my birthday dinner this year it was a toss up between Joule in Wallingford or Poppy in Capital Hill. I went with Joule and kept Poppy on the back burner of my eating wishlist. Well, Seattle Eat Week was just the perfect non-birthday excuse to get into Poppy.  3 courses for $25. A pretty rich deal, considering Poppy specializes in 7-piece fusion full main “Thalis” which run $32 just on their own. With an appetizer and a dessert that could well run you a near $50 hole in your wallet.

There were a couple appetizer and Thali options to choose from.

I started with: Poached Oysters (on the half shell) with creamy sorrel sauce and bacon

I Thali’ed:

Lavender Duck Leg a top whipped potatoes sided with: pumpkin cardamom and green chile soup,  radicchio grilled fig and pumpkin seed salad, brussel sprouts with shallot rings, chard chantrelle and farro gratin, gingered burdock pickle, and a modest oval disk of nigella-poppy naan bread.

I dessert’ed:

Dark Chocolate Ice Cream with tiny tiny malt balls sprinkled on top served in a martini glass.

This sounds like a lot of food, but it was the perfect amount. I wont embellish much on each small dish as the flavors should speak for themselves, Pumpkin Cardamom and Green Chile Soup, those words should invoke memories of fresh cracked cardamom, kick-tart green chile and creamy savory smooth pumpkin squash. And I am so confident of Poppy and its culinary artistry that I hope you will take the flavors for their word and experience them for yourself.

I cannot emphasize how amazing subtle yet potently flavorful the oysters and its sorrell sauce swam on the palate. I cannot describe how tender, juicy and calming the lavender duck leg was with its perfectly crisped herbaceous skin was.  I cannot describe how full of complimentary character the chard chantrelle and farro gratin was, perfect bread crumbage and gruyere gratedge. Nor can I describe how the dark chocolate malted ball sundae (in the cutest little martini glass) reversed my life-long disgust and  towards anything malted or likewise maltballed.  That sundae reversed my angst towards maltness so much that I have (had) a stash of chocolate peanut butter maltballs in my sweets pantry.

Dear Poppy,

Despite your obvious contemp./modern plastic Ikea-esque tea-light ambience on the tip of Broadway, I applaud and thank you for your presence. Your choice of herbs and whole ingredients have dazzled my palate and inspired me ever so further. You also have convinced me that experimental, adventuresome yet nourishing eating on a budget that moved me to write this glowing reflection is attainable.

To all you readers, I highly encourage you to partake in this fabulous flavor melanged experience. With a friend, 2 friends, a sister or all of them,a brother, a mother, a date, hell you could even get jolly and invite the Real Change guy with you on the bill. just don’t let it go unwitnessed and unshared.

Other Coast Cafe

I have to preface this posting with the fact I dooped myself by just entertaining the concept of this place. I am pretty unconvinced of wanna-be nichey east coast mimicky sandwitch shops. If i would like to bust my gut with a greasy philly cheesesteak on a flakey super bleached soft doughy roll and having my forearm glisten with emulsified cheese product and steak “juice”, i’m going to PHILLY.

Would you go to Tennessee to eat smoked salmon lox and cream on ciabatta?

I was victim of the tummy rumbles and puroused Flours in Ballard and decided i didn’t want some fruffy poser edgy basil oil truffle salted mozz sand.  I can make that at home. What I thought Other Coast would provide in heartiness and creativity,  turned out to overcompensate in the “ripping-me-off” genre.

I had my doubts during the menu stare-down, but once I glanced over at the register and saw Seattle Magazine and The Seattle Weekly endorsements, I started to regulate my sandwich insecurity. I ordered the special, which was Boars head cajun turkey, buffalo house made blue cheese mayo dressing, lettuce and tomato. I chose Rye. HOT. For half a sandy, it came out to 9 bucks.

It basically was a mound of rushedly hacked cajun mechanically separated and formed turkey product, 2 slices of freezer burn tomato and a poor poor schmear of this buffalo blue cheese mayo liquid thing. Oh, and a mound of shredded iceberg lettuce.

I could write a whole blog about how pointless and insulting iceburg lettuce is and how humiliating it is to know that most Americans think that it actually belongs in a salad, and actually pay for it, and accept its presence on a sandwich and still deem it acceptable to called it a lettuce rather than what it is: cellulized water.

Total waste of 9 bucks. (FOR A HALF SAND!!) The buffalo mayo was just really salty and blandly hot, I never thought this was possible for mayo but it was also DRY . I wasn’t convinced of the “house-made” claim nor could i seem to detect the blue cheese in the sauce, and I honestly couldn’t taste it either. the processed turkey product was filling but not remotely resembling a real turkey texture.  The rye was a good dry rye studded with caraway seeds, but I wonder if it was baked locally or from a food shipping distributer. It was at best a protein rich salt-lick.

The only truth to this  East Coast sandwich shop with a “Northwest Attitude” as they self proclaim, is that it is a pretty passive aggressive attempt at crafting sandwiches. Maybe I should try a few more, but then i’d be wasting more money that could be spent on experimenting at LunchBox or Homegrown  which don’t claim its Easterness and stay true and foodie to its NW roots.

Hey Seattle, its O.K. to set a different standard for sandwiches, the East Coast doesn’t have a patent on them so just accept that our gastro-regionality needs no imitation and vice versa.

Other Coast, lower your prices or take down your outdated magazine cut-out praise trophies as to not doop the next unassuming and hungry foodie.

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