Curious Appetite

My birthday dinner: Anchovies and Olives. Oh, the irony!

Now, you aren’t going to believe this. But I actually chose to eat at an Ethan Stowell restaurant for my birthday dinner, you know, by the Italian-inspired chef I have ranted about for the last year.

I was hopeful, I was curious, I was willing to set aside our differences and sweep it all under the rug. The menu’ looked interesting, with words like $1 happy hour penn cove oysters, apple rhubarb geoduck crudo and marinated radicchio sultana basil smoked mussel salad, how could you blame me?

Lets get started. The “power hour” penn cove oysters were slimy and bleachy tasting. Don’t be fooled by looks. They were more slimy than they were firm. They were more astringent than bright & briney. And they finished more citrus-like than cucumbersome.

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Oysterfest 2011 in Samish, WA

Lately, I have been epicuriously dining at potlucks, backyards, farmsteads and as of most recent: at the seashore. Sometimes, the best food is that consumed in and by good company. I was lucky enough to be invited to Oysterfest 2011  in Samish, WA . And may I say, it was quite an exhibit of the Pacific Northwest BOUNTY! Not only with seafood, but also the yummy delicious sides just about everyone brought! Oysterfest was nestled this year in Samish, WA at the Acme Seafood Company along a beautiful strip of beach and mountains in view paired perfectly with breezy Bluegrass by the Shed Boys. As if donating extra joy to our lives wasn’t reason enough, the event was intended to raise money for TeenFeed, a Seattle-Based non-profit that provides resources, outreach and rehabilitation to teens living on the streets. Talk about win-win, the day came dressed with a sweet dose of SUN. The irony of it all, is that we missed the boat on the oysters, but believe me, I didn’t even notice until I put the subject line in for this post.

I can’t imagine how I got so lucky, but we were surrounded by bottomless fresh perfectly cooked crab with TEQUILA BUTTER for dipping, Mediterranean Chorizo style Mussels, CLAM FRITTERS with a buttermilky batter (paired with a divine tartar sauce), and creative potluck sides like Harissa style garlicky Carrot Salad, a creamy yet kicky Potato Salad, Fresh shucked corn and tomato salad topped with perfectly ripe avocado, several quinoa salad variations, Tuscan Panzanella  salad (a delicious olive oiled bread, tomato and fresh mozzarella salad), and a killer dessert of Blueberry Batter Cake. O.M.GOOD!  Enjoy the slideshow of the shots I managed to pull myself away from my fork and crabby fingers from to take!

This was the mouthwatering mussels and clams cooked in a Mediterranean spicy full bodied chunky tomato sauce, please mind the glaring sun:)

cracking away to fresh caught tequila butter dipped crab

my plate stock piled with amazing sides, such as this sweet citusy corn salad with fresh avocado, cilantro and tomato

The nutty smooth olive oil silkened Panzanella salad

CLAM FRITTERS in the frydaddy making!

these little clam hush puppies lasted for about 3 minutes out of the fryer and popped happily into a few lucky bellies

and how did I forget to mention the king SALMON!! This was the ultimate CANDY of the sea! So sweet, tangy, moist, peppery, melty, not to mention fresh! Please, try not to drool!

#pureheaven

Last but not least, the Blueberry Batter cake. No need to describe this buttery cakey blueberry mound of goodness!

Columbia City Alehouse: The Tuna Melt.

On June 7th, 2011, The Stranger (a Seattle weekly-like free publication but supposedly more alternative)  published its weekly food feature called “The Great Tuna Melt investigation.” At glance, I thought “did they run out of time for the food column deadline or just ran out of good ideas?” But then I read it, as they reviewed…oh say 10 or so restaurants and it was actually quite entertaining and found it rang so true. True meaning that they slammed a place for screwing up mashed up canned tuna by drowning it in mayonnaise thus essentially making a slimy slippery fatty salt-lick “messwich” and then proceeded to call them out for being over priced. It was what I thought all along when it came down to ordering a tuna melt in a pub or any other food joint. Last time I ordered one out was (as a joke) at a Marie Calender’s (also a joke) and believe me I think I needed a cow’s stomach to burn up that mound of crap.  But all that changed once that article in The Stranger came out. I took a new consideration to the tuna melt. I mean, afterall, if you can’t expect a place to do a tuna melt right, how could you trust them with a burger?

So today, after a long strenuous escape into the mountains, I decided I deserved a decadent pub burger. I was deliberating between a southern fried chicken sandwich with a spicy collard greens pesto AND aioli or the staple BURGER. Then I saw the tuna melt, the same tuna melt that got a raving review in The Stranger’s great investigation. I asked the barman: what would he choose were he in my hungry yet curious shoes (kickingly swinging from the barstool) and he said definitely the tuna melt. That sealed the deal, I wanted to taste what that reviewer tasted.  And it went a lil’ like this:

The albacore was bathed almost like a bubble bath in the mayonnaise, like it just got a makeover and a spaday. And you could actually chew up the tuna, as if there were REAL chunks of fish from the ocean. And there were little specks of green chile that seemed more like spicy chopped pickles. In a good way.

All this was grilled perfectly with a deliciously melted sharp pepperjack cheese sandwiched in crispy toasty buttery sourdough, just like mom used to make. If your mom was fancy enough to have a sandwich griller, that is. Looking back at the review David Schmader wrote on CCA’s tuna melt, he sort of crticized the bread for acting as a “bland framing crouton for the green-chili-and-albacore explosion within.” And I thought that the crispy grilled buttery (what homemade croutons do resemble I suppose) sourdough slices complimented the heck out of the “explosion” within. What more did David want? I guess you can never please a food critic. 🙂

Moral of the story is that Columbia City is pretty darn awesome with lots of undiscovered jewels (Like Columbia City Bakery?!?! I had a Bacon Date Cheddar scone just the other day that I thought I was going to faint over.) and you should one: go to Columbia City Alehouse for a delightfully crafted microbrew and a tuna melt and then pledge to make the tuna melt your gateway bite into any new (for you) brewpub, gastropub, or sandwich shop.

Perche’ No?

I was brought to Perche’ No? for a pair of occasions and the last one did it in for me to write home about. Perche’ No? is an Italian restaurant that has been in operation for over 15 years by an Asian-American family with a deep rooted fascination, appreciation and adoration for Italy, her food and culture. Continue Reading

Staple and Fancy Mercantile

Key words to my S&F experience:

Lackluster, anti-climatic, lack of depth, disappointing, underwhelming, unconvincing, no detectable levels of Umami, lack of savor, absence of “melt-in-your-mouth” gastro euphoria. And for nearly 30 bucks a plate, we better have some goddamn inkling of a food-gasm. Continue Reading

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