Curious Appetite

Seattle

Reflections of America- Eating through the West Coast

In June of 2012, I moved to Florence. In the last days of November 2013, I made a trip back to my motherland. If I can call America that. I went because it was time to take a break. And also to perform a wedding. Yes, I am a certified wedding officiant. If you are coming to Italy looking for an American wedding officiant- you can count on me. Yes yes, I am a woman of many trades: travel, food, wine, cooking and yes- officiating marriages.

This wedding was in Hawaii. The weather was a dream. The wedding went off with a bang and a bit of whiskey.

My 1st week in America involved lots of fish, raw fish, mango, avocados the size of melons, papaya, poke salads (my favorite) and street tacos. During my stay in the paradise of Kauai, I attended a coffee tour, a rum tasting tour and many days at the beach attempting to body board, sipping mai tais and pina coladas in between. I almost want to move back to Seattle just so that I can have easy access to Hawaii. America did a good job securing that state as one of ours. As beautiful and unique as it was, I couldn’t help thinking how much it resembled L’Isola d’Elba off the Tuscan coast. So Italian expats or Italophiles (or just plain ol’ Italians), if you’d like to experience Hawaii but can’t make the trek- go to Elba! Continue Reading

Canon Seattle – not just a whiskey and bitters emporium

Canon is a little cocktail bar in Capitol Hill next to Lark and across from Cafe Presse on 12th. It has wide blinds in the window and its bar-tops are rumored to be stained with bitters. On one of my runs as a wine rep, I came across this little hidden whiskey house and was intrigued from the get-go. You see, I love whiskey and bitters. If I can’t get my hands on the fancy S***, my cheap well-drink of choice is Whiskey & Ginger (real ginger-ale, bar “ginger-ale” should be barred) with artisan bitters and a slice of lime. For a crafted cocktail, I love anything with whiskey and vermouth like a Manhattan. The bitter the better. I like old man drinks and Canon is where you can get one. No sweetheart, you won’t find some cheesy over-sugared “cosmo” on the menu here.

Seattle is really exploding with the whole speak-easy, prohibition style old-fashioned cocktail bars with bartenders in cute little vests to match. I read up on Canon and realized my intrigue was onto something as Jamie Boudreau, the mastermind running the canon, had been praised as the next best bartender/mixologist in America. But I was intrigued not just by his thoughtful inventions like the Vermouth experiment (a tiny 3 mini Manhattans with each a unique Vermouth including Punt e Mes) but I was curious about his food. After all, the cocktail is intended as either an appetite stimulant or an after-dinner digestive “remedy”. Bitters stimulate our digestive juices, they really do taste like medicine for a reason! If you have a good tummy warming cocktail, you should have some noshes to accompany them. Indeed, Canon is the best kept foodie secret. Pictured above was a Cassoulet, which is a type of is a rich, slow-cooked casserole originating in the south of France, containing meat (in this case, sausage)  and white haricot beans with a roasted chicken leg. It was truly flavorful, considerate and complex in textures. I like that there was this creamy rich sauce and then perfectly cooked buttery beans, herbaceous sausage rich in sage (I heart sage), and this crispy skinned chicken whose meat was super moist and creamy. And it was good enough for 2 and a steal at 20. We also had some other small plates like Ricotta Gnudi (a type of ricotta dumplings) and seared salmon with black truffle and leeks. These were simple, tasty and downright wonderful. Because food’s friend is wine (cocktails are food’s rebound), I found myself enjoying some unique and obscure French red wines. I highly recommend Canon- but make a night of it. Start off with some caramel popcorn, order a couple small plates and enjoy a glass or two of  a unique wine and finish with nice digestif cocktail like the Vermouth experiment. Cheers!

Thoughts on Italian Food in Seattle

When I meet fellow writers, bloggers, foodies, chefs and anyone with a fine tuned palate for real food and wine, we inevitably end up talking about Italian Food. I completed my B.A. in Italian Studies and traveled extensively throughout Italy with priceless and precious gastronomic memories, which I detailed heavily in this blog. I didn’t just travel as a tourist, I lived there playing the role of a transient local. So when I get to discussing my blog and how I am heavily critical of Italian restaurants in Seattle, the next question folks ask me is: “So what is your favorite spot to grab Italian food?”
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{The Book Larder: A literary oasis for "foodies"}

Have you ever been at a massive bookstore and shot straight to the food section, wishing it were bigger and included musings from your local writers? Have you ever dreamed of a bookstore, whose collection was focused on all things food, had a large inviting kitchen for food demos and cooking classes, made fresh-baked cookies waiting just for you on snow days, hosted book signings with the author who might even create one of their recipes on site in said-kitchen?  Well, if you haven’t heard of the Book Larder, you may want to reconsider your ignorance.

This Larder sits next to Dot’s Deli, which is also a new Fremont gem serving up sandys, in-house charcuterie, steak tartare and pates. The Book Larder is in quite the perfect location within this little wedge of foodie haven. Across the street is Caffe’ Vita, Via Tribunali Pizzeria, a few beats past there is Pecado Bueno (home of the $3 margarita) and Uneeda Burger. I love this little nook of Fremont. With the Fremont Abby also within couple steps to furnish your art and culture appetite, you really don’t need to bother tumbling down the hill to the main strip. All this area would need is a grocery store….oh wait, there IS.

Anywho, one of the snow laden days that Seattle shutdown, I received a FB update from the Larder offering up hot cookies and tea for any who dared to make the trek. Oh, you bet I did.

And bet your pants that I went sledding later on for, you know, “exercise”.  These gems were warm gooey buttery crunchy around the edges dark chocolate hazelnut cookies. And it came from a British baking book. Of course it did. Those Brits know a couple things (emphasis on “couple” ;), and those are jacket potatoes and cookies. Our American oatmeal raisin (I’m sorry but raisin in cookies are just gross) and even some versions of the chocolate chip are pathetic in comparison. Americans rarely invite the hazelnut, sorry I mean filberts, to the baking goodies party. Peanuts, maybe. And the Brits also are not afraid of…BUTTER.

During this peruse, I discovered rad rare finds like The Anthropologist’s Cookbook (which you bet it included beetle stews). They have every reference book you can think of, as long as you’re interested say in making your own sausages, DIY butchering and pickling, WINE guides, and even books on IRAQI cuisine! So far, my picks have been Plate to Pixel (a great read and how-to for snapping Food Porn) and The Wine Lover’s Companion (a wicked useful handy dictionary for all A to Z wine talk!).

Here’s a link to their calendar

http://www.booklarder.com/events/2012/01

I hope you get a chance to pop in! But only after you enjoy a treat from Dot’s Deli. I’ve heard their Ruben is to cry for. 🙂

The Capital Grille: Seattle

Everyone says “save dessert for last” but in some cultures, dessert is actually eaten 1st in order to properly digest a meal. I.e. sugars digest fast and protein, fiber, fat and complex carbs burn slow. Better to eat from simple burning to slow in order to prevent stomach upset. Whatever, in that case I’ll just eat my cake before and after my meal. How about that, nutrition.

I’ve lived in Seattle for several years now and I have always noticed the Capital Grille but never would have given it a thought until I attended a Foodportunity Seattle Food Blogger’s happy hour. It seemed way too fancy, you know what I mean by that. The kind of fancy that I thought only invited the symphony go-ers, the steakhouse ballers and the diamond girls. With valet men outside the door, how could you blame me in my funky boots and nose ring sporting 20something self? I mean, I’m not frumpy I just never felt that was my scene. Luckily, I did go out of pure chance back in August and I was quite impressed with the whole experience. They sampled us their entire happy hour which included marinated skewered meats, lobster sliders, parm-truffle frites, calamari, mini-caprese sandwiches and desserts. And best of all they were serving adorable cocktails  in mini martini glasses and such. And to my surprise, valet was complimentary for evening diners. The staff were extremely cordial, warm and surprisingly involved in the local food scene. Make no mistake, The Capital Grille is definitely under a massive corporate umbrella of chain restaurants and they are in the same brand family as Red Lobster and The Olive Garden. However, the Capital Grille, at least in Seattle, is seemingly committed to seasonality, green-practices such as low-energy lighting, progressive recycling programs and food donation programs that work with local non-profits such as Food Lifeline.  It just goes to show, never judge a book by its corporate cover. I am realizing, and appreciating, the corporate entities that are beginning to adopt responsible behaviors.

Anyway, aside from all thaaaaaaat…lets get down to the pudding:)

I returned for lunch this week and was thoroughly content that I did. Walk in the rotating door and you are greeted most courteously by the host staff as they seat you and LAY your napkin on your LAP. Not to mention they have coat check! I must say, the menu’ was pretty diverse and interesting showcasing creative salads and appetizers like hot pepper calamari and wagyu beef carpaccio as well as enticing sandwiches and entrees which are also very steak and seafood centric yet with a seasonal twist. However, if it is your 1st time, I would suggest the “Plates” menu’ for lunch. Which is a choice of soup or salad, sandwich and a vegetable side. Sounds boring, right? Does porcini bisque, clam chowder or lobster bisque sound boring? What about Tenderloin Sliders, Lobster Roll or a Fork and Knife BLT? Truffle pomme frites, Green Beans with Heirloom Tomatoes and Leeks sound blah too? NOT.

(I regrettably left home w/o my camera, please bear with me and my Droid shots:)

Lobster Roll w/ Truffle Parmesean Frittes

Perfectly tender melt in your mouth, savory umami stricken mini tenderloin sliders, order them medium.

This 3 course Lunch is quite the steal at $15. We were in a good mood so we also decided to treat ourselves to a bottle of bubbly Marques de la Tour Brut, which was a steal and a half. A perfect lunch bubbly that was light, crisp and low enough in alcohol that we could justify enjoying hooch at noon. But, I think anytime is wine time, just think of the Greek and Romans winos back over 3000 years ago in the Bacchanalia Era…do you think they cared what time it was?

I think this place is great for a downtown lunch trek, a perfect place to bring your boss to, to host work parties and happy hours for sure. If you are looking to experience dining in the heart of downtown with a wicked extensive wine list, I dare you to check out The Capital Grille. Its not “sceney’ or “trendy” which at times can be more pretentiously grating than seemingly upscale fine dining. They seem to have a consistent focus on what should be important in a dining experience. That is: fine service, pro-chef crafted food in a top location. Go see a show at Benaroya or The Triple Door and stop by here for Happy Hour, pre-show drinks or Dinner, the valet is complimentary so might as well save the stress of parking and treat yourself!  Also, I think this is also the spot for surf and turf on a fancy occasion splurge…or even a classy datey dinner or post-date dessert. Check out the opening photo of Creme Brulee-inspired Ricotta & Vanilla Wafer crust cheesecake….oh man good thing there were leftovers, I was quite thankful the day after:)

I hope you go and eat here at least once! It made our day:) Happy New Year!

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