Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


Brunch at Verve

Pork Belly and Egg Close-up
Originally uploaded by Nikchick.
Verve is a spacious wine bar in Columbia City, tucked around the corner from more visible eateries like Jones Barbecue and Geraldine's Counter. I'd been there once or twice before shortly after they'd opened but for one reason and another hadn't been back. Until this week I didn't know they do a weekend brunch. Since this happens to be my first Kate-free weekend since before Christmas, it occurred to me that it would be a swell time to try out the brunch.

We were not disappointed. In fact, we were quite thrilled with the results of our excursion. For about $5 more than we would have spent on a satisfactory breakfast at Geraldine's Counter we had a spectacular breakfast at Verve. I'll take that for a fiver!

It was also the first time I got some decent shots in with the camera we got as a Christmas gift, so I hope this will mean a return to my food blogging in 2009. I do so enjoy the food blogging.

Labels: , , , ,


Another Public Service Announcement

Seattle diners, this one's for you!

For the last 15 years I have enjoyed Muhammed Bhatti's wonderful restaurant, Cedars on Brooklyn. When I heard Cedar's was changing hands this spring and going to be Cedars in name only, I was dismayed! I needn't have worried, because Mr. Muhammed is back and better than ever in his new location, Northgate's fantastic new Saffron Grill.

We're in the midst of the annual Green Ronin summit and I had a few places in mind for tonight's team dinner but those went out the window immediately when Marc told us that we could have the same delicious Cedars food, the same friendly and attentive service, at a new and better location. I knew I had to bring the guys there.

I was blown away by the modern new space after many years of being cramped into Cedars on Brooklyn. It's a crying shame that a restaurant calling itself Cedars still occupies the space that Mr. Muhammed's restaurant lived in for so long because this will certainly result in confusion as the zombie "Cedars" continues to trade on the reputation that was built by others. Kate has tried butter chicken all across Washington and in Vancouver BC and solemnly declares the Saffron Grill's (to her, still "Cedars") to be "the best ever, seriously."

The heart of the Cedars on Brooklyn we've known and loved now beats in Northgate's Saffron Grill. Pass it on!

Labels: ,


Live from Vegas

Pramas and I spent the weekend in Las Vegas before the GAMA Trade Show officially kicked off. Gabe "Mondo" Vega is eve expanding his ConQuest gaming convention empire and this year he kicked off ConQuest Vegas. We came down to show our support. They had a lovely space up on the 26th floor of Bally's (rooms with a view!) where the GTS seminars have been held. In the future I hope to be a bit more involved than we were this year (the lead-up to Vegas coincided with having to get a lot of other things under control around GRHQ and Chez Ronin). We may even make an appearance down at the next ConQuest franchise: ConQuest Reno in November. We'll see.

Pramas and I were here early on Saturday and couldn't yet check into our room so we went over to enjoy brunch at the Las Vegas incarnation of Thomas Keller's Bouchon . Really good idea. Great food, relaxing atmosphere, and it killed just the right amount of time to allow us to go back to Bally's and check into our room. We've also enjoyed meals at Wing Lei at the Wynn (the only Michelin starred Chinese restaurant in America, where we enjoyed the Peking duck tasting menu) and Michael Mina's Seablue over at the MGM. We also made a trip over to the Stage Deli at Caesar's Palace before Pramas had to pack up and hit the airport. So, the eating's been alright so far. Ha.

Chris heads home tonight to rejoin Kate, who has had a grand little adventure of her own bouncing around to various friends and hitting going away parties and Passover dinners, among other excitements. We waited all day to see if there were going to be any further announcements of clarifications on the situation with the GSL but we didn't glean any further information. No one we've talked to seems eager to sign on for 4E support current conditions. It seems like WotC has cast somewhat of a pall over things as retailers and distributors (not just third party publishers) try to make sense of what's happening and try to predict what the gaming landscape is going to look like in six to nine months time. At least one RPG liquidator is already offering to buy up any and all d20 products publishers will be forbidden to sell after the end of the year. Meanwhile I've already seen an absolutely adorable book that I can't wait to snap up from Atlas Games. I look forward to seeing more stuff tomorrow when the exhibit halls are set up for real.

Will try to find time to get some of my food photos posted this week but it may all wait until I get home. Damned getting older. 9:30 in Vegas and I'm dead tired (and the exhibit hall hasn't even opened yet!). For now, this is all the news I can think to report.

Labels: , , , , ,


Wine and Games

Jess has a wine locker at a wine storage place here in Seattle. One of the benefits of this is that they have a room that members can use for private tastings or small gatherings. It was the perfect location for a little wine and gaming. Originally we were going to play some old-school D&D but we were down a couple players and the GM had a hard week so we defaulted to Descent instead. Great space. I took a bunch of photos.

Sunday Pramas left for GDC so Kate and I cooked up a batch of food John and Jenny. Yesterday was the official due date (though no baby sign yet) and we wanted to make sure they were loaded up with some food in the freezer while they wait for their little pumpkin to arrive. They got a batch of Thai-style Ground Beef, a couple pans of Chicken Enchiladas Verdes, and some Lasagna Rolls that Kate did herself from start to finish. Then we baked up a pan of Chicken with Olives and Lemon and a rice cooker full of rice and arrived with dinner hot and ready to go. Had a nice dinner and and even nicer visit. Am very excited to see them with their baby... not long now.

I also uploaded a gazillion photos that have been sitting on my hard drive waiting for attention. I've got a set for our trip to Boom Noodle, my visit to Brouwer's for Belgian beers and pomme frites, a photo set from the Theo Chocolate tour, photos from Jenny's baby shower last month, a look at the room where Chris did his sleep study, and a recent visit to Aoki Sushi.

Whew. You'd think I'd been busy or something.

Labels: , , , ,


Theo + Kawali Grill + Spiderwick

Busy day. I've got photos and whatnot to recap with over the weekend if I find time but I'm frankly exhausted. In addition to prepping for a gigantic shipment of individual orders related to Green Ronin's Freelancer Fundraiser I had a pretty action packed day.

I went on a tour of Theo Chocolates in Freemont. Pretty fun and interesting (except for the oompa loompa dance, ug) and definitely worth the $5. Came home with lots of interesting chocolates and some freakin' awesome chocolate scrubs and lotions to boot (that stuff cost more than $5 but sooooo worth it).

I attended a meeting at Kate's school to go over the so-called details of the trip with the other parents and kids (supposedly). This was not at all fun, so I'm not going to dwell on that right now except to say that I may just be begging for crash space with people I know in New York because I can't imagine actually trying to stay 27 miles out of the city in a random New Jersey city ("I can't remember the name, it starts with a P.") in a $55/night Days Inn with 38 kids and calling that a trip to "New York". Ug.

After the meeting Kate and Chris and I decided we were going down to Columbia City to catch the Spiderwick Chronicles. We decided to have dinner out tonight and instead of going to one of our usual favorite restaurants I suggested that we try something new and hit up the Kawali Grill. Kawali Grill looks a little like a Pho joint or some other casual dining establishment and the food is unpretentious but the chef is top notch and the food was some really good and interesting Filipino-inspired stuff. We had some truly fantastic chicken satay with a great peanut sauce, then Chris tried a dish called Lechon Kawali and I had the house special Oxtail Kare Kare and Kate confined herself to a grilled cheese and fries. Food was fantastic, the Filipino television was hilarious, the chef personally came out to check in with us a couple of times and we were the only white folks in the place (usually a good sign of authenticity). Oh, and Kiro 7 News showed up to film something while we looked on but we couldn't quite figure out what it was about.

Spiderwick was enjoyable. I thought the visuals were incredibly faithful to Tony D's original artwork, which was so cool. The kid playing the role of the twins was convincing as his double character, and even though Kate ran down for us all the changes between the movie and the books I thought the changes were sensible and acceptably faithful to the source. A solid family movie. Congratulations to Holly and Tony!

And now: bed!

Labels: , ,


Motivation (or lack thereof)

Chris and I are having a cocktail party this weekend and I'm struggling to get properly motivated. Mostly, I'm feeling cramped. Kate is out of school, needing attention or just kind of bumping around in the background. Rosie, the world's sweetest attention sponge, is staying through the next week and is really a very sweet girl but she's desperate to be right on top of me if I so much as sneeze, plus there's a Christmas tree up and taking up space along with the usual assortment of boxes and random whatnot.

Usually I'd find the prospect of preparing for our cocktail party very energizing but I'm having trouble ramping up for it and I'm running out of time. Tomorrow is going to be insane. In addition to prepping for the party I'm meeting friends for lunch at Farestart (something we agreed to do in lieu of exchanging gifts, although a certain friend cheated and handed us "stocking stuffers" anyway) and Bruce is in town and joining us for dinner at Umi Sake House tomorrow night.

I was out running errands today so I got to start my morning at the Columbia City Bakery, which makes my favorite Americano in Seattle (not to mention the delicious pastries). I did not see any donut muffins as reported at Cakespy recently but I'll be keeping my eyes open from now on. At the tail end of my day of errands, I treated myself to lunch at the newly reopened Hangar Cafe. I heard about the reopening thanks to JvA over at Mid Beacon Hill and finally found myself out, about, and absolutely starving at the right time. Had a delicious ham-packed Hangar Crepe and a couple of steaming mugs of coffee on this cold and crappy day. I'll definitely find an excuse to go back soon. I haven't checked my camera to see if my stealth photos (when you're one of three guests in a place that has a total of seven tables, obsessive food photography can be a little obtrusive so I try to be as inconspicuous as possible) turned out but I'll post 'em up soon if they did.

Now to figure out why I'm not tired when I should be and hopefully get some decent sleep tonight. Busy day tomorrow.

Labels: , ,


Kate is home!

Very glad to have things back to normal.

Pramas is out at Wargame Wednesday with Rick so it was a girl's night out tonight. After making the usual rush-hour "enhanced" drive I'm rarely in any shape to cook when I get home. I convinced Kate to get wacky and go out to dinner with me at somewhere unusual. We finally tried Kallaloo instead of resorting to pizza or some other off-the-bat Kate-friendly location. WOW! Loved it. Kate was not so keen on it, mostly because it was all unfamiliar stuff (she sniffed suspiciously at the fried plantains but liked the macaroni pie because it was essentially a block of baked macaroni and cheese) but I found it all quite excellent. I had the Barbados oven fried chicken which came with a side of macaroni pie and callaloo (think creamed spinach with a stronger, almost artichoke-like note to the greens). Pramas would have liked the chicken. Next time, I'm definitely in to try some goat and I hope they have the stuffed plantains (which they were out of tonight) because those sounded excellent. Topped off with a nice strong ginger beer and I was full and happy.

We're a week away from Kate's birthday and the Festival of Children (on the same night). Kate is performing in the Festival of Children with her dance and cheer squad (who I'm told "don't have any idea what they're doing") and singing with her friend Gloria (they only found out last week that they made it and haven't had a chance to practice together at all since). Somewhere in there we have to have an actual birthday celebration for the girl. I haven't even started to think about how we're pulling that off yet.

Labels: , ,


Mecha Godzilla Roll

Mecha Godzilla Roll
Originally uploaded by Nikchick.
Photos of our spicy Mecha Godzilla Roll and other assorted delicacies are now up on my Flickr page.

Labels: , ,


Blade Runner

I fell for Harrison Ford as Han Solo when I was seven and never looked back. I had the Star Wars trilogy, the Indiana Jones films, and just when I was barely emotionally mature enough for it, Blade Runner to cement that. I love Blade Runner and I love Harrison Ford in it.

When I heard that the Seattle Cinerama was showing Blade Runner the Final Cut on its glorious screen, I wasted no time in suggesting to Pramas that we spend our free evening at the movies. I'm SO glad we did! Unlike the original Star Wars movies that were so visually stunning in their day but aged so poorly and look so cheap and shoddy today, Blade Runner cleans up beautifully and is absolutely gorgeous. It's still believable. The additional scenes and cityscapes in The Final Cut are fantastic. It was great to see it on the big screen and if you like the movie at all, I highly recommend seeing this cut this way if you have the chance.

We arrived downtown a little closer to start time than I'd originally intended and we needed to find something to eat. All the name restaurants in the general Cinerama vicinity were either packed to the gills or had no possible chance of feeding us in half an hour. We walked a few blocks looking for anything promising and stumbled upon Wann, a Japanese Izakaya place, kind of like a Japanese tapas place. They have sushi and sashimi but no "sushi bar" per se. They offer several smallish plates, meant to be shared, as well as beer, sake, and shochu. We had a some "kurobuta sausage" (which, I kid you not, tasted exactly like hot dogs), some crunchy garlic rock shrimp, soft tofu, the double tempura roll, and the absolute HIT of the evening, the Mecha Godzilla roll (Seared kobe beef tataki covered asparagus, cream cheese, cilantro with habanero teriyaki sauce, spicy aioli, wasabi mayo, marked "extremely spicy"). Wow, I could eat another Mecha Godzilla roll right now. Shared a bottle of sake to wash it down and were in and out in half an hour. Unfortunately, by the time we walked back to the theater, picked up the tickets, and found seats the movie had already started but we didn't miss too much and we definitely plan to go investigate Wann some more when we have more time!

It was such a lovely night (not as cold as it's been and no rain at all) it was a shame to come home... so we didn't! After the movie it was still relatively early so we stopped at Stellar Pizza to have a pint or two, a nibble and a relaxing remainder of the evening. Headed home once Stellar closed up for the night and that was just right.

All in all, a good way to spend a free Saturday!

Labels: , ,


Jury Duty Observations

Spent two days in a room at the courthouse waiting for anything at all to happen. Nothing did. I was not called for anything.

I sat for the entire time in what I dubbed "the outlet corner" which had two outlets easily accessible by four chairs, a little away from everything. I sat in that corner with three other laptop wielding would-be jurors. For the first four hours of our ordeal there was free wifi access in the jury room and I was happily clicking away. After lunch on the first day my anti-technology field caught up with me and internet access (and cell phone service for me, though not for everyone) was knocked out for the duration. I spent the rest of my jury duty cleaning up my AOL address book. Woo fun.

Here's a little something I don't think I've shared before: I hate the sound of my own voice. I hate the way I talk, hate the inflections, my accent, my pronunciations, the way I phrase things. I hate to hear myself on tape (and I feel the same way about appearing on video, where seeing my gestures and cartoonish eye rolls make me feel like crawling under a rock) and some part of my infamous reluctance to talk on the phone is related to this. I can't wonder that people sometimes underestimate me or think that I'm dumb because when I hear myself even I think I sound like an idiot.... Yes, I do talk a lot for someone who hates the sound of her own voice but when I'm with my friends or, more likely, when my brain is spinning and drowning out the echos of what I've just said with new thoughts that area begging to be formed into something, I don't have the same reaction. Usually.

Why am I bringing this up? Well, because I ended up spending two days sitting near some strange alternate universe doppleganger of me. In a hoodie and black Chuck Taylor hightops, toting a Hello Kitty bowling bag purse, she sounded like me when she talked. And she talked a lot, as she took several phone calls and chatted with people around her. She punctuated her speech with little ums, laughs, and so on exactly where I would. She talked to her daughter on the phone the way I would talk to Kate, and talked to her friend about her daughter's trouble with the bus driver the way I would talk to my friends about Kate's troubles. We actually probably had a lot in common but I didn't want to strike up a conversation because I couldn't stand to listen to her because it was like listening to myself. There was a point where I actually had to put in some earplugs because it was distracting me so badly.

A bonus of the lack of need for jurors was that we were released for two hour lunch breaks on both days. I took advantage of this and bought lunch at Salumi yesterday (only open 11am to 4pm, Tuesday to Friday). I bought a salami and cheese plate with olives and bread and washed it down with some Limonata. Mmm, that's good stuff. I should call in an order of sliced meat for us (minus Rev. Dr. Evil) to enjoy during the upcoming Green Ronin summit. Today I rode the free downtown buses over to Lola where I had some butternut squash soup topped with a splash of curry oil (outstanding!) and a drop dead gorgeous shawarma heaped with goodness and too much for me to finish. I spent more on my two lunches than I'll be compensated for my time (Seattle's jury pool earns a whopping $10 a day for their trouble) but it was totally worth it.

Not being picked for a jury means that I've completed my service and I'm off the hook until the next time I'm called up. It also means that my plan to get away with my husband for our anniversary can proceed tomorrow without further interference. The trip has already been modified to accommodate Kate being with us (since her dad isn't taking her for the weekend after all) and the weak and shitty United States dollar making the expensive hotels and restaurants all that much more expensive.

Labels: , , ,


Jam packed

Weekend away with Pramas. Too tired for complete sentences.

Orcas Island (look ma, nature!)
Mount Constitution (hiking, paddle boats)
Deer Harbor Inn (with actual deer, and a hot tub!)
Best Montechristo Sandwich EVAH (Srsly!)

Back in Seattle, not quite dinner:
Verve Wine Bar

Chez Pominger for a nosh, then off to:
Voila (review = AWESOME! Go there ASAP!)

Photos and some sort of recap later. Sleep now.

Labels: , , ,


Sunny Saturday

Pramas had agreed earlier in the spring to help me put in a paving stone patio in the back yard. Since we finally seem to be having actual summer weather and have had several days without rain, the time to get to work seems to be upon us. We trotted off to price out materials and found, to my dismay, that we're probably going to have to spend twice what I'd originally thought to get what I want. My plans for the back weren't extravagant (less than 100 square feet of patio) but the materials were way more expensive than I thought. I correctly estimated the paving stones themselves but the underlying paver base and sand are outrageously expensive! Will have to rethink.

Finding ourselves halfway to downtown and hungry on a beautiful sunny day, we decided to be spontaneous and hopped the bus down to the International District for "lunch" (at 3:00pm!) at the Vindigo-approved Shanghai Garden. Kitty corner from Uwajimaya, Shanghai Garden seemed like a standard Chinese restaurant. Polite but disinterested waitresses attended sparse tables, all seated with white tourists. My preference with Chinese restaurants is to keep away from the touristy areas or anywhere that seems like my step-mom ("I want your Sesame Chicken, super super mild, as mild as you can make it.") would frequent. When choosing an ethnic restaurant, I'm greatly comforted to see people of that ethnicity actually eating in the place, which was not true of Shanghai Garden. We soldiered on and the menu was an exciting revelation, full of dishes I'd never seen or tried before. We ordered some excellent green barley dumplings which were freshly made for us (and took over 15 minutes to prepare, we were warned), some sublime pea vines with black mushrooms (raising my hopes estimation of the place quite high) and some utterly bland and horribly disappointing "hand shaved noodles" which were supposedly the specialty. Perhaps because we ordered the house special, the first item at the top of the long list of shaved noodle options, we fell into the "tourist option" trap and they purposely made the dish bland and tasteless... I don't know. The noodles were nothing special (Judy Fu's handmade noodles are indescribably better) and the complete lack of any taste whatsoever was truly amazing in its blandness. The single shrimp I enjoyed was perfectly cooked and tender but there was only one. I'd go back to Shanghai Garden because the other two dishes were really good and the menu is full of interesting options unlike anything I've ever seen before (crispy shrimp in mango sauce? ok!) but I will stay far, far away from the hand shaved house special noodles in the future.

After lunch, stuffed to the gills with dumplings and pea vines, we decided to walk it off and strolled in the sunshine toward Pioneer Square. Completely by accident we stumbled into a festival, the The Pioneer Square Fire Festival" to be precise. Antique restored fire trucks were on display. Firemen in full gear were competing in The Firefighter Challenge" where they sprinted around carrying hoses, ran up five flights of stairs, hoisted things, chopped things, dragged things, and eventually "saved" a 175-pound dummy. There was a mini course set up with inflatable challenges and smaller dummies for children in miniature gear to compete in a similar course. Live bands were playing at a nearby stage and we saw the Seattle Firefighters Pipes and Drums playing to gather people in front of an area where a "jaws of life" demonstration then took place and a dummy "victim" was cut out of a car while an announcer tried to explain all the different things the team was doing over the drone and crash of massive power tools and screeching metal. For some undetermined reason, a couple of teams of sled dogs were on hand and we missed some events (saw the remnants of a hot dog eating contest). It's not the sort of thing I'd make a special trip down town to see unless I was a huge fan of firefighters and their gear but it was fairly cool to stumble upon. I wish I'd had my camera!

On our way to catch the bus back home we stumbled upon a garden park that I'd never noticed before! I spied a plaque on a gated area calling it "Waterfall Garden Park" and Pramas and I detoured through. What a lovely space! It's described at the Pioneer Square website thusly: Located at Main and Second, this secluded, lovely park offers an oasis for sightseers, shoppers, and Pioneer Square locals with a majestic waterfall and surrounding seating. A popular lunchtime spot, Waterfall Garden is also wired with power outlets for those wanting to plug in outside. Privately built and maintained by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Waterfall Garden marks the birthplace of the United Parcel Service. Hooray for the Annie E. Casey Foundation! It was the perfect spot to tuck away out of the sun and Fire Festival crowd on a sunny Saturday afternoon. After a few minutes there, Pramas asked, "What is it about waterfalls that's so inherently soothing?" I don't know but I love having a waterfall I can bus to any given afternoon!

Labels: , ,


Herbfarm Write-Up

I'd planned to give Pramas the chance to write in more detail, but he has work to do and I'm not quite recovered from my latest bout with the plague and am still lazing about so I got to it first.

Friday I laid around in bed all day, sipping soup and tea and conserving my strength for the Herbfarm. I then dosed myself up with Dayquil and a couple of Aleve and we set out for the restaurant at about 4:45pm, anticipating traffic.

We arrived pretty promptly at just moments after 6:00pm and meandered around near the Willows Lodge for a few minutes until we were sure the wine cellar was open. When we stepped into the Herbfarm we were offered and enjoyed an iced herbal beverage made with fresh tea leaves, lemon balm and lemon verbena. We walked the grounds, got a history of the restaurant, toured the herb garden and sampled various herbs, flowers and leaves. (Daylilies and nasturtium leaves are really yummy!) We also toured their wine cellar ("most extensive collection of Oregon and Washington wines in the world") and the Chef's library.

At 7:00 everyone was seated for dinner. They gave us the best seat in the house, with a clear view into the open kitchen where we were able to watch them preparing our food all night. There was a little framed certificate on the table congratulating Chris on his 38th birthday. Diners simply show up and sit down and the Herbfarm staff serves you what's on the menu, no need to make choices about anything. I knew I'd done well by the expression on Chris's face when he took the first bite (and several other times throughout the evening). It's easily among the three best meals we've ever had together. After the first appetizer course they pulled a curtain across the kitchen and paused to introduce head chef Jerry Traunfeld (rumored to be leaving to start his own restaurant in the city sometime next year), owner Ron Zimmerman and sommelier Tysan Pierce who each spoke about the day's offerings and the Herbfarm philosophy. Then everyone on the staff was introduced and a bit of their resume or history was disclosed ("Xuan Che, who has a scholarship to go to China to study Szechuan cuisine..." or "Tysan Pierce who graduated Vassar at 19..."). Live guitar music was provided throughout the night by a man who studied at the Royal Conservatory in Madrid. That kind of thing. Quite the pedigrees on the Herbfarm staff.

The menu was called "June's Silver Spoon" and was nine courses. We sat down for dinner at 7:00pm and were the first to leave (because my drugs had worn off and I needed to get home) at 11:30pm. Here's the menu:

Appetizer ("From the Edge of the Sea"): Pacific spot prawn with remoulade (they fried the heads too, we were so happy, we love fried shrimp heads!), Puget Sound geoduck with sea bean and fennel pollen, Westcott Bay mussel with pickled lovage, paired with a 2001 Argyle Oregon Brut

Soufflé: Morel & Crab Soufflé with green garlic-lemon thyme sauce and a tempura fried morel mushroom, paired with a 2006 WillaKenzie Estate Pinot Gris

Pasta: Carrot Ravioli with English peas, King Bolete mushrooms (aka porcini) and sage blossoms paired with a 2005 Chateau St. Michelle Riesling, Indian Wells. Chris loved this Riesling and it turns out it's very affordable to boot.

Fish: Gently Roasted Copper River Sockeye Salmon with sprouts, leaves and petals paired with a 2005 Soter Vineyards North Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir

Meat: Anderson Ranch Oregon Lamb (free range, pasture-fed, prepared three ways): braised shank with emmer (aka farro) and baby turnips, herb-crusted loin with fava beans and golden beets, and olive-oil-poached tenderloin on spring onion relish (which is the tenderest, most succulent piece of lamb I've ever eaten!). Paired with a 2001 Andrew Will Sangiovese, Ciel du Cheval.

Cheese course: Quillisascut Goat Cheese cake with lavender cherries

Palate cleanser: Fragrant Rose Ice (served in a martini glass with a rose gelee on the bottom, a ball of the rose ice and a candied rose petal)

Dessert: (A Salute to Strawberries): Strawberry-Rose Geranium ice cream cone, strawberry-chamomile parfait, strawberry-anise hyssop shortcake.

Coffee and Tea course (I chose their "Herbfarm Sniffle Tea" which claimed to relieve cold symptoms, as I was starting to feel a bit sick again by this time: a combination of peppermint, sage, rosemary, chamomile, catnip, hops, comfrey, and goldenseal. Our waiter said that was his favorite of all their teas when I ordered.)

Second Dessert: (A Selection of Small Treats) This nearly did me in. I almost couldn't finish this course. They were tiny little desserts but we were just SO full. We had a lavender almond cake, raspberry gel, lemon balm caramel, angelica white chocolate truffle, and a spiced dark chocolate truffle, paired with a vintage 1912 Barbeito Bual Madeira.

We were so FULL! I wasn't even hungry when I got up in the morning and went out to meet John and Jenny and retrieve Kate. We met them for brunch at Peso but we were still in a food coma from the night before! Chris was extremely happy with his present and I'd do it again in an instant, given the chance. Chris has already warned his dad that his mom will want to go on their next visit to the region.

Labels: , , ,


Herbfarm photos up

Ravioli plate, close up
Originally uploaded by Nikchick.
Chris made a short post about our dinner at The Herbfarm for his birthday last night. I've uploaded all the photos but that's all I can get around to before running off to brunch with John & Jenny, retrieving Kate and hitting the showing of Scaramouche. Drugging myself to the gills last night allowed me to get through the dinner fairly intact but the amount of food just about did me in anyway. I nearly couldn't finish the "selection of small treats" at the end of the meal which would have been criminal. Possibly the best caramel I've ever had, among other things.

Enjoy the photos and we'll try to get a more detailed blow-by-blow written up soon!

Labels: , , ,



Joined John, Jenny, and Jim for dinner last night at Betty, a new Queen Anne restaurant. I left my camera at home (to my companions' amazement) so no photos of this visit. Kate and I were half an hour late because the directions we got from Metro's trip planner had us taking a bus that stopped running for the night before our bus arrived to make the connection and my phone was dead so I couldn't call Chris (or anyone) for options on alternate routes... or even find and reserve a nearby Flexcar instead. The bus schedule was very confusing and the lovely weather had turned suddenly very cold and rainy. We finally caught another bus that meandered all over creation before dropping us about six blocks from the restaurant. I arrived at dinner cold, damp, wind-blown and very hungry.

The company was great as usual. I ordered up a cocktail to take the chill off and after what seemed a particularly long time (especially considering the restaurant wasn't yet full) I did finally get it. After I joined the table it took our waitress a VERY long time to come back and take our order. This was particularly frustrating for me, starved and chilled and somewhat cranky, especially since Betty has a very limited menu. The menu takes up half a strip of paper, with three or four choices for appetizer/soup or salad/entree. It certainly should not take any human more than 5 minutes of reading the menu to pick from those choices, and definitely not the half an hour we continued to wait. It's also worth noting that there was little but bread and soup that Kate would eat (so that is exactly what she ended up having).

Now, when the food did come it was glorious. Helped, I'm sure, by my intense hunger and general chill, I sunk into a plate of artichoke pappardelle that was one of the best pasta meals I've had in recent memory. It was so good I sopped up the remaining broth with Kate's bread and could have licked the plate to boot. Perfect for me and my tastes! Kate's minestrone was suspect for her (floating bits of vegetables, eek!) but was made with a rich, rich chicken and pork broth. I'm not usually a minestrone fan as it too often has some mushy pasta and a weak tomato broth but this is one I would have eaten up. Small, firm white beans, fresh zucchini pieces, green beans, and oh, the broth! Kate, full of bread and soda begged off of eating most of it but it was not for lack of quality. Chris said his steak frites was also good, though to look at the frites I think Cremant would still get my top vote.

Chris and I were virtuous and skipped dessert, though I think Chris may have had a bite of John and Jenny's cake. I was content with coffee, though the coffee wasn't very hot (luckily I drink fast). I promised the waitress that I would mention in my review that they will not split the bill for you, though they will divide the total among several cards. Business diners will just have to knife fight for the receipt, I guess. Bottom line: high marks for food and meh service.

Labels: , ,


Joy Palace

Chris was up excruciatingly early yesterday (and I'd stayed up particularly late after game night with Ray again) so we didn't get to go out for a walk together in the morning as we have been. Instead, we walked down the hill to Joy Palace to both get in a walk and so I didn't have to think up something to cook in my worn out state. Kate's never thrilled about going there because she "doesn't like" (read "won't try") most things on the menu, even things I know she likes if they come out of a package (like pot stickers).

We don't go to Joy Palace that often but it's become our go-to place for Chinese. They also do dim sum but we've never been able to break away from Sun Ya for our dim sum needs and haven't tried their dim sum yet. Often when we go there the place is empty or nearly so. Every time we've been in we've been the only white folks in the restaurant.

Last night was not much different, though there were two women just finishing their dinners as we were looking over the menu. Their bill came and one of the women started loudly complaining that her sweet and sour chicken had cost $7.95 (rice extra), complaining about "highway robbery" and asserting that "every other restaurant" brought rice for free. I couldn't believe it. Joy Palace portions are HUGE and you're getting quite a deal for a gigantic plate of whatever you've ordered for $7.95! Anyway, the two women eventually paid up and left.

We ordered a plate of pot stickers, one order of fried rice, one order of orange beef, and I really wanted a "side" of Chinese broccoli in oyster sauce so we got some of that, too. The waitress double-checked that I meant to order the Chinese broccoli, and asked if we would like forks (a kind but unnecessary touch). We had a huge amount of food, platters mounded with food. We ate until we were stuffed and took home three large containers of leftovers, and it was a steal, an absolute steal. We were happy, we were polite, we said please and thank you. As our check was being tallied, a waiter brought out complementary bowls of warm coconut milk with diced taro and tapioca for each of us.

That's what you get when you're not a jerk: warm coconut tapioca dessert! Yum. Chris and I have decided to start going to Joy Palace a little more often. Wouldn't hurt to get to be known regulars at a place like that. Highly recommended (unless you're the sort of person who objects to paying $7.95 for a huge plate mounded with food, I guess).

Labels: , ,


Date Night

Kate's class left for their three day-two night trip to Victoria, BC. Since I took the hit on the OPI trip last fall, Mark is joining the kids in Victoria this time around. Kate was thrilled that her dad was coming and that all of the kids were going to get to meet him and see her other homeland. She's very proud to have been born in Canada.

Since we had a Kate-free night, Pramas and I didn't want to waste it just sitting at the house. Instead, we made plans to have dinner at Andaluca and then finally see Zodiac.

Andaluca was very nice. They're one of the 25 for $25 restaurants that we'd never been to and with that promotion coming to a close this week, we seized the opportunity. Overall, we had a nice experience. We arrived promptly and before most of the dinner crowd had filed in, were greeted warmly, served pleasantly and the food arrived in good time. Everything was delicious: sausage and cheese stuffed dates, sweet onion risotto, paella, the banana semifrio. There was some convention or other which reminded me very much of the ALA crowd, educated and bookish sorts. I met a woman in the washroom who confirmed that it's some sort of historical preservation group. Also having dinner at the next table over was Dr. Pepper Schwartz who was showing off copies of her upcoming book (Prime: Adventures and Advice on Sex, Love, and the Sensual Years, not out until June. She was late to dinner because of backed up traffic on I-90 (which Googling has shown was because of an overturned semi during rush hour.

Zodiac was long and complicated but I really enjoyed it. "What a story!" as my sister-in-law would say. I'd completely forgotten some of the twists of the case. I thought the cast was great, despite the kind of dreary and cerebral central plot.

I took pics of the meal but I'm too tired to go about posting them tonight. They'll be on Flickr when I get around to it. For now, sleep in a warm bed.

Labels: , ,


Ipanema Grill

Introduced Lemuriapress and bbcaddict to the Ipanema Grill last night. bbcaddict was nice to come out with us even though she's just getting over an illness. We were seated at the same table that hosted our party during the Green Ronin summit in October and weladies were positioned with a view of the big video screen that was playing footage of Carnival floats along Rio's Sambodrome. Carnival 2007 is February 17, 18, 19, 20... there's still time, Lemuriapress.

The meat was particularly good last night, especially if you like it rare. Mmmm, rare meat. I made the mistake I always make in trying the chicken (which is ok but just doesn't compare to, say, salt-crusted tri-tip or steak threaded with cheese). One by one we dropped out, sated and I really thought I was done but revived myself for not one but two slices of grilled pineapple dusted with cinnamon. So good.

After dinner Chris and I headed over to the ZigZag for one drink and to congratulate Murray on his appearance on Playboy's list of the top ten bartenders in America, as it was practically on the way to the bus stop (if you don't count the thirteen flights of pedestrian stairs).

Slept well last night. Safeway is delivering coffee and other staples for life sometime between 10:00 and noon, and then I'm off to get Kate at around 2:00. Sounds like I have just enough time to play a little Viva Piñata on our newly restored and returned XBox 360. Lazy Sunday!

Labels: , ,


Gratinée des Halles at Cremant

Gratinée des Halles
Originally uploaded by Nikchick.
We've all heard that "it's never as good as the first time," but that doesn't keep the disappointment at bay when the saying is proved true yet again.

Last night we had dinner with John and Jenny at Cremant. After my birthday dinner, Chris and I had been aching to go back and J&J gave us the excuse we needed. Unfortunately, this time (despite the excellent company and a couple of outstanding dishes) I couldn't shake the urge to compare to the first time.

Cremant continues to be exceedingly popular. There were a few empty tables when we arrived that were immediately filled and stayed filled all night. The bar was constantly packed to overflowing with people waiting to be seated. Several large celebrations were taking place in the restaurant last night and it was definitely full of beautiful people. Chris and I spend a lot of money on food, we appreciate good restaurants and talented chefs, but we most definitely aren't beautiful people and although the waitstaff was by no means surly I still felt that we were somehow dining above our station and being treated accordingly.

For example, seated right next to me was a couple on a date. The man knew a little about food, mentioned Tony Bourdain's Les Halles in reference to the "Gratinée des Halles" but he was no more an expert in French food than I was. His date knew nothing and kept asking him to explain things on the menu to her. I overheard our waitress spending lots of time on multiple stops at their table going over the preparations of the different menu items. She bubbled and enthused in great detail when the girlfriend asked about the chocolate chaud, how exactly it was prepared, how it was "like someone melted a chocolate bar for you to drink," etc. When Pramas asked about the chocolate chaud, she merely said, "It's hot chocolate."

I nursed my glass of wine through the entire meal and when it got down to about two sips worth I waited to see if anyone would come by to see if I might like another. No one did. Our water glasses stayed full, the bowl with Chris's mussel shells was removed and replaced promptly and the service certainly seemed friendly enough if you weren't paying attention to how other tables were being greeted and effused over.

At the busiest point in the evening, the owner was in a fit of pique as late-dinner reservations were showing up but early diners were still lingering. Again, it was only obvious to me because I was paying attention to him in particular (happy to see the owner working the front) and aware of his grunts and growls. At least two parties of eight or more who had been seated before Chris and I even arrived at the restaurant were still lingering, so it's not as if it was our fault in particular but I still felt like we were overstaying our welcome. I would have happily wrapped up our meal a little more quickly but service was slow, with a long lag between dinner and dessert. The mousse showed up several minutes before the coffees and my chocolate cognac, dragging the dessert course out yet further.

All my complaining aside, the food was still quite good. The French onion soup was among the best I've had, very rich and satisfying. The rillette was as good as I remembered it, though we did have to ask for extra bread in order to have enough to finish the pot. The smelt were delicious, but the mussels were not as good as Chris had hoped they'd be, John felt the cassoulet he had at Crow earlier in the week was better. The gratin of leeks was right up my alley. Not sure what Jenny thought of her duck confit. The chocolate mousse was divine, like someone had taken a chocolate chip and transformed it into something fluffy and light. Even so, when we stepped out of the excessive noise and heat of the restaurant and out into the cool, quiet of the night, I didn't feel any eagerness to find an excuse to return to Cremant as soon as possible, the way I did in November.

Perhaps that's best for our budget and our waistlines, anyway...



Carmelized banana creme brulee

Carmelized banana close-up
Originally uploaded by Nikchick.
Chris and I went to Qube last night. I have to catch the bus to the convention center in 10 minutes so I can't do the write-up right now, but I didn't want to deprive everyone of the photos of the gorgeous food all day, so here they are while you wait.

Labels: ,


Full Day

Began with breakfast at Etta's, then off to the Mariner's game. Beautiful weather! The game was only a bit over 2 hours (Mariners won) but our seats were in the sun for that whole time. The stadium temperature sign kept flashing 56 degrees, but it was much much wamer in the sun. We all left a little pink on our noses and forearms, except for Kate. I tried so hard to keep from getting a farmer's tan while in Arizona, but blew it today.

I wore my nifty WWDN t-shirt to the game, and have a lovely farmer's tan to show for it. boo hoo!

After the game we hit Wasabi for happy hour sake and sushi, and then happily toddled off to join Ray, Christine, and John at R&C's place. Because Kate was along, and being a bit hyper under all the attention, Ray suggested we have a couple cocktails and throw in the Josie and the Pussy Cats movie. Perfect! We'd been hoping that Jess and Kathryn would remember to bring along episodes of Land of the Lost from their place, but (memories impared by too many Lemon Drops?) they were forgotten and will have to wait for another day.

Got zero gardening done this afternoon, but managed to fit in plenty of food, fun, and friends. Here's hoping there'll be a few more precious hours of sunshine tomorrow so the gardening can be finished before the rest of the rainy week begins.

Labels: , ,