Ooh, my favorite!


Domaine de Canton – Ginger Liqueur
April 30, 2012, 6:30 am
Filed under: Drinks, Food

Domaine de Canton as a champagne cocktail & margarita

Lately I’ve been deep in cocktail testing mode for the restaurant and have been reading about Domaine de Canton, a ginger infused liqueur distilled from cognac. I was super excited to start playing with it, and with the bottle as lovely as it is I figured I couldn’t really go wrong.

Of course, my first test was to try it with champagne. I chose a cuvee brut and added small amounts incrementally hoping to get a nice balance of the ginger with the dryness of the champagne. The problem here was that the sweetness curve rose much more dramatically than the ginger did, so it wasn’t really possible to get the ginger taste I wanted without making it too sweet. While it is aromatic and gingery, the fragrance is just not as exciting or as enticing as St. Germaine; which by the way, I have been referring to as Domaine de Canton’s cousin throughout this process.

Next I tried it as part of a vodka soda and still wasn’t able to get it to successfully take center stage. The sweetness overpowered any chance of true ginger intensity to come through.

Finally realizing it could best be used as a supporting ingredient I tried a margarita and used it in place of Triple Sec or Cointreau. I thought the salt would be a nice balance against the sweet and perhaps it would serve as a “secret-secondary ingredient”; something that you wouldn’t necessarily recognize but could identify as something special. The margarita application was the best so far, but it was still so far from the fresh gingery cocktail I’d been craving.

Here’s the thing:

–  It’s far too sweet. The texture has a viscous quality that is more slippery and syrupy; and aside from the initial fragrance, the first, last, and most predominant taste was sugar. Cloyingly so.

–  While there are hints of ginger in the aroma and taste (and not at all artificial, by the way) it completely lacks that ginger punch and spiciness that, as a ginger-lover, I dearly missed.

This is going to be one for many a mixologists arsenal, but I just can’t jump on the bandwagon. As much as I wanted to love it and share some killer recipes, the level of sweetness and lack of true ginger zing limits its applications.

In case you’re curious to give it a go, here’s how I made the margarita:
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Ginger margarita

– Salt for rimming the glass

–  Ice

–  1 lime

– 1.5 oz. Tequila blanco (I used Don Julio)

–  .5 oz Domaine de Canton

– Float of soda water to top-off

  1. Slice the lime in half and from one of the halves slice one small wheel. Cut in half and set aside.
  2. Salt the rim of the glass by rubbing half of the lime and dipping into salt.
  3. Place the small pieces of lime in the bottom of the glass and add the Domaine de Canton. Muddle gently.
  4. Fill with ice.
  5. Add the Tequila, juice from the lime halves, and top with a small float of soda.


These are a few…
April 27, 2012, 11:04 am
Filed under: My favorite things

Another week just flew by. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it here, but as I’m publishing my “Friday” posts I’m actually starting my Monday at the restaurant. It’s been a few months now that I’ve been able to have two days off, and after a year of craziness I’m just getting used to a weekend (of sorts) again. I know this isn’t an unfamiliar feeling to anyone though, so as many of you are moving into the weekend I say we toast to time away from work, e-mails, cell phones and days filled with all of your favorite things.

A vintage set of three hand-painted Japanese plates makes for the best snack time; my latest favorite accessory.

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Patiently waiting for these pickled cauliflower to be ready in just one more day. They were a gift from my guy before he left on a business trip and I think we’ll have the recipe perfected very soon (complete with an arsenal of spices)! And way in the back is my new cloth board for pinning.

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A final farewell to my neon satchel that served me so well this past year. I think it’s time to bid him adieu, and safely retire him to my closet. Maybe I can bring him out again in a few years, you never know.



Black and yellow
April 26, 2012, 10:55 am
Filed under: Fashion

On an innocent browse through Net-a-Porter the other day I was struck by this lovely little number from Prabal Gurung’s 2012 Restort collection. I have a feeling this is a love or hate scenario, but really, isn’t it interesting? So many elements I’d have never thought to combine, and to be honest if you were just to describe it to me I’d say you were schizo. But somehow the bold black and yellow paired with the floral touches, asymmetric lines, dropped-waist sash, and the ruching at the skirt all make for one hell of a party dress.

I’ve been noticing lots of black and yellow combinations lately, and if I were a bettin’ woman, I’d say that any form of yellow is a color to start stocking up on.

Rose-print silk tank dress, Prabal Gurung. $1,550.



Have a seat
April 25, 2012, 7:12 am
Filed under: Art and Design, Home


Image via Pinterest. Wish I knew what editorial, I’m dying to see the rest of the house.

It’s been over a year since I’ve been coveting a hot pink addition in the form of a chair, and yet I haven’t pulled the trigger. It’s not that I’m worried about the color, or it being a trend because those aren’t the reasons I love it. As they are in these gorgeous rooms it’s just so ME. I can’t help it!

 Minnie Mortimer’s Library via  Vogue’s APT with LSD

My big concern is in having it look as punchy, purposeful, and refined as they do here. Initially I kept going back to the Thonet chair from ABC Home. The price isn’t bad, and it’s a great color; but, after seeing these upholstered guys I’m glad I held off. It’s missing the polish of the upholstery and it’s also been plastered in a bunch of shelter mags lately.

Decorating is a process, so until it feels just right I’m going to continue to be patient.

Hot Pink Thonet Chair via ABC Home $150


World Spice Merchants
April 24, 2012, 9:58 am
Filed under: Food, Health, Seattle

Spice kit essentials

Over the past few months I’ve become increasingly interested in learning how to work with spices in the kitchen. I’ve always been intimidated by their pep and intricacies, so it’s only recently that I’ve started to appreciate how much depth they can add to a dish. My fascination started after becoming a regular at Sitka & Spruce and only continued to gain momentum as my guy started experimenting with some of his own blends at home.

Far beyond the initial intimidation you can feel when working with spices are the endless health benefits. Spices like Turmeric paired with black pepper can inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Paprika, an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant can lower the risk of cancer. Cinnamon used daily can help to lower blood pressure and overall cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes.

With just those few spices promising (yes, promising) healing properties like that it’s no wonder eating a spice-y meal can leave me feeling energized and sometimes even tingly. Seriously! I noticed that quarterly detoxing over the past few years has helped me become more aware of the effects of food on my body. Call me crazy if you want, but it’s a wonderful thing to feel your body being nurtured as you eat.

In the coming weeks I’ll be sharing some of our favorite recipes so you can give it a go too, but in the meantime I wanted to show you my favorite place to stock up, and I’ll likely be referring back to it here and there. Check out World Spice Merchants.

World Spice Merchants is located just “below” the Pike Place Market on Western Ave.

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It’s a killer shop filled with the freshest teas, herbs, and spices from all ends of the earth. They’ve also got some great custom blends so be on the look-out for anything that sounds good to you.

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Walk in, browse, smell, ask questions. The spice guru’s are really helpful, and they know their stuff. Who knew there were so many different varieties of a single spice. I had no clue, but it was great to learn about the different types and flavor profiles of cinnamon the last time I was there.

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When you’re ready just grab a clipboard and start writing your order. Pass it along to a spice guru and they’ll start filling your order. It’s a sweet set up!

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I can’t wait to share our early favorites, and while I’m still in the novice stages I like the idea of sharing as I’m learning. In the meantime, check out World Spice, even if it’s just to poke around. It’s a great addition to a weekend out and about.

PS- I should also note that if you’re not Seattle-based you can always order online or call and have them help you place an order to be shipped anywhere.




Seattle Space Needle turns 50
April 23, 2012, 11:23 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

“I’mmm 5o!”

The Space Needle turned 50 on Saturday and in celebration he’s going back to the original Galaxy Gold color that was first used for the World’s Fair in 1962. Isn’t this picture from Facebook is so great. Could you get out there and help paint?



These are a few…
April 20, 2012, 11:01 am
Filed under: My favorite things

I’m still dreaming of the getaway to Lummi Island last weekend and since I’ve already posted the dinner pictures I wanted to be sure to share some bits from the rest of our stay. It’s most definitely a destination holiday but since The Willows Inn Restaurant and Chef Wetzel have been getting so much love lately I figured there would be some looking for a bit more about the island. Here goes….

 Our backyard. We chose this sweet house on the beach on the east side of the island. Low tide made for great exploring but here I’m admiring it from afar…from the deck, in my jammies to be exact. When the tide came back in it almost came up to the tree line here, and we often heard a couple of otters splashing around.

 

Lazy night at home. As much as I love a swanky hotel, it was great to have the cabin. And to be honest, we had a hard time finding much information on the rooms at The Willows Inn. We’ll probably give it a go for one night next time, but if you’re interested in this lovely house (complete with a sauna!) let me know and I’ll pass on the contact information.

Pasta with poached egg before movie night. There’s something special about making dinner while on holiday. There aren’t any grocery stores on the island right now, so if you’re planning on cooking be sure to stock up in Bellingham before, there’s a great co-op that you can hit up.

Reading nook in the master bedroom. What a view to wake up to.

Sunset on the westside of the island, looking out on the San Juan Islands. This was the view from our dinner at The Willows.



On the street where you live
April 19, 2012, 11:14 am
Filed under: Photography, Travel

 

Seeing all of the soulless condos and apartments popping up all over Seattle has me yearning for history, culture, and charm. THIS picture of a street in Valletta, Malta is exactly what I’m craving. Even if I’m just drooling over this as I sip my morning cup of tea, I’ll take it as the perfect daydreaming escape…and add it to my travel to-do list.

[Photo by John S Y Lee on flickr. So lovely.]



The Willows Inn Restaurant – Lummi Island
April 18, 2012, 11:13 am
Filed under: Farmer's Market, Food, Organic, Seattle

The setting. Willows Inn. Lummi Island.

We had the meal of a lifetime at The Willows Inn on Lummi Island. One year earlier, venturing into Stumptown Coffee’s Seattle roastery, frazzled, trying to get coffee set for the restaurant that was days away from opening, I met the guy that would tell me about this hidden gem, and eventually, one year later take me away for the meal of a lifetime. So yeah, it was an anniversary of sorts…the restaurant had just turned 1, I had three days off,  and it was the “the first day we met” kind of celebration.

Really it was completely serendipitous that Chef Blaine Wetzel would be awarded one of Food & Wine magazine’s best new chefs only days before. Although to be honest, to me this title can in no way encompass the forward thinking and talent that Chef Wetzel and his entire staff possess…especially when considering the other Seattle chef that was also honored. This restaurant and the team behind it are in a class alone.

So mushiness and a touch of cattiness aside, let’s look at some food porn!

First, here are a couple of quick notes that elevate this experience:

  1. Nearly every element that was on our plate was hunted, fished, foraged, or gathered from Lummi Island. Really something to be celebrated.
  2. As sad as it makes me to hold back, I’m only going to share the photos that photographed best. The meal was so beautiful that I just can’t bear to post the crummy photos I took after sunset. It just wouldn’t do justice to the team that worked so hard to create this meal for us. Trust me, it’s hard not to share but what I do have will still keep you satisfied, I’m sure of it.
  3. The first and final courses were each served by the chefs, including Chef Wetzel.
  4. My guy had the wine pairing and I had the juice pairing. More on that below.

The welcome. A tiny cedar box filled with moss, smoke, and smoked sunflower roots. A perfect way to set the tone for the rest of the meal. Inventive in it’s core ingredient but so basic in how it was prepared. So much meaning in this first course–history in a single bite.

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Mini crepes filled with herring roe, crema, and chives. It’s going to be hard to choose, but this was definitely one of my favorite bites: the wafer thin crisp of the crepe, the salty and slippery roe, the richness of the cream, and the punch of the most fragrant chives I’ve ever had.

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House potato chips and sauerkraut with smoked wild halibut. Doesn’t hurt that the halibut was caught that morning. Truly, an amazing bite. For the super finicky gastronomes out there, I’m sure you’ll be expecting one or two gripes, so if I MUST say anything I’d say the chip was a tad soggy. But really, as it was it, and if I had a hundred afterward, it really was splendid. The tartness of the kraut with the rich, smokiness from the halibut was truly dreamy.

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Shigoku oysters marinated in sauerkraut juice, tapioca pearls, sorrel. Heaven! Never would have guessed it, but the addition of the tapioca (underneath each oyster) was a brilliant touch. I had initially thought that they were the ones with the vinegar taste, serving as a mignonette of sorts, but it was actually the oyster that was marinated, lightly. A truly thoughtful and elegant dish. Also be sure to note the presentation: beach stones, iced. Muah!

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Charred kale, truffles, bread crumbs. Light with the crisply toasted kale leaf, but slightly decadent with addition of the truffled breadcrumbs. All I could think was: “If I had a tub full of this I’d pop it like popcorn.”

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Fresh scallop, milk, island arugula. This dish was DIVINE. Like the chives with the crepe, the arugula was more fragrant and peppery than any I’d ever had. This was a subtle dish for sure, but elegant in its simplicity. The milk was just beyond; a delicate touch that was just so sexy.

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Fried scallop roe. Alright, so we’ve had conflicting stories of which part of the scallop anatomy this actually is, but regardless it’s another one of my favorite courses. To be clear we did not ask the chef to clarify, but in recent weeks here in Seattle we’ve heard different stories from different restaurants. Male or female organs…no one knows right now (and a super quick google search revealed nothing of much help), but regardless, this was slippery and buttery. Taste and texture-wise, think uni or monkfish liver. I feel like this course might seem out of place or odd to some, but for me the importance lay in the fact that this amazing piece of sea life  is most often thrown out. Decandent to the very end.

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Geoduck sashimi, organic grains, watercress. Geoduck has to be one of the most unpleasant things to look at, but it’s quintessentially Northwest and when it’s done right it’s amazing. I loved this dish. The briny and tender geoduck (not chewy at all) was the perfect accompaniment to the mix of grains and watercress juice.

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Venison heart tartare, house capers, island greens. I will never get enough tartare of any sort, but this was truly stellar. There wasn’t an  iron-y heart taste here as I’d expected, but somehow I was able to taste the venison (Psychosomatic? Perhaps.) The homemade capers really stood out here also. Again, I could have popped these endlessly.

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Smoked salmon. This was the most intensely amazing bite of salmon I have ever had, and growing up with a hobby salmon fisherman, in Seattle, I’d like to think I know a thing or two about salmon. Here’s the scoop: Chef Wetzel sampled the locals take on smoked salmon. He took the best components of each and created this masterpiece.

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One other important piece to note  here is the use of  Reefnet fishing. Along the shoreline we noticed large platforms with four towers at each corner. These pontoons of sorts are rolled out to the bay where each tower has a fisherman with a corner of the net. They trap the salmon and pull uniformly to raise the catch. Can you imagine the muscle this takes?

Reefnet fishing is a historical method that allows for a more humane and sustainable way to catch the salmon, but it also allows the fisherman to select the best catches and set free those that don’t meet culinary standards with minimal shock. I firmly believe that similar to cattle, toxic shock has everything to do with how our food tastes.

For me the skill here goes beyond the smoking, but lies in where he knew how to let the fish be what it is.

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Local squid, kohlrabi, oyster emulsion. The charred bits of squid with the decadent pistachio-colored oyster emulsion was unbelievably good. The addition of the raw kohlrabi added a great bit of crunch and freshness. This was “the second” of the five listed courses.

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Stinging nettles, fresh cheese, young pine needles. For me this dish sums up the importance of eating local and seasonal. Nettles are incredibly healing but also a culinary delight. The young pine needles, so clean and only lightly fragrant. These are the things we’re meant to eat at this moment in spring. We both agreed that we felt very “connected” to the island, feeling clean and almost euphoric after this course. This was the first tasting I’ve had where I wasn’t gorged (yet sluggishly happy). Instead I felt nourished, gastronomically* inspired (and happily envigorated).

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The remaining courses (the unphotogenic):

–  House bread and butter. The bread was very Tartine-esque, and the house churned butter was unbelievable.

–  Smoked local shitake mushrooms (whole).

–  Octopus

–  Baked oyster, brown butter, tequila.

–  Fried halibut skin with abalone.

–  Chicken drippings as a dip to accompany the bread. SERIOUSLY. This actually happened.

–  Halibut, bone sauce, house capers. This was the final savory course. The perfectly cooked halibut was incredibly juicy and toothsome. (Yup, toothsome.) The bone sauce, from what we could tell, was the result of extracting the fatty marrow from the halibut bones. It was incredibly flavorful and creamy, and when paired with the house capers again it was magical! Once again the best I’d had.

–  Wild flowers, lemon verbena granita, cherry blossom ice cream, elderflower meringue. The single best dessert of my life. Cherry blossom ice cream? I mean, come on! It was gorgeous.

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The little touches that meant so much:

–  The juice pairinings. GENIUS. The sommelier is in the process of relocating to Lummi Island, and while my guy thoroughly enjoyed his wine pairing we both agreed that my juice pairing was beyond brilliant. The selections are made and created by Chef Wetzel and to sum it all up, his decision to pair huckleberry juice with the last course of halibut and bone sauce was the pinnacle of the evening. There really are no words.

–  Coffee & tea. With this course we got the most incredible mini chocolate, chocolate chip cookies.

–  The first and final courses: With the chefs serving it created the most wonderful, relaxed atmosphere. They were genuinely interested in sharing their food and conversing with each table. A lovely and meaningful touch!

–  The service team was unparalleled. Relaxed, genuinely happy, and in turn the dining room atmosphere was the same. Unlike other tastings this dining room was quietly abuzz. Not a touch of stuffiness anywhere (just a note this was aThursday night).

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In Conclusion

The meal for us was epic in its execution and in its message. Northwest cuisine finally has a place, a face, and a name. Until now, we’ve been lost: Seattle as a gastronomic* destination is lacking and with cities like San Francisco and Portland leagues ahead, I’m happy that Chef Wetzel is poised to help shape our culinary culture. I truly can’t wait to go again.

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*Soap Box Moment: I am purposefully avoiding the word “foodie” here. This is another post for another time; but for now, I feel like this experience cannot be summed up, in anyway by that term.



Sun Kissed
April 17, 2012, 10:47 am
Filed under: Beauty, Health, Organic

Josie Maran’s Cream Blush 

I was so over pressed powder blushes. Even with the lightest of dustings I just felt like the powder looked cakey and dry, so the natural blushy glow I wanted was just not going to happen. I swear every morning I had flashbacks to the severe blushlines of the 80’s.

I knew I needed a cream blush, but also knew that it couldn’t be shimmery…another decade-specific cosmetic downfall, but this time from the 90’s (glitter anyone?). So really with very little effort I came across my new-absolute-favorite blush from Josie Maran Cosmetics.

It’s so lovely and effortless looking it’s precisely what blush is intended to look like: creamy with a light, natural glow (NOT shimmery). For me it’s really long-lasting but I feel like this is one of those features that differs from skin type to skin type. I only ever wear tinted moisturizer on my face so the Argan oil in the blush pairs perfectly with my oil-free Tarte tinted moisturizer. I’m wearing all of these in the picture I shared before. It really is just a nice spring/summer look.

In addition to the perfect blush, Josie’s line has some other really great and important features:

–  Organic oils

–  No Parabens

– No Sulfates

–  No Synthetic Fragrance

–  No Petrochemicals

–  No Phthalates

–  Biodegradable compact

Give it a go and let me know what you think!

Josie Maran Cream Blush in Sun Kissed $22.

(Check back tomorrow for food porn pics from my getaway last weekend!)




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