Ooh, my favorite!


The London Plane
September 23, 2013, 12:16 pm
Filed under: Art and Design, Food, My favorite things, Restaurants, Seattle

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It’s hard to believe that as much as I’ve shared snapshots of pieces of meals at my very favorite restaurant(s) that I’ve never actually dedicated one piece to explain my deep and resounding love for the beautiful spaces and food that come from Matt Dillon’s Sitka and Spruce, The Corson Building, Bar Sajor, and now The London Plane, which is the first installment of a bigger collaboration between Matt and Katherine Anderson of Marigold & Mint. It’s a beautiful spot, the kind you head to for a laid back meal with a good book and a glass or three of wine. Then you end up leaving with a new cookbook, fresh flowers, and two bottles of bubbly.

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It seems that not a day goes by that we’re not asked for our favorite Seattle restaurants; me down at the restaurant with mostly tourists and business travelers, and Andrew because of his work and because his taste and eye for food is remarkable. We have the same answers time and time again, but now people have started to qualify the question with “ok, but besides a Matt Dillon restaurant.” The problem is that his spaces take up our top five and there’s no getting around it.

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In this perverse time of misguided food worship and foodie culture there are only a small number of places that serve artful food.  (I had my worst meal of the year last week at one of the city’s biggest restaurant empires. No surprise there, but the hype around it was ridiculous.) I can’t see food as a trend, or as “fashionable,” I see the culture of food as the story of an ingredient, the elegance of a thoughtful composition, an experience in flavor and taste.

Fundamentally Matt’s food is everything I enjoy about the culture of food: simple and classic, yet concepts that are complex and artful. Experiencing food through his lens and connection with the Pacific Northwest (and its seasons), and now this gorgeous new space with Katherine, is truly one of my favorite pieces of Seattle. (And, oh, the things I would do for one of those chairs.)

The London Plane | 322 Occidental Ave. S | Seattle, WA 98104 | 206.624.1374

(Right across from Bar Sajor)

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Candy Coat
August 22, 2013, 10:14 am
Filed under: Fashion, Seattle

candycoatThere’s a slight autumn-like crispness in the mornings lately and it has me all wound up for the cooler weather ahead. The days are still very much summery, but with chanterelle mushrooms popping up at the farmer’s markets fall really is right around the corner. (And yes, I base my seasons on available veg.) Thinking of the cooler days had me peeking around for transitional coats, and of course, Shopbop came to the rescue with this lovely array of candy colors. I’ve been daydreaming of bopping around in this fuschia guy for a while.

I’ve always enjoyed the inspired styling in their lookbooks and I’m really liking how they worked with these two coats from above. I love the shades of blue and turquoise with the cobalt (and the pop of red with the shoes), and the unexpected leather and loafer style with the fuschia. Once the beauty of fall has long gone these are the coats that will make winter bearable, don’t you think?

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Blue Nicholas | Green Milly | Orange Halston Heritage | Pink Joseph

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



In Season: Shishito Peppers
August 15, 2013, 10:28 am
Filed under: Farmer's Market, Food, Recipes, Seattle

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I remember the first time I had these peppers at a little restaurant in Marin. I loved them so much I ordered a second round and didn’t share with anyone else at the table. I don’t know why but at the time it seemed so complex that I’d never be able to duplicate at home, I mean, where would one even find shishito peppers in the first place? Granted, it will require a trip to the farmer’s market, but even with that task these peppers are worth the errand and so easy to prepare.

Shishito peppers are a Japanese variety of pepper and only about one in ten are hot. They’re mostly fragrant with barely a hint of sweetness. We get ours from the Japanese farmer of Mair Farm-Taki at the University Farmer’s Market.

shishito

How to prepare:

Heat a large pan at medium-high heat. Once hot add a small amount of olive oil and tilt to coat the pan. Add the peppers in a single layer and shake the pan to toss and coat with the olive oil. Continue to toss and remove when the skins are blistered, this should only take a minute or two. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with sea salt. I used a coarse black Japanese sea salt but Maldon flakes would also be great for seasoning and texture. Eat as a snack or get creative and add to a salad.

Note: I like the peppers nice and charred but after having them in a beautiful melon salad at Sitka and Spruce yesterday we realized we could cook them even less. I’ll be experimenting with our next batch this weekend, but really there’s not too much you can do to wrong.

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Urban Bee Co. Seattle
July 24, 2013, 11:35 am
Filed under: Clean, Green, Health, My favorite things, Nature, Seattle

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I found a great new honey to add to our collection and this one’s really cool. The Urban Bee Co. is a Seattle-based group that cultivates healthy environments for bees and collects honey from small neighborhood apiaries, urban farms, and some backyard hives too. This guy I got is from my ‘hood, right down the way on the Alleycat Acres farm on MLK and Columbia where they have hops, chickens, harvest parties, and workshops. Each hive is free from chemicals, antibiotics, high fructose corn syrup, and plastic. The honey is harvested in small batches, never heated or filtered, bottled by hand, and delivered by bike. Hyper-local!

I picked up this bottle (from the fall harvest) at my very fave Sugarpill, but you can order online, or join their CSA.

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There are also great resources available through Urban Bee Co. and their partnership with my other neighbor Stone Soup Gardens. One of the most exciting offerings is help to set up a permaculture bee garden (wish we knew about this before we did all the research on our own). Helping our bees and building community. Great stuff. Makes my heart swell with happiness.



HOT Healing Kit
July 1, 2013, 11:25 am
Filed under: Beauty, Drinks, My favorite things, Seattle, Yes please

Hot Healing Kit

Evian brumisateur / 2 Hibiscus tea leaves / 3 Iced tea pitcher / 4 Ice cube trays / 5 no-pull hair ties / 6 comfy bralette (my faves here) / 7 vintage table fan 

I’m not complaining outright but I am pretty damn hot and sticky. Since there’s just no way I’m braving the mobs of Seattleites flocking to whatever shorefront they can find; I have decided, instead, to hide out in my skivvies (hence the little bralette) and douse myself with my very favorite Evian atomizer. If you haven’t experienced the super-fine mist from one of these I can assure you that it alone is worth the price. More than that though your skin will be happy and you will be nice and cool.

Another staple for us has been Hibiscus iced tea: nice and tangy and cooling but also hydrating and a powerful antioxidant. Very good for cleaning the blood and liver, so in a way it’s like turning the sauna-like weather into a spa experience. (Add a little honey for some sweetness.) And finally, we’ve decided to skip the crappy emergency fan and go for a super-sturdy vintage refurb. There’s a bunch on Etsy, but there’s also some vintage-inspired newbies like the guy above.

Here’s hoping you’re staying nice and cool, especially to all my friends braving triple digit temperatures. (Stay hydrated!)

 

 

 

 

 



The Marlborough Seattle
May 8, 2013, 10:47 am
Filed under: Art and Design, Home, Seattle

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After two years the lease at my little apartment is finally up, and of course, I waited a bit too long to start moving and cleaning. I got my butt kicked by the move last week, but still managed to find the time to get a little nostalgic. My small studio at The Marlborough in Seattle’s First Hill Neighborhood was my very favorite home to date (aside from my new home with Andrew!), and it held so many special meanings as it was my home when I returned from San Francisco and was my safe haven during the craziness of restaurant opening and adjusting to a new life.

After living in SF I knew I had to live somewhere with history and charm, and while there are many places in Seattle that would qualify, it’s also disappointing to see so many new, bland, and cheap apartments popping up all over the city. The Marlborough was originally built in 1928, but was just reopening after an extensive remodel/restoration, and even though it was the first apartment I saw (except for an awful condo in Beacon Hill that smelled like cats had lived and died there), I instantly knew it was so very me.

There was the large living room and bedroom…

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…a cozy little kitchen and dining nook…

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…original glass doornobs and crown moulding…

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…the separate DRESSING ROOM with french doors (in addition to a walk-in closet!)…

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(there was no way I was turning it into an office)

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…and killer subway and honeycomb tiles in the bathroom.

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Once well-loved by me, this sweet little home is available now. If, by chance, you’re on the hunt for a bachelorette pad you may want to check it out.

The Marlborough | 122o Boren Avenue | Seattle, WA 98101 | 206.682.8800

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[image via VintageSeattle.org]

 



SODA pop
March 28, 2013, 12:53 pm
Filed under: Bubbly, Restaurants, Seattle

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Sitka & Spruce Quince and Taragon | Bar Sajor Quince and Sour Blackberry | Rain Shadow Celery

My bubbly fascination is in hyperdrive and it’s not for that from a wine bottle. Surprise, surprise but lately I’ve found myself craving the house soda’s at Sitka & Spruce and Bar Sajor. The perfect amount of sweet syrupy goodness + the most glorious flavors. They always seemed kind of a secret at Sitka since somehow that is the quintessential glasses-of-wine-with-lunch-spot but they are there, and the flavors change often. Think Lemon Verbena, Quince, or Elderberry.

At the new Bar Sajor they are front and center on the menu, so if you find yourself there you must try the cucumber whey or the sour blackberry. There’s also the drinking vinegars and those are epic. There was a beet one that looked beautiful. Ah, but don’t worry. After your soda you can have a glass of wine or cider. That’s usually how I roll.

Also, if you hop across the street to the new Rain Shadow Meats 2 they have the best sandwiches and salads for lunch, but they also have a killer celery soda. A take on the traditional Jewish deli staple this one was so good with my mortadella sammie and potato salad yesterday.

I’m actually encouraging you to skip the sparkling wine and try one of these concoctions on your next date. Then tell me about it later so we can gush.



Fish, Forage, and Farm at The Willows Inn
March 5, 2013, 11:05 am
Filed under: Food, Nature, Seattle, Travel

Last fall Andrew was invited up to Lummi Island for a little getaway at The Willows Inn. I’ve written about my love affair with the island and the restaurant before, so I was desperate to find a way to cleverly blackmail work my way into the trip. The Fish, Forage, Farm event is a hands-on excurision driven by guest participation, with each of the activities and the menus all focusing back to the island, restaurant, staff, history. So two nights of great food, happy company, and quiet island life was sure to be nothing short of epic, even in the midst of a Pacific Northwest autumn.

Of course I worked my way in and have been waiting forever to share the full experience with you. I wanted to wait until after they reopened (they’re on sabbatical for January and February), and since they open this Thursday I figure I’ve waited long enough.

There was more food and fun than I could even begin to share, so below is a little glimpse into a weekend away at The Willows:

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Our hosts for the two days were Chef Ben, and Nettles farm maven Jennifer. There were five others that joined in, and we were all welcomed in front of a cozy fire at The Inn. A beautiful set-up of freshly baked breads and pressed apple cider (spiked with Buffalo Trace bourbon!) were there to help us settle in as we made introductions and talked about ‘the agenda’ for the days ahead. And when I say agenda, let me just say that at one point Ben made sure to mention that if ever there came a point where one felt that they needed a nap…that they should do just that. (Some kind of agenda, no?) We also each received a sweet little welcome kit with a small notebook and pencil for notes, and a pair of Japanese herb scissors.

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plantingWe soon made our way to Nettles Farm, just up the hill from The Inn, and Jennifer gave us a great little tour before putting us to work in the hoop house. And by work I mean she had the seven of us plant two rows of napa cabbage sprouts, harvest some kohlrabi for lunch the next day, and collect eggs. Yeah, it was rough. It was fun to know that in just a few short weeks those cabbage sprouts would grow to be used by Chef Blaine and his team, but my very favorite part of the time on the farm was spending time with Jennifer and hearing her fun stories about cultivating the farm, learning about the different varieties of each plant, and her overall enthusiasm for eating seasonally.

And then came lunch….

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After “working” on the farm it was time to gather in the farmhouse for lunch, and since it was the first meal we’d enjoy with one another there was much to be learned and shared. Of course, the seemingly endless supply of white wine helped us all ease into conversation mode. But everyone was beyond lovely, and ultimately we were all there because good food, and being connected to it was in some way or another, important to all of us. The creamy potato soup, flat bread, and wine were all unbelievable.

Picture 1Dinner that night was some sort of amazing roasted duck, hay smoked celery root, kale caesar salad with chicken crackling, and beets roasted in bread, but of course all of the dinner meal pictures are too dark to share, and I just hate to post anything that doesn’t (even in the smallest way) attempt to convey how gorgeous each dish/meal was. So, let us move on to breakfast…

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For nightly accommodations we were all split between two seaside guest houses, so each meal would switch between the houses. The first breakfast was at the house across the way and was a tasty mixed grain porridge, macerated berries, and gravlax from reef net caught salmon. How often does one get to wake to a perfectly made breakfast from an amazing chef? Not often enough. It was the perfect start before a relaxing autumn walk through the Otto Preserve, and a lesson on reef netting from Jerry.

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Jerry is a badass reef net expert that has lived and fished the waters around Lummi for years, and I just loved listening to his stories and looking through his old photos. Since my very first meal on Lummi I’ve been fascinated by reef netting which is a historical method that allows for a more humane and sustainable way to catch the salmon. It ultimately allows the fisherman to select the best catches and set free those that don’t meet culinary standards with minimal shock. The pontoons you see above are rolled out into the bay and each platform/tower has a fisherman with a corner of the net. They trap the salmon and pull uniformly to raise the catch.

After a fun morning outside and a great chat with Jerry I love so much that Ben had some nap time free time for us, because after that it would be time for the most perfect lunch ever.

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Ben as a chef: his attention to detail, effortless skill, and passion for good food was infectious and exhilarating. Ben as a host: was more like a friend, generously sharing his knowledge, excellence, and love for the island with all of us. Ben is my favorite.

We were also really lucky to have his friend Brandon visiting from Toronto. It was great fun to see two gifted chefs and friends working together and the result was in this meal — one of my all-time favorite dining experiences. Crab salad (cleaned by two of our wonderful new friends in the group), fried smelt, freshly baked focaccia, horseradish creme, seaweed kohlrabi salad, and lots of bubbly.

crab, foccacia, greens

Our final nights dinner was another amazing feast of lamb, fresh oysters, charred cabbage, and pickeld shallots. There was also a guest appearance from our favorite bartender from The Willows, Emily, and she made her signature gin fizz with some of the eggs we’d harvested the day before!

It was hard to prepare to leave the next morning, but we had a lovely farewell breakfast at The Willows and received a sweet farewell note and gift from Ben and Jennifer. The eggs we’d harvested were ready for us in a sweet little basket. Those little and meaningful little touches add up to so much.

Picture 8Just like a meal at The Willows Inn, the two-day escape for Fish, Forage, and Farm is the treat of a lifetime. The relaxing pace and soul-stirring meals with new friends was exceptional and memorable. And with genuine and wonderfully gifted hosts like Jennifer and Ben, the tone was set for a meaningful experience with a rare opportunity to connect with and understand the food that’s available at that time and place. It’s a powerful feeling.

The spring season will be the perfect time to join in, and the “agendas” will differ with each session and season, so if you’re interested give them a call or check their site for upcoming dates. I would do it again in an instant, and would also like to wrangle some friends to come along too.

The Willows Inn | Lummi Island, WA | (360) 758-2620

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Winter Garden at the Arboretum
February 25, 2013, 10:30 am
Filed under: Beauty, Clean, Green, Health, Nature, Seattle

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I’d never seen a Witch Hazel blossom before last year (god, I love this shot!), and ever since I’ve been dying for its return in the Winter Garden at  the Arboretum. I’m kind of ashamed to say that it never dawned on me to think beyond the magic tincture I splash on my face each night, but behind the natural toner is a wonderfully fragrant and vibrant tree that blooms in winter. So if you’re in need of a floral fix and can find an upcoming dry day you should head into the Winter Garden for a quiet stroll and a few deep breaths of the Witch Hazel blossoms. (It makes for a great little date too!)

Oh, and can we just talk about the rules of visiting public gardens for a moment? Let’s all agree not to snap off a branch or blossom to take away. Didn’t we cover this in Kindergarten? I seem to remember the lesson, but sadly so many others we saw didn’t. Savor and share. 

How I use Witch Hazel toner 

After cleansing, the purpose of a toner is to remove excess oil and dirt, and also to close the pores and restore pH balance. Witch Hazel is a natural antiseptic, so if you make sure the product you’re getting is alcohol free, it can perform all the functions of a conventional toner, but without the added preservatives and chemicals. After that you’re free and clear to lotion it up.

Bottom line: it’s natural, it works, it’s cheap, and it will last you quite a long time.

I use Thayer’s. Different varieties here for about $6.



Baubles and Blossoms
February 8, 2013, 9:47 am
Filed under: Art and Design, Photography, Seattle

Crowell Photography: Poppies &emdash; poppycake-5

I can’t believe it has taken me this long to brag about my friend Nancy. She is one of the kindest people I know, and I often wish I could be see her IRL and not just through Facebook. Beyond her overall awesomeness, she is also a very gifted photographer; which by the way, is her hobby outside of having a real job and a long commute. I have a deep love affair with all things from a macro lens so her images are always fascinating. She lives in the most lovely little town of La Conner, famous for their annual tulip festival, so her portfolio reflects the beautiful and rustic countryside and lush greenery and blossoms.

If you’re looking for something fun to do this weekend, head up to Mt. Vernon and visit her show. Her photos will be featured along with a local jewelry designer. The perfect stop for a meaningful Valentine’s day giftie and a fun little getaway.

Baubles and Blossoms

Saturday, February 9th

2112 Riverside Drive, Mt. Vernon WA

5-8 PM

Visit Nancy’s site to see all of her beautiful photos and her Zazzle site for fun products.

Crowell Photography: 2012 Spring Show at La Conner Brewery &emdash; Coral Blossom

Crowell Photography: Odds 'n Ends &emdash; Water Droplets-2




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