Trend-setting restaurants, Northwest cookbooks, local food news and the people who make them happen.
You are currently viewing all posts written by Nancy Leson.
November 12, 2013 at 1:06 PM
What’s hot? Oh, let’s not! Instead, join Seattle Times food writer Nancy Leson Thursday, Nov. 14 at Town Hall when the Seattle Times, in partnership with the Seattle Public Library, hosts a panel of chefs and restaurateurs who’ve been around long enough to know that being great trumps being new.
How do they keep it real? How do they keep their customers coming back for more? What makes them hot under the collar when it comes to the public — and the media’s — insatiable appetite for the latest hot-new-thing? Nancy sits down with John Sundstrom of Lark, Mashiko’s Hajime Sato, Café Juanita’s Holly Smith, Daisley Gordon of Cafe Campagne and Marché and Wild Ginger’s Rick Yoder.
The conversation starts at 7 p.m., and promises to be frank, smart and a little bit smarty-pants. It’s free, there will be prizes, and the audience will have a chance to ask some questions, too. Doors open at 6:15, seats in the Great Hall (1119 Eighth Ave., Seattle) are first come, first served. More at www.townhallseattle.org.
August 19, 2013 at 11:19 AM
I adore figs. But (so far, anyway) I can’t grow them. Good thing, then, that I’ve befriended Seattle’s fig king, Bill Farhat, a retired Arabic professor who’s been growing figs in his backyard in Seattle’s Lake City neighborhood for decades. I met him though his daughter, Sally, and when she told me her dad grew an astonishing amount of figs and I had to see it to believe it, she wasn’t kidding.
Bill was raised in Lebanon, where he grew up eating figs as if they were candy. (Aren’t they?) He shared a lot of information with me about growing up in the Middle East, about raising a family in the Pacific Northwest and about growing sweet figs (among other fruits, including loquats and green Persian plums) in the terraced yard he’s carefully built and tended over the years. He also told me about this great website, Figs 4 Fun, offering a wider world of info and insight for those of you who want to grow your own.
Perhaps you read about Bill in my recent Pacific Northwest profile. (If not, what are you waiting for?) But I also wanted to show you what he showed me when we took a tour of his garden in June, before his figs were ripe enough to eat. Here’s a video trio show-and-tell.
August 13, 2013 at 4:58 PM
Last week marked the debut of the fourth Homegrown Sustainable Sandwich Shop: this one at the corner of Second and Marion, where they’re catering to the downtown business crowd — and other hungry customers — weekdays from 7 a.m. till 6 p.m.
But wait! There’s more (on the horizon), say Ben Friedman and Brad Gillis, the savvy upstarts whose Homegrown stores already draw fans in Fremont, Queen Anne and Capitol Hill. If you missed my Sunday column in Pacific NW magazine, read about where they’ve been, where they’re going next and what makes this Homegrown duo truly homegrown right here.
August 2, 2013 at 11:00 AM
I’ve written plenty about restaurant service.
A dozen years ago, when I was still writing restaurant criticism — and fielding frantic calls from restaurateurs crying “Good help is hard to find!” — I penned this very personal column. In 2004, I discussed what happens when service goes south. Readers responded in droves (read some of what they had to say). In 2005 I offered the Ten Commandments of Restaurant Behavior: common courtesies that should help make dining out a more civilized endeavor for restaurant patrons and the folks who serve them (they stand, today). When a reader wrote in praise of a particular waiter in 2007, complaining about shared-tipping practices. I jumped into the tipping pool to help explain where tip-dollars end up and heard back from some very vocal folks on both sides of the tipping-for-service fence. Today, in my cover story for Weekend Plus, I gave a shout-out to a handful of the many restaurant folks who always make my day. Among them? The two guys above. I invite you to join in, sharing the names — and locations — of your favorite “service providers.”
July 22, 2013 at 11:09 AM
I was living la vida Gidget in a surfing town in Puerto Rico the first time I took part in a pig roast. There on the Rincon beach, a local dude dug a trough in the sand and cooked a pig in the covered pit. There was rum. And cerveza. And a roar from the crowd that drowned out the crashing waves when — 10 hours after its burial — el puerco was devoured on the spot.
So begins my latest Taste column, in which I tell the tale of a neighborhood pig roast. The one where, in a backyard bacchanal disguised as a birthday party, I join forces with family and friends to procure, brine, roast and eat a whole pig. Read the story here. And if you’ve ever wondered what it takes to pull-off a neighborhood pig roast, I’ve got the step-by-step visuals.
July 11, 2013 at 10:17 AM
I don’t have to do much to get my husband all misty-eyed. Say “Door County” and away he goes, waxing nostalgic about boyhood summers spent on Baileys Harbor in Door County, Wisconsin. There, far from the urban center that was his Chicago home, he fished Lake Michigan with his favorite aunts, picked the county’s famous sour Montmorency cherries and slept, sunburned and freckle-faced, on a cot in a screened-in porch.
Which is why, 16 years ago, he insisted we plant a pair of dwarf cherry trees in our backyard: edible nostalgia.
As I explained to my radio partner Dick Stein this week on Food for Thought (listen in here), this year I bore the brunt of the picking and pitting, though Mac took to the task for the last of them and — necessity being the mother of invention — shared with me for the first time his mother’s secret for pitting cherries: use a hairpin!
When he asked if I had a bobby pin, I was skeptical, but when I rustled up the only hairpin I had, he showed me how it’s done. “No way!” I said, pulling out my iPhone camera so he could show you: (more…)
July 2, 2013 at 8:32 AM
My pea plants didn’t produce as much as I’d hoped for this year (see: brown thumb) but that’s OK. I live here, where there’s a farmers market on every corner. (Well, almost.) The last couple weeks I’ve been taking advantage of the season, buying and shelling fresh peas for dinner at least once a week. “Who wants to shell peas?” you ask. I do: it’s a task that makes you sit down, slow down and appreciate the bounty.
If you think I’m full of it, so what: you’ll be too once you taste the flavor of fresh peas, lightly sauteed with butter, tossed with fresh mint (that I grow, no problem) and sprinkled with sea salt. Lazy? Here’s a quick(er) recipe: saute a mix of shelled peas and chubby snap peas — whose pods are eminently edible. As, in fact, were the pods of these beauties, fresh from my farmer’s market table. Ask. Taste. That’s the joy of farmers marketing.
June 19, 2013 at 11:10 AM
In the latest installment of my Taste column, I shared my simple recipe for grilled quail, which you may have eaten in a restaurant but never considered making at home. Big mistake! I grill quail year-round. It’s great dinner-party fare and if you’re concerned that guests won’t go for it (I promise, they will), do as I often do and serve the wee ones as part of a mixed grill (six quail, six lamb chops, six prawns — you get my drift, right?).
As I mentioned in the column, you can go the easy route and buy quail that’s already been prepped, or buy it frozen (for about $10 a six-pack) at an Asian supermarket and prep it yourself. Now, before you balk at the thought of handling a bitty bird (or a dozen), I assure you: there’s nothing to it, especially if you’ve got a good pair of kitchen shears. If you don’t, run don’t walk and buy yourself a pair. Just remember, once you’ve got them in hand, listen to your mother: Don’t run with scissors! And do listen to me, as I show you the ropes.
June 7, 2013 at 4:36 PM
It’s been a week!
The folks at PETA want me to tell you that Seattle was just named one of America’s top 10 vegan-friendly cities. Done. I told you to eat more collards — and showed you why you need to start rolling your own. Meanwhile, over on KPLU Stein and I talked about salads: He carried on about the iceberg variety and gave the big thumbs up to The Smitten Kitchen’s Deb Perelman for her smartypants idea for building a better wedge salad (ditch the wedge and go horizontal) while I offered my time-tested recipe for Thousand Island dressing (you’ve got the goods in your fridge) and waxed rhapsodic about one of the best salads in Seattle. Listen in here.
And just to keep things exciting, I got bawled out by a reader who read my cover story in today’s Weekend Plus — the one that talks about restaurants where carnivores and vegetarians can happily co-exist. Her beef? (Well, one of them): (more…)
June 4, 2013 at 3:09 PM
“Have you been to my new favorite restaurant?” a friend asked a few years back, pointing to my left as we drove up Greenwood Avenue North. I made one of the fastest U-turns of my life, then pulled into the strip-mall parking lot in front of a Vietnamese pho house. One whose name might make some folks blush.
“Dinner?” asked the gentleman behind the counter. “No, thanks, I just wanted to grab a takeout menu,” I said with feigned innocence (just like when I was a kid calling the corner drugstore to ask, “Do you have Prince Albert in a can? Well, let him out!”).
The next day at the office, Nicole Brodeur took one look the Pho Kim menu and cracked, “That’s where all the bitter divorcees have lunch.”
Trending with readers