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You are currently viewing all posts written by Providence Cicero. Seattle Times restaurant critic and co-host of "Let's Eat" airing at 4 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM.

August 8, 2014 at 1:16 PM

Second Helpings: Cafe Juanita

The big news that Café Juanita will be spiffed up and expanded to include a bar, hopefully by spring, came on the eve of the 3.5-star review that appears today in The Seattle Times. Chef/owner Holly Smith told me she has signed a letter of intent to purchase the Kirkland property, which will allow her to make some long-overdue renovations to the 62-year-old building that once housed a winery.

Holly Smith / Photo courtesy of Cafe Juanita

Holly Smith / Photo courtesy of Cafe Juanita

“I’m super excited. It’s been a long road to get this done,” Smith said. “The look and feel of Cafe Juanita is very much loved so I am not interested in changing that really. Adding a bar means guests can come enjoy us in a more spontaneous relaxed manner, or enjoy a drink before or after dinner. Ideally there will be spring and summer seating on the patio with food coming primarily from the bar for that space….There is a lot to do and not a ton of budget…but I’m optimistic that we will do things on the list that guests can appreciate as well as those things necessary that no one ever sees. It’s a house remodel after all and we all know the realities of old houses!”

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Comments | More in Food and Restaurant News, Restaurants | Topics: Cafe Juanita, Holly Smith

August 7, 2014 at 5:05 PM

Pasta with Jam Sauce

Rachelle, Sarah and Tony of Team Falkor with me, tasting pasta with jam sauce.

Rachelle, Sarah and Tony of Team Falkor with me, tasting pasta with jam sauce.

According to E!Online, the internet has been inundated this week with “thousands of people around the world forming teams of 15 and performing weird, random and fun tasks in the name of breaking some Guinness World Records…and donating tens of thousands of dollars to the charity Random Acts.” You don’t have to tell me.

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Comments | More in Cooking | Topics: GISHWHES, Pasta with jam sauce, Providence Cicero

August 1, 2014 at 12:37 PM

Second Helpings: The Herbfarm

The Herbfarm’s chef Chris Weber and one of his creations: Smoked vegetable broth with Sun Gold tomato, zucchini, squash blossoms, ham and egg–all raised on the restaurant’s farm. Photo: Erika Schultz/The Seattle Times If any dish captures the essence of summer it’s the gorgeous one pictured above. As the opening number on The Herbfarm’s July…

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Comments | More in Restaurants | Topics: Cafe Juanita, Nancy Leson, Providence Cicero

July 25, 2014 at 12:36 PM

Girl Meets Dirt on Orcas Island

Gerry and Audra Lawlor at the Orcas Island Farmer's Market /  Photo: monicabennett.com

Gerry and Audra Lawlor at the Orcas Island Farmer’s Market / Photo: monicabennett.com

The network of chefs, growers and food artisans on Orcas Island is so intertwined that the night before I met Audra and Gerry Lawlor selling their line of Girl Meets Dirt Archipelago Preserves at the Orcas Island Farmer’s Market, I had already tasted one of their wares in an elegant Prosecco cocktail tinged with rhubarb and lavender at The Inn at Ship Bay.

Turns out, the inn’s commercial kitchen is where girl meets stove to craft her chunky, jam-like “spoon preserves” and the firmer, concentrated fruit purees Audra calls “cutting preserves,” modeled after Spanish membrillo, or quince paste.

Quince, in fact, is their bestselling flavor. It comes from Willowrose Bay on Guemes, another of the islands in the San Juan archipelago. Audra says she is adamant about sourcing fruit only from the San Juans; often they pick it themselves. With the exception of rhubarb, she exclusively uses orchard fruit, almost all heirlooms, “a nod to the San Juan’s, and in particular Orcas’s orchard keeping history.”

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Comments | Topics: Girl Meets Dirt, Orcas Island, Providence Cicero

July 25, 2014 at 10:43 AM

The Charms of Chippy’s Fish & Drink

Chilled tomato soup with smoked mussels at Chippy’s. Photo: Providence CIcero If summer ever returns, I hope this glorious chilled tomato soup does too. During this month’s heat wave, it was a special at Chippy’s Fish & Drink, the new Ethan Stowell eatery next door to his Staple & Fancy Mercantile in Ballard. Topped with…

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Comments | Topics: Chippy's Fish & Drink, Ethan Stowell Restaurants, Providence Cicero

July 18, 2014 at 11:42 AM

Orcas Island’s farmer-chef

Jay Blackinton on the front porch of Hogstone's Wood Oven on Orcas Island. Photo: The Seattle Times

Jay Blackinton on the front porch of Hogstone’s Wood Oven on Orcas Island. Photo: Maddie Meyer/The Seattle Times

More than a few disaffected youths have found fulfillment through hard work and a lot of them end up in restaurant kitchens. Jay Blackinton’s path to the kitchen at Hogstone’s Wood Oven, the Orcas Island restaurant he co-owns with John Steward, founder of Maple Rock Farm, took him first through the fields.

I met Blackinton when I had dinner at Hogstone on a recent eating tour of Orcas Island, chronicled this coming Sunday in The Seattle Time’s travel section. The 26-year-old’s fingers are inked below the knuckles with letters that read “So it goes” when he puts his fists together, remnants of an early infatuation with Kurt Vonnegut. His emails sign off with the 19th century socialist epigram: “The plough is a better backbone than the factory.”

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Comments | Topics: Hogstone's Wood Oven, Maple Rock Farm, Orcas Island

June 17, 2014 at 3:08 PM

A manly cooking primer from Steven Raichlen

Guy food: Skillet Rib Steak from Man Made Meals by Steven Raichlen

Guy food: Skillet Rib Steak from Man Made Meals by Steven Raichlen

Who better to pen a he-man kitchen how-to than prolific grillmaster Steven Raichlen, the author of 30 cookbooks including “Planet Barbecue!” and the host of “Primal Grill” and “Barbecue University” on PBS.

 

Raichlen will be in Seattle on Monday, June 23, promoting “Man Made Meals: The Essential Cookbook for Guys,” at a special dinner event, demo and book signing at RN74 Restaurant downtown.  (Call 206-456-7474 or email dcalle@rn74.com to reserve your seat.)

 

The hefty, illustrated Workman paperback promises “culinary literacy for men.” Writing with dry humor and a straightforward style, Raichlen comes across as a wise and knowing high school coach, friendly but firm, making it clear when rules are rules (safe food-handling procedures) and when you can bend them (Crazy Salad).

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Comments | More in Cooking, Upcoming Events | Topics: Man Made Meals, RN74, Steven Raichlen

June 9, 2014 at 4:45 PM

Meet the new burger at The Old Sage

New on the menu at The Old Sage, a hickory and mesquite-smoked burger with root chips. Photo courtesy: The Old Sage

New on the menu at The Old Sage, a hickory and mesquite-smoked burger with root chips. Photo courtesy: The Old Sage

Up until now there hasn’t been a burger on the menu at The Old Sage, Dana Tough and Brian McCracken’s ten-month-old, smoke-fueled restaurant and bar on Capitol Hill. A bar without a burger? That’s like no S’mores at a campfire.

A burger builds trust. “A burger speaks to everyone, as opposed to say, lavender smoked pork cheeks,” said McCracken and Tough, speaking on the phone in tandem, as they tend to do. “You get someone to trust you on that level and they come in again and try other things.”

Sure, they could have copied either of the very fine burgers at their other joints–Tavern Law or Spur. But that would be so un-McCracken-and-Tough. Instead they built a new one, from the bun up.

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Comments | More in Food and Restaurant News, Restaurants | Topics: Brian McCracken, Dana Tough, hamburgers

June 6, 2014 at 11:55 AM

The Demise of Dot’s

Just days ago I lunched on superb grilled sausages and a perfect porchetta sandwich at Dot’s Charcuterie & Bistrot (né Dot’s Delicatessen) in Fremont —little knowing it would be my last chance to do so. Just hours ago, chef Miles James and his business partner Robin Short announced on Facebook that Dot’s will serve its last dinner tonight. No word on why.

Dot's Charcuterie & Bistrot in Fremont is closing tonight.

Dot’s Charcuterie & Bistrot in Fremont announced it is closing tonight.

The closing is abrupt to say the least. At lunch I overheard

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Comments | More in Food and Restaurant News, Restaurants | Topics: Anna Wallace, Dot's Charcuterie & BIstrot, Miles James

May 29, 2014 at 1:25 PM

Chefs tell all: How you can become a restaurant VIP

David Chang, whose Momofuku restaurant realm extends from New York to Toronto to Sydney, Australia, has never been known for his softer side. His reputation for shock talk rivals that of Anthony Bourdain. In the May issue of GQ Magazine, the much-lauded, 36-year-old Korean-American chef offered unvarnished advice to diners who aspire to most-favored-customer status in restaurants.

“Would you like priority seating at busy, popular restaurants… servers to remember what you like and don’t… the choicest cuts of meat, the most pristine fish, extra courses on the house?” Chang writes. “Then you want to become a regular—or what we in the business call a PX table, for person extraordinaire. Ultimately, the experience you’re after is ‘soigné.’ That’s chef-speak for culinary perfection from your first drink to your last dessert.”

What are Chang’s tips for soigné-seeking PX wannabes?

“Avoid eating on weekends, when it’s a zoo. The best diners eat Sundays through Thursdays, earlier or later in the evening, so the staff remembers you better…

“Don’t be a (slang for male body part deleted here)….When you become a PX table at one spot, you soon become a known commodity at many others. And if you’re a (male body part) somewhere, they’ll remember you everywhere. Also, don’t do drugs in the bathroom.”

“Order like you know what’s going on…If you request well-done meat and you’re not pregnant, you have no concept of flavor. (Sorry, this is how we think.) If you send a dish back because you think something is ‘off,’ you’re probably wrong. (And the kitchen will hate you for it.) Above all, try dishes from outside of your comfort zone — those are probably the ones the cooks are most proud of.”

How does this advice resonate with Seattle chefs? Read on:

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Comments | Topics: Charles Walpole, David Chang, Derek Ronspies

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