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Category: Awards and Contests
April 2, 2014 at 12:44 PM

Seattle area distilleries win big at the American Distilling Institute

Those whiskey and gin geeks from around the country are in Seattle this week, holed up at the convention center for  the 11th Annual American Distilling Institute conference. A good number of them were sober too, though many local distillers had a lot of reasons to celebrate. More than a dozen craft distilleries in Washington, from Woodinville Whiskey Co. to San Juan Island Distillery took home several medals at the award gala last night.
I was especially happy for Sidetrack Distillery in Kent, which won a gold medal for its “beet spirit.” I think it’s one of the most interesting products in our craft distillery movement. It has an earthy note, almost like tequila. You can even make a margarita with it.

Award list below. Winners from Washington state are in bold.

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0 Comments | More in Awards and Contests, Drinks, Food and Restaurant News | Topics: distilleries, Tan Vinh

March 13, 2014 at 1:12 PM

Who has the best croissant in the Seattle area? One acclaimed pastry chef gives his two cents

Neil Roberson, the James Beard semifinalist for "best baker" talks about his favorite croissants in the Seattle area. Photo by John Lok/ Seattle Times

Neil Robertson, the James Beard semifinalist for “Best Pastry Chef” talks about his favorite croissants in the Seattle area. Photo by John Lok/ Seattle Times

Right here, right now. I’m calling a moratorium on cronuts /croughnuts.

Our subject today: croissants, as in our bakeries have gotten really good at making them recently. Have you noticed? Who better to discuss this with then Neil Robertson of Crumble & Flake Patisserie on Capitol Hill who’s in the running for the James Beard Award for “Best Pastry Chef” in the country.

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0 Comments | More in Awards and Contests, Restaurants | Topics: Crumble & Flake, Neil Robertson, Tan Vinh

March 10, 2014 at 10:39 AM

Seattle wine master is a Sommelier of the Year

Seattle’s Chris Tanghe, who achieved the prestigious and difficult certification as a Master Sommelier last year, has been named a 2014 Sommelier of the Year by Food & Wine magazine. Tanghe, wine & service director for downtown’s newish Spanish-influenced restaurant, Aragona, made the list of 7 sommeliers nationwide because “he reminds Americans that Spain…

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0 Comments | More in Awards and Contests | Topics: Aragona, Chris Tanghe, Master Sommelier

February 19, 2014 at 7:40 AM

Seattle chefs named James Beard semifinalists

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0 Comments | Topics: James Beard awards, Tan Vinh

December 31, 2013 at 11:23 AM

2013 Date Night Dining Awards

Amuse bouche at Epulo Bistro. Courtesy: ELD Images

Amuse bouche at Epulo Bistro. Courtesy: ELD Images

Last week, as I was putting the finishing puns on my own “Best Bites of 2013,” the third annual “Date Night Dining Awards” arrived in my inbox, courtesy of Eric and Diana Denson, a pair of avid and discerning eaters (and Seattle Times readers), just regular folks who happen to eat out almost as often as I do.

I first heard from Eric Denson at the end of 2011, the year he and his wife began a tradition of weekly date nights. “The sole purpose of Date Night is to eat our way across the greater Seattle area, focusing on different restaurants than our old favorites,” he explained. For fun, they decided to hand out awards, which they shared with me.

That began a correspondence wherein I eventually learned that the Densons have been married for 30 years. (Evidently date nights work!) From their South Snohomish County home, he commutes to work in Bellingham, she to Seattle. Besides food, they share a passion for belly-dancing, burlesque and baseball. Since 1998, they’ve had weekend season tickets to the Mariners so breakfast or brunch pinch hit for date nights during baseball season .

She collects cookbooks and (says he) is a fantastic cook. He (says she) is a grill master. Both are keen for new dining experiences but aren’t without issues: she is deathly allergic to seafood and no-reservations is a deal breaker for both. “The last thing we want to do after a long work week is drive someplace where we have to sit around hoping to get a table before we nod off.”

“I’d say we are both foodies but Diana is the one who loves dissecting the dishes,” said Eric. “I focus more on the emotional aspects of the experience, while she is the food scientist. It all fits because she is a scientist by trade and I’m a psychotherapist.”

He also takes pretty swell pix as you’ll see. I get a kick out of the Denson’s Date Night Dining Awards and thought you might too. They’ve given me permission to share. Happy New Year!

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0 Comments | Topics: Art of the Table, Book Bindery, Cafe Nordo

December 11, 2013 at 11:35 PM

Café Juanita, the people’s choice

The people have spoken—that is, the roughly five million people who make reservations and write reviews on OpenTable, the online restaurant reservation system. Hats off to chef Holly Smith and her team at Café Juanita, the only Washington state restaurant to make OpenTable’s 2013 roster of the 100 Best Restaurants in America.

Holly Smith, chef'/owner of Cafe Juanita in Kirkland

Holly Smith, chef’/owner of Cafe Juanita in Kirkland

The list was culled from a field of roughly 19,000 restaurants nationwide. The top 100 were selected based on reviews from verified OpenTable diners between November 14, 2012, and November 15, 2013

“It feels great to be on a list that is guest generated,” says Smith. “These reviews come only after a guest has dined with a restaurant and therefore it reflects happy guests.

It’s well-deserved recognition for the 13-year-old Kirkland restaurant, a favorite with critics from the start. In a 3.5 star review in the The Seattle Times in July 2002, Nancy Leson wrote, ” Innovation, artistry, and superior ingredients are key to the kitchen’s success.”

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0 Comments | Topics: Cafe Juanita, OpenTable, Providence Cicero

September 18, 2013 at 2:56 PM

Local dishes support national food education effort

There’s nothing I like better than combining a good deed with a good meal. Two Seattle restaurants—BOKA Restaurant + Bar in the Hotel 1000 downtown, and Tilth Restaurant in Wallingford—are  giving diners the chance to do just that by participating in the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America® Local Dish Challenge. Joining more than…

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0 Comments | Topics: Boka Restaurant, James Beard Foundation, Providence Cicero

September 4, 2013 at 9:22 PM

“Seattle’s Most Imaginative Bartender” vies for national title

Canon's Sean Michael Johnson, Seattle's Most Imaginative Bartender

Canon’s Sean Michael Johnson,Seattle’s Most Imaginative Bartender, and perhaps someday the world’s.

If you are out and about on Capitol Hill this Thursday or Friday looking for a libation, head to Canon and ask Sean Michael Johnson– a.k.a. Seattle’s “Most Imaginative Bartender”– to make you a Julius Henry. He can use the practice.

It’s the cocktail that made him a finalist in “Bombay Sapphire’s Search for the Most Imaginative Bartender.” This Sunday he’s competing in the national contest at the U.S. Bartender’s Guild Summit in Las Vegas, where he will share the stage with 51 of the country’s top mixologists. The winner heads to the 3rd annual global finals.

His strategy for the timed competition in Vegas is to make the drink as much as possible beforehand, “so it becomes muscle memory,” that way he can concentrate on charming the judges.

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0 Comments | Topics: Canon, Providence Cicero, Sean Michael Johnson

August 15, 2013 at 2:58 PM

Bravo to broVo’s award-winning spirits

broVoSpiritsQuintessentialCucumberCocktail

Quintessential Cucumber Cocktail,
made with broVo’s Douglas Fir Liqueur (photo: broVo)

Erin Brophy and Mhairi Voelsgen have been busy collecting medals in the year since I wrote about the hand-crafted, flavored liqueurs that launched their Seattle-based company, broVo Spirits.

In March broVo’s rose geranium liqueur earned a bronze medal in the San Francisco Spirits Competition. At last month’s Beverly Hills World Spirits Competition broVo’s Douglas Fir liqueur snagged gold for “extraordinary taste.”

But broVo’s new line of seven amaros (or amari, to give it the proper Italian plural), have been wowing judges too. Each was crafted from a recipe contributed by a Seattle bartender. Amaro No. 4 (by Patrick Haight) won a silver medal at the San Francisco competition. In Beverly Hills, gold medals for “extraordinary taste” went to Amaro No.1 (by John Ueding) and Amaro No. 5 (by Sara Fisher), while Amaro No. 3 (by Sarah Wyan) took the bronze. The entire broVo Amaro line was awarded a bronze medal for packaging and design.

Cocktail time at my house often involves broVo Amaros.

Cocktail time at my house often involves broVo Amaros.

Amaro, in case you are wondering, is a bittersweet, aromatically complex Italian liqueur. In Italy people drink it straight, as a tonic or digestivo. In this country it is beloved by craft bartenders who mix them into cocktails. There are hundreds of amaros, which traditionally are made by injecting grape brandy with various flavorings, but broVo’s line started with rhubarb liqueur gone wrong.

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0 Comments | More in Awards and Contests, cocktails, Drinks | Topics: amaro, broVo Spirits, liqueur

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