Category: Awards and Contests
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!More
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.
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.”More
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…More
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.More
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.
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.More
My barhopping excursions took me to a secret scotch society tasting, a marathon sampling of Singapore Slings off Bourbon Street and ended, as it does every week, at Zig Zag Café. As noted earlier with the revamped AYCE blog, I’ll use this forum to post tidbits and random thoughts about new bars, cocktails and other happenings in our drinking scene.
We’ll start with the acclaimed Zig Zag Café, which launched a new cocktail menu for the first time in 18 months.More
Scoring a seat at Canon just got harder.
The popular Capitol Hill bar’s latest bragging rights: “World’s Best Drink Selection.” Canon got that honor at the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards Dinner in New Orleans Saturday night, one of the highest honors in the industry.More
It’s Election Day. No sooner do you get one ballot in the mail, here’s another vying for your attention. It’s time to heed the call — for entries — and promote your picks for the 2012 James Beard Restaurant & Chef Awards. The Beard Foundation is once again calling all comers to submit the names…More
Food & Wine magazine today announced their 2011 “Best New Chefs” , recognizing up-and-coming chefs nationwide. Seattle has scored again with one of its own: Jason Franey, executive chef at Canlis. While the win is news to us, it’s old news to Franey, who got the word a month ago.
“It feels good to be able to finally talk about it,” said the 33-year-old chef, chatting by phone from New York City where he and his fellow newbies are busy painting the town. “My mom didn’t even know. She’s the kind of person who’d post it on Facebook!”
Jason Franey, in the kitchen at Canlis.
Franey was also a regional winner of Food & Wine’s new “People’s Choice Award” offered for the first time this year and announced last month. He beat out a tough and talented field of contenders before he was crowned Best New Chef Northwest. Of course, he had help with that one.More