It feels sometimes like the revolution of fine artisan cheeses in the Northwest began about a decade ago. That’s when Kurt Dammeier founded Beecher’s Handmade Cheese in Pike Place Market, bringing a high profile to not just his own products but to a cheese counter that was whey, whey full of other Northwest finds….More
Dinner under a tent in Seattle in November? Call it foolhardy, even crazy, but also call it sold out—at $200 per person no less. Four hours after Lara Hamilton sent an email in mid-October to her Book Larder mailing list announcing the November 18th event, not a ticket was left. The draw was a chef trifecta. James Beard Award-winner Matt Dillon was cooking with Blaine Wetzel of Willow’s Inn, dubbed “one of ten restaurants in the world worth a plane ride” by the NY Times.
The guest of honor was Copenhagen chef Rene Redzepi of Noma, which held the number one spot on the list of “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants” three years running beginning in 2010. That’s the year “we went from zeros to heros,” said Redzepi in Seattle, one stop on his U.S. tour promoting his latest book, A Work in Progress. (If you missed him last night making chocolate-covered chicharones with Jimmy Kimmel and actor Idris Elba, watch it here. It’s hilarious!) Addressing the 160 people who braved Seattle’s rain and chill on Monday night an impressed Redzepi said, “This would never happen in Denmark.”More
Those Pok Pok wings are be the biggest Asian comfort food to hit restaurants since David Chang’s pork belly buns. You can check out my cover story here. Everyone seems to do them now. But no one does them quite like Pok Pok. They ‘re garlicky dark meat with a crispy skin, coated in a salty-and-sweet glaze, an umami bomb that will have you gnawing again and again. And now you can make them at home.More
When it comes to condiments, there’s a lot to be said for convenience. You’ll find Heinz, Best Foods, Grey Poupon, Farman’s, Stubb’s and many more familiar labels in my fridge. But if you’ve ever made mayonnaise from scratch, you know it tastes nothing like what’s in the jar. And if you are gluten-sensitive, there is even more reason to consider homemade over store-bought.
That was the impetus behind The Kitchen Pantry Cookbook, a new book from Seattle chef Erin Coopey, who struggled with digestive issues as a teen but was in her thirties before she discovered gluten was the culprit. When she started looking into what products contained gluten she was astonished to find it was in practically everything.
The book goes well beyond mayo, mustard and ketchup. It includes recipes for barbecue sauces, salad dressings, dips, spreads, pickles and stocks. “They are geared to the person who doesn’t have too much time,” says Coopey. “Many require very few ingredients.”
“What you find when you start making your own condiments, dressings and stocks is that what you get tastes so much richer,” she says. “When you try to go back to commercial products what you taste is synthetic, sugary and salty.”
Meet Coopey, get a signed copy of the book and taste some of her recipes at PCC Natural Market in West Seattle on Friday, August 30, from 5 to 7 p.m. You’ll also find her signing books at Capers in West Seattle on Sunday, September 8, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
And just in time to perk up the hot dogs, hamburgers or sandwiches at your Labor Day picnic, Coopey shares this recipe for Chow-Chow:More
As late summer starts turning towards fall, bookshelves overflow with new releases as abundantly as gardens with crops. Seattle food writers are well-represented with a mix that goes beyond the standard cookbook, including memoirs and fiction and even party planning. We’ll spotlight a few individual books in coming weeks and months, including Darlene Barnes’…More
Everyone’s a critic, thanks to online review sites like Yelp. That makes criticism worth reading even harder to find.
Enter Hanna Raskin, until recently the restaurant critic for Seattle Weekly, known for her thorough research, an eye for out-of-the-way restaurant gems, an engaging style, and unapologetic honesty. She’s doing her part to teach the secrets of well-crafted, useful, online restaurant reviews in her new e-book, “Yelp Help” (available on Amazon.com for $2.99, or in print form for $5.99 in selected bookstores.)
In the book, Raskin goes through the basic workings of a restaurant kitchen (for those who have wondered what the ‘expediter’ does or when the prep cooks go home,) gives a brief history of restaurant criticism, then gets into the meat of things – where most online reviews go bad and how to avoid the most common errors.
(Sample: “Rather than declare a restaurant ‘definitely overpriced,’ quote real numbers.” Sample #2: Avoid ambiguous words, even the ubiquitous ‘flavorful’: “Spoiled milk has a strong flavor. So does a 2-day-old scallop.”) She shows how professional critics research and write, and – that writing class essential – how to develop your own voice.
Seattle Yelp-ers who take her advice still won’t be competing directly with Raskin; she’s leaving town for a new job at the Charleston, S.C., Post & Courier. We talked by phone about why people hate Yelp reviews, food clichés to avoid, and where a critic eats before leaving the Northwest (the list includes lots of Asian food in the I.D., a dim sum run to Vancouver, B.C., Ma’Ono, Terra Plata, Poppy, Renee Erickson’s restaurants, and Il Corvo pasta.)
Here’s a condensed, edited version of our conversation, and, as a former critic, my favorite piece of advice from her book: “It’s hugely important for reviewers to remember that different restaurants serve different purposes. The critic’s job is not to judge whether a restaurant meets a predetermined set of criteria for greatness, but whether it succeeds in doing what it has set out to do.”:More
Mark Sexauer would be an excellent pseudonym for the author of a cocktail tome titled “Aphrodisiacs with a Twist,” but it happens to be the author’s real name. When that same man has a cocktail shaker tattooed below the first knuckle on the middle finger of his left hand, well, you know he has stories to tell.
He’s not telling that particular story in print, but after tending bar for a decade, Sexauer is revealing professional secrets in what he calls a “fun, sexy, approachable” how-to bar manual for novices and professionals alike. Why? “There are so many unapproachable cocktail books out there,” he says. “They are very hard to follow for someone who’s never made a drink at home before.”More
You get the hamburgers and hot dogs. We’ll grill the experts. Here are tips from recent barbecuing and grilling books that should help make your Fourth of July meals a flaming (or, er, glowing) success:
Clean machine: Most experts stress the importance of maintaining clean, lightly oiled grill grates. The editors of Bon Appetit go beyond that in “The Grilling Book” ($45, Andrews McMeel), suggesting using a toothpick to make sure all burner holes on a gas grill are clear of debris. “If the burner holes are clogged, the flame will be low or nonexistent and heat levels will drop dramatically.”More
The great Nora Ephron passed away last year today. I like to think that she’s looking over us, with that toothy, mischievous grin of hers, doing a happy dance as she leaves peanut butter cookie crumbs.
Seattleites remember Ephron for “Sleepless in Seattle.” But Ephron remembered Seattle mostly for The Dahlia Bakery’s peanut butter sandwich cookies. As she put it in the Dahlia Bakery cookbook, “This may be the greatest cookie ever ever ever.” In honor of Ephron, playwright, journalist and director, that beloved cookie recipe is reprinted below.More
For years, local bookseller Peter Miller had only an epistolary relationship with Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton, two women behind the beloved Canal House cookbook series.
“They had someone send their book to us four years ago and asked if we would carry [their books],” explained Miller, as he prepped lunch for the staff of the architecture firm Suyama Peterson Deguchi. “We carried it for years, and they started sending us notes that said, ‘Merry Christmas,’ and we started sending them notes that said, ‘Merry Christmas.’”More