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All You Can Eat

Trend-setting restaurants, Northwest cookbooks, local food news and the people who make them happen.

Category: Food products and kitchen gear
July 22, 2013 at 11:09 AM

Party animals roast pig in a “China” box — photos!

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.

One 66-pound pig, brined overnight in an icy citrus bath. (photo/Nancy Leson)

One 66-pound pig, brined overnight in an icy citrus bath. (photo/Nancy Leson)



Comments | Topics: La Caja Asadora, La Caja China, Nancy Leson

July 16, 2013 at 9:24 AM

New popcorn flavors really Pop!

As a restaurant critic, eating is my job, so I try to limit snacking, or at least choose healthy ones. My willpower was sorely tested this weekend when David Israel, CEO of Pop! Gourmet Popcorn was a guest on KIRO Radio’s “Let’s Eat.” He showed up at the studio heavily armed with samples of his many-flavored wares.

Pop! Gourmet Popcorn made with Rogue Creamery Blue Cheese really does melt in your mouth.

Pop! Gourmet Popcorn made with Rogue Creamery Blue Cheese is my new vice.


Sure, it’s easy to make popcorn at home, even to bump it up a notch by rummaging through your salts and spices. But it’s not so simple to infuse it with smoke or coat the kernels with blue cheese.


Pop! Rogue Blue, made in partnership with the Oregon’s Rogue Creamery, won a gold award for “Outstanding Snack” at this year’s Specialty Foods Show. Turns out it’s a favorite  of my “Let’s Eat” co-host, Terry Jaymes too. His tip: “Shove as much as you can in your mouth and don’t chew, just suck on it. Sounds weird. I didn’t know it could actually be juicy.”


I have to admit, he’s right. The stuff melts in your mouth.  I discovered it goes great with a dry martini, too.


Comments | Topics: Pop! Gourmet Popcorn, Providence Cicero, Rubs with Love

December 6, 2011 at 6:54 AM

Good will for the holidays? The price is right for kitchen gear

This time of year, there’s a lot of talk about good will toward men (and women, and children). And, as ever, at the holidays, it’s hard to get away from the word “shopping.” Today I’d like to discuss both.

I’m a sucker for kitchen gear, and regularly rummage at rummage sales, put on the brakes for yard sales and rove the aisles of local thrift shops in search of a deal. So when a new Goodwill store opened blocks from my house last week, I didn’t waste any time answering that siren’s call. Having heard there were lines outside when the store opened, I assumed there’d be little worth buying by the time I showed up around 6pm. I was wrong.

In a quick sweep of the household goods department I snagged a sturdy 2 1/2 quart Calphalon saucepan ($6.99) that has the utilitarian look of a restaurant supply-house purchase; a copper-lined stainless-steel gratin dish ($7.99) and an 8-inch J.A. Henckels serrated bread knife (99-cents) that feels so incredibly solid in my hand I don’t know how I’ve lived without it.

Such a deal! [photo: Nancy Leson]

As I always tell naysayers, the secret to finding great used stuff is to thrift-shop frequently, expect nothing and be surprised when you spot a “find.” Sometimes, you don’t find much, but when you do — or at least when I do — it’s proof that one (wo)man’s trash is another’s treasure. And in this economy, we can all use a few scored treasures, right? Speaking of which . . .


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September 26, 2011 at 9:07 AM

Asian snacks? I’ll take a (WhoNu?) Korean drumstick

I just now got around to sneaking a peek at my Sunday paper. And that’s where I found a Pacific Northwest magazine article that spoke — loudly — to me and my family. We’re big fans of Asian snack foods, including the fruit jellies, mochi balls, dried plums and wasabi peas writer Eve Tai loves too [read her story here]. And, funny she should mention it:

This summer we got together here at our house with our “judo families” — friends from Seattle Dojo. Our potluck started, naturally, with plenty of snacks, including one the kids adored. As everyone who knows Korean food knows, fried chicken’s hot stuff in Korea. But who knew that you could actually purchase a box of fried chicken snack-crackers?

Cayla’s got a Japanese-American mom and a Chinese-American dad, and if you’re a longtime Seattleite, perhaps you’ve eaten at her grandparents’ restaurant, Ruby Chow’s. [photos/Nancy Leson]

Our Korean pal, Silver, brought the mini-drumsticks, proving, as I often say, you never know what wonders you’ll find when hitting the aisles of our multitude of “ethnic” supermarkets, or any local market, really. My favorite Asia-inspired snack?


Comments | More in Food products and kitchen gear, Shopping

August 10, 2011 at 8:25 AM

Take two Eatwhatever and kiss me in the morning

I get plenty publicity kits, and most of the time I have little interest in whatever it is some publicist or manufacturer is hawking. But this week my mail included a pack of Eatwhatever, touted as “a reliable breath freshener for many professionals such as chefs, restaurant and food critics, media, makeup artists, dentists, massage therapists and actors who have to work closely with others on-screen.” Turns out it was just what the doctor ordered.

Directions: swallow a green gel cap (filled with organic peppermint and parsley oils, which head straight for your gullet) and suck on a mint (the pack includes 10 of each) and — who knew? — no more “P.U.”

Why? Well, if you’ve been reading my Twitter feed lately, you’d know that my husband nearly passed out the other night when I walked into the house reeking of garlic. Again.


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August 8, 2011 at 9:50 AM

Chillin’ with a Zoku Quick Pop Maker, and Abe Lincoln

Several months ago I was hanging in my local housewares store when I saw the perfect gift for my son’s summer birthday: a Zoku Quick Pop Maker. Now, trust me: kids do not need this expensive gadget. Nor does anybody for that matter, despite what you may have read. Which is exactly what I was thinking when a lithe young woman ran into the store while I was standing there eyeing the Zoku and its many accoutrements. “You’ve got it!” she shouted to the shopkeep, shelling out twenty bucks for a storage container for her Quick Pops while simultaneously rhapsodizing about the product.

I overheard her carrying on, at length, about how her boyfriend’s family bought her a Zoku. And about how, ever since, she’d been blending bananas and other fruits, pouring the mixture into her prized Quick Pop maker (kept cold in her freezer), and only minutes later — voila! — a nutritious, low-cal treat. I was sold. And I promised myself this would be a far better gift than the latest video game for a 13-year-old who loves to experiment in the kitchen. I was right. Nate loves his Quick Pop Maker.

Take OJ, add strawberries, quick-freeze. Ask dad to pose with fruit-pop.

That said, I refuse to buy the storage container when a plastic bag will do. That, he can save his allowance for. After all, my present good fortune aside, I grew up as the oldest of four, in a household where pennies were pinched till Abe Lincoln screamed. In fact, I still recall getting my butt kicked for coming home from the store with the milk my mother asked me to pick up — and an “extra” box of Crayola Crayons. Which were later marched back, “Right now!” my tuchis still stinging.


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February 16, 2011 at 11:10 AM

Vinegar love: a delicious fix, culinary and otherwise

Yesterday, I enjoyed the company of the world’s next food star, 13-year-old Abigail Fishman of Port Angeles. (You don’t know her yet, but trust me, you will.) Together we played “Me and My Shadow” — with Abigail tagging along as I interviewed the subjects of an upcoming profile, proving her proficiency playing “Name that tune!” when I taped my KPLU radio show, sitting in on a meeting at The Seattle Times office, touring the premises, and not incidentally eating a lot of banh mi.

At day’s end, this eighth grader-extraordinaire handed me a much appreciated gift: a bottle of her favorite vinegar. “It’s amazing! I put it on everything,” she said, having no idea that vinegar is my idea of the best hostess-gift imaginable. And this morning, after tasting the stuff from a spoon, I’m now as addicted to that fig-flavored balsamico as she is, and more than happy to add it to my collection. (Hey, Abigail: Try it on vanilla ice cream with a hit of freshly cracked black pepper, or in a glass of sparkling mineral water!)

A “small” sampling of vinegars from my collection: a bottle for every (and any) occasion.

So tell me: If I went rummaging around in your kitchen cabinets, what would I find, vinegar-wise? The bottle that gets heaviest use in my house:


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