Trend-setting restaurants, Northwest cookbooks, local food news and the people who make them happen.
November 26, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Finally, Dinette will be hitting the big-time — at least in size. Chef-owner Melissa Nyffeler plans to close the restaurant’s doors at 1514 E. Olive Way after dinner service on Dec. 23, and to move the restaurant to a yet-to-be-determined larger space.
Dinette has been loved in its 8 years on Capitol Hill, but always seemed under-appreciated, only rarely getting national attention along the lines of this August article in the Boston Globe. (Looking around for recent Dinette mentions, in fact, the most prominent is on a list of the nation’s most underrated restaurants. Hmmm.) From “toasts” to tagines, salads to snacks, it’s been called “ridiculously charming” but with fully thought-out food, and “comfortably at home between homey and haute.” Nyffeler and her crew accomplished all those things working on nothing but a four-burner electric range and a toaster.
Nyffeler expects to re-open Dinette in 2014, looking for a place with a similar ambience, but more space inside the kitchen and out. She’s looking around Capitol Hill, but open to real estate in other walkable neighborhoods.
There will be three more of Nyffeler’s family-style Sunday suppers at the old address – Dec. 8 (Yucatan), Dec. 15 (Southern French, featuring cassoulet) and Dec. 22 (Spanish tapas.) Those dinners, which were inspired by the ones Nyffeler used to throw in her own apartment, are limited to 36 guests apiece, with reservations required. Cost: $40 per person, not including cocktails, wine, beer or dessert. Also, on the final dinner in the old space Dec. 23, look for Champagne and “toasts of both the wine and bread varieties.” Keep track of them in the interim on their Facebook page over here.
November 21, 2013 at 4:12 PM
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.”
November 21, 2013 at 6:00 AM
So you saw the headlines about a shortage of big Butterball turkeys?
“If you’re planning on serving your family a fresh turkey this Thanksgiving, you may be hard pressed to find one available at your local supermarket,” Fox News warned, among others. The problem: Butterball’s birds didn’t gain as much weight this year as the company had anticipated.
No need to panic, though.
First, the company only cut shipments of birds larger than 16 pounds. Even if you are shopping for one that size, you probably wouldn’t be affected, because only about 20 percent of Thanksgiving turkeys are sold fresh, which is where Butterball had the issue. The majority are previously frozen birds, which aren’t in short supply, says the National Turkey Federation. Beyond that, Butterball produces only about about one-fifth of the country’s Thanksgiving turkeys, and other suppliers haven’t reported any problems, says NBC.
If you do wind up needing more bird than you can find, though, The Kitchn says not to worry. Actually, they say not to bother with 20+ pound turkeys at all. Big turkeys are so problematic to cook evenly, they recommend buying two smaller ones if you’re feeding a crowd, and roasting them side by side in one oven. (Commenters also suggested cooking one small turkey along with an extra bone-in turkey breast.)
My main question is why the Butterball turkeys were so slow to gain weight. Food politics writer Tom Philpott has some interesting thoughts about that.
Whatever you do, if you do have a frozen turkey (and even the “deep chilled” ones I’ve gotten in past years have been effectively frozen,) remember to allow them plenty of time to defrost. Butterball says you should allow at least a day’s thawing time in the refrigerator for every 4 pounds of meat. Small turkey or big, we’re starting to approach those deadlines.
Where are you getting your turkey this year? (Or are you getting a turkey at all? We have as many vegetarian guests as meat-eaters now. Last year we served them pumpkin stuffed with panade.)
November 18, 2013 at 2:37 PM
It’s not a cronut. It’s not a Cronut™. At this point, it’s not even a croughnut.
However, a hybrid croissant-donut is back on the weekend menu at Bar Bar, after a hiatus caused partly by a new pastry chef and partly by a cease-and-desist letter from the New York creators of the original trademarked treat. Now the dessert is known as Double Happiness, “a long-established Chinese notion of doubling joy.”
Ba Bar ran a “Pastry That Must Not Be Named” Facebook contest to rename what was formerly known as its “croughnut,” drawing some 140 entries, including candidates Fauxssant, Croughbar, Pas Nom, and Le Donut, say the Ba Bar folks. (They’re not the only ones who have been instructed to change the name.) You may remember that at Meander’s Kitchen they’re known as Meanderthals, Frost Donuts calls them Froissants, and they’re “Cro-Doughs” at Lost Lake Cafe and The Five Point. The Ba Bar contest winner was supposed to receive 100 pastries, but since the final name came from within the company, 100 were donated to Children’s Hospital instead.
The pastries are normally $3.50 apiece when they’re offered on Saturdays and Sundays, but they’ll be free, while supplies last (one per customer) to anyone who comes by (550 12th Ave.) between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 23 and mentions the Facebook contest. By any name, that sounds good.
November 14, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Glori Spriggs of Nevada took home $1 million earlier this week when her ‘Loaded Potato Pinwheels’ won the grand prize in the 46th Pillsbury Bake-Off. Her victory came partly thanks to Seattle-area resident Alice Currah, one of this year’s contest judges and author of Savory Sweet Life, as well as a columnist for PBS Parents. When I am looking for a recipe that’s both appetizing and realistic, something a working parent can feel good about making and the whole family can enjoy, sometimes I just search the Internet for the ingredients I have on hand along with Alice’s name. I’m not surprised Pillsbury wanted her creative and can-do perspective. I talked with Alice by phone on her way back from the airport after the 3-day Vegas gala, where the judge’s decisions were announced by Padma Lakshmi. Here’s an edited, condensed version of our conversation — and some hints for home cooks dreaming of winning Bake-Off #47.
Q: What made you say yes to judging the contest?
A: “I’ve always had a super, big fascination with this particular contest, since I was little. It’s been around for 60 years! I always thought ‘it would be so amazing to win that.’ But the one year I decided I wanted to enter, it was after I started blogging. Food professionals are not eligible. I was so sad — that was a bucket list item for me. I feel like it’s gone full circle.”
Q: Did you get to taste the recipes over the contest’s 3 days, or was it all at once? How did you taste 100 recipes without hating food halfway through?
A: “They set up 100 ovens (at the same time), and if you look on Instagram under the hashtag #bakeoff you’ll see what the floor looked like! They had, I think, 3 hours to try their recipe. It was a new oven to (contestants,) so they had to get used to that. Pillsbury provides enough ingredients to make it three times. Some of the recipes came in very quickly, some came in towards the end… My personal concern was, can I give as much diligence to the last bite as I did to the first? I would say that surprisingly, I was consistent all the way through, and I think most people were.
“I think cream rises to the top. We all knew that right from the get-go, when anything really stood out. At the same time, there were some I really loved that didn’t make it past the first rounds. Everyone had their favorites that for whatever reason got eliminated. There was a lot of discussion, and… at the end it was unanimous.”
Q: How can people improve their chances of winning?
November 12, 2013 at 3:51 PM
Seattle Times restaurant critic Providence Cicero, food writer Nancy Leson and food editor Kathleen Triesch Saul chatted with readers Wednesday about restaurants we all love. Read the questions and comments below.
This is to whet your appetite for Thursday night’s big Seattle Public Library event at Town Hall, where Nancy chats it up with a panel of some of Seattle’s longtime chefs and restaurateurs about what makes their places great. On the panel: Holly Smith of Cafe Juanita, John Sundstrom of Lark, Hajime Sato of Mashiko, Daisley Gordon of Cafe Campagne and Marché and Rick Yoder of Wild Ginger. This event is free and open to the public starting at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:15. More info here.
November 12, 2013 at 1:06 PM
What’s hot? Oh, let’s not! Instead, join Seattle Times food writer Nancy Leson Thursday, Nov. 14 at Town Hall when the Seattle Times, in partnership with the Seattle Public Library, hosts a panel of chefs and restaurateurs who’ve been around long enough to know that being great trumps being new.
How do they keep it real? How do they keep their customers coming back for more? What makes them hot under the collar when it comes to the public — and the media’s — insatiable appetite for the latest hot-new-thing? Nancy sits down with John Sundstrom of Lark, Mashiko’s Hajime Sato, Café Juanita’s Holly Smith, Daisley Gordon of Cafe Campagne and Marché and Wild Ginger’s Rick Yoder.
The conversation starts at 7 p.m., and promises to be frank, smart and a little bit smarty-pants. It’s free, there will be prizes, and the audience will have a chance to ask some questions, too. Doors open at 6:15, seats in the Great Hall (1119 Eighth Ave., Seattle) are first come, first served. More at www.townhallseattle.org.
November 10, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Sriracha? Vegetables? Even easier recipes? Those are three of the trends in the million-dollar 2013 Pillsbury Bake-Off contest, taking place in Las Vegas Nov. 10-12.
Five Washington cooks were among the 100 finalists. This year, in a move to further simplify the recipes, entries could contain no more than 7 ingredients (except for salt, pepper and water) and had to take 30 minutes or less to prepare, not counting baking or cooling times. Two of the seven ingredients also had to be from a pre-determined list including Pillsbury and other name-brand products. There were three categories: “Amazing Doable Dinners,” “Simple Sweets and Starters,” and “Quick Rise and Shine Breakfasts.”
Washington resident Ellie Mathews won the life-changing competition for her Salsa Couscous Chicken in 1998, a recipe that wouldn’t have made this year’s cut — it had 10 ingredients, plus water.
Contest producers said this year’s entries specialized in lots of Sriracha, a.k.a. “the latest, hottest ingredient,” along with other scorchers like chili oil, chili paste and chipotle. Also mirroring national trends, they saw vegetables taking a more central role in dishes (though Green Giant is a sponsor, and its vegetables are one option on the must-use ingredients list.) Hybrid recipes (think Cronut-type creations) also won big, as did unexpected flavor combinations.
November 8, 2013 at 10:55 AM
I’m struck by how often I hear bartenders say their favorite cocktail menu is the one they put out in the fall. The palates here tend to favor big, bitter drinks and whiskey, they say. And this cold, damp weather is ideal for that flavor profile.
November 7, 2013 at 10:12 AM
They’re always contenders for the best chef, the best service, the best atmosphere… so sure, why not the best bathroom? Canlis has topped The Daily Meal’s list of the best restaurant bathrooms in the U.S. The “Zen-themed, spa-like” women’s bathroom took first place in a group judged on “overall design, the “coolness” factor, uniqueness, the use of funky gizmos and gadgets (you’ll see), and ease of use.”
Ned Ludd in Portland ranked #9 for a bathroom where, if you removed the sink and toilet, “you might as well be in a well-curated art gallery.” That is a big if.
In a Canlis vs. Canon showdown when Eater ran a similar contest a few years back (yes, there’s been more than one of these lists — even more than two), owners of both finalists agreed that the loser would clean the winner’s bathroom. Here are the results of that one.
As for Canlis, we had a lot of kind words for the place in Providence Cicero’s 3.5-star review last month, but we used our space talking about things like the canapés and like servers who “appear to communicate with each other telepathically.” Here’s that piece. And remember, if the prices are too dear, you get to use the bathroom and eat “relative bargains” if you stop by the bar, which also does pretty well in the design department.
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