Friday, June 26, 2009

I ate at Spur ...

From N

I've been dying to go to Spur since it opened, but the aforementioned budget has thwarted me. But a special visitor, H., who lives in New York, was a good reason to see what all the fuss was about.

The fuss was worth it. I heart Spur.

It's an airy space in Belltown that feels sophisticated but down to earth, with lots of wood tones and curving wood bar tables. Our server was really knowledgeable and helped me pick out a cocktail from the extensive list (only $6 at happy hour, which goes until 7 p.m.)

I loved my cocktail. I had the Foreigner, a mix of rye whiskey, flamed orange peel, two kinds of bitters (blood orange and peach) and something else that I can't remember but know for sure is delicious. The world, and especially Belltown, is awash in bad, overly sweet cocktails, and I'm a sucker for any place that knows how to serve a good, balanced one that doesn't instantly give me a sugar high. The Foreigner had a deep orange tone and was so good it practically knocked me out of my sticky(ish) booth seat.

The meal started with a little glass jar of fried hominy, which is basically fancy Fritos. Even the pickiest eaters will approve. We'd already done the great happy hour at Umi Sake House, so didn't delve too deeply into the menu, but I was drooling over veal sweetbreads with fava beans (I love any place where other people peel fresh fava beans -- it's one of my least favorite kitchen tasks), chicken confit and an ostrich burger.

I'm hungry.

We limited ourselves to the pork belly sliders. $12 only buys you two, but they are rich and succulent, with thick cubes of pork belly resting on a warm brioche bun lathered with mustard and topped with diced apple. The mustard cut the fatty pork belly and added depth, while the apple had a sweet tang. We also did a little bit of greens, picking the Yakima asparagus over the boring baby lettuces. $10 seemed like a lot for asparagus, but I would do it again for that lemony Hollondaise. It was drizzled over the asparagus, along with buttermilk-battered spring onion and a bit of miners lettuce. And that was holy hollondaise, elevating the asparagus far beyond its Yakima roots, while the fried onion added a nice bite and complexity. It was a beautiful dish.

I want to go back. Now. My wallet (and is grateful for happy hours...

Spur Gastropub on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I watched Wes stay on the Bachelorette...

From N.

Forgive me for the tardy post.

I can't believe Robby got kicked off the train. It's one thing to get booted by the Bachelorette. It's another to have an entire train stop so it can unload you like that day's trash. I never dug Robby, but he deserved better.

Moving on. So on this episode, Jillian takes the guys on a private train ride (yeah, I know I'm falling for ABC phrasing everything as if Jillian actually planned it) from Vancouver to Banff. She ditches Robby early and then parcels out a snowshoe date with the rest of the guys and has a solo date with Reid, who is beyond neurotic about raw meat and fondue. Get over it. Oh, and Tanner drops his pants. ABC fuzzed out most of it, but apparently he is blessed. But he loves feet, so really, I don't care. Tanner has outlived his usefulness.

This episode was strangely boring except for Wes. And the Wes scandal is getting old. Yes, he's on the show to sell records. Yes, Jillian is blind and doesn't see Wes is a liar. Yes, Wes is soooo obvious. But I can't believe she kept Michael over Jake for the hometown dates. Break dancing Michael is sweet, endearing and beyond puppy-ish in his adoration for Jillian. Why not give handsome, "perfect" Jake a chance to prove he can open up a bit and be more normal than his perfect self? I know it's getting a little cloying, but come on Jillian, you like Michael better?

Isn't it usually just four people get hometown dates? How did it grow to five? Have I forgotten the ways of the Bachelor(ette)?

Also if you like to get your reality theory on, check out He has a scandalous theory (stop reading now if you hate spoilers!) that producers set it up for Ed to leave and then come back because Jillian liked him the most. I'm not much of a conspiracy theorist, but I would LOVE it if Ed returned. I just don't like the rest of the guys as much. And for more insight - and occasional posturing - read Chris Harrison's EW blog here.

Monday, June 22, 2009

I ate at Anchovies & Olives...

From N.

I have been taking it somewhat easy with restaurants lately, trying to keep things within my Mint budget, which loves to remind me just how much I spent this month. I need and loathe When on budget, I tend to eat a lot in the ID for cheap, delicious Chinese or Vietnamese.

But I joined up with some friends to revive a moribund Dinner Club and finally made it to Anchovies & Olives on Capitol Hill. The latest restaurant from local superstar Ethan Stowell is more casual than his swanky Union. It's more akin to Tavolata, but also has big open windows great for hanging out to wave to friends walking by and offering a decent view of downtown, even on a rainy evening.

Here, the menu boasted several cold plates with beautiful raw fish, some small appetizers, pastas and a few additional cooked fish dishes. The escolar ($14) from the cold menu was my absolute favorite of the night. Meltingly soft, raw sliced escolar, or butter fish, was combined with slivers of white peaches, crunchy pine nuts, coppa and olive oil for a mesmerizing dish. The layers of crunchy, sweet, tart and buttery fish was amazing, and I could eat it over and over and over again. I also adored my uni pasta (pictured, $14), or tagliari. Uni was cooked with butter and then mixed with fresh pasta and bread crumbs for a whiff of salty, buttery sea air that wouldn't turn off even uni-haters. I do think the pasta should have been slightly more al dente, but it was a generous serving and I was not about to complain.

A cauliflower salad with ingredients I can't remember beyond pine nuts also had a nice mix of textures and a salty anchovy dressing. We also had some raw oysters, served with diced apples, and a spoonful of uni that arrived with sweet cantaloupe and crisp cucumber.

I love the style of food served here; Mediterranean with its focus on fish and pastas, and a really great cold menu. But the prices are high. I would rather pay a lot less for some of the food. The server sold the place as small plates for sharing, but I don't think small plates should cost $14 or $16 a pop. In my world, that's the price for an entree, and most of the plates were legitimately small.

But if someone else is buying, I'm definitely there.

Anchovies & Olives on Urbanspoon

I went to K's rehearsal dinner and wedding..

I'll leave this blog to K this when she gets back from her honeymoon, if she so desires, but wanted to put up a picture of the gorgeous table she put together from the rehearsal. It was at DeLille Cellars in Woodinville, catered by Green Leaf. It was stunning. Great job, K!!

Monday, June 15, 2009

I watched Ed leave the Bachelorette...

From N.

K is in the throes of wedding week, and I have not been picking up the slack. But I promise to post soon about topics other than the Bachelorette.

But for now, the Bachelorette. (I'm addicted, leave me alone.)

Ed, I heart Ed. And I
would have called him an idiot if he hadn't left, though Jillian at least advised him to one day should remember to put love before work.

Then Jillian let herself wallow, wondering what was wrong with her. Snap to it, Jilly. Look at the odds. The guy basically had no choice. Smart Ed. Sad Jilly. And sad N.

Now that he's gone, I feel morose. Jillian had a great date with winemaker Jesse, who is now a frontrunner along with Kiptyn. I can't imagine her picking anyone else beside Kiptyn, but the producers have certainly tricked me before. And I really don't like the rest of the bunch. She clearly regards breakdancing Michael as a little brother with no heat or passion. Reid doesn't do it for me, and perfect Jake looks less and less like a match the longer the show goes. While for her sake, I hope Jake outlasts Tanner and Wes, I can't imagine how boring the show could possibly get if those two leave. All I have to live for is Kiptyn and Jesse? It's gonna be a long finale.

Fashion commentary: I really disliked her green satin dress tonight. I disliked the shiny satinness of it, I disliked the ruched folds and I disliked the mermaid shape. Jillian has been a bit up and down on the fashion. I adored last week's gold mini dress. It was hot and looked great on her. But she also sometimes shows up on outfits that I question. Tonight's was the worst.

I went camping at Lake Crescent....

From N.

I always worry about campsites whenever I go car camping. I've spent many a holiday weekend driving in slow circles around a campground, fingers crossed that I'll find a site. I almost always do, but every time I tell myself to reserve a site before I head out. After I discovered the state park online reserving system, I started obsessing about staying at a state park and contemplating staying at Battleground Lake, even though I had no idea where it was. A. told me to stop being obsessing and being Patty Planner. It was going to be fine.

He was right. A chance of thunderstorms east of the Cascades drove us west. We headed out to the OP (the Olympic Peninsula), aiming for Fairholm campground on the far west end of Lake Crescent. (The lake is west of Port Angeles about three hours via Bainbridge Ferry.) We discovered a tent-only area on the shore, and staked the tent with this view.

I have to admit I sort of dragged A out to the woods. He calls camping sleeping in rocks and dirt and hiking ridiculous. He also needs some critical gear, like an air mattress so you aren't actually sleeping among the rocks. But he humored me for this trip because I love both and wanted him to do it with me. And once we got to Lake Crescent, which is stunningly beautiful, we had shared ADD: we wanted to rent a rowboat, we wanted to go on a walk, we wanted to go to Sol Duc hot springs.

We found out rowboating was 7 miles away at Lake Crescent Lodge, and the hot springs cost more than we wanted to spend. So we went on a leisurely walk and admired the turquoise waters before settling in with burgers and Caesar salad from a bag and a campfire.

It wasn't the most comfortable night on hard ground, but on Sunday, A. still insisted he wanted to go on a strenuous hike with me. I gave him one: Pyramid Peak was 2,500 feet elevation and 7 miles round trip. But the views at the top were worth the sweat and blisters, even if A. also came out with a scraped-up knee.

But he says he'll do it again. I win.

Monday, June 8, 2009

I watched the Bachelorette take Vancouver ....

From N.

Jillian had her hands full tonight. I felt bad for the girl. Until now, she seemed really grounded and perceptive, but I can't blame a girl for being starry eyed about a guy who wrote a song for her. Even if he is smarmy.

This week's cliffhanger was supposed to be a big reveal of the guy(s) with a girlfriend. But when confronted, nobody *cough, Wes* stepped forward at the rose ceremony. Poor Tanner of foot fetish fame got the brunt of it by coming forward and saying someone had a girlfriend. The foot thing really bugged me last week, but I liked his honesty and felt sorry for him as he worried the guys would know he did the ratting.

But there was plenty of other fun as Jillian took the guys to her hometown of Vancouver. She had a lovely kayaking and cooking date with Kipton, who I like more all the time. Jake has been a frontrunner to me, but she had a weird discussion with him about his "too perfect" status. Jake reminds me of heartthrob Bachelor Travis, who remains in a neck-and-neck race with Andrew Firestone as my favorite bachelors. Since when is too perfect bad? But it does put a kink in Jake's early lead.

Much was made in previews of the confrontation about the girlfriend situation, but in the end no one confessed. *Cough, Wes.* At least Jillian was smart to send the contractors home. Goodbye a**hole Dave. His arrogance and aggressiveness did not bode well. Juan, we hardly knew ya but it was already too much.

And Wes remains, so we are still guaranteed some drama. I don't want Jillian's heart totally broken, but the Bachelorette would not be interesting if drama-free. And there's a lot of crying next week, and I really, really, really want to know why.

For now, Ed is my favorite, maybe because he reminds me so much of Denny from "Grey's Anatomy." Jake and Kipton also are my top contenders, though Jesse is coming on strong. Am I forgetting someone? Who do you like?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I had a no good, very bad food day ...

From N.

I must confess my food sins. The day started off harmlessly enough with a croissant and coffee at Caffe Vita. I do that once or twice a week, no harm no foul. That's what working out is for. But then I moved on to lunch from Skillet, feasting on a burger topped with delicious, delicious bacon jam and cambozola. And fries. I decided salad for dinner or bust.


I should have known better. I was heading out to happy hour with K and friend T. to hash out final wedding details. When is happy hour ever healthy? And we had picked The Saint on Capitol Hill. The choices there were either carne asada tacos, mole enchiladas or nachos with queso fresco, fresh guacamole and beans. And for some ridiculous reason, I wanted those nachos.

K. and I ended up later that evening at the Sorrento. The very nice, air-conditioned Sorrento, which was so relaxing on a hot evening. Someone mentioned ice cream. K. turned it into a Coke float. I succumbed. K and I topped off the evening with the floats, with extra Coke in the white pitcher.

There's always tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I *was* the bachelorette, LOL! ;)

From K

And I think that might help explain why I've not written since the weekend :)

Truth be told, I wanted to go to Miami to celebrate my upcoming nuptials. But between the economy, friends having babies and a variety of other factors, staying close to home seemed the better plan, and it ended up being so much fun! We started the party relaxing in the 35th-floor pool at the Seattle Sheraton (nothing quite like being a tourist at home), where you're at eye-level with most of the downtown skyline. My friend R kept commenting that she felt like she was in Denver. I felt calm and relaxed for the first time in weeks since this whole wedding-planning adventure began!

We got all dolled up and scooted up the hill to Oddfellows, one of my favorite spots to dine as a big group. The pulled pork sandwich was yum as usual, though I think the one at Skillet remains the sandwich to beat. It was a delight connecting with so many girlfriends! We drifted to Molly Moon's for ice cream, upstairs to the Century Ballroom for salsa and then to Havana to get our groove on. After a brief, yet lovely, sleep, we walked to brunch at Lola, where I capped off one of the happiest weekends to date with this amazing concoction:

By all means, next time you're at Lola, get the eggs benedict. Light, lemony, dilly, dainty even. Those perfectly poached eggs you tap with your fork to release the luscious yolk. That perfectly chewy English muffin that doesn't fight your knife. A sauce that does not overpower the bite-sized, thin layers of ham. Perfection!

Monday, June 1, 2009

I watched the Bachelorette...

From N.

I'm finally caught up on the Bachelorette, thanks to some extreme peer pressure. I may even be back every week. (Even though Jillian isn't from here, I'm milking that Kirkland connection.) Here's a recap of what we've got so far on Jillian and her men.

The Bachelorette is turning into The Amazing Race. Last week, the guys had to scramble to find Jillian using clues, and the scene even included the obligatory driving-madly-around-a-city shots. I almost expected to see Phil Keoghan at the end.

Then this week, Ed and Jillian landed in a helicopter on the top of a very tall building with ropes stretching from the roof to the ground and I forgot which channel I was on. I always fall for the guys on the solo dates. Ed was adorable. And I understand his fear of heights, although I still don't understand the "activity" involved in being lowered from the top of a building to the ground on a rope. It didn't seem to involve any effort on Ed or Jillian's part, but I kind of like the synergy. Oh, right, The Amazing Race is on CBS.

Jillian's dates this week also included a photo shoot at a car museum with Sasha and "acting" on a cowboy set. I am over "acting" out a television show or movie on group dates, but Jillian has had some fun dates so far, including a honky tonk one with Jake, that are better than past Bachelors or Bachelorettes. I attribute it to her spunky personality. Her kissing spree has been surprising, but I'm surprisingly OK with it. High five Jillian!

And then there's David. And Juan. And Tanner and his foot fetish. Shudder. I suppose boring must go first. Goodbye Brad. David's testosterone is out of control. He wants too much to beat up Juan. Though I sort of want to beat up Juan. I can't decide if they should fight. OK, yes, they should.

I'm rooting for Ed and hot pilot Jake and can't remember anybody else's name. What say you?