Tom, Jackie, my husband Mike, and I spent a few days in Manhattan last week catching up on the dining scene and navigating long walks to digest our ambitious consumption. Here are the highlights that combine old favorites and new discoveries.
1. The Spotted Pig is still rocking the gastro pub vibe and looks quite exuberant with mounds of pussy willows out front. (photo top)
2. Piora is a thrilling Korean/Italian fusion spot with trendy textural vegetables and dramatic hand carved ice cubes. (photo above)
3. We made it all the way out to Roberta’s in Brooklyn- take the L train, cabs are miserable. This is hipster central with a funky radio station on premise. We only got to have the great pizza and fabulous romaine salad because they have a reduced menu between lunch and dinner service.
4. Tremendous Champagne experience at the new wine bar location of Cork Buzz in the Chelsea market with perfect small plate pairings.
5. The 9/11 Memorial pools are heart wrenching and deserve some quiet contemplative time.
6. Close by is the Amish Market Tribeca- BOUNTIFUL prepared foods to take over to the stunning new Hudson River Park and waterfront trail.
7. Our highlight was dinner at Dirty French, swanky surrounds, immersive music and deep well defined flavors. Knowledgeable staff to guide us through a terrific wine list.
8. ABC Kitchen is as graceful as ever. We enjoyed sitting at the bar eating lobster and carrot avocado salad (photo above). Super good desserts and lots of beautiful people watching.
9. Gotham Market West is almost as cool as Assembly Hall. We got to eat Ivan Ramen, drink Blue Bottle coffee and nosh on some terrific tacos.
10. Our next stop was Aldo Sohm wine bar. The flights and bubbly selection is impressive and I was happy to be able to order a head of cauliflower with chicken salt (photo above).
11. Since it is right next to Le Bernardin we slid in for a lovely lunch with impeccable raw fish preparations and aged Chablis. Such a pretty dining room (photo above).
12 . The extension to the Highline is complete and worth the walk but it is getting VERY crowded.
13. We really wanted to get a seat at the Nomad Bar because it is stunning but it is a mob scene, do go take a look.
14 . Our final dinner was at an old favorite, Cafe Boulud. There are some new a la carte twists to the menu that let you build a very modern experience, loved the Vietnamese section.
We returned home full and happy with great inspiration for our new restaurant, The Carlile Room.
If you missed our demo, lunch, and book signing with Mindy Segal, Chicago’s best pastry chef, you missed out on a fun class that included tastes of luscious cookies and as much baking information that most people can absorb in a single sitting. But don’t worry you can still:
1. Buy Mindy’s book, Cookie Love.
2. Read the blog about the class on the Hot Stove Society website here.
3. While you’re there, check out more Hot Stove Society classes so you don’t continue to miss out!
Our Chef Tom Douglas and Chef Brian Walczyk were on King 5’s New Day Northwest television program yesterday promoting one of our newest joints, Cantina Lena! You can find the video on their webpage here: http://kng5.tv/1zID2Np
If there’s one thing I know about Tom Douglas, he loves dim sum. I’ve had the pleasure of traveling with Tom, and we’ve gone out for dim sum together in many different cities. When I heard he was hosting a dim sum lunch at O’Asian in Seattle, I was enthusiastic to spend some time with Tom and co-workers over delicious dumplings, sweet pork buns, and steaming vegetables, all served from wheeled carts on small plates.
Dim sum is a great bonding experience because it’s served family style, encouraging sampling and sharing with your friends. You could also call it competitive, because you may have to fight over the last spring roll! The table quickly fills with satisfying food and even more satisfying conversation.
It’s always a pleasure to share a meal with the folks at this company who are passionate about food. You have the opportunity to learn from your peers, open your taste buds to unfamiliar flavors, and try dishes you might otherwise not try without some friendly encouragement.
Dim sum is also called yum cha, which means “to drink tea” in Cantonese, or dian xin in Mandarin, which directly translates to “touch the heart”. Sharing a delicious dim sum meal with good people definitely does just that; touches the heart.
Thanks for hosting, Tom!
The annual march of spring is upon us with authority this year. Our warm winter has rescued us from a seventh month of Brussels sprouts and kale. The asparagus from Crawford Farms arrived 3 weeks earlier than last year and has infiltrated every menu of ours and most every course with my favorite Washington grown vegetable. Steamed and chilled, grilled with rare steak, puréed into soup or simply sliced raw with a little chèvre, olive oil, and lemon, it is tasting delicious and is also plentiful. There are only 6 to 8 weeks to enjoy the local supply and we are off to cherries and berries and all summer’s glory. Read the whole newsletter here.
Whenever I travel somewhere new I always look forward to trying new foods. Being my first time in Africa, I had no idea what to anticipate. I knew that long ago, Namibia was colonized by the Germans, so I prepared for some German influence. Besides beer and brats, to my surprise and delight, I had an unexpected culinary adventure.
The first night of the trip I stayed in Windhoek, the capitol of Namibia, with my brother’s friend. I was getting ready for bed and my flatmate quickly showed me around the kitchen. He told me there was water in the fridge, coffee in the cupboard, and rusks for breakfast. Rusks? What in the world are rusks? I thought to myself. The next morning I would find out.
Rusks are a traditional Afrikaans breakfast or snack. They are delicious sliced twice baked bread that’s been dried. Rusks (photo below) have been dried in South Africa since the late 1690s. The locals absolutely insist that they be dunked in coffee or tea before eating, and if you do not do this then you are doing it wrong! I quickly fell in love with the tiny hard biscuits, eating them for every breakfast and with my afternoon Roobios tea. My favorites are the ones with dried fruits and seeds. I brought several boxes home in my suitcase and continue to eat them with my morning coffee here in Seattle.
Rusks are small and easy to take on the go so they made for a great snack to eat while on safari. We camped out in the African bush for a week and ate rusks every morning with our coffee. Another great snack for camping is biltong. Biltong (photo below) is like jerky, except better.
Biltong is dried and cured meat typically using beef or game meat such as springbok, Oryx and kudu. Another meaty treat we ate is called Droëwors (drew-hors) which means “dry sausage” in Afrikaans. Droëwors is unusual among dried meats because it’s dried quickly in warm, dry conditions, unlike traditional Italian salumi, which is typically dried slowly in relatively cold and humid conditions.
In addition to the variety of dried meats we devoured, the grocery store we most frequented had quite an impressive meat and deli section. All varieties of meats are available including some exotic fare such as zebra and ostrich steak. One night we picked several different meats to have a braai.
A very prominent tradition in Africa is to braai for dinner. Braai comes from the Afrikanns word Braaivleis, which means “grilled meat” or just Braai, which means “to grill.” Similar to an American BBQ, a braai is a social event that’s casual and laid back.
People gather picnic style with meats, salads and garlic bread. Unlike American BBQ, at a braai, you use wood for cooking. You light the fire and then wait for the wood to burn down to hot coals. It takes a bit longer than gas or charcoal, but the smoky meat flavor is well worth the wait. We smoked shisha in the backyard and drank the local Tafel Lager while we waited for the wood to burn down.
There are only 4 local beers in Namibia and Tafel is by far the most likeable. It’s a good beer, but my favorite African beverage was gin and dry lemon. Gin and dry lemon is as common in Africa as gin and tonics are in the US. Dry lemon is a carbonated lemon soft drink that’s lightly sweetened and very refreshing. The locals informed me it’s a very popular drink to have on safari, as well as a perfect sundowner. Sundowning was perhaps my favorite tradition in Namibian culture. It’s simply having a beverage while watching the sun go down. The Namibian sky is unlike anything I have ever seen. Unobstructed by tall buildings, the sun is a huge red orb of light. It was Africa’s summer, the wet season, and the dark clouds roll in allowing threads of light to linger in a colored sky of orange, yellow and dark blue. It’s quite a sight to see while enjoying a cocktail with good company. Sundowning is a heavenly ritual I will hold in my heart forever.
What’s Happening? Cultivating our fields: Quads 1-4 in the lower field are prepped and ready. All of Quad 1 has been planted; Ruby Streaks are emerging out of the ground. Couple of salad mustards are making an appearance along with arugula, spinach, and carrots. The lettuces look really good besides the one row that the sage rats have been munching on for breakfast and dinner.
We will be thinning the three Ruby Streak rows soon and bringing them over next week.
The full size plants are still three weeks away.
Our team at Seatown Seabar and Rotisserie hosted a Spring Harvest Beer Dinner last night – General Manager Gretchen Geisness and Chef Adrienne Chamberlain worked with Seatown’s Sous-Chef Sam Burkhart to produce a Spring forward menu that included ramps, morel mushrooms, halibut & nettles.
Thanks to our partners Stoup Brewing and 2bar Spirits for bringing their beverage expertise to make the dinner extra special – we can’t wait to have them back again!
Tom Douglas and his wife, Jackie Cross brought our General Manager and Chef team out to San Francsico to explore and experience the best of what the city had to offer. Based on the cuisine and vibe of our joints, each team was tasked to dine at similarly (or drastically different) themed restaurants.
The days following the trip, our team came back refreshed, inspired and incredibly thankful for the opportunity to experience our neighbors’ hospitality!
Tom Douglas Restaurants Chef and Operations Manager Sean Hartley taught a super informative and super delicious class on what he called “White Guy Vietnamese” last Saturday afternoon. This is Sean’s way of saying he didn’t grow up in Vietnam and he’s not of Vietnamese family heritage. However, after years of dining in every Southeast Asian joint in Seattle and numerous trips to Southeast Asia, the man knows his way around a wild betel leaf or a banana flower! Read the whole post here. If you’re sad that you missed this stunning class, be sure to keep your eye on the Hot Stove Society website. We are posting new and amazing classes all the time.
Welcome to Family Meal, a blog that examines all things new and noteworthy in the world of food, wine, and dining.
At family meal, otherwise known as staff meal, there’s no hierarchy; you’re breaking bread with your friends. For those 30 minutes, everyone is equal- and hungry. Family meal is our version of the water cooler- but with better food.
I’ll be sharing my thoughts, tips, and observations, and, in the spirit of family meal, I’ve invited our creative, energetic staff- everyone from line cook to bartender to bookkeeper- to have a say. I hope you’ll add your own comments and join in the conversation.