Rib-off 2011

August 1, 2011

The 3rd annual rib-off competition was the best one yet! Last year we were a bit crowded in the house, so we decided to have the rib off in conjunction with our neighborhood block party. Our friends C & S live on the street next to ours so we did it in front of their house. Thanks guys!

My friend Kelli of Shindig Events handled the setup/signage/decorations etc… since she has started her own event planning business. She even set up a photo staging area for everyone complete with props. Cute! It was a huge help.  A major highlight was the Street Treats truck arriving in time to serve us dessert. My sweet tooth did not object. The ice cream sandwiches were perfect on a hot summer day.

Did I mention I won…again? I mean, it’s not big deal, but I’m sure you were wondering. Here is this years recipe.

Check out the pics:

Hydration station

Block party hydration station


Snacks n' such

Adult Bevies

The Adult hydration station complete with Keg of PBR and Mexi Cokes

Ballard block party

Enjoying the sun

Ballard block party

Food Table & Kids table complete with kid stuff...

Street Treats Truck

Street Treats dessert truck! Of course I was in line...

Rib-off Ballot

The very official Rib-off Ballot

Announcing the winner

Announcing the winner... me!

Sean & I

You're looking at the winner and her trusty sidekick...

hori hori dig dig!


My friend S recently raved about The Book Bindery restaurant. I finally got a chance to go for dinner with some friends last night. Seldom do I have a meal with friends where everyone cleans their plate. The food was delicious and the flavors fresh and subtle. I don’t usually get caught up with the presentation (unless it looks like dog food), as long as the food is spot on. Each dish was beautiful.

Chef Shaun McCrain worked for Thomas Keller in a previous life at Per Se in NYC. The design and layout was the brainchild of Patric Gabre-Kidan, the former business parter of Ethan Stowell here in Seattle.

The Book Bindery Restaurant Seattle

The Book Bindery

The Book BIndery Restaurant Seattle Ship Canal

Our Table overlooking the Ship Canal

The Book Bindery Restaurant Kitchen

The Kitchen

The Book Bindery Restaurant Menu

The Menu

The Book Bindery Restaurant

Farro Quinoa Salad with Mint and Cucumber

The Book Bindery Restaurant Pork Loin

Pork Chop/Belly with Kale and White Bean Puree

Oh yeah and we order all 4 desserts on the menu (to share of course!)

Dessert at the Book BIndery Restaurant

Churros with Pot de Creme, Coconut Rice Cakes with Grapefruit Granita

Dessert at the Book Bindery Restaurant

Frozen Butterscotch Parfait with Rice Krispies and Gingersnap

So, I’ve found a new restaurant to add to my top 5 in Seattle. The space was gorgeous. The service was impeccable (with the exception of not offering coffee with dessert… this is Seattle after all).

Oh, and to top it all off, the Book Bindery has a partnership with Almquist Family Vitners, and there is a tasting room next to the restaurant.

Almquist Family Vitners The Book Bindery

Almquist Family Vitners Tasting Room

So my top 5 favorite Seattle restaurants are:

Franks Oysterhouse & Champagne Parlor, Bizarro Italian Cafe, Walrus & Carpenter, Cafe Presse and The Book Bindery.

hori hori dig dig!

I was feeling like a hearty Fall dish tonight. I stumbled across a recipe for Vegetable “Bolognese” and was excited to use fresh veggies. You don’t even miss the meat. Put carrots, red pepper, shallots and celery in a Cuisinart and pulse. Then throw it in the pan with fresh rosemary, salt and pepper. Saute until cooked through and then add chopped fresh mushrooms (I didn’t want to bother with dried Porcini mushrooms so I used fresh chanterelle), red wine and a little tomato paste. Mix in the Pappardelle noodles and throw a little Parmigiano-Reggiano and you’re done. Yum. I’ll have leftovers for a few days!

I love Boat Street Cafe. It is definitely in my top 5 restaurants here in Seattle. Owner, Renee Erickson just opened a new restaurant, The Walrus and Carpenter in Ballard at the industrial end of the strip. The Kolstrand Building was an old marine supply company that now houses a bike shop, several restaurants and a few other small businesses. The Walrus and Carpenter space is just as quaint and French kitchen-like as Boat Street, but it’s in my neighborhood. We went in the week it opened to check out the menu and have a few bevies. I love the decor, the subway tile, the Oyster Bar, the jars of preserves, the yellow stools, the old wood floors, the chandelier, the outdoor seating… you get it.

Oyster Bar!

A nice variety of veggie, meat and seafood options. Each dish we tried we loved. I thought the olives in the Salad Nicoise were grapes for some reason and bit into one. I’m not a fan of olives. No matter how hard I try, I just don’t like them. I can’t help but think of Mad Men when I see the Utz potato chips on the menu. Remember the hallway scene with the Utz actor’s wife/agent and Don Draper?

Salad Nicoise.

Pork Crepinette.

Chevre and Ballard Honey. A perfect pair.

I dig the cocktail menu!

The Porch Swing. Yum. My friend Kelli will be pleased. She makes a mean Pimms cocktail as well.

Here’s the thing, if I could decorate my house to look like a store I love it would be Anthropologie. If I could have any kitchen I wanted it would look like one of Renee Erickson’s restaurants. It’s simple, clean and fun. I know it will be a success and hopefully I’ll still be able to get in from time to time. The space if beautiful and rustic. The Dutch Bike Co. moved in up front and Ethan Stowell (of Union, Tavolata, How to Cook a Wolf and Anchovies & Olives), just opened Staple & Fancy in the same building. I’m excited to try that as well.

I know, I know, you’ve heard it before. I love Ballard.

hori hori dig dig!

After Rib-off, I didn’t want to see a rib for a while, or any other meat product for that matter. So I’ve been trying a few new veggie dishes. I want to enjoy the summer produce before it’s gone. This dish is delicious. Asparagus, peas, sugar snaps, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, vegetable broth and Israeli Couscous. Add a little parmesan and you’re done. I found this recipe on Epicurious. We loved it so much I’ve made it again this week. I took leftovers on my hike up to the top of Mt. Si and had it for lunch.

A view from the top of Mt. Si. It was such a clear day we could see Mt. Rainier perfectly (on the right by the tallest tree; it kinda looks like a cloud)!

The weather has been amazing in Seattle the past few weeks. I can only hope we get an extended Summer before the clouds of winter set in. For now, I’ll just sit back and enjoy.

hori hori dig dig!

2010 Summer Rib-off

August 13, 2010

It all started last year when Sean’s brother Hugh said he made the best ribs. He was probably right, considering I’d only made ribs once before in my life. I don’t know why it kick-started my competitive spirit, but it did. Of course it also meant I got to throw a party and I can find any excuse to throw a party. In 2009 Hugh and I were the only rib entrants and if you ask Hugh, he’d tell you that he won, though I had a friend design the ballots. Some may call it cheating; I just had a competitive advantage. A graphic designer friend with great skill in font sizes and terms and conditions. If you read the fine print, I won no matter what. Even if you were sleep-voting while under the influence of Ambien. It covered everything.

This year I planned 3 months in advance. We had 5 competitors and over 50 guests (and a dog that, strangely enough, wasn’t interested in ribs). There were pineapple glazed ribs, Kansas city ribs, rosemary cumin ribs, Polynesian style ribs (my entry), and smoked ribs. They were all delicious. This isn’t the food network, so we don’t exactly get into the intricate details of ribs (whose were the most tender, most flavorful, had the perfect sear etc…). We mainly just vote on whose we liked the best overall.

My marinade ingredients.

Me hard at work while E, a rib competitor, waits for his turn at the grill.

M’mmmmm… Let’s take a moment to thank all the piggies that gave their lives for this meal. Not a single one went to waste. Delicious.

We had over 50 people show up this year. The house was packed. My friend Justin made a mystery flavored homemade ice cream. It was like vanilla but I couldn’t quite figure out what that other sweet flavor was. CORN! It sounds strange, but it was mild and slightly sweet. A perfect flavor for a rib-off. He also made baked beans that were out of this world.

M & E’s rib entry. Sooooo good. These fun fashionista’s recently started the Scandinavian Mod brand Sur Flicka. Check it!

There was tons of great food, beer/wine and of course ribs. I loved having so many of our close friends (and some complete strangers) together. It was nice to meet new people. I invited Molly Wizenberg and Matthew Amster-Burton too, but they were unavailable. Matthew sent me a nice email back to thank me for the invite. Sweet, right?!

Sean’s brother Hugh, after spilling a platter of ribs on the deck.

So, 2011 rib-off. I’ve already checked and I can get a “special event” permit with the city to close down the street. It is a little spendy and there is that pesky proof of insurance thing, but it could be the best way to go if the party keeps getting bigger. We can line up the grills and kegs and everyone can bring a chair and a dish to pass. Thankfully there is plenty of time to prepare.

hori hori dig dig!

You’ve heard me talk about Sea Breeze Farm on Vashon Island before. They sell meat, milk, cheese, butter and wine at my local farmer’s market each weekend. I love these guys. Nearly everything they serve in their restaurant on the island is raised and harvested from the farm. I finally made it to the island last weekend to their restaurant La Boucherie. It did not disappoint. It’s part butcher shop, part restaurant and all kinds of fresh and delicious! I was in foodie heaven.

We arrived earlier in the day hoping for a farm tour, but because of the Strawberry Festival on Vashon (which, oddly, didn’t have any strawberries) the ferry delay was too long and we missed out. Here are some pics of the restaurant/butcher shop.

We had the 3 course prix fixe dinner and started with the Pork Rillettes (confit pork belly) with mustard and bread. Need I say more? I love pork…

This is the main course. Campagne sausage with cherries, kale and farro. It was so delicious!

We bought the Boudin Blanc sausages from La Boucherie before we left that night, and recreated the sausage dish at home. Kale, farro, cherries and sausages. Oh, and a bottle of red. Stick it! It turned out beautifully (although my farro was a bit undercooked).

We are really lucky that food raised humanely, organically and in a sustainable fashion is easy to find here in Seattle. I love food, wine and sharing it with friends and family. I could die happy tomorrow as long as I have that.

hori hori dig dig!