Cantinetta and Me

December 4, 2009

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. I’ve had a nasty cold that just wouldn’t go away. Ick. I am on the mend and finally made it out of my house for a proper meal the other night!

My friend Craig (whose partner, Cary just opened a new vet clinic in South Lake Union… stop by and say hello!), told me about a new restaurant in Wallingford called Cantinetta. A lofty space with mellow lighting, mismatched dinnerware and vintage silver. The staff was very friendly and on a Thursday night they were almost full. We ordered 5 dishes, and every one was a delight. I can’t wait to go back. As of today, if I were Anthony Bourdain, this would be my death row meal restaurant of choice.

We started with the Beets served with Huckleberries and Chevre and a Insalata Mista that came with a very large wedge of blue cheese. It should come as no surprise that I ordered the Pork Belly. I can’t help it. I see it on the menu and everything else disappears. I should get a pig tattoo like Kevin on Top Chef (I hope he wins the whole shabang btw). Anyway… the Pork Belly was served with apple and sage and a cider reduction. The pork was cooked perfectly. Sean had the Lamb Ragu that had a little dollop of Ricotta on top. He was excited because there were carrots in the sauce.

And then… there was Chocolate Bombolini. I can’t quite convey this when typing, but if I were in person telling you about the next dish, rest assured that I would be speaking slowly and using a lots of descriptive words to convey just how much I loved it. Get this: a slightly chocolate flavored doughnut, made to order, then rolled in sugar and injected with espresso mascarpone. Let’s just take a moment to let that sink in. There was a coffee flavor inside a chocolate doughnut and then it was covered in sugar. 3 of my favorite things in one lovely bite. It blew my mind.

I don’t think I have properly introduced myself on this blog. My name is Jaime. Hello! I love food. I love wine. I am addicted to sugar and I find life a bit unsatisfying without it quite frankly. I will spin for twice as long on my bike if that is what it takes to be able to enjoy another Chocolate Bomboli in the near future. I wonder if I can order them to go? Anyway, it is nice to meet you! Here’s a picture of me from my birthday party this year taken with cake, naturally.

hori hori dig dig!

Tavern Law…objection

October 22, 2009

Whew… it’s been a bit hectic as of late, but I’m excited that I was able to try a new restaurant/bar this week. I heard about Tavern Law in Capital Hill a few months ago when they first opened. Shrouded by mystery and a “speakeasy” label, I had to see what the hubbub was all about. Tavern Law is crafted in honor of a time during prohibition when there were dark basements and back rooms dedicated to the art of a mixed drink and the bartenders that made them. I have to say that I am a sucker for a sweet little old-timey cocktail glass. Seriously, they could pour milk in there and I would think it was the fanciest thing ever. Love.

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The decor is dark and a bit quiet. There is a lot of dark wood and leather seating. Shelves filled with old books. A fantastic old refrigerator with the big stainless steel handles and glass windows sat behind the bar. I would love to have one of those some day. Probably not the most energy efficient machine I’m guessing, but super cool! So, to get things started I had a glass of sparking rose’ in a sweet low wine glass. Delish. The menu is short and sweet. The portions are small and perfect for sharing. We tried the Truffle Risotto with celery root and the Pork Cheek with beans and plum. Mercy… I love a good pork cheek dish.

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The service was fantastic and the staff was friendly and knowledgeable; here is where it fell short for me. Salt. I like salt, but I don’t LOVE salt. I think I have a fairly common palette in that way. So, when you have a dish that is alarmingly salty, it sort of ruins the rest of the fun. I was hoping for a party in my mouth with these dishes. They were beautifully presented. My mouth was watering when they arrived, but both were too salty for me. Truffle is a strong flavor and a little seems to go a long way, so had that dish not been so salty, it may have been delightful. My second cocktail is a favorite of mine. Lillet on the rocks. Very refreshing after the salt lick that was my dinner.

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I feel a little bad giving this place a hard time about the salt, but these are talented chefs. Even though they’ve been getting lots of press (including a recent write up in our old friend Gourmet), I’m not sure I’d go out of my way to try Tavern Law again. They do have a small upstairs space through an old steel door and you have to call up before they let you in. I wonder what the code word is. Water? They had a private party the night I was there, so I was out of luck.

I’m off to the Rolling Huts in the Methow Valley this weekend, so I’ll have another post soon. Off I go…

hori hori dig dig!

It was my birthday this past week and on Friday night I had a lovely dinner party with friends. There is nothing I love more than sharing great food and wine in the company of my friends. I feel really blessed.

This weekend I was able to check out Volunteer Park Cafe & Marketplace in Capital Hill. This quaint little restaurant is on a tree-lined street with beautiful old homes. 100 years ago this place was a grocery and meat market. Now, they are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They have one large rustic wooden table running down the center of the space and other smaller tables around the perimeter. Huge windows in the storefront give lots of natural light. I love, love, love that they use local, organic and sustainable ingredients. They are even putting in a garden of their own.

There is something fun about communal dining. I like meeting new people and talking about food/wine. I can’t wait to go back and have dinner. They have a nice selection of wines in house and the dinner menu (chock full of PNW fare and comfort food) looks fantastic.

Those of you that know me, are well aware that I love bacon. Since we went for breakfast I quickly scanned the menu and chose the bacon and egg breakfast panini. The Stumptown latte was the frosting on the cake. I was in a happy place.

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hori hori dig dig!

Boat Street Cafe

October 7, 2009

I am a big fan of French food. It seems like I’ve been writing about it a lot lately. It shouldn’t come as a surprise considering my love affair with butter. Also, is there anyone that doesn’t like French cooking? I like simple food that isn’t overdressed or overthought.

I recently went to Boat Street Café for lunch with a new friend that shares a passion for gardening and food/wine. Boat Street, which is described as a country French restaurant, is located where Lower Queen Anne meets Belltown. It is one of my favorite restaurants in the city. They have a quaint space with white tablecloths and simple decorations. The food is delicious and varied. One of my favorite highlights: they use fresh ingredients mostly sourced through local farmers. I’ll admit the parking situation can be a bit of bugger, but not impossible. If it were too easy to get to, it would be harder to find a table! It’s worth it… check it out!

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Boat Street has a cute little courtyard with additional seating. I took my grandparents here last year and we enjoyed a little lunch outside in the sunshine.

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So, let’s get down to business. They’ve changed their menu since I’ve been in and I was excited to try something new and fall-ish. I had the gratin with a sausage, simple salad and a baked apple. You guys… sometimes I have to remind myself that I’m not in a race to finish a meal. It was so good. The baked apple was a perfect ending. My friend had the peppers stuffed with goat cheese served with couscous, salad and fresh fruit. We finished our meal with some coffee and you know how much I love my coffee!

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Look at this darling space they have for dinner parties or cooking classes!

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They sell their pickled figs, prunes, red onion and raisins in house.

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hori hori dig dig!

Cafe Besalu, oh how i love you

September 21, 2009

I love food and I hate running. This is a problem for me. I’ve had to get creative with my exercise routine in order to justify the food/wine I love. There are a few places in Seattle that I will return to again and again and again because they have nailed it, whatever it is. Besalu is one of those places.

Cafe Besalu is a little pastry shop in Ballard on 24th Ave. that smells like heaven when you walk by. People flock here each morning and wait in long lines for what can only be described as the most buttery, flakey, delicious pastries in Seattle. I can’t imagine a happier place to work; surrounded by the smell of baked goods, butter, dough, sweet fruits, savory treats and more butter…hello?!

I normally get the ham and swiss pastry, but yesterday I tried the onion and gruyere. It was delicious. I have a friend that sometimes talks to her food. And every once and a while when I am about to eat something amazing I pay homage to her by speaking to my food as well. “Hello lover…” Besalu pastries should be talked to. Each pastry is a little work of art and as such should be properly honored before being eaten! I could die happy right here.

hori hori dig dig!

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The Sitting Room

September 12, 2009

Last night I had a lovely happy hour(s) with a girlfriend at The Sitting Room in lower Queen Anne. Not many people know about this place because it is a block or two from the heart of lower Queen Anne. I used to live nearby and would frequent this quaint little bar. It is low key, softly lite and cozy. They have the standard European fare and I often get the cheese plate or the bruschetta of the day. Last night I tried the special panini (it had bacon on it…yum) and my friend got the brie with some candied nut goodness on top.  I’m not much of a beer drinker, but I do love when a bar has Hoegaarden, especially on a nice summer evening. This week ended on a high note!

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hori hori dig dig!

I love Cafe Presse

August 29, 2009

I absolutely love Cafe Presse in Capital Hill. This is me, shouting it from the rooftop…of my boyfriend’s house. I love it. Why? Where else can you get an amazing latte so rich and tasty you almost lose control, while reading your favorite cooking magazine that you purchased at the newstand before sitting down, and occasionally catching a glimpse of a world soccer game on the tele, all while noshing on the Oeufs Plats, jambon, fromage for breaky? Lord have mercy… as I live and breathe, this is my version of heaven on earth.

I asked our waitress if the owner would ever consider opening a Presse in Ballard, because as you city dwellers know, we don’t often like to travel all the way across town (less then 5 miles) to go dine. She didn’t think so. In the event that the owner of Cafe Presse (also the owner of the lovely Le Pichet at the Market) ever reads my blog:

Sir, I beg of you, please PLEASE consider opening a french cafe in Ballard! I realize that Bastille just opened here and yes, they do have a beautiful french restaurant, but I’ll tell you this, they don’t deliver when it comes to breakfast. When I want a Croque Madame so good that it makes me speak in tongues, I come to you. Therefore, you should come to Ballard. We Scando’s would welcome you with open arms.

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hori hori dig dig!