Dish of the Day: Place Pigalle Salmon Gravlax

November 16, 2012

Salmon Gravlax from Place Pigalle in the Pike Place Market

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been reprinting some of our favorite Dishes of the Day from the last year or so while we enjoy some time out of the office.

I adore the Salmon Gravlax from Place Pigalle. 

I know I should probably remain impartial and not go on the record as saying that salmon is my favorite fish. And, to go even one step farther–that salmon is one of my favorite foods.

I take my salmon in any form, be it grilled, smoked, en rillette, or gravlax-style. Sometimes I’ll even have a Salmon Niçoise Salad for lunch, then salmon as my entrée at dinner!

I had the salmon gravlax for lunch at Place Pigalle in the Pike Place Market a couple of weeks ago, and loved it. I was dining with two of my favorite people in the world–Lorelle Del Matto and Martha Marino–whom I refer to as my two sisters or “sises.”

Both my sises are registered dietitians. Closet nutritionist that I am (I’ve known calorie counts of many food since my teenage years), I love to hear them talk about their profession.

Lorelle is also a recipe developer extraordinaire (who’s helped test recipes for several of my books over the years), owner of Food Savvy with Lorelle Del Matto, and blogger. Martha is Director of Nutrition Affairs at the Washington State Dairy Council.

I am so proud of my two sises and documented our long-standing friendship for The Seattle Times in an article entitled, Holiday Food Traditions in the Heart of Seattle, last December. Our lunches (scheduled every two months or so) serve as a cheap form of therapy for the three of us.

Anyway, back to the salmon gravlax above which had been lightly cured and thick-cut. I asked for it to be served on a bed of greens so it could work like a main-dish salad; accompaniments included large caper berries, baby gherkins, and whipped cream cheese.

All of which more than qualifies Place Pigalle’s Salmon Gravlax for our our Dish of the Day award.

Editor’s Note: Turns out our very pleasant and knowledgeable server was herself a well-known blogger–Kelly Doscher–or The Food-Minded Mama. Kelly won blog-of-the-month award from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution last October. Gotta love the Seattle food world!

Photograph by Braiden Rex-Johnson

Dish of the Day: Mexico Cantina’s Butter Lettuce Wraps

November 13, 2012

Mexico Restaurant’s Butter Lettuce Wraps with Chicken

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been reprinting some of our favorite Dishes of the Day from the last year or so while we enjoy some time out of the office.

Here’s a dish I order often at Mexico Cantina y Cocina–Butter Lettuce Wraps. 

After a busy morning of shopping or before an early-afternoon movie, one of our favorite places for a Saturday or Sunday lunch is at Mexico Cantina y Cocina in downtown Seattle’s Pacific Place shopping center.

I almost always order the low-carb, high-protein appetizer–Butter Lettuce Wraps with Chicken. You can also get them with shrimp, Ahi tuna, or salmon, but the perfectly grilled chicken continues to call me like a siren’s song.

It’s served with a plethora of fresh, raw vegetables, including jicama sticks (yummy crunch!), carrot slivers, cucumber slices, watercress leaves (with their peppery bite!), and bean sprouts (which I don’t eat because I’m scared of possible contamination no matter how much the kitchen rinses them!).

And don’t forget the smooth and oh-so-satisfying guacamole, the fresh and bracing salsa verde, plus the two dipping sauces–tomatillo and mango!

There’s also a slightly thick in texture, dense in flavor salsa that is served with the complimentary basket of chips. Although we now forego chips and tortillas due to our low-carb/high-protein lifestyle, Spencer still asks for the salsa and pours a hefty amount onto whatever he’s having (often the Tijuana Chicken Caesar).

I’ve written about other favorites on Mexico’s menu in my Northwest Notes blog. In fact, the restaurant’s Ensalada à la Evelyne–fresh organic greens with pepita-crusted provolone, roasted artichoke hearts , fire-grilled chicken, sliced plum tomatoes, cotija cheese, and sliced avocado–won Dish of the Day in 2009.

For continuing to offer fresh, clean, well-prepared food, especially my current favorite–Butter Lettuce Wraps–I award Mexico Cantina y Cocina my Dish of the Day.

My Favorite Dishes 2011

November 8, 2012

Here is a look back at some of our favorite dishes from last year. We are posting a series of Dishes of the Day the next couple of weeks as we take some time away from the office and computer to refresh and relax (our very belated “summer vacation”). 

It has been another great year of wining and dining both around the Pacific Northwest, but in other parts of the United States and Canada.

So I thought it’d be fun to throw up photos of some of my favorite dishes from 2011. Herein are the “winners” on that list in no particular order.

The Seafood Skewer served tableside on Holland America’s m.s. Eurodam.

ART Shrimp Cocktail in downtown Seattle’s Four Seasons Hotel

Shuckers Crab Louie in the Fairmont Hotel in Seattle

Antipasti Plate at The Pink Door in the Pike Place Market

Roasted Beet Salad with Grilled Salmon at Purple Cafe & Wine Bar in Woodinville, Washington

Vietnamese Crepe at Bambuza Vietnamese Cuisine in downtown Seattle (now under new ownership with a new name–920 Pike)

Roasted Chicken Caesar Salad with Cheddar Dressing at Dominion Square Taverne in downtown Montreal, Canada

Crab Tails at Elliott’s’ Oyster Bar and Restaurant in downtown Seattle

Beet and Goat Cheese Salad at Place Pigalle in the Pike Place Market

The Abalone Appetizer at The Oyster Bar along the Chuckanut Drive north of Seattle

The Everything Green Salad with Dungeness Crab at The Pink Door in the Pike Place Market

Grilled Oysters with Cheese at The Inn at Semiahmoo in Blaine, Washington

Octopus and Beans at Lecosho on the Harbor Steps in downtown Seattle

Smoked Salmon Appetizer and Side Salad at Luc in Seattle’s Madison Valley neighborhood

Shrimp and Grits at Joule in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood

Tuna Bowl at Revel in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood

And, just for a bit of final fun:

The Fried Mars Bar with Vanilla-Bean Ice Cream at Garde Manger in the Old City section of Montreal, Canada

A Lovely Online Food and Wine Guide

October 26, 2012

I just found out about a food and wine guide that will be useful to anyone contemplating a trip around the Pacific Northwest, or even just for vicarious “travel” for armchair travelers.

The Northwest Food and Wine Guide features page after page of restaurant descriptions and menus for Portland, Seattle, Vancouver (British Columbia), and northern California.

Following the restaurant descriptors comes touring information for wineries, distilleries, and breweries in the same areas.

I loved “leafing” through the magazine’s pretty pages while viewing them on my new computer’s crisp and vibrant retina display.

The magazine’s editors are based in Portland, so the magazine skews heavily toward that town. I’m sure as they sign up more advertisers, and people find out about the Guide, that Seattle, Vancouver, and Northwest wine regions will get more play in the merry mix.



Fado Fried Chicken Salad and Pickleback!

October 19, 2012

During our recent birthdays, Spencr and I let down our guards just a little bit while still trying to remain on our low-carb/high-protein diet.

One Sunday last month, after a rather unsuccessful morning trying to tour Pioneer Square galleries for inspiration (most were closed on Sundays), we decided to treat ourselves to lunch at Fadó Irish Pub & Restaurant, about midway between Pioneer Square and our condo.

We’d eaten at Fado before, and knew that the Pub has yummy main-dish salads. And although we’d normally go for the grilled chicken as our protein addition, this day (again, to celebrate our birthdays, and with the urging of our server) we opted for fried-chicken tenders.

My salad–augmented with sliced pears, mandarin oranges, spicy nuts, and blue cheese–was a lovely combo of sweet, salty, and pungent flavors. The crispy, perfectly fried chicken contrasted nicely with soft, super-fresh local baby lettuces.

I had to laugh when I perused the seasonal beverage menu and discovered under the Shots section both Pickleback (Irish Whiskey with a pickle-brine chaser) and Irish Breakfast (Irish Whiskey and Butterscotch Schnapps with an orange-juice chaser and bacon garnish.

Although my father’s side of the family is Irish, and I do love my wine, neither of these tickles my palate, although imbibing one or the other would make me or anyone want to do an Irish jig.

Elliott’s Annual Oyster New Year Bash

October 16, 2012

It’s time to buy your tickets for Elliott’s Oyster New Year, which will be held on Saturday, November 4.

VIP Champagne Reception ticket holders  can enjoy passed appetizers and champagne beginning at 4 p.m., followed by the main event at 5 p.m. ($125 per person plus tax).

General admission tickets (from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m.) cost $95 per person plus tax.

During this exciting annual event, guests can choose among:

• 30+ varieties of local oysters

• Oysters shucked to order along our 90-foot oyster bar

• Fresh seafood buffet

• Over 40 wineries

• Local microbrews

• Live music

• The famous Oyster Luge

• Shucking demonstration and contest

• People’s Choice “Most Beautiful Oyster” contest

In keeping with Elliott’s eco-friendly practices, the restaurant reuses or recycle everything possible from the event, and composts all shells and food waste in partnership with Cedar Grove.

All proceeds from the Oyster New Year Bash will benefit the Puget Sound Restoration Fund. Since 1997 this non-profit organization has been dedicated to restoring the Sound’s water quality and native marine species and their habitats.

Elliott’s is Seafood WATCH®-compliant and actively participates in the Puget Sound Restoration Fund’s Henderson Inlet Project , The Humane Society, and Wild Salmon Supporters.


Fresh Faces at Sky City

October 5, 2012

The “Fresh Faces of the Future” tasting menu kicked off at the Space Needle’s Sky City restaurant on October 1, and boy, was it delicious!

Fresh Faces partners professional chef  instructors and students from Seattle’s most esteemed culinary programs with SkyCity Executive Chef Jeff Maxfield. Each group prepares one original dish to contribute to the five-course tasting menu.

It was fun to see long-time Seattle culinary authorities including Linda Pal Chauncey, associate dean of Seattle Culinary Academy (SCA) at Seattle Central Community College, and Will McNamara during the evening. I first met chef McNamara years ago when he was working at Place Pigalle in the Pike Place Market. More recently, he served as exec chef at the Washington Athletic Club, and is now sharing his wisdom with students at South Seattle Community College (SSCC).

The other schools represented on the menu are Seattle Le Cordon Bleu and FareStart.

A portion of the proceeds from sales of the month-long tasting menu ($62 per person) will benefit each participating school’s scholarship fund.

Views from Sky City were gorgeous, especially since we arrived at 6:45 p.m., right around sunset.

The Fresh Faces menu was colorful and inviting. . .

As was our first course of Potato “Pinxtos” (Saffron Scallops, Coriander Lox, and Fennel Mojama) created by SCA student Claire Elise Mitchell. The dish was adapted from an award-winning tapa Claire created using Northwest seafood and produce as inspiration.

Next up? Roasted Wild Mushroom Salad, an intriguing juxtaposition of duck rillettes and a dinosaur kale salad rife with chanterelle mushrooms. Douglas-fir gel balls added an interesting textural touch. This dish was created by Varin Keokitvon from FareStart.

Chef McNamara offered up the evening’s third course, and perhaps my favorite: Dry-Rubbed Seared Scallops, spicy good with Moroccan-style garbanzo beans, grilled peppers, spinach, and Charmoula dressing. Chef McNamara feels that, within the next 50 years, the African continent will become a major player on the world stage. His dish was an ode to flavors from those countries.

Sky City’s chef, Jeff Maxfield, served up the evening’s main course–Hay-Roasted Carlton Farms Pork. Because I don’t eat pork, he was nice enough to substitute my favorite protein, wild Alaskan salmon.

The kingly fish danced atop the plate along with black garlic, beet spaetzle cake, creamed collard greens, and huckleberry jam. Chef Jeff describes hay roasting as an old European technique in which meat is roasted in freshly harvested hay; his spaetzle cake was a modern twist on a classic dumpling; and other parts of the dish inspired by home-style canning recipes passed down through the generations.

Richard Carpenter and Brian Figler of Le Cordon Bleu gifted us with an exceptional seasonal dessert. Jones Orchard Apple Financier was accompanied by artistic squiggles of Whidbey Island Port syrup and dressed with cardamom crème Chantilly. Ooh-la-la!

We chose to drink one of Sky City’s featured Winery of the Month wines, a crisp, well-balanced  Woodinville Wine Cellars 2011 Sauvignon Blanc that partnered perfectly with each and every course. Had we wanted red, the menu also included Woodinville Wine Cellars 2009 Little Bear Creek Red Blend.

A New Seafood Café Along the Seattle Waterfront

August 14, 2012

Elliott’s Seafood Café during construction

Over the past several months, we’ve enjoyed watching the old, outdated Steamer’s Cafe space on the Seattle Waterfront transform into the sleek, new Elliott’s Seafood Café.

Designed as an energetic sidewalk oyster bar, the new Café offers a casual complement to Elliott’s Oyster House.

Elliott’s Seafood Cafe Oyster Bar

Elliott’s Seafood Cafe features an outdoor oyster bar where guests can sit or stand, a full-service bar, and happy-hour offerings. The menu comprises casual and fun seafood dishes; table service is available all day. Take-out food and retail items are also for sale.

Interior of the new Elliott’s Seafood Cafe

The restaurant’s interior features copper and wood with a “warm pier look.” Outside, guests can enjoy patio dining with a view of waterfront boating activity.

“Elliott’s Seafood Café brings a new look and culinary offering to the Seattle waterfront neighborhood. We’re especially eager to introduce the outside oyster bar, which we believe is a first of its kind in Seattle for guests to enjoy the freshest, local seafood at the peak of the season,” said Robert Spaulding, Executive Chef at Elliott’s Oyster House, who will oversee the Elliott’s Seafood Café kitchen as well.

Chop Chop Salad

A sample of menu items featured at Elliott’s Seafood Café includes:

*A rotating selection of fresh Washington Oysters: Penn Cove | Calm Cove | Eld | Mystery Bay with Horseradish, cocktail sauce, mignonette.

*Fresh Shucked Clams | Cape Cod little neck.

*Shellfish Ceviche I Bay scallops and shrimp, calamari, citrus marinade.

*Surf and Turf Slider | Seared scallop, root beer braised beef, preserved lemon cream.

*Halibut Tostadas | Grilled halibut, avocado, pancetta, tomatillo salsa, flour tortilla.

*Smoked Apple and Bacon Oysters | House alder smoked apple, bacon, red onion.

*Fried Oyster Wilted Spinach Salad | Yearling oysters, spinach, hot bacon-potato dressing, red onion, mushroom.

*Seafood Salad Brioche Rolls | Dungeness and Jonah crab, bay scallops, Oregon shrimp, celery, onion, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, waffle-cut fries.

We’ll weigh in with our thoughts on the new Seafood Café just as soon as we can get down there to sample these delicious-sounding items. May be time for another spin on the Seattle Great Wheel, the café’s cool neighbor.

Construction photo by Braiden Rex-Johnson; other photos courtesy of Darren LaMarr

Dish of the Day: Shuckers Whole Roasted Dungeness Crab

August 7, 2012

Every now and then I get a hankering for Dungeness crab. And one of my favorite places to indulge my craving is at Shuckers in The Fairmont Olympic Hotel in downtown Seattle.

I love the restaurant’s ambience, the kind of bustling, clubby sort of place place you’d want to claim as your own personal watering hole. Rather surprising to learn that the space–all beautifully carved oak paneling and pressed-tin ceiling–served as a haberdashery in the 1930s.

Shuckers is a good choice for just about any type of seafood–oysters on the half shell, the superlative Lusciously Loaded Louis Salad with shrimp or crab, daily-changing catches of the day that are simply, but perfectly, grilled. (Ruby trout and steelhead are two of our particular favorites).

But the Whole Roasted Dungeness Crab with Rosemary Potatoes and Grilled Asparagus truly stands apart from any other seafood dish in town.

The thing that sets this crab apart is the use of fresh sprigs of rosemary in the roasting process. It’s a truly brilliant use of this aromatic, pine-y herb that works a particular magic, making the crab more hearty and savory tasting than it usually is.

A bit of butter gives the dish richness, but not enough to overwhelm the crab. The dish usually comes beautifully roasted potatoes; since I’ve been trying to follow a low-carb diet lately, I asked for extra asparagus and was entirely sated (and even took half my and asparagus crab home for next-day nibbling).

Whole Roasted Dungeness Crab is a Fairmont Lifestyle Cuisine option–“dishes created using fresh and nutritionally balanced ingredients that are natural and organic so that they contribute to optimal health and wellness”–so you can feel good about eating it while you pick and pile the sweet crab nubbins.

For all of these reasons, Shuckers Whole Roasted Dungeness Crab more than merits our Dish of the Day.

Outstanding Chef Demos at Pike Place Market

July 27, 2012

The Pike Place Market’s Sunday chef’s demo line-up is one of the strongest I’ve seen in recent years, with such Seattle icons as Ethan Stowell (Staple & Fancy Mercantile), Melissa Nyfeller (Dinette), and Nathan Lockwood (Altura) all cookin’ along the cobblestones Sunday at noon or 2 p.m. during the months of August and September.

On Sundays, Pike Place is closed to car traffic from Stewart to Virginia to create a lively pedestrian plaza of shoppers, farmers, and chefs. It’s a fun time for both locals and tourists to get a real “taste” of the granddaddy of all farmers’ markets.

Open up your calendar and mark the following dates for an unforgettable way to meet the chefs and pick up helpful shopping, cooking, and plating techniques.

Here’s the complete chef-demo line-up through the end of September: 


Aug. 5 Anthony Polizzi – Steelhead Diner Noon

Aug. 5 Nathan Lockwood – Altura 2 p.m.

Aug. 12 TBA* Noon

Aug. 12 David Sanford – Belle Clementine 2 p.m.

Aug. 19 Brent Harding – Le Pichet Noon

Aug. 19 Melissa Nyffeler – Dinette 2 p.m.

Aug. 26 Ethan Stowell – Staple & Fancy Mercantile Noon

Aug. 26 Jacob Wiegner – Blackboard Bistro 2 p.m.


Sept. 9 Pranee Kruasanit Halvorsen – I Love Thai Cooking Noon

Sept. 9 Seth Caswell – emmer & rye 2 p.m.

Sept. 23 Simon Zatyrka – Cutter’s Crabhouse Noon

Sept. 23 Jeff Maxfield & Ivan Szilak, Collections Café 2 p.m.

Sept. 30 Phyllis Rosen – Catering by Phyllis Noon

Sept. 30 TBA*


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