Blindly Tasting Wine (AKA Bougie on a Budget)

Recently, my wife (Anne) and I found ourselves facing a table covered in cheeses, dried fruits, olives, crackers, all backdropped by six black-bagged bottles of mysterious wines. This, in the middle of our old digs, a place so deeply familiar yet newly furnished by unfamiliar guts. Our friends, Virginia and Patrick, now lived there and the furnishments were theirs. They also supplied the mystery we faced that evening, having heard of times that we had managed a blind wine tasting. We brought cheese, crackers, and incisive curiosity.

blindtastingbegins Continue reading

Making Friends at The Shambles

A new restaurant unfurled itself on the great untapped North side of Seattle. The Shambles, located at 7777 15th Ave NE, lays just South of the diagonal rip of Lake City Way. It labels itself “Seattle’s Neighborhood Bar & Butcher”. Personally, yay to the first part, boo to the second. I am a vegetarian (actually pescatarian) and there is little reason for me to frequent a place that has mastered the art of draping meat on other meat (literally, the first image you see on their site is stacked meat). Not my thing. I do, however, have many friends who adore that very meat draping I care so little for. And, what is a food blog without all the food? I figured that I could easily blog about meat if I had surrogate mouths to report on said meat. And, thus, my surrogate mouths and I went. Continue reading

A Walk in the Woods

I am lucky. I live close to all the things that make life tolerable, and better, things that increase my overall happiness quotient. Restaurants – Thai, Indian, Korean, Vietnamese, vegan, vegetarian, pizza, sushi, sandwiches, and all variants of pub food. Breweries and taphouses. Cocktail bars and juice bars. Everything. Not least is the capitalism-free activity of the great outdoors. Across the street, I enjoy access to a park that has lived rent-free in my heart since the day I moved to this incredibly emerald city – Ravenna. Continue reading

Shiozuke Experiment #1

Shiozuke means, literally, salt pickle. This, the simplest of Japanese pickles, is a mainstay of the pickle platter. The process can be achieved with the most basic of kitchen items: salt, bowl, time. The length of time varies according to your needs, with the shortest amount of time not depending on any fermentation whatsoever. One can simply slice cucumbers, grate ginger, salt the two in a bowl, massage them and let them sit until the salt has osmosed the water right out. In this case, the pickles are squeezed out and the resulting vegetables are laid out for eating. This is too simple for my taste and without the added je-ne-sais-quoi of a fermented product.  Continue reading

Misozuke Cucumbers

Japan has, for millennia, excelled at the pursuit of umami. This most basic taste profile comes from a variety of sources, from meat to mushrooms to tomatoes to seaweed. It delivers the recipient to places that the other four tastes cannot even begin to imagine. A higher plane of sensory existence. The pursuit was one well worth engaging and it resulted in many good things both discovered and created: kombu seaweed, bonita tuna flakes, shiitake mushrooms, fish sauce, nutritional yeast, soy sauce and miso paste, among many others.

miso paste

MISO

Miso is itself a fermented product, the result of soybeans being overtaken by the filamentous fungus called koji or Aspergillus oryzae. So, it only seems natural that it should be used to ferment other edible items, imbuing those tertiary characters with the enviable umami profile. Of course, the Japanese have given us this gift as well. Called miso-zuke (literally miso pickle), the embedding of vegetables in a miso mixture is a common practice among traditional Japanese cooks. Continue reading

First Cup, First Post

Coffee has become, in these last several years, an essential component of my mornings. Before that, I enjoyed it abstractly, as a means of communicating caffeine into my body. I could drink whatever as long as sugar and cream were somewhere on hand. Now, I’ve become a snob about it. An absolute coffee elitist. I can detect differences in roast and origin and even the way it has been brewed. I’ve got preferences. Forget the cream and sugar (although it does have its place, where the roast is less than pleasant). The right bean, the right method – nothing beats it plain.

This morning, like many mornings, the process is Aeropress. The coffee, Sight Glass Spotlight Columbia. This particular roast was in collaboration with Imperfect Produce. Although I most enjoy a fruity Ethiopian, this tasted quite alright.