Wednesday, August 25, 2010

An Unpretentious Drink

It’s harder and harder to find a place to get a drink. It’s not that there aren’t tons of places to go, it’s just that I’m getting more particular. There are lots of places to hang with the college kids, play beer pong and feel old. There are lots of places that take themselves and the booze WAY too seriously. There are some places that are so quiet they put you to sleep or so loud you shouldn’t even bother brining anyone to talk to.

I’ve been hearing about Oliver’s Twist up in Phinney Ridge for awhile. The other night, Utter Ambrosia and I went to a movie and grabbed a drink there.

On a Friday night at 9:00 it had a bustling vibe but we still found a table right away. The crowd was somewhere between the studying for midterms and putting the kids through college.

The drinks were delicious. I strongly recommend the Giles – vodka, blood orange, St Germain, peach bitters and cava. UA went with the Miss Nancy – gin, rhubarb-tarragon syrup, lemon, blood orange bitters and bubbly.

To go with it, garlic truffled popcorn and Salumi salami with Columbia City bread, celery and golden raisins. The truffled popcorn didn’t last long enough to get a photo.

Classy food, classy drinks and non-stuffy vibe, in short the perfect place for a grown up to get an unpretentious drink.

Violet in Kenneth Cole black flats

Monday, August 23, 2010

On Birthdays. by violet

I have recently developed complicated feelings about birthdays. I used to love my birthday.

I remember sun soaked pool parties with silly relay races. I remember Barbie birthday cakes and frilly party dresses. Then it was sleepovers, co-ed outdoor BBQs and large groups of you and your friends stuffed into a booth at Chili’s. Finally moving on to that rite of passage, the 21er.

Then you actually start to dread getting a year older rather than being pumped about the prospect. Remember how excited you were to turn 10?

I didn’t really want to make a big deal out of my birthday this year. I was planning a nice night out with J.P. and leaving it at that. In fact, I even told work I would attend a conference on the actual night of my birthday. But it seems that fate had other plans. My friends couldn’t resist planning a group outing to Barrio. And with J.P.’s parents in town the day after, another dinner was planned as well.

As has been established here, the P’s are lovers of good food and wine, so I carefully selected Sitka and Spruce in the Melrose Market.

I’m pretty much in love with the Melrose Market. Sitka and Spruce occupies the corner of the market and features fresh foods.

Here’s what we had

Mezze of mechouia, sada and baba ghanouj with flatbread

Smoked mussels with lobster mushrooms, cucumber and fennel

Confit of duck with peaches and fried shisito pepper

I missed that one but I thought this was pretty

Chanterelles and Juan de Fuca spot prawns with fino sherry

Billy’s tomatoes, Puget Sound smelt and sheep milk feta

Whey braised goat with grilled escarole and our yogurt

Local Albacore with salted summer squash, melon and purslane

The goat was my favorite, although the duck confit with peaches and peppers was a surprisingly delicious combination and the sauce that came with the chanterelles and spot prawns required extra bread just to mop it up.

Our waiter was charming and helpful and really helped to make the night special. 

In the end it turned out to be a wonderful birthday, even if it didn’t turn out the way that I planned.

Violet in Jessica Simpson Cody, brown, leather flats with brass toe buckle

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dog sitting. by violet

J.P. and I often talk about getting a dog. It seems like everywhere we go we see dogs. We meet dogs, we pet dogs. We plan and the scheme.

Then we remember that we live in a townhouse with no real yard. And you see, J.P. and I want a large, active breed of dog. And I just can’t see our hypothetical border collie taking too kindly to being cooped up in our house for 10 hours stretches every day.

But this doesn’t really stop the wanting.

When Melissa and Chris asked us to dog sit their Gracie we said absolutely. Gracie is an adorable black lab mix with a tendency to lick just about anything that moves. We’ve had her for just under a week and she goes home to her real parents tomorrow.

She’s been a lovely house guest; you can’t help but love her. She a complete sweetheart and is so well-behaved that your dog life is pretty easy.

However there’s now a coat of black hair over just about everything in our place. Including a chair in the living room that she’s not allowed to sit on but does anyway when we are gone. We are also both sleep-deprived because she needs to be let out at ungodly hours of the morning. There’s also the licking. She especially loves to you lick when you are fresh out of the shower. Or in the middle of the night right across your forehead. I don’t even want to talk about the cleaning up after part either. It’s just too gross to even discuss.

I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining; this is pretty standard dog stuff. It’s not all long walks and chew toys. And like I said, she’s lovely and low key but she’s also, still a dog.

So while part of me is sad to see her go, another larger part of me is looking forward to having our routine back. Sleeping until the alarm goes off, smelling like my body wash instead of dog breath and sweeping up after my own pita chip crumbs.

It’s been lovely having you Gracie. You are welcome back anytime but just for visits.

Violet in Steve Madden Tuscaan

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hang Up Your Spurs. By violet

J.P. and I have been talking about going to Spur since it opened. In fact, that was where we were going to go for J.P.’s last birthday but he changed his mind. I bet he wished he hadn’t.

But a few weeks ago on an impossibly nice Saturday afternoon, a few friends were hanging out on the patio at the Virigina Inn, drinking wine and mulling over our dinner options.

So I was pretty excited when we settled on Spur.

I took pictures of everything that we ate and hoped that I could show you all but one thing you should know about Spur is that it’s really (really) dark. Very few of my photos turned out, however I’m not going to hold this against them. Because we had an incredibly delicious meal.

Quick rundown of our selections

Parisian Gnocchi
parmesan.morels. peas.

Fried Oxtail Terrine
fresh garbonzo. chicory. shallot jam.

Pork Belly Sliders
nectarine mostarda. marjoram. champagne.

Lamb Tartare
heirloom tomato. shiso. egg yolk.

The Paraian gnocchi and fried oxtail were my favorite. The oxtail was recommended by our waiter and we were all glad that we took the recommendation as it became the highlight of our meal. Oh and there were house made cornnuts.  Yeah.  They were as good as they sound. 

There was also a salad in there but the photo didn’t turn out and the salads on the menu didn’t ring any bells.

I was expecting a huge bill but everything was pretty reasonable prices (ranging from about 12 -27 dollars for entrees). Not so crazy that you couldn’t just head there on a random Saturday night.  I should also mention that our service was great.  Our server recommended great dishes and cocktails that were much appreciated. 

So resounding recommendation for Spur.

That pretty much says it all

Violet in Enzo gladitors

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Red Hook Movie Night. by violet

One of my favorite things to do during the summer in Seattle is attend Red Hook’s Moonlight Cinema. For those of you who don’t know, Red Hook is arguably Washington’s best-known brewery. It was some of my favorite beer before I moved here and has become even more so since. Their main brewery facility is on the eastside, north of where I work in Bellevue. On Thursday nights during the summer they screen outdoor movies on their lawn.

Entry is $5 and beers are $4. You can bring in your own food but they sell and nice assortment of things there.

It tends to get pretty packed (the pic above was taken around 6:00 and the movie starts at 9:30) and the crowd varies by the movie.  Movies like The Hangover are 21 and over and get a little more rowdy. Movies like The Sandlot, are open to all ages, the lines for beer are shorter and kids run around the lawn beforehand playing Frisbee.

The whole thing just screams summer. Sunny evenings that don’t get dark until after 9:00 p.m. Eating and drinking outside on the grass. Classic movies, some of my favorites screened have been Top Gun and Jaws.

So bring a blanket and bring a friend to experience one of Seattle’s summer gems.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. By Violet

I picked this book up while browsing at the bookstore earlier this summer. When the Daily Beast listed it as one of their best books of the year, I decided to give it a try.
I was fascinated by the premise of the book - a young girl discovers that she can taste the feelings of the person who has made her meal.

One great advantage I had with this book is I read it incredibly fast – I had an early afternoon off of work, a weekend at the beach and a long ferry line which pretty much took care of the entire book.

Amiee Bender has a refreshing writing style that is straightforward but uniquely captures moods, emotions and characters. One of my favorites was her description of Rose’s friends from school, they were “down-hill girls.” As if all of their lives they were just coasting with no real obstacles to overcome. The imagery is wonderful and you instantly get the impression that she is going for.

There was something about the beginning that made me think it was supposed to be set in the 50s or 60s. Maybe it was the necular family, the mother staying at home and the father off work every morning with dinner on the table when he returns. But the peppered in references to e-mail, medical TV dramas, leaf blowers and other modern amenities of life bring it crashing back into present day. It was jarring to constantly remind myself of the time, instead of just letting the scenes wash over me.

I was drawn into the story and the idea that the narrator could gather so much knowledge simply by eating a meal. What consequences would this have on her life? How would this change the relationships she had with her family? What advantages and disadvantages would this bring? What did this say about the role of food?

Much of my questions are explored but the story takes a strange and unexpected turn near the middle of the book. This strange shift of focus really took away from the central character and, what I thought, was the central idea of the book.

However, Bender’s writing kept me transfixed on the story. And even though I was unsure of where the story was headed it seems to wrap back around to the original themes bought up in the beginning.

But I still have an unsettled feeling about the novel. A co-worker asked if I would recommend it and I was stumped.

However, I will say this, I’m likely going to go back and read more of Amiee Bender’s work.

Violet in Seychelles Fiddle - distressed brown booties