Mediterranean Potato Salad

Med-Potato-salad

 

 

Today, whilst poking about Twitter and the general internets, I noticed that the phrase “potato salad” kept creeping up. Usually when a particular subject is bandied about online all at once, it is fairly easy to find out what the source is and why everyone is giving their 2 cents about it. I mean, you can kind of know why they care, but also, WHY do they care ya know? Who’s to say? So naturally, I had a tense few minutes reading “potato salad” all over the place in case it suddenly became a fad and I couldn’t post this recipe because, like the hipster I am, I can’t conform to mob mentality. Anyway I found out it was because some guy apparently had never made potato salad, so it being 2014, he naturally took to Kickstarter to fund this noble mission and… well just read about it for yourself here.  Out of control. I just wish I had thought it of first, since this is also my inaugural potato salad. Drat.

 

Moving on, it was the 4th of July and people everywhere are cooking out, BBQ’ing, picnicking and all around frolicking to celebrate our freedom and the colors red, white and denim. The spouse and I don’t have  huge circle of friends here in Seattle yet, and so opted for some quiet exploring, R&R and finishing Arrested Development season 4 ( for the third time) for our American celebration. Wanting to semi-particpate in the culinary delights of 7/4, we made some umami salmon burgers with avocado and some TJ’s Unexpected Cheddar. That stuff is the shit. For a side, I decided to go as traditional as I could, in that I’d make a potato salad. However, not being a fan of bland, mayo drenched dishes, I made up this one. I think its got a nice, flavor packed punch of liberty and isn’t so creamy that it makes nasty, glooping noises. You know what I mean right? This side dish has got some sun dried tomatoes, fresh herbs, oil, vinegar and capers which is a combination of ingredients that works with like, an infinite amount of things. To make it a little creamier, I added just a few dollops of greek yogurt. I think it was kick-ass. Perfect for Independence Day right?

 

As Nora Ephron said “I have made a lot of mistakes falling in love, and regretted most of them, but never the potatoes that went with them.”

 

Mediterranean Potato Salad

 

Boil a bunch of small potatoes ( I used fingerlings cuz they are adorable) for about 10-15 minutes, until soft but not mushy! Chop up and combine in a bowl:  basil, flat leaf parsley, sun dried tomatoes, diced shallots and capers. Heat up some oil in a small pan and add 1 or 2 diced garlic cloves with about a tablespoon of anise seeds. Stir till the garlic just barely toasts and remove from heat.

Once your potatoes are done boiling, drain the water and submerge in cold water. When they cool down a bit, dry, chop up and add to your bowl. Pour the oil, toasted garlic and anise seeds on top of the potatoes. Stir it all up. Make a quick vinaigrette with olive oil, a dash of red wine vinegar and whatever dried herbs you have on hand. Stir up quickly and pour over your mixture. Add a healthy dose of sea salt and black pepper to taste. If you want it a bit creamy, add a couple dollops of plain greek yogurt. Enjoy!

Roasted Potato, Broccoli and Cheddar Galette

Roasted-Potato-Galette

Ugh, my kitchen lighting is literally the worst. This is as good as it is gonna get.

My baking practice with simple, free forming galettes continues with this comforting dinner. Thinking about it now, it would probably “fit” better in the Fall, but oh well.

I don’t usually enjoy making a dinner where one element has to be assembled then chilled for an hour before I can even start cooking the other ingredients. However, visions of buttery, flaky crust, melted cheddar and spicy roasted potatoes convinced me one evening the other week. Since it isn’t very healthy, I threw in a handful of broccoli, which I’m sure helped immensely. Plus it reminded me of when I was a kid and my mom would entice us to eat our veggies by topping them with wisps of bright orange, sharp cheddar cheese. That is probably why I’ve never met a broccoli cheddar quiche I didn’t like. Also probably why anything less than Double Xtra Sharp cheddar is dead to me.

Consider pairing this with a light salad dressed with tangy vinaigrette to break up the heaviness.

 

Roasted Potato, Broccoli and Cheddar Galette

barely adapted from  Joy the Baker’s recipe

Crust:

Stir 1 1/4 cups flour1 teaspoon of  sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add 1 stick (or 1/2 cup) of cold, cubed butter and use your fingers to break up into the mixture. Some pieces will be larger than others, which is fine. Pour in 1/3 cup of cold half and half and stir till the flour is moist. Assemble dough into a ball or disk type shape, wrap in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for an hour.

 

Filling:

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Using a mandolin or a knife, chop  1 or 2 large potatoes into even discs. Spread them out on a cookie sheet, pour olive oil over them and season how you’d like. I used coarse salt and black pepper with some cumin and some paprika type spice. Joy uses Old Bay Seasoning. Roast these potatoes till they get soft, maybe a bit crunchy depending on your preference, about 15 minutes or so. Roast about a handful or so of broccoli covered in olive oil, salt and pepper till they get a tad crispy or however you prefer. These will probably roast for closer to 7-10 minutes. Be sure to check on them and stir once in a while.

While these are roasting, shred as much sharp cheddar cheese as you’d like and chop up some fresh chives. Once your dough has chilled for at least an hour, roll out the disk on a floured surface. I like it best when it have uneven edges and I just call it rustic. Place the rolled out dough on a parchment lined cookie sheet. I’ve found folding it lightly in half twice will make the dough easier to pick up and place on the pan. Once your broccoli and potatoes are done roasting, it is time to assemble! Basically, layer it all into the middle section of your large round of dough. I put a layer of cheese on the bottom, put some potatoes on top, arranged some broccoli and sprinkled chives. Do that until you either run out of filling ingredients or your galette is about to explode. Fold the dough around your filling, layering the folded corners on top of each other pressing lightly to keep together. If you want an egg wash for the dough, beat one egg and brush it on top of the dough of your galette. Sprinkle the dough with salt and pepper and put into the oven for about 15 minutes or so, until its golden brown and smells intoxicating. Sprinkle some more fresh chives on top and serve!

 

 

Foodish Podcasts

Since moving to Seattle last fall, I’ve gotten way into podcasts. I used to only listen to Meet the Filmmaker to hear interviews with the cast, crew and creators of movies and TV shows. Except, for some reason it stopped updating regularly in my podcast app, which made me frustrated so in retaliation,  I haven’t listened to it in a while. Obviously that is their loss.

Anyway, I’ve found a few food themed podcasts to listen to on my walk to and from work which have kept me vastly entertained. I’m the weirdo chuckling to myself, making odd faces or grunting agreeing noises as I stumble down or trudge up the hill.  My tendency with podcasts is to find one, and listen to just about every available episode in some sort of binge listening spree. Then, I get unfairly annoyed when there isn’t an unlimited amount of new content at my beck and call, so I’m forced to find another show to start the cycle over again. These are my favorites:

 

 

 

This is obviously at the top of the list, since I am proud to be their Production Assistant. But I wasn’t when I started listening! I was just another rabid fan like you are about to become. I discovered the Spilled Milk Podcast through reading Molly Wizenberg’s blog, Orangette, as she hosts the show with Matthew Amster-Burton. Each episode centers on one food item, which is tasted and explored in more ways than you ever thought possible. They are a hysterical duo who never miss a chance at a good (or bad) innuendo. Lest you think that these food writers only speak on haughty, artisanal ingredients, let me point your attention to a few previous episodes: Fast Food Frozen Treats, Halloween Candy and Whipped Cream. The episodes are about 15-20 minutes long and occasionally educational along with being hilarious. Check out their amazing, clever and beautiful Facebook page and get ready to be addicted. New episodes are delivered to your podcast app every Thursday.

 

 

 

The Dinner Party Download  is set up around the conceit of a dinner party with various segments. They always have a guest give etiquette tips, tell a little known story from history with an accompanying cocktail, eavesdrop on someone telling a story and have musicians compile their perfect dinner party soundtrack. The episodes are about 50 minutes long and they have top notch guests, like James McAvoy, Kevin Spacey and Wes Anderson. They usually explore some new, experimental or interesting thing going on in the food world as well. I love this podcast as I learn a lot of fun trivia and informational tidbits about an array of topics that wouldn’t normally occur to me to explore. They have a trove of episodes so get crackin. New episodes come out on Fridays.

 

Splendid Table

 

 

 The Splendid Table is hosted by Lynn Rossetto Kasper whose melodious voice will make you salivate and swoon. Especially when she says “garlic”. Episodes are on a variety of different subjects and have interviews with the famous along with the obscure. Most episodes have a segment on Roadfood with Jane and Michael Stern   (where does one get their job!?) and there are a few segments that occur every so often like Key Three, where cooks or chefs teach Lynn her/his 3 most vital dishes. There is a plethora of recipes on the blog and in every episode, Lynn takes calls from listeners with questions. It is a fun, educational and always interesting podcast. Well, as long as anything within the realm of food and drink interests you. Some of my recent favorites are True Chef, Tasting in the Dark and Artisan Bread. By the end you’ll wish you were BFF with Lynn. New episodes come out on Thursdays.

 

Radio Cherry Bombe is brand new with only 6 episodes out so far. It is part of Heritage Radio Network and comes from the creators of the Cherry Bombe magazine.  Julia Turshen interviews women within the food world, from Jeni from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams to the chef and the food stylist behind Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food. I adore learning about the creative processes behind these women and their hard work to bring their creations to reality. The episode airs live on Wednesdays at 2pm EST and I think is updated as a podcast shortly after. Julia has the same 8 question, rapid fire Q&A for each guest and its so fun to see how each woman answers.

 

 

I’ve only listened to one of these, but since chefs are my rock starts and I love learning their backstories, I know Chef’s Story will become a favorite. Hosted by Dorothy Cann Hamilton, the founder of the International Culinary Center, each episode consists of her chatting with a chef. I just listened to the Barbara Lynch episode which was fascinating and such a compelling story. I’m now desperate for her memoir to come out. I’m stocking up on these episodes so I may be hard to reach for a bit. This is also from the Heritage Radio Network and airs live on Wednesdays at 12:00 pm EST, and is up as a podcast after.

 

Looks like this Heritage Radio Network will supply me with food centric content for a long time to come…

Book Review : “A History of the World in Six Glasses”

This is my first month doing book reviews alongside The Kitchen Reader online book club. May’s selection was “A History of the World in Six Glasses” by Tom Standage.

 

As you can gather from the title, this is a work of nonfiction and explores the narrative of humanity through the lens of 6 definitive drinks: beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea and Coca-Cola. The premise is vaguely interesting and I was curious to learn some little known tidbits about these drinks, their discovery process and culture shaping tendencies. The book is divided into one section for each drink and follows a sort of liquid timeline exploring each libation in its heyday, from invention to acceptance to mass consumption.

Contrary to its damp subject matter, I found this book kind of dry. While each drink had some curious insights, for the most part I think the author placed too heavy an importance on the evolution of these liquids and their influence on the annals of history. Surely they were formative, but I had a hard time giving them the clout he did. He dedicates the rise and fall of civilizations, societies, the Enlightenment and British Imperialism to these powerful elixirs which eh, seemed like a stretch to me.

Though Coca-Cola is my least favorite of these drinks, I enjoyed that chapter the most. Probably  because it was the most modern setting and there were some fun facts about its infiltration around the world. The brand recognition and its association with the spreading of Western culture were vastly interesting points. All in all, this book isn’t gripping or life changing, but it could be worth a skim for history buffs just for a different perspective. I recommend reading in a comfy chair, surrounded by many leather-bound books while sipping an old fashioned and occasionally spinning an antique globe. Smoking jacket optional.

 

 

Coffee City

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When discussing our upcoming move to Seattle last fall, there were consistently two comments from our friends and family. “Seattle!? It rains all the time there!” and “Oh, they’ll have some great coffee since that is where Starbucks started! “. We’ve since discovered that the weather is really pretty fantastic, some  of the best I’ve experienced living in the States. I wore my winter coat for about 6 days between November and January. Sure it rains sometimes, but more often than not the forecast that predicted 70% chance of rain all day is, in actuality, a crystal clear blue sky. And I happen to enjoy the occasional cozy, rainy, melancholy day. What I could not take any more, were the six month long, frigidly soul crushing ice baths that the Mid West calls “Winter”. You know in Game of Thrones, when Fryanyzne of House Cargartenthylisa whispers in abject fear  that “Winter is coming”?  The entire city of Chicago walks around like that from the end of September until the bitter, unceasing winds eventually cause them to become hermits or perpetually angry. bundled up white walkers.

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Also, Starbucks barely sells coffee anymore, and seems to now concentrate on selling chai with bits of real Oprah*. Suffice it to say, I wasn’t sure how being Starbucks’ origin city would mean that spectacular coffee would be flowing through its streets. But, I stand corrected since Seattle has some incredible coffee establishments. Some are ideal for working on a laptop all afternoon, some require a paperback and a few are best for bringing along nothing at all. Well, maybe a friend and some money. Read on for my favorites:

 

 

Slate Coffee Bar  

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetThis city has constantly surprised me with its affable and laid back vibe. In Chicago when people were friendly, I’d be suspicious. Like, “Why are we talking right now? What are you trying to get out of this conversation?” I know, I’m the worst. But seriously, it was rare to be chatty out and about at bars or coffee shops. But Seattle has made me less cynical. You can easily become a welcome regular and the people working usually take a few minutes to chat and are genuinely interested in connecting. Nowhere is this more evident than Slate Coffee Bar. I’ve only been here twice but Chelsea recognized me and even remembered that I had a food blog! Plus, their coffee is brilliant so I am now a devotee for life. The small space in Ballard can accommodate about 10-12 people  and I love to sit at the bar to see all the goings on. They love to chat about their coffees and the menu is extremely simple since their coffee needs no crazy embellishments. I suggest bringing just yourself and trying a tasting flight. You are in good hands with those baristas.

Analog Coffee

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This is literally across the street from my apartment, so they are probably used to seeing my Saturday morning disheveled self stumbling in for a to go cup to drink while I cook myself breakfast. With a simple coffee menu and a few snacks, Analog is an ideal spot to hipster watch and work for a couple hours. They provide killer tunes from their record player and have a nice selection of magazines, newspapers and comic books scattered about. I love their cold brew and have been known to enjoy a macchiato from time to time. I just wish they were open later than 6 pm!

 

Milstead and Co.

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Down the street from the Troll in Fremont, Milstead and Co. is roomy, light and airy. You just feel happy walking inside, as long as you can find a table. It can get a bit crowded sometimes. Their beans are from a few different roasters and it always makes me smile to see those familiar, red Intelligentsia bags. This is a good spot to work or read for a few hours on their rustic, pretty wooden tables. I also adore their gorgeous Coffee Plant artwork. I usually get an aeropress of whatever they recommend.

 

Vif wine and coffee

Vif-chalkboard

Up the street from the charming Book Larder and the perpetual line that is Paseo, sits a lovely cafe/bar with walls of windows. Vif  has a casual, luxurious feel that begs for a novel, light afternoon snack accompanied with a cup of coffee or glass of wine. Its morning, afternoon and snackette menu feels fancier than your normal breakfast sandwich and its wine shop is a nice browse when you need to stretch your legs. They often have wine tastings in their space, so just check their website if you are planning to go for a long while.

 

 

* Everybody gets a CHAIIII!!!!

 

The Bee’s Knees

Bees-Knees-Cocktail

 

I used to hate the taste of alcohol. Growing up it wasn’t around much and us kids would stare in shock when our parents had a glass of wine, which happened about once a year.

After I turned 21 and tried a few drinks, I’m deeply ashamed to say that my drink of choice for a while was a Smirnoff Ice : Cranberry Lime Splash. Horrifying I know. I said I was deeply ashamed ok!?

To get his girlfriend to appreciate the nuances of a good drink, and because I was probably embarrassing to be around holding this red monstrosity, Brandon started making some super citrusy cocktails for me to try. One of my favorites was a Bee’s Knees. This is a prohibition era drink, like most great cocktails are. Extremely simple, it’s comprised of gin, lemon and honey syrup. To make a batch of honey syrup, mix up equal parts honey and boiling water. It will keep in the fridge for a few weeks. My favorite gin to use is Death’s Door, but a much cheaper alternative is New Amsterdam. In an ice-cold fancy glass, garnished with a lemon twist, this cocktail will totally give you street cred. At least more than a Smirnoff Ice would.

 

 

Bee’s Knees

2 shots of gin

1/2 shot of lemon juice

1/2 shot honey syrup

 

Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice.

Shake vigorously for about 15 -20 seconds.

Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

Vanilla Rhubarb Cake

Vanilla-Rhubarb-Cake-Large

 

I gravitate towards tart flavors. I prefer my gin and tonic to contain an entire lime, occasionally leaving a tiny wedge for Brandon. To trick myself into drinking more water, I squeeze in a whole lemon’s juices to make it more interesting. Those biting, wince inducing flavors are some of my favorites. Not sure why. It could speak to my personality, but I doubt it.

 

A week or so ago, as we wandered the Broadway Farmer’s Market, I was excited to find out what was in season. I imagined the market to be overflowing in magnificent produce since it has felt like spring here for weeks. Alas, I was disappointed. There wasn’t much variety, though there was an over abundance of rhubarb and leeks. I grabbed a few of the deep pink stalks, tinged with green.  Good thing I had the foresight to gather rhubarb inspired recipes just a few days before. (See Pinterest board)

 

Since I’m a timid and lazy baker, I chose the simplest recipe. Pastry Affair’s  Rhubarb Vanilla Pound Cake  was just the ticket. Easy, with little mess and my kitchen happened to have all the necessary ingredients. I wanted to use my precious, snappy rhubarb wisely, and not allow it to get too sweet or boring. This cake provided a quiet backdrop to enhance the tangy rhubarb flavor. Topped with minted strawberries, this cake was a perfect spring dessert. Be sure to accompany with a cup of excellent coffee to get the full effect.

 

 Vanilla Rhubarb Cake

From Pastry Affair

 

Preheat the  oven to 350 degrees and grease a loaf pan. Or if you don’t have one (like me) you can use a wider cake pan, and you’ll just get a thinner slice of cake. Wash and cut up a 2-4 stalks of rhubarb into about 1/2- inch pieces. Mix with about 1/4 cup of sugar and cook in a small pot or frying pan until it just gets soft, should be just 5-7 minutes.

Mix 1/2 cup butter and 1 1/4 cups sugar until throughly mixed and light and fluffy. Add in one egg at a time , for a total of 3 eggs, and be sure to mix it in well. Add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste if you have that on hand. Add 1/3 cup of sour cream and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and mix well. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour until just mixed. Lightly stir in the rhubarb and its juices. Pour the batter into the pan, top with a sprinkle of sugar and bake for about 45-50 minutes.

 Enjoy warm from the oven or at room temperature.

Feta Salsa

Herbs

 

There is nothing like fresh, fragrant herbs to invigorate the senses. Their scent requires a closed eyed, deep inhale which invokes a sort of calm, even for just a moment. I have a tendency to maniacally thrust a handful of fresh basil under Brandon’s nose and demand he tell me anything that smells better. He usually sniffs obediently and obliges, with some deserved eye rolling.

Each herb has a distinct personality, and I enjoy finding ways to use them to enliven otherwise boring, normal meals. Whether it’s the fresh crunch of parsley, the posh spiciness of tarragon or a crisp mint sprig, all can bring your meal to the next level. To an 11. I’m also a sucker for pairing herbs and fruit, like those scrumptious French Toasts  from last summer with strawberries and basil or rhubarb and mint. Just gives it that extra flavor layer for punch.

 

Sliced-scallions

 

A few years ago, Chicago had it’s first Diner en Blanc and I scooped up two tickets just as they went on sale. Basically 1000 people dress up all in white, prepare a 3 course picnic dinner and are told where to meet the day of the event to sit down for a sort of gastronomic flash mob. You are supposed to bring your own small table and chairs , that must be white of course. Which meant we were frantically gluing white fabric on our black table and chairs that afternoon, because we are classy like that. Though our accessories weren’t elegant, I was determined that our food should be. But it also had to be transportable. We made a funky pasta dish for our main course and I wanted some sort of simple yet scrumptious spread with a crusty baguette for our appetizer. Smitten Kitchen’s Feta Salsa was just the ticket.

 

Diner-en-blanc

 

The Diner en Blanc was enormous fun. People, clad in white from all over the city, assembled under the Picasso statue in Daley Plaza and set up their meals for two. Some tables were quite plain while some had elaborate place settings with chandeliers and candlesticks. But I was quite happy with our table with a white sheet tablecloth and felt covered seats since we had this feta salsa. An entire bowl of this stuff was not nearly enough for the two of us. We devoured it, moaning our appreciations. Then, after the dinner I promptly forgot all about it.

 

feta-salsa

 

It popped into my head the other day when I was at a loss for what to make for dinner. I wanted something simple yet flavorful that would leave me enough for lunch the next day. Greedily snatching up 8 different kinds of herbs, I wracked my brain for something to make that would use as many as possible. Somehow the dormant memory of creamy, spicy Mediterranean tasting goodness worked it’s way to the front of my mind and I was off to find the creamiest feta in all the grocery store.

 

Chickpeas

 

 

To give this meal some crunch, I fried some za’tar spiced chickpeas while mixing up my feta salsa. Add them all to a warmed pita with some arugula and cucumber and that is dinner my friends! I do believe the flavors highlighted and melded and all the other requisite actions we require of food to give our taste buds pleasure. For my #notsaddesklunch the next day, I brought along an avocado to spread in the sandwich and ate the whole thing again.

 

Sandwich

 

 

 Feta Salsa

 

Combine a healthy amount of creamy feta with about 2-3 tablespoons of chopped flat leaf parsley and dill and 1-2 tablespoons of chopped mint and tarragon. Chop a couple scallions and throw those in. Taste as you go. You can always add more herbs so start with less. Rough chop anywhere between 1/4 – 1 cup of sun-dried tomatoes (depending on your preference) and add to mixture. I splurged a bit and got some packed in olive oil so they wouldn’t be dry.  Toss in some capers in. I’m not a fan of olives, but if you are, by all means use some kalamatas here. Add sea salt and cracked black pepper and a couple tablespoons of nice olive oil. Stir it up and taste. I chopped up 2 garlic cloves and just toasted them to add in as an experiment. You may want to drizzle some of the sun-dried tomato oil into the mixture as well. This is a very malleable concoction so make it your own!

 

Fried Za’atar Chickpeas

 

Heat up some oil (vegetable, grapeseed, olive etc) in a saute pan. Drain and rinse a can of chickpeas. Once the oil is hot, throw in the chickpeas and sprinkle with about a tablespoon of za’atar and some salt and pepper. Fry for about 8-10 minutes, stirring every so often. Keep an eye on them. You want them crispy and browned, but not burned. Take off heat to cool for a couple minutes, then consume!

Mama Foodie Visits

 

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I’m not the most friendly of people and daily need time where I interact solely with a book. Hi, my name is Abby and I’m an introvert.

 

However, since my family and friends are spread literally across the world, I become more amicable when we are given the chance to spend a short, concentrated dose of time together. I especially savor when family and friends visit me and I get to show off all my favorite spots. This is probably selfish, since I’m basically boasting about my discovering skills and impeccable taste. But they usually get some pretty amazing meals and since I’m quite witty and entertaining , it all works out.

A few weeks ago, Mama Foodie came visiting for a fleeting 48 hours, so we really had to make our dining choices count. Does any one else plan out their trips entirely around consuming food and drink? Well, we Cerquitellas do. It is all I’ve known, which is probably why I’m so confused when visiting other people and they have no idea where they will eat tomorrow’s mid-afternoon snack. You can’t leave these things to chance people!

 

Mom-at-Bar-Sajor

 

The Happy Food Dance Food Tour commenced after work on a Tuesday where we walked around a bit so she could feel what weather other than 80 degrees and sunny feels like. (My parents live in Dallas) Once I felt she was adequately chilled, we stopped by our neighborhood cocktail lounge’s happy hour. At Sun Liquor Lounge  Cale Green (real name, see below) whipped us up a couple of his delightful cocktails. A Last Word for me, a Green Point for Brandon and a Mojito for Mom.  We then strolled to my favorite Malaysian eatery, that window of enticing, mouthwatering aroma, Kedai Makan. (I’ve waxed poetic about it previously)  Bringing our roti and nasi goreng home, we chatted as she proceeded to surreptitiously peek into every cupboard and closet in my 500 square foot apartment. Mothers are curious creatures.

 

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The next day we met around noon to wander about Pike Place Market, where she took pictures of everything in sight and sighed over the vast edible displays. We shared some fish and chips inside the market along with a cold salmon sandwich with capers and lemon aioli. Absolutely scrumptious. I plan to pay a visit to that sandwich again in the near future. We chose a few cookies from a bakery and brought them into Seattle Coffee Works, where we wedged ourselves in the only two open seats and tried to hide the obvious wafts of powdered sugar from our contraband chocolate crinkles. We then wandered down to Pioneer Square, stopping at Watson Kennedy where we lusted after every knick knack in sight.

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After our chocolate crinkles and coffee, we were obviously in need of a snack. We tried some mojito gelato from Cafe Umbria which was incredibly fresh and vibrant. Sitting outside and gabbing, she noticed a gorgeous storefront across the way and went to investigate. Practically running back with a “borrowed” menu, she declared it was now time for wine and cheese. Turned out this place was Bar Sajor, which I’ve read much about and been dying to try.

Bar-Sajor

They were getting ready for dinner service, so I felt as if we were interrupting and didn’t belong. Still, we shared a glass of cava, with some bread, butter and a few local cheeses. Mama Foodie took pictures of everything in sight while I tried to pretend I didn’t know her.

Wine-and-cheese

 

I’m in love the look, and taste,  of this restaurant group since going to Sitka and Spruce for my birthday dinner. The London Plane is high on my list of places to spend an afternoon and I’m looking forward to returning to splurge for dinner at Bar Sajor. After this 3rd afternoon snack, we dodged raindrops to the bus and went home. We barely had time to drop off her purchases when it was time to leave for dinner. We took the scenic route to give ourselves time to digest before stopped at essex for a drink and appetizers while we waited for a table at Delancey next door.

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At essex we shared some small plates and then shared two pizzas next door, which were of course, delectable. Roasted broccoli on the white pizza was exceptional. Mama Foodie was the first to tell my older sister and I about Molly Wizenberg’s book and blog, so it was only fitting that we took her to Delancey to have some of my absolute favorite pizza. She was a fan to say the least.

 

Arabica-breakfast

 

Before her flight left the next morning, we had an early brunch at Arabica Lounge.  Their window display is always overflowing with decadent desserts, crusty croissants and meringues as large as your head. Again, I pretended to be absorbed in the menu while she took pictures of every inch of the cafe. We each gobbled up a croissant and shared a perfect fig and goat cheese omelette. She filled a bag with treats for later and also stopped by Crumble and Flake to add more to her collection. I wonder if my Dad and brother got to see any of these treats by the time she got home…

 

Some people are terrified of turning into their parents. And though we are quite different, food is where my mother and I are all too similar. My husband was amazed when he heard my mother after dinner the first night:

“I need a treat. I just need a tiny square of chocolate! Just one. I don’t need a whole bar! Don’t you have a small square of chocolate around!?” she whined as she practically thrashed around on the couch and looked about desperately.

“Word for word, this is exactly what I hear from Abby every night.” he said in a scared voice.

 

Why, Hello Robin

Cookie-Plate

Those look like some damn fine cookies right? They were. Don’t you worry about that.

Seattle is one of a few lucky cities to be a part of How About We (Brandon keeps calling it  “Why Don’t We Just Do That”).

How About We is a curator of dates for couples. I think they also have a singles dating site as well. I originally bought a 3 month membership for my brother and sister in law  as a Christmas present, and it turned out that it also signed Brandon and I up as members. Which is fine by me since that means we get a pretty fun free date once a month and discounts on the member dates, for like $10 a month.

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You can get $50 off for your first date, which we cleverly used at Olivar. This is where  I bravely tried mussels for the first time and while I loved the garlic butter sauce, someone please tell me who decided mussels were edible? Who first found the shell, opened it and thought “Yum! We should eat this! “?  I just don’t get it.

We used our monthly free date to have a Cookie Tasting at Hello Robin, since what is a date without food? Not a real date. Conveniently (or suspiciously) we arrived just as a batch of fresh chocolate chip cookies were pulled out of the oven. The smells that wafted throughout this charming shop enveloped us as we were invited to take a seat and offered coffee or tea.

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For our tasting we could choose 12 cookies from their selection of about ten or eleven different flavors. They had some staples like molasses and birthday cake and a few wildcards like a habañero orange chocolate chip and a crazy caramel pretzel one. I was partial to the wacky flavors myself.  I had room for 2, and we had to take the rest home with us for another day’s dessert.

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Next door is a fun little general store, Cone & Steiner,  which you can peek into from Hello Robin. I bet their customers stand by the window waving hello to Robin all the time.