Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Summer Wins!

Hello, long lost readers. I'm traveling tomorrow, bound for Canada to meet my dearest friend's new baby girl and eat some Canadian fare, (look out Tim Horton's). Today, I'm gathering my druthers, my wool socks and the most notable dine-outs from the last two months to put together a catsup episode, so we can pretend I didn't fall out of your newsfeed for the last two months. Summer is distracting up here. There's really no time to sit down and write you delicious love letters every week.

We'll begin with my salad days. A period during which I only ate salad to combat an infection, it was a fresh, crunchy and lucid few days. The salad here pictured is a pile up of withering vegetable drawer elegance - nearly dead strawberries, bell pepper, cucumber, broccoli and a sprinkle of sunflower seeds. The process: mince a clove of garlic, some fresh fennel feathers, a half teaspoon of oregano, a shower of balsamic and a crank of pepper. Rough up your strawberries in the mixture and let it sit a while. The flavors will seep into the berries and exercise your patience, which is also good for infections. Add some bite sized roughage and get down.

I'm a fan of the home salad bar, because those moments of whimsical counter top invention can really turn my day around, but keeping those ingredients green can be a challenge. Luckily, just down the street is Cactus, a southwest kitchen with my new favorite, the watermelon salad. Available for a limited time at a snobby southwest kitchen near you, it's spending its lamentable last few days of summer making me its slave. Cactus adds watercress and radish, with small crumbles of cotija, and so far is my favorite. Be sure to try Poquito's version, with mint, jicama, zippy little slices of serrano and huge cubes of queso fresco. If you're bored with salad, their totally gorgeous patio can offer prime snob-watching, huge platters of tostadas and any number of ridiculous cocktails, like El Dude - the Mexican caucasian made with tequila and horchata. Yes, horchata. Did I mention they have fried grasshoppers? Something for everyone.

Cactus on Alki

Poquitos in Capitol Hill

Totally irrational suspicion of square watermelons.
Also impressive, Cafe Mox' spinach/prociutto/chickpea crouton salad. It paired well with a bright vinaigrette, a long game of Ticket to Ride, and just-right vanilla Italian soda.  

The Outsider's Bean Dip

It's the summer of salads, bright, sun-slathered patios at happy hour, and any taste of Texas I can get. One notable patio is deep in the dark recesses of The Outsider. When I wasn't resenting my waitress, I was enjoying the bountiful trellises, fiesta ware, and sharp decor. The bean dip was smooth and affordable,and when we'd finished the chips, the fried platanos took over. My friend had the rum punch, which was divine, but they'd just run out of it so I ordered a Moscow mule, which was a little weak, and when I asked the waitress to look into it she had nothing to offer, and then avoided me until she decided I was ready for the check.
"Is this thing on?"
Cool. I've avoided people before. And I understood when they tipped me accordingly. And the world goes 'round.

Sometimes you just have to pick yourself up, plant yourself in a booth at Skillet and pretend the check won't come if you just keep ordering cocktails, which is actually exactly the way things work. At happy hour, each drink is still about $10, but when they're pouring Tito's for a homesick Texan, money is a distant, laughable threat. Really though, do you know what they're doing over there? Cucumber, cilantro, and Tito's vodka with a splash of maraschino. Yea.

Bacon included.
Good. But then they drop the bacon bloody mary on you. What they call bacon is more of a sweet, smoky, brisket reduction, mashed together in a paste.  Throw in some olives, celery, capers and bacon, drown it in bloody mary, salt the rim with some fairy dust and you're there. You may be saying, YES, more bacon in everything or NO, I like my drinks with drinks in them. Fine. Dare I ask how you take your fries?
Let's talk about poutine, that monumental invention from, you guessed it, Canada. We've talked about it before, but none of that matters now. Because Skillet's gonna sit you down and make you some.

Hey, angel.

I could go on and on about Skillet, but you don't have time. They just opened up a satellite counter in Seattle Center so if you're allergic to Capitol Hill, you have some options. Also of note at Seattle Center is Pop Gourmet's new kiosk. Serving up our POPular gourmet flavors, (Chocolate Salted Caramel or Mumbai Delight, anyone?) it's the best way to get your popcorn fix without driving to Renton. What's that? You go to KuKuRuZa popcorn downtown? Well, if you want to fight Pike Market's overflow and look into the dead eyes of the girl working the counter there, by all means eat their inferior corn.

When it comes to sandwiches, Capitol Hill's Honey Hole has the lock down on the one spot with the most fool-proof $11 sandwich selection. Bill ordered the Waverider, delicious, yes, and I had the Fast Eddie, a stack of tri-tip steak, pepper jack, sauteed steak, grilled onions, sweet peppers and aioli. Just looking at the menu stirs this song up in my heart. So does tying my shoes, though. It's really an all-purpose number good for any occasion. Thank you, Mr. Penner.
Fast Eddie

Grilled Havarti at Norm's
Fremont has  Norm's Eatery & Alehouse. As we sat down I realized it was a dog bar, open to dogs, with occasional barking and dog business. I ordered the grilled havarti and veggie sandwich, which was good, but Bill's pastrami was better.The waiter was a total babe, kind of a rom com hottie with Hey Dude confidence, and while he wasn't tending bar served our table of seven with purpose and an easy smile. We ordered a few 40oz pbrs, the house specialty that formerly came to your table dressed in the traditional paper sack, but these days seems to have outgrown in kitchy presentation. Surely, it wasn't claiming to be practical. It doesn't keep your beer cold, shield your hand from unpleasant frost or hide the fact that you probably have another one waiting in the cooler in your friend's backseat. At Norm's, that backseat is under the bar and all you have to do is make eyes at the bartender and promise to pay another $3 to get one. Vicky, this place is for us.

A wedding (catered masterfully by Food Muse Inspirations) took us to Port Townsend, home to Washington's Best Sandwich, according to Food Network. They claim that Siren's Pub makes a grilled salmon sandwich to rival all other sammies in the state. Don't be fooled, savvy sammichers. This is just an oversized piece of good local salmon, grilled and seasoned with competence and placed on a demi baguette that won't fit in your mouth. The worst part? In trying to manage each bite you're in danger of dropping prized pieces of fish to the floor, which was my number one complaint. Each component of this sandwich was delicious, but needed to be resized and remarried. And for the record, NOT the best Washington has to offer. That sandwich deserves a post all its own, and will be featured here when I'm ready.
"...come and walk with us!
A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk...

Being a port, everywhere in P.T. has fresh seafood. Before we left Siren's Pub we had a round of Oyster shooters, available with or without pepper vodka, and they were the perfect farewell to our weekend getaway.

Looking back, my one regret is not getting the Salmon Chowder at Better Living Through Coffee, P.T.'s premier fundamentalist espresso bar. I enjoyed my kombucha, but the snickerdoodle tasted like pizza. It's the little things, right? See you soon!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh gah, Skillet. How delicious is that place. And I'm so excited for your Canadian adventure! Give those gals and guy a big hug for me! I now need to eat a second dinner after reading your post.