Category Archives: US

Seattle – Poke Contest

There has been an explosion of poke places in Seattle in the last year. Seems like there are as many poke places as there are Starbucks, even Costco always has 3-4 versions on sale. Three of the 12 contestants were actually poke restaurants at the competition and didn’t stray too far from what they offer in stores. The other nine restaurants were a bit more creative, my favorite was Japonnesa’s since it had a good amount of heat and the tortilla it was served on was an interesting addition.

DSC00828_edited

Seattle Fish Guys – tuna with a bit of roe and pineapple

DSC00830_edited

Trace – albacore, pickled onions, macadamia

DSC00832_edited

Kim Jong Smokehouse – albacore, smoked sweet onion, pickled mango, lime, ssamjang

DSC00834_edited

Seastar – ahi and shrimp, maui onion, wakame, yuzu, soy, chili, tobikko

DSC00836_edited

Poke Wai – kampachi, ride wine wasabi, sesame annatto powder, hearts of palm

DSC00838_edited

Kama’aina Grindz – ahi and salmon with pulled pork, taro chips

DSC00840_edited

goPoke – salmon, chilis

DSC00842_edited

Ma’ono – Oyster, chilis

DSC00844_edited

Japonessa – ahi and salmon

DSC00846_edited

Ikina Sushi

DSC00848_edited

Heartwood Provisions – yellowtail, asian pear, basil, lime, crispy quinoa

DSC00849_edited

Advertisements

Seattle – Westward

We finally got to dine at Westward thanks to Renzell. Cashed in  some of my points for this lovely four course meal. We started with an oyster shucking class and learned a bit how the various places around Washington are affected by the water they’re grown in. We’re so far North don’t need to worry much about the “R” rule when eating oysters, we get to enjoy them year-round. Everything was incredibly fresh and the wine flowed freely, perhaps a bit too freely.

DSC00815_edited

Chips & Dip – tonnato, capers

DSC00816_edited

Manila Clams – spring onion, black garlic, rainier beer

DSC00817_edited

Braised Lamb Shoulder – tzatziki, flatbread, mint salad

DSC00819_edited

Strawberry Shortcake

Lummi Island – Willows Inn

For K’s birthday we made the short drive back to Lummi Island just over two years since our first visit. While Chef Wetzel was not in the kitchen this weekend, his team kept standards high and I’d say this meal was better than our first visit. Only five of the 19 courses were repeats and I’m glad two of them were the sablefish doughnuts and smoked salmon. A few of the dishes were different takes on the same ingredients, the spot prawns were grilled rather than cooked in rock salt and the shrimp paste with the heads were amazing. The crab brain instead of chicken drippings for the bread course was also a luxurious upgrade. The aged venison was better in flavor and the smaller portion was also good, the little bit of tendon served with it was succulent. Of the new dishes the geoduck, tostada and charred fins were amazing, I’m really glad to see the team pushing their boundaries.

DSC00653_edited

Toasted Kale Leaves: truffle, rye

DSC00656_edited

Sidestripe Ceviche: rhubarb

DSC00657_edited

Blue Clams: black radish

DSC00660_edited

Savory Doughnot: black cod

DSC00661_edited

Smoked Mussel

DSC00663_edited

Native Oysters: wildcress

DSC00667_edited

Chillled Hakurei Turnip Soup: caviar

DSC00668_edited

Lightly-Cured Rockfish: bone broth

DSC00671_edited

Grilled Geoduck

DSC00673_edited

Spot Prawns: Shrimp head paste

DSC00675_edited

Smoked Sockeye

DSC00677_edited

Aged Venison Leg: tendon

DSC00679_edited

Herb Tostada

DSC00682_edited

Bread: crab brain

DSC00684_edited

Charred Black Cod Fins

DSC00685_edited

Toasted Birch Branches

DSC00688_edited

Quince and Candied Rosemary

DSC00690_edited

Nootka Rose Petals

DSC00692_edited

Island Berries and Elderflowers

This time we had breakfast at the Inn before catching the ferry back to the mainland. While it was very good and more than we could eat, I felt it was a bit overpriced compared to dinner, which is cheap in comparison to similar restaurants in NYC/SF/Chicago.

DSC00695_editedDSC00696_edited

San Francisco – Monsieur Benjamin

For our last meal in SF, I wanted to try the one Corey Lee restaurant I had yet to experience. Moneieur Benjamin is the most straight forward of the three serving up traditional French bistro food.  After some big meals outside SF with friends we decided to go fairly light. The escargots were my favorite since it went beyond the usual butter and garlic preparation. The bone marrow was chef Lee’s homage to Blue Ribbon in NY which was the first restaurant he worked in, unfortunately while the bacon jam was good it didn’t hold up to the oxtail marmalade served at Blue Ribbon. Our main was very tender and had good flavor but was overly sweet, even after dumping lots of salt and pepper on it I wanted to ask for some hot sauce to balance out the dish.

For dessert walked a few blocks to Smitten Ice Cream for some extremely rich dessert.

DSC00609_edited

Escargots Bordelaise: mushroom duxelles, garlic parsley

DSC00610_edited

Marrow Bones “Blue Ribbon”: bacon marmalade, country bread

DSC00611_edited

Tripes a la Provencale

DSC00613_edited

Brandy

DSC00616_edited

Chocolate

DSC00618_edited

Brown Sugar

San Francisco – SPQR

After a long day of wine touring and driving we wanted something a bit on the lighter side but still interesting. SPQR is probably best known for their pasta but it was my least favorite dish, olives dominated a bit too much but if taken out of the equation the pasta and seafood tasted fantastic. The crab was perfectly crispy and paired well with the salad. The bun was my favorite, it was basically a char siu bao with the filling on top rather than inside. Of the four types of preparations on the pork, we all agreed the porchetta was incredible, nice amounts of fat and succulent meat.

DSC00597_edited

snow pea, bufala ricotta, marinated mushroom, meyer lemon, “cover crop” and horseradish

DSC00598_edited

venere rice crusted soft shell crab, “funghi sott’ olio”, persian cucumber and salad burnet

DSC00599_edited

smoked wagyu shortrib bun, beef verjus

DSC00601_edited

squid ink spaghettia, red wine braised octopus and mussel “puttanesca”, black olive crumb

DSC00602_edited

“degustazione” of suckling pork, charred onion, blenheim apricot and smoked bacon sauce

DSC00603_edited

dark chocolate and raspberry

Healdsburg – Bravas Bar de Tapas

Instead of heading to Napa for wine tasting as we normally do went to Sonoma instead. Of the four wineries we visited our favorite was the most rustic, no fancy tasting room and no other guests. Just two people with a small bar counter to the side in the lone barn housing the production equipment and barrels of wine.

Of course for this drinking marathon needed a good base to start they day and Tartine rose to the occasion but we did have to wait a bit for the chocolate croissants to come out of the oven.

DSC00552_edited

Croissant, ham & cheese croissant, chocolate croissant, morning bun

After our first two stops went to the quaint town of Healdsburg for some tapas. As usual I ordered with my eyes and when the calamari came we were only able to eat half, but I overhead the table next to us discussing how good it looked so I just picked up the plate and gave it to them. They all agreed with me that it was the best thing they had there although the foie gras bocadillos were also amazing.

DSC00578_edited

crab toast, chicken & ham & cheese croquetas

DSC00580_edited

Clams: cava, garlic, chili flakes

DSC00581_edited

Foie gras, crispy serrano ham, orange marmalade

DSC00582_edited

Crispy pig ears, anchovy vinaigrette

DSC00583_edited

Calamari, salsa verde

San Francisco – Quince

K and I decided earlier this year to head to SF to visit friends and eat, too bad most of our friends went out of town for the long weekend. On the upside when my parents heard they invited themselves along as it’s their 45th wedding anniversary and would be paying for a fancy meal. I wasn’t going to complain.

The meal lasted over three hours and we could barely move once it was over. I somehow had room to eat most of their mignardises. Everything was exceptionally good although I felt the halibut wasn’t anything special by itself and one had to get lot of sauce for it to taste great. My favorites were the asparagus, especially when dipping the mozzarella filled bread in the excess sauce, and the garganelli.

DSC00526_edited

Canape: gougere, onion rings, pea pillow, parmesan marshmallow and two things I don’t remember anymore

DSC00527_edited

Trumpet mushroom, salt cod fritter

DSC00528_edited

Tsar Nicoulai Caviar: brioche, kohlrabi, smoked sturgeon

DSC00529_edited

Dungeness Crab: asparagus, green almond, green strawberry

DSC00530_edited

Springtime in Bolinas

DSC00532_edited

DSC00534_edited

White Asparagus: morel, vin jaune

DSC00535_edited

DSC00537_edited

Garganelli: maine lobster, english pea, scallion

DSC00538_edited

Halibut: fiddlehead fern, wild ramp, chanterelle mushroom

DSC00539_edited

Foie Gras

DSC00540_edited

Agnolottini: squab, fava bean

DSC00541_edited

Tortellini

DSC00543_edited

Milk Fed Lamb: potato, nepitella, black garlic

DSC00544_edited

Grilled lamb

DSC00546_edited

Verjus: rose geranium, lemongrass

DSC00547_edited

Strawberry: smoked coffee caramel, meringue

DSC00549_edited

Gift for their anniversary

DSC00550_edited

Mignardises: lemon bar, shortbread cookie, canele, ginger truffle, financier

DSC00551_edited