Trophy Life

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This is more of an anticipatory heads up for those with a sweet tooth. And if you enjoy the benefits of retail therapy then it’s a perfect combination. Trophy Cupcakes is opening in U-Village.

I first learned of this in Rebekah Denn’s great devouring sEATtle blog; the much-lauded Trophy Cupcakes is slated to open in the spring. Their new location will be next to Pasta & Co. and Bryn Walker. This will be exciting for all those that enjoy a good cupcake. And for all the nannys and moms in Laurelhurst, Bryant, and Sand Point for when the kids have low blood sugar. For anyone really

Triophy Cupcakes has been in the Walllingford Center for several years now. And they have fans by the droves. In fact, Martha Stewart is a fan. Jennifer Shea of Trophy Cupcakes actually appeared on Martha’s show a few months back to celebrate cupcake week. Seattle represent.

They have a ton of flavors and my personal favorite is the Obamacake. The chocolate is rich and smoky but in balance with the creme frosting. I particularly like the cake aspect of Trophy’s cupcakes. Moist and springy like any good cupcake should be. The combination of the cupcake and frosting is also not too sweet, which shouldn’t give you sugar overload. (Well, this is what I’m telling myself.) Try a bunch of their flavors! But make sure to enjoy them! Appreciate these little works of art and let the flavors do their thing. They are about three bucks, so they’re by no means cheap. But these are treats not daily indulgences – unless that’s how you roll.

Now if only that location opened sooner…”Spring 2009″ can’t come soon enough.

Trophy Cupcakes and Party on Urbanspoon

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Barack Obama – Wine Drinker

With all of the Barack Obama adoration that has occurred in the past two weeks (or two years), it’s been interesting to learn more and more about the man. We know he’s a massive basketball fan. He loves his Blackberry and the Chicago White Sox. And he loves food – this is why I really like him. I’ve also been curious about what his favorites are (the dude loves chili and hot sauce, he really likes hot sauce). Now comes further word that he is an oenophile. Yup, our president loves to drink wine.

It’s been reported that Barack has 1,000 bottles in his wine cellar at his Hyde Park home in Chicago. 1,000! Clearly, Mr. President loves his wine, but sadly, the contents of his cellar are presently unknown. What is known is how much he enjoys the art of wine; in fact, he is probably the first president in a generation to love the stuff. Plenty of people in the industry are energized by this news. Because he is so influential, many industry folks feel that this can be a boon for the American wine industry and shed light on the quality of our wines. The American Wine Buyer is considered the epicenter of the wine world, and with wine surpassing beer in terms of sales, this could be the moment when wine breaks through it’s snobby veneer to be appreciated by a more mainstream audience. Don’t you think Barack can help wine break through this wall? Yes, we can!

Many people have suggested the types of wines that he should drink. My unbiased opinion is for Barack to partake in the finest wines that the state of Washington can produce. Syrah from Betz Family Winery or Gramercy Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon from Leonetti or Cayuse, Merlot, Riesling. I could go on and on with our great wines. However, the only domestic wines that have reportedly been served in the White House for lunch and dinner menus have been from California. Washington Wine Industry, you are on notice to get your wines in front of this man. Or this woman. You have at least four years to do it.

 

photo courtesy of Jess

Portland’s waffle trainer: Flavour Spot

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Streetfood is one of those things that can add swagger to a neighborhood. Funky and cool, streetfood joints add a unique touch through their food. If Seattle has one thing that it can improve on, it’s streetfood. There is one option (which is supposed to be awesome), but after that it’s a bunch of taco trucks. This is where Portland has us beat. Particularly in the Mississippi area- loaded with streetfood joints, I knew I had to try some. When I was there, it was a holiday and a few where closed; Tita’s Pista take on food from the Philippines is a place I would love to visit. But we ended up going to a place with a singular hook: waffle sandwiches. Dial me in for intrigue, The Flavour Spot was our place for lunch.

On the south end of Mississippi lies a corner spot occupied by Flavour Spot‘s trailer. The signs on the fence called out ice cream and the waffle sandwiches. Or as they liked to call it Dutch tacos. They had me at ice cream, but waffle sandwiches was the hook to get me in. As an appreciator of fun food combinations, of course I would give it a shot. Sign me up, I’m ready for lunch.

I love waffles. The texture, the crispyness, the shape, and how it’s a perfect vehicle for flavor. The little nooks and crannies holding butter and syrup . The potential to be topped with all sorts of good stuff. Like fried chicken. The good people at Flavour Spot do theirs a bit differently. They take the idea of the waffle and fold it up like a taco – now you have something to eat on the go.

The menu is certainly eclectic enough. Ultimately we went with the THB (Turkey, Havarti, Bacon) and the Butter & Powdered Sugar. The combination of turkey and havarti has always been a favorite of mine. I think it started in college with the grilled turkey and havarti sandwiches at The Hub. Right when I saw the THB on the menu, I knew it would be mine. And it was good. The melted cheese alongside the smoky bacon and turkey, all folded nicely into the sweet crisp waffle. And because it was streetfood we were easily on the go to take in the rest of the day.

The sugar and butter was a straight up treat. The waffle wrapping some hunks of butter and dusted with powdered sugar. This is pretty much breakfast in your hand. I can envision Portland hipsters having these as their breakfast du jour

This waffle swoon made me start thinking on the next big things in food. Many call 2008 as the year of bacon. What will be the same for 2009? Bacon was the perfect storm though. A bit bad for you, but oh so good for you. Easy to prepare, wonderful to smell, distinct, and it is a pantheon level food item. So it’s possible nothing else can come close. I wonder if waffles could be the next big thing?

Ok, I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself with that train of thought. I did enjoy my Dutch taco from Flavour Spot. In fact, it’s not too far from a friend’s house, I’m sure I’ll be visiting more often. And if there’s a vegan in your party, they’ve got you covered. A few other things to try on the menu; Ice Cream Sandwich, Sausage & Maple, MB9, make your own…

Flavour Spot on Urbanspoon

Seattle Happy Hour: Boat Street Cafe

Thank our good friends at City Stimulus for this bit of food info; Boat Street Cafe has announced their new happy hour.

Yup, Renee Erickson’s great little French spot is having a happy hour that runs from 5-7pm. I’m excited about this for a bunch of reasons. The food at Boat Street Cafe (and it’s sister restaurant Boat Street Kitchen) is excellent, so having the opportunity to get their food at a deal is not to be missed. Even if you can’t make it to the happy, go for dinner or brunch, Boat Street Cafe is one of the great Seattle restaurants. It’s also great because this happy hour runs a bit later than most. A lot of Seattle happy hours seem to end at 6pm. I don’t know about you, but I doubt I could get out of work, make it to Belltown (or wherever), find parking, and figure out my order by 6pm. Close to chronologically impossible.

So now we have the option of Boat Street Cafe. Renee’s restaurants are in a funky location on the west end of Denny Ave. where it meets up with Western. Parking can be a bit tricky. I’d look for parking along Western and the side streets. Note, the North side of Denny could be a hassle with the rush of people trying to get off of work.

Enjoy happy hour at Boat Street Cafe! Happy Hour runs from 5-7pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I’ll see you there; I’ll be the one indulging in duck fat fries, hangar steak, and oysters. Other things on the happy hour menu include bread  from Columbia Bakery & Oregon Butter, pate tartines, Nicoise olives, pickled figs with goat cheese, and more! Top this off with the drink deals (four bucks for a glass of Muscadet or Beaujolais; $18 for a bottle!) – and you have a great post work meet-up with some friends.

Boat Street Café / Boat Street Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Szechuan 99: My new favorite Chinese restaurant

Kung Hei Fat Choi! Next Monday is Chinese New Year, and as we start the year of the Ox, I’ll shine a light on a great little Chinese food spot you may want to celebrate the New Year with. I love Chinese food. Of all the world’s great cuisines, food from China is arguably my favorite. I attribute this to my Dad. Dim sum, Cantonese, Szechuan – he loved everything Chinese and this sense of nostalgia stays with me today when I remember hanging out with my Dad eating great food.

In my opinion, Seattle does have strong options for Chinese food. From the dim sum at Jade Garden, the bbq pork at Kau Kau, the ginger chicken at Tai Tung, and the dumplings at Judy Fu’s – we do have great Chinese food throughout our city. All of these restaurants have specialties that are a favorite for a reason, but it wasn’t until I went to Lynnwood to a place that could rival them and become my new choice pick. Say hello to Szechuan 99.

In fact, I didn’t even know it was a new, cool restaurant until a good food friend suggested it. Always loving the idea of trying new Chinese restaurants, I had to give it a shot. Being that Szechuan 99 is in Lynnwood, I took the recommendation for granted and never visited until recently. A Friday earlier in the month would’ve been my dad’s birthday and we wanted to celebrate him by visiting a Chinese restaurant, I’m glad we did. Continue reading

The First Chef of the United States of America

In November, the food world was aglow with who Barack and Michelle Obama would announce as the White House Executive Chef. I even pontificated on who it would be and thought of the myriad opportunities available to them. Plenty of folks though it would be a big name celebrity chef, someone who would make a splash. Ultimately it went to the person who already had the job. A Filipina by the name of Cristeta Comerford.

I had no idea that a Filipina was the executive chef to the White House. She has been a part of the food team since ’95 and Laura Bush announced her as executive chef in 2005. So that would make ‘Teta’ the first female executive chef, but also the first Filipina to hold the position as well. How cool is that?!

One of the many things that Laura Bush loved was that Cristeta could handle any type of meal. She was equally adept at cooking for five versus cooking for 500; the ability to adapt her menu and style is a strength. Her background and training was French, but she knew how to adapt, how to coax and make a great meal in any style. Think for a second about who she has cooked for. Bill and Hillary Clinton. George and Laura Bush. And I can’t even imagine who their guests might have been. Isn’t that a bizarre list? Each of the First Families probably had their favorite style of meal, yet Cristeta was able to handle them all! You know that Bill loved southern comfort food (Hillary was probably pro-salad and healthy). While the Bush’s had to be steak and potatoes people. Now Chef Comerford gets to be a part of the food identity of the Obama family.

I love the idea that Barack, Michelle, Malia, and Sasha could be having chicken adobo for dinner. And that the girls will find themselves craving lumpia or halo halo. It’s great that the Philippines have an opportunity to showcase our food. She’ll be able to play with the menu and have new palates to test. Now that there is a bit more spotlight on Chef Comerford, maybe Filipino food can get its due. Filipino’s across the country should be proud that one of our own has made it.

Nonetheless it is exciting that Teta will continue to be the White House chef. Her history and background in food is quite strong and being involved with the White House for 13+ years, she knows what the job entails. And without having to make a splash by naming a big-name chef, the Obamas did make a splash by shining a light on the chef who was already in the house.

When Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th President of our United States of America during the inauguration, it will indeed be a historic occasion. Most of us will remember that day, much as how we remembered the day he was elected. For another group of us, we’ll shine with pride over a girl from the Philippines, one of 11 brothers and sisters. She learned how to cook from her mother, was able to leave Manila, carve a life on her own in the states, and is the chef for the most powerful man in the world. Congratulations to you Chef Comerford, you are truly an American success story. Historic indeed.

-Update 2/1 – Ok, so it’s been announced that the assistant chef to the White House is Sam Kass. The good folks at Serious Eats dropped the knowledge.

Slurpin’ at Szechuan Noodle Bowl

The cover story to the recent Seattle Magazine is dedicated to Cheap Eats. With a focus on dinner for under $20 and lunch for under $10, it highlights a ton of places to get more bang for your dining buck. There is a little section for good deals in the International District and the determined folks at MSG150 listed out their faves, with Szechuan Noodle Bowl being one of them. Armed with this knowledge we headed out and gave Szechuan Noodle Bowl a shot.

At the intersection of Eighth and King, Szechuan Noodle Bowl has a modest little storefront with a yellow sign up top. Just looking at it from the outside, it’s similar to most of the places in the ID; straightforward and without pretense, most people would walk by it. Heck, I would if it wasn’t for the shoutout in Seattle mag. Stepping inside the place is modest and quaint with about eight tables and enough space to sit about 20 people.

The noodle soups are the way to go. And they are super tasty. What’s makes it great is they are under six bucks each. Holla. The soups have a ton of mouthfeel, strong beef notes, but still on the lighter side, and not at all heavy. We had the Original and the Szechuan. Chief difference with the Szechuan is that it had a brown broth with a bit more heat and spice to it. This spicyness typifies Szechuan cuisine and has a nice little kick. The bok choy that comes with it is super fresh and makes you feel better for having your vegetables. You get a few chunks of beef that are meltingly tender too. Good stuff.

And the noodles in the noodle soup? Awesome! Large and similar to udon, they are a good size and have a good chew to them. The size is nice because they help absorb the flavor of the broth and have a tasty beefiness to them. I ate my entire bowl vigorously.

We also had the pork and chive dumplings. Our server asked us if we wanted them hot & spicy – of course we will! They come to the table steaming hot, so be careful. My tip; let them hang out for a minute or three. This time will let them absorb some of the hot and spicy liquid they are swimming in, which has good notes of vinegar and provides a nice bite to complement the dumplings. And you get ten for under six bucks!

I haven’t always loved soup, but in a city like ours, with options galore, from pho to tom yum, chowder, cioppino, ramen and noodle soup, I can now change my tune. I love soup and places like Szechuan Noodle Bowl help deepen this appreciation for the simple but perfect execution of broth and ingredients called soup.

Szechuan Noodle Bowl on Urbanspoon