Hearts of Palm

I’ve been noticing hearts of palm on more and more local menus. And why not? It’s delicious, pretty to look at, and healthy. But I was conflicted, I remember having a breakfast last year with a gardener and she was mentioning that when eating hearts of palm, the entire tree gets harvested. Well, in this green world we can’t allow for this! So why are restaurants using it so much? I’m on the case.

In my relentless quest for information, I knew there had to be more to the story about hearts of palm and how it’s obtained. And in the case of hearts of palm, there is a fair bit of debunking. It is true though, wild hearts of palm, when harvested will kill the entire tree. However, there is a cultivated hearts of palm tree, also called the ‘peach palm,’ which has stems that grow off and are eaten and allows the mother tree to live on. It’s also grown in Hawaii and has become a major crop for our friends in the Pacific Ocean.

You’ll notice hearts of palm from it’s eggshell white hue and delicate flavor. Lots of cooks like to use hearts of palm because it doesn’t discolor when cut, provides a nice crunch to a dish, and for many is known as a fancy-pants food ingredient (some call it millionaire’s salad). You’ll notice hearts of palm jarred in oil at the the grocery store and you’ll also notice it on many menus throughout town.

The myth of sushi and pregnancy

My friends Robin and Mark are expecting their second kid in the fall. Of course, very exciting and it’s cool that Marjorie will now have a playmate. I did have a concern however; Robin is a sushi freak and I off-handedly mentioned that she’ll be without the good stuff for the next 36 odd weeks. Pretty much as soon as I messaged her I thought that this wasn’t correct. Well, Robin corrected me; that sushi is perfectly fine for expectant mothers. Now it’s my turn to shed some light on this myth. Sushi is okay for pregnant mothers.

Robin pointed me to this article by Steven Shaw in the New York times. In it, he brought up some good points about sushi. In Japan, sushi has been a part of the dining culture for generations and they seem to be doing fine. A big point that was brought up was that for some, the matter of avoiding sushi during pregnancy was a bit of a scare tactic, started as a safety measure forsaking a bit of logic.

I’m sure that there are some things to be mindful of when eating sushi and if you’re pregnant, but I’m just as sure that you can’t take things at face value without some research. That’s what I’m here to help with. I’m by no means an expert of food nutrition for expectant mothers, but hopefully I can be another resource so food that is so beloved won’t be avoided.

Of course, there is a bit of logic involved with this too. Don’t eat sushi everyday! This goes without saying; enjoy it. And why burn yourself out on something that love you already? It’s known that the larger fishes (tuna, swordfish, etc) have the higher levels of mercury, so be mindful of that. Secondly, go to restaurants that you are already comfortable with and have high cleanliness levels. Lastly, if you worry about who is handling your food, sit up at the sushi bar. This makes for one of the best sitting at the bar occasions. You can see the level of precision that a sushi master has for their craft. That way you will know exactly what you’ll be eating. And I’m sure it’ll be delicious.

Basically, do your research before you fly blindly into believing what you’ve ‘heard or read somewhere’. It’s like those high-fructose corn syrup commercials that try to debunk the outcry against HFCS. A bit audacious, but they do bring up a good point. Do your homework. I’m not the final voice and I don’t want to be; I just want to be another resource for food information. Talk to your doctor, research, figure out what’s best for your body. Ultimately it’s your choice, not someone elses. Besides, almost anything you eat has a chance to make you sick. Seriously, almost everything has a chance to hit you up something awful.

Homegrown – new sandwich shop in Fremont

There is a new entry to the stretch of Fremont Ave’s restaurant row: Homegrown. What is it? A great little sandwich shop that will fit nicely into the aesthetic and vibe of Fremont.

Located in Sonic Boom’s old spot, Homegrown fits nicely amongst the others for those looking to grab a bit to eat. With Tawon Thai, Yak’s Teriyaki, Blue C Sushi, and Lucky Pho a part of the group, Homegrown provides the sandwich portion to the plot of land between 34th and 35th. It’s like a United Nations of food for Seattle-ites to love.

Got the first heads up on Homegrown in a DailyCandy email that was forwarded to me the day they opened. Gotta love that girlie email for all the tidbits of info they drop. And Homegrown does have a lot of interesting aspects to it. First off, they are a great sandwich shop. Secondly, they follow strict guidelines to be organic, local, and sustainable. Lastly, the energy, decor, and vibe of the place fall into place naturally. Add all of these things together and you have a great place to grab a good sandwich where it feels like it’s already part of the fabric of Fremont.

Stepping in you’ll see the north wall that lists the menu and all of the relevant details. Homegrown does hot and cold sandwiches, salads, a kids menu, soup and a few sides. For the sandwiches we grabbed the grilled cheese and flank steak. We also tried the crab cake salad too. I enjoyed the salad, because all the components (greens, fennel and apple slaw with dill, and vinaigrette) were in great balance with the warm crab cake.

And the sandwiches were delicious! The grilled cheese captured gourmet points with its melty gruyere, Beecher’s flagship, a hit of mustard and aioli, and carmelized onions – well executed and my tastebuds appreciated it. The flank steak was a work of art. The interaction with the steak, portabello, blue cheese, caramelized onion, and chimichurri were perfect. Nothing overpowered the other, and with ingredients like those it’s easy to go overboard. This is definitely something to order.

Another thing that I enjoyed at Homegrown was that while you knew it was a sandwich shop that truly aims for sustainability, it doesn’t try to wallop you over the head with it. Part of their chalkboard indicates where their food comes from and whether it is organic and sustainable, but the actual menu doesn’t peddle the information as I’m sure you’ve seen on menus around town. This is my impression of course, but I think the folks at Homegrown just want you to enjoy a really good sandwich, which happens to be made with quality ingredients.

A word to the wise though – if you’re looking for Homegrown on the web, make sure to enter their ‘eathomegrown.com‘ address. Use all of that, because if you just do it without the ‘eat’ you’ll land at a site that is definitely not about sandwiches. You’ve been warned.

Homegrown Sandwiches on Urbanspoon

Live from Sea-Tac!

Currently waiting to see if our flight to Alaska will happen – I’m sitting inside Sea-Tac’s Pacific Marketplace. Interesting place to grab something to eat.

I find it interesting that these restaurants are doing their full menu. Because of course people will want fish ‘n chips at 6 in the morning. At least there are choices. I ended up at Kathy Casey’s spot and had a cheddar and bacon strata. Basically, a softball-sized bread pudding starter. Pretty good. And I like that it’s from a local food icon. If you haven’t been she has a great shop in Ballard worth a visit.

But if that doesn’t float your boat – Wendy’s, Ivar’s, and Qdoba are available. I still wish Cinnabon were in here.

The glory of rillettes

A bit of disclosure; my doctor told me that I have high cholesterol and I need to cool it to make some changes. This news is obviously a blow to any food lover, and it requires me to be more strategic in my eating. Heeding his advice, I will be smarter and more mindful of what I’m eating. There are however a handful of things that I will not cut out. I’ll just eat less of them. One of those things is rillettes. I’ll have those in any way possible and there is no doctor that will hold me back from my love of this decadent meaty treat.

For those that aren’t too familiar, rillettes are a meat that has been cooked down in fat until it becomes meltingly tender and spreadable. Spiked with herbs and spices, it’s like a meaty paste, but much more delicious than I’ve described. If you see it on a menu and with friends, order it; you’ll all love it. Rillettes are available with all sorts of different ingredients; pork is traditional, but you can also find duck and salmon on the regular.

I still remember my first rillette experience. It was at Café Presse a few years ago. I didn’t know what to order, so I went with the ‘Pork Rillette’. I was expecting a pork sandwich because anything with pork is good. Out comes my rillette sandwich – a crusty baguette with this meat spread slather throughout the middle. I was slightly taken aback until I bit into it. It was the essence of the pork at its most basic. The flavor was pure comfort; enveloping, rich, and bold. I loved it and was glad I took the leap of faith in something I had no idea about. But isn’t this the beauty of food? To explore and be surprised. I knew I was in good hands at Presse and they didn’t let me down.

Now I remember all of sorts of rillette experiences. Like the time I had a duck rillette with pickled rhubarb from Chef Dustin at Art of the Table. That was a bite of heaven if I ever had one. Or the time when we didn’t know what to have for dinner, but we did have a small jar of pork rillette in the fridge. Dinner will be ready soon. I also love that rillettes are available around town. Jenny and Anson at Phinney Ridge’s Picnic have jars of salmon and pork rillettes for $9 each. And they are delicious! The only tough part with eating rillettes is waiting for them to get up to room temperature. Patience is a virtue and moments like this are when your virtue gets tested.

Although rillettes aren’t ‘good for me,’ they are totally good enough for me. Now I need to run a 5K to leverage this indulgence.

March Madness begins: Protein Pick ’em


March Madness begins today and with all the excitement surrounding the games, I wanted to fill you in on a tasty little bracket surprise of a tourney that I just found out about via Serious Eats – Meat Madness. This year is the premier of the 32-meat face off with four regions contending for the title of Best Protein. Red meat, poultry, pork and seafood battle it out, and your pick can be based on a number of factors: taste, cost, convenience, prestige, or flavor.

My thoughts; Bacon is the odds on favorite, but it’ll be fun to see an upset in that region. I think Ribs and Duck are underdogs. But really can there be any losers to a tournament like this? It’ll be interesting to see the bracket develop.

Who will reign supreme?

Photo courtesy of SoSoGood blog

Pig Roast at Seattle Wine Outlet: 3/22

Quick event reminder: this Sunday, from 11 to 5 both Seattle Wine Outlet locations will be having their Fourth Annual Pork Roast. That’s right, free food and wine pourings. There will be pork from the ID’s Kau Kau, wine specials throughout the day, and pourings of the wine deals offered. Couple this with the opening weekend of March Madness, and this makes for an awesome Sunday.

I’ve written a few posts on the coolness Richard Kinssies’ Seattle Wine Outlet . and these events are evidence of that. After getting to know Richard, it’s easy to recognize that his enthusiasm is contagious. He loves wine, loves to entertain and loves sharing deals. Richard’s a cool dude that loves what he does, supporting him at events like this is our way of saying thanks.

For this pig roast, both the Interbay and SoDo locations will be serving the grub. Before it was just the Interbay store, but with the expanded SoDo location, now there will be two parties. And the SoDo spot will be partying with their neighbors Party Zone and Krispy Kreme for deals. Mmm, doughnuts.

Sign up to be on Richard’s mailing list! You’ll find out about his events like his lamb roast, sausage roast, salmon roast, tasting classes…

Photo courtesy of John Granen and Sunset