The impressive excessiveness of Williams-Sonoma

I wrote this post, mostly, to get something off my chest, but to also express an appreciation. Every so often, the Williams-Sonoma catalog graces itself in my mailbox. Though I haven’t patterned the timing for when it comes, I look forward to receiving this little food magazine for a couple of reasons: (1) it’s loaded with fun and interesting tidbits of information, and (2) it has some of the most preposterous kitchen items.

  • Fun, food information:

The pages of each catalog are littered with little drops of info that I never knew I wanted to know. In fact, I first learned about grilled chocolate sandwiches in an issue of Williams-Sonoma. They also have an exclusive deal with Thomas Keller to sell his kit detailing how to make Ad Hoc’s fried chicken at home (though it is sold out and no longer available).

As of late, what I have really enjoyed in their recent catalog are their highlights on about a dozen chefs around the country. These chefs are on their career upswing of creativity and style and the catalog gave quick hits of info on each of the chefs, their perspectives, and a recipe to boot. From Gabriel Rucker of Portland’s Le Pigeon, to John Besh of August (amongst others) in New Orleans, to Michelle Bernstein of Miami’s Michy’s. I’ve enjoyed reading about all these folks and now I have a few more restaurants to add to my list.

  • The utterly ridiculous kitchen tools:

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Wine Tasting with Stephen Tanzer 2.0

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In late-July I had the fortunate opportunity to drink some of the best wines from Washington with one of the best wine critics in the industry; that’s right, the second year in a row to have an evening of drinking wine with Stephen Tanzer of International Wine Cellars.

I went to this event last year and loved every minute of it. Last summer it was at the brilliant Art of the Table and I remembered all of those details vividly. The wine, the food, the conversations; at the time, my wine knowledge was just starting to come into its own. I was like a giddy kid on his first day of college; excited to get started with this next chapter, but humbled enough to know I had plenty to learn.

Fast forward a year later, and I know a bit more, but there is still so much I can glean. That’s why I was just as excited for this year’s tasting with Steve. The event was at Tom Douglas’ Palace Ballroom, a bit more spacious and a few more people were able to attend. One of the cool things at this year’s tasting was that four winemakers were invited to the event; Bob Betz of Betz Family Winery, Mike Januik of Januik Winery, Ben Smith of Cadence Winery, and Andrew Rich of Andrew Rich Wines. I thought this was really cool because they were able to share their expertise, insight, and stories as their wines were poured.

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Eating and Tweeting, Part Two

As you may or may not have noticed, I haven’t been the most diligent of food bloggers. I’ve got topics in mind (which I’ll delve into in the coming days), but just haven’t gotten over the hump. There was factor in my world that moved me away from blogging, and it’s a topic I’ve already covered; Twitter is pretty addicting. And awesome.

When I wrote about Twitter before, it was more of a primer into the really cool people that have a pretty distinct voice in the world of food. That is still the case, but as I spent more time with the site, the more I realized that it had a vibrant and social aspect of it that I didn’t expect. Twitter has deepened my appreciation of food, but it’s also made me raise the bar into what I know and what I don’t know.

The sense of community and support within the Seattle food scene is alive and prevalent in the world of Twitter. I’ve touched on the fact that I love the local blogging community, but now that I’ve delved into the world of Twitter, the relationships and networking have been empowering and amazing. From cool events, newsbriefs, restaurant gossip, my respect and awareness of the food game has grown by leaps and bounds. For that I can thank Twitter. I love the fact that Twitter is this on-going conversation whose fabric is woven amongst so many different people.

When I tell friends about Twitter, most don’t get it, much like how people didn’t get ‘Facebook’. But the thing about the world of Twitter is that it’s a vibrant stream of cool, fun, irreverent, and informal information. There is a ton of latitude within those guidelines and it’s interesting to see how each person plays within that framework. The always-great Rebekah Denn even touched on the way that Twitter has elevated the local food scene.

If you’ve been apprehensive, don’t be! It’s a great information source and you’ll start to think that Facebook is so 2007. Enjoy Twitter and the world of food that lives on it. In fact, Mashable (a great social media resource) recently posted about the food people on Twitter with distinct and unique voices. Check it out and start following these folks. Heck, Serious Eats wrote about food bloggers on Twitter last fall, another place to listen in on the food conversation. I’ll see you Twitter soon, I’m @proncis.

Celebrating National Doughnut Day in Seattle

When I was in high school my diet pretty much consisted of milk, cookies, and donuts. How I was able to clock in at 165 for those years is still a scientific miracle. If you were to look back at foods that you could identify with at points of your life, my teenage years would include donuts, college = teriyaki, post-college = unbelievable amounts of beer. And pizza. The last few years? Still to be determined. Donuts brought me to where I am today and they are part of my food DNA. Which is why I’m excited to find out that next Friday is National Doughnut Day.

It took the good folks at Seattlest to bring to my attention that Tangletown’s own Mighty-O will be celebrating National Doughnut Day by giving out free mini donuts. (Doughnuts and donuts are the same thing; the shorter version is pretty much colloquial; both are fine. Stop being uptight, no one likes a grammar nerd.) Of course, this is cool and free food is the best kind.

I love donuts and it’s awesome that Seattle has two of the finest purveyors of donuts around; Mighty-O and Top Pot. What’s great is that each is very different.

Mighty-O exclusively plays in the cake donut world. Dense, yet still light, and satisfying. They also are very proud at being organic, vegan, and using natural ingredients. Noble indeed. If I had a favorite Mighty-O flavor it would be the Vanilla Cake Cinnamon Sugar. Simple, delicate, and awesome.

Top Pot is different because they play in the entire world of donut goodness. Cake, fried, they do all the good stuff. With several locations around town, you won’t have to search very far for your donut fix. I like a lot of their stuff. When I feel overly ambitious, I’ll go for the Boston Cream Pie; a calorie-laden treat consisting of a chocolate-topped, custard-filled yeast donut. Delicious. But my de facto favorite is their Apple Fritter. I first had it at a Starbucks (back when I still went to SBUX, I think my last visit was in ’04), and they offered to heat it up. A warm donut? Of course! Back to the high school connection, I would always microwave my maple bars before school. About 13 seconds to heat up and soften the maple and you have a warm doughy delight. But back to the Apple Fritter – heated up a touch, it’s gooey, pliable, and delicious. Plus, it has apple, so it’s healthy.

Enjoy National Doughnut Day! It always falls on the first Friday of June, so be sure to swing by your local doughnut/donut shop. In fact, get a dozen to bring them into the office. You’ll be the hero for the day and make the workday that much more enjoyable.

Mashiko: sushi euphoria

Remember when I said that Shiku was my favorite sushi restaurant in Seattle? Well, I never wrote it in stone. While I do love Shiku and look forward to my next visits, I’ve recently revisited an old fave in West Seattle and it’s taken back the reins of my favorite sushi restaurant at this moment. I had an awesome dinner at Mashiko a bit ago and I’m still drunk on the brilliance that I enjoyed.

We’ve been to Mashiko a few times now and they’ve all been magical. The deliciousness of the fish, the interplay of textures, and the ability to wow us constantly have all been hallmarks of our experiences. Our first visit was truly ‘another level’ dining experience. We, along with our friend JR, were able to sit at the bar and be at the whims of Chef Hajime. We still talk about the uni we had on top of a tempura shiso leaf; this made me a believer in the gospel of sea urchin. With this nostalgia, we were giddy to see what Chef Hajime and team had in store for us this time.

First word of note, Mashiko takes reservations and this would come in handy as Mashiko can get very busy. Sadly, we didn’t have the foresight to do such a thing. So we had to slog and wait it out for a spot (ended up being about 40 minutes on a Saturday night). Our preference would’ve been for the bar, but we were resigned to get whatever opened up.

Waiting inside Mashiko, we were able to fully absorb the feel of the place and note its idiosyncrasies. Let’s start with their website; sushiwhore.com. Clearly, you will not be dining at a reserved, mellow sushi spot. It’s more of a new school, hangout bar that has a rock ‘n roll feel. While waiting you’ll also notice some of the house rules. My favorites? ‘Everything you know is wrong.’ and ‘chopsticks are not drumsticks.’ You’ll also see the accolades that Mashiko has received. And they’ve been around since ’94, so they have buckets of them.

Sadly, we weren’t able to get that front row seat to Chef Hajime and his team’s show, but we were able to get a nice secluded booth on the other side of the room. Not even within eye contact of the chef! Truly this would be an interesting experience! We gave our server one instruction; omakase. Omakase is the act of putting your dining experience in the hands of the chef. But chefs generally prefer doing omakase with their frequent guests and Chef Hajime is no different. Because he would ideally like to get to know his clients likes and dislikes, we armed our server with this; give us what’s fresh as of this very day.

Here are the three really cool things that I love about Mashiko:

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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 Community of Seattle Food Bloggers

I’ve been doing this blogging thing for about 9 months now. We zoomed past the 100 post threshold, and in that time, we’ve talked about all sorts of interesting info in the world of food and wine. From the random (saving bacon fat) to the sublime (dinner at Art of the Table), one thing I haven’t been able to do is meet other food bloggers in the Seattle area. That all changed last week when I attended a Seattle food blogger event that introduced me to many of the folks I’ve been reading about for some time; they inspire me to be a better writer.

Keren Brown, the Frantic Foodie, organized this great event at Theo Chocolate last week. She tries to have these events amongst the food blogging community of Seattle. It was a free flowing fun meet-up to talk about food and what inspires us – and it gave me a chance to be amongst a group of people that truly loves the culture and world of food. I had a blast.

We had a great time at Theo Chocolates located in Fremont. I had never been able to take their tour prior, so it was really fun to step through with a bunch of food nerds when they toured us through their factory. There were moments when everyone whipped out cameras to take pictures, some of the Theo people called us ‘paparazzi.’ I took this as a compliment. I’ve long been a fan of their chocolate (my favorite is their bread and chocolate bar), so it was nice to be able to step into their kitchen and see them do their thing. In fact, Ronald of Cornichon even took a video of Chocolatier Autumn Martin doing her thing with a ganache demonstration. And to answer your question: yes, we ate a ton of chocolate. And it was delicious.

I had a great time and wanted to say thanks to everyone that I met and conversed with. If you haven’t visited their blogs yet, please visit, they’re all good folks and great writers:

I wasn’t able to meet everyone, but do look forward to. Always fun to talk about food, especially those that like to talk about it as much as I do. Seattle is pretty much food blogger central, so it’s nice to have this exchange of ideas and talent, it only raises the bar for each one of us.

Shirt available at Think Geek

Eating Down The Fridge week – starts March 9

This is really cool; A Mighty Appetite‘s Kim O’Donnel has issued a challenge; Eating Down the Fridge. From Monday, March 9 through Sunday, March 16, the goal is to clear out what’s in your fridge and pantry, use this for a week’s worth of meals, and do zero food shopping. That’s right. Zero. A tricky challenge indeed, but one I totally want to take on.

I love this. Chances are a lot of us have too much food in our fridge and shelves anyway. We keep saying we ‘have nothing to eat’, but we really we do. This little EDF challenge will ask us to be a bit more nimble and lateral with how we cook and what we eat. Plus we’ll save some money along the way. Also, as Kim realized, we’ll look a bit more inward into how we consider food; food shouldn’t be wasteful and we should think about using what we have. I implore you to take this challenge with us!

I took a quick look at stuff in the fridge and here is what’s in there that we could build a meal around:

  • Frozen lobster tails
  • Bacon
  • Mangalitsa pork shoulder
  • Mangalitsa pork chop
  • Tomato ragu
  • Frozen shrimps
  • Shredded chicken
  • Longanisa
  • Frozen salmon
  • Oxtail

In the cupboards, there’s some pasta, rice, oats, quinoa, cornmeal, rice noodles, rice paper wrappers. An area we are lacking is in the veggie department; some fennel, kale, potatoes, carrots, onions, and that’s about it. I’ll definitely make some kale chips. Maybe we’ll swing by the Ballard Farmer’s Market to grab a few things and say “hi” to Janna and the Secret Stash Salt crew.

But we don’t want to buy too much stuff; the idea of EDF is to use what you got, not buy to fill the week. On the surface, I think we’re in good shape. We could do a lobster pasta or lobster rolls; the ragu could be used for lasagna, and I love oxtail, so there is a ton of stuff we could do there. We’ll do Filipino-style shredded crispy chicken. We may have dinner covered, but lunch could be tough. Breakfast is easy. Tons of steel cut oats and we know how much I love that stuff. Longanisa is a breakfast food staple from the Philippines that’s spicy, bright red, and delicious. Lots of bacon too. Make sure to save the bacon fat

There’s lots of stuff to make baked goods with too. I think I’ll whip up some cornbread, maybe make some chocolate chip cookies, fudge, what else…

Ok, I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea; have fun with what’s in your kitchen! I think the next thing is to have a big dinner party on Friday; who’s down?

photo courtesy of the Washington Post

100 Grand

 

This is my 100th post. Woohoo. A bit of a milestone if you will. I’ve been blogging for about 9 months now and we’ve touched on all sorts of stuff, but the focus of each post never really changed; each highlight fun information with food and wine. I hope you all learned something along the way.

For this my 1-large post, I think we’ll take the temperature of where we are and what we’ll be doing next. But we won’t get too far ahead of ourselves, this is a food and wine blog after all. Or should I say a food and drink blog? Hmm.

One of the things I noticed about blogging is the voracious appetite for information that people have. That is one area where I can improve; to continually update my blog and to have compelling content for you. So I’ve got a bunch of cool ideas in store for stuff. Building off the landmark Pho Week from October, I’ll be doing more stuff like that. I also want to delve into individual dishes, cuisines, or cooking styles that deserve the spotlight.

We’ll play around with more restaurants, bars and food shops. I’ve stated that I’m by no means a restaurant critic, but people always like reading perspectives. So I’ll continue sharing my experiences. But we can’t all afford to eat high-end. So I’ll also spend more time with dining deals and happy hours. Seattle (and the NW) has a lot of them, it’ll be fun to experiment.

There are food and wine events galore happening almost everyday. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t share these with you. I hope I can see you at some of these events.

And I talked about being a drink blog. One of my personal goals this year was to delve into the world of whiskey. This will be a fun one to roll with. And we’ll talk about beer! I haven’t written about beer once yet, so that must change. One summer, a friend of mine and I had a goal to try a new beer every time we went out, and we went out often. I should keep that spirit with everything that I try.

Lastly, I hope to still be relevant to you. That you find the stuff on these pages interesting and informative. I love food. I really, really do. I hope I can share in this joy and make you pause and think for a second of what you do when you’re at the table. I’m always in awe of a great meal, it’s a transcendent experience and one I’ll keep reaching for again and again. See you around the table.

GoingforSeconds dot com

It’s the start of a new year, which is always a chance to start anew. I’ve been doing this blogging gig for about six months now and have had a great time doing so. I thank you for visiting over the past half year and the 80 or so posts of food and wine goodness. Thanks!

As I move forward with writing and sharing my blog with you, I wanted to streamline my site. Say hello to GoingforSeconds.com! I’ll still be posting from WordPress, you’ll just now have a much easier URL to remember. So save GoingforSeconds.com in your favorites or share with a friend.

You can also email me: goingforseconds@gmail.com

I appreciate your readership and look forward to the eating and drinking with you.

Cheers to that!