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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Birthday in Portland - Bite of Oregon

So we've finally made it to the end of the week. My bestie Brandon came down for the Handful show the night before along with his charming friends from Bellingham. Brandon and I took the train down to Oregon to enjoy the scenic route. Turns out we met some great Canadians and had a ball. To sum the train ride down, an elderly woman stopped us as we were leaving the train and said, "Whatever it is that you are doing...rock on!" She later told us she was 83. AWESOME.

So the first night we just sort of hung out and wandered around. Here are some notable foods:
Macaroni and cheese with pesto! Got this at Paddy's. We sat in the patio on the street for some GREAT people watching. Didn't get any traditional irish food, but I am pretty sure this mac and cheese was amazing.
These onion rings though...were AMAZING. BEST ONION RINGS EVER. We stopped by Rialto's to shoot some pool and hang out and I smelled these when I walked in. I wanted some. You know how when you have onion rings and you bite into it, the onion part pulls out of the breading and it's all stringy and stuff? Well these onion rings were so well breaded, when you took a bite, the onion part actually stayed inside the breading. I'd be really interested to know how they did that. And by the way these were HUGE. The onion rings were basically the size of my palm. But they were SOOOOO AMAZING.
The next morning we had breakfast at Bijou Cafe. A moderate sized french breakfast place. They serve very strong mimosas, not sure if there was any orange juice at all. I got a french omlette with smoked cheese, bacon and green onions. It came with a baguette and greens. Of course everything was organic, and the place sort of lived up to the Portlandia stereotype. Our server reminded me of the one in this hilarious clip. In fact there were a few stereotypical things I observed in Portland. Including my friend Kai, who lives in Portland and came out with us. He was wearing a shirt with a bird on it. And the bird was designed with little birds on the inside. So hilarious. Again, if you want to see what I mean, watch this.

After breakfast we digested while exploring Powells for a couple hours. Love that place. Then we finally made it over to the Bite of Oregon. The following series of pictures are compliments of my friend Jordan, who basically was my food photographer for the day. Thanks Jordan!
First up, fresh salad rolls. Always a good idea.

So I lie. I totally forgot to tell you the first thing I actually got was a commemorative wine glass that came with a holder for your neck. that way you can eat with both hands! So genius. I loved it. (you can see it in the picture with the shrimp below and when I am holding my pie and ice cream)

Next up, mac and cheese. Which wasn't very good. It tasted like better quality noodles but with velveeta.
Then came the Kaluha Pork. This is quite possibly my favorite thing I got there. The pork was incredibly tender and juicy. It came with rice and macaroni salad.
I shared some of Christina's grilled shrimp with a tequila lime marinade. It was actually a little dissapointing. It was tasty but serve with a sweet chili sauce and I felt like it overpowered the shrimp. I couldn't really taste any lime or tequila on those things.
Then I took a break, but ran into our canadian friends who bought ribs to share so I had that, plus coleslaw and hush puppies...
Finally...I stopped with dessert. White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Ice Cream...and then I topped it with a miniature marionberry pie...definite major food coma/baby.
The whole gang with some wine. Brandon, Christina, Carrla, Alan, Me, and Jordan. Overall I found the Bite of Oregon extremely delightful. I've stopped going to the Bite of Seattle because I feel like you're limited to two foods there. Everything is huge portions and expensive. At Oregon's bite everything is smaller and I feel like I definitely got to taste quite a bit! The best part about the event is that the entire area is a beer garden. Meaning all you had to do was get a wristband showing you were of age and you could bring your drinks anywhere. Being limited to a space for beer gardens has always been frustrating. I find them rather boring. But in Oregon you can bring your drinks with you and explore the music and food!

One more before we bring this to a close. During our last day we stopped by the Saturday Market (even though it's open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday). I got some phad see ew for brunch. :) It was a little dissapointing. Kind of dry and flavorless. Brandon had this amazing falafel though. Mmmm...

So all and all...successful trip. I would highly recommend going to the Bite of Oregon. :)

That brings my birthday week to a close....time to exercise everyday for the next month.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Birthday at The Sloop

Went to The Sloop, got me a sloopersize cider, and ate some food. Rachel made these AMAZING banana cupcakes with cinnamon honey frosting. I don't even like frosting and I ate it all! So thoughtful.

If you have never heard of The Sloop, let me give you a brief introduction. The Sloop, is a great Seattle dive bar, located on Market street right before you get to the Ballard Locks. There is no liquor (go to The Lockspot across the street if you want some of that). Just beer and wine. The Sloop is probably most famous for it's "Sloopersize" drinks. A 34 ounce serving of domestic beer for $4.50. It is $6.50 for a micro beer!. You betcha it's the best deal in town.

My other favorite part about The Sloop is that I can play Big Buck Hunter there! Yahoo! There are a variety of other arcade games including pinball and a couple pool tables for your entertainment. I have many fond memories of this place. Most of it spent laughing till tears come to my eyes as well as a random dance party. Just to note, no one dances at the sloop but Katie and I and Jaclyn if she's working!

This family owned business has been around for over 50 years. It epitomizes Ballard's marine culture. So if you haven't stopped by, do it. They have normal size beers as well if you don't think you can finish a Sloopersize one. :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Birthday dinner - Matt's in the Market

Ok ok, really this is the last time I will talk about Matt's this summer. :)

I am not much of a cake person so I wanted some bread pudding. Gathered a small group, my cousins, my coworkers, and my friend Pat, all whom have never been to Matt's before. I was pretty excited to share this experience with them.

By the way, found the pike place flag featuring the illustrated interpretation of me on our way there! I was pretty excited. Back story here.

I apologize in advance that I did not want to take the time to take nice photos of the food just because I wanted to enjoy myself, but here we go:

I ordered myself a fancy glass of wine (apparently it was worth $18). I wanted it because it had crushed rose petals in it. I can't even remember the name. How useless am I. Here is Pat being fancy and me laughing at him.
We started with the soft shell crab which was breaded and fried, served with fingerling potatoes. Whatever the sauce was, it definitely was amazing. It had a smokey spiciness to it.
I had the steak with bing cherries served on a grilled onion and fava beans. Medium rare of course. AMAZING.
Two of my cousins ordered the whole fish (Snapper), which was fried I think. And served with a seafood broth and mussels. It looks pretty intense.
Pat had the King Salmon, which just like the copper river salmon I had, was cooked to perfection. Pat did note that the Mint Jubilee he had was the best one he had ever had.

Of course then there was bread pudding. Which I did not take photos of because I've eaten it a million times now. We should note that there was Strawberry Shortcake on the dessert menu. Strawberry Shortcake is my absolute favorite, so I felt torn between that and the bread pudding. But Pat helped me out by ordering the Strawberry Shortcake so I could have Bread Pudding and we could share. Turns out the Strawberry Shortcake was not what we had envisioned at all and was a bit dissapointing. It tasted great, it was just not what we were expecting. We wanted light fluffy cake with fresh fruit. Instead it was a creative interpretation of Strawberry Shortcake. A biscuit with strawberry and lemon sorbet. Sprinkled with candied blackberries. Again, it tasted fine, it just wasn't what we wanted. But I was ok with that. Earlier today, my coworkers brought in strawberry shortcake for my birthday. :)

It was a good day. Thanks Matt's for treating us so well and for a very lovely birthday dinner.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Birthday Sailing + Dinner + The Noble Fir

Two very special people in my life, Kevin and Jamie, have done more for me than I could ever say. They have enriched my soul, life, and general well being with their friendship in my life. Two avid sailors, Jamie and I had talked about going sailing for my birthday. It would only be the second time in my life, the first time I actually got up and did stuff out in the Puget Sound. It was a windy afternoon, but perfect sailing conditions. Little did I know that Jamie and Kevin surprised me with dinner on the boat!
Jamie made cocktails and appetizers on the boat for us! Smoked salmon and cream cheese on crackers with parsley. YUM!

It was too windy to make dinner on the boat while we were out...I later learned Jamie was planning on boiling water to make ravioli. So after we took a trip out, and I got some sailing experience, we came back in and Jamie and Kevin made me a wonderful ravioli dinner with pesto and tomatoes and grilled veggies! Yeah you should be jealous. I have AMAZING friends.
The finished product of dinner.

As is that wasn't amazing enough, they saved a piece of their wedding cake (they had just gotten back from their honeymoon the week before) and turned it into a birthday for me and sang me happy birthday!!

After all that, we grabbed a beer at one of my favorite places, The Noble Fir. Located in the heart of Ballard on Ballard Avenue, I frequent this place with my friends to have some tasty beers and plan our next backpacking trip. The place has a mini travel library with maps and ptravel books to plan your next trip. The owners Rick and Ellen are SO nice. They know everyone by name and always look so happy. The Noble Fir specializes in deliciously crafted beers and fine wines and also serves some share able food plates. We were happy to be there. I am so glad I know these people.

Seriously, hands down one of the nicest/thoughtful outings I've ever been on, if not the best. I really can't express how incredibly humbling it was to be treated so well. I love you guys. Thank you so much.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Birthday Bonfire

What an incredible night. There was about 20 people in attendance. Laying in the sun, eating, talking, and playing music with my friends was more than amazing. I even went swimming in the Puget Sound. The only food related item I have to share is the legendary Jack Daniel's Bread Pudding you see above. My friend Jenn said her coworker has this secret recipe. We all shared this amazing bread pudding over a fire and jam session with some of my favorite people. Jenn later found the recipe for me, and I recreated this amazingness with my own additions. Check it out!

Random Foods

Things that are not worth writing an entire entry solely dedicated to one item. First off:

What do you do when you go to a ballgame? Remember the 90's? Ahh..those were the days when I actually paid attention to the game. I love my Mariner's but lately ball games have been reduced to talking and eating food with my friends, and only paying attention if we're sitting in the foul zone. Normally my go-to items are Kettle Corn and Ivars clam chowder. But the other day, I discovered they have PULLED PORK NACHOS. MMMMMM...yeah it pretty much tastes as amazingly unhealthy as it looks. Pulled pork with BBQ sauce over chips with fake cheese sauce? Heck yes.

Next up: Bowl of Balls. Yup. That's what it said on the menu. This is a bowl of balls from Rory's in Edmonds. Located just off of Main Street a block up from the ferry terminal. Behold, meatballs in a creamy pesto with Parmesan. They were delish and I am definitely looking forward to recreating them. Maybe with some real meatballs. These ones kind of reminded me of the frozen ones from Costco.

This is what roasted duck looks like from Uwajimaya. I had a really bad craving for duck that day. That is all.

So my friend Ashley was house sitting for a couple with a rooftop deck in the Leschi neighborhood recently..if you're not familiar, it's basically ritzy. We decided we needed some catch up time so I made us a picnic dinner and we brought it to the house and ate on the roof watching the sun set looking out at Lake Washington. It was great. I wanted to note this event because I found this AMAZING picnic basket brand new at Goodwill for $10 a year ago and this was the first time I've ever used it. The silverware was still wrapped up in plastic! I have been waiting to take it out on some cute picnic date...That basically tells you how exciting my dating life is. My poor picnic basket went unused for a year! But I whipped up some bow tie pasta with a garlic basil rose sauce, veggies, and chicken. The wine in the house was old, so we kept with the sparking cider instead. Romantic indeed. :)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Birthday "BBQ" - Salmon spring rolls recipe

So I celebrate my birthday for a week. Why? Because I have such a diverse group of friends, it's hard to get everybody out on one particular day of the year. That way people can just show up to whatever itinerary I set up. This year's agenda includes, BBQ, bonfire jam session, sailing, The Noble Fir, dinner at Matt's in the Market, The Sloop, Handful of Luvin' concert at The Tractor, and a trip to Portland for the Bite of Oregon. Yeah, it's going to be a rocking week.

It's really fun to watch my friends come together for this every year. Here's what we did today:

My lovely friend Jenn was generous enough to host a BBQ at her place for me. My tiny apartment just would not do for such an event. Turns out what is hilarious is that even though I called it a BBQ, I didn't actually BBQ anything.I did make some yummy Bruchetta though!

And of course, I made my salmon spring rolls. Sorry my presentation is so terrible. This is one of my most absolute favorite dishes my mom makes at home. It's relatively healthy, fresh, easy, and tasty! Below is the recipe.

Fresh Spring Rolls with Teriyaki Salmon

- One package of Rice Paper (there are about a million brands, my mom uses the one with the big red rose on the front because it's stronger and will help keep your wrap from breaking when you wrap it)
- One bag of vermicelli noodles
- One head of lettuce
- One cucumber (doesn't really matter what kind, I use English)
- 5-6 stalks of green onions
- 1/2 cup of any cooking oil
- One bunch of mint (I strongly suggest getting this at your local asian market because you can get a whole bag of this for about $2 versus the $5 or $6 you'd pay for a couple sprigs in an American store)
- Parsley (you can use it in the roll but I just like to use it for garnish)
- a fillet of king salmon (depending on how many people are eating determines how much I get)
- Teriyaki Sauce
- Crushed roasted peanuts
- Fried Onions (for those unfamiliar with the asian kind, it's similar to that Frenchies stuff you use on Green Bean Casserole for Thanksgiving, but thinner and tastier)

Dipping Sauce:
- 3/4 cup of hoisin sauce
- 1 cup of peanut butter
- your choice of broth or water works fine (for thinning the sauce)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

1. Boil water and cook the vermicelli. It only needs to boil for a couple minutes. Then take it off the heat and let stand for about 7 minutes. When you drain this, be sure to immediately run it with some cold water. This keeps the noodles from sticking from each other.
2. Place the salmon on foil on a cookie sheet and throw it in the oven.
3. Wash and tear the lettuce into medium size pieces (so you can wrap it).
4. Wash and cut the cucumber into julienne strips.
5. Wash and pick the leaves off the mint.
6. Wash and chop 3-4 stalks of green onions.
7. Wash and cut the rest of the green onions into 4-5 inch long pieces.
7. When the salmon is almost done (I usually bake a 2-3 lb. fillet for about 20-25 minutes), pour a couple cups (enough to cover) of Teriyaki sauce over the salmon. When you place it back in, set the oven to broil (low or high depends on your oven, but it's going to sit in there for about 5-10 minutes).
8. Saute the chopped green onions and oil in a small pan.
9. When the salmon is done, take it out, pour the green onion mixure on top. Then sprinkle the fried onions and roasted peanuts on top. My mom likes to use A be generous.
10. Clear off a big table, get a big bowl of hot water and place it on your left. Cut a few dry rice paper pieces into fourths. Place on the left with your water and rest of the package. Then line up your veggies, noodles, herbs, and salmon.
11. Get to large plates. Dip a whole rice paper into the hot water. Only needs to be completely covered for a second. Shake off excess water and place on a plate. Then dip one 1/4 piece and place in the middle. Do the same for the next plate.
12. Now you are ready to wrap. You will notice the rice paper get tender pretty within a couple minutes. I just like having the second plate for the next roll so I don't have to wait.

This is where most people fail. In fact, my mom still doesn't think I do it correctly. The trick is to not let your eyes determine how much food you want in your roll. You can make as many rolls as you want. Growing up I would eat 4-5, so don't try to make giant burrito size rolls.
1. Place a strip of cucumber horizontal (long way parallel to your body). Add some lettuce and mint. Grab a little bit of noodles and place on top (this helps weigh it down). Scoop up some salmon and place it on the noodles but more on the edge towards the center. Don't fill to the edges of the paper you want to leave a good inch or so on the left and right. Take a piece of the green onion and parsley and place it in the center horizontal, with a little bit sticking out.
2. Then take fold in the left and right sides and at the same time, take the side closest to you and start wrapping up. Its basically like folding a burrito. Be sure to keep the filling tight and close to you while you are folding up. Your hands will get a little a messy and it takes a bit of practice to get this right and to make sure its rolled tight enough so that the filling doesn't fall out when you bit into it.
3. Repeat till you've used up all your ingredients!

Sauce: Basically plop everything into a small sauce pan, and use the broth or water to thin the sauce. I usually start with teh peanut butter so it starts to melt out. Then add the hoisin and mix it. It will get thick and cook very quickly so be sure to have the broth handy. Then just pour a little bit at a time to mix into the sauce and think it out.

Then, dip and enjoy! It's pretty tasty! One of my favorite home dishes and have been a hit among my friends. Let me know if you try it, and if you have any questions or need tips on wrapping. I know its hard without pictures, but just imagine wrapping a burrito. This Youtube video does a nice job explaining it.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Feeding a touring band: Part 1

You all should be very excited. I finally got a smart phone. You know what that means? a large amount of food pictures coming your way. Check it out!

Besides making and eating food, I spend a large amount of time attending music shows. I usually hover around 2-3 shows a week, and when it's a good week, 3-4. I've had the honor of getting to know one of my local favorites, Handful of Luvin' quite well over the past year, after accidentally discovering them last summer. I showed up to a show to watch Luc and the Lovingtons and ran into my old childhood friend, Pat, who turns out is the bass player for Handful. We just lost touch after high school, which is how things go...but I am so glad we reconnected because he has become a very special part of my life! We share the same love for food and have our "dinner dates" when he's not too busy being awesome. Basically we take each other out to our favorite local eats. It's pretty fun! So...through him, I've become good friends with the band. I absolutely love them. I'd like to rave about them, but I won't. You should check them out. Fiddle driven gypsy rock? You know you wanna....
So one day...I took a trip with the boys to a winery on the Olympic Peninsula called Olympic Cellars. It was a private event...but I'm pretty sure the only person who was really enjoying the music was me and the birthday lady. The next day we slowly made our way back to town. We thought we could get back before the next gig (on Mercer Island), but turned out we barely had time to grab food before the next show. We just headed straight there. David, the lead vocals and strummer, who turns out to be pretty health concious, was complaining that they never eat healthy while touring on the road. We joked about hiring me as their touring chef, but after the idea was planted into my head, I wouldn't let it go. What a perfect way for me to make a mass amount of food for some people that I love.

So the day before their next tour, I spent the afternoon packing/cooking some things I thought would be better than fast food and might keep along the way. It turned out to be pretty fun!First was the roasted chicken (yes I roasted it) salad. Roasted Chicken, cranberries, green onions, italian dressing, ranch, and freshly ground pepper. Turns out this was the biggest hit. I got some pita bread so they could make sandwiches. Pretty yummy!
Next was the pesto pasta salad. Corkscrew pasta, peppered salami, artichokes, cherry tomatoes, and fresh basil. This was Pat's favorite. I made a vegetarian version for him since he couldn't eat the salami.
This garlic roasted quinoa salad with onions, bell peppers, and spinach was David's favorite. He really loved it. I'm not sure how it kept...I think I remember him telling me it might've gone bad before they could eat it all.
These oatmeal peanut butter chocolate chip bars were meant to provide a healthy snack for the guys. Something that would stick to their ribs a little more than cookies would. I never tried one so I'm not sure how they turned out but when the pan was returned to me, it only had a few left.
Now my personal favorite...homemade apple turnovers. Now when you put all that food together, along with other tasty snacks, you get what you see above. That is what all the above mentioend food looks like together with Caprese Salad, hummus, chips, salsa, nectarines, bananas, apples, cinnamon almonds, and carrots. I asked my lovely friend Jamie if she wanted to make something for the boys as well since food is basically her love language. She made them her amazing yogurt coffee cake (which was probably the biggest hit) and tabouleh salad. Those boys were well feed that week. Well snacked at least. Personally, I would probably get tired of all that food before the week was over, most of them aren't really too picky. I just enjoy eating hot foods and tend to not eat left overs for more than a day.

The boys loved it, and I had SO much fun making the food. I've decided that I will make an effort to try new recipes for future road trip foods. So this will be the first entry as a stay at home tour chef. :)