February 17, 2012

More eating and drinking in Seattle

Who says you don't eat well on tour? Seattle treated us damn nice, and now we're here in Portland, eating our hearts out as well. Good thing we're on the nightly dance party diet...

Above: a beautiful brunch at the aforementioned The Fat Hen in Ballard. The pastries are beautiful, the baked eggs divine, and I had the best eggs florentine here in recent memory. It really makes the most of the gray Seattle light, which saturates the world in very nice ways.

Other exquisite eating: 
Sitka & Spruce: In Melrose Market in Capitol Hill, a string of 8-10 businesses (butcher, wine shop, wine bar, flower shop, and this restaurant in the back) that are basically like being in some food fiend's glorified loft. It's hard to communicate quite how beautiful this space is, but the entire structure is a renovated all-wood former autobody shop -- cavernous but cabin-y at the same time. Our dining experience took place at the foot of a 30 foot massive wood table with candles glowing, tiny vases of flowers skirting the surface and a giant burning fireplace at the far end. We didn't actually eat the "regular" menu -- on Monday night's only they have traditional Mexican food prepared by the "Malafacha" family. And it is just phenomenal. If we had one more night in Seattle I'd demand going back to eat the daily menu, which feels so much more inventive to me than what's going on with food in NYC (someone prove me wrong). Anyhow: if you're in Seattle: go here.

Next up: 
On Tuesday night we had our Girl Walk screening with guest chef Matt Costello who came in from Whidbey Island, where he's the chef and GM of the Inn at Langley. We had no idea what to expect, but he'd sent us a five course "menu" adding that he liked to throw in some "surprise courses," and we knew he liked to describe his food as "locavore meets gastronomy."

In short order: THIS WAS THE BEST MEAL OF MY LIFE. The event was held at Delancey in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, so generously donated to us by Molly Wizenberg (aka of the blog Orangette) and her talented pizzaiolo husband, Brandon.

The menu, from memory, with many ingredients left out:

  • Amuse bouche: beet meringue filled with whipped camembert and a crushed hazelnut crust + a miniature "old fashioned" cocktail inside a candied kumquat
  • Course 1, CURED: Smoked salmon frozen mousse with sweet cucumber ice, shaved cucumbers, salmon roe and coriander. Served with prosecco with crystallized basil.
  • Course 2, BAKED: Fresh pretzel roll served with goat's milk butter and radish
  • Course 3, FISH: (Perfectly) seared butter fish on chestnut puree served beside trumpet mushrooms and a "burnt onion" filled with hazelnut hollandaise and topped with a braised mini turnip. We were instructed to "burst" the onion, which released a sauce that unified the rest of the flavors on the plate.
  • Course 4: SURPRISE: A hollowed egg shell filled with pea custard, fresh peas and topped with sunchoke foam and a baby sage leaf.
  • Course 5: GAME: Rabbit and confit with roasted mustard greens and diced pumpkin. (And about 5 other sauces and textures on the plate).
  • Course 6: CHEESE: Toasted hay ice cream atop a smear of soft ripened triple cream goat cheese with sesame powder, sesame seeds and sorrel
  • Course 7, SWEET: Panna cotta with pears cooked in truffle honey and walnut sugar. Served with the essence of smoldering spruce, cinnamon and vanilla (released in smokey wafts by the chef on the table).

Matt donated this entire meal (as well as the time and talents of a staff of 6), cooked for 25 people, because our film reached him in some way that inspired him to share his own creative craft. After the meal ended, we all sat there in bafflement, putting our hands together in thunderous applause. I've worked in a handful of restaurants, and fancy ones that at, but this was truly a rare opportunity to bear witness to someone who is a master at their craft. And, ever humble, generous and kind. As Girl Walk makes it to the world, the greatest part of the whole project is the extension of so many people's kindness, and the opportunity to watch people create in their own mediums. If you are ever in the Seattle area, take the ferry to Whidbey Island to experience Matt's cooking. It may very well change your life. (See pictures from the night here).