Thai Tom 2011: Match 6

Panang Curry vs. Eggplant Ginger

Match 6

As the new normal, match 6 was performed take-out style. Today, Eggplant Ginger showed that when it’s on, it’s on in a huge way. In our biggest upset of 2011, Eggplant Ginger unseated the reigning champion in a very close call. While the Panang Curry was again excellent, it just couldn’t top the smoky charred delicious eggplant today. I guess sometimes you need a curry, other times a stir fry is the answer. Our final match of 2011 will probably be delayed a little while, as I’d like to take Gloria to the source for the occasion if possible.

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Updated results of the Thai Tom 2011 Tournament

Thai Tom 2011: Match 5

Swimming Rama vs. Cashew Chicken

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We haven’t had Thai Tom since Gloria’s arrival, as it’s not the easiest quarters to squeeze a newborn into. But we had an itch to scratch, and thus loosened our tournament criteria to allow take-out as a viable option. I do not regret that decision. :)

The first time I had Swimming Rama at Thai Tom was pure serendipity. Lauren and I stopped by at closing time and asked if they were still serving. George said sure, but only if we wanted Pad Thai and Swimming Rama. While I do enjoy a good peanut sauce, I hadn’t ever thought to order Swimming Rama at Thai Tom before. Little did I realize what I was missing. Thai Tom’s Swimming Rama is like no other version I’ve had anywhere else. They mix in a generous portion of chili paste, and the result is more like a mildly-sweet peanut curry, similar to how I imagine massaman variation of pad prik giang would taste.

Unfortunately, today the Swimming Rama was overly sweet, and so it was easily topped by the consistently spiced cashew nut chicken that is second only to Mr. Poon. Swimming Rama, we’ll see you next year!

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Updated results of the Thai Tom 2011 Tournament

Luc

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All the parents we know have given us the same advice: “watch movies and go out to dinner as much as you can before the baby arrives.” Given that Lauren and I watch at most a few movies each year, we’ve been focusing on the other half of the guidance. Tonight we took advantage of our beautiful July 4th weekend weather and took a walk down to Luc.

Luc is the casual bistro that Thierry Rautureau (of Rover’s fame) opened last May, while we were away on our sabbatical. There is a long, narrow dining room surrounding a large bar along with seasonal patio dining. While I liked the indoor space a lot, we couldn’t pass up an outdoor table with weather like today’s.

Suli, our waiter, was very warm, friendly, and knowledgeable. At his suggestion I started with a glass of rosé and a cup of bing cherry gazpacho. It was a great summer-time pairing. The gazpacho was amazing – a smooth mix of cherry tomatoes, cucumber, celery, garlic, chilies, and bing cherries. And it did go quite well with the rosé.

Based on recommendations I’ve been meaning to try Luc’s burger, but tonight that was not meant to be. I think it was a combination of the heat and the description of the day’s special, but I wound up ordering the Neah Bay salmon, which was pan seared and served on a bed of orecchiette and English peas, topped with a spinach sauce. I was very happy with my choice. The salmon was perfectly cooked; pink on the inside, crispy on the outside, and just enough salt to bring out the salmon’s full flavor. The spinach sauce and orecchiette made for a great pairing, and overall it was the best fish dish I’ve had in quite some time.

Lauren ordered the crab sandwich, which was simple but delicious. The local crab was mixed with a little lemon and served on rustic sourdough bread.

We didn’t have any room left for dessert tonight, but we’ll do so next time. We had a great time at Luc, and I can’t believe we waited this long to try it out. We’ll try and return at least once more before the baby is due.

Neah Bay salmon
Neah Bay salmon, orecchiette, spinach sauce

crab sandwich
Local crab sandwich, preserved lemon aioli

rose and gazpacho Lauren and her sandwich

Luc
2800 E. Madison
Seattle, WA 98112
206-328-6645

Interpretive Dining

Last night we had some friends over and made pizza for dinner. While the first and third pies came out perfectly round, we had a little mishap with pizza #2. I must have been too conservative with the cornmeal on our pizza peel; the dough stuck to the middle of the peel and I had to perform some intense spatula work inside of a 550 degree oven.

The result was non-standard, but quite tasty and a geographical conversation piece. I think that piece of asparagus on the right represents our apartment in Kampala, Uganda.

Africa pizza
Do you see what I see?

Revel

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Last night Dan and Leslie introduced us to Revel, which opened in Fremont last December. Revel is the latest endeavor of Rachel Wang and Seif Chirchi, the chefs who left Coupage a few years back to start Joule. The theme at Revel is Korean street food, but not your typical bulgogi fare. This is chic, upscale Korean, like our friend Karen.

The menu is organized into six sections: salad, pancake, dumpling, rice, noodle, and ice cream sandwich. Between the four of us (including Dan’s extra-healthy appetite) we were able to sample about half the menu, as well as the daily special.

Rachel cooking
Chef Rachel at work in the open kitchen

Menu

We started our meal with a few drinks. Leslie ordered a greyhound, and about 10 minutes later our waitress returned with her drink, apologetically telling us that the delay is because her bartender accidentally made a grapefruit martini (with citron infused vodka). When we commented that this mistake sounded tasty to us, the waitress brought it to us compliments of the house, one of many nice touches by the staff. Lauren partook of the house-made sodas, enjoying her spicy ginger beverage. My glass of pinot was just ok – I’ll stick with mixed drinks next time.

Leslie double-fistingLauren enjoying her drink
The ladies with their drinks

Our food arrived progressively. First came the salads, which were divine. The spinach salad was a simple mix of fresh greens, sunchoke, and raisins with a mildly sweet miso vinaigrette. I’d never tried corned lamb before, but it made for an excellent combination with mizuna greens and fish sauce.

Next came the dumplings and pancake. The earl grey dumplings were dreamy. The noodles were a perfect chewiness and the ricotta/raisin filling had a soft sweetness that was addictive. By contrast, the pancake was blasé. I’m sure we got an iron boost from the kale, but overall the dish, while attractive, was also fairly bland.

We also enjoyed the special of the day – a whole grilled chicken with spring onions and enoki mushroom ragout. The chicken was moist and had absorbed the mushroom flavor well.

Our last dish was a bowl of noodles, tinged green with coriander and served with large, perfectly grilled gulf shrimp. The whole dish tasted very fresh; soft noodles with crunchy shrimp and vegetables. I quite enjoyed the noodles, and it would have been a large enough dish to satisfy my hunger if I was dining solo.

I’ve never been to Korea, but I bet you won’t find albacore tuna/fennel kimchi/escarole rice bowls on the streets of Seoul. However, I don’t think the clientele are here for the authenticity. Revel’s inventive, tasty small plates are drawing quite a crowd, with the main room already filling up when we arrived at 5:30. Lauren and I will return soon for another round of the salads and the earl grey dumplings;  we’ll make sure to save room and try the ice cream sandwiches.

mizuna salad
Mizuna salad with corned lamb, spicy nuoc cham

Spinach salad
Spinach salad with sunchoke, miso vinaigrette

Ricotta dumplings
Earl grey ricotta, golden raisin, candied pecan dumplings

Kale pancake
Kale, walnut, arugula, pecorino-romano pancake

coriander noodles
Coriander noodles with white gulf shrimp and cilantro pistou

Chicken
Chicken with mushrooms and spring onions

Revel
403 N 36th St
Seattle, WA 98103
206-547-2040

Thai Tom 2011: Match 4

Garlic and Pepper vs. Eggplant Ginger (Passover versions with tofu and no rice)

Match 4

A few Passovers ago, Lauren discovered that if you order a dish at Thai Tom without rice, they will happily serve it to you over spinach instead and it’s delicious. So when my mother-in-law was craving Thai Tom on her visit this weekend, we were prepared.

Today’s match involved two of my favorite stir fries. #10 (Eggplant Ginger) was my first love of Thai Tom, with thin slices of Japanese eggplant that soak up the ginger-soy goodness. #9 (Garlic and Pepper), while not quite the crack-like-version I had in Mae Hong Son, still uses a heavy hand of both garlic and pepper to whet your taste buds. In the end, it was a very close call, but the nod went to Eggplant Ginger. If you have a group of three though, get both (with a curry as your third dish of course)!

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Updated results of the Thai Tom 2011 Tournament

Vanilla Extract

When Kenny and I were in Zanzibar last August, we enjoyed a spice tour and made a trip to the market the following day to purchase fresh spices, including vanilla beans. Since then, we’ve enjoyed using the vanilla beans in cooking projects at home, my favorite of which has been our homemade cinnamon vanilla bean ice cream (to die for – good thing we ditched the leftovers of our last batch at a friend’s house, otherwise I’d probably be gorging on it right now).

But the beans won’t last forever, so we decided that it would be a good idea to use a few of our remaining beans for homemade vanilla extract. Recipes and instructional videos abound on the interwebs; I ended up choosing this one because I liked the easy-to-follow steps with illustrative photos.                 

Of course, Kenny and I can’t do anything without creating photo documentation of our own, so here are my versions of the instructional photos – strikingly similar to those in the recipe, but featuring my kitchen!

Materials
Step 1 – Collect ingredients: vodka, vanilla beans, and a jar to store them in

Cutting the beans lengthwise
Step 2 – Cut the beans lengthwise, leaving them attached by an inch at one end

Vodka
Step 3 – Measure 1 cup of vodka into the jar

Adding the beans
Step 4 – Submerge the beans as well as possible – I wasn’t able to get them fully covered immediately because they were a bit firm

Ready for storage
Step 5 – Cover

Two weeks later
Step 6 – Wait. Here’s my concoction after 2 weeks of rest time. Supposedly 8 weeks of infusion is best, so ours should be ready by mid-May.

Warm Lentil Salad

When I met Lauren, she exposed me to her Trader Joe’s obsession. Over the years I’ve also become hooked. Familiar with our ways, Shawn and Jessica brought us a gift on their last visit: the Trader Joe’s Cookbook.

Inside you can find over 150 recipes consisting entirely of ingredients from TJ’s. However, you will find none that include black beluga lentils. Perhaps this is because of TJ’s predilection to constantly discontinuing and then replacing their product line (about 10% monthly or so I hear). Nonetheless, tonight we made a mostly TJ’s salad. From the Trader:

  • Organic arugula
  • Black beluga lentils
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Lemon

Can be acquired from Mr. Joe, but mine were not:

  • Olive oil (I’m a sucker for the Greek olive oil we get at Vios)
  • Sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes)
  • Kosher salt

Chop the sunchokes, toss with arugula, olive oil, salt, and lemon. Follow the lentil instructions on the bag, and then add them to the salad while still warm. Shave parmesan to taste. Now I’m getting hungry again, but it’s time for bed!

warm lentil salad
Warm lentil salad

Lauren showing off our cookbook
Lauren loves Trader Joe’s

Red Mill Burgers

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While we were out and about enjoying the spring sunshine this afternoon, Lauren got a craving for Red Mill Burgers. We hadn’t been in quite awhile, but our friend Fiona must have fanned our cravings when she was reminiscing about Red Mill yesterday.

Red Mill has two locations, though I favor the one in Phinney Ridge, where I feel transported to small-town America in the middle of Seattle. The place was still packed at 3PM, but the line wasn’t too bad, and we got a nice view of the grilling action.

Waiting on line
Lauren would sooner be found eating this shirt than an actual pile of bacon

Menu

I’ve sampled most of the menu over the years, and you can’t go wrong with the beef, veggie, or chicken burgers. Today we ordered a Verde Chicken Burger, made with in-house fire roasted, hand-peeled Anaheim peppers, and a Red Onion Garden Burger, piled high with grilled onions. Red Mill’s burgers are served on a fresh Kaiser bun, with generous toppings.

Usually I also save room for a milkshake and their amazing cornmeal-crusted onion rings, but as were already on our third meal of the day we kept it simple. We’ll be back soon for the onion rings though!

Verde Chicken Burger
Verde chicken burger

Red Onion Garden Burger
Red onion garden burger

Lauren digging in
That Verde Chicken Burger is a mouthful!

Greenlake view
View of Greenlake and the Cascades from Red Mill’s porch seating

Red Mill Burgers
312 North 67th St
Seattle, WA 98103
206-783-6362

Catalog Choice

When we moved into our new house, I was reminded of how much junk mail one can receive in this country. Magically, every industry on the planet seems to be notified of your arrival to the neighborhood.

Fortunately, we’ve been through this before. First task, get rid of those pre-approved credit card offers. There’s an easy way to opt-out online, though we’ll have to renew the request every five years.

For the remaining unwanted mail (catalogs, “savings coupon booklets”, insurance offers, etc.), we use a non-profit service: CatalogChoice.org. The kind souls running this website handle all of the follow-up to remove you from any of their registered publications. They will also add new publications at your request once they’ve done their due diligence. We finally kicked back a donation to their cause, which entitled us to a pro-active removal of our names from a few more bulk lists.

In just a few weeks we’ve already noticed a significant reduction in our mailman’s daily load. If you are also interested in saving a few trees, check out CatalogChoice!