Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Roti and 5 Spot

This weekend I knocked out two of my seasonal resolutions and had great visits with old friends. That's a pretty good weekend, I would say.

First we went to 5 Spot for brunch. The most important thing I can tell you about 5 Spot is that their restaurant theme is Tornado Alley and every Tuesday through June 13 they donate 25% of their sales to help Hackleburg Elementary School in Alabama. Will definitely need to go back on Tuesday soon and dine for a good cause.

I ordered the festival special, Tart Cherry French Toast. And then the brought me this beauty. No cherries, clearly the wrong item. However this was a fortunate mistake because this was hands down the BEST french toast I have ever consumed. And I've sampled a lot of french toast.

But don't worry, when I told the waitress it was the wrong one, she brought me both the correct one AND a plate of hashbrowns. I had three breakfasts on Saturday.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't eat a good portion of all of them.

After breakfast we wandered around Queen Anne hoping to walk off some of the breakfast breads. And that night we went to our old college town, Bellingham, to send off some of our best friends on their Brooklyn adventure at a Studio 54-themed going away party, complete with roller skates and a disco ball.

The next day, my bestie was visiting from Portland, with her husband and curly-headed son. After much visiting we went to Roti, the best Indian place in Seattle. From the decor to the cuisine, it did not disappoint. The service was a little...meh...but they were nice and friendly and were oohing and ahhing over my friend's son, so I guess that makes up for them forgetting one of the entrees.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


As I hinted in my last post, we went on an overnight getaway to celebrate the start of my 32nd year. My one requirement for commemorating this occasion was to use my passport. Given little time and funds, our options were limited. So we hopped in the car and went to...Vancouver!

B booked us a room downtown at the Listel Hotel. When we arrived he mentioned we were celebrating my birthday—and they upgraded us to a suite! But, before we could start on our weekend adventures we had to eat. I selected a very busy sushi restaurant as my birthday lunch of choice.

The menu was pretty overwhelming. Page after page that looked like this:

But we narrowed it down and I ordered some veggie sushi and a couple pieces of salmon. Have you ever had fried yam and avocado rolls? Yum!

B opted for the Unagi Ramen. It looked exactly like the photo in the menu.

Later when we returned to the hotel room, they had sent up a dessert and a birthday card for me. Classy!

Sustained by sushi, we rented bikes and biked around Stanley Park. This was the best part of the whole weekend.

No, we did not rent this tandem bike. That would be dangerous for all involved, including bystanders.

After biking, we were hungry again (no surprise there) and headed out for my birthday dinner at Cardero's on the Waterfront.

This was hands down the BEST table I have ever had at a restaurant. Sure, we dined outside in the rain, but it was covered and right under a heater so we were toasty warm.  The view, and the company, were perfect.

The food was decent, nothing to compare with the view, and my photos didn't turn out great. But I had spinach and roasted beet salad and fish tacos and B had fish chowder and a salmon sandwich. All followed by a slice of delicious white chocolate cheesecake that (surprise!) had three candles in it.

The next morning, I was further impressed with our hotel when they delivered complimentary fresh French press coffee and cream to our door upon our request.

And when the valet brought the car around he left us a peanut butter cookie surprise for our drive home.

But we weren't ready to go home yet. As if all the fun we had on Saturday wasn't enough, we celebrated more on Sunday. Starting, of course, with brunch. At Milestone's Bar and Grill.

Raspberry Mimosa? Yes please.
California Omelet for Me.

Shrimp Benedict for B.

We walked off brunch in Stanley Park before visiting the Sea Otters, Pacific White-Sided Dolphins, Belugas, Jelly Fish, and Two-Toed Sloth at the Vancouver Aquarium.

By this point we were exhausted but I really wanted to stop at Granville Island, one of the best public markets in the world (in my honest opinion), to ogle the fruits, vegetables, and head cheese.

Best thing I've ever discovered under a bridge: Granville Island.

Dragon Fruit—I first tasted this seedy deliciousness in Vietnam.
Rambutan—a spiny friend of the Lychee.


This counter was remarkably busy considering their product.
Look at these exquisite chocolates!

Had to have a little snack before hitting the road.

All-in-all, a birthday weekend to go down in history. What is your best birthday memory?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Birthday Retrospective

Today is my birthday! In honor of this very important day in my life, I thought I'd offer you a trip through my last decade of birthdays. Also, look at these beautiful flowers my sweet friend brought me on Friday when she came to take me out to an early birthday lunch/dinner at, where else? Homegrown.

31st: I'll tell you all about it next week. Here's a hint: passport required.

30th: I spent this very memorable birthday alone in Gurgaon, India eating a mango over the kitchen sink and letting the juice run down my arms. But don't worry, my love flew in the next day and we spent two fabulous weeks celebrating and traveling around India.

29th: B took me to an amazing dinner at Cashion's Eat Place in our old neighborhood in DC, AdamsMorgan. This was such a nice birthday. Yum!

28th: I can practically remember 15-20 years of birthdays, yet I'm wracking my brain and honestly can't remember this birthday! We probably went to dinner??? If you remember what we did, please let me know.

27th: B conspired with my mom to have her fly across the country for a surprise visit. We went to Matchbox for dinner (the best pizza in DC!) followed by a scoop of Boston and Rabbits with a candle in it (aka, Baskin and Robbins).

26th:  B took me camping at Chincoteague Island in Virginia. Wild ponies even walked through our campsite! Then I treated myself to every girls' dream birthday gift—a new car battery—after ours died and we had to get multiple jump starts just to get to the repair shop.

25th: B surprised me by renting us bikes in Alexandria, VA and we biked to Mt. Vernon and had a picnic. While at Mt Vernon, our bike tires went flat and we had to call for a repair.

24th: Went out to dinner and drinks in Eugene with a couple of my great grad school friends.

23rd: Went camping with B at the beach on the Washington Coast and along the Ho River on the Olympic Peninsula (at nearly the same beach where Jacob tells Bella that the Cullens are vampires, ladies! But of course, this was before we all knew the Cullens lived in Forks...)

22nd: Went to Hovander Homestead Park in Ferndale, Washington. A blacksmith at the park made me a key ring that I still use to this day.

Had a memorable "dinner" with friends. And also spent the weekend boating with my parents. This was back when May in Washington was actually warm.

Other memorable birthdays:

9th: After months and months of, in retrospect what I'm sure was extremely obnoxious begging, my parents got me a puppy, Spumoni, a Lhasa Apso who we had for 14 years.

13th: I had a big slumber party and invited all my friends. My mom made me a "dirt cake" which my best friend refused to eat and demanded to know what was in it. But it was made from oreos and pudding and cream cheese and sugar and butter and really delicious.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Green Goddess Rice

I saw this recipe on 5 Ingredient Fix and immediately ran out to buy the ingredients to make a surprise dinner for my husband. This is the like the creamiest, most expensive tasting risotto you've ever eaten. But it's vegan and it doesn't take the arm breaking stirring and time investment of risotto. Pair this with some baked salmon and a green salad and you have yourself a healthy, delicious meal.

Looking back at this recipe, I realize I accidentally left out the olive oil. Oops! (Confession: This could be because I am  severely addicted to Angry Birds and was playing between steps of the recipe.) Adding it would only make it taste more decadent. This savory dish is so creamy good it rivals yellow cake or brownie batter for bowl licking potential. I really did lick the mixing bowl.

I changed the recipe very slightly from the one on the website. Here's what I did:

Green Goddess Rice
(adapted from 5 Ingredient Fix on the Food Network) 
1 cup brown rice
2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced in half
1 handful fresh basil leaves
1 lemon, juiced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup water
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher Salt
Just 5 ingredients! Well, four in my case, because I forgot the olive oil...I blame the Angry Birds.
Cook the rice according to package directions.

Whir up all the other ingredients in your food processor until it's the consistency of sour cream. (Tip! squeeze the lemon over your hand to catch any run away seeds. I see Giada do this all the time and it works great and makes your hand smell lemony fresh.)

I first tried whipping up the mixture in the blender like the recipe indicated and it wasn't strong enough to chop everything up.

Then I moved everything to the food processor and it did the trick.

Fold the avocado mixture into the warm rice. That's it! So easy.


The best part? This rice makes great leftovers. You know when you make guacamole or other avocado dish and by day 2 it's a brown slimy mess? Not so with this dish, because of the lemon juice, this rice tastes (and looks!) just as great on day 2 as it did fresh.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mother's Day Brunch Extraordinaire

Happy Belated Mother's Day to all you Moms out there. Here's what we did to honor my mom this year. 

Bookmark this page because you are going to want to make this brunch for your next special occasion. It was phenomenal. Good job to my husband for creating these masterpieces! I can only take the table setting credit. And the bacon, which I made in the oven. Oh, and I made the fruit salad too—which I should get some credit for, there was a mango in there! If there is a secret to slicing a mango, I have not yet learned it.

Mother's Day Brunch Menu
Jordan Pond Popovers with Strawberry Jam and Organic Butter
Baked Eggs with Tomatoes Herbs and Cream
Apple Smoked Bacon
Mixed Green Salad with Herb Goat Cheese and a Lemon-Olive Oil-Shallot Vinaigrette
Fruit Salad
Orange Peach Mango Juice

Baked Eggs with Tomatoes, Herbs, and Cream
(adapted from the Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Breakfast & Brunch)

These are amazing. They taste rich and classy and much more complicated than they really are.

2 teaspoons of butter
2 or 3 tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup shopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
8 large eggs
4 teaspoons of heavy cream
4 teaspoons freshly grated Parmesan (if desired)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare four one-cup ramekins by greasing them with butter or spraying them with non-stick cooking spray.
Place the ramekins on a small rimmed baking sheet.

Slice four quarter-inch thick rounds of tomato and place in the bottom of each ramekin.
Then dice up the remaining tomato and combine in a small bowl with the basil, parsley, salt and pepper. 
Divide the mixture evenly among the ramekins. 
Cut up the butter into small cubes and dot evenly around each ramekin.

Break two eggs into each ramekin.
Drizzle each ramekin with about 1 teaspoon of cream.
Top with a little more salt and freshly ground pepper.

Bake for 15-22 minutes until the yolks are firm on the edges but still soft in the center.

Garnish with a little sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan, if desired, and a little extra of the chopped herbs.

Bon Appetit!

We were also fortunate to have these amazing Jordan Pond Popovers as a starter. My Mom bought this mix for us on our vacation to Maine last summer and I've been waiting for the perfect opportunity to share them with everyone. Topped with imported french strawberry jam and organic butter. Yummy!

After Brunch we took Mom and Dad on a walk around the neighborhood (to Kerry Park, where else?). And then had a nostalgic walk around the Locks, reminiscing about all the times we took the boat through the locks for the first two years my parents had the boat and had it moored in the lake, just inside the locks.

Finally, we topped of the day with Menchie's Fro-Y. Look at these works of art! The fun thing about self-server fro-yo? Each cup is a masterpiece of self expression.
Can you guess whose flavor is whose?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Weekend Recap Part 1: Opening Day of Boating Season

What a great weekend. I hope you all had a wonderful one as well! We ate so much good food this weekend that I'm so excited to tell you about that I'm going to have to split this into two posts of deliciousness.

First, look at this amazing sandwich my husband brought me for dinner on Friday. It's from the Fifth Avenue Sandwich Shop in Olympia. This is one of my favorite sandwich flavors and something you don't see on menus very often. In fact, the last one I had, I think, was in graduate school at a really cool sandwich shop in Eugene.

I give you the Turkey + Cranberry + Cream Cheese on a sourdough and wheat swirl bread. Mmmmmm. The perfect start to Friday night:

After such a good food start to the weekend, we decided to start our celebration of Opening day of Boating Season with a scrumptious brunch at Portage Bay Cafe.

Wait time for a table inside = 45 minutes.
Wait time if we wanted to sit outside and wrap ourselves in colorful Mexican blankets and sip steaming hot coffee = 0 minutes. Yes please!

I enjoyed the Lemon Curd and Blueberry French Toast, complete with a trip to the world-reknowned toppings bar.

B ordered the Rancher's Breakfast which pretty much meant enough food for several farm hands. 

After breakfast we immediately went down to Montlake Cut to watch the boat parade. We may have arrived too late to see the crew races, but it was still fun!

The Virginia V celebrates Opening Day.
Seeing this little car-boat kind of gave me anxiety.
Then we realized there was a track meet going on in Husky Stadium, so we stopped and watched for awhile and felt inspired to go for a run later that afternoon (that inspiration was soon lost).

Men's 800 Meter.

Women's 5k.
There was a softball game happening as well! Along with the boat parade in the background. So much to look at!
We walked back to the car along Montlake Cut and got to see the boat parade in reverse, this time in the sun, so we sat down and dangled our legs over the edge of the water and watched for awhile.


Next, let me tell you about the amazing brunch we made my mom for Mother's Day.