Category Archives: Food

Is it Getting Hot in Here? Seattle’s Overcrowding Sandwich Metaphor

Seattle is the fastest growing major metropolitan area in the US and we are all feeling the heat from it. Or maybe that’s heat emanating from this global climate change? Regardless of causation, soon Seattle will basically be Houston, and I for one don’t like it.

The population explosion is undeniable — or so says some reputable sources like recent census data and the guy that was complaining about all the recent traffic congestion that was standing next to you having a conversation with no one while you waited in line at Jimmy Johns. I don’t eat Jimmy Johns per se, in fact I think Jimmy Johns is a microcosm of everything that’s wrong with America and is a great illustration of why everyone should leave Seattle.

It’s so uniform and sterile, like the high-rise condo complexes that are exploding on South Lake Union, Ballard, and Interbay — and you know exactly what kind of perfectly-manicured-genetically-modified sandwich is coming out of the assembly line of smiling-sandwich-assembling-faceless-bots that are asking you if you want extra cheese for just $1 more – NO I WOULD NOT LIKE EXTRA CHEESE.

This may look like an innocuous sandwich, but I got it the day this place went out of business... I generally avoid going-out-of-business food

This may look like an innocuous sandwich, but I got it the day this small “Mom n’ Pop” place went out of business. As a rule, I generally avoid going-out-of-business food, but I also believe that this sandwich represents what was once right with the world. Yes it made me sick because this was the last of their inventory, but I took one for the American dream.

Give me an old-fashioned $5-footlong from Subway with brown lettuce and green tomatoes any day of the week or an instantly disintegrating meatball marinara sub from TOGOs that I can eat with a spoon in front of the TV. These were sandwiches that you could drive to without being stuck in gridlock, be treated terribly by staff while no one else was waiting with you, and then shame-eat in the comfort of your own desk or dark living room while Die-Hard 3 was playing in the background. You didn’t have to worry about all these other people coming in and demanding higher quality ingredients and timeliness. He’d get to making your sandwich as soon as he was done with his text, k!? Stop being so pushy!

All of the transplants migrating to Seattle for that great tech job are jump-starting the course of sandwich innovation and ruining all of our lives in the process. Don’t get me started on the concept of innovation. There is good evidence that innovation in fact hurts our economy and well-being. The argument being that making things cheaper/faster/easier leads to more consumption.

Let’s all collectively agree to take a deep breath and not worry about the fact that our sandwiches are sloppily made with terrible ingredients. Let’s get back to the simpler times where everyone was getting a  no-interest/no-income mortgage that allowed them to live out their American Dream of moving to the ‘burbs to live in a 4,000 square foot McMansion. They can all work from home making up to millions of dollars per day in their spare time as well. That should cut down on all of this traffic congestion and get us back to the day when a modular condo wasn’t created every 3 seconds!

 

 

Vegan Pasta Smothered in Bacon Grease | In random honor of last November being vegan month…

I posted this on my friend Helen’s awesome vegan blog and was feeling quite lazy (and guilty about not posting), so here it is re-purposed (without any additional work done on my part, nnnnnnnnnnn-joy-it)….

 

I’ve never intended to make anything vegan, I’d like to make that quite clear. I enjoy butter and panchetta on my pasta probably more than any morbidly obese Italian you or I know – but this past weekend something strange happened. I made home made pasta, which is virtually impossible to f-up, and I f-ed up. I forgot to put egg in.

This wasn’t supposed to be vegan, but it actually turned out edible. Slightly disappointing, but with enough love and oil (not to be confused with “love oil” it turned out.

My problem started with the website, Allrecipes.com. This is a local company and a great cooking resource. And really the ads are very understated for a non-subscription service; but there were too many examples and I reached for the lowest hanging fruit.

I chose the flour, water, and salt one. For some reason, it felt right at that time, even though I knew you usually put egg in. So, I inadvertently made vegan pasta, which tasted eerily like cho fun noodles. I love beef chow fun, but now it seems as if that might be vegan too? I had vegan ham once at a Vietnamese restaurant… I digress.

I thought I might do a little investigation because while the dinner was still pretty great, and completely vegan, it didn’t leave me feeling the same way it usually does. Blissfully as if it’d had an egg.

So here’s what I did. I went back and found the recipe: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Eggless-Pasta/Detail.aspx

See if you can crack the code. I’m an idiot, but I enjoyed my accidental foray into veganism and I may even try to purposefully do that again really soon. Just not home made pasta.

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James Taylor has more blogs than he knows what to do with, please, please help him. If you have any interest in any of these things, he’s really desperate for content and knows that you’re really gud at righting!

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Oops, I did it again… Chipotle

3 Irrefutable facts:

  1. We are all creatures of habit…
  2. Habits are hard to break….
  3. Burritos are the best comfort food on earth as well as the most perfectly engineered super-fast-food (as long as the tortilla and foil hold).

Up until recently, they were the province of those who lived in states within relatively close-enough proximity to Mexico. Not anymore. Damn you Chipotle.

I railed against a horrible ailment that stricken’s us all when I used to work in The Mission (San Francisco) — the failure of many of us to expand what I succinctly and elegantly coined, our TADSTFWFL. 

I’ve seriously been at a new job downtown (Seattle) for less than 3 weeks and I’ve been to Chipotle 3 times. Seriously 3 of 12 days – 1/4 of all lunch’s for you math nerds, with the others filled with some pretty awful Chinese, leftovers or a company party.

McDonald’s used to own Chipotle I thought? Then they were super green for recycling all the used paper towels into the bowls they put their delicious “burrito without the bun” or whatever they call it into. They are publicly traded and I should definitely buy their non-consumable stock, because the line to buy the stuff is horrendously long.

Anyway(s)

Whaaaaaaaaaaaat? Down 14.5% – this is Kung-Foolery’s, “karate-chop-stock-of-the-week”! Buy it now. It’s packed!

that Repurposed Here…

Stretching the boundary of Comfort.

It is a little known fact that 54% of all statistics are made up on the spot.  A more well established statistic is this:  The Average Distance Someone Travels From Work For Lunch (TADSTFWFL) = 1.189564450 sq. blocks.  For someone downtown this means eating the same sandwich over and over again from the same 5 or 6 places.  For someone who works in SOMA it means eating out of the same dumpsters time and again. 

Considering Ovahere.com is situated in the beautiful and historic Mission, I would surmise that I ate around 548 burritos from within a 1 block area of our office last year alone.  I love these burritos, and they love me, there’s no denying that.  They are undoubtedly delicious and fulfilling in the moment, with their guacamole, black beans, salsa verde, rice, carne asada/carnitas/pollo, crema y cilantro (and of course love), but each one is bordering on the surgeon generals recommended daily caloric intake and 4 times the recommended fat intake.  That coupled with the Popeye’s that is within 10 feet from the entrance to our building leads me to the conclusion that I should be morbidly obese any day now.  Popeye’s is actually nominally better for me, because at least the portion sizes are only recommended for 3 people.  Despite what G.W. says, the future is not big and bright; it’s almost bed-ridden. 

For the sake of simplification we will refer to the 1.189564450 sq. block area that the average American worker walks to get lunch as their “Area of Comfort” or AC for short (not to be confused with OJ’s number one homeboy).  That being said I go on a mission (pun intended) to walk outside my AC about once every 3 weeks, or about as often as I used to go to the gym when I was still tricking myself into paying them every month.  I tell you it is remarkable what you will find if you just walk a little beyond the border of your AC — quite remarkable.  I’ll give you an example:  I was making my bi-monthly conscientious effort to move beyond the AC and what did I stumble upon?  That’s right, you guessed it, Pizza!  Yes in between Mission and Valencia on 21st St. there is a great little hole in the wall with tasty slices.  If I had never bothered to look beyond my AC, it would have remained hidden. 

On another such venture I walked even farther down Mission and found a gem called Pete’s Barbeque.  This is a 50’s style diner that serves up roast beef sliced thick right in front of you on homemade bread and tender ribs slathered in tangy sauce.  The place looks like it hasn’t been remodeled since it was opened, but considering the block of Mission it’s on, it appears relatively clean.  I have one might call an “addictive personality”, especially when referring to fine cuts of bloody red meat.  Needless to say I got stuck in a little bit of a rut with Pete’s and it was incorporated into my AC, which definitely wasn’t the point of my exercise.  Only when I was affected by a bout of dysentery (unfortunately caused by the lack of hygiene at Pete’s) did I take a break.  Everyone in our office had been turned on to the beauty of the Pete’s roast beef sandwich, but we all suffered the same way after eating that beautiful sandwich. 

What is the point to this breakdown of conventions you may ask?  It’s that we all get too accustomed to things being a certain way, we get fat and happy, but it’s a façade.  To truly be happy you must go beyond your limits, find that pizza or tasty-yet-dysentery-causing sandwich, and you will have truly found satisfaction.  It’s out there people, just go that extra block.

The Vancouver Dining Scene – Indicative of the New Pervasive Norm in Fine Upscale Sportsbar-ry…

I’ve traveled (driven) to Vancouver BC quite frequently for work and dined at what are considered some of the best restaurants, but there is a serious misconception surrounding the dining culture up North that confounds me. The idea that Vancouver is a “foodie” city – it just isn’t. In the newer, non-traditional, downscale sense it has some things on paper that would make it great for foodies and it has a ridiculous number of food bloggers. It also has amazing street food, greatly influenced by many Asian cultures.

The prime example and gold standard of Vancouver street food is Japadog  Japadog (Burrard & Smithe) on Urbanspoon which was thoughtful enough to combine the simple hotdog with Japanese flair. It’s one of the top 5 most popular restaurants in Vancouver and definitely tastes inventive and great when you want to eat a hot dog in the street at 2 am, but, a foodie spot? No, it’s a Vancouver spot, and, what actually should be considered the most Vancouver spot is not one actual location at all, but a concept I like to call Hot Girls and Truffle Oil (HGTO).

The HGTO concept originated at Earl’s in West Vancouver Earl's on Urbanspoon and I had the honor of attending what I believe was a cross between there 40 Year Anniversary party and the poor man’s version of a Puff Daddy’s Hampton’s white party. It was magical, and you guessed it! populated by a lot of HGTO.

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Kid-friendly Restaurants: Taking a Toddler Out to Eat Can be Humbling…unless you go prix fixe

You know that phrase, the “terrible two’s,” I hate it.   I think it’s a pretty harsh descriptor of those traits that kids start to exhibit when they hit this magical age where they start to talk back and learn to smoke cloves (just kidding mom).  I understand why kids exhibit some of these early traits – mainly because they can finally comprehend things like interpersonal relationships and Dora the Explorer, but still believe the world revolves completely around them (uh, and do we really ever realize that it doesn’t?).  Sure, they rely too heavily on the word “no” and in general are quite precocious, but they are by no means terrible people for it.

Until that is, the first time you take them to a restaurant expecting their “usual” behavior (happy to eat crayons and make the busser’s job a living hell), but they end up acting like a total jerk.  They’re bored easily, only want to eat your food and spill your wine (or boiler maker), and have no patience for bad service.  This happened with AT at about 20 months, and I’ll admit, they are awful human beings when they hit the point of no-return (to that particular restaurant at least) – or PONRTTPRAL.

This is what the restaurant floor looks like after we leave…. sorry!

Luckily, AT is pretty cute, and the down economy is effecting the restaurant business, so servers and bussers are generally much more tolerant – especially when you go to the places that are kid-friendly, like Mexican Food Restaurants, Breakfast spots (before they turn into brunch spots), or Ice-cream-for-lunch locales, but that doesn’t make the experience completely… pleasant.

So without further adieu, here are my favorite kid-friendly restaurants from the afore-mentioned categories.

ROSITA’s near Greenlake:  Best Kid-Friendly Mexican

This was one of the first places I brought AT after I realized she was a monster at restaurants and I love it for the 2 reasons I love and great Mexican restaurant in general:  1) they have great chips and salsa (no waiting to eat!), and 2) great scratch margaritas.  Having grown up in California, I won’t pretend that it’s super authentico, but it’s on par with Seattle’s best Mexi-merican (except La Carta de Oaxaca), and the staff seems to genuinely love kids and being around them.

Rosita's Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

Macrina Bakery in Belltown or Queen Anne:

The thing that makes this place so kid-friendly is not just that they have great breads and pastries that kids love (parents too), but that their staff really seems to love little kids – even when they are screaming, “I’m peeing daddy!” while they are still sitting in their chair.  The coffee is amazing, and really that is kinda the biggest deal when planning a place for breakfast – and the sandwiches can please the discerning parent as well as the risk-averse toddler.  I’d recommend not going at a brunch or standard eating time or it does get a bit dicey.

Macrina Bakery on Urbanspoon

Macrina Bakery on Urbanspoon

Molly Moon’s – Wallingford

Molly Moon’s is by far the best and most popular ice cream spot in the history of 5 dollar ice cream cones, and deservedly so.  The salted caramel ice cream has been raved about by gourmands better than me, so I won’t get too deep into how good n’ salty it is.  I’ll just say I love me some salt.  There are also some more banal flavors, like vanilla, that are more suitable to the offspring and AT has lapped-it-up it every time we’ve been.  However, the reason this is on my list for Seattle is not the award winning ice cream, it’s the people-watching.  There is a line at Molly Moon’s… 100% of the time.  Don’t fool yourself, going at 2 pm on Tuesday in February is not going to avoid a line.  A great benefit of the awareness that comes with the advancing age of a toddler (which then declines precipitously almost immediately after you reach 16), is that they love people watching -and most fun for the parents, they can make whatever innapropriate comment you wish you could as loud as they want!  Molly Moon’s is an uber-popular date spot, and while it’s mostly teenagers and younger folks, sometimes you get the giant age disparity couple.  We are all congregating in line and AT loves calling them out on it.  Just last week she screamed with joy, “Look daddy, that girl’s daddy has a beard too!”  An innoucous comment for sure, if this wasn’t some 50 year old out with someone that looked 22.

Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

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