Monday, April 26, 2010

A Japanese Delicatessen

I’d like to submit a formal request for a restaurant like Delica to open in Seattle. Preferably in Capitol Hill or Pioneer Square.

I visit San Francisco quite frequently, several times a year, and I just returned from a long weekend there. So many good restaurants to visit—old favorites and the ever changing docket of new choices—and I try to squeeze some of both each time I’m there.

Last weekend, I inadvertently conducted a mini-tour of new-places-that-serve-fancy-pizza, and I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite. Flour and Water, Contigo and Gialina. Amazing.
But almost every time I visit San Francisco, and usually on the morning before I fly out, I make my way down to the Ferry Building and eat a quick lunch from Delica. It’s a Japanese delicatessen. A deli counter with fresh salads, tofu served several ways, and a few meat options. I always get the Spicy Burdock Root Salad and the Hijaki and Soybean Salad, served with steamed rice and black sesame seeds. It’s reasonably priced for being snug in the middle of the extremely gourmet, locally sourced, organic Ferry Building, and it's healthy, fresh, filling, and oh so tasty.
And it’s always just what I want after a trip full of eating, and before a flight home.  

The closest options I can think of in Seattle are the deli counter at Uwajimaya, and Maruta Shoten in Georgetown. Am I missing something? If yes, please point me in the right direction. If no, please respond to my request and open up a Delica clone somewhere nearby. Soon.  Thanks.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cuckoo For Tarragon

I’ve gone cuckoo for tarragon. More specifically, for tarragon-mustard vinaigrette. I want to put it on everything. I can’t stop. I think it should make me feel French—or at least like I am in France—but I haven’t been there since 8th grade, so I am not sure what that feels like.
A few weeks ago I made Steamed Artichokes with Tarragon-Mustard Vinaigrette from the April/May issue of Fine Cooking. It was a great appetizer—a little more refined than dipping artichoke leaves into mayonnaise, and we scarfed it down just as quickly.
Then I thought the leftover dressing would probably be pretty good on green leaf lettuce with salami and radishes. I was right.
I have since made two more batches, with slight variations, and had it spooned over steamed baby carrots (actual little carrots, not those awful, whittled away “baby-cut” carrots), tossed with arugula, and seeped into boiled potatoes.
Give it a try. It’s other-worldly.

Tarragon-Mustard Vinaigrette

½ cup olive oil
1 cup loosely packed tarragon leaves, finely chopped
2 T finely chopped shallots
¼ t red wine vinegar
½ t Dijon mustard
¼ t kosher salt

Sunday, April 11, 2010


The newest member of my household arrived in a jar last Saturday, and the first thing I did was starve it for a week. Quite the warm welcome, I know, but luckily everything seems to be fine.
My friend Jordan gave me some of his sourdough starter, and I have a lot to learn. It’s no ordinary cooking ingredient—this thing needs to eat. Sometimes it likes to be in the fridge, and other times it prefers the counter. And I could very well be responsible for killing it.
My favorite source for the science of cooking is Shirley O. Corriher’s Cookwise. I pulled it out yesterday and read up on starters. Apparently, sourdough starter is a symbiotic relationship between yeast and bacteria. So I guess there are two new members of my household.
I really like the idea of a starter—a little boost from a friend to help you towards your goal. I wish there were starters for other household projects. I could have used a laundry starter this weekend. And a starter to clean my barbeque, which is overflowing with ashes. And there are many weeknights when a simple dinner starter would come in handy.
I fed the starter a few times this weekend to get it good and bubbly, and made a nice little loaf of bread today. It's pretty good, and quite lovely to look at, but there are a few things I'll change next time. Maybe I’ll advance to pancakes and muffins, but for now I am working on bread. And on not killing the starter.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Hen Party

I thought it was time for a Hen Party—get the girls together, good wine, good food, and good conversation. And being a fan of the double entendre, I thought it would be a nice idea to serve hens.

I love Mario Batali’s Italian Grill cookbook, and it has a recipe for guinea hen breasts with rosemary and pesto. Perfect, I thought. Turns out, guinea hen breasts are not that easy to find in Seattle, so after trying three grocery stores, I settled on whole guinea hens from University Seafood and Poultry.
Guinea hens are a little bit smaller than most of the chickens we eat, and they have a richer flavor. I bought two to serve the six of us, and they took up the whole grill. This meant that I didn’t have enough room to cook them both over indirect heat. (Usually you push all the coals to one side of the barbeque and grill poultry over the over side so it doesn’t burn.) So, one of the hens burned very quickly. The other lived up to its reputation and was rich and flavorful.
With an amazing group of women over to keep things merry, and a tasty meal of artichokes and tarragon vinaigrette, fresh green salad from the farmer’s market, leeks in white wine, crusty bread, and ginger cookies with vanilla ice cream, the burned hen didn’t end up being much of a problem. Though next time I’ll be sure to stick to conventional wisdom and keep my hens away from the coals.