Last week, I won a seat to Becky’s (aka ChefReinvented) kitchen to taste the recipes for her upcoming cookbook on sustainable fish. Lucky me! One of the funnest and delicious evenings I’ve had in a long time. She cooked and poured wine. I tasted and gave comments. Can we do it again please?
People say good or bad things come in 3s. Perhaps there’s some truth to it. The third less than stellar dining out this week was at Matsu Sushi in Lynwood, WA.
A friend and I were meeting up for dinner in Lynwood and were both craving sushi. Sushi is one of my top favorite culinary creations. When asked what would be my last meal, I usually say sushi. That’s how much I love it.
We ended up ordering California roll, Tuna roll, and a Chicken Teriyaki dinner. The Cali roll was decent enough. The Tuna roll for some reason had “chunks” of wasabi inside that made me almost cry on several occasions. And the Chicken Teriyaki? Well, it might as well been called stewed chopped chicken with brown sauce.
Lynwood people, do you have a good sushi recommendation?
The next place to underwhelm was Canyons Restaurant in Redmond. This was a get together location for a meetup group. Understandably, the place had a convenient location for most, size/capacity, and affordability factors. Our server was wonderful, dealing with over 25 women, making sure our drinks were refilled and presenting each one of us with a separate check didn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated.
Driving to the restaurant, I was aware of the fact that I am not about to have a transcending food experience. But I was looking forward to finding something on the menu that I would like. Afterall, the restaurant itself claims: “Canyons menu has something for everyone.”
I was in the mood for a burger. To my surprise, the menu didn’t have a Southwestern Burger. When asked, the waitress didn’t offer to have the kitchen improvise – perhaps a burger with guacamole, roasted poblano peppers and Pepper Jack cheese would be a good idea for a Southwestern Slanted restaurant. Just saying.
I went with the Enchilada Verde. How did it make me miss that truly authentic Mexican or good Tex-Mex dishes I’ve had in Texas! This version of enchiladas smelled like a jar of slightly over-its-prime can of tomatillos. Sour. The chicken was hidden by globs of warm sour cream and stringy cheese. The beans were lacking any sort of flavor. I had to borrow some salsa from one of my dining partners in attempt to save them from drowning.
While talking about food, one of the ladies mentioned her experience at a Chinese restaurant. Native of Taiwan, she said the food was so bad that she couldn’t find the right words in English to describe it. When sending the food back, she has to switch to her native language to convey the food’s poor quality. If only the kitchen staff at Canyons spoke Russian 🙂
If anyone at Canyons is reading this, please take notice. Offering everything under the sun on your menu usually means that quality suffers.
For someone who loves food, I tend to be a bit particular when it comes to eating out in restaurants. Now, that doesn’t mean that I only want to eat in 5-star, Zagat rated, or “top of the list” places. When it comes to eating it’s about flavor, not the price tag or the prestige.
With certain lifestyle changes, eating out has become a less frequent experience, and as such, every time counts just a little bit more. This past week, I somehow managed to eat out three times, and sadly each one was a disappointing experience (as far as the food went, the company thankfully was stellar).
It all started out with an improptu happy hour at Duke’s on Green Lake.
One would think that on a Wednesday evening, a place in a popular location would be happening. One would be wrong. Entering Duke’s at 9pm (that’s the start of their happy hour), was a sad scene. Empty restaurant. But the drink menu promised a list of cheap cocktails, so my companion and I proceeded.
I chose the Grapefruit Nirvana, a combination of Finlandia Grapefruit with agave nectar, muddled fresh grapefruit and a splash of fresh squeezed lemonade. Apparently, the drink was voted most refreshing cocktail in Seattle — 2009. It was alright, but I highly believe it raised to its high award. There was a noticeable amount of alcohol, but the drink was a one-note wonder.
My food choice was a Sun–Dried Tomato Pesto Chicken Sandwich with all natural chicken breast, sun–dried tomato pesto sauce and warmed goat cheese. The waitress was gracious enough to let me substitute wasabi mayonnaise for the tarragon mayonnaise. It was an ok sandwich. The goat cheese was a tad overwhelming. The highly unfortunate part was the sandwich’s accompaniment – a pile of potato wedges. I would bet (and I’d win) that the wedges were frozen. They surely tasted it – stale and soggy.
Chances of me returning to Duke’s? What do you think?
This might sound funny, but I am happy that I do not keep Kosher. I love pork. The smell of bacon in the morning could serve as the best alarm or motivation to get out of the bed. One of the most memorable and delicious pork bites I had a pleasure of experiencing was in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. My friend Priscilla and I were visiting her parents and were treated to a whole underground roasted pig. Succulent, juicy and oh so tender. I can still taste it years later!
Since then, I’ve had my share of good and bad pork. When I heard that Paseo Caribbean Restaurant in Seattle (with two locations, one in Ballard and one in Freemont) had the best pork sandwiches, I had to try them out. Set to meet with a few friends at the Ballard location, the pork sandwich goodness couldn’t come quickly enough.
The brightly painted pink building cheerfully greeted its patron on the rainy Seattle afternoon. It’s a good thing that the restaurant had some covered sitting area at the counter along with communal tables and benches on the side.
Hungry yet? First, you navigate the menu board. I hope you brought cash – no credit cards or checks accepted here. I immediately was drawn to the Cuban Roast Sandwich, THE most popular sandwich according to Paseo. For $7.50, you get a toasted baguette, generously slathered with aioli and filled with tender, pulled pork coated in the special Paseo sauce. Topped with thick slices of sweet, caramelized onions, rings of pickled jalapenos, chopped cilantro and crunchy Romaine, the sandwich was calling out my name…loudly.
I placed my order and waited, and waited – the place was busy! Everything was cooked to order, no microwave here. When I got my sandwich I was faced with a dilemma. How do I eat this?
The sandwich, wrapped in parchment paper, presented quite a challenge. Dripping with pork juice, mixed with aioli, I couldn’t quite get a handle on it. I asked for a fork and knife.
I have to say, this was one delicious sandwich! Lovely flavors of sweet onions and spicy, pickled jalapeno were a perfect compliment to the pork. The bread, partially soaked with the garlic aioli and Paseo sauce still remained its crusty outside and chewy interior. I couldn’t finish the sandwich in one setting, but had no problem enjoying leftovers once I got home.
Melissa also went for a sandwich, choosing the original and legendary Grilled Pork sandwich. Dana went for the goods – fish, salad, grilled caramelized onions, beans and corn. We left happy and full. With plenty of items left on the menu board, I am sure we will be back. I’m already thinking of a sunny afternoon and a walk along Ballard waterfront.
One “but.” Dear Paseo people, if you are listening, please add friend plantains to your menu! Thank you.
What happens when you double the recipe? You have twice as many Hamantaschen to make! Honestly, I got a tad tired rolling out, cutting out, filling, and shaping the first night, so I left the rest of the dough for the next day.
The dough remained the same but the filling changed.
Number one, I ran out of the chocolate chips. And to be perfectly honest, I didn’t like the chocolate chips too much in the first batch – they were delicious while the Hamantaschen were warm – still gooye and oozing the rich, chocolate goodness. However, once the Hamantschen cooled, the chocolate chips completely hardened, and didn’t add much to the filling.
What to do? I mixed 2 parts blueberry jam, 1 part toasted chopped walnuts, and 1 part raisins. It’s a miracle!!! A truly delicious combination with great texture and thick enough to hold within the dough. Still have that glass of milk handy? Drink up!
One more thing, this time around, I held the batches of the formed Hamantaschen in the refrigerator prior to baking and I do think it helped them to retain the shape. I also found that buttering the cookie sheet was unnecessary.
Happy Purim! Purim is often referred to as the Jewish Halloween or the Jewish Madri Gras. It’s the time to put on your costumes, celebrate Esther and eat Hamantaschen!
Usually, Hamantaschen are made with a poppy seed filling. I decided to go a different route. My filling was a combination of my mom’s homemade black currant jam, toasted chopped walnuts and semi-sweet chocolate chips. Once the cookies were filled and formed, I lightly brushed the outside with milk and sprinkled poppy seeds.
Make sure to pinch the edges of the cookies tightly to prevent the filling from spilling out and forming lovely pools on your baking sheet. Chilling the formed cookies in the refrigerator prior to baking will also help them to keep the shape and spread out less.
As hard as it might be, do wait for the cookies to cool slightly before eating. Pour a glass of milk, and enjoy!