mmm-yoso!!!, food blog. Kirk is in another country, Ed(from Yuma) is in another state and Cathy is here, in sunny Southern California, blogging about food.
Another overcast day here and time for a snack. I haven't posted about Up 2 Yoü for about two years, even though The Mister and I find time to stop here fairly often. The overhead has been replaced recently.The menu has stayed with almost exactly the same choices.The decor is also about the same as it was...eclectic.
As always, our order remained eerily similar yet with slight variances...This time, a fresh made crepe ($3.75) filled with egg custard ( 75¢) was a refreshing and not too sweet of a choice...However, still wanting an ice cream as well as a caffeinated product, an affogato ($3.95) with my choice of (unimaginative yet quite tasty) vanilla ice cream was our other shared item.
In the past two years, Up 2 Yoü has remained steadfast, profitable and even opened a second location near Mesa College, around the corner from K Sandwiches. (the pink square on the Up 2 You web page)
Most bloggers went here when it first opened, including Kirbie, cc and Jinxie. There are plenty of seating areas and board games you can check out. It's a nice relaxing local owned spot.
Up 2 Yoü Cafe 7770 Vickers Street (at Convoy) San Diego 92111 (619)663-6388 Website
The Missus and I have a pretty nice routine for our "easy" days when we visit "home".
Things start with breakfast. The Missus can never get enough papaya.......there's nothing even remotely close to this stuff on the mainland. And I love good pineapple. What do you expect from the grandchild/child of Maui Pine plantation workers?
We then head off to the Missus's favorite swim spot; of all places, Ala Moana Beach.
We head out right after the morning rush hour....it's a week day so it's all the old timers, students, and Japanese tourists taking wedding photos.
I've always been amazed at how they seem so easy going, wearing wedding gowns and tuxedos in humid, 85 degree weather. But after chatting with folks like Kat, I understand.
On this morning it wasn't one, but two sets of couples taking photos.
While the Missus swims, I usually do a complete lap of Ala Moana Park and sometimes even head off toward Ward Avenue. On days like this one, I can't help but think, "man, to believe that I used to take all of this for granted".
Once out and dry, the Missus and I will head off across the street to Honolulu Coffee Company for a Kona V60 pour over for the coffee snob.
And while it doesn't wow Her like it used to. It's still a good cup of coffee.
Honolulu Coffee Co (in Ala Moana Center) 1450 Ala Moana Blvd, Ste 3066 Honolulu, HI 96814
We then head off and do our various errands. On this day, we decided to head off to Kahala Mall; Whole Foods and the Apple Store were calling. I decided on stopping off at another of my old favorites, in my 'hood, Gina's Bar-B-Q, still going strong 23 years later.
You know, I remembered when this place first opened. It's typical Local style Korean, our version of a Meat and Three. You order your entrée(s) and get three of what we call "vegetables", basically panchan, and the proteins are cooked to order.
It's a very popular style, the most popular is probably a chain called Yummy Korean BBQ. Every one has their neighborhood favorites when it comes to the local kine Korean BBQ places. I used to like Kim Chi II, though I haven't been there in maybe 20 years. My mom liked Choi's Family Restaurant, many of my friends love Soon's in Salt Lake (Oahu, not Utah....).
I'm old enough to remember when Foodland, which is now on the other side of the parking lot used to be in this spot. My good friend's second job was with Foodland. I also remember when there was a very popular video game place here called....if I recall, "The Space"???? I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong. I remember once going to use the restroom and finding two huge bags of pakalolo right on the washbasin!
Anyway wanting to check out the state of the food at Gina's, I ordered a "special", still a bargain at eleven bucks or so. It comes with bulgogi, kalbi, and the item I used to really enjoy (second best - the spicy chicken was #1), the BBQ Chicken.
Anyway, we took it to go, got a small salad at WF in Kahala and proceeded to dig in. The bulgogi wasn't up to snuff, dry, bland, and tough. The kalbi was typical local style, nice flavor, but not the best. That chicken was still a winnah! Nice shoyu flavor, slight sweetness, chewy, but in a good way. There was of course, the equivalent of three scoops of rice under all of this, soaking up the juices and drippings. The "vegetables" were passable....I'd say, even better than what I get here at some of the rather pricey Korean places.
Even though it's more about a good value, the chicken is not bad.
I'm hoping to head back to Gina's for the spicy chicken next time. Hopefully, I won't have to wait another decade.
Gina’s Bar-B-Q 2919 Kapiolani Blvd Honolulu, HI 96826
After Donuts and then a Tasty N Alder stop, we were in dire need of some exercise. I took the Missus back through The Pearl and we stopped for caffeine at Barista. No pour over or anything like that available at this location. The Missus had a small coffee and I had an iced coffee while we went over our plans for the rest of the day.
Barista 539 NW 13th Ave Portland, OR 97217
The Missus had seen a couple of shops She wanted to stop into.
Filson is a well known brand, selling some really good outdoor wear. We took a look at some of the bags and luggage, but ended up not purchasing anything. Still, it was fun to browse.
Right across the street is Keen's Headquarters and a large shop called the Keen Garage which we checked out.
By now caffeine had kicked in and we were ready to head to our next spot. I'd already walked about 2 miles or so that morning. Then we walked up The Pearl.
Our next leg would take us about a mile and three-quarters, all the way down Alder and over the Morrison Bridge. You could tell that spring was on it's way as the Cherry Blossoms were starting to bud. All the "SW" avenues, became "SE" as we headed up SE 2nd Avenue and found our "light" lunch stop Olympia Provisions.
Regardless, they still have one of my favorite signs......
This shop tucked away in a restored warehouse-industrial building was recommended to us by a number of folks. And since the Missus is really into Her charcuterie/salumi it became a must visit for us.
We decided on the French Board, since the Missus loves Her rillettes and pates. The pork rillette is nicely made, decent salt, not overly seasoned, and quite porky. The pate was the Missus's favorite.
I actually enjoyed the saucisson, which we much more tender than I usually find around these parts. The flavors, while nicely seasoned and spice, just didn't seem overly salty. The garlic sausage was fine if a bit bland.
Seeing pickled egg on the menu; well, you know me, I had to order it. This was a mighty fine pickled egg, just the right amount of sourness with a nice pickling spice. Great flavor and texture.
The Missus wanted to try a cheese. We decided to get something from Oregon. The only choice was Opal Springs from Ancient Heritage Dairy. Made from raw cow and sheep milk, I was told that this is aged 60 days and the rind is brine washed. It was quite smooth and very mild for a washed rind cheese.
This was very easy to eat, though the mild flavors were wiped out when eaten after the cured meats.
Overall, we really enjoyed this meal. Wish this was in our neck of the woods. We'll be sure to drop by again next time we're in Portland.
Olympic Olympia Provisions 107 SE Washington St Portland, OR 97214 Hours: Monday 11am - 3pm Tues - Thurs 11am - 10pm Friday 10am - 10pm Saturday 10am - 10pm Sunday 10am - 9pm
Bellies happy, we headed off to our next stop....it was time for a beer!
After a short nap, we awoke...well a bit groggy. So we figured it was time for a walk and maybe some coffee.
We passed all those familiar places...well, at least to me. The Missus really didn't remember much about Portland, other than "Pod", how much she didn't care for Voodoo Donuts, stuff like that.
She did remember the Pioneer Square area and the really nice and friendly Police Officer we met there. That's kind of how travel is; most times, the sites are great, but it's the people that you remember.
Last time we were in Portland, we stayed at the Embassy Suites, which is right across the street from Stumptown Coffee Roasters. I thought it would be nice to drop by again.
The place looks the same. I'm not sure if it's just me; but the baristas here always seem a bit detached, jaded, and "too cool" for us customers. Maybe if I grew a beard, had tats on my arms, and pierced various parts of my anatomy? Fat chance on that though.....
This visit was more for the Missus. She's kind of become one of those pseudo "Third Wave" snobs. Remember those posts on Haraaz Red Maraqaha beans that are Her favorite? Or the cups of Panama Geisha from Bird Rock? She thought a visit here would be interesting to see how Her tastes have changed. And they've changed a lot and so have mine. I'm not a coffee snob, though I know what the Missus enjoys, so I instantly knew upon tasting the cold brew that it wasn't going to cut it; I like nitro cold brew and this Kenya was decent, but I've actually had better at Dark Horse.
Stumptown Coffee Roasters 128 Sw 3rd Ave Portland, OR 97204
It was still too early for our dinner reservations; so we decided to take a walk around a bit. One of my favorite buildings in Portland is the Dekum Building. The red brick, very German, Romanesque styling make this structure; built in 1891 by Frank Dekum really stand out. Even more entertaining is the story that during the building of this structure, the masons drank beer every morning instead of coffee. The magic of hops; the place is still standing and looking as beautiful as ever.
We headed to downtown proper; past the Thompson Elk Fountain, which made me realize, for some reason, I really hadn't taken many photos during my visits in Portland. So heck, I needed at least one of Portlandia (the statue, not the show).
The Missus was starting to get hungry, so we decided to walk over to our dinner destination. In the beginning, I started with a list, than pared it down based on the Missus's eating habits and preferences. Le Pigeon was on that list, but I thought visiting Gabriel Rucker's other restaurant, the more bistro like Little Bird would be more relaxed. I recall calling and making a reservation, the young lady on the line asked me, "will you be celebrating a special occasion with us? Is there anything special we can do?"
We had arrived early, the place was empty except for one table. The young lady manning the hostess stand was relaxed and friendly. She offered us several tables. I ended up asking her to make the choice for us. So, we ended up getting "her favorite table" on the mezzanine. "Half the fun is watching the place come alive" she said.
I couldn't agree more. Much like The London Plane, having a bird's eye view was worth the price of admission.
The young man who was our Server was quite nice, friendly, but not too friendly, efficient, but not in your face, just perfect for our temperament. When I presented our plan; Chalkboard Special items, to be shared family style, rather than the usual appetizer-entrée service, he was all for it. He told us, "this is going to be great. I was a customer here for two years before working here."
At this point, I'm sorry to say, the photos aren't going to be up to standard. We didn't bring our huge DSLR with us....and in all honesty, I would have felt quite uncomfortable busting the beast out in a situation like this. It just doesn't seem right.
So we march onward. The Charcuterie Board ($25), was solid, if not outstanding.
We're used to charcuterie that makes a statement. Many of the items offered, like the pork rillettes were quite mild, almost lost without accoutrements, in that case, the pickled onions were a must. The texture of the pate was so decadent, but the flavor just needed that "umph". The one item that was full of flavor was the Smoked Pork Mousseline, in this case, not a forcemeat, but a flavorful smoked pork tenderloin. The scotch egg was great, drippy and oozy, the breading balancing out the books.
Next up is what I think is the best thing I've had since our dinner at Suzunari in Tokyo. The Seared Foie Gras, Shaved Oregon Winter Truffle, Foie Gras Sausage (we were told 3 parts chicken - 1 part foie), porcini puree (more like a porcini-butter mousse). Oh, just kill me now.....
Without getting too wordy....I didn't even mention the balsamic glaze, I have to say all of these strong flavors and amazing textures really played well together. The porcini puree was a great example; it was so assertive solo, but together with the foie gras, things balanced out. When eating products like this, I want the true flavor to come through....and then the combination of items which can take the dish a bit higher, perhaps transform and balance the textures, richness, and flavor. This was it for us. Worth every penny ($26).
The Roasted Marrow Bones ($21) were also quite good. The pairing of marrow bones with escargot - "ants on a log" is a classic one. In this case, it included snail sausage, which I thought was quite good.
It was served with some delicious rapini, a nice, thick parmesan vinaigrette, which added an acid-milky component to the dish. The bone marrow was perfectly prepared; in San Diego, I've encountered unrendered product. The naan like flatbread was kind of an afterthought for us.
Our evening had gone quite well, until the wait for our last dish, which took nearly 20 minutes, the Anchovy Cured Pork Belly ($15).
I gotta say, that cauliflower puree was great, just the right amount of seasoning and butter; the texture sublime. The Missus was ok with this, but I thought it was really salty. On the menu it says "crispy boquerones", which were really much too salty fried anchovies. A bit too heavy in terms of sodium. Nice textures, if a bit over-the-top for me.
We didn't go with any wine with dinner, so the damage turned out to be $87....no tax in PDX....which the Missus made sure to tell me after having recently spent over a hundred bucks for a mediocre meal at the Smoking Goat.
Little Bird Bistro 219 SW 6th Ave Portland, OR 97204
So now he Missus wants to make sure we visit Le Pigeon next time! I think She's ready for it.
After dinner, we headed around the block to Bailey's Taproom for a nightcap. I loved the display which showed the status of every keg and what was lined up.
Loved the half pours, 10 ounces was enough for me after all the rich food. A bit too many hipsters, but we enjoyed the place.
Here's what it looks like in daylight as I walked by the next morning. Great selection....
Bailey’s Taproom 213 SW Broadway Portland, OR 97205
During this time of the year, folks are usually quite busy, so here's something short and sweet for Monday.
Jin's Pot appears empty:
Slight pun intended, though I'm not quite sure what to make of the Notice of Non Responsibility....I'm guessing there's a possibility of a lien against the business that the property owner is protecting themselves from. Doesn't sounds good.
The sign says they are reopening this month...so we'll see. Notice how they kept the same color sign?
9330 Mira Mesa Blvd #A San Diego, CA 92126
The Missus current favorite coffee:
While doing a short Trolley Brewery crawl with Candice; we stopped at Bird Rock Coffee Roasters in Little Italy. They had an interesting v60....with Haraaz Red Maraqaha. At almost $9, whew was it pricey.Though after tasting it; the smooth, berry flavors, the tongue coating richness with a nice clean finish. It's really a bit too smooth for me, but this is exactly what the Missus loves.....so I bought 8 ounces of beans - $21.95! Ouch!
That's ok though, since She really, really enjoyed, well I should say enjoys this as She's sent me back to pick up more. I'm sure She'll savor it while it lasts.
Bird Rock Coffee Roasters 2295 Kettner Blvd San Diego, CA 92101
Over the last couple of years, I've tried to plan something a bit "different" on our trips.....while it might not be different to the adventurous traveller, for basic folks, not on a tour, without a guide or handlers....well, it might be. When we visited Istanbul-Rhodes, we did a side trip to Symi. When in Tunisia, we travelled to Ksar Ghilane and slept in a tent in the Sahara, on our trip to Portugal and Rome, we visited Malta, on our trip earlier in the year, we took the train to Poperinge, then rented bikes to get to SAint Sixtus, in search of Westvleteren 12.....I know, there's a lot of catching up to do.
I knew there were places the Missus had always dreamed of visiting.....in some cases these places were just something from a photo She had seen. There was a classic photo of Japan......that looked something like this.
The "Floating Tori"........ So when making plans, between trips to Kyoto and Osaka, I made arrangements to stay over night on Miyajima. That way we'd be able to get past all the day trips. Luck was on our side as Typhoon Vongfong hit the night before we were set to leave.
And by the time we left, it was clear skies.....
Three people emailed me asking for photos of the Shinkansen......so here are a couple of the "Bullet Train" arriving at Kyoto Station.
Getting to Miyajima is a slam dunk....get to Hiroshima Station and change trains to Miyajimaguchi and catch the ferry. The only delay was when the train stopped for about 30 minutes midway. I'm thinking there were still some problems post-typhoon that were being taken care of.
The ferry takes about 10 minutes or so, and finding our hotel, which was right across the Ferry Terminal was a slam dunk. We dropped off our bags and headed off. What I didn't know was that we'd be so busy doing things we wouldn't return until nightfall!
What I really didn't anticipate were how, well, interestingly persistent these residents of the island were.
The deer here are quite, well, I'm not sure if "tame" is the right word. They are used to humans and will grab your bag or tear into your pockets looking for something to snack on. On the other hand, it was funny seeing kids tease the deer and then suddenly have the tables turned.....
There was, of course, one thing the Missus wanted to see. ....so we headed off ASAP. It wasn't hard finding the Floating Torii.
This torii is the gate to Itsukushima Shrine which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This Shinto Shrine is dedicated to the daughters of the God of the Sea and Storms, Susanoo-no-Mikoto.
The island itself was considered sacred, so the shrine was built, out into the bay, so that pilgrims could visit without setting foot on, and defiling the island.
In fact, I've read that to this day, no deaths or births are allowed in proximity to the shrine and no burials are allowed on the island!
It seems that the island was simply created for one to marvel in the beauty of it.
It's obvious why Miyajima is considered one of the three most scenic spots in Japan.
Photogenic sites like the 5-Story Pagoda look really beautiful, but not so much close-up.
It's much better to take a photo like this.....
And while the waterfront and the main shopping arcade are busy and full of tourists. It seems like the back streets are not. Right down the back steps from the pagoda things looked like this.
We caught the scent of coffee and found a little shop, which we later found is pretty popular named Sarasvati and had a nice cup fo coffee.
The great smell of coffee......it seems that Japan does love coffee and takes it to the next level.
It was a nice break. We sat and put together a plan for the rest of the day....which seemed quite easy at the time.
Of ocurse, everything seems simple over a nice cup of iced and non-iced coffee.
We hadn't eaten since our "Vongfong snacks" the night before so getting a bite ot eat would be the first priority.
I had received a recommendation for Miyajima from a friend. Now the trick was finding the place......addresses on Miyajima, much like other places in Japan are kind of a mystery to me. Though in terms of being a trick, it wasn't nearly as amazing as what what that pooch was doing standing on the dude's shoulders! That is one talented and well trained dog.
Anyway, bolstered by our coffee we set off....trying to find our lunch destination. One really nice thing about Miyajima, and Japan as a whole, is people are so very helpful.
As we wandered the back streets, we'd ask people for directions and they were so helpful.
The place was actually located in the main shopping arcade, duh. Here's a photo of the front of shop later in the day.
When we arrived, there was a line outside the restaurant and that oyster grill was going full tilt. Unfortunately, there were only "tatami style seating available. So, there I was....when was the last time I sat this way? I could hear my joints, making a sound like twigs snapping in a windstorm as I tried to sit correctly. My left foot immediately fell asleep and I had the mental picture of trying to get up and falling over on another table and impaling myself on one of those little replicas of the Floating Torii that accompanied the raw oysters.
It was oyster season, so guess what we ordered......
The Nama-Gaki, oysters on the half-shell, really didn't make much of an impression.
While very meaty, they lacked any real, distinct flavor, that would make an imprint in my mind. Very mild, lacking in any great aftertaste, really not impressed. This would be great for the "oyster gringo", you know, the guy who hits the raw bar and says, "gimme the biggest oysters you got.....".
The anago really didn't impress me as well.
Things turned on the kaki-furai....the fried oysters seemed to highlite the best of the local bivalve.
My goodness, the initial crisp texture, followed by the meaty follow-up...something happens when you apply heat to these oysters; the briney-beefy flavor is magnified. This was quite delicious.
The crescendo peaked with the grilled oysters.....
The smoke from the grill just added an additional layer of flavor which took these meaty morsels to the next level. Now I understood what the deal was with Miyajima Oysters......
Life was good. I managed to get up after our meal without falling over onto another table.
The Missus had made Her plans for the day and now it was all about surviving it.
Yakigaki No Hayashi 505-1 Hatsukaichi Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan
The Missus had made some plans for our third day in Kyoto. Unfortunately, the impending arrival of Typhoon Vongfong made us change our plans a bit. Masae, the owner of our Machiya kept us apprised of the Typhoon situation, as did Kat. So instead of doing the Philosopher's Walk, we headed off to Shijo-dori to wander around and do some shopping.
Strangely, most things seemed like business as usual. We walked through the Gion and over the bridge, first heading to Nishiki Market, which, unlike the mass of humanity we encountered on our first day in Kyoto was quite sedate at this time of the day.
A handful of businesses were closed, but for most it was just another day it seemed. Like these two who were out scrubbing the walkway in fornt of their shop.......right before a Typhoon?
My favorite stop was the knife shop....with all the handmade scissors and knives.
At the east end of Nishiki Market on Teramachi street is Nishiki Tenmangu Shrine.
The lanterns are quite stunning.
The water that comes from the deep well in the shrine is supposed to be so pure and clean that it has no odor and the temperature is usually at a steady 65 degrees.
The shopping arcades were quite empty at this time of the morning......in startk contrast to our previous visit to the area.
We couldn't help but notice all the "Kyoto drip" gear in a shop called Holly's Cafe as we walked past.
The Missus, who's become a bit of a coffee nerd over the last year just had to stop. So I had a nice Kyoto cold brew....which was very cheap compared to the states....like about $2.50 or so!
It was a nice and relaxing break.......sitting and watching the folks walk by on a slightly wet Sunday morning.
Refreshed we headed off, across the Kamo River for the umpteenth time.
On the corner of Hanamikoji and Shijo streets the Missus found a bustling shop.....full of make-up and other stuffs. One of the objectives of this trip was to stock up on various brands and products, so the Missus was in heaven.
The store was a outpost of Yojiya a time honored Kyoto brand known for their facial blotting paper. The Missus had a blast and purchased a good number of gifts.
We'd done a pretty good job of passing the time and the Missus was getting hungry. She was still craving that karaage from Karako, so we headed up Higashishoji-dori, first stopping off to unload our purchases.
Unfortunately, Karako was closed due to the impending storm. I recalled a couple of shops across the street and we found one of them open. We decided on eating here based on the plastic food display.
No English spoken, but not a big deal..... I had the Tempura Soba, which was nice and hot.
The Missus had been wanting to have a Katsudon, one of Her favorite dishes since we got to Japan, so She got Her wish...though what She really wanted was a Chicken Katsudon, which seemed to be pretty rare.....anyway, She finally got a katsudon.
She actually enjoyed the miso soup the most. As for the katsudon? I think it did the job, though She did tell me; "you know what....you make a pretty good katsudon."
Usually, when we travel, I get some aches and pains from all the walking......with the Missus making fun of all the "grandpa" noises I make. On this trip, I could tell that all the walking was taking a toll on the Missus as well. Somehow, it just made all my aches feel that much better....I guess sharing the wealth does that to you.
Heading back for a post lunch nap we passed this shop.
This place specialized in Yatsuhashi, one of the most well known confections of Kyoto.
We decided to get a few nama yatsuhashi....the soft, unbaked version to try.
I'm not big on sweets and the Missus doesn't care for cinnamon flavored confections, so while it was nice to try these, I don't think we'll be racing back to buy any.
We headed back in a rather roundabout way, taking our time. It had started to rain intermittently, the sky was getting pretty dark, and the wind was starting to pick up.
Even the ducks in Shirakawa Canal seemed to think something was up as they all faced the same direction....upstream.
We headed back to the machiya, the Missus took a nice long bath, and I worked on a post. We'd been going at a pretty good pace so an easy day was a nice treat and just what we needed.
After a short nap we awoke and decided to take a walk around. It was starting to rain pretty hard and the wind was blowing pretty good.....but there were still quite a few people and cars out and about.
We wandered around a bit, then headed back....
Meanwhile, many of the shops in the shopping arcade started closing up early. Even with all of this; things just seemed to happen at a very relaxed pace. Before leaving Tokyo, we chatted with Reiko about the Typhoon. She said, "yes Kirk-san, there will be some rain, maybe some wind......." Some rain? Maybe some wind?
Darkness seemed to fall quickly, like someone pulling a shade down. The big question was, "what are we going to eat?" There was always picking something up at Family Mart....you could basically live out of convenience stores in Japan....though I'm not quite sure what your sodium levels would be after a couple of weeks.
We'd noticed a gyoza shop right around the corner from the shopping arcade the previous day. This seemed like a simple, light meal.
Just one of the many shops you see everywhere.... Serving basically one thing; here it's gyoza, with a few small "salads" on the menu. And cold beer......nice, cold, and refreshing beer.
The gyoza was as good a gyoza can be; crisp on the bottom, the filling nice and light....nothing like a good guotie, mind you, but still good.
We actually enjoyed the onion salad more.
Earlier in the evening, Kat sent me a text, reminding me to pick up some snacks since we wouldn't be going out and about this evening. Thanks Kat! So on the way back, we dropped by the market, which was pretty busy........ I guess everyone was buying some snacks on typhoon night!
So that's what we did as typhoon Vongfong passed. The Missus was upstairs reading....while I turned on a television for the first time during this whole trip and watched storm reports....
While having a couple of beers and some snacks.
Sometime before drifting off to sleep the Missus said, "you owe me......another trip to Kyoto". I told Her, "no problem, we can come back anytime you want." We have unfinished business here. Which I'm hoping to take care of in the near future.
Before heading off to Sitka & Spruce for dinner, the Missus needed a couple of gifts. Chocolate is always appreciated. I looked up a couple of places and found a listing for Intrigue Chocolate who specializes in truffles.
The kitchen, cum shop is located....well, I'll quote the website:
"The shop, which is also our industrial-style kitchen, can be a little tricky to find because we are not on the street level. Easiest way to find us is to find the entrance to Sake Nomi (Sake bar) and continue up the stairs. Then it's just down the hall which turns to the left, and we are the clearly marked brown door, third on the left."
The two guys running the place were so enthusiastic, they'd let us try everything if we'd been able to stay longer! They also make a nice cold brew concentrate as well!
Our favorites were the Juniper Berry and the Nutmeg & Chipotle.
We loved the place, they just seem to enjoy what they do.....and even though they currently use, high quality Belcolade chocolate, we were given a taste of a work in progress, the chocolate they are developing on their own. It was nice talking coffee and Belgian chocolate. We'll be back.
Intrigue Chocolate 76 S Washington St. Suite 104 Seattle, WA 98104
We headed back to our room, dropped off the truffles, and headed off to....
Sitka & Spruce:
The walk was a tad over a mile, though the hills.....sheesh...anyway we did pretty good time, about 20 minutes to Melrose Market in the popular and trendy Capitol Hill neighborhood. We loved the setting; Sitka & Spruce is located in back of the brick building, understated, in that warm, yet somewhat industrial style, high ceilings, a large communal table, and open kitchen.....
The restaurant itself is not large; just a few tables, counter, and communal table seating. As is our MO, we try to eat early, before the rush and crowds. We usually get a better experience and the restaurant is able to do "it's thing".
My main reason for selecting S&S was the menu, which is nice and tight, focusing on seasonal Northwest products. We both thought the tapas-type dishes were much more interesting and we prefer having a tasting style meal. Our diet has changed quite a bit over the last couple of years and the small dishes at S&S seemed right up our alley. A variety of great local produce with interesting combinations of texture and flavors. So we were quite excited to try this establishment of the Matt Dillon empire.
There was one interesting thing about the beverage selection.....based on our dinner the previous night at The Walrus and the Carpenter and now Sitka & Spruce, it seems that Wine and Cocktails are still king for meals in Seattle. Which I thought strange since I usually see Seattle ranked in the top 10 beer cities in the US. Here it's nothing on tap, five choices Hilliard from a can or Rainier?
Whatever....I guess we'd just go and find the Stumbling Monk, or another place after dinner.
We started with the Charcuterie ($25)
While the air dried ham (aka prosciutto, though they can't call it that) was "meh", really bland and lacking in the deep cured flavor we love, there were some real winner here. The chicken liver, basically a a light, spreadable pate really caught me off guard, sweet molasses at first, giving away to savory, with that chicken liver finish. I'm not a big fan of metallic chicken liver flavors, though I love my pate's. This gave me a wonderful ride. The duck rillette had a tremendous almost condensed duck flavor. The head cheese was nice and balanced and the pork terrine was also very tasty. Loved the variety of flavors present here.
Next up Delicata Squash, Haloumi, and Pumpkin Seeds ($15).
We started seeing Delicata Squash on menus last fall. The Missus loves them; moderately sweet, with a nice texture, and an edible peel....heck, even I enjoy them. So it goes without saying the Missus loved this. I really enjoyed the combination of flavors, the nuttiness of the pumpkin seeds, the light subtle milkiness of the haloumi cheese. I thought the amount of nuttiness and milky flavors went beyond just the haloumi and pumpkin seeds. When I mentioned this to our Server, she also noted that the sauce was made of whey and argan oil. The mint also added another dimension of flavor.......
My least favorite dish of the night was the Charred Celeriac, Braised Quince, Ambrosia Apple and Bread Crisps ($15).
I really didn't care for the amount of almost tart-tannic flavors. The celeriac was lost in the dish. Tongue numbing and not in a good way.
The Smoked Potato, Pickled Seaweed, Anchovy, and Egg Yolk ($16), took me to that edge.....I loved the smoky flavor, the seaweed added a nice oceany brine, the anchovies were teetering on the edge of too salty, but that egg yolk somehow seemed to temper the salt.
I loved the smoked potatoes....why hadn't I tried that before? Smashed potatoes also seemed to be "the thing" in Seattle. The Missus said She'd have preferred bacon, but I told Her, "that would be so TGI Friday's". Loved the crisp skin on the potatoes as well. you can tell by the meal I made the day after we returned, that this dish made an imprint.
By far, the best single dish we had on this trip was the Hen of the Woods Mushroom, Guanciale, Oyster Cream, and Cider ($18).
My goodness, the earthy-savory aroma, meaty texture of the Hen of the Woods mushroom, more familiar to me as Maitake, was just superb. The sage along with the cider added an citrus tone, along with a hint of sweetness. The oysters in the sauce just took the flavors to another level. I'm not sure of the purpose of the guanciale as I couldn't make out any pork flavors. But who cares. In terms of an outstanding dish; this has our votes.
I realize that the dishes we chose and enjoyed at S&S might not be for everyone; especially the hardcore carnivore. There are 3-4 entrees on the menu any given night....this time it was chicken, black cod, and rabbit. I just chose dishes that best reflected the foraging background of Matt Dillon. I believed that this would be the strongpoint of the restaurant and it seemed that way to us. Our check came in at a bit over a hundred and it was worth every penny.
Sitka & Spruce 1531 Melrose Ave Seattle, WA 98101
We were a bit too full and decided against finding a pub. But, as we headed back toward Pike Street we noticed a crowd of people being let into a building. We walked up Pike a bit, then headed back down. When we passed the building again, the Missus couldn't help it.....we had to go and check it out.
The place seemed buzzing....hip.....totally perfect for the Missus....totally wrong for me.
Arriving at the door, we asked the gentleman inside what was going on. "This is the grand opening of the Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room, please come in......" Wow, it seemed like a big deal.
Just looking at the equipment, it looks like Starbucks is experimenting with going more high end.
I'm not the biggest fan of Starbucks....but kudos to them for seeming to ride the Third Wave.
This place looks fantastic and smells wonderful. Roasters were on hand to explain the different processes and equipment.
These guys really know how to market.......
Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room 1124 Pike St Seattle, WA 98101
Heading down Pike, we ran into the inevitable shopping crowds.....heck, Christmas is around the corner.
But the crowd seemed extra dense and we heard music in the air......and my goodness...Sugarplum Elves?
It's all these things that makes Seattle special for us....there's always an interesting surprise.
We talked about this as walked back to Whole Foods......the Missus wanted me to get in as much exercise as I could. This was the reason I was thinking of moving here before I met the Missus.
And while I don't think we could live here; it's a bit too cold, there's not enough Asian food within a 2 hour drive, and there's not enough sunshine. The city holds a special place in our hearts. So I guess we'll have to keep coming back.
The Missus has a style all Her own. She keeps me on my toes; I never know what Her latest obsession will be. Recently, She's become a bit of a coffee nerd, pour over coffee to be precise. One morning She sent me a text telling me She's ordered V60 "stuff".....my response was "what do you need a missile launcher for?". I came to find out that She wasn't planning on taking out any tanks, but rather, was ordering the gear she needed to make pour over coffee at home. Of course, what's coffee without beans, right? Which is how we started visiting places like Dark Horse and Portola, with me having stuff like Kyoto Drip Coffee. Anyway, Her favorite current source of beans and a nice cup of coffee is Bird Rock and on this morning She was thrilled.....they had something called Panama Geisha, supposedly the best Panama has to offer. It was ten bucks for V50 pour-over, yikes! Still, I believe it was important for Her to try it....once....since She's really enjoying Her coffee. The guy working here was really nice and told the Missus, "it's perfect......I want to make sure you enjoy every last drop!" Which She did....It's really smooth and fruity....a bit too smooth for me...it is quite lovely, but I like a bit of acid and bite in coffee. I am glad She got a chance to try it. She also bought some Kenyan to grind (by hand) at home....She's started to keep the labels of the various beans She buys to remember what She enjoys. My goodness, I'm married to a coffee nerd in training.
Bird Rock Coffee Roasters 5627 La Jolla Blvd San Diego, CA 92037
Then it's off to Pho Lucky:
So it's like in the 80's at 8 in the morning. What does the Missus want to have? Well, pho of course.... wha???
We actually ordered the same items as on this visit. Today the broth wasn't too salty and loaded with MSG, there was a nice clove-5 spice backbone to the broth. Lot's of tendon which the Missus gave to me.....along with all those perfectly cooked noodles....She stayed with the broth and meat. I'm still not a fan of the Missus dumping all those jalapenos into Her broth, but hey, it's Her soup, right?
I ordered the combination broken rice; most of which (except for the Bi, which the Missus inhaled) came home for a light lunch. I was too full after eating all those noodles.
Things were divided up as follows, pork chop and rice for me, shrimp stuffs for Her. She also had the "cha" which seemed like it had been sitting around for a while, it was too dry for my tastes, but the Missus enjoyed it. Such is how couples who have been together forever eat I guess.....
Pho Lucky 9326 Mira Mesa Blvd. San Diego, CA 92126
Gyokai Natto Don from Izakaya Sakura:
I was on my own for dinner. All this hot and sticky weather has me craving certain "comfort" food.....specifically natto. I hadn't been here in a while, and not for dinner in ages.
In fact, I hadn't been here since they cleaned up their menu....it's much more easy to read now...it made it so easy to find the Nankotsu Karaage - fried chicken cartilage. I love the crunch of well prepared chicken cartilage and this was fried perfectly.
The coating was nice, light, and crisp, though I think I'll need some togarashi next time as it needed a bit of umph.....
The combination of raw fish and ika (squid) combined with the sticky stringy natto was just what the doctor ordered. Soy sauce and wasabi just brought everything together for me. The agedashi tofu that comes with this wasn't cooked properly, the coating was gummy and didn't hold up.... otherwise, this was the perfect meal for today.
Izakaya Sakura 3904 Convoy St #121 San Diego, CA 92111
So. You see what we've been eating during this hot and sticky weather....what have you been eating?
mmm-yoso!!! is a blog about food. So many events lead us to food. Today's post is about one of those days. Cathy is writing; Kirk and Ed(from Yuma) are reading.
Saturday, we woke up around 3:30 and let the dogs out, made coffee, threw some laundry and dishes into their respective cleaning machines and by 4:50, The Mister and I were headed North in the cool darkness of the early morning. (Other 2015 road test posts here and here.
Our first stop was Cream Pan, six minutes after it had opened. We picked up a ham and cheese croissant, orange chocolate pastry and a loaf of walnut bread, all still slightly warm, from the filled shelving displays.
Cream Pan Japonaise Bakery 602 El Camino Real Tustin, CA 92780 (714) 665-8239
A few 2015 Tournament of Roses parade floats were lined up on Raymond Street, ready for mechanical and maneuverability testing.
The American Armenian Rose Float Association, from Pasadena, is sponsoring this very large, beautiful float this year. It's the first time an Armenian float will participate in the parade, 100 years after an Armenian (M.S. Pashgian) was chosen as Grand Marshal for the 1915 Tournament of Roses Parade. The various details of this 'Cradle of Civilization' titled float symbolize the 'Inspiring Stories' of the American Armenian community. (Theme of the 2015 parade is 'Inspiring Stories').Here's the 'Observer' seated in the City of Hope 2015 float. He doesn't control anything, but speaks to the driver (seated more toward the center) telling him how and when to turn, steer and if the speed needs to be increased or decreased. Here's a full length view of the City of Hope 2015 Rose Parade float- it will have various beakers and flasks, a DNA strand, and 'wishes' printed on the tags, all attached to hot air balloons. Seeing the bare outline now is as interesting as seeing the finished product. (The driver sits next to the red fuel tanks).The Shriners Hospitals for Children float, "A Million Stories of Hope and Healing", was also tested that morning. The Shriner Bear rocks from left to right and is just so cute! See the small rectangle cutout at the base of the green bookmark? That's for the Observer on this float.
When we were finished with the testing, we walked to cross the Metro tracks and this time stopped to check out the public art decorating the Fillmore Metro Station.The spire (top and bottom details in the above photos) is part of the entire work at the station and titled Geologica 42. (Link to a very detailed description)(Link to a less detailed description). There is symbolism in all of it, from the baseball (at the very top), weather vane, anemometer, Bell X1 rocket ( which first broke the sound barrier, designed at CalTech and tested at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory; locals), the number 42 (Jackie Robinson was a Pasadena Resident) ...
...as well as the five bronze steamer trunks which are seats at the Gold Line stop (Harry Houdini was born in Pasadena). We walked over the tracks, to Arroyo Parkway and one block North, to Lucky Boy, for a quick breakfast. This 24/7, drive in, walk up, American breakfast, burger and burrito joint has been here for decades and prepares quality, hearty food for a good price (without tip jars on the counter). Above, the bacon and egg platter ($6.80): 3 eggs, hash browns toast and...bacon(!) and my usual, an egg sandwich on rye ($3.35) with the included fixings of lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise. Served with the fresh made tomatillo based salsa, this was a great meal. Lucky Boy 640 S. Arroyo Parkway Pasadena 91105 (616) 793-0120 Website We drove five miles East, to the parking lot of Pasadena High School on Sierra Madre Boulevard and stopped at the Pasadena Certified Farmers Market, which was already buzzing.
We try to only shop at Certified Farmers Markets and this one is particularly interesting, being in such a central location to attract local farmers. Pasadena Certified Farmers Market 2900 North Sierra Madre Boulevard, Pasadena Website
Back on the road, headed East to the 15, I wanted some coffee and yet another snack (or three) and we stopped at the Chino Hills location of 85C (a location is being built in San Diego on Clairmont Mesa at Genesee, but seems to be taking forever). This typical (grab a tray, line with paper, grab tongs and serve yourself, take to the cashier who individually bags each item for you) Taiwanese bakery chain is named because 85 degrees Centigrade is the perfect temperature for brewing coffee. There are two sets of cash registers, one dedicated to beverages (but you can order beverages from the other register also). Our snacks, a mini apple pie (puff pastry crust) ($2), Cheese bread (filled with a sweet ricotta cream cheese blend)($1.50) and a Calamari stick (which was round, filled with cheese and topped with garlic)($1). Sea salt beverages are available here. Above an iced sea salt coffee ($3)and an iced sea salt (mountain green) tea ($2.75). There was no sugar added and each tasted wonderful, with the brewed beverage topped with a dollop of chilled steamed milk with sea salt crystals on the bottom, slightly blended in (swirling the container helps). The flavor meshing is amazing. 85C Bakery Cafe 12959 Peyton Drive Chino Hills 91709 website
We were home by noon. Hoping you have an interesting weekend!