Monday, December 27, 2010

It's a Great Day for Chowder at Pike Place Market

Every visitor to Seattle visits Pike Place Market, most to view the fish mongers throwing salmon across the room whenever a sale is made. On the other hand, our primary concern was the consumption, not the viewing, of food. The heavy winds and intermittent rain made us crave for something to warm us up, so we ended up at Pike Place Chowder for some soup.

Had to chuckle at the missing letter "F", possibly erased by an impatient patron while standing in line. I soon busied myself studying the menu and trying to figure out which soup to order. Truth to tell, everything seemed so good and appealing, other than Manhattan Clam Chowder (not a fan of it), with a couple of soups being voted "Nation's Best", as indicated in bold red.  

In the end, I opted for a large cup (a whopping 16 ounces) of smoked salmon clam chowder, and devoured the not-too-thick hearty potato and clam-filled bowl of goodness to the very last drop. Also split a lobster roll with my friend, which I felt was so-so. Was somewhat surprised at the reasonable prices, or maybe I'm too used to NYC rates. Thus fortified, I felt ready to venture outside and face the elements once more, eager for more downtown Seattle sightseeing.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Drool, drool...NY Mag's "The 35 Best Pork Dishes in NYC"

Well, I read this article in the print edition of New York magazine last night - "The 35 Best Pork Dishes in New York City" - promptly went to bed still salivating, and wowed to email the link to all of my friends first thing in the morning. (Resisted sharing the fatty news on Facebook though, not sure why).

So, I went to the New York Mag website to look for the article, and was blown away by the slide show - all 35 awesome pictures will make you drool!!! Suddenly, my stomach was growling, I was licking my lips, and wondering "When is lunch?". Oh, it's only about three hours away.Not a good idea to check out the pictures on an empty stomach. 

fatty goodness - Porchetta sandwich
So, as I went through the slide show, I noted the places I've been to, like Porchetta in the East Village (its namesake sandwich pictured above) and Num Pang Cambodian sandwich shop (though it doesn't really seem Cambodian to me), as well as the ones I've always (x3) wanted to try but never got around to doing so yet - best example is picture 14 - Hakata Tonton's pig feet (tonsoku) - of which thirteen (thirteen!) varieties are served in that tiny restaurant.

Man, this is definitely going to be my next project - sampling all 35 "best pork dishes"  in 2011 - and New Year's resolution to boot! Let's sing Auld Lang Syne to usher in the new year, and look forward to "eating healthier meals" literally PIGGING out - cholesterol be damned!!!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

A essayer! Lapin et ris de veau (Thanksgiving sans Turkey part deux)

Tourists are scarce in Quebec City this time of year, even in the Quartier Petit Champlain where hordes of them crowd the tiny alley with all the artsy shops. The snow and bitter cold wind probably had something to do with it, but that didn't matter to me. A more pressing concern was my growling stomach, and since it was just about lunch time, I started to peer closely at the restaurant menus displayed outside each dining establishment nearby.

Upon the advice of my guidebook, I checked out the offerings of Le Lapin Sauté first, but seeing that it was somewhat busy and having second thoughts about eating their specialties - rabbits (lapin in French)- although the maple and raspberry rabbit does sound terribly divine, I walked around the corner and almost as soon as I started perusing Bistro Sous le Fort's menu, a staff member came out to beckon me inside their restaurant. How could I resist?

rabbit meat egg rolls

My adventurous palate was hankering for something unique, so I mentally checked off the egg rolls de lapin (rabbit meat egg rolls). Perhaps I had a twinge of regret in missing out on the highly-rated Le Lapin Sauté, and considered this the next best thing. The words A essayer! ("Must try!") tipped the scales in favor of the egg rolls over a plateful of comparatively humdrum escargot. They proved to be quite tasty- a tad on the spicy side but the flavor was balanced by the honey and ginger sauce. Definitely an significant upgrade from your greasy Chinese takeout egg rolls.  

calf sweetbreads (ris de veau)
It proved much harder to choose a main course. Initially I debated between two of my favorite standbys, steak frites and duck confit, and those ginger and root beer spare ribs sound mouth-watering ("vraiment savoureuses (really tasty)!", exclaimed the menu).These superlatives notwithstanding, I found myself muttering "ris de veau (calf sweetbreads)" to Rafa, my engaging waiter who insisted on conducting our dialogue in French.

Mind you - the sole occasion I had tasted sweetbreads (pictured above) was at an Argentinian steakhouse in Queens, where those innards came as part of a mixed grill. I didn't even know what they were at the time, and when a subsequent Google search revealed exactly the assortment of animal parts I had just eaten, my amusement just increased. I found the taste of sweetbreads agreeable though, and they were soft and chewy, so who cares what they really were?

Now it was time for an encore - I enjoyed Bistro Sous le Fort's version of calf sweetbreads as well, devouring every last bit that even Sherlock Holmes would be hard-pressed to find traces of the crime. I did go easy on the potatoes though. (you know, carbs). Rafa offered some dessert or coffee, but I declined, content to sip my beer and ponder the tasty alternative Thanksgiving meal I just had.

Bistro Sous Le Fort on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 04, 2010

In the Mood for Crepes (Thanksgiving sans Turkey) in Quebec City

Le Billig in Quebec City

I have to confess - I've never liked turkey, stuffed or otherwise, and can't really stand eating it. Not even once a year for a traditional Thanksgiving feast. Anyway, I've always taken the opportunity to travel somewhere on the long 4-day weekend. This year was no exception, and I found myself enduring the cold weather and snow in Quebec City. The entire city was covered in the white stuff, so basically it felt that I had fast forwarded to Christmas. 

 I was in the mood for something different. On the Quebec City Food Tour (here's a review) that I took, one of the stops was Le Billig, a small creperie-bistro located just outside the walls of Old Quebec in the St. Jean Baptiste neighborhood, away from the tourist hordes. According to our guide, the restaurant's name refers to the flat, circular grill that is used to make crepes, and that Le Billig serves authentic buckwheat flour crepes ("galettes") that are the specialty of Brittany, France. 

the Savoyarde

I decided to return to Le Billig for lunch the next day. Enormously hungry from the effort of walking in the snow, I followed the waiter's recommendation and ordered one of the house's specialties, the Savoyarde (onions, bacon, cheese, and potatoes) over a thin layer of crepe. That proved to be a good choice - a delicious, hearty meal washed down by une bolée of sparkling Kerisac apple cider, also from Brittany. (Another discovery: I prefer my apple cider chilled instead of warm. And alcohol content definitely helps).

La Salidou

Delighted at my discovery, my meal, and considering that my return flight was due to leave in a few hours, the decision to maximize my crepe consumption was a no brainer. This time I had to select from among the fifteen or so savory dessert crepes, but in the end I opted for "The Salidou", composed of salted butter, home-made caramel and Chantilly. It was tough picking a winner between that and "The Ecstacy", made of dark chocolate and dark chocolate ice cream, but what can I say, I'm a sucker for caramel. Another fortuitous choice to cap off my quick Thanksgiving escape from turkey in Quebec City.

Le Billig on Urbanspoon