10-12-09 - Some Food Notes

The NYT magazine this week is one of the worst ever; I guess it's going linearly downward all the time so it's not surprising that each week seems to be worse than the last. Every article these days is either "duh" or "so" ("duh" = my god that's so fucking obvious why bother writing about it, or "so" = that may or may not be true but it's so fucking irrelevant or provincial that I care not). Anyway :

My god I am so fucking sick of hearing retards talk about food and diets. If you all actually want to eat healthy, it's fucking stonkeringly simple - just eat natural foods with a variety of nutrients, listen to your body, don't eat all the processed poisoned shit, don't eat out much. But you don't actually want to be healthy, you want to obsess over stupid shit like new research in fucking omega-tryptolic-beta-lythogens and fucking calorie deprivation for life extension and whatever other useless fucking irrelevant distraction you can use this week to keep from just doing the very simple and obvious thing that we all know is right.

A delicious soda for adults :

Fill glass with mineral water and ice. Real mineral water is key, it should have a nice bitter minerally flavor, not mild.

3 drops vanilla extract.

One half to one teaspoon of simple syrup, depending on your sweet tooth.


Optional : garnish with mint.

On Wine Aeration (is it hooey?) : We talked about this at cantinetta ; interestingly there now seems to be some debate :

Wine certainly contains lots of sensitive flavinoids that change under oxidation :


this straightdope article seems to repeat the old "common wisdom" that wine exposed to air changes flavor because it oxidizes :


however, some modern experts claim that is basically nonsense, that the reactions aren't fast enough, and alcohol and tannin are both anti-oxidants and preservatives that stop that process. They claim the only things you actually get out of aeration are evaporation of ethanol and sulfides , which lead you to conclude the wine is "smoother" (less alcohol) and less "harsh" (sulfur smell)



they leave no conclusion about whether something like the penny + decanter method would give you appreciable oxidation in a few minutes swirling.

Had a fun day taking Thatcher around town. I still have yet to see a single Salmon in the fish ladder even though I've gone a few times when it's supposed to be season.

Cafe Besalu in Ballard has some fantastic pastries. Crispy buttery, not too sweet, maybe the best in Seattle, but I'm holding out that judgement until I try them again. Sadly the coffee is just disgusting piss. My god. Ballard is gentrifying fast and is now the best neighborhood for bakeries. There's a new cute mini-neighborhood around 70th & 14th that features Honoray (Honore) bakery, Caprice Kitchen and the new pizza place Delancey.

Delancey is the pizzeria opened by Orangette which means I'm boycotting it. Oh your fucking food blog is so fucking precious. Let's see, Brandon works the wood fire, makes the dough, rolls the pizzas, travelled the country to figure out the dough, and you ... throw on some toppings that are widely considered boring and what are holding back the pizzas ? Good for you.

Fortunately Ballard also has the charmingly un-pretentious Veraci which is maybe the best pizza in Seattle. They also have a cool page about their ovens

A week ago we went to Cantinetta. Review : the pastas are very good, house made, well sauced, not overcooked like most fresh pasta; they're pretty straightforward, just very well balanced, very nicely salted. The apps were also very nice. The secondi (meats) were all pretty boring though decently skillfully made, I would skip them and just get apps/primi. It's a nice neighborhood italian place, but the insane long wait we had to endure was not really worth it. On the other hand, I guess it is miles ahead of any other italian place in Seattle, so maybe it is worth it. Desserts were terrible, like they should be ashamed, really fucking bad. Oh it's actually quite cheap by modern restaurant standards, if you avoid the crazy expensive wine list that is.

Harvest Vine : pretty fanastic Spanish small plate place (not tapas). I recommend sitting at the bar and going on a Wednesday or some night that's not too crowded. Order a few things, watch what the chefs are making for other people and ask them what it is and order what looks good. You will need a lot of plates, it's not cheap, expect to spend $100 per person. Avoid the cold plate appetizers, stick with the freshly cooked hot foods.

Black Bottle : the food is basically shit here. It's a Belltown popped collar cougar / sorority trash whore pickup scene. Avoid.

Spur : It was disappointing. Every plate has some gel or foam on it. I'm not inherently opposed to gels and foams, but these were generally badly made and often unnecessary; they had too much xantham gum or whatever they use, it make them too thick and sticky and tasteless. The food is all well designed, there are good interesting flavor combinations, but the execution and ingredients are just a little bit below the level they need to be, which makes everything a bit disappointing. We also ordered 6 plates and they brought 5 all at once and then realized they were firing too fast and held the last one (it's really hard to find a place that will give you a properly paced dining experience here).

On the plus side, the cocktails are amazing, like maybe the best in Seattle. They're interesting, all of them are slight twists on classic flavors, but not *too* interesting, the basic delicious booze flavor shines through (unlike Licorous which is very interesting but too weird, too much lavender and thyme and molasses and craziness at Licorous). The fried hominy snack was also out of this world.

Recommended for great drinks and a snack, not for dinner.

Oh, and the sous vide quail egg was good, but again not mind blowing. It basically comes out like a very nicely soft boiled egg, but perfectly evenly cooked through, so it is soft and custardy but cooked. I stand by my belief that sous vide is really a treat for the chef (because it makes things easier), not for the diner (because you can get the same results or better without the sous vide). (there's a funny flap in Seattle right now because the health department just realized that "sous vide" involves holding food right in the danger zone of temperatures for a very long time, which means it is technically illegal; to legally use sous vide a restaurant needs an additional industrial food processing permit, which of course none of them have).

jesus if you drink 10 cups of 16 oz decaf coffee you may get the same amount of caffeine as one 8 oz cup of regular. So if you drink 20X the volume you might get the same caffeine. Holy fucking news flash.


brian said...

I defend Cantinetta's desserts only in that the pumpkin panna cotta had a really great texture and a nice subtle flavor. The other desserts I found unpleasant, and I regret eating them. The blueberry on brioche was especially heartbreaking because if they'd just staled the brioche, chunked it up, and cooked it in a rich custard with lots of cream, some good fall spice, cooked the blueberries down to a really thick gooey reduction and folded them gently into the pudding so there were thick trails of blueberry jam mixed in, it would have been great, and none of that is hard to do. As it was, I felt I was just eating a dinner roll with some blueberries on it.

cbloom said...

Yeah the panna cotta was fine, but I think you're being forgiving because so many people fuck up panna cotta so bad, it's really not that hard.

The depressing thing about dessert is that it's really really fucking easy, and yet all these places do it so damn badly, and worst of all I eat it anyway, because it's sweet and I'm slightly drunk and it still pleases me.

Literally a store-bought brownie mix would be better than 90% of restaurant desserts. If you would just serve me a good store-mix brownie and a scoop of vanilla ice cream that's fucking amazing compared to the garbage they serve. Hell you don't even have to bake it, just serve the batter in a bowl and it's still better than most restaurant desserts.

ElAmigoVerde said...

Ballard has been gentrifying for years -- classic Suck: http://www.suck.com/daily/2001/02/16/

old rants