Drizzling wet but flaunting a magnificent…

November 30, 2010

… cloudscape, Seattle, WA is green, lush, and has much to offer including a diverse array of seafood!

One evening Deedee had dinner with some clients at Elliott’s Oyster House in downtown Seattle by the waterfront. A dozen oysters served with a Champagne-vinegar Mignonette Sorbet… though Deedee likes her oysters straight up, she was curious to taste that sorbet and… wow, it had a great punch!

For our main course we all had the Yukon River Sockeye Salmon cooked Alder Planked, yaani seasoned with the house rub and baked on an Alder plank of wood to retain the salmon’s juice and give it that smokey flavor. This lusciously moist piece of pink meat was served with grilled vegetables and smoked tomato-onion beurre blanc.

The next day, after a few long meetings, Deedee headed to the Pike Place Market (a famous local market) for a late lunch. She came by a quaint restaurant called Place Pigalle, strategically located on the edge of the market facing the ocean. I instantly found myself sitting at a corner table overlooking the beautiful cluster of islands – Seattle’s Puget Sound. Deedee was pleased with how her day had gone and was starving. Since she never misses an opportunity to celebrate, she decided to embrace the moment. Starting with a glass of bubbles: Jean-Paul Trocadero’s Blanc de Blanc Brut (NV) from the Savoie region of the Alps; a fun rounded palate bursting with citrus and apple that enhanced the flavor in the half dozen Kumamoto Oysters she started with. The Kumamotos are small, smooth, sweet and on top of “Deedee’s Favorites” list. They also couldn’t have been more fresh as they come right from that body of water she was gazing at.

Next came the Roasted Beet Salad served with baby arugula, toasted walnuts, an almond covered mound of chèvre cheese and a Lemon-Dijon Vinaigrette. The beets were warm, an unexpected but actually pleasant surprise that evoked a cozy feeling in the cold weather. And so did that half bottle of Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir 2007 from Willamette Valley, Oregon! Yes, the Maison Joseph Drouhin family has branched out to Oregon, which is famous for its Pinot Noirs. Medium bodied, the nose is oak and spice, and the palate is red cherries ending in light velvety chocolate.

To culminate this celebration was the house special: Steamed Mussels Pigalle cooked in white wine & butter with smoked bacon, celery, shallots and comes with a side mix of tomatoes, basil and bread cubes drizzled with a Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Sar badda finjén ahwé, ma heik? Even that was charming, serve with a curly lemon rind.

Khalas, ‘ntafakhit! Eh hallik!


Start spreadin’ the news…

November 28, 2010

… cuz Deedee just ‘touched-down’ in the Big Apple. (It’s football season, I couldn’t help myself!)

Upon arrival at Penn Station, I headed straight to the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle to meet up with CL. We went up to the 3rd floor and landed at the Bouchon Café. Deedee wanted to nibble on something, so we ordered the Rillettes aux Deux Saumons made with fresh steamed & smoked salmon, served with toasted crôutons, and to die for. We had a couple of Ommegang Abbey Ales to go with that. That dark amber ale had a dried fruit and spice flavor that was just perfect in the cold weather and married with the Salmon Rillette, which I confess we devoured instantaneously.

Later that evening, Deedee met up with JA at their usual spot: OTTO. A nice change from the summer menu, their updated menu had delicious winter vegetable dishes waiting for us to choose from. “Me, me, me” cried the Brussels Sprouts and Roasted Beets & Saba. So we picked both. Then we moved on to a Cured Fresh Bacon and Red Cabbage salad and for pasta we had the Rigatoni with Spicy Cauliflower which had chili flakes, garlic and pecorino cheese. The sommelier picked out an elegant but young full bodied oaky dark red wine from Tuscany: Il Gentile di Casanova 2005. The palate has smoky, balsamic tannins with dark cherries and plum. A fine well rounded finish.

A great start for round one of my food orgy in the city.

More later…

I just can’t get enough…

November 22, 2010

… Oysters!

Deedee landed in Washington, DC, checked into her hotel, and rushed to Georgetown’s Sea Catch Restaurant & Raw Bar to grab herself some oysters. They serve them ha, ha, ha, yaani: half priced, on the half shell, during Happy Hour. 

Though the ‘old maid’s tale’ says to eat oysters only in months that don’t have an R in them… well, it IS an old maid’s tale because oysters are now grown in shellfish farms and harvested when they mature so… ‘nuf said.

That evening they had two varieties: Atlantic coast Tomahawk, Martha’s Vineyard, MA which are usually briny and Pacific coast Hunter’s Point, Washington – usually creamier and fresh sea sweet.

For liquids, she had the Blue Moon Belgian White on draft, a wheat beer that’s got coriander and citrus in the palate, served with a slice of lemon. Refreshing and a perfect compliment to the oysters.

After gobbling down two dozen of the little suckers to satisfy that craving, I needed to satisfy my other craving (amongst many) so I had the Pan Seared Sea Scallops which were served with Grain Mustard-Wild Mushroom Risotto.

Feeling stuffed and terribly sleepy after that long flight from Beirut, Deedee finally decided to retire and sleep off those ‘afro-deedee-yaks’!

khalas, ma ili jlédé…

November 9, 2010

…yaani, “this isn’t fun anymore” is exactly what Madame Mrad thought after dinner. The company was… self absorbed? Well, at this point, there’s nothing worth talking about except that delicious meal she whipped up that afternoon.

Madame Mrad discovered there’s a special pork meat butcher in Bourj Hammoud called Michael’s Butchery (01-261380 or 03-825903) right off the Municipality Square! She really wanted to make Schweinshaxen (a German Pork Shank dish). It didn’t end up being a typical one but she made it à la Mme Mrad. Place the Pork Shanks in a big pot and cook in wheat beer (she also added a little white wine and topped it with water) then, throw in an onion, parsley, thyme, sage, garlic, peppercorns, cloves, sea salt, a carrot, an apple, celery and cook for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. It comes out so tender that it melts in your mouth.

Side dishes included:

A mélange of small potatoes (purple, green and yellow) sliced round, with a couple of chopped carrots, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary drizzled in olive oil and place in the oven. Toss every once in a while so nothing sticks to the pan and it doesn’t overcook the onions.

Red Cabbage Slaw – another German dish. First cook the red cabbage in water to soften it, then drain. Place some butter in the pot and throw in the cabbage and a shredded red onion, pour in some red wine, add an assortment of chopped dried fruit, apple, honey, cinnamon, bay leaves, salt, pepper, and cook until soft.

Asian Style Swiss Chard (yaani sili’ bil ‘arabi): in a wok drizzle olive oil and a bit of sesame oil, add the chopped up swiss chard, soy sauce and some lemon juice, salt and pepper, and toss until it slightly wilts. Sprinkle sesame seeds, and you’re all set!

A nice combo of different flavors (sweet, tangy and savory) to accompany those shanks (or hocks, if you will) and, of course, a bottle of good wine.

This time Madame Mrad thought to give the Syrian wine: Château Bargylus 2006 another try. This red is so thick you can almost chew it! Very tannic and metallic, the nose is deep dark berries and fresh pine forest. The palate was almost strong enough to wash that bad taste from Madame Mrad’s mouth… but not quite!! Do make sure to chill it a bit before serving. It makes a whole lotta difference.

So when are you leaving? What time’s your flight? Questions asked so many times that I diverted to Out-of-Office AutoReply.

Thanks for the dinner, Madame Mrad… Tikram ‘ain el ego taba’ak!

Sindibad, Sindibad! Annajdaaa…

November 1, 2010

…Yasminaaaaa!! And it even felt that way when we walked into the place!

Yasmina Indian Fusion? Located in an old Lebanese house near Sofil, this place is more like ‘con’-fusion! I don’t get what part of their Indian food is considered fusion!?! It’s plain old Indian… and not all that special either, if I may…  Néhé!

We started with sambusas, then went for the Chicken Masala, Chicken Tadouri, Shrimp Masala, Vegetable Curry, Raita with Pomegranate (that was nice), and regular white Basmati rice. The girls weren’t that hungry I’m afraid…

Thank Bob Deedee got to pick the wine. I’d had this beautiful Chilean earlier that week at Madame Mrad’s. Though overpriced at Yasmina’s, I knew it was going to be worth it. Casa Lapostolle, Merlot 2007 from Rapel Valley in Chile, has a mauve-bordeaux color. The nose is cinnamon and mulberry with slight minerals. Medium to full bodied, the palate is dry with chocolate, coffee, pepper, red fruit and slightly tannic. A sexy Chilean from Enoteca!

Mind you, I’m not saying the food was atrocious, but I definitely don’t get what the rave over this place is all about. That said, I’ll try it again, and next time I’ll ask Deedee to choose the food.

Yasmina Indian (con)Fusion Restaurant is open Monday – Saturday. For reservations: 70-407406 or 01206406