Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fall Flavors/Foods......and More Sweets.

Hey everyone. I hope you all had a nice Sunday (technically only a couple of hours left for those of us on Pacific time). I just wanted to share my food experiences today. A lot of the flavors/foods mentioned here share an autumn theme. As you know, pumpkin and sweets are abound this time of year. So, let's get cracking.

Last night I made some pumpkin-spiced caramel popcorn balls, which was a recipe I followed from a fellow food blogger. They turned out very well and they can be pretty addicting. The main special ingredient is the pumpkin-spiced Hershey Kisses, which apparently can only be found at Target (I went to two different Targets in my area and they both had them in stock). Anyway, it's a fun way to make popcorn balls using the real homemade popcorn, instead of the microwaveable kind.

This morning I stopped by an Italian bakery in the city called Remo Borraccini. This place is always serving up delicious pastries and other Italian treats and dishes. I needed something filling and somewhat healthy, so I ordered up a scrambled egg and cheese croissant sandwich (sorry, I consumed it before I took a pic). I also needed something sweet to follow up, so I bought a couple of their freshly made October cookies. They were both decorated very nicely, but I thought the leaf cookie was especially very well done. I think they just use a normal sugar frosting and then maybe spray on food coloring for the leaf veins. It looks really cool. The pumpkin cookie was also well decorated, but more in a fun/easy way.

After church, the congregation held a huge birthday celebration for everyone in the downstairs fellowship hall. I haven't attended this church long enough, but I guess they have this annual event where they have separate tables each with a sign of a different month and everyone just sits at the table of their birth month. It was a lot of fun and delicious because after a little lunch, everyone got to sample the different cakes that were on all of the tables. I definitely made my rounds and took a picture of some really good desserts. My favorites were the coconut/pineapple cake and the angel food cake. They were both really moist, fluffy and had a nice flavor. The coconut cake was surprisingly not too sweet and had bits of pineapple in the cake. The coolest looking cake was actually made up of smaller cupcakes (look closely at the pic). They all did a great job with the cakes, and I basically ended up in a sugar-induced coma afterward.

Later, I was at Whole Foods downtown (after a quick stop at the Capitol Hill farmer's market) and bought some more kiwi berries, other groceries, and a pumpkin. I'm not sure if I'll carve this one for Halloween, chop it up and make something with it (pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread, etc), or even just give it to one of my nieces. We'll see.

The next stop was at Pike Place Market, one of my favorite places to walk around downtown on the weekend....or whenever. It wasn't as busy as compared to a Saturday or when the weather is a little nicer, but there were still a significant amount of people there. It was a little drizzly and cold today, so I decided to get something really warm to drink. I headed over to the first Starbucks ever built at the market and waited in the long line to order up a tall pumpkin-spice latte (see, keeping with the Fall flavors). It was very tasty. If you like pumpkin, you should order this one because I think it's only here during the Fall to Winter months.

I finally made it home in time to work out and watch some football (caught the second half of the Giants vs. Cardinals game while I ran on the treadmill). Usually after a workout I eat something light. Tonight I had a bowl of cereal, some dry roasted peanuts, and a couple of really tasty persimmons. I don't think people buy persimmons that often since they're not like oranges or apples or any other common fruit. I actually love persimmons. After you cut off the leafy part, you can eat the whole thing like an apple. I think it's kind of a mix between an apple and a cantaloupe. You have the bite, crunch, and texture of an apple, and the interior look and slight taste of a cantaloupe. They're delicious and full of vitamin C and calcium. One good thing about persimmons is that they hold up very well after you buy them, unlike apples or other fruit when left out after purchasing.

That's about all. Be sure to get out there and enjoy all those Fall foods. Have a good one!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

One "Sweet" Day

Hey everyone. Sorry I've been away for over a week. I'm trying to stick with posting at least once a week. I've just been a little busy (the good kind of busy). You might notice the slight template design change (a little more condensed), as well as the "Featured Publisher" tag by Foodbuzz (I'm a little stoked about that).

Anyway, I wanted to share with everyone pics of all the sweet-tasting foods I experienced today (and some that I just looked at....until I was asked to stop (I'll explain later)).

I started off my day with a kind of a weird breakfast. I had a homemade breakfast sandwich with whole wheat English muffins, egg, Monterey Jack cheese, sausage, and......are you ready?........bacon chocolate! Yes, that's correct. It was chocolate infused with sweet applewood bacon bits. I already received weird expressions from the cashier that checked out my groceries this morning as she read the label. I've always told people that this combination, although unusual, might actually work because of the salty bacon (also a little sweet) and the sweet chocolate. So, back to the breakfast was delicious. I'm sure most of you might be a little turned off by this breakfast combination, but give it a try one time and see for yourself.

The bacon chocolate is called "Mo's Bacon Bar" by Vosges Haut-Chocolat. It's a "luxury-chocolate" that uses spices, herbs, roots, flowers, fruits, and nuts from around the world. I was reading the back of the box and it actually explained how to properly eat and enjoy the chocolate. Check out this excerpt:

"Breathe....engage your 5 senses, close your eyes and inhale deeply. Be in the present moment, notice the color of the chocolate, the glossy shine. Rub your thumb over the chocolate bar to release the aromas of smoked applewood bacon flirting with deep milk chocolate. Snap off just a tiny piece and place it in your mouth, let the lust of the salt and sweet coat your tongue."

Is that intense or what? No, I didn't try that method. I do love food, but I'm one of those foodies that just eats when he's hungry. I still enjoy the flavors and stuff, but without having to do all that stuff that was just explained above. The chocolate was very intense with the flavors. You can really taste the salty and sweet bacon. It was very unique. Anyway, try this bacon chocolate if you can find it near you.
Later in the day I stopped by my local Whole Foods supermarket and checked out their dessert bar. Everything looked really decadent and nicely presented that I wanted to take pics of everything. I got to taking two pics and was asked by a manager (politely) if I wouldn't mind stopping my picture taking. I didn't mind. Below are the couple of pics of the delectable treats that I did get. Sweet potato pie covered in roasted marshmallows and cinnamon, and chocolate mouse cups with eyeball frosting on top (in the Halloween spirit). The desserts at this Whole Foods are phenomenal, by the way (I didn't get any though).

Before I left the Whole Foods, I glanced over the fresh produce section and something caught my berries! I don't know if you've ever heard of these, but I certainly haven't until I recently read another food blog about them (sorry, I forgot which food blog). Anyway, they're the size of grapes but they taste just like a kiwi. They're crazy good. It's like eating a kiwi but with the convenience of a grape, where you don't have to peel or spit out anything like seeds. I love eating exotic fruits like this. Now I know where to get kiwi berries, while they're still in season.

After that, I was further downtown at the Westlake Center. At the candy store on the top floor I checked out their Jelly Belly section. I love it when a store has the entire selection of flavors. This one didn't, but it did carry most of my favorites. I ended up getting pomegranate, buttered popcorn, and juicy pear beans. You could probably eat the pomegranate and juicy pear beans together, but the buttered popcorn would taste a little weird with the others. Eat them separately to experience the flavors.
I was able to pick up a Seattle Dining Guide while I was downtown. Now I can check out even more new restaurants to review for you all. Get ready for some good ones (I'm already slightly backed up with posts of restaurants that I've recently tried).

Anyway, that's about it. Yeah, that was a lot of sweets in one day, but that's why I work I can eat like this and still stay in shape. I'm losing weight, by the way. I've moved over one or two notches on my belt because my pants are slowly dropping off my waist. Now that's sweeeet!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Salumi (Mario Batali)

Hey everyone. Today I visited the Salumi restaurant, owned by chef Mario Batali's family. It has already won several restaurant awards and has been featured on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations tv show.

Salumi is located at the crazy intersection of Main, 3rd Ave, and 2nd Ave Ext. It's basically right across the street from the Seattle Lighting Store in Pioneer Square. I was told to arrive early if I wanted to get a good spot in line, even before they opened. They have crazy hours.....Tuesday-Friday, 11am-4pm (yup, only for lunch). Luckily, I'm off today! Anyway, I got there about 10:30am and discovered I was the first one in line, but that it was also a little too early. So, I decided to take a walk around Pioneer Square within a couple of blocks from the restaurant. I'm glad I did because now I found even more downtown restaurants to review.

I got back at around 10:45am and there were already a couple of people ahead of me, so I jumped back in line. Immediately after I got in line a surge of patrons lined up behind me. I just beat the huge crowd. One of the waiters/servers/greeters came out with a Salumi chalkboard stand-up sign and plopped it out on the sidewalk, showing the daily specials. I was busy reading the little menu they have posted on the front entrance window, and had already made up my mind to get the porchetta sandwich.

The door opened and people anxiously walked in with big eyes, busting out their cameras, and taking pics (like me). I kept taking pics on my short walk from the entrance to the counter until one of the servers commented politely and jokingly that the flashes were giving her epileptic seizures. I immediately stuffed my camera back in my pocket (I'm sure they get a lot of picture taking because of the popularity of this place). When asked what I would like, I told her I would take the porchetta. She took out a fresh baguette roll, sliced it open, and stuffed it with moist, tender, and delicious marinated, slow-roasted pork, along with onions, carrots, & bell peppers. Wow, it was delicious! Wait, I was just looking at it......that was my thought even before I took a bite. After she handed me the plate, I took it down to the register and paid for the sandwich, a water, and a small cut of their signature Mole Salumi Salami (I'll get to that one later).

I approached the very small "dining area", which was basically one huge community table with a bunch of seats (and two side tables with 2 seats each) and sat down. I immediately began to consume the delicious hot porchetta sandwich with a smile on my face. The servers/greeters there were extremely friendly and hospitable. They offered to pour water/wine and briefly chatted with everyone about how the food tasted and about anything really. I chatted for a bit, but I was anxious to get back to downing that sandwich. I would have to say that they have definitely mastered the art of curing their meats. There was so much flavor in that pork.

Before I got home, I wanted to walk off my meal a bit, so I grabbed my mole salami and went walking around even more downtown. I stopped by Cow Chip Cookies off of 1st Ave and got myself a "calf" size chocolate chip cookie. It's really rich and buttery and was $1.50 for a somewhat small cookie. It was tasty though. Check out that monster "Bull Chip"$6.00 cookie. It even comes in its own box! Back in the day I'd probably get that, but not now.

When I got home I really wanted to try the Mole Salami, with chocolate and spices infused into the meat. I have to say that I was not disappointed. It was very tasty salami, and you can taste a hint of so many flavors.

Anyway, let's get to my 5-doughnut rating system:
  • Service, 3.5 doughnuts= Although this is more of a deli type of place where you order the food at a counter, pay at a cashier, and then sit down and eat it, I'd still give them high marks on service. Their staff was extremely friendly and made the place a very comfortable and inviting place to eat. They offered to pour wine and/or water for their patrons, since everyone had their hands full with their sandwiches.

  • Atmosphere/Location, 2 doughnuts= This is a very small "restaurant" with limited seating. You would have to be lucky or get there early to get a seat in this place. Most of the orders were "to go". It had a homey feeling where you would sit at the table with your fake family (strangers), since there isn't really anywhere else to sit. I'm fine with that, but a lot of people aren't. It's in a very enclosed eating area. The location is not really hard to find, but it's probably hard to get to during the busy hours. It's located in Pioneer Square and there isn't a lot of off-street parking without having to pay a ton. I'm a city guy, so I don't really have a problem finding a good spot nearby. However, I also got there before lunchtime, so there were more street-side spots available at that time. They're doing extremely well with their small place, but I think customers would like to sit down and eat there if they expanded and there was more room.

  • Food Presentation, 3.5 doughnuts= I thought for a sandwich, it was one of the best presented sandwiches I have ever seen. Everything just looked so fresh and delicious. Maybe it was because I was starving and didn't eat breakfast just for this?

  • Taste, 4 doughnuts= One of the most flavorful pork sandwiches I have ever tasted. Try the Porchetta sandwich!

  • Cost/Value, 3 doughnuts= For the quality you're getting, it's actually worth it. $8-$9 for this sandwich is just a little high for a sandwich though, I have to agree with most people. But if you're not doing this every day, then it's fine. Like I said, the meat was delicious and they served up a generous portion. And they do specialize in high quality meats.
  • Originality, 2.5 doughnuts= There are other delicatessens here in Seattle, but none that specialize in curing their own specialty meats like these guys (I think). They've been around for a while and are masters. I guess the store's weird hours (only during lunch Tues-Fri) is original.
  • Overall, 3.5 doughnuts= I was extremely satisfied with the food and the experience. I see why Salumi was shown on No Reservations. They definitely deserve more recognition. I just wish they would open later and more often!

Check out their website at


Monday, October 5, 2009

Seattle's Pike Place Market

This one is for all my non-Seattle followers. For those of you who have never been to Seattle and walked through the well-known Pike Place Market, here are a couple of shots that I took yesterday for you to enjoy. I think it's cool to see pics of places you've never been before. Let me know what you think.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Continental Pastry Shop

I was down in the University District yesterday with the intention of checking out the "Applepalooza" at the Farmer's Market. I managed to get there when it was just ending, so I didn't even attempt to see what was left. However, for all you local Seattle-ites, be sure to check out the U-District Farmer's Market every Saturday morning from 10-2. It's pretty nice.

Anyway, while I was in the area, I had lunch at a Greek restaurant on "The Ave" (what the locals call the main strip near the University of Washington) called The Continental Pastry Shop. When you first walk into the store, there's this glass case that houses a bunch of Greek pastries. There's also a little "store" to the side that sells Greek pantry items to make Greek dishes/desserts. Sorry, I wasn't able to get pics of all that.....but I did get some of the food.

It wasn't really busy at the time, so it was easy and quick to grab a table. The service was very nice and immediately brought out the complimentary ice water (my favorite drink). The atmosphere was very laid back, clean, and somewhat quiet. It was a pretty nice day outside, so there was a lot of natural light that came in sitting by the windows.

The menu displayed a lot of Greek specialties from which to choose. My favorites are usually the lamb and/or chicken slouvaki platters, or just the traditional gyro. After the order was taken, it seemed only about 15 minutes later the food was out. Not bad timing for nicely grilled meats.

I was able to sample a slouvaki/meat platter with lamb sausage and patties, chicken and lamb slouvaki skewers, lemon rice soup, Greek rice and beans, and a lamb gyro. Of course, everything came with that white tszeki (sp?) sauce. Check out the delicious dishes:

Now for my 5-doughnut rating system:

  • Service, 3.5 doughnuts= They were very nice, accommodating and attentive

  • Atmosphere/Location, 2 doughnuts= The atmosphere was that of a normal cafe type of restaurant. The location is in the middle of a busy strip and there is no off-street parking. You would have to find your own parking streetside or in a nearby pay lot. I'm always lucky with finding close parking, so it's never a huge problem for me.

  • Food Presentation, 3 doughnuts= I thought the food looked delicious when it came out. Maybe it was just because I was really hungry. Seriously though, the meats looked freshly grilled, and it was laid out nicely.

  • Taste, 3 doughnuts= The lamb patties, skewer, and sausage and gyro were really delicious. They were very tender and had a lot of flavor (lamb usually does). The chicken was just alright. I thought it could use a bit more seasoning. I've tried better gyros, but it was still fresh tasting and had a lot of flavor. The tszeki sauce had a nice tang.

  • Cost/Value, 3 doughnuts= The prices were reasonable. I've been to other Greek restaurants and they're usually about the same price for what's offered. This place also offers a-la-carte, so you can get a nice big gyro without the Greek fries and salad for only about $4.95.

  • Originality, 2.5 doughnuts= Nothing too original at this place, except that they're also a bakery and a mini-store all in one.

  • Overall, 3 doughnuts= This is a pretty good Greek restaurant, although I know of a couple slightly better ones. The staff there are very friendly and hospitable, and the food is delicious. I'd give them a thumbs up.

They don't have their own website, but you can check out a review site here: