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Happy Hour at Liam’s



I could have titled this First Look, since this was my first stop at the newish Liam’s at University Village. But my quick visit for a glass of wine and an appetizer doesn’t qualify as a true First Look.

I stopped by late afternoon on a very cold Saturday. I was expecting to walk into warmth but the place was actually on the chilly side. The bar was pretty full – most seats along the bar were filled, as were all the tables in the bar area. I chose one of the open seats at the bar and was soon greeted by the bartender with a bottle of water (I love that so many places do this now) and three menus: beverage, dining, and Happy Hour.

Marco Polo Gougerè

The Happy Hour menu has a nice selection of options with a few beverage and food choices. Looking for a little nibble to accompany a glass of Happy Hour Red (a Cabernet) my eye landed on Marco Polo Gougerè, described as flavored with mixed peppercorns and smoked salt.  I am a huge fan of gougère and never pass up an opportunity to try them, even though I prefer mine to most I’ve found in Seattle restaurants.  And, even when done not-quite-right, they are a perfect light bite with wine.  I placed my order and waited to see what would come from the kitchen.


They arrived.  Great presentation, perfect small size (they are made anywhere from fist-sized to golf ball-sized) and perfectly golden.  I was almost afraid to bite into them but there was no need for fear!  Still hot from the oven, crispy exterior and airy interior, they were delicious!  The salt and pepper combo was really good – a little spicy but not overly so.  Maybe even better than mine. Maybe.

Can’t speak to anything else on the menu but the gougère are worth a visit.

Overall the prices here seem a little high to me so Happy Hour is a nice opportunity to try a few things from the menu. I also hope they get the inside temperature figured out. It really was on the chilly side, not pleasant for lingering.
2685 NE 46th Street
University Village, South Building

Liam's Bistro on Urbanspoon

Altstadt Bierhalle and Brathaus



It’s taken me a long time to write about this place, which is a shame,  because I love it and think you should, too!  But after all the times been to Altstadt I only have beer photos to show for it. So I’m giving up on getting a good food photo to post and am going to share a couple of beer photos. This is a great place and although it’s often busy, I feel it’s still relatively unknown.

As you may have gathered from the name, Altstadt is all about German food and beer. They have a dozen beers on tap (mostly German) and another 20 or so available bottled or canned. There’s wine and a full bar, too, but I’ve been working on sampling all the beer on tap. Something great for those of us who don’t drink tons of beer, they offer a .3 liter size. For those of you who know what you like you can also choose ½ or 1 liter options.  In fact, they seem to offer a 2 liter “boot of beer”.  I don’t know the details but I’m sure you can figure it out if you’re interested.

Celebrating summer

The food is delicious.  Hearty, tasty, traditional, with maybe a little twist.  Everything is made in-house, even the mustard!  The sausages are perfectly grilled; the sauerkraut has turned me into a cabbage lover; the spätzle (order it with the bacon!) is prepared like a delicious mac’ and cheese.  One of my favorites is the leberwurst, served with dark bread and a selection of mustard.  A great deal for $5, too!

You’ll fine Altstadt  in Pioneer Square but  it’s an easy walk from the Pike Place Market area or downtown.  Do yourself a favor and check it out sometime soon.

209 1st Ave South
Pioneer Square

Altstadt on Urbanspoon

First Look: Osteria Rigoletto


Happy Hour at Rigoletto

This was barely even a first look – a friend and I popped in for a short but sweet, happy hour a few days before they’d even had their grand opening. But I’m anxious to go back and give the place a better once over. Rigolotto is located at the base of the new Stack House apartments. The entry is off the courtyard on the back side of the building. Look for the sign on the sidewalk directing you to the entry.

It’s a huge place! We made our way down the stairs into a cozy seating area, which is the bar. Across the room, in the open kitchen, you can see the chefs and cooks busily working. The kitchen is a large L-shaped space. I was surprised there was no counter seating along the space – seems like a missed opportunity. There is, however, a large communal table in the same area. When I arrived there were a few people with laptops seated there but I couldn’t tell if they were employees or customers. It would be a nice workspace for mobile workers but I don’t think that’s the intent.

Black Manhattan

But on to the important stuff – the food and drink! I started with a Black Manhattan – a very delicious cocktail. My friend had the house prosecco, which we both thought was a little on the sweet side. We ordered two things from the bar menu, house-made sausages with peppers, and a stuffed pasta. The sausages were perhaps the best sausages I’ve ever had. And that is saying a lot! A really delicious combination of meats and spices, grilled until crispy on the outside but still juicy on the inside. The roasted peppers served alongside were also prepared perfectly.

Sausages and Peppers

I thought the pasta had good flavor but was a little under-cooked. I like pasta that’s al dente, but this was a little gummy. There’s promise there, though, so I’m not writing them off at this early date. In fact, I’d go back just for the sausages!

Osteria Rigoletto
451 Avenue Yale Ave N.
(under the historical Stack House)
b/t Republican St & Harrison St
South Lake Union

Osteria Rigoletto on Urbanspoon

Hitchcock Deli #2


Bahn Mi Take-out

A favorite weekend activity is to walk on the Bainbridge Island ferry; walk the few short blocks up to Winslow center; take a stroll through BIMA; wander through the shops on main street; then stop by Hitchcock Deli for lunch.

I was thrilled when I heard another Hitchcock would be opening in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood. Well, it’s open! I was running errands in the area today so I stopped in and picked up a sandwich to go. This location has a few more indoor seats than the original, and there’s outdoor seating in good weather. Still, I’m guessing that take-out will be the way to go, many days.

Today, I picked up their version of Bahn Mi. For the most part it’s fairly traditional, but they sneak in a little pate. I’m not complaining.

Besides sandwiches, daily soup, and a few salad or veggie sides they have charcuterie take-out.

Hitchcock Deli
6003 12th Avenue S

Hitchcock Deli on Urbanspoon

Borek (Flaky Cheese-Filled Triangles with Herbs)


Flaky Cheese-Filled Triangles with Herbs

I volunteered to bring an appetizer for a dinner with friends last weekend. They recently returned from a three-week trip to Turkey so I opted for something that might remind them of their travels. This recipe is Turkish, but is reminiscent of dishes found in several countries along the Mediterranean Sea.

I both love and hate phyllo. It’s so incredibly thin and delicate that it can be a little challenging to work with. However, since most recipes call for layering several sheets and buttering each layer, you soon learn that you can repair any tears or broken pieces. And the results are always delicious!


Another advantage is many recipes that use phyllo call for baking, not frying, yet you get that crispy outer layer. That’s also an advantage when preparing them for company and it gives them staying power.  I had several of these leftover and even after storing in the refrigerator for a few days they are still pretty crispy. It’s also easy to pop them in the oven for five or ten minutes to warm and re-crisp them.


Recipe adapted from From Tapas to Meze

  • 12 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 4 Tbsp grated (about 1/4 cup) or kefalotyri or Parmesan cheese,
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 Tbsp fresh chives, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 4 Tbsp toasted pine nuts
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste


  • 8 ounces phyllo dough (about 20 sheets, 14 x 9 inches), thawed, if frozen
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) butter, melted

For the filling, combine cheeses, egg, nutmeg, chives, dill, mint, parsley, pine nuts, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.  Mash with a fork. Set aside.

For pastry, stack the phyllo sheets and with scissors, cut into 3 x 14-inch strips. Stack strips and cover with a slightly dampened towel. Preheat oven to 375° F.

Place one strip of phyllo on work surface. Brush lightly with butter. Place another strip on top and brush lightly with the butter. (Keep remaining strips covered.) Place heaping teaspoon of filling at one end, about 1 inch from the edge. Fold one corner over the filling to meet the opposite corner, forming a triangle. Lift triangle and continue to fold as you would a flag, until the whole strip is folded into a small, triangular parcel. Make sure there are no holes in the dough.

Brush top of triangle with butter; place on a buttered baking sheet. Repeat with remaining filling and phyllo.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown and crisp. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Tip: The unbaked Borek can be prepared early in the day, placed on baking sheets, covered with plastic and refrigerated until you are ready to bake them.  They may also be made up to 2 weeks in advance and stored in the freezer until you are ready to use them. Defrost before baking.

Introducing Shiro’s New Guard



Shiro and the New Guard
From left to right: Toshio Matsudo, Tsuyoshi Kobayashi, Shiro Kashiba, Jun Takai, Michikazu Yoshida, Aaron Pate, Yasuhiro Kusano


It’s hard to believe that Shiro’s Sushi has graced its quiet corner in Belltown for twenty years!  The small space is not fancy; it’s a little crowded.  There’s often a long line to get in; although they will take reservations.  But once passed the hurdles of getting seated, the food and the care and the hospitality more than make up for any trouble.

Shiro Kashiba has a long history of educating Seattle on the beauty of raw fish.  A few years ago he wrote a memoir detailing his experience.  (For a nice summary of his experience see Nancy Leson’s article about the book.) He’s responsible for training many of our local sushi chefs. He’s been a James Beard nominee.

Several years ago he sold his restaurant to Yoshi Yokoyama, who also owns I love Sushi in Bellevue, but continued to work a few days a week. Now, Shiro has decided to complete his retirement.  Although he hinted there may be a new project in store.

Presenting their work

Wednesday, Shiro’s Sushi hosted a small event to celebrate their twentieth anniversary, Shiro-san’s retirement, and to introduce the chefs who will now carry on his traditions.  The group of six has an impressive history, training and background.  Jun Takai will lead the team. He’s been at Shiro’s since 2012. All the chefs have many years of experience with one, Toshio Matsudo, claiming 47 years as a sushi chef!

Finishing Touches

After the speeches we celebrated with fresh bluefin tuna, that we watched the chefs prepare from the whole fish.  Shiro’s is in good hands.



You can see more photos from the event here.

Shiro’s Sushi
2401 2nd Ave

Shiro's on Urbanspoon

John Sarich


I was sad to hear today of John Sarich’s passing. I’ve mentioned him a few times here on the blog but he actually played a much larger role in my Seattle food and wine experiences. I first experienced his work at his restaurant Adriatica, which was an amazing dining experience from the location to the food.  I took classes from him a few times, or attended events at Ste Michelle, as well as other places, where he was cooking or advising.  Besides being incredibly talented, I always thought he was a very nice person. Genuine, kind, thoughtful. He was happy to talk to anyone and everyone and at many events that was a pretty large group.  He will be missed here in the Seattle area, and around the world, both within and outside of the culinary community.

Make Your Own: Pumpkin Spice Latte


Pumpkin Spice Latte

I’m not entirely sure what made me decide to make this recipe because I’ve never ordered a pumpkin spice latte, or PSL as they are commonly known, at Starbucks or any coffee shop.  Maybe it’s because the name made me think there’d be pumpkin flavoring in the coffee (yuck!) but when I saw the recipe I realized it’s pumpkin spice, not pumpkin and spice.  Did that make sense?

So I decided to give it a try.  I did a couple of things slightly differently then the recipe specifies.  First, I infused the milk the day before and stored it in the fridge.  I generally make my coffee as a little break in my work day so wanted to be able to pull this together fairly quickly.  I only frothed half the milk and didn’t even use it all.  I like my coffee drinks to emphasize the coffee more than the milk.  But that’s just personal preference. I know Starbucks adds whip cream to the drink.  This recipe doesn’t call for it and I normally skip the whip cream, but that might be something you’d like to add.

Since I’ve never ordered a “professional” version of this drink I have no idea how close it comes to what you’d get in a coffee shop, however, I thought it was really good! Now I get why people look forward to them.  Perfect for a slightly chilly morning.

DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte

Makes one latte.

  • 1 cup 2% milk (you can substitute whole or 1% milk)
  • 1 tablespoon demerara (raw cane) sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 allspice berries
  • 3 whole cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • pinch ground cinnamon
  • 2 shots espresso

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, sugar, cinnamon stick, allspice berries, whole cloves and 1/8 teaspoon of the nutmeg. Bring to a simmer then turn off the heat, cover and let stand 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the whole spices and discard.

Heat the spice-infused milk over medium-low heat until hot, then use a milk frother to foam the milk (alternatively, you can transfer the milk to a blender and blend until foamy).

Pour the hot espresso into a mug and top with the hot milk, pouring the milk over the back of a spoon into the mug to hold back the foam. Then spoon the foam on top and garnish with the remaining nutmeg and the ground cinnamon.


You can find the original recipe here.

Araya’s Place – Madison Valley



House Specialty


I’m definitely a carnivore, although I regularly make and eat many, non-meat meals.  I still hesitate, however, going to vegetarian restaurants.  Mostly because I’ve had a few bad experiences. And I like the option of meat. So I had a little trepidation when friends suggested dinner at a new, vegetarian*, Thai restaurant, Araya’s Place, in Madison Valley.  But I had nothing to worry about.


HOT Soup


Housed where Rover’s, Thierry Rateaureau’s French, (very!) fine-dining location, was until it closed earlier this year, this is the second Araya’s Place in Seattle.  There’s a third location in Los Angeles.




Walking into the restaurant was like having one of those dreams where everything seems familiar yet you know you’ve never been to the place before.  You can still see the bones, the structure of Rover’s, but the space has been completely opened up; there’s not a tablecloth in sight; plush curtains and wall hangings are gone; and what was cozy and refined is now bright and relaxed.  It’s a pleasant space and I appreciated the bare windows letting the last of the day’s light into the space.


Pumpkin Curry


We shared a selection of items and it was all delicious. My worries were totally unfounded.  Lots of lemongrass, Kafir lime leaves, Thai basil and other Thai flavors perfumed our meal; each dish was an exotic delight.  Portions were generous – I was the lucky recipient of all our leftovers – three of us could not finish two appetizers, a soup, and two entrees.


Put da lime in da coconut...


It’s nice to see Rover’s revived as another great Madison Valley dining option.

*Araya’s also has a number of vegan dishes.

Araya’s Place
2808 E Madison St.
Madison Valley

Araya's Vegetarian Place on Urbanspoon

Araya’s Place
5240 University Way NE
University District

Araya's Vegetarian Place on Urbanspoon

Soup Season



It's the most wonderful time of the year....


The sun is rising later and setting earlier. Warm days give way to cool, sometimes even chilly, evenings. My big Japanese maple tree is turning color. Already. Technically, autumn begins on September 23rd this year but my brain and body are already making the change.

The last post, Spicy Corn Soup, was a summer soup. Today I’m thinking of soups that warm you from the inside out. Heartier soups. The photo below is a chicken pasta soup I made a week or so ago when we had gray day. It’s one of those “look-in-the-fridge” soups. As long as I have an onion, a couple of carrots and some sort of stock or broth I can pull a soup together by adding odds and ends from the pantry and fridge.


Chicken Pasta Soup


But this post isn’t really about a recipe. (If you are looking for a recipe there are several here on the blog.) Lately I’ve been thinking about a Soup Swap I hosted a few years ago.  It was a lot of fun and I meant to host another the next year.  Well, somehow……. it’s now been over three years since that first swap!  Funny how that happens.  So I’m determined to do another this year.  I’m going to change a few things based on what I learned the first time around but the basics will remain the same.

I encourage you to think about hosting your own soup swap – that’s really what I wanted to say!  The holidays will be here before you know it, so you may want to plan something for late October or early November.  Or, maybe better, start thinking about a January event.  After the holidays are over it’s a little bit quiet.  Perfect timing for connecting with friends in a more relaxed way.


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