The only thing better than catching up with friends is catching with friends over lunch. Yesterday I did just that. Fonda La Catrina was the place. My first time there, although it’s been a Seattle staple for some time. Located in the heart of Georgetown, that industrial neighborhood on the south end of Seattle, Fonda La Catrina provides a warm and lively spot for meeting friends. I’m looking forward to warmer weather and checking out their deck, too.
We had the special Posole to start. And really we could have ended there. Even the small bowls with their fragrant broth and tender pork were large enough for a meal. But we’d also ordered Enfrijoladas – tortillas dipped in a bean sauce before being filled and smothered. We chose carne asada for the filling, which was okay but not great. I think, though, that it just wasn’t the best choice for this dish and probably would be good in a taco. The beans and rice that came along with the enfrijoladas were really flavorful.
Fonda La Catrina
5905 Airport Way S
Move over Rooster – there’s a new Sriracha in town! A couple of weeks ago one of the guys behind Fix Hot Sauce asked if I’d like to try a bottle of their sriracha. After taking a look at their site, I was interested – a fresh, local sriracha? Intriguing.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never thought about looking for anything other than the rooster. I have a large bottle that’s been hanging out in my fridge – for way longer than I’d like to admit. I’ve taken it for granted, using it as a condiment mainly for soups or Asian dishes and it’s been fine. There’s been no considering that there might be something better. But that’s changed.
The sauce arrived, I opened it, poured a little on my finger and tasted it. Wait a minute! This sauce tasted like a food, not just an indiscriminate sauce. It was fresh, flavorful and had a lovely hot, but not searing, bite.
After dipping and drizzling it on a few things I decided to try it in a way that really let the taste of the sauce come through – not just as a condiment but as the star. I had a recipe sitting in my “to try” pile that seemed perfect – Slow Cooker Buffalo Wings.
I loved the recipe – easy to make, a little more healthy than deep-fried wings, yet close enough to traditional Buffalo Wings to satisfy the craving. And they were delicious made with the fix Hot Sauce. Fresh and spicy! Tender and juicy. As messy and finger-licking good as any hot wing should be.
I believe fix is only available through their website. They are currently offering a 25% discount before they officially launch. You can order fix here.
And then try it with this recipe…
Slow Cooker Buffalo Wings
Adapted from this recipe
- 2 pounds chicken wings, thawed not frozen
- 8 ounces fix Hot Sauce
- 2 TBSP butter, cut into smallish pieces
- Blue Cheese Dressing (I mixed up Blue Cheese, Sour Cream & Greek Yogurt to taste)
- Carrot sticks
- Celery sticks
Add the chicken and sauce to the slow cooker. Toss to coat all wings. Place bits of butter on top of the wings.
Cook on HIGH for 2-2.5 hours. Keep the lid closed to retain the heat. I opened once to turn the wings over and make sure they were all still covered in sauce.
When cooked, take the wings out of the slow cooker, leaving the sauce in the slow cooker, and put the wings on a baking sheet.
Broil the wings in the oven for a few minutes on each side until browned and crisp.
Place the wings on your serving dish along with celery, carrots and a bowl of dressing. Drizzle or brush some of the leftover sauce from the slow cooker over the wings making them as messy as you’d like!
The Hot Stove Society, Tom Douglas’ shiny, new, cooking school, opened late last summer. I’ve visited the space a few times but didn’t get in for a class until this past Friday. I’ve always enjoyed the classes and events they’ve held in the restaurants or at Palace Ballroom but this new facility is gorgeous and is a big step up!
There’s a great demo kitchen at the front of the room with fancy-pants cameras, big screens, a slightly rounded counter space which seats ten or so and all kinds of great cooking gear. The rest of the room is filled with rolling, butcher block workstations that can be moved and configured as needed. Rows of color-coordinated equipment and stacks of shiny pots and pans surround the room. I learned on Friday that Kitchenaid is a sponsor which explains all the pretty equipment. And, there’s a row of gas ranges along the back of the room.
My class on Friday was a combination of lecture, hands-on, and demo. I’d been hoping for a little more hands-on (all that equipment has had me dying to dig in) but this was a fun and interesting class.
Herschell Taghap, one of the primary instructors at the school, led the class. Rawle Jeffereds from Penn Cove Shellfish co-presented. I thought I knew quite a bit about oysters but learned several new things including why some oysters are darker colored than others. Beach-raised oysters have darker, harder shells than those raised in bags or cages. They also have a longer shelf-life and a more earthy taste. Those in bags or cages will have a more delicate, “cleaner” flavor. The differences are primarily attributed to exposure to light, air and tide motion. Beach-raised are exposed and tumbled twice a day at low-tide, while those in bags/cages remain under water their whole life. We also learned some shucking tricks and then got to practice – and eat our work!
We then moved into the demo (and sample) portion of the class. Herschell cooked up Hangtown Oyster Fry; Spaghetti with Mussels in Spicy Tomato Sauce; and Smoked Clam Dip with Gaufrettes (a waffle-ridged, potato chip). Herschell is a great presenter and instructor: a touch of humor; clear instructions; and good interaction with the class make a winning combination. If you follow any of the Tom Douglas social feeds that’s Herschell behind the scenes. (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)
I needed to bring something to a friend’s house for the Saturday Seahawks’ game (we won!). With a busy day and limited time to prep, the Smoked Clam Dip seemed to be just the thing – although I bought my chips and substituted Penn Cove Shellfish (canned) Smoked Mussels, to save time. The dip was a big hit – both in class and at the party.
I love this new facility and am looking forward to finding a class where I get to roll up my sleeves and do the work.
You can see more photos of the facility and class here.
Hot Stove Society
Located on the 2nd floor of Hotel Andra
2000 4th Ave
A few years ago, friends gifted me with a loaf of Pan d’Oro from Breadfarm. I wasn’t familiar with Pan d’Oro, also called Pandoro, but knew it’s cousin, Panettone very well. While there are some similarities, Pan d’Oro is a plain dough. It is golden-colored due to the high number of egg yolks in the dough (Pan d’Oro means golden bread), is and flavored with lemon zest or vanilla or some combination of the two, according to the recipes I found. The Breadfarm’s version uses vanilla. I was in love from the first bite.
There are various recipes for Pan d’Oro: Mario Batali has one that is pretty straightforward; but there are others that are much more complex. The bread is baked in a special 8-pointed star pan. The final product has a texture that is a cross between bread and a light cake. When served you slice across the loaf to reveal the star. It’s often served as a dessert with Chantilly cream, whipped Mascarpone, or drizzled with a thin powdered sugar glaze.
Just before Christmas I was in Bow, next door to Edison, home of The Breadfarm, so couldn’t resist purchasing a loaf. In fact, I bought two, one for my sister who was hosting the family celebration this year and one for me, along with a few other Breadfarm treats. If you haven’t been to this bakery make an effort to check it out sometime. Warning: they only accept cash and checks for payment so be prepared as you’ll want to load up once you see all they have to offer.
On Christmas morning I used my Pan d’Oro to make French toast. I loved the golden stars and the final product was a delicious, fragrant, rich breakfast. While the slices cooked I sprinkled cinnamon-sugar over them and then served them with warmed maple syrup and a side of thick-cut bacon – what a great holiday breakfast!
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
451 Avenue Yale Ave N.
(under the historical Stack House)
b/t Republican St & Harrison St
South Lake Union
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.
6003 12th Avenue S
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.
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.
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!
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.
2401 2nd Ave