I’ve tried to get my head around the burgeoning distillery scene in the Seattle area, or maybe I should expand that to read in the state of Washington. Every time I make a teeny dent in it there’s another surge of new options – either places that I’m just hearing about or those that have recently begun producing. A few years ago my friends decided we should do a hard liquor tasting tour – like a wine tasting tour – but at the time tasting rooms were few and far between so our plans didn’t make it off the ground. Now, however, you could actually choose a distillery “region” and taste several distiller’s spirits in rather close proximity. I really need to get on it.
In the meantime, I was invited to a tasting at Copperworks Distilling Company. You’ll find Copperworks along the Seattle waterfront, near the aquarium, in one of the buildings next to the viaduct. The tasting room opened in early October on the day they bottled their first gin. They are currently offering vodka and gin. In a few years, once it has aged, they’ll also bottle and offer whiskey but for now it’s sitting in barrels mellowing and acquiring character.
On the night of our tasting they offered the gin in a cocktail and also in a standard gin and tonic. While the cocktail was good, I loved the gin and tonic. Great flavor and crisp like you want a gin. Their gin is London-Dry style, generally considered the best style for classic martinis, gin and tonics, and other cocktails where drier is better.
Copperworks makes two style of vodka: All-Malt Vodka, which is a limited edition barley vodka; and their Copperworks Vodka which is lighter and meant for mixing. We sampled the Copperworks Vodka and I loved the viscous mouth-feel.
My favorite part of the event though, was meeting the people of Copperworks. Warm, friendly and knowledgeable. It’s the sort of company you want to support just because you like the people so much – although it doesn’t hurt that they are on their way to creating a great line of products, too!
Copperworks Distilling Company is currently open for tours and tastings Wednesday and Thursday from 2:00pm – 6:00pm; Friday and Saturday from noon – 7:00pm; and Sunday from noon – 5:00pm. More information regarding tours is on their website.
Copperworks Distilling Company
1250 Alaskan Way
If some of the appetizers in the photos look familiar there’s good reason. All the food was provided by Elliott’s Oyster House!
As I write this the Oyster New Year (ONY) event is already sold out. That’s the bad news. The good news, however, is that Elliott’s Oyster New Year is a fundraiser for the Puget Sound Restoration Fund (PSRF) and a sellout means a large donation to the fund.
And you can still help out by visiting Elliott’s between now and the end of November – they’ll make a donation to PSRF for each dozen oysters purchased. The other thing you can do is get on the mailing list or remember to check back in early October 2014 so you can attend this great event next year.
At ONY there will be at least 30 varieties of oysters, 22 from local farms; 75 wineries; numerous microbrews; a seafood buffet; and, an oyster luge. Okay, maybe the luge isn’t a huge draw but after you’ve had a couple of glasses of wine it might seem more appealing! At last year’s party they shucked over 30,000 oysters. Yes, I said thirty thousand.
Last Thursday Elliott’s hosted a preview party where I sampled many of the buffet items. Those of you with tickets are in for a big treat. Razor clam fritters; smoked salmon bites; Alaskan King Crab; coconut shrimp; and, of course, the oysters. I hear the dessert bar will be pretty spectacular, too.
If you are missing the event this year, do yourself a favor and stop by Elliott’s one of these evenings. Now that tourist season has slowed down it’s a perfect time to visit the waterfront and enjoy dining on Puget Sound. The main restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and has a great Happy Hour. (At lunch they validate parking in a lot across the street.) Or if you’re looking for something more casual check out Café 56.
Elliott’s is a great choice for many occasions.
Elliott’s Oyster House and Café 56
1201 Alaskan Way
Pier 56 – at the end of Seneca St
A couple of weeks ago I was invited to media night for the newest Teatro Zinzanni show, Hail Caesar! Forbidden Oasis. It’s been a few years since I’ve enjoyed one of their productions so I jumped at the chance to see what’s new.
If you haven’t heard much about Teatro Zinzanni they stage dinner shows, where the story, the actors, the meal and the audience integrate into one big extravaganza. The stories are loosely strung together comedy skits which allow the actors to showcase their talents. Depending on the show and the people involved, vocalists, jugglers, magicians, dancers, acrobats, aerial acts, musicians and more create the story - all the performers will amaze you with their skills. The closer you sit to the center of the big tent, the better your view and the more likely you will be drawn into an act.
The actors perform double-duty helping serve meals so the show pauses while they deliver each course. During this time you may also notice stagehands running around setting up for the next series of acts.
I think this was my fourth show and I’ve enjoyed every one of them. There were two things I noticed this time around, though. I don’t think they did as good a job of integrating the food service into the show. Does this affect anything? Not really. It’s just I’ve always been amazed how well they were able to combine the two, so noticed the change. The other thing, which was more disappointing, is the food was mostly under seasoned and a little blah. My very first Teatro Zinzanni show pleasantly surprised me with the quality of the meal for what amounts to a banquet dinner. Maybe it will improve as the run proceeds but this time it felt like banquet food.
Located on the ground floor of the Via 6 apartments, Assembly Hall Juice and Coffee is a cozy and comfortable space. A large fireplace divides the seating area and calls you to curl up in a nearby chair. There are large tables for working groups or for sharing with other laptop toting patrons. Smaller tables surround the perimeter near the bookshelves, with cookbooks and magazines available for browsing. I found a new recipe from an older magazine while I was hanging out, enjoying my beverage.
The beverages and pastries are provided by Tom Douglas and company. The latte I had on the day I dropped by was good, if not great. That might have been at least partially due to the new barista manning the machine when I arrived. As I waited for my drink his mentor showed up anxiously offering help, which was declined but could have made a difference. It was too close to lunch for me to grab a snack but nearly everything that comes from the Tom Douglas bakery is a worthy nosh. They also offer close to a dozen breakfast plates, which sound very appealing.
Update 29-Sep: Visited for breakfast this morning. I had tea this visit but my friend had a great coffee! And we both enjoyed our breakfasts – mine was a hand pie, she had the Tanaka family bacon fried rice. Nothing fancy just good food.
Assembly Hall Juice and Coffee
in Via 6
2121 6th Ave
One of my favorite restaurants, Cantinetta, has opened another location and I’m very excited about it. Currently, there is a Cantinetta in Wallingford and Bellevue, and a pizzeria, Mercato Stellino, also in Bellevue. This newest place is a mini-version of the original Cantinettas and they are calling it Bar Cantinetta.
Located in Madison Valley, Bar Cantinetta is very cozy, as in petite. (The website does not yet show this new location.) There are several seats along the kitchen bar, a few along the beverage bar and then (maybe) ten tables round out the seating.
The menu is similar to a “big” Cantinetta but is limited. There are a handful of appetizers, three or four pasta options, and one main dish. However, like the other locations, I’m sure they’ll be changing the menu often so I doubt you’ll get tired of the menu. In fact, I would be happy enjoying the current menu if it never changed. One difference with this location is they will be open for lunch during the week and brunch on the weekends. Lunch and dinner will share a menu; the brunch menu will be rolling out in a week or two.
They’ve barely been open a week but we stopped in Sunday afternoon to check out the place.
We started with a grilled octopus and chickpea dish which was okay but not my favorite. It was actually tasty but the server ruined it for me when she tried to explain the preparation. I’m going to let it go at that so that you have an opportunity for a different experience than we had. Our next dish, cheese-stuffed, fresh figs, wrapped in speck and served with lightly dressed arugula was delicious! Super rich though. Plan to share a plate.
We finished with handmade tagliolini, that had a creme fraische “sauce” and was finished with black pepper and a fresh, fresh, egg. Soul satisfying. Especially since we were dining while the thunder and lightning were rolling through Seattle.
I’m looking forward to going back. And back again.
2811 E Madison St
There’s a new coffee shop in town and I think it might just knock your socks off. Located in the former Chez Shea spot on the top floor of the Corner Market building at First & Pike, it’s a great spot to take a break from the hustle and bustle of Pike Place. Storyville Coffee has come to town and I’m guessing it will be a hit.
It’s a large spot, with handsome wood walls, cozy couches, an assortment of tables. The windows look out to the renowned, neon Pike Place Market sign and clock, and over the rooftop to the Puget Sound beyond. I was there early in the morning so it’s my memory tricking me into thinking the sun was streaming in – it couldn’t have been. But the large windows and subtle lighting gave me that impression.
Oddly enough, they only have one blend of coffee, although you can have it with or without caffeine. And, of course, all of your normal coffeehouse beverages are available. I tried tea the morning I was there but my friend said her latte was good. I would love it if they added teapots but you can’t have everything. Currently the menu is limited (they are in pre-opening mode) but what there is, is delicious. We tried the puff pastry filled with Black Forest ham and cheese, and a cinnamon roll. Both were light and flavorful – one savory, one sweet – but not too sweet.
As I mentioned they are in pre-opening mode. It’s an extended pre-opening and you can be invited to check them out, too. Go to storyville.com click around until you see “Request a Passport” or “Request an Early Invite”. Fill in your details and you’ll receive an invite. I think mine came the day after I requested it.
Open to the public October 1.
I stopped at Pike Place Market on Saturday to pick up fresh, local berries. The season is coming to an end so I’m taking full advantage of it while I can. The fruit is super ripe right now. I should have kept that in mind but my eyes were a little bigger than my stomach and once I had the berries home I was afraid they would go bad before I ate them all.
I didn’t want that to happen so I made a few cups into a Mixed Berry Crisp on Sunday morning and just pulled another one out of the oven.
I love making crisps. Really quick and easy to make – especially if you already have the topping made up, as I normally do. (It keeps great in the freezer.) You can use almost any sort of fruit and any amount of fruit. You just need to find the right size baking dish and use an appropriate amount of topping, which is really personal preference anyway. The one thing that may take a little practice, but is not the end of the world if you get it wrong, is judging if the fruit needs sugar and/or a thickening agent like flour or cornstarch. When using sugar I suggest you use a light hand, sprinkling just a little between layers of fruit. With a thickening agent you’ll just need to judge by the fruit you’re using and how juicy it is. You can always look up a pie recipe for the same sort of fruit and use it as a guideline.
Once you remove the crisp from the oven, let it cool at least a few minutes but really an hour or so is best. Eat it as is or, for an especially delicious treat top it with ice-cream or whipped cream.
I’m jealous of all of you who work downtown or in Pioneer Square. You can drop into Il Corvo for lunch any time you’d like! Located in a rather non-descript location, Il Corvo opens only for lunch Monday through Friday, at 11:00 am and closes at 3:00 pm. That means there are only 20 hours each week to enjoy the rustic, handmade pastas topped with market-inspired condiments. Although you can purchase a bag of dried pasta to take home.
Il Corvo is Mike Easton’s labor of love. Running the kitchen with minimal help he cranks out three types of soul-satisfying, handmade pasta daily. Sauces range from traditional to fresh-from-the-market creations. You can substitute a couple of basic sauces if you’re not feeling adventurous. He also offers a short list of side dishes like focaccia bread and a charcuterie platter. While the daily options are limited the menu is expansive as the pasta and sauce combinations change every day. Menus are posted daily on their website – although they aren’t posted until very close to opening.
Wednesday we arrived at 11:00 placed our order and sat down to wait for our bowls of pasta to arrive. By 11:30 the line stretched from the order counter at the back of the store nearly to the door. The good news is with a limited menu, orders come out pretty quickly. And seating didn’t seem to be too much of an issue as many folks were taking their orders to go.
We shared generous bowls of Ruby Queen Corn, Sage and Conchiglini, and Bucatini with Cacio e Pepe. We didn’t fight over them but each of us kept watch to make sure we got our fair share!
If you are anywhere near 2nd and James during the week give yourself a treat and plan a lunch at Il Corvo.
217 James St
On Thursday I was invited to attend a luncheon hosted by Negra Modelo featuring Rick Bayless cooking with and pairing their beer with food. You are probably familiar with Rick from his Chicago restaurants; his cooking show, Mexico – One Plate at a Time; his cookbooks; the Frontera line of foods; or even his foundation. I follow and am a fan of Rick’s so I happily accepted the invitation.
He’s generally known as the American expert on creating authentic Mexican fare. In fact, he’s been awarded the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle, an award that honors foreigners for their contributions to Mexico and its people. I learned a couple of new things about Rick at this event. He started visiting Mexico when he was 14, loved the place and returned annually throughout his school years. At some point he began cooking with locals to learn traditional Mexican techniques and flavors. He still returns to the country at least once a year, studying different regions each trip. In fact, every summer he takes a group of his staff (this year it was about 35 people) with him so they can also experience the flavors and techniques of Mexico.
Rick was in town to promote Negra Modelo as an ingredient and kickoff a national Chef Challenge encouraging recipes that complement Negra Modelo, or maybe that should read, are complemented by Negra Modelo.
Since this is Seattle, on Thursday Rick shared the stage with Tom Douglas, who has his own line of restaurants; a radio program; cookbooks; products and tools; and actively supports Food Lifeline, as well as other local causes.
Each of the chefs made a signature dish for us and TDoug’s team provided several other menu items for our lunch.
The constant banter between Tom and his friend and sidekick Thierry Rautureau (the Chef in the Hat), who emceed, made this enjoyable event even more fun. Tom and Thierry are the Seattle version of Anthony Bourdain and Eric Rippert. One classically trained to create beautiful palate pleasers, the other using experience and intuition to gain kitchen cred. Successful in their own ways, yet recognizing the value of the other’s. They approach nearly every situation with their own unique perspective and continually give each other a bad time about just about everything. Add Rick Bayless to the mix and you have an entertaining hour of banter and debate.