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.
Last year I grew eggplant for the first time and wasn’t really successful. I planted late and we had a cooler than normal summer. My plants had tons of little baby eggplants but nothing grew big enough to harvest. This year not only are my plants loaded but I’ve already picked the first few fruits. I planted two varieties, Little Finger and Fairy Tale. Both are miniature Japanese style eggplants. The Little Finger are the solid purple and the Fairy Tale are variegated.
They both grow in groups of 4 to 6 fruits. As you can see three of them grew very close together! I used these to make a version of moussaka.
I’m not sure if I’ll grow them again. It turns out eggplant needs a lot of water and since I grew them in pots I sometimes water them twice a day. I like the idea of having them though, so maybe I’ll just need to reconsider my plan.
Tomatoes continue to ripen and peppers are in full swing, too. And the blueberries are going crazy. It’s a delicious time of year!
I’ve picked a few tomatoes over the last few weeks and now the balance has tipped and lots are ripening all at once. It’s that time of year when I switch from yearning for a juicy, sun-warmed tomato picked fresh from the vine to starting to tear my hair out figuring out how to use them all before fruit flies take over my kitchen! Yes, full-on tomato season has finally arrived at my house and I couldn’t be happier.
I have tons of ways that I use tomatoes but here’s a new (to me) idea. I made this soup for a brunch I hosted last weekend. It’s a cold soup and you only barely heat the tomatoes to get the juices to run freely so it retains that beautiful, fresh tomato flavor. Delicious, refreshing and perfect for a warm, August day.
The recipe is from Tom’s Big Dinners by Tom Douglas, one of my favorite cookbooks. In the photos you’ll notice a pale green “island” in the soup. It’s Cucumber Panna Cotta which is part of the recipe as presented in the cookbook. While the panna cotta is good, it didn’t really contrast well enough with the soup, for my taste. So I’m not going to include the recipe for it. Back in 2009 Tom shared the soup recipe on CBS’ The Early Show. At that time he simply served the soup with garlic toast and fresh ricotta. I think that’s a great idea and it’s what I’d do next time!
Chilled Tomato Soup with Basil Oil
Makes 8 first-course servings
- 2-1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 pounds ripe tomatoes, stemmed and roughly chopped
- 1 peeled shallot, roughly chopped
- 8 fresh basil leaves
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.
Add the tomatoes, shallot, and basil and simmer, stirring, just until the tomatoes are warmed through and releasing their juice, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, transfer the contents of the pan to the bowl of a food processor, and puree until smooth. (Note: I have an old Cuisinart DLC-8F, which was the original “medium” size. I believe it has an 11 cup bowl. When I started processing the soup, some leaked out the top. I’d probably divide the soup into two batches next time.)
Pour the puree through a fine sieve set over a bowl, pressing on the solids with a rubber spatula to get as much of the tomato through the sieve as possible. Discard the solids.
Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper. Allow the soup to cool to room temperature.
- 1/3 heaping cup roughly chopped basil leaves (lightly packed)
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
Combine the basil and olive oil in a blender and puree until smooth. (Or chop the basil in a mini-food processor and gradually add the oil while processing.)
Strain through a sieve, pressing on the solids with a rubber spatula to extract as much oil as possible.
Season to taste with salt.
To serve, divide the soup into 8 bowls, then drizzle with the basil oil.
I finally got around to making a soufflé. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long. I guess when I’m making brunch for a lot of people it didn’t seem like an experiment that I wanted to try. And for some reason I never thought to make one when it was just two or a few of us. I almost missed another opportunity this last weekend but luckily as I was searching for something – I don’t even remember what now – a soufflé came up in the results. And I was off!
You may have heard how hard it is to make a soufflé. It’s not. I admit I was a little worried as it was baking because I’d created my own recipe from two I’d found. The soufflés took longer than expected to bake but still turned out great! And…. since I had some leftover mixture I decided to see what would happen if I saved it to bake later. After refrigerating it for eight or nine hours I baked it and it was great! Finally, I had some of the cooked soufflé leftover so I refrigerated it and microwaved pieces of it the next couple mornings – delicious still! No longer super puffy, but delicious.
I think the big thing to remember is do not open the oven until it’s done, or very close to being done. Honestly, though, since the soufflés I made for the party took so much longer to bake than I thought they would, I opened the oven several times during the last 15 minutes (they took a total of about 30 to bake) and they still puffed and browned very nicely. I think that was flirting with danger, however. I’ve made a little adjustment to the recipe so the baking time should be a little less than 30 minutes if you follow the recipe below.
I’ve come to the conclusion that a soufflé is one of those things like gougère that have an undeserved reputation for being hard to make. And the reality is that it’s probably the fear that makes them fail. So go for it and make a soufflé. They’re fun!
The photo at the top of the post was the one I made with the leftover mixture. For the party I used taller dishes, although both shapes hold 1 cup. At the end of the post you’ll see what it looks like once it deflates.
Pike Place Market has been a shopping destination for me since I moved to Seattle in 1981. I was lucky enough to work downtown for several years so the Market was just a short lunch time stroll away during that period. But even as my work location has changed over the years, the Market has remained a key part of my shopping plan. I have access to farmers and producers; it’s just a short stroll away from the waterfront; there’s often entertainment – whether it’s a street side busker or the antics of the crowd; and numerous dining options, from quick takeout to fine dining, abound. With all that it offers it is the heart of Seattle.
It’s easy to lump Pike Place Market into the general category of “tourist attraction”, especially during the summer when it becomes jam-packed with cruise ship adventurers and other out-of-towners. But summer is when the number of local farmers and producers increases, especially on the Farmers Market on Pike Place days (Friday through Sunday) from late June until the end of September. Without local support the Market would not be the healthy, vibrant place that it is. Tourists are nice but they basically shop once, take home a few items and then move on. It’s the locals who come to the market on a regular basis who provide the income, establish relationships with the vendors, and keep the doors open.
And, good news…. now there is more than one way to avoid the summer crowds! My plan is to arrive early – generally around 8:00 am, sometimes sooner. The earlier you come, the easier it is to move through the market and purchase things but the trade-off is that not all stalls will be open that early. However, over the last several years Pike Place Market has introduced three satellite markets around Seattle. They call them Express Markets. They are smaller, focused on fresh fruits and vegetables but also include a few other specialty items. Check the link for locations and days – you may find that Pike Place is closer than you think. And here’s a third option: I noticed that Pike Place Market is staffing booths at the Seattle Out to Lunch concert series this summer, too! They’ve filled Pike Place Market totes (I just received one of these and they are really great!) with fruits, veggies and herbs. For $15 you can take one home – sort of like a mini-CSA box without a long-term obligation.