Our dinner menu:
Compressed Cucumber: grilled onions, basil, romesco sauce
Hamachi Crudo: avocado, watermelon radish, Dashi Gelée
Hand-made Smoked Cavatelli: Foraged mushrooms, pickled pearl onions, foie gras emulsion
Mishima Ranch “Flavor Curve”: horseradish potato gratin, foraged mushrooms, bordelaise sauce
Cattail Creek Lamb Rack: glazed rillettes, house made ricotta gnocchi, piperade
-The cardamom cocktail was like a light cardamom soda. If you love that spice, try this.
-I found it hard to decide which entree to order, but went for lamb in honor of our wedding dinner, especially since it came with gnocchi (my favorite dish from our wedding).
-I’m generally wary of foie gras on menus lately as predictable foodie bait that lives up to hype far less than it should. But the smoked cavatelli dish with foie emulsion was my favorite in our set of great dishes.
-Stellar service — the cavatelli was a make-up dish for an early misstep. I’m grateful they made up for things this way!
Today was a double-hitter on the Food Front: Cookbook Club & tonight’s Oden Dinner at Joule.
Cookbook club this month featured recipes from David Lebovitz’s books and his blog posts. My contribution was gougères. My friend Nick brings these to parties often and I’ve long wanted to learn to make these myself. 3 batches later, I got the best results, but I have more ideas for the future.
Then, for dinner, I joined Rachel Belle, The Gastrognome and one other friend for a Japanese dinner of Oden — a good meal for a winter’s night. Check out the slideshow:
Tonight, at rather the last minute, we decided to attend Century Ballroom’s 14th birthday party. There were dance shows and every half hour, the dance format changed. We got a half hour of dancing in, after a visit to the Unicorn.
I’ve wanted to visit Unicorn for the last year to try Unicorn Balls (pork meatballs with a ginger aioli). They hardly tasted like anything. I’ve since heard Saturday is not their best evening and I’ll return, if only to have another Hellicorn — Fireball with ginger ale and lime! And maybe try the Narwhal Balls.
One long week left me craving sushi and superb cocktails by Friday evening. We beelined to our reservation in Ballard. I went for my usual spicy whatever – my weakness in such moments is whatever’s present on the menu with jalapeño or hot and spicy sauce.
The ginger-san roll (hamachi, red jalapeño, cilantro, ginger, & avocado) arrived for me first, followed in short order by shishito peppers with lemon and sea salt. Mr. T ordered and received an overwhelmingly gratifying udon of shrimp tempura with yams & noodles in broth. As this was basically my first meal of the day, we followed these with a late request of the Red Hot Roll (spicy snow crab, red jalapeño , cilantro, avocado & tobiko). I was less impressed with this final item, but the Death Poem cocktail soothed any disappointment. Aged guatemalan rum, rye, grapefruit, lemon, aperol, and cinnamon bark syrup with an orange twist cures quite a lot.
For dinner at 5 Corner Market Bar & Kitchen in Ballard (Burger of the Month!), check out the decor in the upstairs loft — Mother Mary on an ironing board! By the way, the burger this month was incredible, one of the best yet. Made to our specifications (medium rare). The Foie Chicken & Waffles was notable too. Our party was divided on the addition of peanut butter to the dish, but I think it worked.
I paced with the chicken above during miles 9 and 10. Pretty sure he beat my time in the end, but I was still proud of how strong & energetic I felt at that finish line. For that finale, I’d like to thank the guy at mile 12 handing out King Cake.
Mr. T met me at the end and tried to snap a picture, but it turns out my decision to sprint those final 500 yards meant he caught the back of some other lady’s head. Oops.
Our first order of business, post-shower, was refueling. We walked down Dauphine to a new place we’d noticed Friday night, called Nosh. We had the place to ourselves. An artist walked in (apparently returning, having been invited) to draw portraits of the staff. Between getting our biscuits and gravy and whatnot, our waitress sat for him. She and the attendant side conversations were charming.
Speaking of charmed, that’s how I’d describe today, where we explored the quarter in warm sunshine.
Mid-afternoon, I started fretting I was coming down with Mr. T’s cold, so I napped that fear away. We awoke hungry, and ready to dine at a place I’d vaguely known about — The Green Goddess. I’d love to recall who might’ve told me about it first (Rocky?), and name my next dog after him (an honor, I promise you). We had one of the top 5 meals of my life — the evening was ridiculously spectacular.
Lemme put it like this: when the chef comes out to fist-bump you at the end of your meal, I’d say it’s a confirmation of a great time. The joy of that meal may carry me for months. There were none of the New Orleans clichés, but all of those delightful eccentricities. (I know. Calling New Orleanians eccentric is a cliché, but the stereotype is grounded in truth.)
We arrived before 6 and snagged the final 2 seats open at the bar. From first bite of that powerfully delicious Korean pancake, we were in for it. The mushroom bread pudding was a great savory twist on my husband’s favorite dessert — we noticed it being enjoyed at a few tables. Later, the chef delivered our Armagnac figs and encouraged us to enjoy every last drop of the brilliant Cherrywood-aged balsamico. We obeyed and were thisclose to licking the plate.
Their cocktail program is worth a visit alone. My first drink (their rum sazzy) was on point, but I knew I’d found my One True Drink when the gifted bartender idly mentioned their julep (“See Rock City!) was inspired by a Ginger Mint Julep sign, only a few blocks away. I KNEW THAT SIGN! I’ve photographed that sign. I’ve wished for that drink. And here it was! How lucky were we to have found this place?
Elated from a marvelous dinner, we finished by going for their praline bacon sundae: “Pecan praline ice cream with a creamy bacon caramel sauce carrying a bit of both Pink Himalayan & Black Lava Salts, & micro-planed applewood bacon.” Oh, yeah!
Our complete dinner, as described directly from their menu:
Korean Oyster & Scallion Pancake This classic savory pancake made of both wheat & rice flours, contains Louisiana oysters, scallions, ginger and a touch of spice, served with pickled celery root in yellow pepper remoulade, with sesame-soy dipping sauce.
Mushroom Bread Pudding Several kinds of mushrooms packed into a savory bread pudding, topped with a “scoop” of La Serena sheep cheese & Oregon white truffle cream sauce.
Shrimp “Wearing a Grass Skirt” Roasted Louisiana shrimp wrapped in shredded phyllo, with New Orleans barbecue shrimp sauce, roasted pineapple & young coconut slaw.
Armagnac-Soaked Mission Figs These boozy morsels are stuffed with Strathdon Blue Cheese, wrapped in Serrano Ham, quick-roasted, and finished with Leonardi Balsamico aged 20 years in Cherrywood Barrels.
The Notorious Bacon Sundae — made with pecan praline ice cream with a creamy bacon caramel sauce carrying a bit of both Pink Himalayan & Black Lava Salts, & micro-planed Nueske’s Applewood Bacon, layered with whipped cream, of course!
My new favorite drink on the planet: “See Rock City!” Mint Julep Our exotic take on the eternal verities of the mint julep, with Ginger Syrup, Lychee Juice, muddled mint and Catdaddy Carolina Moonshine.
Mr. T’s favorite: The Oregon Bog Clear Creek’s wonderful Cranberry Liqueur, from organic coastal Oregon bogs; Bruichladdich’s “The Waves” Islay Single Malt Scotch, Italian orange liqueur, & Fee Bros.Whisky Barrel Bitters.
D-Day Rum Sazerac We invented this to imagine New Orleans captured by German U-boats, leaving us without any Rye whisky to make our home town Sazeracs.“Navy Strength” Smith & Cross rum, Steen’s Cane Syrup, Peychaud’s Bitters and Absinthe rinse.
The Gentle Giant In homage to the giant Pacific NW ecosystem, we blend Green Chartreuse, G’vine French Gin, lime, lotus tea & a float of Clear Creek’s magnificent Douglas Fir Eau-de-Vie.
My mom and brother came into New Orleans today to go with us for brunch to Commander’s Palace.
I was partially making up for being so ill at the end of our wedding trip when we had a final 25+ brunch at Commander’s (and I was feeling too green to eat anything), and I was partially carbo-loading for Sunday’s race day — but we went all out. I ordered Shrimp & Tasso Henican, Eggs Cochon de Lait with biscuits, and Strawberry Shortcake. All good, but I couldn’t keep my hands off of Mr. T’s pecan crusted gulf fish. I’m a sucker for anything a meuniere.
Mr. T started feeling hit by a cold, so we dropped him off for a nap while a) I picked up my race number for the Half Marathon followed by b) my Mom, brother, and I visiting the World War II Museum. The special exhibit was Ours to Fight For: American Jews in the Second World War. Pictures were verboten, but there were a few quotes I wanted to remember.
After the museum, we caught the final viewing of the day of Beyond All Boundaries, the Tom Hanks 4-D movie covering the war. Highly recommend, but I could see this as being hard for anyone with PTSD issues. The seats vibrated during bombing scenes and were nearly blinded during the A-bomb scene. We exited through the gift shop and past the Stage Door Canteen to find a refreshed Mr. T waiting for us nearby at The American Sector’s bar. We beat the dinner crowd by minutes, it seemed.
Years ago, I stopped drinking full calorie sodas while on a diet. I never regained the habit, 10 years later. I make exceptions upon rare occassion. Besh’s house made (seasonal) Satsuma Soda seemed like a fine candidate for such — after we ordered, they brought out a seltzer decanter with the satsuma simple syrup, and glasses for everyone. I’m pretty sure I drank 3/4s of the soda all by myself. (An order of the $6 house made soda is at least 6 glasses worth.)
The American Sector specializes in nostalgic, comfort food. Since we were in Louisiana, this included poboys! Huzzah! Mr. T & I each had one, my mom got the Reuben and my brother, the sliders. Crowd-pleasing dinner, all around. I’d like to think that’s how the whole day went.
And for the first time, I went to bed at a reasonable hour before a race!
We flew to New Orleans via Memphis today. Weeks ago, I mentioned to Mr. T & we’d be arriving later than we normally do, so we fired up an online reservations site to see who could seat us at 10:30 at night. Bayona came to our rescue. I’ve been curious about the place for a better part of a decade, so jumped on the chance.
But first, we had a layover in Memphis to attend to. I wasn’t sure what to expect out of the Memphis airport — as major pit stops, Denver and Atlanta are pretty homogenized. Minneapolis, too, as far as the food goes, but their saving grace is the plethora of bookstores. I could handle the place stranded for a week or so with all those books. Although, Minnesotans know how to deal with the snow so it’s not as likely.
In Memphis, imagine my happiness to discover not one but two kinds of BBQ on hand in the airport. We overheard a pilot describe to another that there was one place that specialized in sweeter, another in spicier, so we went for the spicy at Jim Neely’s Interstate BBQ for our midday refuel. Good stuff. Mr. T declared that Brian would be proud to share the Neely name.
We arrived at our hotel around 9:30, got ready for dinner and sped down Dauphine to meet our reservation, a little early. Bayona was different animal than Interstate BBQ, but equally pleasing. What we ordered:
Stormy Morning: Elderflower Liqueur with Creme de Violette, wedge of lime & sparkling wine
Grilled Duck Breast (med. rare) with Pepper Jelly Sauce and Wild Rice (pour moi)
Flounder with rice, eggplant, and mushrooms in a soy, citrus, & teriyaki sauce (pour Mr. T)
Mocha Banana Torte with Pecan Croquante (pour nous), with a Happy Anniversary circling the plate.
The drink started us off on an excellent note — whoever is working the bar does it well. Both mains were on point, though we were surprised to find rice on Mr. T’s plate rather than the sobu noodle in the menu. It was late, we were tired, we were otherwise pleased, and didn’t bring it up with the waiter who seemed preoccupied with concerns other than visiting our table with regularity. It was approaching the end of the evening, I imagine, though the restaurant was still fairly busy. He made up for it by suggesting the delicious Mocha Banana Torte.
Dauphine Street seemed a ghost town at our departure hour, so we took the Bourbon Street on a Friday night gauntlet for our walk home. I suppose it must be done, from time to time.
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