I HEART BACON
Friday, November 26th, 2004

Jook

It’s an annual tradition to go back over to my uncle’s the day after Thanksgiving for jook—which is a Chinese rice porridge made with the left over turkey and carcass.

It was delicious!

Thursday, November 25th, 2004

Turkey Day

I’m too stuffed to write anything, but here are a few pictures from the family feast.

Wednesday, November 24th, 2004

Lark, second time around

When my dad comes to town it’s our tradition to have a nice dinner out and shoot some pool. I chose dinner at Lark, since I was craving their pork rillettes and I wanted to see if it would be just as good as the first time I ate there.

There were three of us for dinner and the waitress suggested ordering 2-3 dishes a piece, so this is what we chose:

Pork Rillettes, Apple Bread and 12th Century Chutney ($9) – Good, but not nearly as good as the first time I ordered them.

Chorizo Pamplona with Spicy Olives & Breadsticks ($8) – Also good, but I was expecting hunks of chorizo and this was sliced very thin like salami, so it was hard to taste the full flavor.

Warm Spanish Mackerel Escabeche with Fried Capers & Chorizo Oil ($11) – Mackerel is usually too fishy for me, but the crisp, briny capers really mellowed out the flavor.

Roasted Oysters with Herb Butter, Pernod and Bacon ($14) – These looked beautiful, but somehow the flavors didn’t really come together right for me. Dad loved these.

Farro with Black Kale, Red Kuri Squash & Mascarpone ($12) – This was my favorite. The farro had a texture like risotto and was sweet from the squash. It paired beautifully with the bitter kale.

Baked Anson Mills Taragna Polenta with Roast Pork & Sage ($13) – The polenta was really good and cut into cubes, but the pork seemed a little dry and was sliced thin like deli-meat and then layered on top.

Squab with Yellowfoot Chanterelles and Trofie Pasta & Parmigiano Regiano ($14) – This was my second favorite. I usually don’t like squab, but this one was perfectly cooked (very rare) and was really flavorful with a taste and texture more like meat than poultry. It came with an amazing sauce and hand rolled pasta that looked a little like spaetzle.

We ended our dinner with a selection of three fabulous cheeses:
Pont l’Eveque – Normandy Cow
Charollais – Burgundy Goat
Thistle Hill Farms Tarentaise – Vermont Cow

After the cheese course, we were too full to eat anything else, so we went to play pool for a while, then headed to Le Pichet for a late night dessert of apple cake and pastis.

Lark on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 24th, 2004

Sandwich in a box

The last workday before a long holiday weekend always seems like it deserves a special lunch, so Zach and I went to the Baguette Box.

When we meet here, we usually each get a different sandwich and split them so that we can try all the flavors. So far we’ve had the Drunken Crispy Chicken, the Salumi Salami, the Kobe Beef and the Gravlax. Lately, I seem to have gotten stuck on the Salumi Salami sandwich (how can you resist Mole salami!?) and Zach usually orders the Crispy Drunken Chicken, so we both decided to try something new today.

Zach tried to order the hoisin pig ear sandwich, but they were out of it. Who knew pig ears were so popular? He ordered the lamb sandwich with yogurt instead and I ordered the red-wine braised pork sandwich. They were both delicious. Mine was especially messy with all of the braising juices squirting out of the tender pork and mixing with the mustard-seed spread. Zach’s lamb had roasted red peppers and a delicious Greek-tasting yogurt sauce, which totally made the sandwich. I can’t wait to go back and try the rest of them—I’m especially interested in the beef and veal meatball sandwich.

Baguette Box on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 22nd, 2004

Drinking Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving in a bottle. Now if only they could come up with bacon in a bottle.

Sunday, November 21st, 2004

Toby’s!

Our second day on Whidbey started out with mom’s waffle breakfast. She makes the best waffles! We ate them with syrup and quince chutney and, of course, bacon.

After breakfast we went to Coupeville and stopped in Penn Cove Antiques where I found yet another cool egg cup, shaped like an elephant.

It was so cold and rainy that when the lady from Mariti Chocolate Company handed us cups of hot chocolate on the street, we had to follow her inside. The hot chocolate was amazing—really high quality chocolate mixed with milk and spiced with cayenne pepper. I had to buy some, along with these three weird little bottles of Underberg bitters. The package said ‘After a good meal to feel bright and alert’; so they should come in handy.

We had a late lunch at my favorite restaurant on Whidbey—Toby’s Tavern! It’s a dive bar, but they have great mussels right from Penn Cove, some of the best prime rib I’ve ever had and a great crispy halibut sandwich. Mmmmm. I heart Toby’s.

I also heart Spanish chorizo, which I had for a snack dinner with apples, quince paste, Fontina and Sopressata salami. A weird mix, but surprisingly good.

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Saturday, November 20th, 2004

Self-serve chicken

We started out a great day on Whidbey Island at the farmer’s market in Bayview. It was chilly out, so I was glad that they had moved it indoors for the winter. Boxes of beautiful, tiny Brussels sprouts caught my eye first and I loaded up. Then I saw fresh, bright orange baby carrots that I couldn’t resist. I was already picturing a bountiful fall dinner when I ran into my mom who was holding a gorgeous hubbard squash. A perfect food trifecta.

We went to breakfast at the Smiling Dog Cafe. After looking over the menu I asked if it was a vegetarian restaurant; it turns out that they used to be, but they have now added sausage to the menu. I was upset that they didn’t serve any bacon, but I got over it and ordered one of the few dishes with sausage: chilaquiles. I am a chilaquiles snob. After having them for breakfast and lunch everyday for a week while at the beach-front, open air restaurant in Puerto Escondido, I really should know better than to order them in the states. Even the ones I make at home don’t compare. Anyways, if you pretended that it was more like an egg scramble with a few tortillas and a chopped up hot dog, it was pretty good.

After breakfast we discussed what we should cook for the main dish that night. We were torn between a roasted pork loin or a roasted chicken. Then I remembered stories about a place where you can buy fresh chickens at a house somewhere on the island.

We almost drove right by it, all of us shouting “CHICKEN!” in unison when we saw the sandwich-board by the side of the road. We pulled into the driveway of a little red house and got out. There was no indication of where to go, so I headed up the hill to find what turned out to be the tool shed. I turned around and then spotted some freezers in the back of the garage. Once in the garage, the freezers were labeled with instructions to take your chicken and leave the money in a cigar box on the table. Someone hadn’t read the instructions and had actually left their money in the freezer.

I picked out an eight pound chicken (eight pounds!) for $16 and a six pounder for $12. You got a free bag of gizzards with every purchase, so I grabbed a hefty one. I left the money in the cigar box and then we were on our way—the proud owners of a turkey-sized chicken.

Afterwards, we tried to find the Mukilteo Coffee house because it roasts some of the best coffee I’ve ever tasted and I heard that they had a tasting bar. We got so completely lost that by the time we got there it was closed, but now that I know where it is I will have to make another trip out there.

Then we went for a walk on the beach at Double Bluff. The tide was on its way out and we saw lots of stranded jellies. Including a gigantic Lion’s Mane jellyfish that was about one foot in diameter. We also saw a really cool blue-green starfish, which Zach saved by hurling into the water.

We then went home to cook and eat a fabulous dinner:

Fontina Val D’Aosta and truffled cheese with quince paste from Italy
Roasted chicken with porcini sauce
Roasted hubbard squash stuffed with mushrooms and truffles
Braised baby carrots (which were so sweet they tasted like candy)
Brussels sprouts with bacon and shallots
Fudge from the farmer’s market

Monday, November 15th, 2004

Where are all the bacon lovers?

My friend and I were discussing the disturbing lack of sites that deal with Bacon, so I decided to do some research. These were the very strange results:

http://www.gratefulpalate.com – The best bacon catalog. Ever.

http://www.ratethebacon.com – A site for bacon lovers who love to talk about bacon.

http://www.baconspectator.com – Not up until Thanksgiving, but it looks promising.

http://www.foodsubs.com/MeatcureBacon.html – Not really a bacon site, but good bacon terminology.

http://www.craftyplanet.com/bacobuddies.htm – Again, not really a bacon site, but…

http://www.blacktable.com/bacon030515.htm – Bacon soap.

http://www.cbbqa.com/meat/pork/MakingBacon.html – How to make your own bacon.

http://www.maganda.org/blog/index2.php – A discontinued :( bacon blog.

http://www.danepak.co.uk/products/productsbread.html – I wish people wouldn’t defile bacon in this manner.

http://www.makinbacon.com/welcome.htm – I’m sorry, but microwaving bacon is just wrong.

http://www.cookingforengineers.com/article.php?id=3 – Or is it? Scientific Bacon.

http://www.nudist-resorts.org/talk/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=612&whichpage=7 – A compelling reason for microwaving bacon.

http://www.cockeyed.com/inside/bacon/bacon.html – The economy of bacon.

http://www.bayoudog.com/04kitchen/bacon.htm – Bacon as heroin.

http://www.landolakes.com/mealIdeas/ViewRecipeLarge.cfm?RecipeID=11963 – What could possibly be better than bacon?

http://www.indigo.org/bacon2004.html – I was about to give up on finding any more bacon links. Then I found this.

Sunday, November 14th, 2004

Bainbridge Island

My friend used to live on Bainbridge Island, so we decided to take a day trip over there. We were on a mission for licorice and yarn.

Our first stop was a licorice spree at the Marina Market in Poulsbo—a cute and strange Norwegian town. I honestly didn’t know there were that many different kinds of licorice produced; I guess they import a lot of it. I have never really liked licorice very much but after trying some of Zach’s I’m open to the possibility that I just don’t like bad licorice. He gave me this kind that looks like a piece of chalk and is coated with salt and then a hard candy shell. It was really good. My favorite part of the store was the freezer full of dead, bloody herring that were right next to the bags of crushed ice.

We then wandered down the street and I dragged Zach into an antique store to see if I could find another egg cup for my collection. I did and isn’t is cute?

There wasn’t much else in the town that seemed interesting except for the Marine Science Center. It was a teeny little place, but they had nice displays and touch tanks so we decided to go in. Zach didn’t want to touch anything so I made up for him and touched everything twice. Although, I did make him touch the sea anemone because it was so weird and sticky. I kept looking at the giant sea scallops wondering if they are still tender when they’re that big. More and more I find that when I’m looking at animals I’m picturing them on a dinner plate with an accompanying sauce. Sometimes, when I look at my cat, he runs away.

It was fortuitous that we went to the science center, because if we hadn’t, we would have completely missed The British Market. They actually had real, imported HP sauce (we did a taste-test a while back between HP sauce that was brought from London by a friend and HP sauce from DeLaurenti’s—they are drastically different and the real stuff is much better). We got the HP sauce and some Hob Nobs. They also had a freezer stocked with Pork Bangers, Bubble & Squeak and British Back Bacon, but sadly we had no way to transport frozen meats.

We got back in the car and drove to Winslow to check out Churchmouse Yarns & Teas. I had been used to shopping for yarn at places like Jo-Ann fabrics, so I was impressed and had to touch everything… Twice. I ended up with some really beautiful and soft balls of yarn.

We needed a snack, so we stopped in the Blackbird Bakery. I had to try the pots de crème—I love anything that requires its own specialty cookware or dish. And of course milky, gooey caramel doesn’t hurt either.

After dessert, we decided we needed dinner, so we walked down to the marina and stopped at Doc’s Marina Grill. We ordered a great gorgonzola bacon burger and a prime rib dip with cheddar cheese on sourdough—possibly the greasiest sandwich I’ve ever eaten, but it was incredibly good. The beef was delicious and the waiter told us it was from Misty Isle Farms. The burger boasted some of the best applewood smoked bacon I’ve ever tasted, also from Misty Isle. The waiter said that the farm produces a limited number of pigs (and only in the summertime), so it may be hard to locate bacon available to the public. But I will try.

Saturday, November 13th, 2004

Dim Sum

My mourning period for Top Gun has officially ended. Ever since they closed last summer, I had been wandering around Chinatown lackadaisical and noncommitted to the other Dim Sum options. I even drove out to the relocated Top Gun, which was in a Factoria strip mall (don’t bother).

Zach said he heard about a new place that a few friends had recommended. I was skeptical since I thought we had already tried everything in the ID, so I was surprised when we rounded the corner and headed toward Sun Ya—a place that my grandma used to take me to when I was a kid, but had forgotten about.

We happily stuffed ourselves silly, grinning at our fortune of finding Dim Sum that was maybe even better than Top Gun.

Shrimp Balls – This was the only slightly disappointing dish, as the shrimp didn’t taste as fresh as they could be.

Sticky Rice – Really good rice with lots of bits of tender pork but no lop chong, which I love (but know most people don’t).

Steamed Hum Bow – Perfect, small, pillowy packages stuffed with delicious and meaty bbq’d pork filling.

Baked Hum Bow – I was never a huge fan of these until now. The dough was slightly crunchy and sweet, with a sticky outside and the same perfect filling.

Pot Stickers – Really good, stuffed with nicely seasoned pork and water chestnuts that gave it a nice flavor and crunch.

Garlic Spareribs – This was the star of the meal. We special ordered these and they were strangely addictive. The spareribs were fried and crunchy but not at all greasy, with a fantastic garlic flavor that was both subtle and strong at the same time. I wanted to stuff them into my cheeks like a chipmunk.

Sesame Seed Dessert Balls – I don’t know what was in them, but they were a lot like my grandma’s tai doi—slightly sweet, chewy, fried balls of goodness.

Even though I couldn’t possibly have eaten another bite, the bbq window we passed on the way home was making me drool. Next time…

Sun Ya Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 12th, 2004

Pork. The one you love.

Wrong, but funny!

Friday, November 12th, 2004

Monkey Slaves & Gucci Shoes

We started off the night with a great dinner at Matt’s in the Market—the perfect place to be on a cold and rainy Seattle night. It was warm and cozy at the bar, with a bird’s-eye view of the ‘kitchen’. We marveled at the fact that they can turn out so much food with two single burners and an oven.

We ordered the pan-fried smelt with bacon braised chard and garlic aioli for an appetizer. Mmmmm. The smelt was so crunchy and it paired wonderfully with the tangy and salty chard. Zach had the lamb shank with charmoula, which really was delicious, but I am so spoiled by my beef short rib recipe, that it didn’t really compare. I had the pan fried trout with pancetta and calvados-braised lentils. I was a little worried that it would taste too much like the appetizer, but it was very different with sweet and fruity overtones. It was sooo good.

Then we dashed off to see Sedaris speak at Benaroya Hall. I laughed until I cried until I hit my head on the back of my seat from laughing so hard. He talked about monkey slaves and now I want one. I’ve decided I will teach my foster monkey to fry bacon in the mornings and take my cat for walks around the neighborhood while I’m at work.

And though it seems like the night couldn’t get much better, it did. We played some pool at the Nite Lite and then Zach schooled me at darts.

It was pretty late at this point, but we were getting hungry again and we weren’t ready to go home. So we ended up at 13 Coins, where we talked to this guy in the lobby who was wearing the most unbelievably ugly Gucci shoes. (Just because something has Gucci logos all over it, doesn’t mean you should wear it. In fact, it probably means you shouldn’t.) Anyways, we got a great booth and split the believer, which my brother turned me on to. And, oh do I believe.

Monday, November 8th, 2004

An English Breakfast

I used to have an English boyfriend and he took me home to England one Christmas. I loved England, but was dismayed by the food; everything was boiled to death or ‘mushy’. Apparently England is populated with geriatrics.

The one thing that I liked was the English Breakfast a.k.a the “Fry-Up”: sausages AND bacon, fried tomatoes, fried mushrooms, Heinz baked beans, soft-boiled eggs and toasted soldiers. I got hooked on the soft-boiled eggs simply because I fell in love with egg cups.

It turns out that my new boyfriend had never tried a soft-boiled egg. I was amazed—first off because he is an egg lover, and second because I have this cabinet filled with egg cups and usually when people have never seen them before, they ask what they are.

So when I found this out, I made him soft-boiled eggs (boil water, gently drop in eggs, return to a boil, reduce to a simmer and take out after 3-4 minutes). After cooking the eggs I put them into egg cups and chopped off the tops with an egg topper. We sprinkled salt and Worcestershire sauce in the tops, then dipped in our toasted soldiers (toasted and buttered bread sliced into thin strips that fit into the holes). I also cooked A&J Meats’ pork and apple sausages, which also fit nicely into the holes and were delicious coated in bright yellow egg yolk.


Sunday, November 7th, 2004

Here little wabbit

After reading about the giant gerbils, I started craving rabbit. I’ve never actually cooked it before so was a little surprised when I opened up the package. If it tastes like chicken, shouldn’t it look like chicken?

The back legs looked normal enough, so I left them alone. But then you have these two long pieces of meat that are attached to the backbone and they have these weird dangling ‘flaps’. After consulting several cook books, I finally figured out that you roll them up into little logs of bunny meat and then tie them like a roast. Generally you don’t eat the front paws, but since I was doing a braise, the book said to include them for flavor.

I browned, braised and tasted. I couldn’t believe what an amazing sauce the rabbit made. I paired it with a chorizo bread pudding, similar to one I had once at Eva. It was delicious! A little difficult to eat because of all the bones, so next time I’m going to figure out how to de-bone the saddle and tie them into medallions.

Please note: Not all bunnies are for eating.

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2004

4 More Years?

I am so disheartened. Not even a plateful of bacon would console me.