I HEART BACON
Thursday, September 29th, 2005

Eat Well Guide

I just received the latest Splendid Table e-newsletter and read about the new(ish) Eat Well Guide. The Eat Well Guide is a directory of sustainably-raised meat, poultry, dairy and eggs from stores, markets, restaurants, farmers, etc.

I think this is an important issue so I wanted to pass on the link:
http://www.eatwellguide.org

It appears as though these are the same people who brought us the totally brilliant Meatrix, so that makes me like them even more.

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Tuesday, September 27th, 2005

Whidbey Pies Cafe

consumed on 8/6/05

I was visiting my mom this weekend and she suggested that we have breakfast at Whidbey Pies Cafe. In the spirit of full disclosure: My mom works at Whidbey Pies. She has been working there for a while now, but this was, oddly enough, my very first visit. I remember hearing that they were serving breakfast and lunch, but part of my brain just insisted that Whidbey Pies Cafe only made pies and I already get to eat those at least once a month because mom stocks a few in her freezer. So, no reason to visit the cafe, right?

Even though I was predisposed to like Whidbey Pies Cafe, I liked it even more than I thought I would because:

  1. It was a beautiful, sunny morning on the island and
  2. the cafe was comfy and cozy with a picturesque view of the pond and
  3. despite it being 10am, they were serving lunch in addition to breakfast and
  4. there was bacon on the menu.

It felt weird ordering salmon chowder ($5.50/bowl) in the morning, but mom highly recommended it. Jan apparently smokes her own salmon out back from the cafe (over Alder wood, I think) and it was stellar. The salmon was smoky and salty and went well with the other flavors in the soup: corn, celery and dill.

Mom ordered a “make your own omelet” ($6.95) which came with a choice of three fillings. Today, she requested spinach, salmon and gruyere. The omelet was gigantic, light and fluffy with a good proportion of fillings scattered throughout. On the side were tender pan-fried potatoes, which were surprisingly good (considering that I’m a hash browns kind of girl). It also came with a selection of Screaming Banshee bread. From what I hear, people either love or hate this bread. It’s made locally on the island and the trademark signature of the bread is that it’s… for lack of a more technical term… burnt. I ordered the BLTini—a bacon, lettuce and tomato panini ($5.75). It came on crisp bread layered with lots of mayo (I’m one of those people who unconditionally loves mayo, so this was a very, very good thing), a few thin sheets of lettuce, the obligatory tomato slice, melted, gooey Monterey jack and lots of crisp, meaty bacon. It was just what I was craving and it was delicious.

We didn’t save room for pie, which was unfortunate because their Marionberry pie is the best pie I’ve ever had. Luckily, my mom bakes one up for me every time I come up for a visit.

Whidbey Coffee Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Friday, September 23rd, 2005

Food Fight #4 – Matt’s “Melonhead’s Venison Salad”

Here is my entry for the latest Food Fight hosted by The Pragmatic Chef. This was a fun one because everyone submitted a favorite recipe and then the recipes were randomly assigned to the participants. With the luck of the draw, I was to make Matt’s “Melonhead’s Venison Salad”.

Here is the recipe I was given:

“Slice Venison tenderloins into 1/4 thick medallions. Rub with olive oyl then sear. Add whatever variety of hot sauce or peppers suits your fancy. I prefer roasted jalapeno for the flavor. simmer a little then stir in a pinch of garlic, sesame seed and a couple huge spoons of peanut butter. When meat is done, serve over lettuce and garnish with mandarin oranges.”

Here is what really happened:

First off, I didn’t have any venison, but I did happen to have some elk that I picked up from Exotic Meats. Never having eaten elk before, I was surprised by how dark the meat was and by the thick striations. It resembled flank steak, so already I was thinking this might be one very tough cut of meat. I didn’t slice the fillets as directed because I wanted to treat them like steak and have a little color in the middle. I rubbed them down with salt and then olive oil and seared both sides over med-high heat. I didn’t have any fresh peppers so I threw in a dried hot chili and then two cloves of minced garlic. Next came about a half cup of chunky peanut butter.

I plopped the peanut butter into the pan and quickly realized that this wouldn’t work. Things were starting to burn and the peanut butter remained in a ball no matter how hard I stirred. I was picturing a creamy sauce, so I added almost a cup of water to get the consistency I wanted. It tasted like something was missing so I added a tablespoon of roasted red chili paste. The sauce was now perfect, but it was difficult making the sauce with the meat still in the pan; next time I’ll remove the meat after it’s seared and then make the sauce.

I let the elk rest while I prepared a simple salad of butter leaf lettuce and orange slices. I topped the salad with a little of the warm peanut sauce and thick slices of elk meat. I had forgotten to add the sesame seeds to the sauce, so I settled for a sprinkling on top.

My first bite of elk had me in disbelief over how tender it was; it was like eating an exceptionally good filet mignon, but with so much more flavor. The meat was rich, but not gamey and almost had a sweetness to it. The elk was assertive enough to stand up to the strong sauce and paired wonderfully with the spicy/salty/sweetness of the peanuts.

Delicious and unusual… thanks Matt, I will be making this one again!

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Wednesday, September 21st, 2005

Balut. The final frontier.

I’ve been obsessed with balut ever since I had dinner with Cindy a few months back. It started off innocently enough. I was telling Cindy that I had a real phobia about cracking open eggs; I’m convinced that one of these days I’ll whack one open and find a partially developed chicken inside. This little scenario runs through my head every single time I crack open an egg. After relating my phobia, Cindy went beyond the bounds of decency and proceeded to tell me about balut.

At first I was convinced that she was misinformed. People don’t eat fertilized duck eggs ON PURPOSE. Duck eggs that contain bones, beak, eyes and feathers. Her story was screaming ‘Urban Myth’. But I soon realized that it was true; Balut is considered a huge delicacy in some parts of the world. In the following days I read as much as I could about balut. I found it fascinating in a grotesque and horrifying way—given my phobia. I even emailed The Sneeze to try and get Steve to eat it.

Low and behold, Eddie was the one who pulled through. I was thrilled when I saw his latest food foray:

http://deependdining.blogspot.com/2005/09/balut-egg-of-darkness-pinoy-pinay.html
(a.k.a. Eddie eats balut. And lives to tell about it.)

Friday, September 2nd, 2005

Relish: Paseo Caribbean Food & Catering

My latest Seattlest restaurant post is now up: Paseo Caribbean Food & Catering

This time I feasted on pork and prawn sandwiches and luscious oven roasted chicken.
http://www.seattlest.com/archives/2005/09/02/ relish_paseo_caribbean_food_catering.php

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