I HEART BACON
Friday, January 27th, 2006

Red House Beer and Wine Shoppe and Tapas Bar

consumed on 9/29/05

In writing this post, it struck me how ridiculous the name of this restaurant is: Red House Beer and Wine Shoppe and Tapas Bar. For the sake of staving off carpal tunnel another year I’ll refer to it as “RHBWSTB”. On second thought, let’s just make that “Red House.”

Red House is hard to find. And if you follow Mapquest’s directions, you will end up at the airport. Trust me. Through a stroke of luck, we managed to find Renton. Through a stroke of genius, we found a red house, which just happened to be the red house we were looking for.

Red House’s name says it all (and then some); it’s in a red house, they sell beer and wine, they serve tapas. What I wouldn’t have guessed is that you have to physically go pick out the beer and wine you want to drink with dinner. The catch is that the wine selections are stored in the dining area—and there isn’t much room to maneuver.

We wanted champagne, but the bubbly section was wedged into a corner behind an occupied table. My conversation went a little like this: “Excuse me ma’am, I’m not grabbing your husband’s ass, I’m just reaching for this bottle that happens to be located near his rear end.” I retrieved the bottle, brought it back upstairs, waited for our server to return, then handed it to him for chilling. I assumed that Red House would have one of those rapid cooling thingies, but no. Thirty minutes later we were drinking slightly less warm champagne.

I’m sure that some (or even most) people would find this system charming or quaint, but I’m just not one of those people. I’m too pragmatic to find it anything other than inefficient, and therefore annoying. But the menu looked good, so I turned my attention elsewhere.

The list of tapas was fairly large, so it was a good thing we had a large party; I think we ordered one of almost everything on the menu:

Red House Salad with Gorgonzola Cheese ($6)
Farmers Market Caprese Salad ($7.50)
Warm Wild Mushroom Salad with Pancetta and Goat Cheese ($8)
Fried Artichoke Hearts with Caper Garlic Aioli ($7.95)
Side Order of Grilled Rustic Bread ($2)
Lamb Meatballs w/ Smoked Paprika Tomato Sauce ($7.50)
Chicken Kebabs with Saffron Rice ($7.50)
Red House Meat Platter ($9.50)
Clams with Garlic, Lemongrass & Coconut Milk ($8)
Hot and Spicy Garlic Shrimp ($7.50)
Chipotle Deviled Eggs ($4.95)
Yam Fries ($4.50)
Jamaican Spiced Chicken with Pineapple Salsa ($9.95)
Beef Souvlaki with Pita and Cucumber Sauce ($8.50)
Crab Pasta ($12.95)

I would give the food a solid “Good” rating. Nothing was great or outstanding, but everything was reasonably priced and Red House doesn’t skimp on portions; these were the first tapas I’ve ever had where each plate looked more like an entire meal.

Would I make the drive out to Renton to eat there again? Probably not. If Red House were in Seattle would I eat there again? Maybe. Would I have a different opinion if they didn’t make you hunt for your wine? Probably. Does that mean I’m just incredibly lazy? Uh… no comment.

Red House Beer and Wine Shoppe and Tapas Bar on Urbanspoon

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Thursday, January 26th, 2006

B’s bday party

consumed 1/26/2006

My friend B makes a big deal for other people’s birthdays, so I wanted to do something special in return  and planned a roving cocktail party. After NYE I needed a menu that wouldn’t kill me with lots of things that could be made ahead:

Duck rillettes
Baked brie
Mini cheese palmiers
Wild boar puff pastry
Shrimp cocktail
Dry ribs
Crab in endive
D-I-Y hot fudge sundaes complete with sprinkles & maraschino cherries

Can’t really go into the details of the rest of the night, but let’s just say it involved a white limousine, two coolers full of Prosecco and a strip club. Don’t ask.

Thursday, January 19th, 2006

Attention Seattleites!

In case you missed the last post, tonight’s the night of the Well Fed Blog Warming Party!

This is a chance to get together and meet other Seattle area food bloggers and food blog readers. Everyone is welcome. We’ll be celebrating at Barca (on Capitol Hill) tonight at 7pm.

If you live near Seattle, stop on by and say hello!

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Thursday, January 19th, 2006

Goodies from Guam

A while back, Santos from The Scent of Green Bananas wrote a post about ice candy bags. Her ice pops looked so beautiful that I was tempted to make my own. I had no clue where to find the cute plastic bags, so Santos offered to send me some, which then turned into a “let’s send each other a goodie package”. Then a month later, a package arrived from Guam.

In the package were two packages of the coveted ice candy bags. I’ve yet to use them as the weather in Seattle has been so dreary that just the thought of opening the freezer makes my bones cold. I’m saving them for the summer time.

Santos also included some curried macadamia nuts, a tin of hot & spicy spam (specially formulated for Guam), a hot pepper paste made from Guam peppers (Guam likes it hot!) and a jar of really delicious jerk seasoning.

The last two items were a little more random.

The box of Korean Chicken Snacks looked scary, but after my bout with bacon spray, I figured I was ready to take on anything. The Chicken Snacks reminded me of Munchos (remember Munchos?)—except that they were shaped disturbingly like chicken drumsticks and tasted like stale chicken bullion.

Lastly, Santos sent me a bag of maxi-pads.

This seemed a little too personal. But then I found her note telling me that no, she wasn’t sending me maxi-pads, but rather, clever little pads that are used to soak up and dispose of cooking oil. So when you’re done deep-frying your chicken, French fries, or what have you, you toss in this pad (which has crazy absorbent properties) and it swells up and consumes all the oil. Then you put the whole thing in the trash. It’s all very handy and clever. Although, I wish they were shaped more like… well, anything other than a maxi-pad.

Thank you Santos!

Technorati Tags: , ,

Monday, January 16th, 2006

Meme: Weird & Random

Kevin over at Seriously Good just tagged me for the “10 Weird and Random Facts About Myself” meme. Here are mine:

1. When I was 12, I started a newsletter called “Kitty on the Front Page.”

2. I think it’s disgusting when people put lemon slices in their water.

3. I like to stay up really, really late watching bad TV.

4. I’m a native Seattleite and I don’t drink coffee.

5. I like haggis. A lot.

6. I’m terrified of flying.

7. I microwave things in plastic containers.

8. I would never date a vegetarian.

9. I love Mexi-Fries.

10. I live in Seattle and I hate the fucking rain.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Monday, January 9th, 2006

Chez Panisse

24 hours in San Francisco. Chez Panisse is a must, but I can’t get dinner reservations. The solution? Lunch!

Wood fired shellfish soup with aioli ($13)

Chicory salad with cream, garlic and bottarga di muggine ($10)

Hoffman Farm chicken alla diavola with cauliflower and salsa rustica ($18) – The best chicken I’ve ever eaten, seared to perfection and served with farmers cheese, tomato and garlic salsa, and beautiful florets of Romanesca cauliflower.

Grilled Marin Sun Farm beef sirloin roast with creamy kale and shoestring potatoes ($22)  – Amazing garlic-y, salty, creamed kale, fries sliced on a mandolin – almost like skinny potato chips,  a luscious sauce on tender beef medallions.

Vanilla bean creme carmel with currants in calvados ($8) – Unbelievably smooth. Melt. In. Mouth.

Jim Churchill’s kishu mandarins oranges and barhi dates ($8)

 

Oh, and on the way to the airport a quick stop at Fatted Calf for airplane provisions – duck liver mouse & pork rillettes!

Saturday, January 7th, 2006

Blog Warming Party… and you’re invited!

Are you obsessed with food? Do you own a blog? Are you just really bored?

Come to our blog warming party, where we will be celebrating our freshly launched Well Fed Network. This is simply a chance to get together and meet other Seattle area food bloggers and food blog readers. Everyone is welcome.

We’ll be celebrating at Barca (on Capitol Hill) on Thursday, January 19th at 7pm.

If you live near Seattle, stop on by and say hello!

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Friday, January 6th, 2006

Brouwer’s Cafe

consumed on 9/22/05

A friend of mine is a rep for a wine import company that specializes in French and South African wines. This means that he spends his day visiting restaurants, chatting and drinking with wine buyers. Nice job, right?

A big part of his job appears to be schmoozing—he schmoozes so much that I rarely get to see him anymore. After complaining about this, he invited me along on an informal drop-in to check up on a customer. I was a little shocked when he took me to Brouwer’s Cafe in Fremont, as the cafe is owned by Bottleworks (a.k.a. beer fanatics); I was surprised to hear they served wine as well.

It was my first visit to Brouwer’s Cafe and I liked the place. The patrons seemed subdued (for Fremont anyway) and the decor was dark with a medieval bent. The heavy use of stone and metal seemed both Gothic and modern at the same time. I found this a bit disorienting at first—it was definitely not like any other restaurant I’d been in.

Brouwer’s Cafe has a really appealing menu. I would call it European pub food with a high-end twist, complete with high(er)-end prices. Pomme frites and Belgium stews abound. I suspect that what made the menu so appealing was the use of beer in nearly every dish.

We both had a glass of Chateau Lamartine Cahors and split an order of Mussels & Frites ($14). The mussels were incredibly plump and tasty steamed in a light cream and Hoegaarden beer sauce. The dish had excessive amounts of thyme, which was surprisingly good with the mussels. The accompanying aioli didn’t seem garlicky enough—until I stopped eating and realized my mouth had gone numb from all the garlic.

I really wanted to try the endive gratin ($6) which was layered with pancetta, gruyere and breadcrumbs. Unfortunately, I am in the habit of asking waitstaff for their opinions. When I asked about this dish the waitress screwed up her face and said it wasn’t good because the endive was undercooked. Undercooked? Can you undercook endive? I like to eat it raw. I should have just ordered it anyway, but after her reaction I felt like I would be insulting her if I ordered it. But it’s a good excuse to go back.

Brouwer's Café on Urbanspoon

Technorati Tags: , ,

Friday, January 6th, 2006

Starting fresh

It’s the new year and it’s time for a few resolutions:

Pay attention to my blog. I’ve been busy and my blog has suffered. I just realized that I have over 50 (50!) half-finished posts dating back to September. Some of them are even kinda good.

Eat more bacon. I know this sounds like an odd resolution, but I feel like my blog has wandered from its bacon roots and I want more posts about bacon. Look for additional bacon reviews, coming soon!

Try new restaurants. I am a creature of habit and I have been eating at the same four restaurants for the past three months. I am surprisingly not sick of said restaurants yet, but really, it’s time to explore new things.

Finish off last year’s to do list. Looking over last year’s to do list, I realize that I only accomplished one thing.

I have my work cut out for me—wish me luck.

Happy new year!

Technorati Tags: ,

Monday, January 2nd, 2006

Well Fed Network launched!

I have an admission to make. I’ve been cheating on my blog. I’ve been spending time with another blog. Actually, many other blogs—if we’re going to get technical.

Kate & Tara from Accidental Hedonist and I have been working tirelessly to launch The Well Fed Network—a compilation of blogs covering a wide range of food and drink related topics. The main site, www.wellfed.net, hosts the best posts from the entire network of blogs. The individual blogs currently launched are:

Sugar Savvy – A blog about chocolate and candy
The Spirit World – Blogging about alcohol
Growers and Grocers – A blog with a political bent that covers the food industry
Paper Palate – A blog about food magazines and food coverage in newspapers

We have some fabulous writers and editors signed on and I’m so excited about this project. We’re planning to launch over 40 different blog topics over the next two years at a rate of 4 new blogs every 4-6 weeks (wish us luck), so stay tuned for more topics!

Technorati Tags: , ,