It was a lovely afternoon...
5, rue de Thorigny
Rummaging through my picture files, a few unpublished photos from our last weekend in Portland, one of our favororite cities--along with Vancouver--for weekend getaways.
There's great shopping to be done (tax-free) and a fantastic Farmers Market. We stayed at a lovely hotel, enjoyed a few delicious meals in-room, in-house and out and about and were pleased as punch to be back with our neighbors to the south.
Last night my friend E and I had a very late and very good post-opera dinner. By the time I returned home and went to bed--waiting to digest all the food I happily ate at the restaurant, still wired from dessert's coffee-- soon after watching the first thirty minutes of a movie, it was almost two in the morning.
Thankfully, I managed to sleep in this morning and even enjoyed my first caffeine fix of the day. But with a noon brow appointment and a two o'clock caffé klatch at Caffé Ladro there was not much time for lunch.
Quite hungry, I went home to make something quick for lunch before heading out again.
It was only when I opened the fridge that I remembered the cute little logo Jeanne from Cook Sister! had uploaded on her site the other day, a reminder of this month's End of Month Egg on Toast Extravaganza #3.
Born out of what seemed to be, at the time, a private joke between Jeanne and Anthony from Spiceblog, it had in fact turned from an off the cuff parodic proposition to an actual--insert giggles--event.
Since I had missed --more giggles--the first two and I had to eat anyway, I grabbed a couple eggs and the truffle butter I have been partaking too much of lately and got to work.
So, here it is my entry, a little something that has become a too familiar treat, any time of day or night: Truffled Eggs On Toasted Challah.
They were, as usual, delectable and rich yet so easy to put together. All I did was cut a thick slice of slightly toasted Challah--yesterdays', the last of the day, purchased just out of the bakery's oven-- and top it with a quick scramble of two eggs cooked in plenty of aromatic and tasty black truffle butter.
No salt, no spices, no ketchup, no hot sauce. Just eggs and butter and toast. Quick, easy peasy and so gratifying; where every bite was ambrosial and utterly decadent!
A tall glass of passion fruit juice and I was in heaven, reinvigorated. Not bad for a Saturday afternoon!
Yesterday afternoon I received a lovely email from Seattleite, soprano and Seattle Bon Vivant reader Anne-Carolyn Bird.
She wrote about how she knew how much I loved "the arts, opera and ballet especially" and have even seen her sing--she was the Gypsy Singer in PNB's The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet this past fall.
Anne wanted to let me know about a fundraiser she and many other Seattle area singers were putting together to benefit Mercy Corps Tsunami Relief Effort. She described it as a top-rate program and wanted for me to spread the word.
Thank you Anne for contacting me! Mercy Corps just so happens to be one of my favorite organizations here in the city and from day one they mobilized the community to help out the South Asia Earthquake and Tsunami victims.
I think this will be a fantastic opportunity to not only contribute yet again for our brothers and sisters in need in South Asia but to enjoy an evening of beautiful music--the program looks lovely--which as far as I'm concerned is one of the greatest unifiers of the human experience and a true balsam for the spirit in times of struggle.
And remember that if you can not make it to the benefit, you may still donate to the Mercy Corps for Tsunami Relief Fund through this link. Thank you. :-)
Yesterday there was a surprise parcel waiting for me at home. From Kate, fellow Seattleite and hedonist extraordinaire. In it, a book (my favorite gift of all!) and a sweet hand-written note.
Here is a little excerpt from amazon.com's product description: "From Thailand to Nova Scotia, from Mexico to the American South, two-time James Beard Award-winner Robb Walsh takes a wild and witty journey in the world of adventurous eating."
I've already started reading it, deciding to pick the essay titled The King of Cabrito on page 30 as my starting point. Very funny! I can already tell this is going to be a very enjoyable read. Thanks again Kate!
"Need land, row lake, race kinsfolk for it, falling behind, need land, row harder, need to touch land first, falling behind, row harder, not going to make it, grab my sword, throw ashore, touched land first."
The minute I read that wacky name wines would be the theme for the January’s WBW, hosted by Pim of Chez Pim, I knew it would be a fun one.
After a little scouring and sifting I wrote down a couple dozen names on my dear Moleskine. I could not wait to go shopping!
Since later that day I was going to be working in the West Seattle area for the afternoon I would stop on my way home at Metropolitan Market, just to browse around and see if I got lucky.
It was there, while perusing the shelves of the wine department that I finally came upon the two wines I wanted to use for today's tasting, well, at least one of them anyway. But more on that later.
Metropolitan Market in West Seattle is one of five Seattle locally own upscale supermarkets. The West Seattle location happens to be their flagship store.
The store is gorgeous, thanks to its attractive and user-friendly merchandising, focus on small company, artisanal and locally produced specialty items--their cheese section is one of the best in town--with a lovely selection of fruit and vegetables, meats, beautiful deli offerings and some of the best sushi you can buy at a supermarket, anywhere.
Their wine offerings are no different. Such a lineup, scores of inspiring choices! Many of the labels sold here are well kept secret gems from Puget Sound and Eastern Washington wineries, big and small. From winemakers producing very interesting and increasingly popular juice, some of them in very in limited releases.
The selection, with generous dashes of Oregonian, French, Californian, Australian, Italian and Spanish wines is fantastic. And after a little detective work I've come to think that the quality of the wine available at this particular store has everything to do with Kate--the great--the store's wine manager.
A woman wine manager! How refreshing! And she is so nice too! Full of ideas, knowledge, helpful as can be and with one of those great smiles that could light up the darkest cellar.
When I approached her with my little notebook, asking for her favorite wacky labeled wines in stock, she went around the aisles with me pointing at over a dozen options.
Smoking Loon, Jezebel, Big Moose Red, The Stump Jump, Porcupine Ridge, Hill of Content, Jest Red, Domaine des Blagueurs, Heart of Darkness, Lone Canary, Jigsaw, "Pets" Petit Syrah, Oregon Pinot Express and at least a handful more.
I added them to my list of possibilities, scribbling furiously so as not to miss any precious and wacky morsel, each bottle more promising than the next.
And then, all of a sudden, as in a flash of divine inspiration, Kate mentioned another wine that she thought would be a great choice for today. However she warned me that they were sold out of it, perhaps without hopes of re-stocking.
Oh well, I was not in a hurry to choose that instant and besides, with the abundance of excellent wine around me, not only there but also at so many other merchants in the city, I was sure I would eventually found something wacky enough for Pim.
I took a peek at the spot she was pointing to and did a double take. Frankly, as soon as I saw the name on the tiny wine price tag, sitting so lonely on the empty shelf space I shuddered.
This was not so a wacky named wine as it was a blood-curdling and spine chilling one, like a horror film's title on a Netflix recommended listing, the kind I tend to take my eyes off it right away and press on the not interested button.
For a moment I was relieved it was sold-out. Then, walking by the corner end cap what do I spot but another unusually named wine with the most heartwarming and funny name, cute photo on the front label and an ever so tender story on the back that was so sweet I could not pass it up. Just in case, I took it home with me.
Still, I was curious about Kate’s wine suggestion. That wine's name—redolent of Edgar Allan Poe's narrative voice--even when I had not seen the label yet, was definitely gory and anathema to my life's MO.
Until then it never ocurred to me that someone would give a great wine--Kate raved about it--- such a name. One that, unless otherwise indentured, I would probably had never chosen to take home and serve to friends or family.
Little did I know at the time that I was bound to get that same old feeling again, a few weeks later while browsing the wine offerings at the Tukwila Larry's Market, when Paul-- one of my favorite wine guys in the city-- proposed the very same wine for today's WBW.
The minute he showed me the bottle I knew I had found my wacky--albeit creepy--named wine. Kismet? Coincidence? Who knew? I thought it was surprisingly appealing yet so paradoxical. But here it was again and I was not longer faint-hearted. This would be it.
After a little wine chat with Paul, I placed the bottle in my cart. As soon as I got home, still in its bag, I stored the bottle flat on the cellar floor, as far away from my previously purchased sweet-looking and cute as can be wine. Just in case the black-hearted manus had any gruesome ideas in mind on how to dispose of its well manered and good-natured contender. :-D
E. Dehillerin is a fascinating "batterie de cuisine" archaeological site of sorts. Its tricky to find if you have never been there and once you get in it can be difficult to leave which makes it even more exciting to seek out and explore
This is no Williams Sonoma, with its lovely baked goods scents emanating from the stove, the fabulous lighting, immaculate housekeeping and savvy retail-tainment and merchandising strategies.
Nor is it similar to Seattle's own, Sur La Table, one of the best cook stores anywhere--as those of us lucky to live driving or walking distance to it, or travel from out of state and even overseas to shop in it can attest.
E. Dehillerin is messy, dusty, dark and musty. The shelves look as if they have not been touched or cleaned since 1820. There is so much empty, disheveled and unatractive window space--with haphazardly placed odd sized pieces of wood dividing shop from window displays--that I've had fantasies of Simon Doonan going absolutely bonkers sprucing the place up.
But do not be fooled by appearances. The things you will find in this green corner will blow your mind! This is a veritable cave of wonders. Wonderful knives of all grades, sizes and materials, for lefties or right-handed cooks. The best copper pots and pans in unimaginable proportions.
Porcelain terrines, escargot and oyster serving dishes, silicone baking molds, piping tips of all types, mortars and pestles, dangerously sharp mandolines, lovely olive wood utensils and most everything serious chefs and amateur home cooks can dream of.
The staff is a treat too. I'm always amazed at how they can find anything there-- the dynamics between them are quite the sight to see and hear.
I always get a big kick just observing them out of the corner of my eye while browsing around--not to mention the cute way they wrap everything with the handwritten invoices and receipts.
This weekend will be our last chance to see Carol Vaness and Victoria Litherland as Manon. Tickets are still available for Wednesday, Friday and Saturday performances.
"Ah, young love, foolish choices, and deep regrets! In Puccini's poignant Manon Lescaut, the title character is a beautiful young woman torn by desire. First wooed by the handsome but poor Des Grieux, Manon narrowly avoids a convent life and follows her love to Paris. Later, she is lured away by the wealthy Geronte, who offers her a luxurious, but loveless, life. When Des Grieux comes to call, her passion for him reawakens and the lovers plot to run away together. The tumultuous events that befall them are the stuff of romantic tragedy at its best." Seattle Opera
This will be my first Seattle Opera Manon and I can't wait!