Tiramisu

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It's about time for a good old recipe, don't you think? Enough of my pontificating and opining! Emily says this is really a spirituality blog that calls itself a food blog. Sigh. Don't give me an opening, or I'll squeeze through it. 

We're celebrating Yancey's birthday all week, starting with Monday Night Dinner last night. When 10 or 12 of us gather a few Mondays a month at our house, one of my rules is I don't make dessert. But birthdays are another matter, of course, and Yancey reached back in the archives for this request. Remember when tiramisu was on every menu? Setting it down in the middle of the table last night, I remembered why.

And though it looks impressive with its beautiful layers, it could not be easier. I often bring it to Christmas gatherings as it's so festive and everyone thinks I toiled over it.

P.S. Yancey's birthday marks 25 years of the two of us knowing one another. On his 16th birthday, we sat next to one another on a high school bus. He hadn't been in in my sights at all (Jock? Ew!!), but he was after that. It took awhile for the feeling to be mutual, but that's what makes good stories. We have been so blessed with the goodness and love of each other.

Tiramisu
I got this recipe at least 15 years ago from a little stack of them at Pacific Food Importers in Seattle. I really, really miss that place. They sold ladyfingers, marscapone, and every other Mediterranean foodstuff you can think of. Thankfully, Trader Joe's sells marscapone, and they even have ladyfingers right now. A good grocery store should have the same. This probably isn't the best dessert for pregnant diners since it contains the trifecta of no-no's--raw eggs, coffee, and alcohol! But I've never worried about serving it to others and never had any problems.

4 eggs
8 Tb. sugar
4 Tb. rum, brandy, or marsala
1 lb. marscapone
1 big package ladyfingers (or 3 TJ's packages--60-75 cookies)
strongly brewed coffee or espresso (about 1 c.)
cocoa powder or chocolate shavings made with a vegetable peeler 

Get out a 9x13 glass dish.

Divide eggs, putting yolks in a medium bowl and whites in the bowl of a mixer.

Beat whites until peaked.

To the yolks, add sugar, rum, and marscapone and whisk, beat, or stir until smooth. Gently spoon in egg whites, folding until incorporated.

Quickly dip ladyfingers in coffee and place a layer in your glass dish, trying to make sure the whole bottom is covered. Pour on 1/3 of the marscapone mixture and smooth with a spatula. Repeat two more times, ending with a layer of marscapone. Refrigerate at least an hour. 

Before serving, sift cocoa powder or sprinkle chocolate shavings over the top. Cut into squares or just scoop out with a spoon.

Wyatt's Seattle

We spent the weekend together, blessedly unplanned, ignoring all the work for our move that's about to bury us. I gave the camera to Wyatt so he could record some of our favorite places. He made a slideshow last night called "Goodbye, Seattle." 

I've had two images lately that have helped me with the loss and change going on. The first is that our family is like a fist-sized rock, being thrown from Seattle to Bellingham. The rock won't unravel along the way. It will sail through the air (bad if you're scared of heights), and it might land with a thud, but it will still be itself when it lands.

The second is something my friend Leslie shared at church about her and her husband's plans to do development work in Uganda. She said she pictured a bowling alley with bumpers in the gutter--the ball might bounce around, it might be a bumpy ride, but it won't go in the gutter.

Here are some of Wyatt's great photos. In order, they are 1) Sasquatch ice cream at Molly Moon 2) Bell at the sculpture park 3) Me at Jefferson Park 4) Hot cinnamon and sugar donuts from Daily Dozen at the market 5) The iconic market sign 6) Yancey at the counter of Molly Moon 7) The Eagle at the sculpture park.

Sasquatch Ice Cream

SAM

 Rare photo of Mom 

daily dozen

Pike Place

Yancey watching the waffle cone maker

Eagle

Favorite Places: Breadfarm

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No, I did not make this bread. Believe me--if I had, I'd be screen-printing t-shirts right now that said so. I bought this sour cherry lemon loaf at the Breadfarm in Bow, Washington. And then the light feel so perfectly on this log in my mother-in-law's yard that I ran to get the blessed loaf.  Look at those floury crags, those cherries studding the curves. A big fat slice, toasted with butter, was more ambrosial than any photo could convey.

Standing at Breadfarm's counter, I was overwhelmed with the bounty. Pumpkin harvest loaves, baguettes crammed with oodles of Kalamata olives, little chocolate mint sandwich cookies, fig and anise panino rolls. On a little bend in this Skagit Valley road, these folks know what they're doing. How wonderful, that all of us end up digging into such varied vocations. The butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker.

Loretta, my Mom, and I had a little date yesterday morning in Bow--coffee, a "card game" with Loretta, and bags full of bread. Three generations of food-lovers, one camera, and lots of thanksgiving. I  hope you are heading into your week with peace and good toast.

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Favorite Places: Flying Squirrel Pizza

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We took the kids to the park late yesterday afternoon and stayed until everyone's fingers had turned to ice. On the way home, I almost said, "Let's go out for dinner," but refrained. We had food in the fridge and time to cook it, and the prudent thing to do was eat in. When we got home, the power on our block was out. It took one second for me to say, "We're going out for dinner!" Thank you, universe.

We had such a sweet night--at Flying Squirrel, playing tic-tac-toe with the kids, driving home to find the power still out.  Yancey made a fire, the kids pranced around with their flashlights, and it was great fun (the power was back on this morning, so my story would be much different otherwise). Our foursome in front of the fireplace , limbs all tangled up, was almost unbearably comforting. Lately, I've been so aware that these are the golden years--our kids want to be with us, they're curious and loving, and these years will be over so soon.

And about Flying Squirrel. We are into pizza. Though we will eat anything, we have opinions. Yancey especially, since he's the pizza chef around here. We are totally crazy about Flying Squirrel. It meets our stringent criteria:

  • Nearby (Seward Park)
  • Cozy atmosphere
  • Friendly waitstaff
  • Kids welcome, but not crazily catered to
  • Good selection of rotating taps
  • Perfect pizza crust--blistered, thin, but not TOO thin. Bends a bit at the tip, but sturdily holds its toppings
  • Delicious toppings--Salumi cured meats, local produce, homemade sausage

There have got to be other pizza opinions out there. What's your criteria? Where do you go?

Favorite Places: Georgetown Farmers Market

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Wandering around the opening day of the Georgetown Farmers Market Saturday morning (in the sun, no less!), I felt happier than I've been in awhile. Saveur dedicated their June issue to markets around the world with this opener: "Nothing offers a more vivid reflection of who (and where) we are than food markets, from a huge open-air bazaar to a handful of street vendors to our local farm stand. They awaken our senses, they fulfill us, they fuel our passion for cooking and eating, and they inspire us to seek out new tastes and experiences." Yes, and yes.

georgetown

At the edge of the market, the taco stand was spit-roasting some al pastor that was absolutely irresistible. I got there at 10:00, right when they opened, and people were downing tacos like it was dinnertime. Two little stacked corn tortillas, a pile of juicy pork and grilled pineapple, chopped white onions, a lime wedge, and fiery chile sauce. I'm planning my whole life around getting in line again as soon as possible.

al pastorwho-can-resist

What markets make you happy? Where are the produce stands, grocery stores, farmers markets, or ethnic markets that launch you into blissful, culinary oblivion?

Favorite Places: The Crumpet Shop

crumpet with chevre and jam

Yesterday the kids and I did one of our favorite things--took the train down the market, settled in to our favorite table at The Crumpet Shop, and watched the tattooed, graceful crumpet-maker through the window. In mesmerizing rhythm, he heats up the griddle and lines it with stainless steel rings. Then he pours crumpet batter into each ring, flipping them after they've developed beautiuful little bubbles. When they're done, he lays them out symmetrically on a prep table. After they cool, he flips the rings off onto an offset spatula until, by the end, he's got a row of tinkling rings running down the length of his arm. And he does all of this with perfect, intentional posture, smiling at the kids and doing a few extra tricks.

I've never talked to him about his job. It's possible he is bored or disgruntled. But it sure doesn't seem like it. My bet is he enjoys crumpet-making, taking great pride in the finished product AND the process. And we get to witness him creating something, that alchemy that happens when we're putting something new into the world, even if it's the 1000th crumpet of the day. We always buy a pack to bring home, too, and I was grateful to him all over again this morning.

crumpet shop

I also took the kids to the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) yesterday, then ended the day at a Patty Griffin concert with Emily, Rebecca, Julia, and Sue. So I had lots of opportunities to think about creativity. I didn't set out to craft some sort of meditation on the subject, but you know me. Many days, it feels like I wake up with one bent-up puzzle piece, randomly colored. By the end of the day, I've spotted other interlocking pieces, and the picture that develops ends up here. Other writers or artists of any kind will know what I mean. We create to make sense of things.

SAM is at the end of an Alexander Calder exhibit--the great late sculptor whose Eagle rises into the Seattle skyline at the Olympic Sculpture Park. Rushing through the museum, imploring Loretta, "Don't touch! Just look!", there was a photo I can't stop thinking about. It was a black-and-white print of Calder in his studio. He was sitting amid countless tools, scraps of wood, and little metal pieces in what looked like an old barn in the middle of a field. He wasn't looking at the camera, but he wasn't working, either. Maybe he was taking a break before he kept sketching. Maybe he was wondering where the Eagle would end up. Maybe he was mad at his wife and came out to the studio for a stiff drink. Whatever the case, I was struck with what lonely, hard work creating things can be, and glad he stuck with it. (Check out this sketch of the Eagle from my sister at Spill Studio. It's pretty great to have our own Calder in the family.)

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Then Patty Griffin and Buddy Miller last night. God. Loved every blessed minute of it. And thinking, "This is what it means to be human. Making music like everything depends on it." There were lots of songs about death --some mournful, some with a bluegrass twang. But listening to them made me less scared of death, more inclined to make the most of this time we have. I've always wanted to play the mandolin. I'm not going to take that one off the list.

Today, Yancey's on shift and it's Wyatt's last day of spring break. Yancey's taking his one-year probationary firefighter test and feels the pressure keenly. I have to pay bills and do some work during Loretta's nap. And finish cleaning out the stupid bathroom closet. But I carry with me the crumpet-maker, sculptor, and singer. We are together, making sense of things in whatever ways we can.

Favorite Places: World Spice Merchants

bay leaves

I have walked by World Spice Merchants a million times, and even been in a couple times.  But I didn't really discover it until this week, and Yancey was rolling his eyes by the end of the day at my constant chatter about it.

The highlight of my week was a canceled meeting.  You know how that is.  I was downtown and it so happened that Yancey and Loretta were at Pike Place Market, all bundled up in the rain, so I got to join them instead.  When I rounded the corner into Post Alley, Loretta started jumping up and down.  Remind me of that when she's a sullen 15 and doesn't want to have anything to do with me.

We did our usual things--fruit, watching the lightning-quick crumpet maker and the Beecher's cheese-making.  Then we went down to Western Ave. and Loretta played outside with Yancey while I dawdled in the spice shop.  Oh, bliss.  They have the usual suspects--different salts, dried oregano, peppercorns.  But it's their blends that are most intoxicating.  You fill out a little order pad, and they scoop from bins and grind them right in front of you.  I got harissa, an ancho chile concoction, unbelievable garam masala, five-spice Chinese, and a bag of these beautiful, pliable California bay leaves.  The staff was delightful, too.  Even though I know a lot about food, I have a twinge of insecurity every time I walk into a specialty food shop.  I feel novice and dumb. Now I know YOU are rolling your eyes at this point, but that's my confession.  I think it's because I know how much I DON'T know.  I love to think about all the food discoveries still waiting for me in my lifetime.  Yesterday, on the phone with my mom, she said, "My biggest fear is that I'm going to die before I have a chance to make everything I want to make."  Clearly, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

No recipe for you today--I've had a kind of break-neck pace this week, and I'm not sure why.  New Year's energy?  But I have a few more things for you.  First, the ham update!  I went on and on here about the Smithfield ham we got from Bob's Quality Meats, and never told you how it turned out.  I'm positive there are at least a couple of you that have had some sleepless nights as a result.  After two nights of soaking it in a cooler and baking it without glaze in the oven for about 3 hours (we decided it didn't need glaze), I'm here to report that there aren't enough exclamations in my vocabulary to do it justice.  When it came out of the oven, my Mom, Wyatt, and I couldn't keep our hands off it--those little crackly bits, the thin layer of crispy fat, and the salty, striated meat that tasted like no ham I've ever encountered.  It's going to be a tradition, for sure.

hamming it up

And one more thing--Seattle sunset from Seward Park, on a walk with my family after we picked Wyatt up from the bus stop. Yancey's had five days off this week (part of the firefighting life that I adore).  Standing on the Seward Park trail with my camera;, fingers cold and light fading; those three precious figures ahead of me; I felt with Julian of Norwich, again, that "All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well."

seattle dusk

Favorite Places: Vancouver at Christmas

vancouver skyline

Yancey and I just got home from our yearly Chrismtmas date to Vancouver.  We've been going every year for at least 10 years, through pregnancies and newborns, even, thanks to a very brave Nana and Papa.  By now, Yancey and I have a routine, and it goes something like this:

  1. Get a good hotel room for cheap on Priceline
  2. Drop Wyatt and Loretta off in Bellingham
  3. Get to Vancouver by noon for yam tempura, mango crunch rolls, and smoked salmon rolls
  4. Catch a matinee--this year, Up in the Air, which was wonderfully understated and true
  5. Check into our hotel room, inspect all the amenities, marvel at the clean room
  6. Go to Urban Fare (snooty grocery store) and buy a completely extravagant picnic--cheeses, bread, olives, wine, chocolates, a few perfect pieces of fruit
  7. Eat in our bathrobes, looking out over Coal Harbor, sometimes talking about the kids and how great they are (why do they always seem perfect in absence?)
  8. Have nutella banana crepes for breakfast on Robson, read mounds of magazines
  9. Squeeze into our favorite ramen shop for spicy miso ramen with chicken, lotus root, and a pile of julienned leeks
  10. Come home and talk about  next year


up in the airharborside view

For the last leg of our trip home, we had to take separate cars.  Yancey was in front of me, his taillights glowing in the rain.  I turned off the White Stripes, put on the sappiest playlist--the mix I made for our 10th anniversary 5 years ago--and followed him home.  The Jayhawks came on, and now I'm getting TOTALLY sappy on you--I don't know what day it is/I can't recall the seasons/ I don't remember how we got this far/All I know is I'm loving you for all the right reasons/In my sky you'll always be my morning star. In spite of the P.S. you're about to read, I'm going to bed happy, loved, and in love.

early morning walk

P.S. Picked up the kids, finally got back to Seattle, turned the key, and discovered our house had been broken into for the second time this year.  We are so grateful that we had our computer and camera with us.  Clearly they've been watching our house, and Wyatt couldn't fight back the tears.  He was so stoic the first time--I guess he used up all his braveness.  You can keep us in your thoughts as we figure this out.

hallowed creperie

Favorite Places: Bob's Quality Meats

smithfield ham

Here it is--a 15 pound bone-in Smithfield ham, dry-cured in North Carolina and sold by my neighborhood butcher. Before cooking, he's instructed my mom and I to soak it in two changes of water, 12 hours each time, in a big cooler.  It's a Christmas adventure inspired by Saveur's mouthwatering December issue.  Stay tuned.

We've lived in or near Columbia City for 13 years.  When we first moved there, the main street had a tavern, an office supply store, and Bob's Quality Meats.  Now, there's an artisan bakery, several coffee shops, renowned Neapolitan pizza, sushi, a wine bar and yes--Bob's Quality Meats.  They have new wood floors, a spiffy neon sign, and gleaming new coolers, but the same friendly, knowledgeable butcher that's been there for years.  He knows his sources, cures his own ham, makes all the sausage, sells unusual cuts, and has bent over backward for me several times.  Years ago, catering a wedding, we had called everywhere looking for the impossible: lamb from Eastern Washington, cut into boneless chunks, enough for 300 people, and ready by the weekend. Bob's said, "No problem."  This summer, catering a wedding rehearsal, I grilled 150 of Bob's handmade sausages outside.  By the end, there were just 2 left sizzling over the coals, and 10 people standing around waiting for thirds.

I love that Bob's stayed around during the height of supermarket, agribusiness mania when no one knew where their meat came from or thought to ask.  Its neighborhood clientele sustained it long enough for the local butcher to be in vogue again.  And nowhere else in Seattle have I seen Smithfield hams hanging from hooks above the cash register.  Am I a lucky girl or what?

Enchanted Manhattan

manhattan skyline

I'm back, and I don't know where to begin.  Maybe with the fact that is was 70 degrees in NYC every day we were there.  Or maybe with this photo of dearest Bethany, jet-lagged and beautiful, standing in front of the fountain in Madison Square.

bethany in madison square

Our three days seemed liked twice that many.  We took the Staten Island Ferry, had a long walk through Central Park, visited Jordan at her charmed Brooklyn apartment, took a million subway rides, spent hours at the Natural History Museum.

I'll get to the food in a minute, but I have a confession to make first.  I didn't think I'd be crazy about Broadway shows (i.e. Why don't tourists just spend their money on food?), but I'm converted.  Big time.  Bethany's sister Kaitlyn is an assistant wardrobe supervisor for Dreamgirls, which just opened at the Apollo.  I wasn't that hot on the movie, so wasn't prepared for what I saw. Countless costume changes, a stunning set, emotion and passion to boot. And then getting to pick Kaitlyn's brain afterward about life on Broadway.  Who knew that it took so many wig supervisors to put on a show?  I'm still in awe over the whole thing, and Kaitlyn was the consummate host.  She slept on the floor and gave us her bed, and she was the one working 18 hours a day. Thank you, Kaitlyn.  I am heading up your fan club now.

central parkwalking with jordan in brooklyn

So much amazing food...a few highlights:

  • Dinner and a bottle of sake with Jordan and Bethany at Momofuku Ssam Bar.  Though we had so much to say to one another, we hardly looked up as the plates came--pickled shitakes and turnips, pork belly steamed buns, apple kimchee with horseradish cream, chewy rice cakes with spicy sausage, fried brussel sprouts with fish sauce.  And the most surprisingly incredible pie for dessert--concord grape sorbet on a ritz cracker crust, all atop a salty peanut butter nougat.  PB& J pie, in other words.  Only David Chang could get away with that.
  • The olive bar and cheese counter at Zabars.
  • Sitting on sunny church steps with too-hot-to-hold bagels from H & H, split open and filled with lox.
  • Soft-boiled eggs at Balthazar.
  • "Cereal milk" soft serve and banana hazelnut cake at Momofuku's Milk Bar.
  • Cloudy pork ramen and fried shoshito peppers at Ippudo.
  • Dinner with my Aunt Rose at The Modern--a cilantro martini and beignets with mango marmalade, maple ice cream, and caramel sauce for dessert.
  • And the highlight of the trip for me, dinner with Kaitlyn and Bethany last night at Casa Mono, Mario Batali's tiny tapas restaurant near Union Square.  Description will be hard.  Pumpkin and goat cheese fritters, served piping hot with fried sage.  Mussels with chorizo, crispy caramelized lamb chops with harissa and eggplant, fried cuttlefish.  And the most perfect créme brulee I've ever had, served with little doughnuts fried around fresh bay leaves.  Every minute of our cozy dinner there felt quintessentially New York.


clothesline in brooklyn

Bethany and I sat in the middle of Times Square last night, wondering at the city that never sleeps and comparing it to our staid little lives at home.  I'm already scheming about a return trip ,but here's what I know for sure (do I sound like Oprah?)--all the lights, action, and perfect meals in the world don't hold a candle to this little life that I love, home with my family in Seattle's rain.  They're my people, and I loved Manhattan all the more because I was coming home to them.

Thanks for these perfect days, Bethany.  When we're trying to get a word in edgewise to one another in the next year, between doling out graham crackers and changing diapers, I'll pull up this post and take a little sip. I love to enjoy the world with you.

More October Tidbits

bethany's pizza

Get a load of this pizza!  Bethany made this tonight after reading the no-knead pizza posting this afternoon.  That's some quick menu planning (not that I can relate) and what I love about lots of the mothers and women in my life.  They are serious doers--volunteering at preschool, calling a client back, starting a load of laundry, planning ahead for their father-in-law's birthday present, AND throwing together a show-stopping pizza from a friend's blog.  Bethany, you're as a much a rockstar as I'll ever meet.

evening at the park

I'm realizing I don't have a lot of profundities to deliver lately, and that's alright.  Maybe every ounce of introspective energy was spent on my retreat.  Since I came home, I've had a lot more energy and clarity in my days.  I made a list there of all my next steps ("Um, Sarah?!  We've heard all this already!") and I feel I'm moving through them with intention, confidence, and openness to outcome. This sweet turn of events isn't because I've been trying really hard (striving, as Momosis says), but because I've decided to accept the goodness and strength that was waiting in the wings all along.  The other morning, I stepped outside and saw perfect, intricate spider webs on every bush and branch.  And still, Julian of Norwich saying,  All shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.

morning spider web

A couple tidbits from around town...  Loretta and I had a date at Oddfellows recently.  It was 8 am.  NOBODY on Capitol Hill is awake at 8 am, so we had the place to ourselves.  We split a piece of peach upside-down cake, and she danced to the music and was fascinated by everything on the condiment bar.  I drank this picture perfect latte and we had the most reciprocal conversation a 35 and 2-year-old could have.  When she's not demanding things and driving me crazy, I want to shrink her, make her stay 2.75 forever.

latte at oddfellows

We had a family outing to Pike Place before my catering gig, on the hunt for smoked salmon and French carrots.  We ran through Post Alley in the morning chill, Loretta and her little diapered butt doing their best to keep up.  Even in my carrot-and -smoked-salmon preoccupied state,  I sensed the gravity of the moment, the reality that this season of our life will be over much sooner than we could ever dream.

post alley

Favorite Places: Gordon Skagit Farms

tower of squash

This whole blogging endeavor would be worth it just to praise Gordon Skagit Farms.  I took the kids up there to meet my parents for our annual pumpkin patch picnic.  Wyatt's been going since he was two.  He loves it--don't get me wrong--but the outing is really for my Mom and I.  Today she said, "Why do I feel so happy when I'm here?"  That makes two of us. Sunshine, bins of eye-popping squash, an exquisite picnic, and the absolute artistry of this place made for another memorable year and one more reason to agree with my Mom's pronouncement of October as the Best Month.

mounds of gourdsbin of honeycrisps

Just an hour and fifteen minutes from Seattle, I marvel at this place more and more each visit.  For those who think autumn squash means pumpkins and maybe butternut if you're getting crazy, Gordon's will school you.  Lime green bottle gourds, every kind of heirloom pumpkin imaginable, delicata and hubbard squash, ornamental gourds, sugar pumpkins and kabocha, all arranged around outdoor paintings, hay bales, and old farm trucks.  It makes me wish I was a better photographer. My 100 photos can't even begin to convey the riot of color and texture.  On Wyatt's tenth visit, maybe I'll come a little closer.

pumpkin patchbottle gourds

We left early this morning, driving through downtown for a Top Pot Doughnut stop--pink sprinkles for Loretta, foot-long maple bar for Wyatt, pumpkin old-fashioned for me.  I noticed all the workers--up early on a Saturday, but not for a leisurely day at the pumpkin patch.  We drove past the AT&T store where all the blue-shirted employees were having a stand-up meeting.  The Airporter bus passed us, the driver's back probably weary from lifting cranky travelers' suitcases.  Painters took down drop-cloths from around the doorway of a new condo building, and the barista at Top Pot was so kind while Loretta was prostrate on the floor, crying for her doughnut.  I felt lucky to be off the clock, relatively carefree, driving with a full tank of gas up to people who love me.  And I felt thankful for everyone working today (including Yancey), diligently doing jobs they hate or love, so the city and the highway out of it keep humming along. Yes--gift after gift.

pumpkin truck

And my Mom's green tomato blue cheese galette--we are a pair, aren't we? I don't have a photo of her pumpkin chocolate biscotti with garam masala, but I will be hunting down the recipe.  Wait--she sent me home with some!  I love you all, but first things first. Goodnight, friends.

moms galette

Favorite Places: Café Presse

clock at Presse

I could never be a restaurant reviewer.  At least not the kind that goes in, acts all diffident, then slams the place as soon as they get into the car with their laptop.  I named this blog quickly and without much thought--In Praise of Leftovers--but more and more, it seems fitting that "praise" would be in there.  I really, really like to praise things--people, cafés, elementary schools--so I don't think The Seattle Times will be offering me a job as a restaurant reviewer anytime soon.  There are plenty of things that get under my skin (What? Sarah's opinionated?!) but I find it's not that gratifying to pontificate about them.

Presse mustard pot

Café Presse gets the praise today.  I've been a regular there since they opened and feel so lucky to live in the city whenever I go.  Some praiseworthy things about Presse:

  • Magazine rack.  How I love magazines.  More than life itself sometimes.
  • Giant subway clock.
  • Croque Monsieur, each bite dipped in lots and lots of Dijon.
  • Little orange mustard pots on every table.
  • Ceramic pitchers of wine.
  • Friendliest of friendly waitstaff, refilling my coffee while I loiter forever in the morning.
  • Mussels and frites at night, sitting at the bar with Yancey and looking for people we know.
  • Students from neighboring Seattle University--all hipster and smart, making you feel like your real life is about to start.
  • Open from 7am to 1 am every day.
  • Free wireless.
  • Gallons of soft light pouring through the front windows, allowing for a few good photographs.

That's it for today.  Now you know where to find me.

Everything is Holy (Especially Portland)

Blackberry Jalapeno cocktail at Hotel DeLuxe

I got my cocktail.  Oh yes.  A jalapeno-infused blackberry puree, shaken with lime juice and vodka.  Green chile salt on the rim. Happy Belated Birthday to me.

My mom and I had a great time in Portland even though she had a horrible cold which she caught from watching my kids last weekend. Sorry Mom.  She's a trooper, though, and it hardly slowed us down at all.  We will go to great lengths for the love of food.

Mom napping

View from our hotel window

I'll give you the dining blow-by-blow, but I have to get philosophical on you for a minute.  I've had a couple days where everything seems especially poignant, especially real-- homeless folks on Burnside, soft sheets in our hotel room, my Mom's beautiful coat, coming home to my (sweet) husband.  Does that ever happen to you?  Even cameras can't capture it.  I've had the feeling that, indeed, everything is holy.  Especially Portland street food.

Street food is BIG in Portland, cropping up everywhere in little Airstreams, shacks, and trailers.  Even right downtown, where the property values can't be low, there's a central lot that's devoted to street food instead of parked cars.  After dinner we stopped at the corner of 12th and Hawthorne and got a lingonberry and lemon curd crepe--hot, crackly around the edges, folded around itself in a piece of parchment paper.  At 11 pm, the place was buzzing--people pulling in on bikes, friends meeting up, even families standing in line for BBQ, tacos, or fries and gravy.  Since 9:00 is my normal bedtime, I was cross-eyed with fatigue, but didn't want to be anywhere else. It had a plaza-like feel--an outdoor meeting space where people don't have to buy anything, where the real point is being together.  I find that Seattle (and most cities in the States I've been to) sorely lack those sorts of spaces, and it felt great--holy, even--to be there.

Late-night Creperie

Okay.  Here's some highlights from our Eat Fest.  So much more to try.  My Mom thinks we should make this a tradition. Twist my arm.

  • Peruvian food for lunch at Andina.  Ceviche, a jaw-dropping pisco sour, prawns with crunchy quinoa coating, empanadas.
  • Our favorite, dinner at Pok Pok.  Inventive, lively Thai street food.  When the fish sauce-marinated chicken wings came, I didn't talk to my Mom for 10 minutes.  She meekly handed over hers, and I ate the whole plate.  My mom said I turned into a cave woman.  I can't write about them anymore because I'm giving my keyboard a saliva bath.  You think I'm kidding.
  • Crepe outside with all the other food-worshippers.
  • Flaky, sugar-studded morning roll at Ken's Artisan Bakery.  Plus a perfect latte.
  • Sandwiches for lunch at Bunks Sandwiches, where we stood in line for an hour to eat at a hot, cramped lunch counter. We groaned the whole time.  Pork belly po' boy and slow-roasted pork shoulder with feta, good conversation with the sandwich artists who were totally zen even though the line outside the window was endless.

In short, Portland is a food-obsessed city, and my Mom and I fit right in.  Thanks for bringing me into the world, Mom, and for being my biggest fan.  I'll start marking the guide book up for next year.

P.S. We're leaving town tomorrow for our last outing of the summer.  I thought about doing some phantom posts in the next four days, but then thought again.  This blog has to go the way my life goes or it won't be sustainable.  So I'll be here next Friday, having missed you, of course.

Me at Andina