Thursday, June 16, 2016

Dungee Jumping

June 3rd

The seventh of eight ferry rides on this trip. Peter bore the queue with the stance of a seasoned commuter, and tourists constantly approached him for information. He is the Fairy Godfather.
Anyway, we drove off the boat and through US customs and ended up with lunch in Port Angeles, WA.

Rock crab hush puppies. Having never had a hush puppy, I asked Peter if they're supposed to be super dry. He said "kind of... kind of", as if saying it warily twice would somehow count as an affirmative answer. He crumbled one over his coleslaw. 

I proceeded to guilt-eat the rest and get hiccups.

Bay shrimp cocktail. People are really into these wild bay shrimp, and anyone who's ever met a Gulf oyster knows that bigger isn't always better.  These underachievers were both tiny and tasteless. Cute, though.

Fried cod sandwich of road trip nirvana. Really tasty, exactly what we both wanted.  Asked for pickles on this because I'm a genius. La Petite Fleur from Harbinger Winery to drink. It was one of those wines that I love and Peter does not; so floral it almost tricks your brain into thinking it's off-dry, but it's not. 

The pen and mints that came with the bill were OCD salvation, two peas and a pod, then I ruined the shot by not getting the weave of the the placemat parallel to the pen and mints, and now I hate myself.

Back in Seattle and staying in Queen Anne this time. 

Our air bnb host was someone I knew through food stuff, but we had never met. He invited us up for a few fantastic bites of brisket, and we brought him Santa Fe Spirits Slow Burn smoked gin liqueur, which by now had survived several duty-free passages through Canadian customs.

Then Peter and I walked to How To Cook A Wolf.

 Peter vs the Wolf.

He suggested we order conservatively to avoid the sadness and sticker shock that have grown par for the course. 

While neither of us minds spending good money on good food during these annual fat-fests, this trip has cost a lot of good money for bad food, leaving us to digest sour thoughts like "I can't believe we paid that much for that".

Peter can't not order oysters. I can't blame him. 

Charred broccoli and bagna cauda butter. I like my broccoli nonagenarian-soft; Peter likes it crunchy. He found this a little too crunchy. My tender sensibilities found it *a lot* too crunchy.

At any rate, I'm biased in favor of anything bagna cauda and will always order it. 

Hamachi with a beguiling sweet and sour cherry granita.

Black pepper panisse. Wow. One of the best things we ate on the trip- the greens and Parmesan on top were ideal accompaniments. Superb. Every bite was perfumed subtly with garlic, but we couldn't figure out the source; it wasn't in the dressing, nor in the savory cakes of chickpea flour. Such a fun game of hide and seek. I hope they never take this off the menu so we can come back and order ten of them.  

Asparagus with chicken skin, hazelnuts, radishes. Peter had perked up over "chicken skin" so we ordered this in spite of it sounding like a dish generated by a hipster robot who doesn't need food to survive. 

If there ever comes a day when my opinions actually matter, I will devote half of my first TED talk to asparagus as the most symptomatic food of our time- and the most overrated member of the vegetable kingdom. People malign the green bell pepper but let asparagus get away with murdering otherwise pleasant meals. These people are wrong and must be stopped. 

Please, pepper-haters, consider reserving your antipathy for the sparrowgrass instead.

Bread, butter, roasted garlic, mussels with 'nduja, and a reappearance of the Gilbert Cellars laser-crisp rosé. Is 'nduja ever not the best? Even when it's too much, I love it. Like a warm slap in the face from the most beautiful woman in all of Southern Italy

We were curious about the polenta fritters with ricotta, sage, and chestnut honey that nearly everyone else was ordering - they looked like doughnut holes- but we were full, and for the first time ever, decided not challenge it.


June 5th

Lunch at Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar, because our Samish Bay experience was such a highlight that we wanted to try one of their less outdoorsy urban enterprises.

Macrina bread. Everyone in Seattle charges extra for bread. Our server brought ours for free, probably because he was worried we'd go hungry without it. (LOL.)

They were out of "Fat Bastard", so Peter got one of everything else: Shigoku, Taylor Grand Cru, Kumamoto, North Bay,  and big momma Virginica at 4 o'clock.

Geoduck sashimi. I had some qualms- it tasted oystery to me and to Peter too- maybe some contact juices from being handled on the same workspace- but the real reason I avoided it was that it smelled like low tide.

Fries because we missed having some with the mussels last night. Served with tartar sauce. Swoon. 

OMG. Killer. Server's favorite dish, so we went for it. Manila clams with an arugula and almond pesto cream sauce with roasted tomatoes. Everything about this dish screams "80's 'CLASSY' ITALIAN", but it was perfect. 

And then, because they were around 3 lbs each and so fresh and a steal per pound, considering, and life is short and Santa Fe is landlocked etc. 

The 1.84 lb Dungeness crab we had at Taylor in Samish Bay was so remarkable it didn't need (or get) any help- no lemon, no butter, no condiments. I appreciated the work they did here to compensate for a slightly lesser crab- lesser only because  it wasn't as spanking fresh- the carapace was filled with a cold, rich crab bisque for dunking, and the claws had been cracked for us. 

It was chilled, as I feel all crabs should be unless the restaurant has a live tank.

Taylor basically slays the lunch game. Again. 

Wanted to try Copperworks gins in the house cocktails at Lecosho. So Peter had his beloved Corpse Reviver #2 and I had the Sazerac made with New Barrel gin instead of rye. 

Then we were done, but our sweet bartender from Dallas comped us Negronis using the New Barrel gin. 

Went power-shopping at Pike Place for an hour, then cooled off at Rachel's over extra-strong ginger beers with gin and lime. They threw in a strawberry-watermelon ginger beer with vodka for us to try. Gin for the win.

Uptown to Ballard for the final dinner of the trip. 

Barnacle is an aperitivo bar, made official by potato chips. Huge selection of amari. I would have like to try the snack of Saltines with anchovies, butter, and Calabrian chili, but we were saving room for their sister restaurant next-door, The Walrus and The Carpenter, which "marries restaurant to fishing pub. Tallboys, muscadet, piles of chubby oysters and smart plates are served in a lively, approachable space in Old Ballard."

"Chubby oysters"- loved that. 


A half dozen came swiftly. 

Peter called one of the chubbies "creamy", and over the din, I thought he said "creepy". 

My beloved was waving a red flag without even knowing it, and I dismissed it- and I did it again after noticing that the kitchen favors a brand of sardines I find abhorrent. 

And I ignored the signs once again when the cocktails were lousy.

And then food began to arrive, and I stopped averting and just let my heart do its sinking thing. 

Disappointing meals are emotional. I'd wanted to come The Walrus and The Carpenter since I was a child (30), and I have the Chef's cookbook on my desk and her pickled cherries in our fridge. 
But... Pilgrimage meals are a little like falling in love with someone over email. Unite in real life;  the scene is decorated with nerves, expectations and the perils of hope. 

 A flurry of dishes that all tasted clammy- and by that I do not mean "infused with delicious clams", but cold-blooded, amateur, and damp.

It was the intersection in the Venn diagram of calculated risks where thin ice meets a hot potato.

We swallowed what we could and left in haste. At some point, I thought I had left our joint credit card there, which felt less like adding insult to injury than the coup de grâce the fates delivered to stop us from doing any more damage to our stomachs or souls. Enough.

June 6th

Packing up the party. 

 But with time to stop at Macrina Bakery on the way to the airport. Not risking any last offenses as I have always loved this place.

Spinach and cheese bun- the gooey center was ridiculous. We fought over this.

Breakfast bialy with egg and roasted veg. 

Saved the roast beef banh mi for the second flight.

And shared it with a bag of these. 

Brought a piece of North Vancouver home for the goats. They missed us. We missed them too.

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