Saturday, November 29, 2008

meeting "the man" (Dixies BBQ)

The big thing about Dixies BBQ is this super special hot sauce called "the man". Typically, the owner walks around with a pot of sauce, asking if you've met "the man". If you haven't then you get one tiny drop from the end of a single tine of a fork. The idea is: it's hot.

The thing about the man is it's basically dave's insanity. Maybe it's home made, maybe it's purchased and dressed up, but the theory is identical. It's tomato paste with pure capsaicin extract mixed in. If you haven't encountered it, there are two things you need to know about Dave's. 1) the extract makes it hotter than hot peppers. 2) it tastes like ass. The same applies to "the man".

So, as gimmicks go, it'll work on me the once.

But if I'm not going back for "the Man", am I going back for the BBQ? In a word, no. It wasn't really any good. Average at best.

chicken bbq at dixe's bbq
Chicken BBQ

Also, the atmosphere is extremely uncomfortable. You wait in line forever, then you finally get into the kitchen and you find out why. It is run as a model of micromanagement. There's this huge lady sitting at the cash register directing nearly each movement of everybody else in the place. "Cook, you will make two pork rib plates. Now put them there. Now make three 520s. Line them up next to the other orders. Now stop. Now make two potato salads. Stack them, no, on that counter..."

Hey, it's potato salad.

And for some reason, they arbitrarily group 5 or 6 orders together before they hand them out. So you've paid, your order is sitting there a foot from you, and you're expected to wait for the 5 suckers behind you. Bah.

at least they have big tables

To cut a long story short, I don't expect to be visiting Dixe's again anytime soon.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

belltown pizza

I walk by belltown pizza all the time, but I've never been in? Why is that? Probably because it seems from the outside like a crappy, touristy, sports bary place with no redeeming qualities. But you know that thing they say about book covers, right?

Belltown Pizza is dark inside
You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

It's dark inside, so I don't have a lot of great pictures. As devoted as I am to you, dear readers, there are some days when I'm incapable of being 'that asshole with the flash photography'.

But enough about that. We're here for pizza. And it's good pizza. The Fire in Belltown is my new favorite pie. Of course, you already know that any place that puts the hot sauce on the pizza for me is going to surge ahead in the rankings. It's almost like cheating.

Fire in Belltown specialty pizza at Belltown pizza
Hot sauce? I'm home.

It's not just the hot sauce though. The ingredients all seemed to be high quality. The cheese stood out as particularly good, having enough flavor to stand up to the hot sauce and roasted red peppers without being overpowering or vulgar.

Green Salad at Belltown pizza
good vinaigrette, this

The salad even caught my attention. The vinaigrette was just right; vinegary, but not too vinegary. An impressive feat that continuously eludes me. The croutons were almost too crunchy though. Couldn't get a fork in them.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

adventures in Japanese cooking

A couple of weeks ago Rakka and I stopped in at Kinokuniya (the one in Uwajimaya) and, purely on impulse, we picked up "Let's Cook Japanese Food".

Let's Cook Japanese Food!: Everyday Recipes for Home Cooking It's written by an American lady who married into a Japanese family, and then spent a bunch of time in Japan learning to cook from her mother in law. I'm not exactly in the target audience, since I have no ambition to be a housewife (Japanese or otherwise), but I'm close. After all, I am an American whose exposure to Japanese food is mostly limited to sushi restaurants. And yes, I am interested in simple home cooking that real people make on a regular basis.

Ok, so lets start with Ebi no Chiri So-su (shrimp in mild tomato chili sauce). This was surprisingly easy, and would have been more so if I had sprung for pre-shelled shrimp.

shelling shrimp

There were a ton of ingredients (yes, there's ketchup hiding in this picture), but putting them all together only took one bowl and one pan (and one dish to temporarily hold the cooked shrimp).

Ingredients for Ebi no CHiri So-su
ingredients (labeled)

As you can see, it came out pretty good. It was slightly sweet, subtlety spicy and nicely shrimpy.

Ebi no Chiri So-su
Ebi no CHiri So-su

The ketchup thing threw me for a minute. According to the book, a lot of everyday food in Japan is adaptations of other cultures' food. This is heartening. Now, when I head into the kitchen to bastardize some traditional japanese dish, I can feel like it's a trade instead of a theft.

So the shrimp was last week. Last night I tried my hand at Tsukune (grilled ground chicken skewers). This, even more than the grilled corn, justified the indoor electric grill that the book made me get.

cooking tsukune on an indoor grill
Indoor grills rock

It came out a little more meatloafy than I expected, and a little more chary. All in all, pretty good though.


There are still 100+ recipes in the book, and there's a whole Kinokuniya full of more cookbooks. I think my adventures in Japanese cooking will continue. And, of course, they'll be obsessively documented right here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

unicorn crêpes

What do I need to say about Unicorn Crêpes? It's French food writ Japanese street style. The shop is full of plastic examples of the delights contained within, and two tables. It's fantastic.

Unicorn Crepes

Of course, I go savory whenever possible. The spicy tuna, egg, lettuce and mayo contrasted nicely with the lightly sweet crêpe.

Spicy Tuna Crepe at Unicorn Crepes

Rakka, who is of course my exact opposite, goes for sweet at every opportunity. So UC is her type of place. Blueberry chocolate received her seal of approval.

chocolate blueberry crepe at Unicorn Crepes
a bit sweet?

I mentioned the plastic crêpes right? It's one of my favorite things.

plastic crepes at Unicorn Crepes
it looks so real!

I like it so much, I took a lot of pics.

holy crap that's a lot of plastic crepes plastic crepes more plastic crepes sign

It's not too far to get to for lunch. I think I'll do that... every day!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Uptown China

Uptown China combines two extremely rare things in Seattle: decent chinese food and delivery. Though it's far from authentic, it's easily the best chinese I've found outside of the ID. And it's certainly the best non-pizza delivery in LQA.

chinese food delivered from uptown china
signed, sealed*, delivered, oh yeah

This is what it's all about. When food shows up magically at your door you know you've arrived. Because, you know, you haven't gone anywhere... er. you know what I mean. I really don't know why there's not more delivery around here. But at least there's uptown.

chang sa chicken from uptown china
chang sa chicken

The food is pretty good for american style chinese food. The chicken is good quality, etc. Everything was decent tasting but kind of bland, exactly as you'd expect. Not what I'm looking for all the time, but there are days when it's perfect.

broccoli with tangy garlic sauce from uptown china
broccoli with garlic sauce

And, as with all delivery, the big question is 'how is it the next morning'? Survey says: I wish we ordered more.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

uncommon esculents: alaskan crab legs

Being a Maryland boy, I grew up eating Chesapeake Blue Crab by the bushel. But as much as I love those, it's taken me three years in Seattle to get around to trying king crab. Today, that oversight has been rectified.

alaskan kin crab legs
The apple is for scale

Now, at twenty dollars a pound, these are decidedly uncommon esculents. But sometimes, well, sometimes you just have to drop 30 bucks on a single course. When they're on special at Larry's (metro market) seems like as good a time as any.

this is the biggest solid chunk of crab I've ever encountered

I'm starting to understand the appeal of these things. I've just had the one leg so far and I had to take a break. It's so much crab in there. It really is sweet too. The butter, on the other hand, was a bad move. It's over powering. Best to just let the crab speak for itself.