Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Finally made it to Retro Dogz

Despite the Z in the name, I've been wanting to try Retro Dogz ever since the Bremeloger mentioned it way back in september. And despite walking right by it every day on my way home it's taken me a full three months to manage a visit. I had to take time off (I know, boo-freakin-hoo, right).

Rakka has been making chicago dogs for me ever since I've known her, but we can't get the proper ingredients. So when I walked in the first thing I notice is the honking great chicago dogs sign by the counter I got very excited.

Chicago Dog (veggie)

I'm sorry to say, that this was much better than Rakka's chicago dogs. It's not that she does anything wrong, but honestly when was the last time you saw nuclear relish in a Seattle area grocery store? Never, that's when. Retro Dogz get's it from somewhere and it's worth it. Combined with a bunch of other subtly more appropriate ingredients they achieve a balance that's both quite pleasing and impossible to match at home. It's not quite perfect a chicago dog (no grilled onions, no sesame seeds on the bun, not enough cucumber) says Rakka, but still good.

Everything being equal, I wish they were open more. I'd like to go back. Oh, hey, they have other stuff too. Check out the menu.


Monday, November 30, 2009

imma sharpen my own damn knives

Author's Note: Normally I keep it pretty clean here, despite the fact that I'm a serious vulgarian. But it's been a long week. So watch out.

Ok, the background. We made turkey for thanksgiving, and it came out really well. It was really easy, and it fed us 3 meals a day for four days. Oh, and it was twelve dollars. Such tasty value for money is hard for us to pass up. So we're going to do it all the time. And this brings me to knives. Carving all these turkeys will require sharp knives.

a whetstone
a whetstone, you know
for sharpening shit
Watching cooking tv for years has given me a weird perspective on knife sharpening. The message comes through loud and clear: "oooooh, this is soooo hard and you are soooo dumb. you're gonna fuck it up so don't even try." I actually thought today that I should buy a $150 automatic knife sharpener so I could cut up my $11 turkey with my $20 knife. You know what? Fuck that.

America's Test Kitchen can keep their fucking $150 gadget that'll break down in a year. Alton Brown can show off his professionally sharpened knives all the fuck he wants. This is the same mentality that insists on $100 underpants before you can take a goddamn walk in the woods. I'm mad as hell at this gearhead mentality and I'm not going to take it anymore!

You know what, my grandfather sharpened his knives himself, and they were sharp as razors all the time. If he could learn it, I can learn it. And I fucking will. I don't care if I wear my knife down to a nub before I get it right. And the whetstone won't wear out after one goddamn year either.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

food drops

drop candy!
Originally uploaded by Rakka
Rakka got a whole pile of food drops in the mail (from Chotda). I took part in the great food drop taste test. I'll summarize, but you should follow that link for the in depth review.

Right. So, food drops are sugar candies that come in flavors of regional Japanese foods. We're talking beer, octopus balls, udon... you get the idea. We tried 8 kinds. How was it? The short answer is: most of these foods were not meant to be sweet; not, at, all.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bento Kudasai

I haven't been to Japan, so I can't speak to the authenticity of Bento Kudasai. But authenticity doesn't matter when lunch is on the line; it's on value for money that we judge places on around here. 'Course, perceived authenticity is a factor in the formula, so maybe it does matter. Well, either way, Bento Kudasai has it. So lets get to it.

Nigirizushi bento box
nigirizushi bento

The most important question is, is it good? Yes it is. They say they make pretty much everything themselves, including the kimchi (which, omg, kimchi! you know i'm going back again and again). It shows; the quality is really high. Though, to be honest, the vegetarian boxes have tasted better to me than the fishy ones. The vegetable boxes are full of subtle flavors and textures. I think the fish is pretty low on the sashimi quality scale though.

zOMG! Kimchi!

But then it would be, he segued, because the price is right. Lunch for under $10, come on down. Well, unless you're me and fail to resist the mini box full of kimchi. But I usually manage to get away for $11. A box and kimchi is a pretty ideal portion for me. I did a full box and udon once; man, was I stuffed.

case full of bentos
case full of bentos

Other notes: CG seriously digs the gyōza; I think whenever he suggests Bento K, he's got the gyōza on his mind. It's pretty small, just a bench with about 4 stools. The lady that runs the front is really friendly.

In conclusion, get on down the street and get you some bento.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

damson gin

As I mentioned over on casa rakkaleff, we have this damson plum tree in our back yard. The plums aren't really hand fruit, but they're good for canning and stuff. As soon as we figured it out, I ordered a bunch of canning stuff (which I wanted anyway). Everything got here quick, with the minor exception of the actual feckin' jars. So the jam is on hold.

The le parfait jars did make it here, and so did a couple of fifths of gin. And that's all we need for damson gin. Rakka found this recipe on cottage smallholder. It's super simple, and we both love gin, so we thought we'd give it a go.

Damson Gin
Damson Gin

We don't have a kitchen scale (yet), so I had to estimate how many plums in a pound. I thought about rigging up a stick with a can of beans on one end and a bowl of plums on the other and yadda yadda yadda. Sounded like work though. And really, we're talking about gin that will be more or less plummy depending, right? Should be fine.

'Course, we won't know if I screwed it up for three months. Assuming I didn't, it's important that you get your name on the casa rakkaleff new years party guest list. The gin should be about ready then, and seats are limited. natch.

Fritz European Fry House

To be honest, I've only been to Fritz European Fry House a handful of times. The trouble is that I love fried potatoes and Fritz fries a really good potato.

Portrait of a Fry Cone
Portrait of a Fry Cone

If I don't keep it in the special treat category, I'd soon be rolling down there on a hoveround and reserving 2 seats for myself on airline flights. As special treats go, they're fantastic.

The fries come in a cone, street food style. The tables, which are more bars to stand at, have holes in them just the right size to hold a heaping cone of fries. There are 10-15 different sauces to choose from. Plain ketchup and tartar sauce, obviously (it's close enough to seattle that the tartar sauce is a given), but they have some unexpected stuff like thai peanut sauce, bbq and red pepper parmesan. This time, we went with curry ketchup.

Large Cone and Spicy Curry Ketcup
Large Cone and Spicy Curry Ketcup

There are a selection of belgian beers to compliment your fries with, which makes sense.

If a giant cone of fries isn't enough fried food for you they have fried chicken and sausages. I've never tried any of that stuff though. I'm just there for the fries.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

bread and butter

Rakka got this cheese making book. I thought she was taking this whole self-sufficiency lark a bit far, but I picked it up and flipped through it. And of course, I'm the first one to attempt one of the recipes. Butter!

it's butter, which I made

It turns out that making butter is astoundingly easy. You don't need an official churn or anything, just an old pickle jar or something. Make sure to wash it out pretty thoroughly though. Learned that the hard way.

Anyway, put your room temperature heavy cream (has to be heavy milk, learned that one the hard way too) in the jar, put the lid on tight and shake for 5-10 minutes. That's pretty much it. You've just got to pour off the buttermilk, push the rest out with the back of a spoon, and rinse it a bit. You can mix in some salt.

It's the best butter ever.

And the best thing to put it on is homemade bread.

sourdough came out pretty good this time

This is a recipe from the book of bread. Or, two, really. I made the sourdough starter a couple weeks ago. Attempted the bread last weekend, and it sort of worked. It worked better this time, but still not great.

I have a long way to go before I really understand bread. I always end up using nearly twice as much flour as the recipe calls for. The sourdough in particular always sticks to every freaking thing. The work surface, my hands, the bowl, the pan. Everything.

Maybe it's like driving a stick shift. Keep grinding the gears long enough and one day you just get it.

update: changed "whole milk" to "heavy cream". Whole was the stuff I tried the first time, and it didn't work at all.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Myhre's Restaurant

After one visit, I'm very enthusiastic about Myhre's Restaurant. I can't help it, I love authentic diners, and Myhre's is the oldest working restaurant in Kitsap county. At least according to the waitress.

I know you're hungry, so we'll get right to the food. It's exactly what you'd expect from an old diner. Exactly. For instance, in the chicken sandwich the chicken is deep fried. Also, the side of fries is bigger than the sandwich.

French fries (and chicken sandwich)
French Fries. Oh, and a chicken sandwich

I have to say, that chicken sandwich seemed slightly small. But the quality was higher than I expected. It evened out. I came away perfectly satisfied.

Another for instance: Rakka said this potato salad was just like her grandma used to make. No faint praise there. It has big chunks of egg.

potato salad and tuna salad sandwich
Potato Salad... and a tuna sandwich

The tuna had noticeable chunks of pickles. As if to prove conclusively the dinerism of the establishment, they were the same pickles as the ones next to the sandwich.

It takes more than food, however, to make a really dinery diner. The Cafe has an attached Terrace Room, and a skinny bar sandwiched in between. Nothing says diner like attached bar. Nothing says sixties makeover like attached 'Terrace Room'. Unfortunately it wasn't open at noon on Saturday.

myhre's Restaurant and Terrace Room
Terrace Room

Ok, here's a little more of the interior. Note the country flavor. Do you not love this place?

Cocktails, rest room
Cocktails, rest room

I do (love it). Reasonable food at reasonable prices in a real diner. What more could you ask for? How about I throw in at least one boat ride to get you there, which will be the easiest transport (unless you live in port orchard).

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Samudra Coffee and Yoga

Samudra Coffee and Yoga is literally right over my back fence. They're good neighbors to have, because they make wonderful baked goods and fantastic cold brewed toddy coffee. I haven't tried the yoga yet.

toddy coffee
toddy coffee

Toddy coffee is the hot [don't you mean cold? -Ed] new thing. I can see why. When they mix a bit with ice and water it has a very subtle, almost tea like, flavor, with no bitterness. I can't get enough.

The baked goods are awesome too. I really liked my cranberry-orange scone. I tried Rakka's berry bar; the flavor was intense. Everything is baked on site, so it's super fresh.

Scone and Berry Bar

The blondie was as good as it looks.


Samudra is in a location that has a rep for short lived businesses, but I want it to last. So please, I beg you, go there, try one of everything.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Piroshki on 3rd

Piroshki's are fun. I think it's technically illegal to go to the market without stopping in at Piroshki Piroshki. But are they lunch or just a snack? At Piroshki on 3rd, I think you have to order carefully if you want a full meal sized meal for a reasonable price. I spent 10 bucks and was still hungry.

piroshki on 3rd
piroshki on 3rd

I got the smoked turkey breast and cheese piroshki with a large borscht on the side, with sour cream. It was very tasty. Especially the borscht. The piroshki was just sort of, there. Not that one expects piroshkis to explode with flavor, like some Russian pastry version of flavor blasted goldfish. It was tasty though, and shaped like a turkey leg. You've got to love food that's shaped like it's main ingredient. No, seriously, it's another one of those unwritten piroshki laws.

turkey and borscht at piroshki on 3rd
Turkey Shaped Turkey Piroshki (and borscht)

The thing is, a piroshki is kind of small, compared to, say, a sandwich. But it still runs at about $4.50. And the borscht was about the same. Maybe it was just a hungry day, but it didn't seem like much food for the price.

There are a ton of things to try though. Which tempts me to go back.

sweets at piroshki on 3rd
Sweets look very sweet

savories at piroshki on 3rd
Savories look very savory

Overall, I'm glad it's right across the street from work.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

salmon teriyaki [adventures in japanese cooking]

This is another from the Japanese cooking for honkies cookbook. As I've probably mentioned, teriyaki is to Seattle as cheesesteak is to Philly, so obviously I was anxious to get this right. I don't think I did.

salmon teriyaki bento
bento style

American, and therefore Seattle, teriyaki is not really like the Japanese stuff. Overly sweet and seasoned, not subtle, etc. At least according to the the book. I don't know. I still haven't been to japan to see for sure. I really aught to fix that. Anyway, the recipe I went is supposed to be authentic.

salmon teriyaki ingredients
it's easy, just mix the stuff, put the fish in, wait, cook

It was less sweet than Seattle teriyaki, in a good way. But the sauce didn't condense down into a syrup in the time it took to cook the fish. I was afraid to cook it any longer for fear of ruining the fish. Still, it was good and easy enough to try again. I'll let you know if I have any breakthroughs.

Oh, by the way, who knows how the salad dressing works at Seattle teriyaki places? I tried to make some up, and it was ok, but not quite right either.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Eamonn's, a dublin chipper

The subtitle works to convey intent, but otherwise is stupid. Luckily the food at Eamonn's is good enough to make up for it. Just so we're clear, it's fish and chips, yeah? And mushy peas, which I totally forgot to order, damn. Well, it's mostly about the fried anyway. I'm not going back anytime soon; I was only there as part of the big inauguration trip.

There were four of us, which gave us a chance to try three things. Yes, Rakka and I both went traditional and got the cod. I figure when they emblazon "thanks be to cod" on the door, they're pretty serious about it. But my mom had the grouper, and my sister tried the chicken nuggets, having had fish for lunch that day.

For science, and for you, I nicked some of everybody's food. It was all very, how shall I put it, um, fried. But that's what you're there for, innit? The cod was my favorite, but it was all good.

Cod at Eammon's

So were the chips. They were ever so slightly battered. I don't know if that's Dublin style or just an Eamonn's thing. It was good though. And a lot; between the four of us we couldn't finish two large chips. And I was there, so that's saying something.

Cod and Grouper at Eammon's
Cod and Grouper
(blurry pic courtesy of the no flash brigade)

The sauces are worth noting. In addition to traditional malt vinegar there is a selection of mayo based, flavored sauces. I chose the Chesapeake, because being a Maryland expat I must consume Old Bay whenever possible. My dining companions got the hot chili sauce, which I also liked. I should have gotten all Seattle and gotten some tartar just for my chips.

Chesapeake Sauce at Eammon's
Chesapeake Sauce

People on yelp complain about the price and the portions, and you do only get one chunk of fish. But more food than four people can eat, for 40 bucks, is not something I'm willing to complain about. I may not be back soon, but only because I'm 3000 miles away. Thanks to Chris Glew for the recommendation!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Genki Sushi

LQA has its fourth sushi place, and its second conveyor belt sushi (kaiten-zushi) place. It's Genki Sushi, and it's pretty good.

We were the only ones in the place during our visit, which was at some random time, early Saturday afternoon or something, so that sort of made sense. It meant that we had plenty of service.

Genki Sushi
Entrance (upstairs, next to office max)

The location is a little weird. You enter through the lobby of the new QFC, and it's right across from the office max. But once you get inside it's fairly fancy. There are tables and a bar, if you like.

Conveyor Belt at Genki Sushi
The Conveyor

But we sat at the conveyor belt, where we were given the pricing chart. As you probably know, each plate color is a different price, so you know by looking how much each thing is. Traditionally, the plates are one solid color. At Genki, they have different designs. There are six.

Most everything I tried was tasty. Some of it was seasoned a bit more strongly than I'm used to with sushi, but that's not a complaint. The inari (fried tofu pouches with fillings) was particularly good; a bit spicy. Also, this fishy nigiri (it was slightly cooked, I think) was super yummy.

Fishy Nigiri Sushi at Genki Sushi
Fishy Nigiri

I don't even know what it was, which is part of the fun. If it looks good, try it. You can get much more variety this way then you would at a regular place.

fish heads by rakka
Fish Heads at the entrance (by rakka)

In addition to sushi, the conveyor belt brought us fried chicken bits, edamame, and one of those glass bead drinks. All of which was fun and exciting. I'm looking forward to going back.