Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sorry for the delay

Welcome back everyone! As you noticed I took a bit of a break from the blog to enjoy the holidays, so clearly I have some catching up to do. I'm going to catch up in bits and pieces and separate posts so as to not bore you and to make sure each post is focused and to keep me from meandering off topic like I'm doing now! So let's get started with Christmas!

As many of you may have heard, Kieko and I went down to Stevenson, WA for the Holiday and stayed at the beautiful Skamania Lodge! This place does the holiday right with a 30 ft tree in the lobby and a massive fireplace burning pretty much 24/7!

Our room was very comfortable with a great view of the Columbia River. There were two restaurants in the lodge, both of whom served excellent food! My fave was the Christmas buffet!

It's very beautiful there, however there was no snow and so we didn't get to go snowshoeing that weekend!

I'll update again soon, we are heading to the gym now!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Snowshoeing begins

     This is one of my favorite times of the year!  One could say that it is the most wonderful time of the year...hmmm, why does that sound familiar.  Anyway, it is a great time of year.  This is when everyone starts anticipating all of the winter activities.  Most people do concentrate on skiing and snowboarding, however, my knees don't really care for that all to much.  No, for me, it is all about snowshoeing.  The great thing about snowshoeing is that it is basically an extension of the hiking season, and boy do I like to hike.

     Today was pretty much the beginning of the snowshoe season for me.  With all of the snow recently it was a given that I was going to go sooner rather than later.  I'm glad it was sooner.  We went up to Paradise, at Mount Rainier National Park, as we figured it was going to have the most snow.  There was about 5-6 feet of snow up there today with clear skies and temperatures around 35 degrees.  It was absolutely a perfect day to snowshoe.  I actually got really hot up there today.  So much so that I was actually seeking some shade, not that there was much, but I did find it of course.

     When we got up there we were actually greeted by the parks finest.

    The snow was almost too blinding, almost!

     And some fresh tracks!

     It was such a great day to get up to Mount Rainier!  The winter is just as good as the summer but with less people.  I love it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tiger Mountain

     People say that one of the aspects that they least like about the Northwest is of course the weather.  True it does provide challenges in choosing outdoor activities, or does it.  It is more like an opportunity to see and experience our great region in ways others might be afraid of. 

     A trip to Tiger Mountain was in order this past weekend as it had been quite sometime since I had been there.  My Dad and I used to go there on occasion to go hiking or mountain biking, of course the weather was always nice when we went.  Dad isn't that hardcore.  It might be one of the last places mountain bikers are allowed, but don't quote me on this.  Regardless of the weather, we were going.

     It was a dark stormy night... oh wait, that's someone Else's work.  It was cloudy, cold, and windy with the summit obscured in fog.  If that isn't inviting, then what is.  We walked up the logging road the whole time as to not cause any trail damage due to the off season weather.  While walking up the road, and by up I mean climbing, there appeared to be some snow on the side of the road.  Upon further inspection I think it was left over hail.  Still, it felt like it could have snowed.

     One thing about hiking in the Pacific Northwest fall weather is that you pretty much have the trail to yourselves.  Everyone goes hiking in the summer so that they can come across incredible vistas, not that there is anything wrong with that, but sometimes it's great to walk into the fog and just listen to the landscape.  At times it became a little erie.  I loved that actually!

     I'm not sure how far we got as the path was somewhat obscured so we turned around and headed back. 

     After all, this was a road less traveled.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Vashon Island

     I love when we have nice Autumn days because heaven knows we don't have them very often.  So when we do have them we have to get out and take advantage of the sun.   Today's adventure was only about 2.5 miles away, but it took about twenty miles to get there. We went to Point Robinson on Maury Island. Maury Island is in fact a peninsula on Vashon Island. 

     So let's start our trip. 

     We started the day with breakfast as it is the most important meal of the day.  Today's breakfast was provided by the capable hands of Circa in West Seattle.  I have written about them before and let me tell you, their breakfast is just as good as their dinners.  We ordered the "Slacker".  I know what you're thinking and you can just stop right now.  Anyway, it was a scramble with enchilada sauce and cheese and tortilla chips.  Of course a good heaping pile of hash browns accompany this so you do get full.  All of this then washed down with Stumptown Coffee.  Is it breakfast time again?

     After we drove to the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal and waited for about 45 minutes.  We took the boat over to Vashon Island and headed to Point Robinson.  Can I say I am just a little envious of the Island dwellers.  It was such a beautiful drive through out all of the island.  Then I saw the $4.47/gallon of gas.  I guess I'm OK where I'm at.  Anyway, we got to Point Robinson and walked down to the shore where we could see our house.

     Take my word for it, our place is over there.

     What a great day to walk along the beach today.  The sun was shining, there was a light house and you could see Mount Rainier! 

     Driving on the Island is so relaxing and enjoyable, I want to go over there again soon. Between the Autumn colors, water and mountain views and visiting a local winery like Palouse Winery, it's a wonder why more people don't visit Vashon Island.



     So everyone knows by know how much I love food.  Those who know me and who have spent any amount of time around me knows that I have a voracious appetite.  I have not always put this appetite to good use, but within  the past couple of years I have made it an goal to challenge my palate rather than just fill up the tank as it were.  I, in large part, have Kieko to thank for this.  She has done an amazing job in training my palate and to recognize good flavors and to really appreciate food.

     One of the reasons I started this blog was of course to right about places I've eaten and food I have made.  Well, Friday night gave me a reason to write.  On that night we went out to eat at Revel.  The brain child of Seattle celebrity chefs Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi (they were on Iron Chef America.)  It is their take on Korean street food served in a fun and lively setting.  I really enjoyed the open kitchen stetting where we could actually watch Seif and the staff do their thang.  Rachel must have been working some where else.(They do have several joints around town.) 

    I ordered the Shrimp noodle bowl with gulf white shrimp, cilantro pistou, and coriander noodles.  All I can say is OMG!  My mouth exploded with flavor from the cilantro in the sauce to the incredibly sweet tomatoes that were served with it.  As strong as the flavors were, they were still very balanced and no one part of the dish over powered the other.  It was also beautiful to look at.  The presentations was so colorful and lively I wanted to take a picture.  Oh wait.. I did.

     I mean, how pretty is that. 

     Kieko ordered a rice bowl with beef short rib, sambal daikon, mustard greens with a raw egg placed in the middle to create a very rich hearty meal.  Daikon, by the way, is a type of radish which was then treated very much like kimchee, so it had that spicy, sour, type of flavor.  The beef was cooked perfectly and was very tender.  It was much different flavor from mine but was equal in the pleasure it provided.  This to had a wonderful aesthetic.

     I mean the FLAVORS!!! Out of this world.

     The service was great and because of the the way the dining and kitchen are combined we actually were able to talk with Chef Seif.  He asked "How was everything Sir?"  I just remember thinking, "You're the celebrity chef, I should be calling you sir!"  He was completely unpretentious.  I loved that.

     Revel is also a great value.  Our food came to about $37 which is a pretty good deal for a dining experience this good.  When you get a chance to go, do it.  Your taste buds will forever thank you.

     Now to plan a time to go back so I can try their dumplings.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

LAMB JAM!!!!!!!

     I have been looking forward to this event for a while now, so when the day came I was ready.  However, first things first. 

     Today ended up being a pretty decent day for Western Washington in late October.  The temp was around 56 degrees and mostly sunny.  We decided to go for a walk in Ed Munro Seahurst Park.  It's right on the water with some fall colors happening.

     Ok, the second one is from our parking lot, but still you got to love the fall colors.  Speaking of which.  Another reason I love Autumn is for the Fall fashions and colors.  I actually make it look good. 

     Yes, I know, I'm letting my vanity get the best of me.  But still, am I wrong? 

     After our walk, we went to downtown Seattle to attend the incomparable Lamb Jam.  We went to this last year and it was great.  It's many different restaurants competing with lamb.  It's truly the American spirit and ingenuity.  Plus it's lamb so it's very good. 

     There are so many different ways to prepare it and using different parts of the lamb, such as the leg, shoulder, loin and shank.  It was so much fun seeing all of the different, creative ideas that all of the chefs displayed.  My favorite presentation was the one by the Bell Harbor Conference Center.  It was like a lamb cone if you will.  It was lamb stuffed into a waffle cone then topped with fig tart and a whipped parsnip crown.

     How much fun is that!  It was also really good.  It was really hard to pick just won favorite, but that was the task we were given.  I eventually chose the Sumac masala lamb shoulder with cauliflower puree, royal pine mushroom and honey crisp apple.  Talk about flavors.

     Another one of my favorites was the lamb sausage.

     Here are some of the other highlights of the Lamb Jam.

     We were so stuffed when we were done we could barely walk to the car.  When we did finally make it to the car we came home.  I just had to relax at this point. 

     Here is tonight's evening sky for good measure.

     Yes, this is from our deck!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

PMK at the VPC

     So that's Pumpkin at the Volunteer Park Cafe.  Yes, we had more pumpkin this week and it was just as fabulous. 

     Last night we went there to eat the Pot 'o Gold, but we'll talk about that later.  Volunteer Park Cafe is situated by Volunteer Park, of course, at 17th Ave and Galer in the Capitol Hill area.  Volunteer Park Cafe is a small, rustic and very intimate eatery. They strive to use the freshest ingredients and it shows.  

     We started out with the pumpkin bisque which was rich and creamy and delicious.  It was garnished with pine nuts on top.

     Then came the reason we came; the Pot 'o Gold.  This is a gourd filled with nothing but savory deliciousness.  It's a pumpkin filled with cheesy polenta, a savory cream sauce and chantrelle mushrooms.  It's then baked so all of the flavors meld into the pumpkin.  This is one of those iconic seasonal dishes that everyone should try at some point.

     This was so good!  It's won of the greatest things ever.  This is a great seasonal comfort food, I could eat this all season.  Hmm, there are a lot of pumpkins around these days.

     Of course there was dessert.  Dessert was a bread pudding that was made with chocolate croissants.  I threatened to call the police because this should be illegal.

     I so recommend this place.  It's good, the staff are friendly and most of all the food is great.  Go there next time you have the chance.  You won't regret it.