I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions. For me, if I wanna set a goal for myself to do something, the flipping of the calendar isn’t typically enough of a motivator. I’m also more deadline-oriented, since I need something that overrides my usual procrastinatrix tendencies. Like Mexico in March. Hence, my Mexico diet. So, for those of you who, like me, might be looking to revamp your diets a bit, I found this visualization from TheKitchn of your recommended servings of fruits and vegetables to be very helpful!

 

Pacific Northwest Eats: Seattle and Mt. Rainier

Now that it’s been (a very busy) two weeks since Little Fish and I returned from our Great American Northwest Road Trip,  I figured it was time to put all the annoying foods pics I took to good use. Nine days of traveling in the land o’ fresh seafood means a lot of eats! So, without further ado, here’s my recap on Seattle!

We had originally planned on going to Pike Place Market when we arrived in Seattle so that we could pick up some fresh fish to cook at our Airbnb apartment, but I was too tired from waking up early for our 7:20am flight to cook, so we decided to postpone that until the next day and instead get sushi at Mashiko, Seattle’s first fully sustainable sushi bar. I loved being able to support the sustainability mission and was especially excited when the not-usually-adventurous Little Fish suggested we do one of the chef’s course meals that included two miso soups, two sashimi appetizers, eight pieces of nigiri, two small rolls, and a dessert. We also got a small sake flight to celebrate the start of our trip.

Little Fish and I were both extremely surprised by and pleased with the massaged octopus and seaweed dish. We also had a smoked trout roll that I really enjoyed, and a mackerel nigiri with garlic that was fantastic. What I did NOT like, however, was uni (that’s the top left yellow piece in the picture of the nigiri, above). That was a giant bag of nope. I didn’t blame Little Fish for not trying it this time. Not one bit.

The next morning I woke up before Little Fish to pick up some doughnuts from Top Pot Doughnuts, a Seattle institution, just a 10 minute walk from our apartment.

While the doughnuts were just OK, the coffee was really great, but, more importantly, the trip gave me a chance to meet some locals who insisted I sit down with them for a chat before heading back to the apartment. They shared all of their favorite restaurants and some cool spots to visit in Seattle (the Ballard locks and the salmon tunnel!) that I may not have heard of. This is really one of my favorite aspects of traveling in general, and traveling alone in particular! It’s so easy to be more extroverted when you’re in a new place.

Eventually, we decided to make good on our plans to cook fish, so we headed down to Pike Place Market, where we snacked on fresh honeycomb and beef jerky, and picked up a couple bowls of clam chowder from Pike Place Chowder.

I was so proud of Little Fish because even though he suspected he wouldn’t like chowder, he tried it (but was right haha)! We then purchased the fixings for dinner and some smoked salmon we planned on eating later in the week, took our purchases home, and then did a little tourist-ing to work off the snacking.

Of course, there was no way we were leaving Seattle without some oysters, so we headed to the Walrus and the Carpenter for our appetizer/mid-afternoon snack. Again, Little Fish impressed me with his adventurousness by trying both raw and fresh oysters!

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He still wasn’t a fan of the raw oysters, but he thought the fried ones were alright (I’ll take it!). I, on the other hand, have been ruined for oysters: Northwest oysters blow Gulf Coast oysters out of the water. They were unbelievably fresh and juuuust briny enough. The shallot mignonette sauce was the perfect accompaniment to the oysters. And even the fried oysters were delicious!

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At 3.50 a pop for each oyster, though, I was glad that we had a meal already planned. So, we returned to our apartment, and got everything together for dinner. The fishmongers at Pike Place had suggested we bring home this 5 pound beauty:

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I wanted to cook it using the salt-crust method, which is a great and simple way to really showcase the flavor of fresh fish, as you basically just cover a whole fish in a mixture of egg whites and salt, bake it, and then crack it afterwards. The crust works to seal in the moisture of the fish, and since the skin is still on, the fish itself doesn’t actually get that salty. Since it was my first time using that method, it didn’t work out perfectly, but I’m definitely interested in trying it again!

To accompany the fish, we roasted some organic rainbow carrots and new potatoes and had raspberries for dessert, all of which we picked up at Pike Place. It was a lovely meal, enjoyed on our small balcony overlooking the Space Needle.

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After a day orca-watching in the San Juan islands, we spent our final morning in Seattle eating brunch at Portage Bay, a place where if you order pancakes or waffles, you get access to a fresh fruit bar! The main dishes themselves were just OK, but I loved being able to start my morning off with a ton of fresh berries. Also, I thought their coffee mugs were too cute.

After brunch, we visited the Seattle Museum of Flight, then decided to hit the road for our drive to our cabin in Mt. Rainier. We stopped at a local brewery before leaving, where we had surprisingly delicious flatbread pizzas and local apple cider:

20140916_154834You would think that after all that great city food, there would be no topping that in some sleepy mountain town. And you’d be right! But that’s why we planned ahead and bought a Styrofoam cooler to take our leftovers and other supplies in. =) Among those supplies was the smoked salmon we bought at Pike Place, which we ate for breakfast with fried eggs before going hiking.

20140917_093929 Seriously, the best smoked salmon I’ve ever had! We wished we’d bought more than just 1 pound of it because we could’ve eaten it every meal!  Breakfast was made even better when we discovered that wild blackberry bushes were growing like crazy on the side of the roads. So Little Fish braved the spiders and thorns and picked a whole cupful that were the sweetest and least-seedy blackberries ever.

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All in all, our stay in Washington was a delicious one!

 

Three Foodies and A Picky Eater: Birthday Edition

True to my word, I was the slightly obnoxious dining partner who took pictures of all her food at my birthday dinner on Friday.  I used to be a repeat offender of doing this, so I won’t pretend that I’m unfamiliar with the eye-rolls, but I have become more discerning in my old age and now try to keep it for meals that are particularly memorable.  And when the first course arrives and even Mr. Little Fish looks down at his plate and calls it beautiful, you know it’s gonna be memorable.

You may or may not know by now that Mr. Little Fish is not much of a foodie.  So it was with a little bit of nervousness that I suggested going to Restaurant Jezebel for my birthday dinner (after trying and failing to plan either weekend wine bus tours or restaurant tours–damn you SXSW!).  He was slightly skeptical about the price tag at first (so was I!), but once I started describing what I knew about the restaurant, he was sold by my excitement.  So we invited our friends K & M to join us on our fine dining excursion, and they happily agreed.

And when I say fine dining, I mean fine dining.  Sometimes it’s a weird feeling to realize that you aren’t a kid anymore, and sitting in suits and sexy cocktail dresses at a restaurant that only has 8 tables, and only seats those tables once per night, was one of those times.  Kinda feels like a dream I had to pinch myself awake from, or like I was a little girl wearing my mom’s shoes and clothes. Eventually though, our waiter arrived and we spent 10 minutes talking to him about what kinds of food we liked (all seafood; no venison for Mr. LF; haven’t had foie gras and slightly skeptical but willing to try; K isn’t an eggplant guy) and ordered a bottle of champagne and any imposter feelings faded away as we settled in to a delicious meal.

Our amuse bouche, or as I call it the pre-game meal before the actual meal, was a smoked paprika bread roll with two types of butter–goat cheese or smoked salmon–and olives marinated in an amazing balsamic reduction.  The balsamic reduction was drink-it-out-of-the-dish good.  The rest of the courses, in slideshow form (and sans individual reviews….just assume it was all phenomenal!):

I forgot to take a picture of the third course (duck and foie gras) because I was too excited to try it and ate it all before I remembered.  Also, sorry about the quality–I did try to minimize my obnoxiousness by trying not to use flash for the photos, which of course led to lesser quality photos.  By the end though, champagne doing its job+the restaurant being more or less cleared out=bring on the flash!

Anywho, big thanks to Mr. LF and K & M for the best birthday dinner ever!