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Seattle

Seattle from the Space Needle Restaurant

Robert and I recently visited my brother in Seattle. We spent four days eating and drinking our way through the city. While we left with many new places to try for next time, we were able to pack lots of great restaurants and bars into our brief stay. Here are all the restaurants and bars we visited, in order.

Urbane: The hotel restaurant of Hyatt at Olive 8, we got a late breakfast here after getting settled into our hotel room. I had a delicious salmon eggs Benedict. There was a generous portion of smoked salmon and the rosemary potatoes that came with it were great.

City Fish Co.: The first day after breakfast we walked to Pike Place Market. After exploring the shops and watching the famous fish throwing, we had a dungeness crab cocktail, a shrimp cocktail, and 3 for $5 oyster shooters. It was a great introduction to Seattle seafood, and the first, but definitely not the last, time we had oysters on the trip.

Marie & Freres: A wonderful chocolate shop. Their chocolate is made in South America by the growers. They then add things like cocoa nibs or candied orange peel and sell it in the shop. It’s dark, rich, and delicious, and their frozen passionfruit pops, made down the street at Mistral Kitchen, are amazing.

Stumbling Monk: We stopped in for a quick beer while deciding where to go for dinner. I had a sour beer, which I think was called Petrus. It was excellent, very refreshing with almost no aftertaste. It actually reminded me of a more savory flavored kombucha. Robert had a bourbon barrel aged beer which was also very good.

Pinto Thai Bistro and Sushi Bar: Wandering around Capitol Hill, we decided to try a restaurant recommendation my brother had gotten from a concierge at his former building. It was a Japanese and Thai restaurant and we ordered both types of food. We started with a beef salad that was similar to larb, and tom kha soup. We then ordered several sushi rolls. All of them were good, but the best was the Pinto roll with yellowtail, cilantro, jalapeño, and thin slices of lime. The lime added an amazing burst of flavor to the roll. We all wanted to order another, but unfortunately we were too late and they were closing the sushi bar.

Wheelhouse Coffee: For breakfast on our second day we tried this small coffee shop. I had a dirty chai and some banana bread that had white chocolate and nuts. I’m a big fan of banana bread, it’s one of my favorite things to bake, so I love trying different takes on it. This was a solid banana bread, not the best I’ve ever eaten, but definitely good. Unfortunately, Robert was disappointed by his drip coffee, although my dirty chai was pretty good.

Shilla: We had some excellent Korean food here, freshwater snails, beef tongue, bulgogi, and bibim bap. We left extremely full.

Hazlewood: We stopped into Hazlewood for a quick drink while we waited for a table at the Walrus and   the Carpenter. I enjoyed the Harvey Dent, although unfortunately the only ingredient I remember in it is Cynar. Robert had a well-made Sazerac, and my brother had a beer with chili infused tequila. I can’t remember the name of the drink, unfortunately. We also ordered a blackbird, a champagne cocktail with an interesting ingredient, squid ink tincture. My brother and I have cooked with squid ink before so we were intrigued with the idea of using it in a cocktail. While the drink’s flavor was decent, it was a little less dramatic looking than we had expected. I wondered if it would have been possible to add a bit more squid ink without negatively impacting the flavor, as it is a pretty mildly flavored ingredient. Despite our slight disappointment with the blackbird, Hazlewood was a great start to our cocktail tour of Seattle.

Walrus and the Carpenter: The oysters at this place were great. We had read and heard about them and were not disappointed. We ordered three of each for the first round then a few more of each of our favorites. The other items we tried, including a sardine dish, steak tartare, and a salad were delicious as well. When it came time for dessert I couldn’t resist ordering a cocktail as I had been staring at their well-equipped bar all night. I had the Norwegian Wood, a flavorful drink with Aquavit and Yellow Chartreuse (if I remember correctly), which paired nicely with the bread pudding, quince and pumpkin desserts we tried.

Salty’s on Alki Beach: An amazing brunch with a great view of the city. The buffet was huge with oysters, crab, shrimp, an omelette and pasta bar, carving station, several varieties of eggs benedict, and a huge dessert area.

Mistral Kitchen: An amazing meal! It came highly recommended from Marie at Marie & Freres and did not disappoint. The ceviche and mussels were great. Probably the most memorable food item of the night was a terrine that came on the house charcuterie plate. It had a rich meaty flavor, but almost the exact texture of a cold buttercream frosting. While Robert found this a bit off-putting, I enjoyed it. We also tried the Courting Rachel, an amazing smoked cocktail, see my and Robert’s earlier posts on it.

Knee High Stocking Co.: On our first night, walking back from dinner at Pinto, we saw a very well dressed man standing on a desserted street corner. As we passed him we notice a the words “Knee High Stocking Co.” in tiny letters near the door in front of him. Later, as we talked with the host at Mistral Kitchen, he recommended several places for good cocktails, Knee High Stocking Co. among them. We texted early in the day for reservations and were confirmed later that night. I had the Cup of Awesome, a gin based cocktail with stout beer syrup, agave, bitters and an egg white froth, topped with nutmeg. It was on the sweeter side, but delicious. Fortunately it did live up to its name. Just as we had finished our drinks and were getting ready to leave, the bartender announced that it was the time of night when he got tired of the usual speakeasy soundtrack and he was switching to 80s Hiphop, one of my favorite genres of music, another point for Knee High Stocking Co.!

Space Needle Restaurant (SkyCity): I had a good prime rib here. The food was pretty good, not the most amazing we had on the trip, but not disappointing either. The view was beautiful though, we got some nice pictures and it was a great way to end our trip.

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During our recent trip to Seattle we had dinner at Mistral Kitchen, which was amazing but is covered in another post, so I won’t say too much more. While there, the table next to ours was delivered a cocktail served in a decanter filled with smoke. Renata immediately wanted one, while I immediately started thinking of how they got the smoke in there. Turns out they use one of these, but having no idea they existed at the time, I started thinking something along the lines of a mad doctor’s chemistry set, complete with glass tubes and bubbling beakers.

This fascination could have ended there, but as luck would have it, the next day I spotted a book about cooking in cast iron, something else I am always interested in, and this book had a way to smoke fish in a cast iron skillet (which is also great and I will cover in more detail later on). Armed with this knowledge, I began to conceive of a way to get the smoke from a cast iron pan into a drink so that Renata and I could make these smoked drinks at home.

Overly simplified, first we soaked hickory wood chips in water for about an hour and a half, then put them in a tinfoil lined cast iron pan. From there I used more tinfoil to guide the smoke toward a funnel, attached to a short length of drip line hose, and aimed that at a jar (because we don’t actually own a decanter) tied it all to the microwave to hold it up, and covered as much of the contraption as I could in ice, to cool the smoke and keep it from floating away. Then I turned on the stove and waited for the wood to begin burning. The result was quite successful, and we got a pretty passable smoked cocktail and a kitchen filled with smoke. There are still some bugs to work out, how to keep the plastic hose from absorbing odd smoke flavors and spitting them into your drink top among them, but overall that is how to make a DIY cocktail smoker.

The Smoke Machine

 

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After enjoying the Courting Rachel at Mistral Kitchen on our recent trip to Seattle, we couldn’t resist trying to make our own smoked cocktails. As soon as the cocktail came to our table, Robert was imagining ways to duplicate it at home. I found the recipe online and some suggestions about how to create and capture the smoke, mostly fairly expensive handheld smokers. Fortunately Robert had already come up with another way. After reading about a method of smoking fish in a cast iron skillet, he threw together a makeshift smoke collector, which he will be detailing in another post, and I mixed up a cocktail to smoke.

As the Courting Rachel is based on a modified Old Fashioned, I tried to work with some similar flavors. I used Jim Beam Rye, Cherry Heering and Angostura Bitters. I also added some orange blossom water on my second attempt, which improved it a bit. I didn’t add any sugar or syrup which probably would be a good addition for next time (the Courting Rachel uses Rye syrup). For our first attempt we used jasmine tea for the smoke, because we had some on hand, and had recently used it successfully to pan smoke some salmon in the cast iron skillet. I mixed the drink while the smoke was collecting, then poured it into the jar, through the smoke. We allowed it to sit with the smoke for a few minutes (I’m not sure whether this was actually necessary or not, it seemed to pick up the smoky flavor quickly and easily) then we poured it from the jar into a glass with some large ice cubes.

Although we were able to make it all work with the jasmine smoke, we agreed that its flavor did not work very well with the drink. The next night we bought some hickory chips and made some minor improvements to the smoke catcher and the drink (more ice for the smoker and orange blossom water for the drink). It turned out much better. The only downside is how much smoke it creates in the kitchen. Ventilation is definitely an important thing to remember!