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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

"Why Do We Put Collard Greens in Our Burritos at Villa Victoria?"

posted by on August 5 at 11:27 AM

...asks an email to The Stranger's Chow Department. The short answer to this rhetorical question: "...because the collard greens are flavorful, irreproachable, and delicious!" The long answer may be found here. Stranger reader-reviewers are silent (so far) on the relative merits of Villa Victoria and its collard green–laden burritos; one Stranger staffer reports that Villa Victoria's tamales can be "a little dry."

Here is some footage of a woman named Rosa chopping collard greens in the kitchen at Villa Victoria. If you like watching people chop, you're gonna love this. If not, be warned: It is just footage of a woman named Rosa chopping collard greens.

Lost Dogs

posted by on August 5 at 10:33 AM

Speaking of the Olympic Sculpture Park...


...does anyone know what happened to the truly excellent little hot dog cart that used to sit to the right of that big orange thing? Did SAM toss it out after someone got a spot of mustard on the sidewalk or something? I miss those dogs.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Pasta: Rejoice

posted by on August 4 at 11:33 AM

Justin Neidermeyer's new artisan pasta restaurant, Spinasse, will open in the former Globe Cafe space on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, August 13th. If you like noodles, this is reason for great rejoicing.


Friday, August 1, 2008

The Gr8 Am. Txt Stry Contest

posted by on August 1 at 5:09 PM

Text-messaging meets literature (or a literature-like substance) meets a year's supply of chocolate—this has Paul Constant written all over it.

Tap into your imagination, flex your literary muscle—and don't forget to stretch your thumbs. Simply submit your Great American Story, txt-style. Create your masterpiece of 1500 words (one text message at a time) and incorporate ALL 11 NEWTREE chocolate names: PLEASURE, VIGOR, RENEW, REFRESH, FORGIVENESS, SEXY, BLUSH, TRANQUILITY, COCOON, REJOICE and CRAVE.

Forgiveness in a wrapper! The end is nigh.

This Week in Fast Food

posted by on August 1 at 4:40 PM

Barring legal battles, the L.A. fast food ban will soon be under way.

And also, apparently, thanks to a new calorie-counting law, New Yorkers are terrified to discover exactly how many calories are in their favorite chain restaurant foods.

At T.G.I. Friday’s, one of the few sit-down chain restaurants to have already added calorie counts to menus, a group of young women gasped as they studied the menu, barely able to find a meal under 1,000 calories, never mind an appetizer or dessert. Both Stephanie Fowler and Lindsay Green asked about the suddenly popular Classic Sirloin — at 290 calories, it was one of the lowest calorie items on the menu — but learned the restaurant ran out by the time the dinner rush started.

Of course, who eats at T.G.I. Friday's in New York City, anyway?

(MSNBC link via Mightygodking.)

Overheard in the Office

posted by on August 1 at 4:30 PM

The sound of one of these with one bite out of it hitting the inside of the garbage can, as rejected by Dan Savage.


They are disturbingly puffy.

A Sad Day at Cafe Presse

posted by on August 1 at 3:39 PM

The sign on the door today at Cafe Presse:


Condolences to Thomas Miller's friends and family and everyone at Presse.

(And to all those citizens disappointed they can't go to Presse today: You're right to be sad—Cafe Presse is wonderful. Go there twice tomorrow.)

Lunch Date: American Pests

posted by on August 1 at 12:00 PM


(A few times a week, I take a new book with me to lunch and give it a half an hour or so to grab my attention. Lunch Date is my judgment on that speed-dating experience.)

Who's your date today? American Pests: The Losing War on Insects from Colonial Times to DDT, by James E. McWilliams.

Where'd you go? Look, okay? I was the new Southcenter Mall for a story and I wanted lunch. It's really hard trying to find anything at the Southcenter Mall to eat that's not an Ivar's or some weird chicken place. I even walked down "Lupine Way," which is a collection of standalone restaurants just outside the mall, places like Racha Noodles and Duke's Chowder House and something called "B.J.'s," which I think was a bar and grill. (Public service announcement: Don't ever eat anywhere called B.J.'s, kids.) I wound up eating at a Zoopa, which is an all-you-can-eat salad bar thingie. Don't judge me.

What'd you eat? A big-ass salad. I also tried a piece of pizza. (Everything is always $7.99 for lunch.)

How was the food? It was a salad bar at the Southcenter Mall. It was fine. The pizza was inedible and the vegetables weren't spectacular, but, you know, if I worked at Southcenter, I'd probably eat at Zoopa a lot, just because it resembles real food much more than any of the other options (for one, sad moment, I considered eating at a Pizza Hut in a Target.) It was pretty depressing, though: everyone was really old and sitting alone, staring out the windows at all the concrete.

What does your date say about itself? James H. Jones, Alumni Distinguished Professor Emeritus of the University of Arkansas says it's "the best in-depth study of the poorly conceived, terribly managed, and utterly futile war on insect pests in the United States."

Is there a representative quote? Try the first sentence in the introduction (which is titled "The Dunghill of Men's Passions: The Insect Paradox.") "The professional fight against insects in the United States began with a man who refused to ignore his passion."

Will you two end up in bed together? Yes. Not only is it a well-written history about both American culture and entomology, it's funny, too. Supposedly, it ends with a few dramatic and bold ideas for revisions to our current policies regarding insect-human relations. I can't wait.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dept. of Headlines

posted by on July 31 at 2:12 PM

It's the venom that makes homemade jelly taste so good.

Lunch Date: Infected

posted by on July 31 at 1:36 PM


(A few times a week, I take a new book with me to lunch and give it a half an hour or so to grab my attention. Lunch Date is my judgment on that speed-dating experience.)

Who's your date today? The Infected, by Scott Sigler.

Where'd you go? The Great Northwest Soup Company, a new lunch counter in South Lake Union that a local recommended to me.

What'd you eat? Mushroom and crab soup with a half tomato, basil, and mozzarella panini sandwich ($8.)

How was the food? The panini was under-panini'd, which was unfortunate, but the soup was great. I'd never thought to combine a mushroom soup with crab, but it was a great substitute for a chowder; seafood and fresh mushrooms go well together. After I ordered, I noticed that they had a non-panini homemade chicken curry sandwich ($3 for a half sandwich), and that's what I would've gone with if I had it all to do over again.

What does your date say about itself? It's a thriller about a virus that makes people go crazy. Jonathan Maberry, whoever he is, calls Sigler the "Richard Matheson of the twenty-first century," which is appealing—I really enjoy Matheson's pulpy fiction. Scott Sigler is "the world's most successful podcasting author...(h)is books have held the number one audiobook position on all the podcast aggregators, including iTunes".

Is there a representative quote? Jesus, where to start? "With his towel he wiped steam from the mirror. A shadow of bristly red beard covered his face. Bright red beard and straight blond hair..." and "Music drifted over from Bill's cube. Ancient Sonny & Cher ditty, to which Bill cleverly sang "I got scabies, babe" instead of the original lyrics."

Will you two end up in bed together? Jesus Christ, no. Those quotes were just samples, but there's at least one cliche per page right now, and I'm only on page 42. This is a horrible book. Any novel that features a main character looking into a mirror so that he can be described is written by an author who clearly deserves to never write again. You know how sometimes you can tell how intelligent an author is just by reading their writing? I'm going to go out of my way to never meet Scott Sigler, because I'm afraid that my I.Q. would drop just from shaking his hand. This is the worst book I've started in a really long time, and I'm in the middle of reading some pretty goddamned bad books.

More Death in the Mud

posted by on July 31 at 11:59 AM

This just in from Culinary Communion's Gabriel Claycamp, organizer/meter-out-of-death of the winter 2008 Port Orchard communal pig kill:

It is official, we/I are sponsoring another “Hector” slaughter on September 7th (Sunday). It will start at 9AM (actual slaughter will be at 10:30). Please email for more details: Cost is $50, includes lunch, music, a full breakdown lesson, and a charcuterie lesson. We will make all sorts of cured meats, both fresh and dry aged that will only be available to participants. Hell of a lot of fun and very important to the overall physic health of the people (i.e., getting comfortable with real food again). Hope you can make it.

Hector the First
Photo by Reena Kawal

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Today in Grilled Cheese

posted by on July 30 at 1:40 PM

From the weekly email update of McLeod Residence comes this bold assertion:

American cheese is the best for grilled cheese sandwiches and even if you are a food snob you cannot deny this.


(Of parenthetical note: Wikipedia says a grilled cheese is also sometimes called a toasted cheese, which is familiar [and maybe a West coast thing?], or a "cheese toastie," which is sheer madness.)

Monday, July 28, 2008

More Macaroni, Please

posted by on July 28 at 12:59 PM


Mr. Constant, here's another recipe for you to try in your quest for the perfect macaroni and cheese. This is one I've always meant to make, from a cookbook I've always meant to acquire (such a lovely cover, were one to judge that way, and from a Manhattan brasserie of fine repute); it is roux-based and it also contains bacon.

Macaroni Gratin
by Keith McNally, Riad Nasr, Lee Hanson
from The Balthazar Cookbook
(Clarkson Potter, 2003)
Serves 6 to 8

This delicious gratin is flavored with sharp Gruyère and smoky lardons. It's served at the restaurant in individual casseroles, but it looks best at home in a great big dish. This makes generous portions or highly prized leftovers. Be sure not to overbake the gratin or it will "break," meaning that the butterfat in the cheese will separate from the milk solids, resulting in the dreaded greasy gratin.

Continue reading "More Macaroni, Please" »

Friday, July 25, 2008

Deliciousness Never Goes Out of Style

posted by on July 25 at 3:50 PM

You know, I went with a couple of friends of mine to the Kingfish Cafe, and it occurred to me that it's a real shame we don't run something in the paper once a year about how wonderful the Kingfish Cafe is. So here it is:

The Kingfish Cafe is still absolutely wonderful.

Check in next year for an update on the wonderfulness of the Kingfish Cafe. That is all.

Piece of Cake

posted by on July 25 at 11:00 AM


Bookshelves of Doom links to this amazing blog. Cake Wrecks documents cakes that are (intentionally or not) hilarious.

Besides the above nightmarescape, there's this well advertised but poorly designed professional wedding cake, this awesome James Bond-themed cake, and this amazing naked-lady-delivering-a-baby cake. The entire blog is awe-inspiring.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Activism That Really Means Something

posted by on July 22 at 1:37 PM


Yesterday, out of morbid curiosity, I typed into my browser. Lo and behold, there was already a website protesting the 600 closed Starbucks. There are lots of complaints like this one:

We must stop this insanity. People are losing their jobs. Starbucks has been a responsible addition to the communities they serve, their employees and customers. Loss of community is NOT the American way. Time to rally and save our Starbucks. No more java jive!

And people are getting involved in more specific ways, too. The above photo is from a website devoted to saving the lower Greenville Ave Starbucks (store 6262, Dallas, TX). It's good to see that people are out there fighting for what's right. They've embarked on a letter-writing campaign, an online petition, and a protest. It's unknown if any of the protesters know what a "Darfur" is.

In more understandable angry consumer news, this website is devoted to convincing frozen-yogurt chain Pinkberry that these juicers:


are racist and shouldn't be sold in their stores.

Boom Revisited

posted by on July 22 at 1:05 PM

Many have opined about Boom Noodle's noodles, and at this juncture, the general sense is that they're not that good and too damn expensive. People like the small plates better, both for quality and value.


The Tokyo ramen is just all right: good noodles; salty, unrich chicken-pork broth that is not unlike the broth of "Oriental" Top Ramen; braised pork that varies from delicious to dry from bowl to bowl. (It remains true: Samurai kicks Boom's ass in the department of ramen.) But what if the Tokyo ramen cost $6.95 instead of $10? It does, at happy hour: much more gratifying. Happy hour's in the absurdly sleek lounge every day 4–6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close Friday and Saturday, with specials on small plates (like the creamy, elegant chilled sesame tofu) and drinks, too.

Also, on Friday night during happy hour, there is ping pong.

If every hour were happy hour at Boom Noodle, everyone would be happier to eat and drink there (and they'd still be making money hand over fist due to high volume and, you know, the economy). Boom!

Monday, July 21, 2008

I Scream

posted by on July 21 at 5:27 PM

Coming soon to your mass-market ice cream: gelatin (i.e., the delicious rendered bones, hooves, and connective tissues of cows or pigs).


Photo by Kurt Schlosser via the Stranger Flickrpool

The Slog: Helping You Find Crab Shacks and Kirsten Since Right Now

posted by on July 21 at 10:52 AM


First came the query from Heather:

Hello. I've been looking for a crab shack in Seattle because, suddenly, eating at a crab shack sounded like an incredibly good idea. But I don't think they exist here. I mean, I'm from Portland and I've never seen a crab shack. Do crab shacks exist in Seattle? And, if so, who's got the best? Thank you and word to your mother.

Then came the query from Tye:

Hey, not to sure if you can help me but I'm looking for a women that I met on Alaska Airlines Flight 98 on July 9. Her name is Kirsten. I didn't get her last name. All I know is that her eyes and her smile knocked me over!! I know she is in the medical field and trains doctors on new medical equipment. She also mentioned she lives in right in the Seattle area. I'm kicking myself for not getting her number!! Would an ad in your paper be a good option?

Dear Heather: Crab is on the menu at a million and one local seafood restaurants, but the closest thing we've got to a good old-fashioned crab shack seems to be West Seattle's Alki Crab. (Those who have more info should share it in the comments.)

Dear Tye: Lucky for you, The Stranger is the publication of choice for medical professionals and those who pretend be them on airplanes. As for your question—"Would an ad in your paper be a good option?"—yes, an ad in The Stranger might help you find Kirsten, or at least help you find a friendly escort to help you forget her. Good luck.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Lunch Date: The Lemur

posted by on July 18 at 12:13 PM


(A few times a week, I take a new book with me to lunch and give it a half an hour or so to grab my attention. Lunch Date is my judgment on that speed-dating experience.)

Who's your date today? The Lemur, by Benjamin Black, who is the pen name for John Banville.

Where'd you go? Ali Baba.

What'd you eat? Falafel gyro, fries, and a soda ($7.10).

How was the food? I'm a little disappointed, honestly. The fries were great, they were cooked just right and spiced perfectly, too. And I ate at Ali Baba a long time ago and was blown away by the falafel. But the Gyro was covered in this beige, pasty, mayonnaisey glop. It wasn't the usual tzatziki; it was closer to McDonald's special sauce. The reviews on our page for Ali Baba are roundly thrilled by the place, and my memory of it is much better than my experience this time. I'll try it again sometime, but it's down to last-chance status.

What does your date say about itself? Banville, who has been much more successful writing crime novels as Benjamin Black than he has writing literary fiction as John Banville, wrote The Lemur as a serial thriller in the New York Times' Sunday Funny Pages. It's about a researcher who's dug up some nasty truths about a biographer's subject. The researcher turns up dead, and the biographer has to figure out what's going on.

Is there a representative quote? "They walked east along Forty-fourth Street and Glass at last got to smoke a cigarette. The fine rain drifted down absent-mindedly, like ectoplasm. The trouble with smoking was that the desire to smoke was so much greater than the satisfaction afforded by actually smoking. Sometimes when he had a cigarette going he would forget and reach for the pack and start to light another. Maybe that was the thing to do, smoke six at a time, three in the gaps between the fingers of each hand, achieve a Gatling-gun effect."

Will you two end up in bed together? Yes. I hadn't realized until I started writing this Lunch Date that the novel was written serially, and that definitely changes the way that I'll read it—serially-written books, like Dickens, do better if you read a chapter and set the book aside for a while—but it seems like a taut little noir novel and it's well-written. It should take a couple hours, all told, and it seems enjoyably dark.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Always Be Closing

posted by on July 17 at 4:34 PM

All the Starbucks that will be closing as part of the new, layoff-tastic money-saving plan are listed here.

This is the portion of the list related to Seattle Starbucks closures:


I'm kind of surprised that that one on 15th survived as long as it did.

(Via Starbucks Gossip.)

UPDATE: I forgot one:


Roundly Chastised

posted by on July 17 at 4:00 PM

I'm fascinated by this fight between a customer and a coffee shop owner. It started out as a long blog post complaining about a snooty coffee shop policy:

I just ordered my usual summertime pick-me-up: a triple shot of espresso dumped over ice. And the guy at the counter looked me in the eye with a straight face and said “I’m sorry, we can’t serve iced espresso here. It’s against our policy.”

The whole world turned brown and chunky for a second. Flecks of corn floated past my pupils, and it took me a second to blink it all away.

“Okay,” I said, “I’ll have a triple espresso and a cup of ice, please.”

He rolled his eyes and rang it up, took my money, gave me change. I stood there and waited. Then the barista called me over to the bar. I reached for it, and he leaned over and locked his eyes with mine, saying “Hey man. What you’re about to do … that’s really, really Not Okay...This is our store policy, to preserve the integrity of the coffee. It’s about the quality of the drink, and diluting the espresso is really not cool with us. So I mean, you’re going to do what you’re going to do, and I can’t stop you, but”

I interrupted. “You’re goddamned right you can’t stop me,” I said. “I happen to have a personal policy that prohibits me from indulging stupid bullshit like this — and another personal policy of doing what I want with the products I pay for.” Then I looked him right in his big wide eyes and poured the espresso onto the ice.

And it goes on from there and it concludes, as all coffee shop visits should, with a tip:


And so it ended. Until it didn't. The original post bounced around the Internet enough that the coffee shop owner responded on his blog:

To Mr. Simmermon, you overplayed your hand with your vulgar tip-schtick. While I certainly won't bemoan you your right to free-speech, I have to respond to you in your own dialect: F*@k you, Jeff Simmermon. Considering your public threat of arson, you'll understand when I say that if you ever show your face at my shop, I'll punch you in your dick.

And now it's on BoingBoing and on the Washington Post and everywhere. I can't look away, but I also dread future online customer complaints that will no doubt go to Defcon 5 as this one did. Soon we'll need a blog just to track customer/retail employee relations. Oh, wait.

Burning Beast

posted by on July 17 at 12:56 PM

Last weekend up at Smoke Farm—a 360-acre jewel on the Stillaguamish River— Seattle's more intrepid chefs gathered to cook whole animals over open fires.

PETA didn't show. But about 250 other people did, including Bethany Jean Clement, who wrote about Burning Beast in this week's paper:

These were people profoundly comfortable with their relationship with meat. These were people who joke about vegans, people who wear T-shirts reading "MEAT IS MURDER/tasty, tasty murder," people who respond to a whole pig slowly spinning on a spit (its skin bulging and browning and glistening, its ears wrapped in protective tinfoil) by wondering who's going to get the tongue.
Everyone milled, ate, drank, and reveled in glamorized savagery, with a set of attendees ostentatiously carrying around bottles of BYOB Veuve Clicquot lending a decadent, end-of-days frisson. People swam in the cold Stillaguamish River and/or camped under the rural multiplicity of stars (but probably not the Veuve Clicquot party). There was a bonfire. Charlie Hertz of Zoe's Meats brought a great deal of the world's best bacon for those smart enough to stay for the next day's breakfast; he said his friends routinely let themselves into his house and just start making bacon, and then refused to say where he lived.

And Kelly O, who just finished editing this very special, very carnivorous video of Tamara Murphy (of Brasa), Matt Dillion (of Sitka and Spruce and the Corson Building), Tyson Danielson (of Le Pichet), and the rest of the gang, sitting in the sun and drinking beer at what was, undoubtedly, this summer's best barbecue:


posted by on July 17 at 12:20 PM

So a couple days ago, I put out a call for macaroni and cheese recipes. I received, via comments and e-mail, 12 recipes. I will make them all, I promise, even if it takes me a year.

But for various reasons I tried Bethany's recipe from the Silver Palate Cookbook first. One of my primary reasons had to do with the fact that it looked the cheesiest and involved a roux, which is something that I like in my macaroni and cheese. The other important reason is that I was making it for a going-away party, and the bread initials on Bethany's recipe seemed like a cheap and easy way to pay tribute. She's right when she says that "The bread-monogram may seem overly Martha, but people will fucking love it, including you:" it was easy and was a big hit at the dinner.

And it was, as they say, motherfucking delicious. It didn't take a whole lot of work—anything that takes less than twenty minutes to prepare isn't a labor-intensive meal, in my book—and it was quite possibly the cheesiest mac and cheese I've ever had, without just being a bunch of cheese dumped on macaroni, if you catch my drift. (I didn't take a picture because I've never been able to make food look photo-worthy.)

The only thing I'd change, if I had it all to do over again, would be to add just a touch of dill or something like that to make it a little more complex. But I will definitely make this recipe again, and you should give it a shot, too. Cheers to you, Ms. Clement, on your excellent recipe. Thanks.

Not Quite the Rubber Chicken Circuit

posted by on July 17 at 11:45 AM

But close. The chow at today's Michelle Obama fundraiser for Gov. Christine Gregoire, as seen from the press riser:



How much for the fancy salad, semi-elegant strawberry schortcake, big roll 'o bread, and high-powered speechifying? $200 a person.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Summertime Lunch Rave

posted by on July 16 at 2:19 PM

Honey Hole's Summertime Salad ($6) is perfection. You could make it at home:

Top a bed of fresh baby spinach leaves with sliced strawberries, toasted walnut halves, crumbled feta, chopped cucumber, and thin slices of red onion. Toss with a raspberry-mint vinaigrette.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Re: Mac and Me

posted by on July 15 at 3:40 PM

Mr. Constant, do not despair, and do not make the recipe you think looks good because it is simple. Macaroni and cheese is simple conceptually, but it does require time and stirring. Shoving ingredients together and baking will not give you the macaroni of which you dream. This recipe will. It represents a coupling of the mac and cheese from The Grit Restaurant in Athens, Georgia, and the Macaroni With Quattro Formaggi from The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook. (The Grit recipe goes the egg-inclusion route, which I consider too custardy.) The bread-monogram may seem overly Martha, but people will fucking love it, including you. Spell out a word! You may also make bread-symbols if you're feeling more representational.

I am not going to put this after a jump because macaroni is important.

Monogrammed Macaroni and Cheese

1 pound large elbow macaroni (penne if you're feeling fancy)
5 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups organic whole milk
~5 ounces cheddar, sliced: sharp is good, I like Irish cheddar*
~4 ounces Gruyère, sliced
~2 ounces Parmesan, sliced
pinch ground nutmeg
dash of Tabasco or Tapatio
salt and freshly ground black pepper
~4 ounces mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
~2 ounces Parmesan, grated
bread crumbs, preferably homemade, but whatever
a couple slices of better-quality pre-sliced white bread

*You can use pretty much any cheeses, just the same overall amount. Organic is better; organic Monterey Jack sounds boring but is delicious (and could be used in place of the mozzarella). Reggiano parm is nice, but really, this is just mac and cheese, people.

Preheat oven to 350˚. Lightly butter a rectangular baking dish (you might have enough for a little round casserole dish, too).

Cook the pasta until just al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Get yourself a beverage. The roux/whisking-in-cheese takes a while and can get hot.

Melt the butter in a large/deep skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.

Slowly whisk in milk, then cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until lightly thickened to the consistency of cream. (Look, you made a roux!)

Drop in the slices of cheddar, Gruyère, and sliced Parm one or two at a time, whisking constantly, letting them mostly melt before adding more. Season with nutmeg, dash of hot sauce, and salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine cheese sauce and ziti. Stir in the mozzarella. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with grated Parm, paprika to your liking, bread crumbs ditto.

Cut pertinent initials or symbols out of slices of white bread with a sharp knife. Position artfully on top of macaroni, then brush liberally with melted butter.

Bake until bubbling and top is browned, 25 to 35 minutes.

Makes 8-ish servings. Hi!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Lunch Date: Muhajababes

posted by on July 11 at 12:10 PM


(A few times a week, I take a new book with me to lunch and give it a half an hour or so to grab my attention. Lunch Date is my judgment on that speed-dating experience.)

Who's your date today? Muhajababes by Allegra Stratton.

Where'd you go? In the Bowl

What'd you eat? Fake-beef yakisoba ($7.95).

How was the food? It was really good. It's super-spicy—they must've gotten quite a few complaints, because there are warnings posted everywhere about how spicy the food is—but it was a tasty, hot bowl of noodles. And I love the fake beef, which I believe is made from compressed mushroom stalks. I liked it better than Boom Noodle's yakisoba.

What does your date say about itself? "Meet the new Middle East—young, sexy and devout." The Times Literary Supplement says it "will disabuse you of your preconceptions of the Middle East forever."

Is there a representative quote? Talking about Superstar, the Middle Eastern American Idol: "She explained that Musa liked to think, though he'd never say it, that Superstar is better than Jazeera. While al-Jazeera does get between 40 million and 50 million regular viewers, 15 million voted on the outcome of Superstar, 'more Arabs than have ever cast ballots in a free election.'"

Will you two end up in bed together? Yes. The book feels a little slight so far, as though it would maybe be better off as a series of magazine articles, but writing about the youth in the Middle East is important, and something I haven't read much about. A giant baby boom happened in the Middle East 20 or 30 years ago, and all those people are ultimately going to have a lot to do with what the world will look like. The writing is all right, and the title is really atrocious, but I think that I'll stick with it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Goodbye, Butthole Buffet

posted by on July 10 at 1:03 PM

First Eric Grandy bodies all-ages music in Seattle, now Lake City Deja Vu Lunch Buffet has gone the way of the dodo thanks to nosy, nosy Stranger reporters! You meddling kids! Lindy West what hath you wrought!

There was a whole group of fools planning on going there tomorrow specifically to indulge in the buffet(Friday was BBQ day apparently). They made a flyer for it and everything:pervinadish.jpg

But according to a Vu employee, the Stranger article has brought this venerable club's proud tradition to a bumping, grinding halt.

"It's...ah, not good publicity", I was told by the nice fella on the phone.

Now the fools are sad, sad, sad.

"I thought this was America, people!"
- Jay-Z

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Naked Lunch

posted by on July 8 at 3:41 PM

Burger King wants you to know that it selects only the finest, freshest vegetables to accompany its previously frozen meats. To illustrate its scrutinizing process, an ad campaign depicts anthropomorphized vegetables, representing the best and worst of humanity. One shows a red-light district, featuring a randy tomato and busty corn. Another ad, printed on tray liners at an airport, shows two upstanding peppers waltzing past a baggage-claim checkpoint, while a rubber-gloved security pickle prepares to cavity-search a nervous onion.



Reads the bottom of the ad: “At Burger King we’re extremely serious about controlling the quality of our ingredients. That’s why we examine everything. Thoroughly.”

Even an onion’s butt. May we forever associate Burger King onions with anal cavity searches.

From Ads of the World, via Idea Sandbox. Tip from Kim.


posted by on July 8 at 3:00 PM

Is Ivar's on Lake Union actually serving a cocktail that contains Lake Union water, as stated in a recent press release? The answer is no, the drink is dreadful anyway, and the happy-hour food, which all used to be $2.50 and worth it, has gone up in price and is not (see debate here).

However, the bar at Ivar's on Lake Union has a sparkly water view and a big lakeside deck, and it is called the Whalemaker Lounge. The Whalemaker Lounge does contain whalemakers: two preserved Orca phalli, which Ivar is said to have acquired from the Hells Angels of Alaska. Here is one (man shown for scale):


You can boat right up to the deck (some guy standing beneath a whalemaker: "I kayaked here! It's really scary and I suck at it").

The people at Ivar's also emailed about new daily $4 drink specials. Today: the mysterious Captain's Choice (straight rum, gulped between verses of a sea chantey?). Tomorrow: "The 'Tidy Bowl'...with its murky-yet-tasty mix of Absolut Citron, Absolut Raspberry, Lemonade and Blue Curacao and the piece de resistance: a floating Tootsie Roll garnish!" Like the Lake Union Water cocktail, this is best left in the realm of the imagination (and jettisoned quickly from there). However, beer and wine are $3.25 at happy hour, which includes the deck and begins in a half-hour.

Kronenbourg in the Sun

posted by on July 8 at 11:48 AM


The forecast appears to be in our favor.

Monday, July 7, 2008

One Last Cappucino with a Park View

posted by on July 7 at 3:21 PM


This Sunday, July 13, is the last day Vivace will occupy the lovely brick building on Denny Way where it's been since 1992; the espresso roaster is being displaced by progress in the form of the Capitol Hill light rail station. Vivace's new location, at the north end of Broadway in the Brix building, is scheduled to open Labor Day Weekend.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Re: Qube Calls It Quits

posted by on July 3 at 2:08 PM

I walked by Qube downtown the other day and thought, "How long can that place possibly stay open?" No one I know ever went there—its complicated quadripartite dishes ("Qube Sets," truly?), generic urban-contemporary look, and early-on chef turnover gave it an unmistakable whiff of doom. All the windows showing the tumbleweeds blowing around and idle staff didn't help.

Also recently shuttered: Market Street Grill in Ballard, Zagi's Pizza also in Ballard, the Wellington in Columbia City, Mistral in Belltown (though the owner's at work on a new place), Mixtura wherever it was on the Eastside.

The confoundingly named Vi Bacchus Sake Bar Etc. on Capitol Hill was recently listed for sale on Craigslist, and a listing for an unnamed Belltown sushi bar has been spotted, too.

More closures are inevitable—especially with the surplus of high-end places around—as the economy sags. It'd be cruel to speculate which restaurants will go first.

Qube Calls It Quits

posted by on July 3 at 12:42 PM

Downtown's French/Asian fusion lounge Qube is conducting its last day of business today.

Owners Fu-Shen Chang and Kerry Huang are sad to announce the closure of Qube. The last day of operation is today, July 3, 2008. Qube opened in December of 2006. “We’ve really enjoyed the challenge of having our own restaurant and seeing the pleasure people have had from tasting the seasonal menus,” says Fu-Shen. Qube brought something new to Seattle, a sophisticated, urban look and feel with matching modern food. Guests loved the Qube Sets and innovative a la carte plates. Qube was also known for its cocktails using infused alcohol, herbs and fruit. With the economic downturn, people have reduced their fine dining budget and Qube has felt the impact. Realtor Laura Miller, 206-726-3451, is handling the sale of the restaurant.

RIP, Qube, and condolences, lovers of French/Asian fusion cuisine.

3 Musketeers Busts Out of the Consolation-Prize Candy Ghetto

posted by on July 3 at 11:36 AM


It's not like they taste like poop—or worse, carob—but 3 Musketeers has always been the candy bar you eat when there's nothing else. With their blandly sweet, fluffy inside and cheap milk-chocolate outside, 3 Musketeers are essentially virgin Milky Ways, or neutered Snickers, and are the preferred candy of no one on earth. (Not even those with nut allergies and/or caramel paralysis.)

However, last night I sampled the new 3 Musketeers Dark Chocolate Mint, and it is a candy worth loving. Thinner than the old-school Musketeer nougat log and split into two perfect-sized pieces, 3MDCM is a perfectly harmonious candy. Wrapped around the more slender form, the dark-chocolate enrobing achieves a bit more thickness than its milk-chocolate counterpart, and the dense mint-nougat center is like an Andes mint making love to a York Peppermint Patty. It's perfect.

Also, while we're on the topic of candy, can anyone tell me the difference between the impossible-to-find (perhaps discontinued?) Mars Bar and the ubiquitous Almond Snickers?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Lunch Date: The Grin of the Dark

posted by on July 2 at 1:46 PM


(A few times a week, I take a new book with me to lunch and give it a half an hour or so to grab my attention. Lunch Date is my judgment on that speed-dating experience.)

Who's your date today? The Grin of the Dark, by Ramsey Campbell.

Where'd you go? Boom Noodle.

What'd you eat?
The tofu yakisoba ($8.95). Also, a side of steamed rice with curry sauce. ($2.50)

How was the food? You know, it was all right. I mean, it was a decent plate of yakisoba. There were some good mushrooms in there, and surprising little hits of ginger. And the tofu was fried perfectly—pillowy on the outside and not over-fried on the outside. It wasn't worth nine dollars, though. I'd recommend it for a dinner menu, but a cheaper lunch menu with smaller portions would be preferable. I do not, by any means, recommend the curry. It has the consistency and appearance and some of the flavor of gravy from a can.


What does your date say about itself? It's a horror novel from the British Stephen King about an out-of-work film critic who's researching a long-lost silent comedy star named Tubby Thackeray. Apparently, he starts seeing evil clowns everywhere as he digs up The Secret of Tubby. "Easily Campbell's finest book in years. The man really knows how to scare, not via empty shock value but by inducing a far deeper, all-encompassing sense of psychological dread. By the end of the book, the protagonist's sanity is in tatters, and yours very well may be, too!" says The Fright Site.

The British cover, to the right, is much, much better than the American cover.

Is there a representative quote? "He's in a toyshop. Perhaps his black bow tie and bulging dinner jacket signify that he has left a party or a drunken meal. With his head that's too small for his oval torso and long legs, he looks shaped for comedy before he makes a move. His disconcertingly round eyees are wide with innocence."

Will you two end up in bed together? Nope. I gave the goddamned thing fifty pages and I still don't care about the main character, his situation, or the mystery. The writing is subpar, too. Summer is a great time for genre fiction, but I can't spend any more time on this book. People who are interested in the premise of a film critic exploring a long-lost bit of film history that leads to a giant conspiracy and weird thrills should read Theodore Roszak's Flicker instead.

Does This Really Sound That Unreasonable?

posted by on July 2 at 12:13 PM

From the Starbucks Union site:

The IWW Starbucks Workers Union is deeply troubled that management's numerous missteps are resulting in more serious hardships for baristas, bussers, and shift supervisors.

To ensure transparency, Starbucks should immediately disclose the locations it intends to close and outline its severance plan. Starbucks and its CEO Howard Schultz must minimize the number of layoffs, assure adequate notice to affected families, and offer severance pay which is fair. Employees and their families deserve to be able to safeguard their futures.

If Starbucks is serious about distinguishing itself from competitors like McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts, Schultz should stop prohibiting full-time status for retail hourly employees and improve a health care plan which insures a lower percentage of workers than Wal-Mart's. And the company should stop wasting millions of dollars on its union-busting lawyers and PR professionals at Akin Gump and Edelman.

I spent over a decade working retail, and many of those jobs involved a certain amount of time discussing unionization. The truth of it was that these sorts of low-paying jobs generally don't create enough money for a union to survive. But still, if I worked for Starbucks, I'd be really happy to see the IWW pushing for a just a little bit of dignity. In the crush of all these layoff announcements, Starbucks hasn't really supplied any of that dignity for its baristas.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Getting Dressed

posted by on June 27 at 3:58 PM

The good people of the Association for Dressings and Sauces have compiled some data about favorite salad dressings and salad-dressers' astrological sign. The findings (shockingly) do not seem to reflect accepted notions about character dictated by the stars. For instance:

Aquarians tend to be "team-players." As such, they prefer the most popular salad dressing flavor, Ranch.

Capricorns like variety. Their love of variety makes them flexible and changeable and the life of the party. They're always trying new things and, therefore, tend to have a lot of different salad dressing flavors on hand at any given time.

More startling results:

Cancers either thrive on intense competition or are very stressed out by it and those who enjoy competition usually hold jobs in sales.

Sagittarians either love competition or hate it and are more likely to be female.

Traci Gibson over at the Association says it was a nationwide telephone survey, with respondents 18 years of age or older, 480 males and 520 females.

For more remarkable salad-related insight, take the Salad Dressing Personality Quiz here. (I've just learned that as a blue cheese fan, I'm among the wittiest of salad dressing users—or at least I think I am! I am also most likely to be middle-aged and male. And when it comes to how you dress your salad, surprisingly, "Toppers…tend to be more shy than their mixing and dipping counterparts." Those toppers are always such wallflowers!)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Eat 'Em

posted by on June 26 at 3:55 PM


Worried about the invasion of the "swamp rats"?

Afraid of the dreaded "nutria itch" (aka, the "creeping eruption"!)?

I've got your solution right here:


Makes 4 Servings

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1-3 pound nutria, cut in serving pieces
2 tablespoons Enola's Secret Seasoning + 2 teaspoons
2 cups finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon salt (opt.)
3 3/4 cups chicken stock or broth

In a heavy 5-quart pot on high heat, add oil, heat until very hot. Sprinkle seasoning on meat; stir well. Add meat to pot, brown on all sides. Cook and stir 10 minutes. Add onion, bell pepper and flour, cook and stir 10 minutes. Add salt and chicken stock to pot cook and stir occasionally, (about 15 minutes) scraping the bottom of pot to remove all the goodness. Serve over hot cooked rice, pasta or cream potatoes.

Mmm. Tasty swamp rat "goodness."