The man who convinced Taco Bell to create the hugely popular Doritos Locos Taco died on Thanksgiving, according to Consumerist's Mary Beth Quirk. He was 41.
Is it, by any chance, 54 degrees and drizzling there, Chicago? Because here in Seattle, it's sunny-bright and cold as hell, with a freezing wind chill on top of it. Feel free to go check the temperature here on the internet and make fun of me, Chicago. I'm happy I'm innocent of how actually, really goddamn cold it gets there. For us in Seattle, right now it's seriously cold, and that beaming thing in the sky is scary. (Luckily, it's almost dusk.)
At any rate, it's a good day to stay home and make soup, so here, in a Slog encore, is the recipe for the Thanksgiving Day Fiasco Butternut Squash Soup (details of that story may be found over here), as told to Christopher Frizzelle. (This soup is so easy to make, I told him how to do it on the phone while he was walking to the store, then he transcribed it for Slog in a hilarious and sweet way back in 2006.)
Thanksgiving Day Fiasco Butternut Squash Soup
• One butternut squash
• One large onion
• Chicken broth (large can or carton) (organic is better)
• Salt and fresh-ground pepper
• Organic sour cream
I took you home and cut you. I scraped your cute insides out. I put some olive oil on you. I set you in a pan filled with a half inch of water and put you in the oven at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Then I browned a huge onion and some butter in a stock pot, with lots of salt and pepper. When I took you out of the oven after 45 minutes you were all hot and mad, but you were pretty soft, so I took a spoon and scooped you out of your skin and put you in the stock pot with the browned onions, and then I poured a giant can of chicken broth over you. Then I just let you bubble for a while. Bubble, bubble, bubble. Simmer I guess is the word that people who know what they’re doing would use. I’m not a cook. All of this made me so nervous. I got all these instructions from a friend, and I was sure I had some of them wrong. Chicken stock? I kept thinking. Bock, bock, bock!
After a while bubbling in that chicken broth you went real soft. Your orangey hunks become a chunky puree. I gave you some more pepper, and some cinnamon, and if I could have found the nutmeg I would have given you some of that too. I tried you with a spoon. God damn! I could have just eaten you like this, but I was feeling fancy, I was in the mood to go all the way, so I got out the blender and blended you. In batches. With the help of a mug, since I don’t have a ladle. Once you were smooth, I poured some of you into a bowl, with a plop of organic sour cream in the middle, and I ate you.
It was snowing. You were so good.
It's maybe supposed to snow, a tiny bit, here this weekend. Until then, just SUN AND BRRRRRR.
When I was growing up, the rain never stopped. From September through June, it was rarely heavy, but never ending, with the clouds a wet wooly blanket pressing down from above. Now Seattle has days of eerie, creeping autumn fog, trying silently to warn us about climate change; we've got thunderstorms and flash floods, the kinds of downpours that, back in the day, would take a solid month (day and night) to eke out. In summertime, we've got record-breaking stretches of sunshine, glorious and terrifying; in fall and winter and spring, we see the sun too, days of glare and much colder air.
It used to be that a childhood in Seattle gave you a tolerance for a certain constant low level of depression, or at least a reduction in general expectations (a helpful thing in life). Gratification is easier when the baseline is chilly water falling through gray air; a couch and a blanket and a book, with a bowl of soup on the way, seems pretty good...
. . . from Neil Steinberg. My favorite:
1. So turkey the bird, Turkey the country. Mere coincidence?
Not at all. Europeans somehow got the notion that turkeys came from the East. The French thought India and called them poulets d'Inde (the Germans, fantasizing even more specifically, placed turkeys in Calcutta, calling them Kalekuttisch). The English — and you saw this coming, didn't you? — imagined the birds came from Turkey.
2. OK, so where DO turkeys come from?
Scholarly opinion seems to settle on Mexico, where the Aztecs first domesticated the birds. So, in a sense, the traditional Thanksgiving dinner is, at its heart, a Mexican feast. Ole!
Maybe this is why the RWNJ's don't mind the big-box stores opening on Thanksgiving—the whole allegedly American feast is centered around an undocumented alien bird for the love of God! Obama pardoned one! This is amnesty, rewarding fowl lawbreakers! Go buy stuff now, that's the Murcan way!
Now, off to the couch, with the beer and the food and the football. America, Fuck Yeah!
Hark! IT'S TIME TO PUT ON YOUR OUTRAGE SHOES!
As you certainly know, the whole internet got indignant last week when a lesbian server was stiffed. On a credit card slip where a New Jersey couple should have written in a tip, one of them instead penned a nasty, anti-gay note. "I'm sorry," said the note, "but I cannot tip because I don't agree with your lifestyle & how you live your life." What totally bigoted buttmonkeys—right?
A family contacted NBC 4 New York claiming their receipt from the restaurant shows they did leave a tip, and provided what they said was a credit card statement as proof.
The husband and wife, who asked to remain anonymous, showed NBC 4 New York a receipt that appeared to be printed at the same minute, on the same date, for the same $93.55 total, except with an $18 tip.
They also provided a document they said was a Visa bill, which appears to indicate their card was charged for the meal plus the tip, for a total of $111.55...
A manager and the restaurant owner insisted they had the original ticket for the $93.55 charge, but would not produce the receipt for NBC 4 New York and could not explain why the family's credit card was charged for more.
Video here. No wonder people think gay folks are crazy.
Perhaps you missed the $3 million worth of Manischewitz advertising? In that case, be aware: Thanksgiving and Hanukkah are colliding tomorrow for the last time in 70,000 years. (And for the first time since 1888.)
In 70,000 years, only robots will be allowed to comment, so speak up while you still can. What will you be cooking? (Hopefully not this.)
The White Center location of Delicious Planet, a prepared-organic-meal delivery service ("The joy of NOT cooking"), was shut down by the health department yesterday because of:
• "the imminent health hazard of unapproved plumbing resulting in sewage spill"
Hey, look! I ate a bunch of their food and wrote about it, way back in 2007!
You may find out when they re-reopen here.
Scientists have uncovered a 3,700-year-old wine cellar in the ruins of a Canaanite palace in Israel, and chemical analysis shows this is where they kept the good stuff.
Samples from the ceramic jars suggest they held a luxurious beverage that was evidently reserved for banquets, researchers said.
"It's not wine that somebody is just going to come home from a hard day and kick back and drink," said Andrew Koh of Brandeis University. He found signs of a blend of ingredients that may have included honey, mint, cedar, tree resins and cinnamon bark.
[The master of the banquet] called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”In short, the man who claims to be the son of the entity that made everything does not make bad wine.
The annual Beaujolais nouveau frenzy is upon us. While this frenzy is largely a marketing-driven one here in the USA—with the wine's popularity waxing and waning with the amount of promotion put into it (see this 1999 New York Times article bemoaning how it used to be a thing, but isn't anymore)—the more parties in honor of drinking a bunch of cheap, young French wine, the merrier, right?
Tonight, there are Beaujolais nouveau parties at Marche, Le Pichet, Bastille, and Maximilien. Tomorrow is the fancypants one sponsored by the French American Chamber of Commerce at the Columbia Tower Club, which is emceed by The Stranger's own (French-born!) news editor, Dominic Holden. (Find all the details on all the parties right over here).
We asked the estimable Jim Drohman, chef/owner of Le Pichet and Cafe Presse, for his thoughts on Beaujolais nouveau:
It is certifiable that one doesn't drink BN for gustatory reasons. There is an old trope that connoisseurs can glean insight into the quality of the year's (as yet unreleased) vintage by tasting the BN, but I think that this must be an advertising idea... I never have noted any correlation.
I like to refer to Beaujolais Nouveau as "the happiest wine in the world"... it goes down like Kool-aid but kicks like an angry donkey. I am certainly much happier after a quart or two.
ABU GHOSH, Israel (AP) — A restaurant owner in an Arab village outside of Jerusalem says he is on a mission to save culinary culture by making diners a simple offer: Turn off your cellphone and get a 50 percent discount.
I don't know that phones are ruining the dining experience. I haven't had my dinner ruined by anyone talking on their phone, although I have had a couple dinners where people were distracted by their phones at various points during the meal. I just don't find cell phone use during meals to be that terrible. But the experience I had in a movie theater last night—texting, alert chimes going off at random moments, etc.—had me yet again wishing that the Alamo Drafthouse would open a theater in Seattle.
McDonald’s McResource Line, a dedicated website run by the world’s largest fast-food chain to provide its 1.8 million employees with financial and health-related tips, offers a full page of advice for “Digging Out From Holiday Debt.” Among their helpful holiday tips: “Selling some of your unwanted possessions on eBay or Craigslist could bring in some quick cash.”
Elsewhere on the site, McDonald’s encourages its employees to break apart food when they eat meals, as “breaking food into pieces often results in eating less and still feeling full.” And if they are struggling to stock their shelves with food in the first place, the company offers assistance for workers applying for food stamps.
These latest incidents of backhanded corporate "charity" are so fucking inhumane that it's practically Swiftian.
This happened around 1978, in the bathroom of an apartment in Washington, DC. I was 9, and I had just finished brushing my teeth and looked up at the mirror, and instead of me, found an animal. I saw that its eyes had evolved to make sense of light, its teeth had evolved to break food down into digestible matter, its nose had evolved to capture interesting molecules floating through the air. This was not Charles, the son of Ebenezer and Tracy. This was just a living, breathing, heartbeating thing in a universe that has no purpose, no designer, no beginning or end.
Of the many flaws in the philosophy of Ayn Rand, one of the simplest but most damning is this: Rand argues that no human should be forced to work for the will of others. In Rand's perfect society, every human would find the one thing they love, and do that thing with passion and without compromise. Here's where the counterargument comes in: Rand's books are full of passionate captains of industry and architects and engineers, but no human being ever born on this planet truly wants to be an uncompromising, passionate janitor above all else, or a mailman, or a line cook. In real life, you often have to buckle down and do your work because it's a matter of survival and because the job needs to be done.
Tucked away in the middle of Atlas Shrugged, Rand mounts a tiny defense against this argument when her protagonist, Dagny Taggart, eats at an out-of-the-way diner. "Dagny sat at the end of the counter," Rand writes, "eating a hamburger sandwich. It was the best-cooked food she had ever tasted, the product of simple ingredients and of an unusual skill." She looks at the chef, who wears "a cook's white jacket as if it were a full-dress suit. There was an expert competence in his manner of working; his movements were easy, intelligently economical." When he tells Dagny he's thinking of leaving the fry cook business, she scolds him: "You're too good at your job to change it. You shouldn't want to be anything but a cook."
Obviously, Ayn Rand was a terrible food writer; like much of her writing, her description of the "hamburger sandwich" reads like a matter-of-fact account of a pap smear that went surprisingly well. But here's the point I've been working toward with all this: I just ate the Santa Maria tri-tip sandwich ($10) at Martino's Smoked Meats & Neighborhood Eatery in Phinney Ridge, and I think it's the kind of Ideal Sandwich that Dagny was enthusing about in Atlas Shrugged...
The original Huarachitos on MLK closed due to a fire in June 2011; a homemade pink sign on site read, heartbreakingly, "Sorry there was a fire. We love you. We hope you understand.—Jose and Ana." As of yesterday, their new place is finally, at long last, open at the Othello light rail station, with Mexico City native/Cordon Bleu–educated chef Jose Luis Pantiga-Flores once again in the kitchen, and Ana ready to welcome you.
As tempting as it has been to give up... We are back because of you, and excited to share our beautiful new space with you. We wanted to give the neighborhood a gathering place that is nice and authentic, but unpretentious and FUN! It is truly a dream come true.
Go show your support by eating one of their huaraches—corn cake "sandals" smeared with beans and topped with queso, meat, and veggies.
Also, in two-block radius news, farmers market/pop-up favorite Juicebox has reached fruition/vegetation as a cafe on Capitol Hill, and it ought to be great.
The sign area at the Oriental Mart lunch counter in Pike Place Market keeps getting longer. The ladies have some messages for you:
Recently added and most important:
In this week's paper edition of The Stranger, in the Chow Events calendar, we erroneously listed Ethan Stowell's Macaroni and Cheese Cook-Off as happening this coming Sunday. In fact, it is happening on Sunday, November 24. It's at Tavolata, and you get to try 117-ish kinds of macaroni and cheese made by pro chefs and notable amateurs, plus lots of beer, and proceeds benefit the Fetal Hope Foundation. We regret the error, and you should go to this, because MACARONI AND CHEESE (PLURAL) plus CHARITY.
In related Chow Events news: Tommy Gun on Capitol Hill has debuted Mac & Cheese Monday, in which you may comfort yourself on Monday evening with a full-size serving of macaroni and cheese for just $3. Also, drinks. No one here has tried their macaroni and cheese—have you?
(Want to make your own at home? Here is my macaroni and cheese recipe from Slog of yesteryear.)
The name of the brand-new Cantina de San Patricio pays tribute to the Saint Patrick's Battalion, made up of Irishmen and other European immigrants to the United States who defected and fought on the side of the Mexican army in the Mexican-American War of 1846–1848. Here's the Cantina's explanation—they say it's a "mystery," but the scholarship of Wikipedia indicates otherwise, and it is fascinating:
Some historians believed a primary motivation was shared religion with the Mexicans and sympathy for the Mexican cause, likely based on similarities between the situations in Mexico and Ireland. This hypothesis is based on evidence of the number of Irish Catholics in the Battalion, the letters of Jon Riley, and the field entries of senior officers. Another hypothesis is that the members of the Saint Patrick's Battalion had been unhappy with their treatment in the U.S. Army. Another theory some historians hold is that the soldiers were attracted by the valuable incentives offered by the Mexican government: higher wages and generous land grants. For poor people coming from famine conditions, economics was often an important incentive...
The Cantina is where Post used to be, in Post Alley. (Post Alley was named for the Seattle Post, which was located at Post Alley's southern end, at Yesler, until the Great Seattle Fire of the summer of 1889. The Seattle Post became the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which, as you know, became seattlepi.com.) The ownership is Irish—Patrick McAleese (aka Patricio, perhaps?), of the Kells family. The drinks include lots of tequila-based cocktails, an "Irish martini"—Jameson, Grand Marnier, and lime—and other stuff from all over the place. And the menu is pricier-side Mexican—the chef is Noe Ruiz Cortes, who as yet remains a mystery (a bio is forthcoming).
Apparently, there was a party in Monsanto's conference room on election night...
@strangerslog - not sure when your photog was at the No on 522 party, but it was thumpin'. #waelex @mudede #YesOn522 pic.twitter.com/IBBQpKYYC4
— Cranky 99 Commuter (@Cranky99Commute) November 6, 2013
And besides, didn't Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell once show America that even two people can have a party?
This week, the popular Washington State winery Hedges Family Estate sent out a super-cheerful e-mail stating that it was looking "east to China" with the hope of tapping into "its growing market for quality wine." China's upper middle class is rapidly expanding and has lots of extra cash to spend on things like shark-fin soup, art from galleries in New York City and London, and wine from all over the world. So how is this Washington company entering this exciting, new, and potentially lucrative market? "Hedges Family Estate's new importer, Area 16, [is] based out of Guangzhou." Yes, the same city where 200 Africans protested the brutally unfair treatment of African traders by local officials. And the situation is not improving.
The restaurant named mkt. is Ethan Stowell's seventh in Seattle—or eighth, if you count Ballard Pizza Company, or ninth, if you count his original and now-long-defunct Union, or tenth or eleventh, if you count his hamburger and crepe outlets at Safeco Field. His main half-dozen places—Tavolàta, How to Cook a Wolf, Anchovies & Olives, Staple & Fancy, Rione XIII, and Bar Cotto—are all stylish, urbane rooms serving his trademark rustic Italian. Across the board, the pasta is excellent (all made fresh, thanks to the extruder in the basement of Tavolàta), the vegetable dishes are exceptionally good, the meats and fish are very well-handled, and it all has a local/seasonal/very-well-sourced bent. Some have questioned the lack of variation—but if a man loves Italian food, and he is masterful at assembling great teams of people to make it, and by this he prospers, why should he not follow his heart (rather than, as some might, opening a Tibetan dumpling shop, a Greek place, a tavern, a bakery, a seafood place, and something pan-Asian instead)? Along the way, he was named a 2008 Best New Chef by Food & Wine, then a Best New Chef All-Star this year, and was thrice nominated for a James Beard award. And so Ethan Stowell made one restaurant after another, each more or less in the same image, and the people rejoiced as one came to their own neighborhood, and it was good.
mkt. is different. Stowell fans will know this when they see that there is only one pasta on the menu (unheard of!)...
Right Wing Watch watches Glenn Beck so you don't have to.
Remember how the chairman of Barilla pasta said he prefers "traditional" families and that gay people should "eat another brand of pasta?" ThinkProgress's Zach Ford says the company is trying to make amends:
Among the changes is the creation of a Diversity & Inclusion Board that will include external experts and advocates who help Barilla improve the company’s culture with regard to “sexual orientation, gender balance, disability rights, and multicultural and intergenerational issues.” Among those who have joined that board is veteran LGBT activist David Mixner, who said he was impressed by the chairman’s willingness “to listen and learn from LGBT community leaders.”
This is a friendly reminder that sometimes, no matter what the depressing concern trolls in the comments say, boycotts do work. I don't think this news alone should be reason enough to end the Barilla boycott, but it is at least a sign that they're listening to criticism, and that they're motivated to try to do something about it. Stay tuned. And in the meantime, remember that there are other perfectly good pastas out there that aren't homophobic:
Mmmmm. Delicious, non-homophobic pasta. pic.twitter.com/SDpSJ8hlK1— Paul Constant (@paulconstant) October 2, 2013
This could very well be the new most beautiful bookstore in Seattle. Ada's Technical Books, the science-obsessed bookshop that's been thriving at the very end of Broadway for three and a half years now, is moving a few blocks up the hill to the old Horizon Books house on 15th Avenue East, with a grand opening party today at noon. Owners David and Danielle Hulton bought the house last May and have been renovating it ever since.
That year-and-a-half investment has paid off with a jackpot; when Hulton gives me a tour of her new space—David is a full partner and active in designing and working on the space, but Danielle is the day-to-day manager—I can't help but gush. Walking down what Hulton calls the store's "spine," you're dazzled by glass and repurposed wood—about 90 percent of the wood fixtures have been repurposed from the old space, including old doors that partially separate the airy cafe on the left from the tall stacks of books on the right. To riff on a famous Hemingway invention, the new bookstore is a clean, well-lighted place for books and the people who love them.
With its comfy seating and welcoming fireplace, Ada's is the kind of space where you just want to spend time. The store's sections—technical electronic manuals, computer guides, kids' books, science fiction, biographies of scientists, a small-but-sure-to-grow set of shelves for cookbooks and guides to the sciences of coffee and tea abutting the cafe space—all feel slightly foreign when compared to the liberal-arts-friendly sections found in most general-interest bookstores. They demand inspection. There are puzzles and games and science kits available. Plenty of outlets line the walls and floors for laptops—Hulton was an electrical engineer before she opened Ada's—and the back room features a convertible screen and projector that can be used during readings. For the first time, Ada's has an official events coordinator, and they intend to ramp up their already quite full calendar of book clubs, presentations, science talks, and traditional readings in the months ahead.
Hulton had never worked as a bookseller before, and she credits Ada's success in part to her lack of experience in the field. She sounds jaw-droppingly optimistic for a bookstore owner. "Books aren't going away," she says...
It's not a collection of food writing without recipes, and this year's Best Food Writing includes recipes for clam chowder, gingerbread cookies, and poached eggs with Canadian bacon on toast, among others. (I don't know exactly what a "Monkey Lovin' Mocha Mouthful" is, but I'd like to eat one now, please.)
But maybe the most important reason to buy a copy of this book is for the familiar name right up at the front, on page 12:
Congratulations to The Stranger's own Bethany Jean Clement, who has also previously appeared in Best Food Writing editions in 2012, 2009, and 2008. With a record like that, I think it's safe to say that The Stranger is home to one of the best food writers in the world.
Halfway between Ivar's and Gas Works Park is a magical place called Westward. When you see the big sign with the oyster shells piled up around its foot, in the middle of nowhere beneath the Burke-Gilman Trail on Northlake Way, you are here. (Assuming you're not arriving by boat, in which case, use your sextant and to hell with you.) You walk down the driveway, and there's a blazing hot fire surrounded by a ring of more oyster shells, and those surrounded by Adirondack chairs, with cozy blankets draped here and there. The view is of the city across the water to the south, a view you probably rarely see. On a recent sunny late afternoon, it all glinted and dazzled like an urban mirage; on a recent foggy night, ghosts of boats were barely visible, the water more a sound than a sight.
If you want to sit outside—if the weather permits—they'll bring you sparkling wine and oysters on the half shell and whatever else you like. Inside, you'll find a shipshape oyster bar and, adjoining but with its own door, Westward. By the host stand hang portraits of Captain Merrill Stubing (of the Pacific Princess), Captain Steve Zissou (the Belafonte), and two more seamen. The host doesn't know who the others are; one of them looks like the Gorton's fisherman. They're planning to add to their wall of captains...
I'd really rather not.
Remember Cremant, June, and/or Restaurant Bea? Ethan Stowell will be next to run a restaurant in the (great) Roy McMakin–designed space, and if anyone can make it work, he can. (UPDATE: More info on his blog.) (Idea: Real-time table-availability app for Ethan Stowell restaurants with some kind of Lyft-type shuttle to the one across town that has a table when your neighborhood's one is full. Free drinks for drivers while they wait! KIDDING. About that last part.)