While synonymous with "hearts" and "flowers" and "love" and "disappointment" and "fuck off, society, I'm single," let's be real, Valentine's Day is really just about one thing: SUGAR! Sugar doesn't care about your relationship status, it simply wants to take your taste buds out all night and show them how taste buds ought to be treated. Maybe you want to let your special person know how much you care by filling their backpack with candy (hint hint). Or maybe you don't have a sweetie, just a sweet tooth. Or maybe you're 8 years old. Whatever the case, drop that kale salad, you wet blanket—we're going on a fantastic drugstore journey to find out what's happening with candy this season!
We'll begin with the biggest outrage in Valentine's Day history: the great loss of the Sweethearts conversation hearts (as we knew them). In 2010, I was confused, and then disgusted, to find that while Sweethearts kept their packaging similar, they'd unexpectedly "updated" the 109-year-old recipe and changed the flavors, i.e., dipped them in something similar to aspartame-flavored hairspray, even adding blue-fucking-raspberry to the mix. That winter, I wrote to Necco many times about their poor judgment, and to see if there were any warehouses full of the old candies that someone could theoretically purchase (I was in a real state). They never responded.
Specializing in sugarcane-distilled delights, the cozy Havana-inspired lounge of Capitol Hill's Rumba (1112 Pike St, 583-7177) is a soothing place to pass a rainy winter evening. (The first syllable is pronounced like the liquor, not like the robot vacuum cleaner.) Better still, Rumba now offers inebriation at the hand of new bar manager Jim Romdall, formerly of downtown's now-closed Vessel. After a busy night of shaking multiple varieties of daiquiris and maybe a mai tai or two, Romdall reports that when he's not savoring a quiet drink at home—he boasts a private collection of 100 kinds of Scotch, making it pretty much "the perfect bar for him"—he prefers to patronize dive bars with specific perks...
[Eds. note: Rumba opens for happy hour in half an hour; also, tomorrow night you'll find the probably extremely fun Speed Rack after-party on the premises around 7 p.m.]
In case you have not
experienced the insanity had the pleasure yet, my colleague Emily Nokes is terrifyingly obsessed with very well-educated about and interested in drugstore candy—so much so that when she wrote this epic paean to mass-market Valentine's Day candy, we had to give it extra space in the paper because she wrote a LOT more than we had originally planned. (Also, lots of exclamation marks!!!!!)
But if you think Ms. Nokes is in any way discriminating in her sugar intake, you are incorrect. She will also eat fine, fine sweets carefully hand-crafted from the very best foodstuffs mere blocks away from the office at Jerry Traunfeld's great restaurant Poppy. The pastry chef there now—who has apparently inherited the magic of Dana Cree—is Matt Bumpas, and he was kind enough to drop off a care package for us here at the office.
We ate it all up. All sugar is good sugar to Ms. Nokes, but, objectively, Poppy's exquisite treats are entire universes better than M&M-Mars. Here are our and copyeditor Katie Allison's tasting notes, rendered unedited.
adorable little pinky-purple blood orange meringues
sweet and a tiny bit tart
They do not look bloody.
they melt in your mouth
crunchy and melty
angel nipples, says katie
mango lime marshmallows
beautiful pale yellow
they REALLY taste like lime
like a key lime pie
good, dense, not even remotely rubbery
a tropical party in my mouth
orange blossom turkish delight
I always wanted to like it because of the lion the witch and the wardrobe
you can taste the orange flecks... i'm a sucker for orange zest.
not too sweet
mint chocolate cookie crunch
way better version of Canada's Aero
airy and crumbly, yet rich and dense
"really good mint aftertaste"
ginger chip cookie
spicy little explosion every couple bites... in a good way
concord grape rosemary pates de fruits
"such a sophisticated flavor"
def. taste the rosemary...
real grape, deep purple
emily wants it encased in chocolate
Matt Bumpas says he's fermenting black rice for ice cream and using Moroccan, Cambodian, and Turkish ingredients in his sweet stuff at Poppy. Check out his entirely-delicious-looking dessert menu after the jump. (He's also going to do a stage with Cree at Blackbird in Chicago soon, which he's excited about.) I bet if you and your sweetheart got to Poppy right when they open at 5:30, you could get seats at the bar and enjoy the probably phenomenal dessert thali for two. Or just take your own damn self and eat it all up.
The Independent reports that a hotel restaurant in Anambra, Nigeria, has been shut down for, um, health code violations including SERVING HUMAN FLESH with two HUMAN HEADS WRAPPED IN CELLOPHANE found on the premises.
Human flesh was apparently being sold as an expensive treat at the restaurant, with authorities saying that roasted human head was even on the menu.
"I went to the hotel early this year, after eating, I was told that a lump of meat was being sold at N700, I was surprised," a pastor who had visited the eatery said.
"So I did not know it was human meat that I ate at such expensive price."
Eleven people were arrested and a bunch of guns and ammo was confiscated. Also, "so many cell phones."
The consensus around the office is that this is probably, horribly, real. The pastor above, who seems to be hanging out at unsavory places for a man of the cloth, went on to say:
"What is this country turning into? Can you imagine people selling human flesh as meat... Seriously, I’m beginning to fear people in this part of the world."
[Have you read this New Yorker story about Lagos? I'm surprised to find it's from 2006—I remember it vividly, still.]
Um, thanks, Meinert.
Insight into Christian Self-Perception: There will be two Christian-themed movies titled "Persecuted" coming out this year. In case you were wondering, the Christians are supposed to be the persecuted ones.
Sick of Being Number Two: Is Pepsi slowly getting out of the soda business?
There Are No Good Guys in This Story: Here's what happens after you write "I'm fucked in the head alright, I think I'ma SHOOT UP A KINDERGARTEN [sic]...AND WATCH THE BLOOD OF THE INNOCENT RAIN DOWN...AND EAT THE BEATING HEART OF ONE OF THEM" on Facebook and someone reports you to the cops.
Be Sure to Cook In a Clean, Well-Lighted Place: Here's Ernest Hemingway's hamburger recipe.
The Most Adorable Bookseller in Seattle: Seattle Mystery Bookshop has adopted a new bookstore dog. Even more adorably, that dog's name is Parker.
The Never-Ending Candle: All of a sudden, the internet can't get enough of this (almost) infinite candle concept, although some commenters wonder if this idea would work very well at all.
Yep! That's a Sinkhole, All Right: Here's video of that Corvette museum sinkhole from yesterday.
Militant vegans, prepare your wrath... Remember Cremant, June, and/or Restaurant Bea? Now Red Cow, Ethan Stowell's French brasserie, is open in the (great) Roy McMakin–designed space. The specialty of the house is steak frites, with six cuts of beef (from hanger to a big ol' bone-in ribeye for two) and four classic sauces (bearnaise, compound butter, red-wine reduction, and horseradish cream) available (how to choose?!). The chef is Thom Koschwanez, a Chicago native who was previously a sous chef at the James Beard–awarded Central Michel Richard in DC. (Coming soon to share the space: a separate Stowell spot called Noyer, a small-size redux of his original, haute, marvelous Union.)
And here are 14 more new Seattle restaurants... I kid you not.
If you haven't already made a dinner reservation for Valentine's Day, you better call quick—and have a second, and third, and fourth choice lined up. Then there's always buying some live crabs at Taylor or Pike Place or Uwajimaya and getting messy together at home... as a commenter says over here, "what could be more romantic than boiling alive hapless creatures and then eating them with a soon-to-be loved one? thanks for sharing that lovely picture." And you can always go out another night, when there aren't so many red roses all over the place.
But assuming you're going out with LOVE on your minds, whether it's Friday or Saturday or tonight or next week: What are Seattle's best romantic restaurants? Well, obviously, it depends. There's the kind of spending-a-lot-of-money, haute-cuisine, fine-dining-service type of romance of a place like Crush (betting they're all booked up for sure). There's the crowded-French-cafe, free-flowing-wine, best-salad-ever kind of romance of a place like Cafe Presse (no reservations required, plus you can drink bubbly while you wait and experience what Jordan Baker said: "I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy”). Some people (like me) would argue that eating tacos on a bus at Tacos al Asadero, is romantic, especially on a rainy evening (also no reservations).
In any case, here are all our recommended romantic restaurants in Seattle, in all their diverse glory (including Dick's! The couple that runs also-romantically-recommended, fancypants-and-great Altura met there, don't you know).
Whatever you do, don't forget Dan Savage's standard advice for Valentine's Day.
I love Rancho Bravo, and I eat there at least 3 times a week. I usually go for the burrito (compact, delicious) but I have the same problem every time I order one—I pick it up, take a bite, and the entire goddamn thing falls apart like it was made of quicksand. My technique is a grab in the middle with one hand, prop up gently while guiding it into my largest face hole with the other sort of thing, and it's served me well over time, becaue I always get delicious food in my face. NOT THIS TIME.
...asked in comments on the review of Restaurant Roux. Well, dear, sweet, innocent commenter Hanoumatoi: Whippets are when you inhale the nitrous oxide from a whipped-cream canister (or a balloon filled from a tank) to experience a momentary, probably brain-cell-killing high. People who work in the restaurant industry have good access to, ahem, experiment with different uses for nitrous oxide, and Roux's fizzy grapes are injected with it, making them fizzy inside, which is momentarily very strange and pretty great when you eat them. Maybe a little bit like doing a whippet... who knows.
Over in comments on my review of Restaurant Roux (GOOD LORD IT IS GOOD!), people are asking: Is it better than Marcela's in Pioneer Square?
Here's my review of Marcela's from 2008. About the owner:
Anthony McDonald is a charmer... If you think you can go to Marcela's Cookery without Anthony learning your name—if you think you're the kind of person who wants to be left alone while they eat—you're wrong. Anthony gets right up to the border of too-close-for-Seattle-comfort, warms up that heart of yours, and brings you with him (in spirit only, unfortunately) back to New Orleans, where he's from...
The food was pretty good, with some hits and some misses. The fried food and sandwiches were among the hits. Marcela's also has an insane mural:
In discussing the astounding rainbow-colored mural at the back of the restaurant, Anthony explains it's meant to represent "all walks of life"—with depictions of a bellhop, a surgeon, a fireman, etc.—saying in closing, "I don't know what the chicks are doin'." Anthony can get away with this. The accent helps. In fact, one of the women is clearly a chef, another an angel with notably prominent nipples. (Like I said: astounding. Also, everyone in the mural has a big glass of wine, including the surgeon in his facemask and scrubs. Health care, New Orleans–style! Let the good times roll.)
In my estimation, Restaurant Roux's food is better than Marcela's, by a long shot. But then Marcela's has its own bountiful charm, as noted above, and I haven't been there in a long time. Anyone else been to both? Or been to Marcela's lately?
Are there any other Creole places that are good? King Creole on Cherry was, but it's closed... here are all our recommended Southern restaurants in Seattle—are we missing anything?
Now I am hungry.
Good lord, that dinner at Roux was great. Not great as in a new, transcendent apex of haute cuisine; great as in—from start to finish—inarguably tasty and completely satisfying, and, when appropriate, actually spicy. And messy, too. Roux knows when you need a hot towel to clean your happy mitts.
This is what we ate that night.
Fried chicken gizzards ($5): Let us admit that gizzards can be gross. Gizzard, per Merriam-Webster: "the muscular enlargement of the alimentary canal of birds that has usually thick muscular walls and a tough horny lining for grinding the food." This does not sound delicious...
(Also, aw, shucks, and thanks so much, commenter Tracy!)
Now you know:
A chemical additive found in yoga mats and shoe rubber will no longer be included in Subway’s sandwich bread, the chain announced Thursday. The move comes after a petition started by blogger Vani Hari gained over 50,000 signatures, although a spokesperson for the company maintains that they were already planning on getting rid of it, anyway.
They were planning to get rid of that chemical additive just before—crazy coincidence!—people started finding out about it. Really!
Yesterday's announced partnership between Coca-Cola and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters will soon pay off in one dramatic way:
As part of the strategic collaboration, [Green Mountain] will be The Coca-Cola Company’s exclusive partner for the production and sale of The Coca-Cola Company-branded single-serve, pod-based cold beverages.
I stopped drinking Coke products about six months ago—I had a baaaaaaaad Diet Coke habit—and when it comes to soda, I almost exclusively drink carbonated water from my Sodastream nowadays. But I don't use the crappy proprietary Sodastream flavors; why trade up one sugary syrup for another? Instead, I add fresh fruit juice to my soda water. It's a hell of a lot more refreshing, and once you get sugary sodas out of your system, it tastes a lot better, too. But I'm sure these single-serving Coke pods™ will be cheaper than a bottle of Coke, and I'm also sure that plenty of Americans have been dreaming of having a proprietary Coke soda fountain in their homes for years. This feels like a deepening in the long-running relationship between Big Soda and the American people.
Today at 1:30, fast food workers earning poverty wages will testify in support of House Bill 2672, which would increase minimum wage to $12 over the course of three years. Everyone is still committed to winning a $15 minimum wage, but this would be a step in the right direction. This is happening just a week after McDonald's was handing out apples and information to the legislature, and two days before the legislature met to discuss lowering minimum wage for teenage workers.
There will also be something happening at City Hall on Thursday, but no details have emerged yet.
Fast food is the massive epicenter of this minimum wage debate; the $15 minimum wage protests started with fast food workers, and fast food restaurants employ over 2 million employees nationally, most of whom receive no benefits and rely on public assistance to make ends meet. Eight of the top ten fastest growing jobs pay poverty wages, and a recent survey shows that less than 10% of people who work for certain low-wage employers ever earn a living wage in their lifetime, so this struggle is real.
(Thank you for this tip, Sage!)
I watched the absolute destruction of the Broncos on a big screen at this location...
While watching the Broncos' nightmare, I thought about how rugby, the more manly form of this species of sport, was initially a game for the rich. In the 19th century, before the massification of calories, the poor did not have the kind of big bodies needed to handle the challenges and roughness of rugby. The rich, of course, did. How things have changed! In our time, the poor have more calories than they need (indeed, calories are killing them), and the players of this very rough American sport are drawn primarily from the lower classes. It's just a thought.
McDonald's was in Olympia on Monday for a restaurant day sponsored by the Washington Restaurant Association (WRA), handing out apples and literature about the economic and agricultural impact they make in the state. That isn't abnormal—lots of restaurants were there, and when I spoke to WRA President Anthony Anton he said that restaurants are encouraged to bring in literature reflecting their numbers and margins. But in light of the recent fast food walkouts, the fight to raise the minimum wage, and training wage bills being passed around Olympia, the timing is a little odd. McDonald's didn't mention any of those issues in the literature they were handing out.
• Sails & Ales—the Seattle Boat Show's beer-drinking, boat-looking-at event on Friday at CenturyLink Field—sounds weird enough that it might be fun.
• And also Saturday, the Lunar New Year Food Walk means tons of the restaurants in the ID are selling $2 snacks, with fireworks, dragon dances, etc.
And here's every Seattle food event ever—tonight, tomorrow, this weekend, and for all time.
Oh my gosh, you have to see this.
I purchased this at what we now refer to as “the freak sale.” It was in a box of wacky pamphlets that were priced at a firm $1 each. This was the only one I decided was worth it. And let me tell you, I have definitely gotten my dollar’s worth of entertainment from this baby! It’s like the Bad ’80s Hair edition of Awkward Family Photos, crossed with Gallery of Regrettable Food: The Next Generation.
Hat tip—helmet tip?—to Bess Lovejoy for the link.
This week, a bunch of Stranger writers tell true stories from the intersection of food and lust—romantic dinners, dates gone wrong, stuff like that. Brendan Kiley writes about how he proposed marriage over a tray of oysters, Ellen Forney draws a comic about almost setting the house on fire while trying to make dinner for her boyfriend, Ansel Herz fesses up about something he did at the Space Needle... The stories are so good we might have to make this an annual thing.
Commenters are adding love + dinner stories of their own. Here's commenter Griffin's:
Valentine's Day 2010, Mr. Griffin and I were involved in a huge interstate pileup with something like 200 vehicles in the accident field and 37 collisions (I stopped but 5 cars behind me didn't) that shut down I-29 for 2 days. Fortunately, there were no fatalities and only 2 minor injuries despite the number of vehicles.
Our Valentine's dinner was eating Red Cross shelter popcorn, filling out accident reports, and trying to call our insurance to start filing claims.
And by the way, if you're looking for a place to eat on V-Day, here are all the restaurants in the city we recommend. (Narrow it down by neighborhood or other criteria there on the left.)
I have a Killer Cold From Outer Space. And it's been kicking my ass since last Saturday. Like everybody and their mother [in Seattle] recommends, I've been eating many, many bowls of pho—mostly chicken or tofu. And I frickin' love pho. I really, really do! Yesterday, when I had a fever, I even dreamt I went swimming in a very large bathtub full of it.Bisquick style. Since there's nowhere here to get such a weird thing—I went to Rancho Bravo for their chicken soup—for green pozole.
For a miserable cold, chicken pozole is better than chicken pho. There, I said it. For one, it's almost impossible to get a bowl of chicken pho for under $10 anymore. For two, Rancho Bravo's green chicken pozole is more "comfort-food-y"—the broth is fattier and richer and the chicken is more random and chunky, with both dark and white meat. It comes out piping hot, and for only $4.95 for a large cup, you also get a side of cilantro, radish, and three warm corn tortillas.
As my Aunt would say, "$4.95?!? You can't beat that with a sharp stick."
Over on HuffPo, Alinea's Grant Achatz says it's to heat the hell out of a (IMPORTANT: NOT non-stick) pan.
Here is The accompanying video, which does not seem especially enlightening but does have frantic music, [UPDATE] won't even show up here but isn't really worth watching anyway. Anybody had luck with the ultra-hot-pan method of steak-cooking?
(And if you haven't read this New Yorker profile of Grant Achatz, you should.)
I order a bottle of sparkling wine, Montmartre Brut. A fluted glass is placed in front of me by a woman who is dressed in black. The bartender pours, re-corks, and, before she can return the bottle to the fridge behind her, realizes that I'm already waiting for the second glass. (The first drink is always in fact the second; the first drink is never there, it's a zero, an empty space; the second drink becomes the first by filling the void left by that thing that never in reality happened.) The wine is properly chilled, balanced, not very bubbly, and dry. Above the bar hangs the head of an animal. Its glassy eyes stare into an air that's filled with music. The tune above my head is "Salvation Song" by the Avett Brothers (Wikipedia: "roots rock," "indie rock," "neo-folk"). "We came for salvation/We came for family/We came for all that's good, that's how we'll walk away," sing the Avett Brothers, who come from Concord, North Carolina.
The story of the buffalo wing is a story of triumph. Someone in Buffalo, New York, in the middle of the last century—accounts of the creator's identity vary—discovered a use for a chicken part that had traditionally been trashed or humbly reserved for stock or industrial food purposes. And the use they found for the ugly old wings that everyone else tossed out? Slather them in butter and hot sauce, and serve them with blue cheese and an entire roll of paper towels, preferably in the middle of a large and raucous sporting event. From garbage to beloved snack in a matter of decades? That's American ingenuity at its finest!
I'm not a sports fan at all—at all—but Super Bowl season always instills in me a deep-seated craving for a good, sloppy plate of buffalo wings. A table full of people eating wings is never pretty: faces and hands smeared with a hyperactive orange sauce, trays of small, slick bones everywhere, plugs of juicy meat dipped into a cheese sauce that dribbles, inevitably, everywhere, and mountains of crumpled paper towels growing higher by the second, punctuated by thirsty gulps from greasy glasses of beer. Aesthetically, it's a nightmare. But the symphony of clashing flavors that somehow build to a perfectly balanced experience is a very specific itch that can only be scratched in one very specific way.
If you're thinking about eating buffalo wings in Seattle, one name dominates the conversation: Wing Dome. The local chain—despite the corporate feel, Wing Dome's only branches are in Kirkland, Kent, and Greenwood—has branded itself as virtually the only buffalo-wing expert in the region. A lunchtime visit to the Greenwood location affirmed that they've certainly got the trappings of a wing place down...
Eastern Cafe inhabits a ballroom-like space in the International District that stood vacant for three years before owner I-Miun Liu signed the lease. I-Miun hired a contractor who removed the drywall and carpet to reveal beautifully weathered mint-green and yellow cement walls and the space's original fir floors. With simple lighting and changing local artwork (currently a mixed-media show by Aung Robo), the place is appealingly industrial without any distressed-jeans-esque overkill. The building is more than 100 years old, built as a hotel for railway workers; the rooms upstairs are now rented as apartments.
I-Miun, whose background is in economics and banking, also owns a nearby bubble tea shop, Oasis. He wanted to open a type of business that doesn't exist anywhere else in the neighborhood...
There are people who care deeply about whether or not everything on their plates has been grown within a hundred miles. But do they care about the person who's serving? —Gloria Steinem
The overall idea is that your tip money will make up the $5.12/hr you need to meet the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hr), but that greatly depends on where you live and the overall kindness of others. According to this survey, servers are two times more likely to use food stamps, which is particularly insulting since they work around food all day. Two-thirds of tipped workers are women, contributing to a very gendered view of poverty, and tipped workers only earn enough to meet the federal minimum wage in 7 states. And that's the bright side, assuming your customers don't use racism or homophobia to avoid tipping you anything at all.
The most sobering statistic of all? The last time minimum wage was raised for restaurant workers (1991), Paula Abdul had a hit single. For the love of MC Skat Kat, join the fight for 15 dollars an hour.
Brought to you by the Wandering Goose’s Michael Law, located in the former Anita’s Crepes spot in Frelard, Bourbon & Bones smokes local meats in its huge-ass, on-site smokehouse, which has a window so you can watch the meat. Also: fried chicken and all the usual sides, plus tons of booze, all in a cozy barroom setting. Here is the menu:
Dear lord (and Michael Law), please make this barbecue really, really great—Seattle has suffered enough in this department.
Tully's Coffee dropped off some coffee and a box of cronuts—which they call crodelles because cronut is copyrighted—and we are all losing our MINDS.
Anna: "My mom let me get my ears pierced for my 11th birthday, and I have not been happier since that day."
Danielle: "Dropping out of school was the best decision of my life!"
Krishanu: "No photos, please."
Emily: "Oh, candy!"
I'm double-fisting coffee, hopped up on sugar, and so excited I can't see straight. Thank you, Tully's!
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