Seattle to be in “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”

Categories: food,seattle — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — Posted by: Grant @ August 11, 2008 : 11:54 am

Guy Fieri - Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

Fans of the Food Network show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” may be happy to know that Seattle is going to be in one of the upcoming shows early next year. The show, which predictably features diners, drive-ins and dives, with host Guy Fieri, travels around the country looking for good grubbing in both the classic and most unlikeliness of places.

I mention this because we were contacted a few days ago by someone on the crew of Page Productions who was essentially asking us for some recommendations for restaurants in the Seattle area to be on the show. We thought it was pretty cool for a show on the Food Network to ask us, so we happily obliged with a list of places below. So if you see any of these on the show next year, you’ll know who got them there! :)

  • Dick’s Drive-In (We don’t need to tell you why)
  • XXX (Triple X Rootbeer in Issaquah)
  • Red Mill Burgers
  • Beth’s Cafe (12 egg omelette anyone?)
  • Gorditos (For those baby sized burritos)
  • Ezell’s Famous Fried Chicken (Because everyone besides us seems to like them)
  • Market House Corned Beef (Making their own corned beef since 1948 and on our must-review list)
  • Dixie’s BBQ (“The Man” sauce is all you need to know)
  • Paseo (We just went here and the review is up soon, but those Cuban pork burgers do live up to their rep)
  • Fu Man Dumpling House (Handmade dumplings from scratch)
  • Jade Garden (Arguably the most popular dim sum in Seattle)
  • Top Gun

We even asked the crew member to send us some promotional materials that we can give away to you, our foodie readers, but we’ll see if they play ball with us. After sending a two-page, food passionate email, the production company returned the favor with a one-lined, “Thanks for the suggestions” email, ha! That’s like asking a waiter to list every recommendation across three menus and then saying, “Hmm… I’ll go with a hot dog!”

I guess I’ll refrain from the ripping unless we get some goods :)

Pictures from Mailbox Peak

Categories: seattle — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Posted by: Grant @ April 14, 2008 : 11:01 am

Mailbox Peak
(Sawyer takes a break on top of Mailbox Peak)

Mailbox Peak
(A shot from the summit overlooking the Cascades)

Just a few shots from my hiking trip this weekend to Mailbox Peak, a 6 mile round trip hike with an elevation gain of 3,996 feet. This may sound impressive, but these pictures were taken by my friend Richard, as I struggled most of the way up and surrendered with about an hour left before the summit. My year as a food reviewer flashed before my eyes, with the dozens of stored pork bellies, tiramisus and butter soaked entrees clamoring for a spot to put the final TKO to my legs and knees. For the uninitiated, let me tell you, Mailbox Peak is not for the faint of heart.

Bryan might have a more interesting post (or even article) on the merits of hiking prepared, due to a rather interesting series of events on the mountain. I would personally say that my lesson learned is to scout out your destination on hiking boards, print out topographical maps and consult other errata before embarking on your trip. Especially (oh do I mean this) if the difficulty scale consistently ranks as ‘most difficult’, 4/4 or 5/5 according to the experts.

The previous week, our group had gone to the ever-popular Mount Si, located right at North Bend. It’s an 8 mile hike with about a 3,500 ft elevation gain and while not ‘easy’ (at least to an out of shape food critic), it does have great views and a trail that is readily identifiable. Highly recommended if you’re just wanting a nice hike and are in decent shape. Little Si, just next door, is a better hike for those more recreational hikers or not-so-in-shape.

Thai Ground Pork with Pineapple (Sorta)

Categories: food — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — Posted by: Grant @ March 25, 2008 : 9:28 pm

Thai Pineapple Turkey

Thai Pineapple Turkey, 2

Ingredients:
1 lb ground pork (I used ground turkey)
1 ripe, medium pineapple
1 cucumber
2 teaspoons pepper
4 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons olive oil
mortar and pestle
(optional) 1 thai red chili pepper
(optional) small bunch of cilantro
(optional) small bunch of sliced carrots

I know, Grant isn’t posting about geek stuff for a change. After so much eating out, reviews and coding, I’ve decided to take some time off over the next month. I’m going to re-acquaint myself with some long lost hobbies- namely, cooking!

This my interpretation of a common Thai dish that is easy to make, healthy and tastealicious to boot! It has the nice variety of textures and taste that transition from the aromatic meat, to juicy pineapple and ending with the crisp crunch of fresh cucumbers. It’s traditionally cooked with pork, but I substituted ground turkey as I generally don’t eat red meat when eating at home (blame the BSE).

First, grab that mortar and pestle (or a shiny food processor) and pour in the chopped garlic, chopped cilantro, pepper and 1 tablespoons of olive oil. Grind to a nice paste- I find crushing vs swirling motions works best- and then set resulting cilantro paste aside.

Next, take a medium wok or skillet and coat with 1 tbs of olive oil. While the wok is heating, mix the cliantro paste with the meat evenly. When the wok is hot, put in the meat. Let the underside sizzle a little bit and brown a bit before stirring. Repeat process and break apart meat clumps until no longer pink. The cooking should be relatively short, around 3-5 minutes.

If cooking with ground turkey: Those familiar with ground turkey or ground chicken will know that using it as a substitute for ground pork or beef is always a challenge. The texture (and taste) don’t always travel over. In this Thai recipe, I had quite some difficulty breaking the turkey apart after hitting the wok as the meat simply clumped into large, play dough sized balls of meat. Mmmm… clumps of meat, how enticing! What I did was take the meat out while there was still a little pink and place it on a foil covered tray. I then covered the top with tinfoil and beat the chunks with a meat tenderizer (make sure you use the FLAT side). After a bit of pounding, take off the top foil and viola – nice little meat bits. Put back in wok and then cook until done.

Turn off the heat and set wok aside. Now take the pineapple, cut off the top and bottom and then take off the sides. Slice the rest into slices using a hexagonal pattern around the center core, then cube into pineapple chunks. Next, slice cucumber into slices.

Plating is very easy- arrange cucumbers around in circular or square pattern. Line the inside with a double stacked row of pineapple chunks, forming a little center to place the meat. Optionally, before placing the meat, you can put in some long carrot slices for garnish. After that, scoop the meat into the center of the dish into a mound that eventually pleasingly spills over the pineapples and cucumbers. It should look like a nice volcano of juicy meat. Garnish with fresh cilantro and also sliced red chili and serve!

The Battle of the Bulge: Eating for a Living

Categories: food,news,restaurants — Tags: , , , , , , — Posted by: Grant @ March 23, 2008 : 10:09 pm

The New York Post posted an article today on what it means to be part of the Fat Pack. If you’re thinking that this is another common newsbite on the life of unhealthy, over-weight Americans who love McDonalds, you would be quite mistaken. At least about the McDonalds part.

The Fat Pack is actually a reference to the army of taste testing gluttons making up the food writing, culinary and review industry. It’s an exclusive club of sorts that meets at fine dining establishments, espouses secretive French lingo and gushes over the wonderful qualities of… fat.


The journalists, bloggers, chefs and others who make up the Fat Pack combine an epicure’s appreciation for skillful cooking with a glutton’s bottomless-pit approach. Cramming more than three meals into a day, once the last resort of a food critic on deadline, has become a way of life. If the meals center on meat, so much the better.

Even to those who have been in the game long enough to have seen more than a few cycles of food and diet fads, the Fat Pack culture is a shock.

“Most of us who are in this profession are here as an excuse to eat,? said Mimi Sheraton, the food writer and former New York Times restaurant critic who has chronicled her own battle with weight loss. Still, she said, “I’ve never seen such an outward, in-your-face celebration of eating fat.?

Research has shown that Americans generally take a dim view on their obese counterparts. The overweight are paid less, make negative first impressions and denied more services when compared to their thinner counterparts. Yet in the food industry, being fat is almost looked on as proof of one’s passion of eating. Portly bellies proudly attest to years in the gladiatorial arena of silver forks and spoons. Looking in the mirror each morning, I can attest to the fact that my own body is slowly working it’s way toward the uniquely dubious honor. Ironically, I mention this all the while chewing away at a coconut pastry passed my way (bit firm, too much coconut flakes on the outside, not enough taste infused into the actual bread).

I’ve said it multiple times and I’ll say it again: it’s actually not that fun eating for a living. Don’t get me wrong, I love food. This job would be a living hell if I didn’t like food. Not to mention, I wouldn’t ever hear the end of it from the throngs of would-be critics. After all, who wouldn’t be jealous at a life of gluttony when compared to a life of bland prix fixe: the hour commute appetizer, eight to five entree and casual Friday desert. Like any fantasy however, the illusion disappears when the wizard yanks away the curtain.

For a food critic, the magical revelations come in the form of jeans that no longer fit, uncomfortably tight shirts, a rise in cholesterol and increases in blood pressure. Then there’s the sudden aversion to any restaurant we have already sampled (it’s our version of repeating work). However, the true icing on the cake rears it’s mouthful of glory when we’re in our prime environment- a new, virgin restaurant. Prior to peeking at the menu, comes the fore knowledge that no less than three plates are sure to grace the table for consumption. Damn if those overstuffed, caloric soaked stomachs plead to the contrary. Just like you wouldn’t miss out on pizza in Chicago, we’re not about to pass up the tour du jour of antipasto, primi, secondi and dolce.

As if motivations for over-eating aren’t around each corner, there’s a never ending list of restaurant recommendations. We certainly appreciate suggestions, though it has become an impossibly long list. Imagine yourself a cook walking through Costco, only to have every customer shove a cart full of food for you to prepare. That’s about the gist of our interactions. The definition of awkward occurs when we do take someone up on a recommendation, only to find that the food is quite awful to our palettes. As politically correct as I can spin the tale of different tastes for different people, I’m still don’t find myself above lying to avoid a few embarrassing situations.

Yes, I know, I’m bad. But please, don’t stop sending recommendations. I swear, I totally love those sweet and sour pork globs at the karaoke bar down the street. Honest :)

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