Seattle Outsider Musings

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The  “Oscars of the Food World
On the local food scene this past week, longtime Seattle chef Renee Erickson of The Whale Wins was named a finalist for the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Northwest for the first time.  Other finalists in the category, who have been nominated
multiple times, include Ethan Stowel of Ethan Stowel Restaurants
and Canlis chef Jason Franey  (the latter misnamed “Jeff” by Travel Channel’s apparently confused “The Layover” host Anthony Bordain in a recent visit he made to the Emerald City…)

Other Seattle area JBA finalists include: Blaine Wetzel of the Willows Inn on Lummi Island (named for Rising Star Chef of the Year); Westward on North Lake Union for Restaurant Design & Graphics – for restaurants with 75 seats and under; Shauna James Ahern and Daniel Ahern of Vashon Island in the Focus on Health Division for “Gluten-Free Girl Every Day”; and, named in the video webcast awards for
“Cook Smarter.”

The full list of finalists is online at  Winners in the restaurant & chef categories will be announced on May 15 at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in New York City.


Tiny Tim in the Tulips Tiptoe Thru The Tulips lyrics

Ok, Seattleites…  Raise your hands if you’re ready to celebrate the official
arrival of spring.  (That’s what I thought.  You can put your hands down

What better way to get into the spirit of the season than a trip
to the Pacific Northwest’s most colorful and photo-friendly festival: the
April 2014 annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.  Enjoy the specter of
hundreds of acres of brilliant, multi-colored tulip fields and bulb farm gardens
in America’s largest tulip-growing region (second only to Holland in the

Book an eight-hour day trip with Customized Tours for any
Saturday during the month of April.  The Adult fare of $92 includes entrance
fees for Tulip Town and Roozengaarde.  (Bonus: Enjoy visiting the easily
walkable nearby scenic & historic waterfront village of La Conner.)   Go to, or call (888) 554-TOURS [8687] for further info,
and tip-toe through the tulips with meeeeeeee…


And speaking of spring, do I ever have the perfect seasonal recipe for you to enjoy: Mario
Batali’s (slightly-tweaked) SPRING PASTA WITH BLISTERED CHERRY TOMATOES, courtesy of Kitchen

Serving Size: 6;   Prep Time: 45 minutes.;   Total Time: 1 hour

1-1/4 lbs.         Broccolini, thick stems halved lengthwise
2                       Garlic cloves, sliced
1/4 cup            Extra virgin olive oil (aka EVOO, thanks to Rachel Ray), preferably first cold-pressed
2 Tbsp.             EVOO (reserved)
Flakey sea salt
1/4 tsp. each   Crushed red pepper flakes & freshly ground black pepper
2 lbs.                 Yellow & red cherry tomatoes
6                        Scallions, white & tender green parts only, cut into 1-inch lengths
1 bunch            Asparagus, cut into 1-1/2 inch lengths
1 lb.                   Malfadine or other curly, wide noodles
2 Tbsp.            Unsalted butter
1/4 cup            Chopped flat leaf (Italian) parsley
1/2 cup            Shaved semi-firm ricotta salata cheese*, for garnish
* Editor’s note: The cheese of Sicily is rustic, often salty (hence the term salata).  Ricotta
salata does not have a rind.  It is made from fresh ricotta that has been salted
and pressed into the shape of a wheel of cheese and then aged for several
months.  For a denser, richer alternative, use Pecorino romano for the above

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a bowl, toss the broccolini and garlic with 1/4 cup of the olive oil (EVOO) and season with salt & pepper; spread on a rimmed baking sheet.  In another bowl, toss the tomatoes with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 tablespoons of sea salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper and spread on a separate baking sheet.  Roast the vegetables for about 25 minutes until the broccolini is tender and charred in
spots, and the tomatoes are very juicy but not broken down.
2.  Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the scallions until just softened,
about 1 minute.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the scallions to a bowl.  Add
the asparagus to the pot and blanch until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes.  Using
a slotted spoon, transfer the asparagus to the bowl.
3.  Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until just al dente.  Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
4.  Return the cooked pasta to the pot.  Add the roasted broccolini, scallions, asparagus, butter, crushed red pepper and half of the parsley.  Add the reserved hot pasta water and toss together.  Gently fold in the roasted tomatoes and any juices; season with salt and pepper.  Garnish with the shaved cheese and the remaining parsley.  Serve immediately, paired with your favorite Italian red or white wine.
Buon appetito, and don’t forget to invite me over for dinner…


Say It Isn’t So, Joe!
In the sports department, my former home state college basketball team, University of
Delaware’s fightin’ Blue Hens, got c-r-e-a-m-e-d by Michigan State in the
first round of March Madness.  Worse yet, U.D. coach Monty Ross
didn’t take a call from Vice President and U.D. alumnus Joe Biden to
extend his personal good luck wishes before the start of the game.  Betcha Ross
won’t ignore calls on his cell phone the next time he sees a 202 area code
displayed on his cell phone’s caller ID.  (It’s doubtful the veep’s good
intentions would’ve done much to alter the final lopsided 93 – 78 losing



Condolences go out to family and friends of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
passengers and crew members.  Related efforts here in the Puget Sound are
based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, where a P-3C Orion maritime
patrol craft was dispatched March 9 to assist with the ongoing search.

In other aviation disaster news, Seattleites are mourning the death of pilot
Gary Pfitzner, 59, and photojournalist Bill Strothman, 62, who
perished in a KOMO-TV helicopter crash in front of the Space Needle early
Tuesday morning.  The 35-year-old driver of a car struck by the downed
helicopter, Richard Newman, remains in serious condition in the
intensive-care unit of Harborview Medical Center…

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