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Let it rain; let it rain, let it rain… (as the song goes)
So much for forecasts of a warm, dry El Nino winter!
As you probably already know, Seattle now “boasts” the wettest rainy season since record-keeping of such regional weather-related data began in 1894.
Silver lining? Snow would’ve been much worse. So there, rain snobs!
Say it isn’t so, James!
“Seattle Chefs Get Screwed by James Beard Blunder”, screamed the February 19 Eater Seattle headline. Wassup with that, you ask? Plenty and it isn’t pretty…
As reported by ES’s Adam H. Callaghan, a screwup in this year’s James Beard Awards voting process may leave local chefs Dustin Ronspies (Art of the Table) and Rachel Yang & Seif Chirchi (Joule) out in the cold.
The James Beard Foundation announced semifinalists for its prestigious annual awards this week, after which its anonymous regional panelists, former winners, and committee members vote on who should move to the shortlist of nominees (tba March 15).
Despite an apologetic email to anyone who had already voted since Wednesday (Feb. 17), the JBF admitted that ballot semifinalists Ronspies, Yang and Chirchi were “omitted” from the Best Chef Northwest category.
“If they want to revote, voters must recast their entire ballot; if they do nothing, their original selections will stand”, Callaghan reported, adding “It’s possible many procrastinators wait until the deadline to pick nominees. Yet for anyone who was on the ball, the extra time and effort required to set things right suggests few will revote, and the three chefs affected are at a serious disadvantage.”
WM will keep you posted on how this unfortunate situation plays out… Meantime, here are some other 2016 James Beard Award semifinalists in the great state of Washington:
>Best New Restaurant (A restaurant opened in the calendar year before the award will be given that already displays excellence in food, beverage, and service, that is likely to make a significant impact in years to come) – Girin Steakhouse & Ssam Bar, Seattle
>2016 Outstanding Baker (A chef or baker who prepares breads, pastries or desserts in a retail bakery, and who serves as a national standard-bearer of excellence. Must have been a baker or pastry chef for at least five years) – Evan Andres, Columbia City Bakery, Seattle
>Outstanding Bar Program (A restaurant or bar that demonstrates excellence in cocktail, spirits and/or beer service) – Canon, Seattle
>Outstanding Chef (A working chef in America whose career has national industry standards and who has served as an inspiration to other food professionals. Eligible candidates must have been working as a chef for the past five years) – Matt Dillon, Bar Sajor, Seattle; Jerry Traunfeld, Poppy, Seattle
>Outstanding Pastry Chef (A chef, or baker, who prepares desserts, pastries or breads in a restaurant and who serves as a national standard-bearer of excellence. Must have been a pastry chef, or baker, for the past five years) – Junko Mine, Café Juanita, Kirkland, WA
>Outstanding Restaurant (A restaurant in the United States that serves as a national standard-bearer of consistent quality and excellence in food, atmosphere and service. Eligible restaurants must have been in operation 10 or more consecutive years) – Lark, Seattle
>Outstanding Restaurateur (A working restaurateur who sets high national standards in restaurant operations and entrepreneur. Candidates must have been in the restaurant business for at least 10 years. Candidates must not have won a James Beard Foundation award in the past five years) – Ethan Stowell, Ethan Stowell Restaurants, Seattle (Staple & Fancy, How to Cook a Wolf, Anchovies & Olives, and others)
>Outstanding Service (A restaurant in operation five or more years that demonstrates high standards of hospitality and service) – Café Juanita, Kirkland, WA
>Outstanding Wine Program (A restaurant in operation five or more years that serves as a standard bearer for excellence in wine service through a well-presented wine list, knowledgeable staff and efforts to educate customers about wine) – Canlis, Seattle; Wild Ginger, Seattle
>Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional (A beer, wine or spirits professional who has made a significant national impact on the restaurant industry) – Wayne Carpenter, Skagit Valley Malting, Burlington, WA
>Rising Star of the Year (A chef age 30 or younger who displays an impressive talent and who is likely to make a significant impact on the industry in years to come) – Jay Blackinton, Hogstone Wood Oven, Orcas Island, WA; Maximillian Petty, Eden Hill, Seattle
>Best Chef: Northwest (Chefs who have set new, or consistent, standards of excellence in their respective regions. Eligible candidates may be from any kind of dining establishment and must have been working as a chef for at least five years with the three most recent years spent in the region) – Eric Donnelly, RockCreek, Seattle; Mike Easton, Il Corvo Pasta, Seattle; Renee Erickson, The Whale Wins, Seattle; Adam Hegsted, The Wandering Table, Spokane, WA; Edouardo Jordan, Salare, Seattle; Nathan Lockwood, Altura, Seattle; Dustin Ronspies, Art of the Table, Seattle; Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi, Joule, Seattle
That’s all they wrote, folks..
Q: Why is Cupid a symbol for Valentine’s Day? (Scroll down for the answer)
Hopefully, you’ve done the right thing and made plans to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your beloved. WM and her sweetie went stepping out to Attic Secrets Cafe & Tea, in nearby Marysville, to partake of its Serenity Tea for Two–a Groupon gift she received from her daughter at Christmastime. Thanks Natalie!
WM’s not certain what else might be in store for her on this special holiday dedicated to lovers, but let’s just say she’s leaving her options open…
WM with Attic Secrets Café & Tea waiter, Jordan.
The Drumpf (not a misspelling) Factor
Now on to other news… This being an election year with a certain Republican presidential hopeful, for better or worse, dominating the political headlines, here’s a little historical ditty on Donald Trump most folks don’t know.
Turns out you can blame Seattle for the early beginnings of his family’s rise to fame and fortune.
According to a July 28, 2015 Curbed Seattle article, by writer Sean Keeley, the Trump story literally began in Seattle where Trump’s grandfather, German-born immigrant Friedrich Drumpf, changed his name to Fred Trump. The New York City transplant moved to Seattle in 1891 and launched a late-night restaurant in the seedy part of town. Fred Trump’s business shared space with opium dens and brothels–an arrangement grandpa Fred would learn to take full advantage of. (Seems “the Donald” comes by his err…entrepreneurial skills naturally).
Click on http://seattle.curbed.com/archives/2015/07donald-trump-seattle-fred–drumpf-restuarant-hotel.php for a fascinating read on how the candidate we love to hate got to the lofty place where he is today, by way of Seattle (of all places–yikes!)
Speaking of outsiders, ever wonder where all the Seattle newcomers are coming from (notwithstanding this transplant who hails from the great state of Delaware)?
The answer to that vexing question is all spelled-out in Curbed Seattle’s February 9, 2016 article written by Tom Trimbath on the subject. According to Trimbath, so many people are moving to Seattle that demand in the housing market is rising faster than supply–a no brainer for Seattleites who struggle finding affordable places to live here.
“It takes less time to pack up a U-Haul and drive across country than it does to build a house”, says Trimbath. “But, where are they (now part of we) coming from?”
California, Arizona and Illinois, according to Trimbath.
“Sparefoot put together a census of where newbies came from. The top five out-of-state cities are 1.) Los Angeles, 2) Phoenix, San Diego, 4) Portland and 5) Chicago.
“Californians moving to Seattle is an old stereotype, especially when their real estate markets are profitable enough to create cash sales here. Phoenix can be a bit of a surprise, maybe the drought that hit California convinced some Arizonans to decide to get wet for a while. Has Portland become become so trendy that the trend is to move to the next city up I-5? At least they already know good coffee, beer and have the right clothes.
“Chicago may be fifth, but considering its size, they could be the start of a new trend with a lot of people behind it; especially when they learn there’s a lot less to shovel around here–while also being able to drive to record setting snowpacks.
But the huge influx of newbies to Seattle is not all due to out-of-staters.
According to Sparefoot’s census, about 50% of the many new Seattleites came from within the state (Snohomish, Pierce, Spokane,Clark and Kitsap counties).
“The local moves from neighboring counties is easy enough to understand”, says Trimbath, chalking such transplants up to either job relocations, commute decisions, or maybe a desire to be closer to Seattle’s cultural activities…
According to Trimbath, few, if any, are moving here because of more affordable real estate (another no-brainer). Seattle’s median house price is $530,100 vs. L.A. at $562,800; Phoenix at $187,200; San Diego at $528,700; Portland at $345,500; Chicago at $199,500; Snohomish County at $344,300; Pierce County at $256,800; Spokane County at $174,300, Clark County at $271,00 and Kitsap County at $279,700.
So, dear reader, if you’re considering relocating to Seattle, prepare yourself for some serious sticker shock when it comes to real estate. Perhaps you might want to consider moving to the Sun Belt, where, unlike here, continuous rain is a relatively rare weather phenomenon. Do pack a snow shovel, though, just in case…
WM, wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day!
A: Cupid is part of the Valentine’s Day iconography thanks to his historical association with classical Greek and Roman love stories. The Roman love god, Cupid, known as Eros, in the ancient Greek religious tradition, was the son of the Roman goddess of love, Venus, or Aphrodite, in Greek stories. To know more go to: http://get.smarter.com/qa/holidays-celebrations/cupid-symbol-valentine-s-day-608ea5accc023ccf?ad=dirN&ap=google.com&o=32235#
As this latest edition of Seattle Outsider Musings is being written, the Seahawks-less Superbowl showdown is about to unfold in less than an hour. WM finds this a painfully difficult exercise but one that she must nonetheless rise above to get her message out there to her fan base (some of whom may not happen to be the least bit interested in football, and that’s quite all right with her!)
So, may the best team win (although the real “best” team won’t actually be on the field)… The half-time show should be fun, though, with headliners Coldplay, Bruno Mars and Beyonce (hopefully sans any wardrobe malfunctions!)
In Other Peripheral Super Bowl-Related News
Even though the home team won’t be playing in this year’s 50th Anniversary Big Game, WM has taken solace in preparing food for the occasion. WM invites her readers to click on the link below for Eater’s take on the Superbowl-obligatory chicken wings. WM herself is about to get her version fired-up for her guests to devour while assembled in her living room in front of the big screen TV.
Happy Super Bowl, dear reader, and may your chicken wings turn out to be MVPs.
Belated happy 2016, dear reader. We know you’ve missed receiving Seattle Outsider Musings blogs we send to your inbox, um…somewhat irregularly. Absence makes the heart fonder, we would like to think…
Fret no more! We’re happily back on track after an extended holiday hiatus, and raring to cover all the news that’s not necessarily fit to print (after all, this ain’t the NY Times, but our East Coast/Left Coast perspective is probably much more fun to read, right?
Seattle Outsider Musings diva, aka Wordsmith Maggie, would like to devote her first 2016 edition with a tribute to and appreciation of Duke Moscrip–founder of Duke’s Restaurants, and his co-author Executive Chef “Wild” Bill Ranniger for this year’s hot-off-the-press cookbook: Duke’s Chowder House–As Wild as it Gets, Duke’s Secret Sustainable Seafood Recipes Including Intimate Tales of the Legend Himself.
Oh, no–not another cookbook, you say? Sure, there’s a glut of ’em out there, but this one isn’t just different–it’s beyond extraordinary, from start to finish.
The best way WM can describe this glossy four-color coffee table tome is that it is a love letter to Moscrip’s extended family. By that WM is referring to his homage to his older brother, Bill, aka Bubba, his parents and grandparents, his two adult children, four grandkids (“the next generation of chefs”), his new bride whom Duke recently married after 30-plus years as a bachelor (lucky girl!), and his very loyal staff of head chefs, each averaging 15 years of employment at Duke’s–an amazing achievement considering the traditional high turnover rate in the restaurant business. Not to be outdone, Executive Chef “Wild” Bill Ranniger has devoted over 20 years to helping build the brand’s success.
And then there’s Duke’s tireless Marketing Director and “leader of the [AWAIG’s] pack”, Bettina Carey, appearing in a sweet two-page spread clinking a glass of white wine with the legend himself. And, lastly, the trusted Duke’s Chowder House corporate team which includes Duke’s son and business partner, John Moscrip, as COO. “We have the unique opportunity to create special moments with our guests every day”, John says, adding “I love that passion and could not imagine doing anything else!”
Speaking of wine, Duke makes a surprising claim in the Wine By The Glass section of the book that back in 1976 he was the first to introduce serving varietals by the glass to his customers. Prior to that time, people ordering wine with dinner had to purchase an entire bottle. Duke, ever the one to be ahead of what’s trending in the restaurant business…
Ingrid Pape-Sheldon, photographer/filmmaker
For all of the book’s sumptuous content, replete with a multitude of “did you know” ditties about chemical-free, sustainable fishing (never farmed) and fish-handling practices, nutritional advise from a noted M.D., N.D., mouth-watering recipes and how to make perfect “Duketails” (if you haven’t experienced their #1 selling libation: the “Bloody Bloody Mary”, served in Duke’s signature slanted highball glass, you’re missing out, big time!), it’s all about the photography. Special credit is due to principal photographer Ingrid Pape-Sheldon whose absolutely stunning images grace the book’s 384 pages. As Team Duke’s would say: it’s sooo good!
On a personal note, WM had the pleasure of cruising aboard Holland America’s m.s. Westerdam for a week-long trip to Alaska late last summer. During the voyage WM had the pleasure of being wined and dined at a private dinner party hosted by Duke along with a select group of invited guests. WM had the honor of being seated at the head table directly opposite Duke who regaled us with stories of his legendary past. What a delight!
The Costly Madagascar Thyme Incident
One of the most memorable tales he shared with us during dinner was the time when Duke’s had to throw out $32,000 worth of chowder because the thyme their supplier had substituted for use was from a different source (Madagascar vs. the “approved” California brand), and the offending herb unfavorably altered the product. Ouch!
“It wasn’t our fault and our supplier realized that”, Duke later recalled. “They also realized that they had violated our agreement to inform us of every change in buying and get our approval”, adding “Were all back to normal now”. This is a true testimony to Moscrip’s highly-developed keen sense of taste and smell, not to mention his ongoing quest for perfection in all things culinary.
One final comment about AWAIG: Knowing how difficult it was for Team Duke’s to translate production “batch” recipes into small recipes for the home cook (serving sizes varying from one to six), they did an excellent job! The proof is in the pudding, as they say. And as they say at Duke’s: It’s sooo good!
To get your copy of “As Wild as it Gets”, $49.95, published by Aviva Publishing, NY (a portion of book sales will benefit Long Live The Kings, an organization dedicated restoring wild salmon in the Pacific Northwest) visit any of the six Duke’s Chowder House restaurants listed below, or contact Bettina Carey at (206) 283-8422, ext. 4.
– Dukes Alki, 2516 Alki Avenue SW, West Seattle
– Duke’s Kent Station, 240 W. Kent Station Street, Kent
– Duke’s Ruston Way, 3327 Ruston Way, Tacoma
– Duke’s Lake Union, 901 Fairview Ave N., Seattle
– Duke’s Green Lake, 7850 Green Lake Drive N., Seattle
– Duke’s Southcenter, 757 Southcenter Mall, Tukwila
For further information, click on this link: http://www.dukeschowderhouse.com/cookbook/
Happy Black Friday (NOT!), Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, Turkey Day (more on that later*) to you & yours. If we left-out any printable holiday greetings, complain to the management–a lot of good it’ll do ya! But puhleeeze don’t get us started on Starbucks’ now-infamous red holiday coffee cup that’s caused such politically-correct outrage around the nation. Let ’em drink tea, sayeth we! ‘Nuff said on that subject…☕
Now that the “tis the season to be jolly” time of year is again upon us, there are still certainly other deserving topics to share during this festive season (politics, mercifully, will not be among them…)
Seattle’s Gum Wall Lives On!
In the “Only in Seattle” department, here’s the latest news on Post’s Alley’s “famed” gum wall. Oh, really, you didn’t know about Seattle’s renowned gum wall? Go to: http://seattle.eater.com/2015/11/5/9676910/goodbye-gum-wall-for-now-median-seattle-rent-now-1710 for an update on the wall’s status, including time lapse video of the wall’s recently completed de-gumming process, i.e. the intensive 130-hour project of ridding itself of over 2,350 pounds of accumulated, purposefully-placed, gooey trappings.
The bad news is that the gum wall is already in the process of re-chewvinating itself, right there in the heart of Seattle’s historic Pike Place Market! (Sorry, but you don’t have to be a former East Coaster to be totally grossed-out by this uniquely bizarre local tourist attraction). Trust us, folks, there are much better places to visit while you’re here in the Emerald City, but go there if you must to witness firsthand what a real gum wall actually looks like.
Recent Events North of Seattle You May Have Missed
Well, of course, there was the 7th annual blockbuster Taste of Tulalip, where over 2,000 attendees, including yours truly, showed-up to avail themselves of the dizzying array of wine and gourmet food samplings. Breaking the cardinal rule journalists are supposed to follow, NOT to show favoritism when covering such events, Woodinville’s award-winning Betz Family Winery sure won over our wine-loving little hearts with it’s outstanding red blend pourings…
Pearl Django fans were treated a to a joyful musical romp at the Camano (Island) Center. This, following on the heels of a very powerful windstorm that had just whipped through the region, knocking out power much of the day and night before. The much beloved Django Reinhard Gypsy Jazz tribute band did not disappoint the appreciative audience. PDj-band members did not let evening’s performance go by without acknowledging the recent tragedy in Paris. Their long-standing Parisian music roots are understandably tight…
Vive la France!
Since their inception as a musical trio in the early 1990s, Pearl Django’s name started as a spoof (coined by a member’s wife) on the band, Pearl Jam. But the group thought it was clever so the name stuck. With all joking aside, Pearl Django means business when it comes to playing Gypsy Jazz. (Showcase Magazine 2010)
*Anticipating Thanksgiving Day feast-induced drowsiness, aka postprandial somnolence? Don’t blame it on the turkey! Read on…
Explanation of tryptophan: A common assertion in the US is that heavy consumption of turkey meat results in drowsiness, due to high levels of tryptophan contained in turkey. However, the amount of tryptophan in turkey is comparable to that contained in most other meats. Furthermore, post-meal drowsiness may have more to do with what is consumed along with the turkey, carbohydrates in particular. It has been demonstrated in both animal models and humans that ingestion of a meal rich in carbohydrates triggers release of insulin. Insulin in turn stimulates the uptake of large neutral branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), but not tryptophan (an aromatic amino acid) into muscle, increasing the ratio of tryptophan to BCAA in the blood stream. The resulting increased tryptophan ratio reduces competition at the large neutral amino acid transporter (which transports both BCAA and aromatic amino acids), resulting in more uptake of tryptophan across the blood–brain barrier into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Once in the CSF, tryptophan is converted into serotonin in the raphe nuclei by the normal enzymatic pathway. The resultant serotonin is further metabolised into melatonin by the pineal gland. Hence, this data suggests that “feast-induced drowsiness”— or postprandial somnolence — may be the result of a heavy meal rich in carbohydrates, which indirectly increases the production of sleep-promoting melatonin in the brain.
❊ Happy Holidays! ❊
It’s countdown time to Thanksgiving Day and that other ’tis the season… holiday that aggressive retailers continue to push since before the end of summer–Aaarrrrgh$$$$$$$! Black Friday, anyone? Don’t buy into it, people, lest you get trampled while shopping in some Big Box store near you! (A special shout out to Seattle-based REI for giving it’s employees the [paid!] day off on Thanksgiving. May other businesses likewise follow REI’s exemplary corporate act…
Well, now that WM has gotten that “don’t hold back; tell ’em how you really feel” moment off her chest, let’s move on, shall we?
Unapologetic traditionalist that WM is known to be, she will be spending Thanksgiving Day gathered around the holiday table feasting-out with extended family members at the home of her sister and brother-in-law in West Seattle.
The extended McNeill-Jacobs-Law clan at leisure
It is our custom for everyone to “volunteer” to bring something to share for the holiday occasion. No instant anything here, folks! (Full disclosure: WM had no knowledge that potatoes didn’t come instantly from a box in the form of flakes until she was eight years old, when her beloved nanny prepared the real deal. Thank you, Geneva!) Rather, everything will be lovingly made from scratch, lest one risk not be invited to attend next year’s gathering. We’re really not all that harsh, but suffice it to say, expectations are, ahem…high).
This year WM has opted to bring her “world-famous” mashed potatoes (truffle oil pomme puree), along with pumpkin chocolate pecan muffins. The sweet/savory muffin recipe follows, with special thanks to http://www.daringgourmet.com for sharing her delectable expertise:
(Note that many of the following recipe ingredients are repeated in both the muffin AND topping recipes, so best to prepare them together at the same time, then separate out measurements accordingly to help save time & duplication of effort!
⦁ 2 C spelt or whole wheat flour *
⦁ ½ tsp salt
⦁ 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
⦁ ½ tsp ground nutmeg
⦁ ½ tsp ground ginger
⦁ ¼ tsp ground cloves
⦁ 1 tsp baking soda
⦁ 1 tsp baking powder
⦁ 1 C brown sugar
⦁ ¼ C honey
⦁ 2 large eggs
⦁ ¼ C oil (Although a bit on the pricey side, WM recommends expeller pressed avocado oil for its unusually high smoking point & aromatic flavor and healthy nutritional value. Best price found was at Costco for a remarkably low cost of $8.99 litre!)
⦁ 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
⦁ 1 (15 oz.) can pure pumpkin puree
⦁ ½ C buttermilk
⦁ 1 C chocolate chips (keep snacking to a minimum, as best you can…)
⦁ ½ C chopped pecans (ditto, above)
* WM recommends spelt flour be used for its milder flavor and assured tender end product, but whole wheat will do just fine if that’s your preference.
For the crumb topping:
⦁ ½ C flour
⦁ ¼ tsp salt
⦁ ⅓ C brown sugar
⦁ ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
⦁ ⅛ tsp ground ginger
⦁ ⅛ tsp ground cloves
⦁ ⅛ C chopped pecans
⦁ ¼ C butter, at room temperature
1. Preheat oven to 375º F and grease jumbo muffin tins.
2. In a small mixing bowl combine the flour with the salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, baking soda and baking powder and set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl beat together the brown sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla extract until combined. Stir in the pumpkin puree.
4. Use a rubber spatula to stir in half of the buttermilk. Then fold in half of the flour mixture.
5. Repeat: Fold in the other half of the buttermilk. DON’T OVER STIR or the muffins will become dense and heavy. Just fold it in until everything is incorporated–a few remaining lumps are fine…
6. Spoon the batter into a greased muffin pan, about 3/4 full.
7. To make the crumb topping, put all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Use your hand to thoroughly combine the mixture, then crumbling it into clumps. Sprinkle the crumb topping over the muffin batter.
8. Bake in an oven preheated to 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Let muffins cool for a few minutes before removing them from the muffin tins.
Speaking of food, here’s a heads-up for the next edition of Seattle Outsider Musings: An exclusive review of Duke Moscrip’s new cookbook “As Wild as it Gets…Duke’s Secret Sustainable Seafood Recipes”, culled from Duke’s four decades as a restaurateur and CEO of the award-winning chain of Duke’s Chowder House restaurants located throughout the Seattle and Puget Sound region. Yum, and just in time for the holidays!
For those who simply can’t wait, advance copies are available NOW for $59.95, including tax and S & H ($7.00 off the regular $69.95 price. Call Duke’s marketing director, Bettina Carey, at (206) 349-4297 to order your hot-off-the press edition.
Bon appetit and best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving!
⚡⚡ News Flash for Food & Wine Lovers! ⚡⚡
Garde Manger Chef John Ponticelli
As reported in the previous “Spooky” edition of Seattle Outsider Musings, Taste of Tulalip is happening this weekend at the Tulalip Resort Casino. And while tonight’s $225 per person Celebration Dinner is sold out, tickets are still available for Saturday’s four-hour Grand Taste. “Go early. Spit often, taste all things” is the operative mantra for this over-the-top tasting extravaganza. Pourings of over 100 wines from around the world will flow, including top Walla Walla, Washington producer Figgins & Leonetti.
So, forget about tomorrow’s Seahawks game (did I really say that?), get suited-up for the Grand Taste, including the Rock-n-Roll Cooking Challenge and make the trek to Tulalip. Call: (360) 716-6870 for tickets ($110 each).