Shaker + Spear – Seattle, WA

Located in the new Palladian Hotel downtown on Second Ave (and Virginia), Shaker + Spear surprised me in a good way.  Without many photos online of the space itself, I didn’t know what to expect but it’s gorgeous with tons of natural light and well chosen interior design details.  I especially like the chandelier above the bar as well as the bar stools themselves.

We started with cocktails at the bar and then moved onto wine and dinner once we were seated.  Between four of us eating family style, we were able to order quite a bit which is always fun when trying a new place.  Overall I was very impressed from start to finish from the moment we walked in to the moment we walked out (being the last to leave means you had a great time right?!).  I would suggest making reservations if you’re planning on going Thursday – Saturday at least!  *Not pictured are the delicious oysters we had served with rose bitters and tarragon.  Yum!

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Special that night – ROASTED CARROTS, pickled jalapeños, kimchi puree

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GRILLED OCTOPUS, salsa verde

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TEMPURA SQUASH BLOSSOMS, foie mousse (on the side because I don’t care for foie)

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YELLOWTAIL, local mushrooms, english peas

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ROSEMARY COULOTTE STEAK, spring garlic, fava beans, avocado chili puree

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WHOLE FISH CHEF’S WAY (DORADE), panzanella salad

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HALIBUT, black garlic, asparagus, baby artichokes, pak choi

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BRULEE CARROT CAKE, cream cheese ice cream, ginger syrup

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HOUSEMADE COOKIES

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MINT DARK CHOCOLATE SEMI FREDDO, chocolate crumb, cacao nib, micro mint

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ROSEWATER RHUBARB, pistachio meringue, preserved lemon ricotta, orange

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It’s been a few years since my last post on my favorite cookbooks so I thought I would create a list of some new ones that have come into my life that I’m really enjoying at the moment.  Coincidentally a lot of them are local chefs here in Seattle and the greater PNW.  Whether it’s you that’s looking for something new or you need a gift for someone…I think these are a great group to choose from:

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A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus – Renee Erickson of Boat Street Cafe (recently closed), The Whale Wins and The Walrus and the Carpenter happens to be a friend of ours who continues to wow everyone with her beautiful food that’s never overdone or fussy.  It’s the kind of food that makes you feel like love was put into it and now it’s yours to make at home with this gorgeous new cookbook.  The zucchini bread recipe alone makes this book worth the purchase.

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The Sobo Cookbook – A friend gifted me this cookbook and I’ve been in love with it ever since.  I immediately started tagging recipes to make: Surfer Noodle Soup (originally a food truck, they served this soup to surfers in Tofino as they waited to take the chill off of them), Strawberry Lemon Scones (need I say more?), Roasted Squash Salad, Hippy Chicken (think healthier fried chicken – breading made of almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds and sesame seeds), Salmon with Sorrel Sauce and Layered Potatoes (I made this and it was delicious).

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Feeding the Fire – I gave this to my husband for Father’s Day this year and it was an instant hit!  This book covers it all from the different types of wood to use, keeping it simple with your sides, grilling red meat/chicken/seafood, and even the wine that will compliment your food.  Great book for anyone that likes to take their cooking outside.  The grilled artichoke hearts with garlic aioli are unreal!

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LARK – Cooking Against the Grain – If you’ve had the pleasure of dining at Lark, then you know what a special place it is.  This cookbook is stunning as well.  It’s available on your kindle thru Amazon or hardcover in the restaurant.  There are certain classics that I’m so excited to have my hands on now.  The Chocolate Madeleines are at the top of the list as well as the Lark Crackers that they serve with their wagyu sirloin tartare.  Rossi potatoes with clabber cream and Paddlefish caviar or the Farro with red wine braised salsify and wild mushrooms…you pick but this book won’t disappoint.

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Dahlia Bakery Cookbook – If you live in Seattle then this most likely already sits on the shelf amongst your other cookbooks and if it doesn’t, it should!  James Beard Award winner for Best Northwest Chef and Best Restaurateur, Tom Douglas is a man that has accomplished so much already and just keeps on going.  A Seattle staple, the Dahlia Bakery has some of the best treats both savory and sweet in town.  Love the Dahlia Triple Coconut Cream Pie?  Now you can make it for yourself at home – trouble!  Can’t get enough of the buttery and flakey Serious Biscuits?  You too can have the recipe to wow people in your own home.

Tray Kitchen – Seattle, WA

What a fun place!  First impression is that it resembles Revel decor wise, but that’s a compliment in every way.  I even noticed some artwork from Electric Coffin (good work guys!).  I went with four girlfriends (two of which had been before) and we ordered like crazy.  It’s hard to say no when they come to your table with a tray full of delicious looking plates that all seem to be calling your name.  There’s a menu with a la carte dishes in addition to the cart items if you please and boy did we!  Everything was cooked to perfection, tasted so fresh, and all had a unique burst of flavor.  I’m excited to go back and try different things.  I’d say this is definitely one to put on your list of places to try.

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Blue bird farm farro, asparagus, snap peas, pea tendrils, house made ricotta cheese

Blue bird farm farro, asparagus, snap peas, pea tendrils, house made ricotta cheese

Charred octopus, white beans, baby arugula, lemon

Charred octopus, white beans, baby arugula, lemon

Kale Salad, black sesame yogurt, sunflower seeds, almonds, apple - Shaved Brussel Sprouts Asian Caesar, togarashi with Chinese donuts

Kale Salad, black sesame yogurt, sunflower seeds, almonds, apple – Shaved Brussel Sprouts Asian Caesar, togarashi with Chinese donuts

Duck Confit fried rice, maitake mushroom, leek, soy cured egg yolk

Duck Confit fried rice, maitake mushroom, leek, soy cured egg yolk

K.F.C. (Korean Fried Chicken wings), pumpkin seeds, Korean chili sauce

K.F.C. (Korean Fried Chicken wings), pumpkin seeds, Korean chili sauce

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Chinese doughnut cannoli, raspberry cream, chocolate, candied ginger - Dark chocolate mousse, toasted marshmallow

Chinese doughnut cannoli, raspberry cream, chocolate, candied ginger – Dark chocolate mousse, toasted marshmallow

Sugarfish – Beverly Hills, CA

BEST. SUSHI. EVER.

My mouth is salivating as I think about my meal at Sugarfish.  Honestly, it was the best sushi I’ve ever had.  I may not know everything about sushi but I will tell you that I’ve eaten it around the world.  From The Tsukiji Market in Tokyo to Seattle, I’ve sampled a lot of “the best” and this by far is THE BEST out there!

There are three menus to choose from: Trust Me/Lite, Trust Me and The Nozawa.  Think of it as small, medium and large.  You can order a la carte but price-wise, you get more for your money with the prefix menus and you will most definitely want to add more to it once you’re done.  I chose the Trust Me and my husband got The Nozawa.  Each included edamame, tuna sashimi, albacore sushi, salmon sushi, yellowtail sushi, halibut sushi, a toro hand roll and a blue crab hand roll.  The Nozawa also included a “Daily Special” as well as a few more pieces of the sushi.  My favorite was the tuna sashimi and the albacore sushi.  The sushi is served nigiri style (fish on top of the rice) and the rice was warm (I’ve never experienced that and it was such a great surprise).  The fish couldn’t have been better quality.  It seriously melted in my mouth.  I remember 1) being speechless as I ate it, 2) telling my husband that you wouldn’t even need teeth to eat this sushi and 3) that if I had to choose my last meal on Earth this would be it!  They don’t take reservations so go put your name in and have a drink or walk around.  Worth the wait for sure!

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Cantinetta – Seattle, WA

This is your quintessential neighborhood restaurant.  Adorable brick corner location in Wallingford.  The food is just as cozy as the inside of this place feels.  It’s the perfect spot to catch up with an old friend, enjoy a date night, or celebrate with a group.  I hadn’t been for a while and it was so satisfying going back.  I can never say no to one of their housemade pasta dishes and I love when I get a view of the chefs making the pasta behind the glass windows.  Everything was outstanding with the exception of one dish – the baby artichoke zeppole with fennel and horseradish creme fraiche.  It wasn’t bad, but I was just hoping for more.  I didn’t feel like the artichoke was the star of the dish which I think it should have been.  Other than that it was a wonderful night full of great food, wine and company.

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Baby Artichoke Zeppole, fennel, horseradish creme fraiche

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Halibut Crudo, pickled fresno chili, fried capers, sprouts

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Pea Vines, crispy speck, fresno chili, farm egg

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Pappardelle alla Bolognese

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Halibut, marbled potatoes, fiddleheads, wood sorrel, leek brodo

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Zeppole

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The London Plane – Seattle, WA

My husband and I made reservations here on a warm and sunny Thursday night since we were in Pioneer Square for First Thursday Art Walk.  Located on Occidental Plaze, it’s a beautiful and airy space with lots of natural light.  The menu is fixed, offering 3 courses for $35.  Talk about fresh and seasonal – cherries, garlic scapes, apricot syrup – the whole dinner was dancing with summer flavors.  They also fancy themselves part market/cafe/floral workshop so even if you don’t come in to eat, you can still stop by to grab delicious and beautiful things to go.

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arugula, fennel, cherries & walnuts, dressed with citrus & mint

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bucatini with pancetta, tremiti olives, garlic scares & breadcrumbs with housemate tomato sauce

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chocolate torte with coffee cream, apricot syrup & candied almond

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Potato and Salmon Cakes with Ginger and Scallions

I found this recipe in the March 2012 issue of Food and Wine magazine and adapted it to my own liking.  I don’t care for crab or salmon cakes with too much filler where you lose the taste of what I believe should be the main ingredient…the seafood!  I also used leftover salmon that I had baked the night before for dinner.  If you’re using raw salmon from scratch, the directions are below otherwise skip to step 2.

MAKES 12 SMALL CAKES

Ingredients

  • 1 pounds medium red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed
  • Sea salt
  • 1 pound skinless wild salmon fillet
  • Safflower or sunflower oil, for greasing and frying
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 bunch scallions (about 6 scallions), coarsely chopped
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon tamari
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • Dill Sauce, for serving

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large saucepan, cover the potatoes with water. Add a large pinch of sea salt and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately high heat until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly, then peel. Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl and mash.

Meanwhile, put the salmon on a lightly oiled rimmed baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the salmon is medium-rare inside.

Gently flake the salmon and add it to the potatoes along with the scallions, eggs, garlic, ginger, onion, tamari and sesame oil. Mix well, then season with salt.

Form the potato mixture into fourteen 1/2-cup patties.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1/4 inch of safflower or sunflower oil until shimmering. Working in batches, fry the potato cakes over moderately high heat until browned and crisp, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a large baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining potato cakes, adding more oil and adjusting the heat as necessary.

Bake the salmon cakes for about 15 minutes, until heated through.

Serve with the Dill Sauce and enjoy!

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