Prima Bistro – Langley

Posted in Fine Dining, French with tags , , , , , , , on November 11, 2011 by belltowngirl

Once in awhile it is nice to get away from Seattle for the weekend to enjoy great food and scenery.  One of my favorite restaurants on South Whidbey Island is Prima Bistro.  It is on a prime spot in the seaside village of Langley with amazing views of the Cascades and the Saratoga Passage.  The restaurant serves French inspired food with local ingredients.  The dinner menu list looks amazing so I have to be sure to try just couple different dishes.   I learned a big lesson when I had twelve dishes in one day when I was in Napa this summer.

Prima Bistro has a good wine selection and suprisingly they have more of a selection of reds from Oregon than locally.  If you are a fan of Pinot Noir like me than definitely try their wines from Willamette Valley.  All their small plate and appetizer dishes looks amazing…. oooh dear.  I decided to try their fritters with mozzarella, blue cheese, and burrata drizzled with garlic peppercorn vinaigrette.  Great textures, rich buttery flavor of the burrata, and the vinaigrette enhanced the flavor quite well.   

blue cheese and burrata filled Fritter - Prima Bistro

blue cheese and burrata filled Fritter - Prima Bistro

Next, the pan fried veal sweetbreads with apricot and thyme gastrique was amazing.  I am a big fan of sweetbreads and I must say that this was the most innovative. Sweetbreads are very rich in itself and has a distinct mineral flavor.  The apricot gastrique was out of this world…it literally tasted like candy.  Gastrique is a sticky thick sauce that consists of reduction of sugar, vinegar, and fruit where in this case the apricot has been caramelized over heat. 

Pan fried veal sweetbreads with apricot gastrique   - Prima Bistro

Pan fried veal sweetbreads with apricot gastrique - Prima Bistro

Lastly, I tried the confit of duck leg on a salad of puy lentils and frisee with a warm bacon vinaigrette….crispy skin, very moist meat, and richness in every bite. 

Confit of Duck Leg - Prima Bistro

Confit of Duck Leg - Prima Bistro

Overall, I immensely enjoyed Prima Bistro for its excellent French fare and knowledgable waitresses who know gourmet food.  The quickest way to get to Langley is to take the Mukilteo/Clinton ferry.  If you like to take the scenic route I highly recommend going 1-5 N and take exit 230 to check out the Deception Pass bridge  among other amazing nature destinations.  Enjoy everyone!

Prima Bistro website:  http://www.primabistro.com/

Address:  201 1/2 First Street Langley, WA 98260

Hours:  Daily 11:30am-9:30pm, Saturdays till 11pm

Contact:  360 221-4060

Morimoto Napa

Posted in Seafood with tags , , , , , , , , on July 31, 2011 by belltowngirl

My best friend completed his PhD in Physics a couple years ago and we have been meaning to celebrate with a trip to a great culinary landscape for sometime. We are both foodies and wine lovers hence we decided to meet in Napa on 4th of July weekend and it was definitely worth the wait. The wine region of Napa and Sonoma is very special to me as I started going there since my 21st birthday. The wine country has many great restos and it’s definitely growing especially neighboring towns such as Healdsburg (one of my favs).  I was reading the Wine Enthusiast magazine about the changing landscape of Downtown Napa and noticed that Iron Chef Morimoto opened up the first restaurant on the west coast in 2010. I am a fan of the Iron Chef and I definitely had to check out his dining establishment first in Downtown Napa.

Morimoto Napa is located right in the middle of the new Riverfront complex on Main St.  It has a very sleek and open feel to the restaurant with tall ceilings and minimalist design. There is an open kitchen which is great as you can see how the chef’s prepare the dishes and if your lucky you may even spot Iron Chef Morimoto in the action. Interestingly, before he became a chef he was going to be drafted to a major league in Japan, but ended his career because of an arm injury. Nevertheless, he has created a successful career for himself in the culinary world.

The menu had so many innovative dishes from the cold and hot appetizer categories.  All their raw fish and other seafood dishes are sourced from Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market.  We decided to try a couple dishes from the hot appetizer section.  I first tried the Morimoto bone marrow…with teriyaki sauce, 5 spices(cayenne, chili pepper, cumin coriander, paprika) topped with caramelized onion and panko which was roasted…Yum!  A nice touch was the Meyer lemons – add a splash and the fruit acidity cuts the richness of the bone marrow perfectly.

Morimoto bone marrow - Morimoto Napa

Morimoto bone marrow - Morimoto Napa

 
I am a major fan of seafood and tried the grilled spicy king crab with tobanjan aioli, and micro cilantro….very creative and delectable.  I initially thought the king crab was in its shell, but it was camoflaged with the creamy tobanjan to give it its red vivid color…very clever indeed.  The term tobanjan is a spicy miso paste that is very versatile especially for that added kick. 
 
Spicy King Crab - Morimoto Napa

Spicy King Crab - Morimoto Napa

 
As you probably know by now how much of a foie gras fan I am, I wouldn’t pass up on the oyster foie gras with market oysters, uni, foie gras, and teriyaki sauce….great balance of sweet and saltiness.  I am personally a fan of caviar sushi and the uni added a nice balance of sweetness to the oysters. 
 
Oyster Foie Gras - Morimoto Napa

Oyster Foie Gras - Morimoto Napa

Lastly, you cannot go wrong with great dessert to end your night of wine hopping in Napa.  I love anything rhubarb and the strawberry rhubarb tart with thai basil sauce and a strawberry jasmine milkshake…very tasty and refreshing!

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart - Morimoto Napa

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart - Morimoto Napa

 
I needed a balance of desserts from light to rich.  The miso butterscotch pudding with bitter chocolate foam and black tea caramel was perfect!  Great contrasting yet balanced flavors of sweet from the butterscotch and saltiness from the caramel. 
 
Miso Butterscotch Pudding - Morimoto Napa
Miso Butterscotch Pudding – Morimoto Napa
 
 
Morimoto has an excellent selection of innovative cocktails.  The white lilly – shirayuri which comprises of calpico, shochu, yuzu juice, and lemon juice was very tasty!  The term Yuzu is a citris fruit that is very tart.  Shochu is a distilled spirit.  The difference between sake and shochu is that sake is brewed while shochu is distilled.  Shochu has more of an earthy and nutty taste.  If you are a bloody mary fan, the “bloody mary-moto” has an innovative twist of grey goose orange vodka, heirloom tomato, teriyaki, wasabi, and pickled peppers.  Also, they sell shochu, premium, and aged sake.  Their most expensive sake is the “Morimoto 1972″ which has spiced pumpkin and citris oil aromas with a tropical fruit finish…..priced at $504  for a bottle (500ml).  Overall, I enjoyed the innovative dishes at Morimoto in Napa.  This would have to be one of the best Japanese restaurants that I’ve had in awhile by far.  If you ever get the chance to visit Napa, definitely check out the Morimoto restaurant.  Enjoy everyone!
 
Morimoto Napa

Morimoto Napa

 
 
Morimoto Napa website:  http://www.morimotonapa.com/
 
Address:  610 Main St., Napa, CA 94559
 
Hours:  Sun-Thurs 5-10pm, Fri-Sat 5-11pm
 
Contact:  707 252-1600
 

RN74

Posted in French, Wine bar with tags , , , , , , on June 20, 2011 by belltowngirl

A new restaurant just opened its doors right in the middle of downtown Seattle on 4th Ave and Pike.  RN74 is the brainchild of Michael Mina who is a James Beard award winning chef.  He has many many different well received restaurants from San Francisco to Las Vegas.  Suprisingly, he was raised in Ellensburg, WA and now resides in SF.  RN74 is primarily a wine bar focused on Grand Cru wines from the Burgundy region in France.  Their menu is of contemporary french fare with a focus on local ingredients.

I couldn’t help but notice they have sweetbreads and foie gras on their first and second course.  If you have been reading my blog for awhile you probably know  I am a major foie gras fan :)  The Crispy sweetbreads “a la chasseur” with spring onion confit, chanterelle mushrooms, and english peas was delicious.  Very lightly crispt sweetbreads on the outside immersed in a rich onion confit. 

Crispy Sweetbreads "a La Chasseur"

Crispy Sweetbreads "a La Chasseur"

The second plates menu the Liberty Farms duck breast and Hudson Valley foie gras caught my eye.  Very tender duck breast served with a bowl of Bluebird Grain Farms farro, bing cherries, rainbow swiss chard mixed with foie gras.  You take a spoonful and layer it onto the duck – Sublime!  The bing cherries is a great compliment as fruit goes well and balances the richness of foie gras. 

Liberty Farms duck breast & Hudson Valley foie gras
Liberty Farms duck breast & Hudson Valley foie
RN74 Seattle
RN74 Seattle

I love anything to do with wine reduction sauce and the Alaskan halibut with sugar snap peas sounds absolutely delicious.  The dish will definitely be next on my list.  An excellent wine bar in the downtown Seattle area.  The interior I would best describe as old world and contemporary with dark red leather seats and sleek blue lighting at the wine bar.  For a more intimate evening with your special date, I highly recommend reserving a booth.  Hopefully, I will have time to visit the main wine bar when I pass through to Napa Valley in the next couple weekends.  On a side note, stay tuned for my review on the new Iron Chef Morimoto restaurant in Napa :)  Overall, RN74 has excellent customer service and great modern french fare.  Enjoy!

RN74 website (Downtown Seattle):  http://www.michaelmina.net/

RN74 website (SF):  http://www.michaelmina.net/restaurant.php?restaurant_id=3&action=menus

Address:  1433 Fourth Avenue  Seattle, WA  98101 (cross st is Pike)

Hours:  Lunch 11am-2:30pm, Dinner Sun- Thurs 5:30-10pm Fri-Sat 5:30-10:30pm

Contact: 206 456-7474

The Confectional Cheesecake- Pike Place Market

Posted in Bakery, Dessert with tags , , , , , , on April 2, 2011 by belltowngirl

Cheesecake fans rejoice…! If you have not visited the Confectional in the Pike Place Market, it is an absolute must.  This isn’t your typical dense cheesecake with berries on top.  At Confectional it is taken up a notch with light and fluffy mini cheesecakes with exotic flavors.  I have been going there for years and it is consistently perfect in taste and quality.  If you prefer more crust, these cheesecakes would be perfect for you.  They use maria biscuits for their crust which makes it thick and crunchy.  The Confectional has 13 base flavors with new ones coming for every holiday or special occasion. 

I absolutely love all their flavors, but my most favorite ones are the Raspberry White Chocolate….whole raspberries with creamy white chocolate and a thick chocolate crust.  The Mexican chocolate cheesecake has cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and chocolate with a thick chocolate crust.  It has a perfect amount of spiciness where you can still enjoy it.  And one must not forget the Kahlua White Chocolate.  They use sweet kahlua coffee liquor, white chocolate, and a thick chocolate crust….light and fluffy and melts in your mouth!  Also, they do have unique truffles that are filled with cheesecake.  They bake their cheesecake batter, roll it into balls, and dip it in Guittard dark chocolate.  My favorite is the Cookies and Mint Chocolate…..inside is creme de menthe, dark chocolate, crumbled oreo cookies, and is coated in chocolate. 

top left clockwise:  Coconut Cherry Chocolate, Rasberry White, Kahlua White, Mexican Chocolate

top left clockwise: Coconut Cherry Chocolate, Rasberry White, Kahlua White, Mexican Chocolate

The Confectional is located in the Pike Place Market.  If you are familar with the area it is just a couple stores past Le Panier Bakery going south.  One thing I like is that they don’t use hydrogenated oils in any of their ingredients.  Also, if you haven’t tried their thick Colombian hot chocolate, ask for a sample…it is very tasty and great to have alongside with your mini cheesecake.  I would suggest following them on Twitter if you can as they post new flavors.  I missed out on their new flavor in March – Baileys Irish Cream chocolate chunk!  Overall, the Confectional is my favorite place for light and fluffy cheescakes with unique flavors.  Enjoy!

The Confectional website:  http://www.theconfectional.com/

Address:  1530 Pike Place, Seattle 98101

Hours:  10am-6pm daily

Contact:  206 282-4422

School of Acrobatics & New Circus Arts

Posted in Random Thoughts with tags , , , on April 2, 2011 by belltowngirl

One of my dear friends invited me to take a trapeze class.  She found a great deal through LivingSocial, a social media company.  We went to SANCA (School of Acrobatics & New Circus Arts) located just south of Safeco field.  They also have other classes to try such as contortion training, wirewalking, circus arts, geman wheel, etc.  The instructors were immensely friendly and informative.  We started off by doing basic tricks from static trapeze, back flips, etc and at the end if you don’t fall, you can attempt a mid-air connection called “the catch” before the end of a class.    Basically, the last part of the knee hang is letting go of your legs and swinging with the catcher.  I didn’t fall once and I attempted the catch at the end!  I have already learned their amusing short hand language of trapeze: “Listo, Ready, Hep!”  Be warned, trapeze can become an addicting (and exhilarating) habit :) 

me flying trapeze - SANCA Seattle

me flying trapeze - SANCA Seattle

me flying trapeze - SANCA Seattle

me flying trapeze - SANCA Seattle

SANCA website:  http://www.sancaseattle.org/

Address:  674 S Orcas St Seattle 98108

Contact:  206 652-4433

Art Restaurant and Lounge – Four Seasons Seattle

Posted in Dessert, Fine Dining with tags , , , , , , , on April 2, 2011 by belltowngirl

One of my favorite places for great Pacific Northwest cuisine and signature cocktails is Art Restaurant located at the Four Seasons Hotel.  If you remember Cascadia restaurant, the owner is now the executive chef at the hotel.  Chef Kerry Sear brings a modern and innovative cuisine to the flourishing restaurant scene in Downtown Seattle.  Art is really two restaurants in one – a sophisticated lounge and formal dining room.  The two spaces are separated by a partition of frosted glass, and share dazzling views of the Elliott Bay and the Olympic mountains.  The impressive array of food that I had is meted in fashionable “tasting tray” portions, which you can enjoy with your favorite glass of vino. 

The first tasting tray we had was the Market.  It was a seafood-themed tray with four contrasting dishes.  I had the king crab with lemon strips and it was a perfect accent ingredient of bright and lemony taste to the crab.  It was a great combination as seafood pairs beautifully with preserved lemons.  The yellow eyed snapper with the carrot and cumin relish gave a nice creamy taste to the tender and mild tasting snapper.  I loved the salmon with jalapeno black plum preserves….Great contrasting ingredients of sweet and spiciness.  The pan-seared trout and onion pickle with zinfandel tasted great as well. 

Seafood Tray  - Art Restaurant Four Seasons Hotel Seattle

Seafood Tray - Art Restaurant Four Seasons Hotel Seattle

The second tasting tray was the Chocolate.  It was a dessert-themed tray with four contrasting dishes.  I delved into the molton chocolate cake with blood orange sauce….moist and tasty!  I loved the bittersweet chocolate(64%) caramel tart with fleur de sel sprinkled on top.  A perfect balance of salty and sweet.  The delicate floral notes of of Fleur de Sel draws out the rich smoky tones in the caramel sauce.  I love anything white chocolate and the white chocolate with brandied cherry ice cream was sublime.  Lastly, who doesn’t like milk chocolate almond mousse cake with candied almonds…sinfully smooth and great texture! 

Dessert Tray - Art Restaurant Four Seasons Hotel Seattle

Dessert Tray - Art Restaurant Four Seasons Hotel Seattle

The lounge area is very sleek and modern and best of all it serves great cocktails.  I would say this is one of my favorite chic bars next to W Hotel in downtown seattle that is.  I like their categories on their drink menu from Market Fresh which uses fresh ingredients from Pike Place Market, Carefree for light spring cocktails, reMix which are classics with a twist, and (Con) Artist which does not include alcohol.  Also, just recently they concocted a drink to celebrate Four Seasons 50th anniversary with the Gold 61 cocktail. This one is absolutely sublime.  The cosmopolitan glass had Hennessy vsop, cointreau, douglas fir eau de vie (colorless fruit brandy), douglas fir sorbet, lemon garnished with gold sugar that is dusted on the rim, and an edible 10k gold leaf.  The drink looks golden and adds a nice to touch their golden themed anniversary.  Anyone who likes exotic cocktails such as this should definitely try it.  They also serve breakfast and lunch daily and would be an excellent stopping point to start off your day before heading to the museum or art gallery across the street.  Also, they valet for free for people dining at their establishment.  If you are familiar with the downtown seattle area, Art is across from the SAM Gallery.  Overall, I immensely enjoyed dining at the Art restaurant in the Four Seasons. Enjoy everyone!

Art Restaurant website:  http://www.artrestaurantseattle.com/

Address:  99 Union Street Seattle 98101

Hours:  Breakfast daily 6:30am-11am, Lunch daily 11am-2pm, Dinner daily 5pm-10pm, Lounge daily 11am-midnight

Contact:  206 749-7070

Six Seven at the Edgewater Hotel

Posted in Fine Dining, Seafood, Wine with tags , , , , , , on January 14, 2011 by belltowngirl

One of my favorite restaurants on the waterfront is Six Seven.  It has spectacular views of the puget sound and the olympic mountains and is located on Pier 67.  It features New American appetizers and entrees, specializing in gourmet food with a seafood focus.  I always come here for their seafood especially for their tasty white fish and salmon dishes. 

There were a couple dishes I wanted to try, but the salmon entree always seems to catch my eye.  The Cedar Plank Salmon was spectacular….chanterelle mushrooms, rainbow potatoes, tomato, pancetta, truffle cream, asparagus, and blackberry honey…Yum!  The grilled King Salmon had a rich, smoky flavor especially when combined with truffle cream sauce.  I am a fan of wild mushrooms such as the porcini and morel mushrooms and the chanterelle was a perfect addition with its meaty and nutty flavor.  Perfect timing as wild mushrooms are in season in late fall.  Typically, wine pairing is dependent on the base and bridge ingredients of the dish and since the salmon(base) had chanterelle mushrooms, truffles(bridge) it was a perfect match for a Pinot Noir so we had the 2007 Rochioli Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley in California.  A terrific fish to match with this wine! 

Cedar Plank King Salmon - Six Seven

Cedar Plank King Salmon - Six Seven

I could not leave without trying the Wild Striped Sea Bass.  The Sea Bass was perfectly immersed with artichoke and leek stew, sauvignon blanc, fines herbs, cipoline onions, tomato confit, and roasted fennel on top to give it that sweet and mild delicious added flavor to the fish.  This one is a winner!!  The Sea Bass was pan roasted perfectly which gives the skin that nice crackle and that is how it should be cooked. 

Wild Striped Sea Bass - Six Seven

Wild Striped Sea Bass - Six Seven

Lastly, it could not hurt to try one dessert for the night as all the previous dishes were light, but very tasty.  I had to try the pumpkin with pistachio crusted cheescake….Yum!!  If you try this dont forget to eat slice with the gingerbread pureed sauce that is drizzled on the dish!  

Pumpkin with Pistachio crusted Cheesecake - Six Seven

Pumpkin with Pistachio crusted Cheesecake - Six Seven

Six Seven restaurant also has a chic lounge with a fireplace that gives it a warm and cozy feeling.  Be sure to check out the lounge on Fridays and Saturdays as the have terrific bands playing rhythm and blues to jazz music.   If you like great drinks with tonic water be sure to try their vodka tonic because their tonic is homemade.  The chief ingredient in tonic is called Quinine.  It is derived from a tree bark in the Amazon basin and is supposed to have medicinal properties.  The major plus is that the bar uses Quinine powder in its “pure form” as opposed to it being dilluted into a high fructose corn syrup such as the likes of Schweppes and Canada Dry.  I have been a recent fan of 100% pure Quinine powder in tonic water as it has less of that sugary, syrupy taste and more of a slightly bitter, but very tasty ingredient in tonic water.  I would recommend reserving a booth for dinner as you have excellent views facing the waterfront.  The customer service is always top notch all the times that I have dined there.  Six Seven is a great restaurant with tasty seafood dishes and an excellent wine list.  The ambiance is also perfect to take your special loved one for a romantic dinner as well ;)  Enjoy everyone!

Six Seven restaurant website:  http://www.edgewaterhotel.com/edgewater_dining.aspx

Address:  2411 Alaskan Way, Pier 67 Seattle, WA  98121

Hours:  Dinner Sun-Thurs 5:30-9pm, Fri-Sat 5:30-10pm

Contact:  1 800 624-0670

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