Stumblin’ into New Cocktail Trends

December 1, 2009

Farron Lennon, editor

We, the lawyers of SWW, enjoy a good cocktail every now and then.  We pride ourselves on keeping up with the latest trends.  So, as we approach the dawn of a brand new year, SWW wanted to find out which cocktails will be the wave of the future and which will go out of style like a hot-pink fanny pack (read: goodbye pomegranate).

To find out, SWW hit the town and did some serious investigative drinking…err…reporting.  We bring you the Cocktail Trends of 2010.

Aromatics: Can You Smell What Your Bartender Is Cookin’?

One of the top trends we spotted around town was aromatic cocktails.  These fragrant treats bring new dimension to your cocktail.  We recommend trying this trend at Vessel, 1312 Fifth Ave., Seattle, 206-652-0521, which specializes in highly imaginative, trendy cocktails with a nod to the traditional cocktails from the early 20th century.

Vessel’s signature cocktail, Vessel 75, takes its inspiration from the 1926 Skinner Building and the maple tree lining Fifth Avenue, and features bourbon, Peychaud’s bitters, orange zest and maple syrup foam.  Vessel also serves a host of carbonated cocktails, including the Perlini® martini and the Captain Handsome – served straight up and bubbly.

Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Have you seen the Green Fairy? Portrayed as a dangerous psychoactive drug in the early 20th century, absinthe was banned in many countries across the globe.  Only recently has commercial distillation of absinthe resumed in the U.S.

Its reputation and novelty make absinthe a big trend for 2010.  SWW likes The Arctic Club, 700 Third Ave., Seattle, 800-600-7775, for its selection of absinthe-based beverages, available in either the French or Czech style.  The Arctic Club’s pre-Prohibition-era ambiance pairs nicely with a fine array of classic cocktails, many of which have subtle but effective modern twists.  Try the 007 or the Arctic Club Manhattan.

Speak (Over) Easy

Classic cocktails are a big trend for 2010.  After the 1919 Volstead Act outlawed alcoholic beverages, the speakeasy was born.  Thirsty patrons rushed to hidden rooms and dark basements to imbibe.

Tavern Law, 1406 12th Ave, Seattle, 206-322-9734, brings history to life.  If you are lucky, after making a call on the house phone, you will be “buzzed” into Tavern Law’s hidden room.  As you head up the stairs to this secret hideaway, which is adorned with period-appropriate couches and high-back chairs, you may feel like you are traveling back in time.

The bartenders at Tavern Law, including those in the secret room, specialize in handcrafted, classic cocktails inspired by the middle 19th to early 20th century.  The drinks are thoughtfully made and well balanced.  If you are brave, try a cocktail made with an egg, like the Clover Club or the Applejack Sour.  The handcrafted cocktails, fresh juices and house-made bitters make Tavern Law a must try.

The walls are lined with Washington Reporters, so if your boss asks where you are, tell him you’re at the library.

An Oldie But a Goodie…With a Twist

Another trend we saw all over town was a classic cocktail with a modern twist.  Stop by The Chapel, 1600 Melrose Ave., Seattle, 206-447-4180, at happy hour to try one of its nearly 40 different kinds of martinis.  These ain’t your grandma’s martinis.

Chapel was built in the early 1920s inside the Butterworth’s Mortuary.  The beautiful architecture and unique ambiance make Chapel a great spot to check out.  Plus, Chapel’s happy hour runs from 5-9 p.m. and midnight to close.  Try the Great Dane or the Hibiscus.

You can also catch this trend at Tango, 1100 Pike St., Seattle, 206-583-0382.  The Makers Manhattan, to which Tango adds dried cherries rehydrated in something that makes ‘em sing, give the drink a sweet, earthy complexity similar to an amarone.  Take our advice: eat the cherries.

Buy Local

Another trend for 2010 is to mingle local ingredients with your favorite spirit.  A good drink is an art form and no one knows this better than the bartenders at Grey Gallery & Lounge, 1512 11th Ave., Seattle, 206-325-5204.

This Capital Hill art gallery exhibits exceptional artists by day and night.  After 4 p.m., the lounge opens with a number of terrific Northwest cocktails.  Try the Rose City Vesper, which is a take on the James Bond classic, the trendsetter of all cocktails.  Grey Gallery combines Aviation gin, Portland 88 vodka, Lillet Rouge, and rose water with a twist.  It seems made specifically for those with rain boots.

Sake T’Umi

For your saké, we recommend trying saké cocktail.  A number of fresh and unique drinks await happy hour lovers at Belltown’s Umi Saké House, 2230 First Ave., Seattle, 206-374-8717.

Umi is most famous for its multitude of saké options and saké-based cocktails.  A good way to take a flight of fancy through the extensive saké list is to, well, order a flight of saké.  Customizable flights allow customers to try three to five sakés of their choice, and the accompanying tasting notes provide an educational and enjoyable drinking experience.  As the name suggests, Umi knows its saké.

Contact Farron Lennon with comments or for more information at flennon@schwabe.com.

Originally published in the December 2009 issue of the King County Bar Bulletin. Reprinted with permission of the King County Bar Association.

Tasty Tortes and Other Just Desserts

November 1, 2009

Virginia Nicholson, editor

Seattle is a great dessert town.  There is no shortage of excellent options to indulge one’s sweet tooth.  Alas, we do not have the time, calorie allowance or space in this column to touch on all of them.  But we will try to provide you some input on new places to stop by to pick up some goodies for an upcoming board meeting, family affair or bake sale.

Off the Egg-Beaten Path

A Midwest transplant raised on meat, potatoes, Spam and Velveeta, I first entered Chaco Canyon Organic Café, 4757 12th Ave NE, Seattle, 206-522-6966 stuttering and completely uncertain, drug in by my recently-turned-raw friend who knowledgeably talked about hemp seed and green smoothies with the friendly staff.

Having since tried the raw raspberry torte, I am a regular visitor.  A former raspberry hater, I am completely addicted to the creamy, sweet-but-tart (and totally seedless) treat with nut and coconut crust, topped with half a hazelnut.  The experience has me begging to try the raw carrot cake.  I may willingly go vegan if I can always have food this satiating (just don’t tell my dad).

Classic Seattle Desserts

If you are anything like me, you would rather not bake for holiday family affairs and fall ill at the suggestion of bringing dessert, because all you can think of is how anything you make could not possibly live up to a Tom Douglas triple coconut cream pie.  You do not have to eat at Dahlia Lounge or Lola to enjoy this classic Tom Douglas dessert.  You can get it at the Dahlia Bakery, 2001 Fourth Ave, Seattle, 206-441-4540.

It comes in several sizes for your convenience (and can help you ease your caloric intake conscience), along with an assortment of other rich and well-worth-tasting desserts.  It is a good idea to reserve your triple coconut cream pie in advance if you are planning on taking it with you for the holidays.

While you are picking up your pie, treat yourself to a run ball tart – smooth, rich chocolate with a brief hint of rum.  (Holiday survival tip: If you need a pick-me-up in the middle of holiday errands, try a cup of Tom’s tasty tomato soup, a great and energy-restoring treat).

Some of us are not fans of sweets in the morning and roll our eyes when breakfast meetings come with nothing but donuts or sweet scones.  For a good selection of sweet and savory baked goods for a morning meeting, we recommend grabbing little pink boxes tied up with pieces of white rope from Macrina, 2408 First Ave, Seattle, 206-448-4032 (with other locations throughout the region).  The Parmesan rosemary ham biscuit and the ham and cheese dumplings will make any savory eater satisfied, and Budapest or lemon sour cherry coffeecake will certainly satisfy the sweet teeth around your conference room table.

Even a brief survey of dessert options in Seattle would not be complete without acknowledging B&O Espresso, 204 Belmont Ave. East, Seattle, 206-322-5028, as one of the Seattle pioneers in the field.  Operating on the west slope of Capitol Hill for more than 30 years, open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner or later, the B&O is an institution.  The shabby-chic décor is comforting in its own right.  The selection of cakes and other desserts includes something to please anyone, but do not forget to try the beverages.  One of our favorites is the yogi chai milkshake.

Ubiquitous and Easy

There are a couple of chains with a large selection of baked desserts that will make it easy for you to appear to be a hero at your next meeting.  At office meetings, the person who orders or, even better, brings the cookies is the star.  At Specialty’s, 1023 Third Ave, Seattle, 206-264-0882 (with other locations throughout the region), there is a good selection of hearty cookies that are so fresh they may be warm.

If peanut-butter cookies are your weakness, you may want to avoid the temptation.  The selection includes both milk chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate, as well as chocolate with peanut butter.  Longstanding favorites – snickerdoodle and ginger molasses – also are great treats.  Additionally, you can sign up for email alerts for when a new batch of cookies leaves the oven.

For the best cupcakes, we like Organic To Go.  The vanilla and chocolate cupcakes are rich and creamy and tempting to those who claim not to like cupcakes.  Check out their website or reach them at 800-304-4550.  For those with a traditional love for the cupped cake, Trophy Cupcakes, 1815 N 45th St, Ste. 209, Seattle, 206-632-7020 (with other locations throughout the region), cannot be beat.  The pineapple-upside-down cupcakes are remarkable.  With a vanilla butter cake and a layer of caramelized pineapple at the bottom, these cupcakes are topped with brown-sugar butter cream and garnished with a cherry.

No one can forget Cupcake Royale, 2052 NW Market St, Seattle, 206-782-9557 (with other locations throughout the region), especially at this time of the year.  From now until November 26, Cupcake Royale is having its Fifth Annual Cupcake Harvest Festival, where specialty cupcakes are made with fresh ingredients from local farms.  Pick up unique cupcakes like the caramel-apple cupcake, which is made with honey crisp apples from Tiny’s Organic Farm and apple butter from Woodring Farm, and topped with caramel frosting.  No November would be complete without grabbing a pumpkin-maple cupcake made with organic pumpkin from Stahlbush Island Farm, or a classic carrot-walnut cupcake made with Ralph’s Organics carrots and delightful cream-cheese topping.  Order online for cupcake pickup or delivery.

And For a Nightcap…

For those who enjoy chocolate with a tinge of double-vision, check out Dilettante Mocha Martini Bar on Broadway, 528 Broadway Ave., Seattle, 206-329-6463 (with other locations throughout the region).  The Broadway location delivers with a full menu of beautifully artistic desserts (each presented whole in the display case with nary a slice missing), as well as chocolate martinis.  Three of us caravanned to Broadway from the office on a Saturday night – yes, we spend too much time together – and were delighted with what we found.

In addition to appreciating the aesthetics of dark-chocolate painted walls and baroque chandeliers in the bar, the signature Ephemere martini was unexpectedly delicious: perfectly shaken, arriving with small shards of floating ice, tasting like a grown-up milkshake, substituting vodka for ice cream.  Who knew the taste of dark chocolate would only be enhanced with the addition of vodka?  Served with a cocoa-dusted rim, these martinis are dangerous – and unexpectedly refreshing – in every way.  Finishing the first, one dreams of a second.  Runner-up goes to the sea salt caramel martini, sure to make your mouth water.  From now on, we are true believers in drinking our calories.

Contact Virginia Nicholson with comments or for more information at vnicholson@schwabe.com.

Originally published in the November 2009 issue of the King County Bar Bulletin. Reprinted with permission of the King County Bar Association.

Time Management: Mobile Food on the Go

October 1, 2009

Mary Jo Newhouse, editor

Some of the newest hot spots for lunch or late night food are not spots, or at least not stationary spots, but roving kitchens roaming the streets of the Emerald City and surrounding areas.  They are mobile food establishments.  Mobile food sources (carts and trucks) now provide a wide assortment of quality and options for dining in the Seattle area.

Mobile Gourmet

Mobile does not mean simply mass produced or low end.  The Seattle area sport some surprisingly good and some exotic mobile food sources.  Take, for instance, “the Pig” or, more accurately, Maximus Minimus, 206-601-5510.  This mobile delight can be found parked at the corner of Second and Pike on most weekdays or outside the Qwest Field Event Center before Seahawk and Mariner games.

The menu is limited: a choice of two sandwiches (pulled pork or vegetarian), slaw and/or veggie chips.  The sandwiches and slaw are available with spicy (”maximus”) options and you can ask for “some hurt” for extra spicy.  (We tried the vegetarian with the hurt; it was very hot.  The Bar Bulletin editor’s son gives the pulled pork a thumb’s up).

Everything on the menu is good.  The vegetarian option is surprisingly good.  Either the slaw or the chips are worth adding to your meal.  For beverages you can choose between hibiscus nectar and ginger lemonade.  Both are worth trying.

It is a very good sign that everyone we have taken to Maximus has wanted to return.  Maximus is owned by the same family of companies that brings you Bennett’s Bistro (in Mercer Island), Beecher’s Handmade Cheese (Pike Place Market) and Pasta and Co. and, unlike some of the other mobile providers, they take all forms of plastic.

If you are anything like us, you have been dreaming of a Korean taco truck for most of your adult life.  Throw in some Spam and some sliders and it seems almost too good to be true.  This year, the Schwabe Dining Out Team salutes “Marination Mobile” for making our dreams come true.

Marination Mobile can be found all over the city.  From Beacon Hill to West Seattle, private parking lots across Seattle are opening some space for this Korean taco truck with a hint of Hawaiian.  Current schedule and location are available on the website.

The view from the park across from the Beacon Hill stop is “Seattle spectacular” and provides covered picnic tables, making the outing a food adventure worth seeking out.  The spicy pork tacos are five to six bites worth of great flavor for $2.  The sliders, almost perfect comfort food, spread warmth with each mouthful.  Also priced at $2, the health-conscious-serving-sized, miso ginger chicken taco was just right in a tender tortilla with matchstick veggies and a succulent sauce.

Everyone who went would go back.  The servings were “just the right size” to be satisfied without feeling stuffed.

Not So Mobile in Practice

On the shores of Lake Union, the Kaosamai Thai Lunch Truck is located near the Center for Wooden Boats at Valley Street near Terry Avenue.  It offers a variety of classic Thai dishes.  On the menu are a number of stir fries, including pad Thai, cashew chicken and Rama garden, as well as red and PaNang curries. The food is prepared fresh and fast and is very good, easily rivaling offerings at several of the well-established Seattle Thai restaurants.

Kaosamai Thai Lunch Truck, open from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, packages its food to travel, but also can be enjoyed in the out-of-doors in the park only a few steps from the truck and as many steps from South Lake Union.  If you are in a rush, you can always call ahead at 206-288-3534 to give the cook a head start on your meal.  But remember to bring cash, because the Truck does not accept plastic or checks.

At 2 a.m. it can be hard to find food that does not come in a bun.  That’s when a drive (or ride) to the Rancho Bravo Tacos truck at 211 NE 45th St. in Seattle is an excellent idea.  With the scenic view of a gas station and a Winchell’s Donut parking lot, it may be a bit of an overstatement to say that the atmosphere keeps customers coming back.  But the pork tacos are divine.

While some may find the food a bit heavy on the radish and cilantro side, these are tacos made for the lone wanderers at night seeking nourishment in the wrong places.  With picnic-bench seating, you may make a few new friends over some fresh horchata.

Before Going Mobile

Wise mobile-food connoisseurs check the website of the mobile food location before venturing out of the office.  But even more wise may be to follow these mobile trucks on twitter.com.  Many local, mobile food joints are on Twitter and provide last-minute updates regarding changes in location and specials.  While the websites seems to be updated frequently, the location in 140 characters or less is a bit easier to update and quicker on the uptake.

Another bright idea is to check the weather and see if covered seating exists by your truck of choice.  Take, for example, Marination Mobile’s Beacon Hill site versus its West Seattle site.  If you would like your lunch warm and dry, you’ll have to eat it in your car at the West Seattle location, but the Beacon Hill location has a charming park overlooking the city with a covered shelter from the liquid sunshine.

Carrying plastic?  While not often a problem, mobile truck diners should consider stopping at the ATM before going too far out of their way.  There is nothing worse than showing up at a taco truck and having to watch others eat because you didn’t bother to grab $2 in cash.  With these tips, you are prepared to join the Dining Out With Schwabe crew as it happily samples the market on mobile food.

Contact Mary Jo Newhouse with comments or for more information at mjnewhouse@schwabe.com.

Originally published in the October 2009 issue of the King County Bar Bulletin. Reprinted with permission of the King County Bar Association.

No Clash With Cafeteria Culture

September 1, 2009

Ben Nivison, editor

Seattle is well known for its restaurants.  Many of these are high profile and easy to find.  But there are other places to eat when time or expense is the driving factor; places where anyone can go when it is not an expense-account lunch.

A number of office buildings and employers provide cafeterias to keep the workers in the building and provide a value for lunch.  Many of these are open to the public view.

We set out to find and evaluate some of the cafeterias hidden in any of the downtown office buildings.  Many of the larger law firms provide cafeterias for their employees, but those are not generally open to the public.  Though not as numerous in times past, there are still quite a few public cafeterias to choose from.  This article is nothing near an exhaustive list.  But we hope we have found some that may offer you a surprise combination of convenience, speed and economy.

Old Standards

Once you are through the metal detectors, the cafeteria on the second floor of the Henry “Scoop” Jackson Federal Building (915 Second Ave) offers a wide variety of food throughout much of the day.  The cafeteria is open to the public, building tenants and visitors alike, from 6:30 a.m. through 2 p.m., and serves breakfast and lunch.  At lunch, offerings include sandwiches from the deli, pizza, hamburgers and hot dogs from the grill, or the salad bar.  The cafeteria is clean and spacious, and a flat-screen TV in the dining area lets viewers catch up on cable news while eating.

Those who worked downtown in the ‘80s and ‘90s may recall popular bank cafeterias open to the public in the Rainier Bank and First Interstate towers.  Sadly, it appears that there are no longer public cafeterias operating in these locations.

U.S. Bank (1420 Fifth Ave) has a cafeteria on the 13th floor that is open to anyone who can figure out how to get there.  Once you get there, you’ll find that it is quiet, spacious and acceptable quality for a quick bite at a very reasonable price (daily specials example: ham-and-cheese sandwich with chips, a drink and a cookie for $4.95).  They also have soups and pre-made salads.

Bon Appétit runs two cafeterias (e.g., The Dish in the 1700 Seventh Building), one in each of Nordstrom’s two office towers.  These serve the building occupants from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a selection of four daily specials, an appealing salad bar and a make-your-own-sandwich line.  You’ll find the food is tasty and quite reasonably priced, if you can find your way into the building.

Hidden From View

One of the challenges and charms of exploring for cafeterias is that you often will have no clue they exist in a building.  For example, if you don’t already know it’s there, you are unlikely to happen across the Market Fresh Café on the third floor of Seattle’s Medical Dental Building near Olive and Fifth Avenue.  But, if you are hungry and happen to find yourself at the final stop of Seattle’s South Lake Union Streetcar, you might try out this spot.

The café offers a surprisingly wide variety of choices for what initially appears to be just another espresso bar.  On the menu is a variety of burgers, including beef, turkey, salmon and buffalo; teriyaki and yakisoba entrees; several different sandwiches; and protein smoothies.  The place may not impress a client, but it is clean, quiet and quite good.  You can call ahead to 382-8128 to give the cook a heads-up to start prepping your meal.

Likewise, if you find yourself on the waterfront, it may be worth a quick visit to an unassuming little cafeteria at the Port of Seattle office on Pier 69.  Entering the Portside Café near the Victoria Clipper terminal, one is reminded of the cafeterias from the days of old – the plastic chairs, the linoleum floor, the long, silver food bar.  The stacked brown trays all have water on them from what can only be an industrial dishwasher without a dryer.

The food is cheap and the cafeteria is open to the public – not just the Port of Seattle employees.  But the real value is the view.  The cafeteria faces south near the end of the pier, providing a breathtaking view of Puget Sound.  The cafeterias of the days of yore never had views like this, making the Portside Café, perhaps, the best view in Seattle where you can eat for less than $5.

Although you get to experience waterfront dining at a bargain price, the adage still applies to some extent: You get what you pay for.  Don’t expect a marvelous culinary experience, as the Portside’s fare is unremarkable in every way.  Nothing we tried was actually bad though, and it is hard to go wrong with some of the café’s simple offerings, like a turkey-bagel sandwich or grilled cheese.  Add some packaged potato chips or a fair salad bar, and a decent cheap lunch is yours.

Depending on the day, the more adventurous might even find a gem in one of the daily entrée specials or soups.  Be wary of the cream-based soups after the lunch rush, however, unless you really enjoyed eating paste as a child.

A Surprising Find

The Courthouse Café opened up on the outside of the new federal courthouse nearly five years ago, but maintains a very low profile and it is seldom, if ever, crowded.

Bright, cheery orange walls, blue hanging pendant lights, black-and-white checkerboard accent walls and many, many windows – the Courthouse Café, on the ground floor of the U.S. Courthouse on the corner of Seventh and Virginia is casual and welcoming.  While not hidden, it is easy to overlook.  A flat-screen TV tuned to a ubiquitous cable station was available and the volume set discreetly so as to not be intrusive.  There also are stations with outlets for working on laptops during lunch.

This café is several pleasant cuts above the windowless, drab, utilitarian description usually associated with “cafeteria.”  The food we tried was hearty and freshly made, if basic and uninspired.  The bread on the tuna melt was nicely browned and toasted, not greasy.  The sandwich had perhaps a touch too much cheese.  Fries were hot, crisp and fresh.

The menu offers a variety of daily specials and hot sandwiches, including a natural Angus burger for $2.49, as well as a salad bar, soups and sandwiches to order.  The food quality for the price is a draw, as is the friendly and accommodating staff.

The café serves breakfast, opens at 6:30 a.m. and closes at 2 p.m., with some catering options.  Check out the website as well as the associated blog at http://www.uscourthousecafe.com.

Contact Ben Nivison with comments or for more information at bnivison@schwabe.com.

Originally published in the September 2009 issue of the King County Bar Bulletin. Reprinted with permission of the King County Bar Association.

Educated Eating: A Guide to Cooking School Outlets

August 1, 2009

Ben Nivison, editor

King County is a hub for culinary education.  Fortunately for foodies, the breadth of culinary educational options in our area presents us with an opportunity to experience firsthand the benefits of the educational process.  Many of these local culinary programs operate restaurants or outlets.  While these exist to train the students in a practical environment, they also provide the general public an opportunity to sample their wares.

We set out on a search to discover eating establishments that are manned by these culinary institutions and outlets.  Unfortunately, any of these establishments proved to be closed for the summer break.  But we have tracked them down so that you may sample them once the school year starts again.

The spacious FareStart restaurant, located near Westlake Avenue, is home to an intensive 16-week, on-the-job training and classroom program.  The instruction is unique in its mission: prepare homeless and disadvantaged men and women to work in the food service industry.  But this non-profit organization does more than education; it also provides a delightful lunch complete with tasty food, friendly staff and a calm atmosphere.

At our four-person lunch during the Monday rush, the service was attentive and the food came quickly.  We ordered a variety: the trout special (the most expensive item on the menu at $12.95), a fresh veggie spring roll starter, a bowl of minestrone, a cup of clam chowder, a crispy pork sandwich and a veggie Reuben.  The food ranged from good to excellent.

The trout, served over a cold, slightly sweet, whole-grain salad, was lightly grilled to perfection and flavorful without being overpowering.  The veggie Reuben also was delicious, with the veggie “field roast” (replacing the usual corned beef) standing up to the melted Swiss cheese and piled sauerkraut in robust, molar-pleasing fashion.

Happy customers are returning customers, and it is hard not to be happy after a meal at FareStart.  The institution also sponsors a series of guest-chef dinners to help raise funds for its training program.  Upcoming events can be located on the website.

At the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Seattle’s Portfolio Restaurant, the excitement of tasting culinary school creations continues.  The restaurant is intended to be the laboratory for culinary students at the Art Institute and commands an impressive view of Elliot Bay to complement its white-tablecloth setting.

The Portfolio Restaurant offers elegant fine dining for dinner at an affordable price.  The meals are provided by upper-level students who work with Chef Instructor David Wynne, CCC, whose professional experience is international.  But those wishing to experience the Portfolio must plan ahead.  It is only open for dinner Wednesdays through Fridays during limited parts of the year and is currently closed for the summer semester.

Area community colleges also offer a number of great places to grab good food.  For instance, South Seattle Community College, located in the Pigeon Point neighborhood of West Seattle, offers four separate student-staffed restaurants.  Café Alki offers casual dining, while Alhadeff Grill provides a more formal culinary experience.

A food court provides cafeteria-line offerings, but the true gem is Bernie’s Place, the outlet for the pastry program.  Former South Seattle Community College students have fond memories of Bernie’s Place.  It is recommended that interested visitors come prepared to purchase one of the many intricate cakes available.  If you are looking for Bernie’s Place, walk toward the cosmetology building and you won’t miss it.

And any review of culinary schools in King County must include the offerings from Seattle Central Community College.  Like South Seattle, the Seattle Culinary Academy at SCCC also has a four-restaurant offering, with something for everyone.  The students run the Square One Bistro, which features bistro-style cooking from a variety of regional cuisines.  Every two weeks, the Square One menu changes to reflect a different culinary tradition: the menu rotates through French, Italian, Hawaiian and local Pacific Northwest cuisine.  As SCCC’s One World Dining, students offer up international menus in a fine-dining atmosphere.  Both restaurants reflect SCCC’s emphasis on organic, local menu items, including wild seafood, sustainably raised meats and organically grown fruits and vegetables whenever possible.

In addition, Seattle Culinary Academy students also staff two more casual eateries, the Chef’s Express (where second-quarter students prepare international cuisine; takeout available!) and The Buzz (a baked goods and pastries outlet operated by students of the Specialty Desserts and Breads program).

As with most other dining experiences at local culinary schools, SCCC’s restaurant offerings are only available during limited time periods.  Due to the school schedule, the restaurants are closed several weeks of the year.  And even when school is in session, Square One, One World and Chef’s Express are only open from 11:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. during the work week, while The Buzz is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  The surest way to find out the restaurants’ schedules is to check the website or call the school directly at 206-587-5424.

Overcoming the scheduling challenge pays dividends, though; entrees, including soup or salad, typically range in price from around $5 to $6.50.  And during the last two weeks of each quarter, as a final project, graduating students have the opportunity to work as “Chef of the Day,” planning and preparing a unique menu each day in one of SCCC’s two main restaurants.  Consider obtaining reservations during that time, as the school reports that seating tends to book early.  In short, the opportunity to enjoy fresh, new chefs in training makes a visit to SCCC worth the effort.

Our region is blessed with a range of educational opportunities for aspiring culinary professionals.  Of course, the restaurants that local culinary institutions offer are educational for the aspiring eater, too.  The above selection is but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to local culinary educational and dining opportunities.  Other possibilities await your discovery on the Eastside and South King County, all ready to educate the adventurous diner, hoping to learn a little something new.

Contact Ben Nivison with comments or for more information at bnivison@schwabe.com.

Originally published in the August 2009 issue of the King County Bar Bulletin. Reprinted with permission of the King County Bar Association.

The High Tech Way to Eat Right

June 1, 2009

Colin Folawn, editor

It could be hard for a lawyer to “eat healthy” while faced with all the demands of a busy and successful practice.  All too often we find ourselves alternating between skipping meals, grabbing fast food and facing the luxury of a more lavish meal with clients or colleagues.  And, all too often, the more we grab the fast food and/or eat out, the harder it seems to eat healthy.

This does not have to be the case.  There are some simple rules and many new tools to help the busy lawyer (or other professional) eat out and eat healthily.  But whether your diet is Atkins, vegan or omnivorous, modern technology can help you make healthy choices at almost any eating establishment.

Finding Where to Eat

Anyone who dines out frequently knows that it can be a challenge to make menu selections that fit comfortably within one’s diet.  And, while there are computerized aids that allow diners to calculate the caloric content of the foods they are about to eat, it is perhaps more desirable to identify those restaurants in your area that already provide menus loaded with highly nutritious and low-calorie options.

The Internet is a great resource for identifying those restaurants and menu items.  First up is local.yahoo.com.  This site identifies 27 restaurants within a 10-mile radius that are known for serving healthful foods.  With a couple mouse clicks, you can view diner reviews, menus and directions.

If your idea of healthy eating requires that you steer clear of, well, steer and its brethren, you will find what you’re looking for at the Happy Cow, which provides contact information, reviews and a synopsis of menu items for 36 vegetarian restaurants within the city limits – some of which are ovo, lacto and/or vegan and others that are just plain vegan “friendly.”

Yelp.com, like Yahoo, identifies restaurants having healthful offerings and provides directions and reviews, but doesn’t narrow its focus exclusively to “health-food” restaurants.  Instead, Yelp points out certain menu items that fall within the “healthful” category.

What to Order

Trying to decide what to order?  Free iPhone apps can help you plan ahead, order and keep track of the calories you consume.

Urbanspoon is a free app that helps you find nearby restaurants based on your location.  For some restaurants, there are not only reviews but also links to menus, enabling you to scan the offerings as you walk to the restaurant.

Keeping track of what you eat can make for healthy, or at least informed, decisions when ordering off a menu.  If this interests you, consider downloading Lose It! This free iPhone app allows you to track calories, log exercise and set goals for weight loss or maintenance.  As you enter your meals (and exercise), the app calculates your net calories consumed and displays the results in daily or weekly views.  You also can add recipes or foods into its database, allowing you to quickly log what you eat on the go.

Picking an Overall Health Strategy

As lawyers, we have egos – large egos – fighting with our smarter selves.  No one wants to admit that they need help learning what to eat to get and stay healthy.  While we read to learn about almost everything else we do, many avoid books on dieting, nutrition and health.

Purchasing nutrition and diet books was certainly made easier by online shopping, because the books come in the mail.  But the Kindle has made it so the purchases that embarrass you can still travel with you.

The Kindle is a light-weight, electronic book reader.  Equipped with “whispernet” technology, you can purchase books from your Kindle at any time, in any place.  You can read any health book you want, regardless of the trashy nature of the title or cover, as you wait in clients’ office lobbies or for your turn on the motion calendar in other jurisdictions.  And your copy of Skinny Bitch, the 21oth most down-loaded book for the Kindle, is $4 cheaper on the Kindle than the book’s list price.  There are a number of health books in the top 300.

Places for a Good, Healthy, Client Meal

Breakfast: Portage Bay is a perfect location for a client breakfast.  With the philosophy, “Eat like you give a damn,” how can your meal go wrong?

With the most of Portage Bay’s food sourced organically, the restaurant ensures that what you eat is free of toxic pesticides, herbicides and sewage sludge.  We recommend the organic Portage Bay porridge – homemade rolled oats, raisins, dried cranberries, hazelnuts, pecans, almonds and cinnamon; all vegan, all good.

Lunch: Bennett’s Pure Food Bistro uses no flavor enhancers, hydrogenated oils or processed foods, but does not skimp on taste.  Located in the heart of Mercer Island, this place makes an excellent spot for an eastside client lunch.  We would recommend the seasonal salad with mixed greens, watercress, matchstick apples, fennel and toasted almonds in an orange sherry vinaigrette.

Dinner: Sutra offers a good vegetarian meal to share with vegetarian or vegan clients.  Located in Wallingford, Sutra provides fresh food incorporated in artistic and intuitive meals that connect healthy eating with a healthy community.  With seating for about 35 guests, reservations are greatly recommended.

Sutra is fashioned as a supper club and its menu changes every few days.  It has two seating’s a night on Fridays and Saturdays (this means everyone starts at the same time) and one seating on Wednesdays and Thursdays.  Each day’s menu is a pre-set, four-course dinner.

Contact Colin Folawn with comments or for more information at cfolawn@schwabe.com.

Originally published in the June 2009 issue of the King County Bar Bulletin. Reprinted with permission of the King County Bar Association.

Some Foods Get Better With Age

May 1, 2009

Gary Myles, editor

Seattle is a fresh-food town, renowned for its fresh seafood, fresh local produce and fresh new chefs who know how to take advantage of each.  However, some things that we eat and drink get better with age.

Seattle’s food scene provides plenty of opportunities to enjoy the finer things that require proper aging – wine, spirits, beef, cheese and balsamic vinegar – without risking coming off like a pretentious attorney.  What follows are some of the best places to learn about and consume that, which like legal bills, only improves with additional time.

Beef: Unlike pork or chicken, beef is much improved with the proper amount of aging.  Unaged beef lacks what we think of as typical beef flavor.  We went to the experts to find out why.

“When we age beef,” explains Abe Ackley of Bob’s Quality Meats, “the naturally occurring enzymes break down the meat fibers, making the beef tender.  At the same time, moisture in the meat evaporates, thus condensing the beef’s flavor.”

While Bob’s Quality Meats dry-ages its beef an average of 21 days, each cut can require different aging to bring out the best flavor.  With its own aging room and careful, expert attention to the aging process, Bob’s is the place to go when you want a great steak to cook at home.

“Without aging, beef would be hard to eat,” agrees San Doman.  Doman, dinner chef at the ever-popular Metropolitan Grill, knows what it takes to serve a tender, tasty steak.  The Met dry-ages its steaks in-house for 28 days and now serves an exceptional 42-day-aged New York strip, which Doman describes as “rich and dense, with a pleasurable taste that stays with you even after you sip your wine.”

We don’t know about you, but just listening to Sam makes us hungry.

Balsamic Vinegar: It almost seems as if diners in Seattle could not envision a meal without balsamic vinegar.  We see it everywhere.  It often accompanies extra virgin olive oil and crusty bread at the beginning of a meal.  It is frequently used in soups, marinades and sauces, and it even finds its way into desserts atop fresh fruit such as raspberries, strawberries and peaches.

Our modern-day obsession with balsamic vinegar seems ironic when considering that the Italians from Modena and Reggio Emilia have been enjoying this unfermented grape vinegar for more than 900 years.  By convention, and protection by the Denominazione di Origine Protetta, balsamic vinegar is made from a reduction of sweet, white Trebbiano grape juice called “Mosto Cotto,” which must be aged in wooden kegs for a minimum of 12 years (aceto balsamico tradizionale di Modena or di Reggio Emilia) and as long as 100 years to intensify its flavor and to achieve a sweet, viscous concentrate before it is bottled and ready for sale.  Not surprisingly, balsamic vinegar gets more expensive with age – several hundred U.S. dollars for only a few fluid ounces.

We’re blessed in Seattle with a number of excellent sources for balsamic vinegar.  The iconic DeLaurenti Specialty Food & Wine and Sotto Voce in the Pike Place Market have great selections of balsamic vinegars, as do Oil & Vinegar in Bellevue Square and Oliviers & Co in Pacific Place.

Wine: Most wines benefit with some aging.  This can be surprisingly true for even inexpensive wines.  If you do not have the space, time or patience, there are still ways to drink wine with some age.

One easy strategy is to simply look closely at the wines available in a store.  Larger volume stores may frequently have multiple vintages together on the shelf.  Two cautions with this approach.  First, older is not always better with some wines and specific vintages – there may be a reason a specific vintage is not sold and it may be worth asking the local wine steward.

Second, pay attention to how the wine is stored.  Wine with a traditional cork that has not been stored on its side may be subject to damage from a dry cork.  A store that is properly handling its wine will rotate any wine that is vertical to ensure that the cork stays wet and does not shrink or crack.

Some stores specifically offer to store vintage wine in climate-controlled conditions.  Esquin Wine Merchants has offered such a service for nearly 40 years.  If you don’t want to store your own or have a wine merchant store your bottles, aged wine can be bought across the city.  But few restaurants have the space and/or are willing to invest the time to cellar wines for years after they receive it.  There are few notable exceptions.  Canlis boasts a 100-page wine list, including many vintage wines back into the ‘70s.

Spirits: Even setting aside the karmic implications, many spirits get better with age.  This is particularly true of distilled spirits such as whisky, rum and brandy.  In the case of distilled liquors, the aging takes place in barrels or casks – usually made of oak.  This process imparts both the characteristic color of the liquor and some of its distinct flavor.

To even be called a “whisky,” Scotland, Ireland, Canada and the United States all have (different) standards regarding how long the liquor must be aged in casks.  The minimum aging requirement to bear the label “Scotch whisky” or “Irish whisky” is three years, though in practice it often is longer.  After bottling, whisky does not “age” in the same way as wine; the liquor in the bottle will be “aged 10 years” whether you drink it tomorrow or 20 years later.  Rarity is the only “age” value to a distilled spirit like whisky.

Brandy is distilled wine, which also has to age in barrels to achieve its characteristic color and flavor.  Brandy bears a designation on the label to help the consumer understand the product’s age and qualities.  Terms such as “A.C.” (Aged two years in wood) and “V.S.O.P.” (“Very Special Old Pale,” aged at least five years in wood), are used to designate aging time.  “Cognac,” arguably the most famous type of brandy, is simply a brandy that comes from the Cognac region of France.  Think “Champagne” versus “sparkling wine.”

As we all know, in Washington there is no opportunity to shop around for a place to buy liquor directly.  Apart from bars and pubs, consumers are left to purchase these excellent spirits at their local state liquor stores.  However, the selection is not the same at all stores, so you might want to call around ahead of time if you are looking for something in particular.

Cheese: The metal vats can be seen through the large glass windows.  As tourists point and lounge along the side of the building, men dressed in white labor over these metal receptacles handcrafting the famous cheeses sold at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese.  “Not all cheese gets better with age,” an employee says as he hands out scrumptious samples.  “But cheddar gets sharper.”  Who doesn’t like sharper cheddar, or cheese employees so willing to guide you through the cheese process?

The employees at Beecher’s are filled with knowledge about the aging process, organic cheese and the differences between cheeses in their impressive display case.  Any cheese lover should find their way to the Pike Place Market, dine in the café between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., pick up a pound of the 3-Year Aged Flagship cheddar and a world-best macaroni and cheese kit, and chat about the changes age can make to cheese.  Beecher’s is also known for donating more than $300,000 in support of non-profit organizations providing education about the benefits of pure, all-natural food, so that today’s children, like a cheddar, grow sharper about the foods they consume with age.

Contact Gary Myles with comments or for more information at gmyles@schwabe.com.

Originally published in the May 2009 issue of the King County Bar Bulletin. Reprinted with permission of the King County Bar Association.

Feeding the Lawyer Family in Seattle

April 1, 2009

Jamila Johnson, editor

Everyone knows the sounds.  It starts with the clink of a fork hitting the floor or a rubber train, drenched in saliva, bouncing off the ground with a clump.  Next are the sobs and wails that shake the empathy cords of anyone who has ever dined with a small child, and the annoyance factor of anyone who has not.

Dining out with kids is not easy.  It can be even harder when you are a busy attorney and you have a life that often involves meeting many new people.  Those new people, on an uncomfortable number of occasions, are the people on the other side of the restaurant when little Benji throws a fit.  As a Blackberry buzzes in the background, the wait staff look at you and the child, annoyed.  All that you can think is that this wouldn’t have happened if this place had crayons.

Let’s face it – some restaurants are better for children with professional parents.  The following are recommendations by attorney parents for places where dining out with children is still fun.  The attorneys weighing in on this list include parents with twins and have triplets, and single mothers.  They have children who are now grown and children born last year.  They include two-attorney homes and have kids of all ages.  Here is what they have to say:

Tutta Bella (4411 Stone Way N): This Neapolitan pizzeria scores high with the parents, but the Stone Way location gets extra points.  Tutta Bella Stone Way is the largest of the three Tutta Bella restaurants, and even has events for children and families.  “Tutta Bella is so kid-friendly that Molly and I took all four kids (one in a high chair and three in car seats) to the restaurant and had no problems,” says David Ebel, a partner at Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt.  If any attorney with triplets can do it, so can any other attorney parent.

Atlas Foods and Endolyne Joe’s:  If your abode is anywhere near West Seattle or the University of Washington, Atlas Foods and Endolyne Joe’s are excellent for your littlest picky eater.  Both restaurants are part of the Chow restaurants, a locally owned group of restaurants offering “foods to soothe the soul no matter the latitude.”  Their menus are interesting and diverse for adults, but contain menus that kids really get excited about.  The wait staff are known for being child friendly and experience seems to suggest that no child bores easily at their tables.

Red Robin: This is a classic child-friendly chain (born in Seattle, but no longer locally owned). The menu tends to have something for everyone, from the youngest patron through the bar for adults.  The atmosphere is noisy enough that you generally do not fear your own child’s contributions to the ambient noise.  The adequately attentive staff provide entertainment (and occasional singing, such as for birthdays) for the children.  The food is not gourmet, but it is a safe bet for anything from a first birthday party through a child’s first legal alcoholic drink.

Montlake Ale House: Some days you just need a beer or the ability to cause opposing counsel to spontaneously combust.  Montlake Ale House can help with the former.  This place is not only family friendly, but encourages patrons to bring their children.  The reviews on the speed of service can vary.  Some families think this alehouse is a dream come true, others think the service could use a new alkaline battery.  But, all agree it’s worth trying at least once.

Other recommendations: The Barking Dog, Serendipity Café, Chinooks.

Contact Jamila Johnson with comments or for more information at jjohnson@schwabe.com.

Originally published in the April 2009 issue of the King County Bar Bulletin. Reprinted with permission of the King County Bar Association.

 
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