An exciting discovery: a wine bar in San Francisco called VinoVenue.
About 100 wines by the glass, dispensed one ounce at a time from contraptions that debit your prepaid card. As little as a buck for a taste of a simple white from California or New Zealand; as much as four, five or six for some pretty impressive reds from prestigious vineyards in Burgundy, Bordeaux and Napa.
The software comes from Italy, I’m told. Only a matter of time until we see the same concept in more locations.
Did you happen to catch ABC's World News Tonight with Peter Jennings last week? You might have seen correspondent Brian Rooney interviewing yours truly for a story about Flexcar, the pioneering car-sharing program I belong to. Four-person crew--reporter, producer, cameraman, soundman--came to my place, followed me around on errands, got me to expound on the virtures of no longer having to own a car.
Glide effortlessly from SeaTac into Oakland, onto BART, emerge at Embarcadero station in downtown San Francisco ... now I'm off to find a spot of lunch and discover an alley full of cafes called Belden Place. Take a seat at the sunny and very French Cafe Bastille, order a crab salad and a glass of wine and feel like I've never left Paris.
Cafe Bastille, 22 Belden Place, San Francisco, 415-986-567
Seattle’s restaurant-goers are a savvy bunch. There’s a short list of signature dishes around town, and the spinaci served at Assaggio Ristorante is on that list.
It’s an unexpected take on spinach salad. Unlike your standard tossed leaves with raspberry vinaigrette, this is sautéed spinach, served warm and fragrant, redolent of pine nuts, garlic, mustard and balsamic vinegar.
Once again, 25 of Seattle’s most popular restaurants are offering a month-long promotion: 3 courses at dinner for $25. Ten of the group, including Assaggio, are also offering 3 courses at lunch for $12.50.
Too bad that Assaggio’s Mauro Golmarvi has his regular spinach salad, the insalata di spinaci on the promotional menus for both lunch and dinner. Still, you can always order the sauté, or just read the recipe and look at more pictures ...
mike's founder Anthony von Mandl is moving the company to find fresh resources. Specifically, new creative talent.
Mandl essentially created the “malternative” or FMB (flavored malt beverage) category six years ago with the launch of mike's hard lemonade® in New England. The first ten million cases were sold without any advertising. Now the company has outgrown its Denver headquarters and wants to move to a bigger talent pool. Want to work for mike's? Check the company's new recruiting website.
Facing a similar relocation dilemma a few years back, Boeing, you may recall, chose Chicago. But Mandl has opted for Seattle, in large measure because of what’s been called its “creative class.”
Seattle has the fifth-highest concentration of “creative” people (artists, designers, writers, software developers, etc.) in the country, according to Richard Florida's bookThe Rise of the Creative Class.
As it happens, Seattle's also a great market for mike's. It's 60 percent ahead of its closest competitor, Smirnoff Ice.
Couple of interesting items at a recent tasting of wines distributed by Wilson Daniels.
First, a wine from the Australian producer Grant Burge, their 2003 Unwooded Chardonnay. A bright, fresh wine, rich in flavor without being too creamy. Is the terminology too complicated? Au contraire, it's a good idea to let buyers know what style to expect, especially if you're offering an alternative to oaky, California-style chardonnay. And it's only ten bucks!
Then there's the latest on the screwcap front. The whites from Wirra Wirra in South Australia were presented with twist-off tops ... and, for the curious, a neck tag that explained the rationale for screwcaps: no need for a corkscrew, no risk of oxidation or spoiled corks, guaranteed freshness.
Next up: bag-in-box, already on the shelves at your local Costco, no doubt on their website soon. Good wine, too. Stay tuned.
After four years on the move, the “pizza guys” known as Zagi’s have parked their trailer and moved the ovens indoors. Henceforth, Zagi’s signature New York-style pies—the most popular food attraction at west coast music festivals and on Snoqualmie Pass—will be baked in New York’s newest borough … Ballard.
Creators are the bearded Zagi himself, "Cap'n" Ryon Weber, and his business partner, "Lieutenant" Steve Stehlik. Among Zagi's authentically hand-tossed pizzas is Seattle's largest, a 21-incher.
How good is it? New York-style is perhaps the most distinctive and elusive type of pizza. [Super-foodie site eGullet.org has over 150 entries on the search for New York-style pizza in Seattle.]
I loved it: a slightly charred, slightly smoky crust with just the right crunch; cheese that was tasty but not dribble-down-your-chin oily. Ballard? You betcha!
Africa doesn’t leap to mind as a hotbed of culinary delight, does it? But look around: across Capitol Hill and into the Rainier Valley you’ll find one Ethiopian café after another, where contented diners of all colors are mopping their tefs and wats with hunks of injira. And right here in Belltown we have Seattle’s only Senegalese restaurant, Afrikando.
West African cuisine as practiced here shows the influence of its French colonizers. Jacques Martin Sarr arrived in Seattle in 1991 and opened Afrikando five years later. It’s an unpretentious, relaxed place, decorated with African prints and fanciful figurines snipped from colorful tin cans. Sarr, tall and thin, handles the kitchen chores with dispatch, then settles himself onto the couch to watch an episode of Cops! on the big-screen TV.
The New York Times review of the book, which appears in today's paper, is also the day's most widely e-mailed article. Bravo, Mireille! You're clearly hit a nerve with your argument that one should eat only tasty food, and only as long as it's enjoyable. The first chapter is online, too.
Rant: Sunday night at Wasabi Bistro. Live jazz. Three guitars, a pan flute. Fairly crowded, several groups of 6 and 8 diners and drinkers. Standing room only at the bar.
Closest to the band, a vacant table, four chairs, covered with detritus: dirty plates, napkins, glassware. You’d think, wouldn’t you, that someone would at the very least clear the table. The hostess, surveying the floor, picks up a napkin. A cocktailer and a dinner server pass by, carrying orders to customers at a neighboring table, and ignore the mess completely. Another cocktailer swoops down on the table … and removes one glass. After half an hour a busser shows up, loads dirty dishes and silverware onto a tray and disappears. Glassware and napkins remain behind. No one seems to be in charge, no one cares, and after 45 minutes, the table is still not reset. The band plays on, tunelessly.
Kudos to Cascadia, one of only three Seattle winners of the accolade “Restaurant of Ultimate Distinction” awarded by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. (The fancy wine mags have truly bizarre designations, don't they?) The wine list offers 450 selections, with some 6,000 bottles in inventory, presided over by Jeffrey Dorgan.
After 19 years as a waiter at the Space Needle and a stint as operations manager at Jitterbug, Dorgan landed at Cascadia, put himself through an introductory Master Sommelier course, and was promoted to wine & spirits director shortly thereafter. He';ll be keeping a closer eye on all those bottles now that he's moved into the McGuire. "Love living in Belltown," he says.
Time now for our bartender-of-the-month citation. Kudos to Sarah Forbes at Barocho for her carefully made mojito. Baccardi rum, muddles limes, sweet & sour mix, soda, and a large handful of fresh mint leaves.
It's a friendly space, that bar at bARoChO [their spelling]. Relaxed, unhassled.
Glamor chef Rachel Ray was on one TV, making arugula salad, while the Sonics were dribbling away on another. In a waiting area adjacent to the bar, on a red leather banquette, sat a Weimaraner named Jack. Jack's owner was at the bar, drinking a Stella.
The house dog is a chocolate Labrador retriever named Mocha whose countenance graces the cover of the ambitious wine list: 18 vintages of Grgich Hills, for example, and several magnums of Stag's Leap cabernet.
The same owners have the wine & gourmet shop next door called Epicure West. Nice.
Many of these posts also appear on Seattlest.com, part of another network of city blogs.
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