August 2005 Archives

You've Got Car !

Welcome news for urban dwellers, like Cornichon, who no longer own a car. Six months ago, you might recall, ABC World News Tonight aired a feature about the Seattle-based car-sharing program Flexcar. [Yes, that was me on TV.] Today, news that Steve Case, founder of AOL, has purchased a controlling interest in the company. Former Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca has also made an investment and joins the board.

Steve Case.jpg

Why is this good news? Because it takes the concept of car-sharing into the mainstream.

Case happened to see a parked Flexcar in Washington, DC, three months ago, joined up and became convinced that car-sharing has a future. "Sometimes the best ideas are the simple ones," he told a news conference today.

Tim Eyman, listen up: we don't need lower gas taxes, we need fewer cars!

We need a transportation system that works better: more sharing of resources that already exist [cars, buses, rail] and less hogging of stuff that's going to run out [gas]. People who use those finite resources should be prepared to pay for the privilege; pretending otherwise is simply selfish.

Reuben, Reuben, I've Been Thinking ...

Hunt for Seattle's best Reuben leads to Sport, part of Fisher Plaza at the foot of the Space Needle, beneath mural-size image of the hapless Ichiro. Inside, athletic waitstaff sport STAFF t-shirts, dispense menus and adjust TV screens.

Sport.JPG Sport picking up orders1.jpg

Full sandwich ($11.95) listed as Rueben, not a promising sign. Half sandwich, spelled correctly, comes with a flavorless Fiestaware cup of chicken-tortilla soup ($8.95). Await nursery-rhyme's transport far across the northern sea, but, alas, Sport's Reuben is just a toasted sandwich.

Beer w CNN at Sport.jpg Reuben at Sport.jpg

Not bad-bad, mind you: tangy coleslaw, gooey mustard-mayo, sticky Swiss, crunchy rye, but oh-so-bland, unnaturally lean corned beef. No character! I munch in silence as Wolf Blitzer narrates latest Katrina video. Maybe northern sea not such a good idea after all. At least it's a decent pickle.

Sport, 140 4th Ave. N., Seattle, 206-404-7767

Flying Spaghetti Monster

Dude named Bobby Henderson claims on his website, venganza, that an entity called Flying Spaghetti Monster--the intelligent god of pastafarianism--created the universe, that SPAM is Spaghetti & Pulsar Activating Meatballs, and that the proper conclusion to prayers is "Ramen."

Flying Spaghetti Monster.jpg shirtiwtb.jpg

Touched by his noodly appendage ... yes, yes, it's a hilarious slam at the hogwash oozing from Seattle's own Discovery Institute. So what's this doing on Cornichon? C'mon, guys, this site is about noodles. Spaghetti is food!

Garden of Jade

Suddenly crave Sunday night fix of Chinese noodles. Head for Jade Garden in the International District, order Seafood Chow Fun with Curry Sauce. Tender shrimp, bits of crab among the broad rice noodles. Spicy but no discernable curry flavor. Slivers of barbecued pork contribute an unexpected sweetness. Pulse starts racing as MSG kicks in.

Jade Garden exterior.jpg Jade Garden interior.jpg Jade Garden noodles.jpg

At next table, four generations share procession of dishes including impressive mound of crabs in black bean sauce. Convivial gathering.

Fortune cookie says "You will soon achieve your financial goals." Check is all of 8 bucks. Warm rain falls as I pedal home to Belltown. Won't return to this garden; have become Jaded.

Jade Garden, 424 Seventh Ave. S., Seattle, 206-622-8181

Feeling peachy?

End of summer approaches. Yakima beckons, especially given Seattle forecast for a damp Sunday. Perfect time to go, too: Yakima Valley peaches in peak ripeness. Once you're across the mountains, take I-82 as far as exit 44, then head for Donald Fruit & Mercantile and the state's best peach sundaes.

newstorefrontsign.jpg peaches.jpg

Charming story behind this place. Four years ago, two local farmers and businessmen, Bryan Eglet and Jim Russi, restored the historic building as a gift shop and tourist attraction. Grape grower Dave Minnick, who'd started his own winery, Willow Crest, in 1995, joined them a year later to launch Piety Flats. (The label features the hop kiln across the road from the visitor center.) Bring a picnic; there's a shady orchard out back. As for dessert, you can't get a better deal: one scoop of Tillamook vanilla with those heavenly peaches is $3.25, two scoops for $4.25. Paradise!

peachsundaes.jpg orchardpicnic.jpg

Donald Fruit & Mercantile, 2560 Donald-Wapato Rd., Wapato, 509-877-3115

Garden of Eden

Drink is called Adam & Eve. Barman is Alberto Meza, formerly of Alexandria's, now on duty just around the corner at Buenos Aires Grill. Bar has dark wood, dark lighting, nubile patrons, scent of wood smoke.

Bar at Buenos Aires Grill.jpeg Alberto makes Adam and Eve.jpeg Adam and Eve.jpeg

The way Alberto mixes it: roughly equal parts Belevedere vodka and sour-apple Pucker, splashes of pineapple and lime juice, served in glass rimmed with cinnamon. Tastes like a sour-apple martini to me, with a distracting spicy note; I prefer my vodka less puckered. But Alberto claims it has the same effect on women as Eden's original apple. (Gotta trust your bartender, friends.)

Seductive dancers Patricio and Eva return after Labor Day from a gig in Reno where they're headlining the smash musical review Forever Tango. Meantime, Buenos Aires kitchen continues to turn out sizzling steaks. And Alberto works Friday through Tuesday.

Buenos Aires Grill, 2028 Virginia St., Seattle 206-441-7076

Sipping Supper at Rover's

Wine-tasting dinner with visitors from Michigan and California. Warm summer night at Rover's begins with Gosset Grand Rosé in the garden.

Thierry with Lei, Pei and Diana.jpg Gosset Grand Rose at Rovers.jpg

Then Thierry Rautureau starts sending out delectable tastes, starting with a caviar-filled eggshell as sommelier Cyril Fréchier uncorks a stunning 1999 Puligny-Montrachet from Domaine Leflaive.

Next, Chapoutier's 2001 Chante-Alouette accompanies a crab-and-fennel dish.

Domaine Leflaive Puligny Montrachet.jpg Chante Alouette at Rovers.jpg

Then we switch to a much older white, Kalin Cellars 1993 Semillon. A huge diver scallop and a slice of seared foie gras is served to the gents; the ladies get beets with a couscous truffle. We taste from each other's plates, of course.

Kalin at Rovers 1.jpg

Now come two magnificent Burgundies: from Jean Grivot, a 1997 Nuits-St-Georges "Les Boudots" and from Louis Jadot a 1999 Vosne-Romanée "Les Suchots." They're textbook illustrations of differing styles: Grivot's rustic and earthy, Jadot's subtle and ethereal.

With the contrasting wines, two great pieces of fish: Copper River salmon and Alaska halibut. Eight people at the table, eight views of which combination was "ideal." Wonderful thing, great wines with perfectly prepared food: one's senses are heightened, concentration deepened, descriptive powers enhanced.

Nuits St Georges.jpg Vosne Romanee Suchots 1.jpg

After a pause for cucumber sorbet, a great Bordeaux, the 1985 Chateau Pichon-Lalande. First tried this vintage during a visit to the property in 1989; it's never tasted as good as this: rich, ripe, its youthful fruit giving way slowly to mature aromas of tobacco and leather.

Cyril Frechet decants Pichon 85.jpg Pichon Lalande at Rovers 2.jpg

Again, two dishes: lamb medallions for the ladies, venison "burgers" for the guys. Then a trio desserts, which I photographed but don't remember eating. Maybe I didn't?

Corks at Rovers.jpg

Rover's, 2808 E. Madison St., Seattle 206-325-7442


Belltown teeming with werewolves, preening for the full-moon prowl: dudes in dungarees and unbuttoned shirts, babes in stilettos and platforms. A new staircase from sidewalk to boisterous deck at Tia Lou's. A third cocktailer and extra barback at Cascadia.

Twilight sign.jpg Twilight inside.jpg

On Western, three bartenders emulate the Stooges at Twilight Martini Lounge. Six bucks for by-the-book Absolut martini, five for goat cheese "fondue." [Memo to Twilight's ad agency: it's Belltown, not "Bell Town," bruschetta, not "bruchetta."]

Surprise, the goat cheese is terrific, steaming hot, heaped with roast garlic, bits of artichoke heart and black olive, accompanied by crunchy crostini.

Twilight martini.jpg Twilight goat cheese.jpg

Starting this weekend, Sunday nights at Twilight will be The Urban Lounge, a hip-hop & club classics music venue (with a dress code, no less).

Random thoughts, while watching sunset through west-facing windows: what's Twilight's relationship to Seattle Opera's twilight production of Götterdämmerung? Nah. Shake it off. The moon, boss, the moon ...

Twilight Martini Lounge, 2125 Western Ave., 206-443-1212


Summer menu at AIS

Chef-Instructor David Wynne isn't taking the summer off; far from it: his students at Art Institute of Seattle are plating up a refreshing Lomi Lomi Salmon for $6.50: slices of cured salmon and sliced heirloom tomatoes, along with a mound of chopped salmon and chopped tomatoes. It's served with a tasty variation of the traditional Hawaiian flatbread, lavosh: flavored with green tea. The summer lunch menu runs through mid-September; best to call and confirm hours.

Lomi Lomi salmon.jpg Summer quarter chefs.jpg

Portfolio Restaurant, 2600 Alaskan Way. 206-239-2363

Pellegrini memorial


Angelo Pellegrini, Italian-born author of The Unprejudiced Palate and The Food-Lover's Garden, was devoted to the pleasures of a convivial table; his books--his life, in fact--inspired a generation of foodies in his adopted home of Seattle and throughout the country as well. He died in 1991 at the age of 88 and his books, sadly, are no longer in print.

Pellegrini.1.jpg Seafood guru Jon Rowley 768x10241.jpg
Pellegrini photo (L) by Bob Peterson

Now, Seattle seafood guru Jon Rowley is heading a campaign to create a memorial: a statue, a bench, an herb garden. Details in the current issue of Northwest Palate. Roger Downey also offers a tribute to Pellegrini in the current issue of Seattle Weekly. Surely this is a project we can all support!

94 Stewart updates


94 Stewart exterior1.jpg 94 Stewart logo.jpg

Updating the updates: Friday, August 19th, the august Seattle Times weighs in. Nancy Leson loves 94 Stewart! (Good for Nancy! Take that, P-I!) But isn't the timing just a bit bizarre? Three reviews in ten days? On the field, wouldn't it be called "piling on"?

Thursday's post:

The P-I has finally managed to review 94 Stewart, sending Rebekah Denn. She didn't much like it, though she expresses admiration, as Cornichon did two months ago, for Lindsey Norton's wine expertise.

Context, people! Vivanda, right across the street, has been closed for the past month! Campagne is fancier! Le Pichet is a tad pricier! And please, spare us the "parking can be expensive" routine. This is downtown, we live in a big city. Walk.

On the other hand, Bethany Jean Clement gets it. Her review in The Stranger has the most charming lead: "Walking into 94 Stewart is like finding out your blind date is really, really cute—and has an accent." Love it!

Belltown's P'tit Bistro

| 1 Comment

They've come to this quiet stretch of sidewalk along Second Avenue from the bustle of Grenoble, in the French Alps--Laurent Baldini and his wife, Danielle Chheng--with the innocence of aliens from outer space; their sole ambition is to replicate on their new terrestrial colony the benevolent institutions of their home planet.

If they succeed where four previous tenants have failed, and we sure hope they do, it will be thanks to their experience as restaurateurs and their enthusiasm as new immigrants.

Laurent Baldini w Danielle Chheng at Ptit Bistro.jpg Ptit Bistro sidewalk tables.jpg

Le P'tit Bistro is squarely in the cultural tradition of a French neighborhood cafe: it's not a gastronomic restaurant, not a bar, not a lounge, not "casual dining," not fast food, not take-out, but a neighborhood place where you go to eat almost by default. Never mind, for the moment, that Belltown might not be that kind of neighborhood. Laurent and Danielle did virtually no market research before picking this spot; they're here basically because he didn't like Los Angeles, his sister lives in Issaquah, and this property--most recently called U Wa Kitchen--was on the market.

Ardoise Specials1.jpg Dining room inside.jpg

They're offering dinner six nights a week, weekday lunches and weekend brunches. The fare is straightforward: salads, quiches, sandwiches, crepes, desserts (even madeleines!), and a handful of generous dinner items like steak, salmon and lamb chops. Expensive by Belltown standards, although, let's face it, we've been spoiled by happy hours, promotional menus and daily specials.

But if Le P'tit Bistro's relatively high prices are the bad news, the good news is twofold. First, Laurent's a decent cook. He's used to turning out hundreds of plates a day by himself, without complaining. His food tastes good. "C'est simple," he allows modestly. Uncomplicated, unfussy. French home cooking.

Laurent folds a crepe.jpg Crepe w egg 2.jpg Le P'Tit Bistro on Urbanspoon

The second is that Le P'tit Bistro is already turning into a neat spot, with folks from the adjacent highrise condos dropping in to try it out and running into their neighbors, or people they've seen on the elevator and in the parking garage, or recognize from walking the dog. (Dogs are welcome at the sidewalk tables, by the way.)

"This is the first time I've felt comfortable in this space since I moved here nearly ten years ago," a Seattle Heights resident said, finishing up her dessert crepe at the end of Le P'tit Bistro's first week. Indeed, by providing the community with a new focus, those unlikely French space aliens Laurent and Danielle may have given this stretch of Belltown a soul. Bienvenue! Welcome!

Le P'tit Bistro: 2616 2nd Avenue, Seattle, WA 98121 206-728-4141

Madeleines.jpg At sidewalk tables.jpg

Mini expansion

If big is bad and small is good, mini must be better, right?

Belltown street w Mini.jpg Miniburger stack1.jpg Alpine martini w Mini.jpg

From its earliest days, Cornichon has been peppered with dispatches from and about Cascadia, star of Belltown's First Avenue sidewalk and home to Seattle's best Happy Hour bar snack, the $1 miniburger.

Now Chef Kerry Sear has taken the mini to a whole new level. Where some restaurants might have bewailed the popularity of a time-consuming, how-can-we-possibly-make-money-on-this, we've-created-a-monster menu item, Cascadia's response is to turn lemonade into nectar: keep the basic burger, add options, and upsell like crazy.

To wit: the classic beef miniburger (still ground from hanger steak, still $1 during Happy Hour) is joined on Cascadia's new menu by wild king salmon and veggie versions ($2 during Happy Hour). All three basic burgers run $3 outside of Happy Hour, and there's a raft of new add-ons: grilled onions ($1), sauteed portobellos ($2), pancetta ($2), even a fried oyster ($3) and barbequed lobster ($4) Tomato, lettuce, pickles and ketchup remain part of the base price, but dijon mustard, homemade mayo, and other condiments cost will set you back four bits.

Miniburgers incl salmon w portobello.jpg Miniburger mini in front of Cascadia.jpg Kerry Sear w Mini.jpg

If you say Mini, a lot of people these days will think of the Mini Cooper. Fair enough. So Kerry found the one he wanted, had it shipped to Seattle, painted it bright yellow and parked it out front.

And he's making the Mini--not his award-winning, soul-gratifying, ego-satisfying gourmet cuisine, but his one dollar burgers--the focus of his catering business. Takes confidence, takes imagination.

Can you picture it? Yellow "Mini-van" shows up at your party with grill; kitchen crew in starched whites dispenses choice of burgers topped with Oregon blue cheese and bites of barbecued lobster drizzled with black truffle butter ...

There's even a new website for the project, Genius, I tell you. I'm in awe.

Grilling miniburgers.jpg

Double martinis

| 1 Comment

Those of you looking for signs of divine intervention can give up now; we're all going to die.

But while we await the inevitable, those three-dollar midday martinis at Spice--previewed on this page a couple of weeks ago--offer temporary solace. At least that was my friend's premise in extending an invitation to lunch. Watching the bartender's two-wristed pour, I had to agree: we're doomed. For the rest of the afternoon at least.

Martinis round 1.jpg Martinis at Spice.jpg

What goes with with martinis? Why not a big, juicy burger? And then another round ...

Burger at Spice.jpg Martinis round 2.jpg

I'm sure there was some cosmic revelation that afternoon, but it must have evaporated. Maybe I'll try again next week.


| 1 Comment

Safeway was selling bottom round steaks and roasts for $1.99 a pound ... so I bought several of the roasts [looked like tri tip to me] and made my own rub, just using stuff on hand, starting with ... finely ground French Roast coffee. Added other stuff like garlic powder, salt, crumbled up bay leaf, paprika, and rubbed and rubbed.

Beef.jpg Condiments.jpg

Then I seared the roasts one by one [each must have been about two lbs] in a cast-iron skillet, put on a roasting rack, and left them in a 200-degree oven until internal temp reached 140-150 degrees.

Had two parties back-to-back this weekend, first one at my place, second one at waterfront home on Lake Washington in Kirkland.

Carved the meat on the spot, thin-thin-thin, then cross-cut a couple of times for easy mounding on bread. Perfect medium-rare. Accompanied with easy-to-make sauces: a horseradish sour cream [1 oz prepared horseradish, 1/2 cup light sour cream], and a yogurt-mustard blend [half non-fat yogurt, half dijon mustard]. Fresh-baked baguettes from Biofournil that use organic flour and imported sourdough starter from Nantes. Yum, I tell you, yum.

Biofournil loaves.jpg Miriam slicing the beef.jpg

And it was my brother's description of the rubs right here on Cornichon two weeks ago that gave the me the idea.

Adding more prep info: rub night before, refrigerate in plastic bag, roast next day.

More specifics re oven: preheat to 300, insert meat, reduce to 200. Check roast w quick-read thermometer after maybe 3 hours. (Best is if oven is calibrated below 200: you can turn to 150 & leave indefinitely, since interior will not warm past that point.)

Cooking sage Shirley Corriher says you should roast to 110 degrees, then bump temp to 500 for 20 mins to get great crust, but I didn't do that part, figuring that the pan-searing already gives me the flavorful crust I want.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from August 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

July 2005 is the previous archive.

September 2005 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.


OpenID accepted here Learn more about OpenID
Powered by Movable Type 4.32-en

Win this sterling silver wine collar!

Click here for details.

Aspinal of London Ltd.

Search here for Cornichon posts:


Who we are

Cornichon Seattle restaurants


Cornichon is Seattle's Global Gourmet


One of the Internet's Top Ten Food Blogs
"Focused, witty and informative"
Prominent blog, best at covering the restaurant scene
--Seattle Spin
One of Seattle's 15 Greatest Blogs
"Belltown's boulevardier"--Seattle Magazine
"An elder statesman among bloggers"
--Seattle Times
One of America's favorite independent wine blogs

Ronald Holden for website.JPG

I'm Seattle's Global Gourmet for a national network of blogs, Also Director, Wine Tours, for The International Vineyard. Write to me: ronald [at]

Many of these posts also appear on, part of another network of city blogs.
Seattlest logo.gif

Real Absinthe -- Thujone Absinthe
Absinthe Original offers a large selection of real absinthe varieties, also called the Green Fairy, containing varying amounts of thujone, derived from wormwood. Find absinthe liquors, spoons, glasses, and other accessories. Quick worldwide shipping.

No Whining, Yelping or Zagging on this new blog: The Short List: Seattle


Recent Entries

TIK logo.gif
The International Kitchen
Cooking school vacations in Italy, France & Spain.

Links, the new food directory and recipe wiki, just launched!

The International Vineyard, a new way to learn about wine in France, Italy and Spain: three-night programs for wine lovers in less-traveled regions.

The International Kitchen, the leading source for culinary vacations in France and Italy.

French Word-A-Day, fascinating lessons about language and daily life in Provence

Belltown Messenger, chronicle of a Seattle neighborhood's denizens, derelicts, clubs, bars & eateries. Restaurant reviews by Cornichon.

Small Screen Network, where food & drink celebrities like Robert Hess have recorded terrific videos.

The oldest and most comprehensive blog about Paris, BonjourParis, produced by a stellar team of writers and editors (including occasional contributions from Cornichon).

Maribeth Celemente's blog, Bonjour Telluride, with regular updates to her shopping guides, The Riches of France and The Riches of Paris.

French Chef Sally is my friend Sally McArthur, who hosts luxurious, week-long cooking classes at the Chateau du Riveau in the Loire Valley.

Local Wine, the worlds leading Food and Wine tasting calendar. Spirits and Beer events as well. Post your own event or sign up to be notified when new events are po sted to your own area.

VinoLover, Seattle wine promoter David LeClaire's bulletin board of tastings, dinners and special events.

Wine Educator Dieter Schafer maintains a full schedule of Seattle-area tastings and seminars for amateur wine drinkers and professional alike.

Nat Decants, a free wine e-newsletter from Natalie MacLean, recently named the World's Best Drink Writer at the World Food Media Awards in Australia. Wine picks, articles and humor; no ads.

More blogs about food wine travel.
Who links to me?