November 2009 Archives

Gentlemen, Start Your Buffalo

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Taking a brief respite from the Victoria's Secrets series of the past few days, Cornichon visits Victoria's newest pizzeria.

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Prima Strada was born out of Cristen DeCarolis's frustration: the lack of decent, family-friendly pizza parlors in Victoria. She'd come from the Bay Area and her husband, Geoffrey Dallas, originally from a restaurant family back east, had a good job in hi-tech on Vancouver Island, but they missed the Big City's plethora of genuine pies. They built a backyard oven, but it wasn't enough: the concept of a neighborhood pizzeria became a passion.

Toe in the water: they made the rounds of North America's best-known pizza joints in California, Arizona, Chicago, New York, even Seattle (Via Tribunali, Tutta Bella, Serious Pie). They found a space in Cook Street Village that met their requirements; they hired a consultant to navigate the permit process. Motor tuned up, they built the oven, not to the (perhaps unreasonably) exacting VPN standards of the Neapolitan purists, but pretty damn authentic just the same. Ignition!

Caputo 00 flour was a must. So were San Marzano tomatoes, so was filtered water. But genuine mozzarella for the signature margherita pie? Importing by airfreight it from Italy would be prohibitve. Then they heard about Fairburn Farm, up-Island in the Cowichan Valley, the only dairy herd of water buffalo in Canada. Mozzarella is actually the most widely-sold cheese in north America, thanks to pizza toppings, though most of it seems to come in two flavors: plastic or chalk. An industrial, barely edible, food-like substance. Mozzarella di bufala, the real thing, comes from Campania, the region of Naples, where dairy herds of water buffalo are raised. Over 95 percent of the world's domesticated water buffalo are in Asia, and in India, where cows are sacred, water buffalo are the primary source of milk. The beasts have also been raised in Italy for centuries, most likely introduced by Arabs via Sicily or by returning Crusaders.

Now back to Duncan, the Cowichan Valley town where Darrell Archer imported the first herd of water buffalo into Canada in 2000...and promptly lost them to Government ineptitude. Archer persevered, and now has a herd of 40. He's also got guest rooms, a cooking school, and a chef, Mara Jernigan, who's also the president of Slow Food Canada.

Getting back to the buffalo: they're milked on Mondays, and the milk is made into mozzarella the following day in Courtenay, even further up-Island, by a Swiss cheese master at Natural Pastures Cheese. (His Comox Brie won gold at the world championship in 2008.) Prima Strada is the Island's largest customer for the mozzarella, and, before the week is out, it's melting on pizza in the handmade oven in Cook Street Village.

There's nothing self-conscious about Prima Strada. Half a dozen starters, three or four desserts, a dozen wines, four or five local beers on tap. Ten pies, from $11 to $16; additional toppings are a couple of bucks. (Che cosa? you can see the Italian purists' eyeballs rolling.) Extra buffalo mozzarella will set you back $3.50, by the way, and (seems to Cornichon) almost guarantees you disappointment. The whole point of mozzarella being its freshness, don't try to melt more than just a little...or your thin-crust pizza will get hopelessly soggy. On a salad, another story entirely.

Is everything perfect here? No, frankly: we think the tiramisù lacks espresso flavor. Other gripes: none. (What's amusing with any pizza parlor, by the way, is to read the comments of self-proclaimed pizza experts telling you why this or that--crust, topping, service--doesn't measure up to their wacky standards. Check out the whiners on Yelp and UrbanSpoon!)

There's already a mobile version of Prima Strada called Black Beauty, currently parked out back, and there's going to be a new store shortly in Victoria's working-waterfront Selkirk district, off Gorge. "It has a different feel than Fairfield, more industrial, but it's still pizza," Cristen says. "And it's big enough to do breakfast, lunch and special events." Vroom, vroom!

Pizzeria Prima Strada, 230 Cook St., Victoria, BC, 250-590-5895  Pizzeria Prima Strada on Urbanspoon

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Just a few blocks from the well-known tourist attractions of Victoria (Empress, Royal BC Museum, Parliament Buildings, Undersea Gardens, Wax Museum, etc.) lies James Bay, the oldest residential district (north of San Francisco) on the west coast of North America. And it's here, on a damp, overcast Wednesday night, dolled up in vintage attire, that Cornichon and Hedonista found yet another treasure: The Superior.

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HEDONISTA says: Ever since I first tried this wonderfully whimsical place, I'm now happy to say that I'm as close to a regular as one who now lives in Seattle can be. A small plates eatery with a focus on small local food producers and BC beer and wine, The Superior supports local artists and musicians. From the peaceful patio to the always-interesting interior, The Superior - which opened in October 2005 - is all about the ambiance. In fact, the entire restaurant serves as owner Lisa Boehme's own personal canvas, which she redesigns seasonally (or whenever the mood takes her). Her goal as an artist and visionary: to challenge people to think outside of the box, to change the way one thinks and, by doing so, to make the world a better place.

superior_root_chips.JPGMuch like the interior and exterior, the menu at The Superior Café is also a blank canvas; for, here, art is food and food is art. Not over the top, mind you - just good, creative-yet-simple small bites served up with an artistic eye. They do weekend brunches (10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.) and evening meals Tuesday through Sunday (5:00 p.m. 'til "late"). (They don't currently do lunches.) They do offer a "soup of the moment." And their menu changes up weekly. In the evenings they host art and cultural events, be they movies, music, or even dating games.

That night - in my crushed black velvet dress, black stockings and patent leather Mary Jane-heeled shoes tied with black ribbons - we enjoyed the 1941 flick The Maltese Falcon - complemented by their version of a Cosmopolitan, sans rose: white cranberry juice, cointreau & vodka, served up with a lime wedge. Very nice - think gin & tonic meets lemonade.... Their noshies are very pleasant - their root chips, for example, get on like a house on fire with their beer, wine, and spirits ... not to mention their film noir (think a creatively classy alternative to the traditional movie fare of potato chips and popcorn).

CORNICHON says: Film Noir night at a cafe just off the Inner Harbour. Film noir as in Bogie. It's been almost three-score years and ten since the great writer-director John Huston and his gang of players (Bogie, Sidney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre) launched their concept: hard-driving, fast-talking, high-contrast urban adventures. Guns, dames, cigarettes, booze. Quick cuts interspersed with long, long takes. Actors who created dark characters; scripts that told a dark story.

Thus does Cornichon find himself, of a Wednesday evening, in ascot & leather jacket, watching the iconic Maltese Falcon. Best supporting actor for Greenstreet in his first movie. Bogie misquoting Shakespeare (“The stuff dreams are made of”) as the elevator takes Mary Astor away.

Lights up and The Superior's owner, Lisa Boehme, appears. We recognize her--don't we?--from Toulouse-Lautrec's sketches of Paris nightlife: a savvy dame who plays the role of a slightly loopy femme fatale.

Superior's lofty space across from Fisherman's Wharf Park was built as a gathering spot for under-age, off-duty seafarers; later it became a Unitarian church. Now it's an arty restaurant, an elcectic performance venue and unofficial community center. Hundreds of shoes festoon a tree in the courtyard: a fundraiser for battered women, an expression of Lisa's open-hearted, California-girl, earth-mother personality. There's food and drink here nightly, as well as a popular weekend brunch. Organic, of course. A “culinary artist” named Torin Egan's in charge of the kitchen. But the spirit of the place comes from Lisa, self-described “visionary,” who has the creativity to keep all the wheels spinning without going off the tracks.

The Superior, 106 Superior St., Victoria, BC, 250-380-9515  The Superior on Urbanspoon

With just about 80,000 residents, Victoria has a population roughly the size of Bellingham, with tourism as the second-largest industry (high tech is first). For all that, it has an impressive number of distinct neighborhoods, each with its own shopping street and local watering holes. Fernwood has the comfortable, small-town feel that Seattle's funky Fremont used to exude, with art galleries and cafes, a noted theater (the Belfry, in a former Baptist church), a spruced-up, half-timbered pub (the Fernwood Inn), and a couple of wine bars: brand-new Lisa's and year-old Stage, the second of our Victoria's Secrets. Once again, here are Cornichon and Hedonista.

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Smoked%20salmon%20on%20seafood%20plate.JPGCORNICHON says: George and Linda Szasz faced a Sophie's Choice: which of their babies, Paprika or Stage, would they keep? They already lived in Fernwood, so the decision was relatively easy, but they knew that a new owner would want continuity in the kitchen. Their solution was to hire Anna Hunt and train her at Stage, then move her to Paprika.

Meanwhile, they reinforced their concept at Stage: a neighborhood gathering place with a short list of carefully chosen wines by the glass (7 whites, 8 reds, not an endless list of fancy bottles), house-made charcuterie, local cheeses, and a dozen or so small plates (none over $12) and a couple of sampler platters (one fish, one meat, $15). On the seafood platter, the cold smoked salmon (cured with rosemary, sugar and citrus zest) was almost unbelievably juicy. The traditional wine pairings included a California sauvignon blanc, an Austrian grüner Veltliner and a fabulous riesling from the Mosel, Dr. Pauly Bergweiler, at $8 a glass.

On the charcuterie plate, a stunning porchetta di testa (there's a great blog post about making it here by a New York chef). Stage's porchetta was presented in a cloud of Reggiano shavings and slivered radishes and melted in your mouth. A tempranillo from the Rioja was offered, but we stayed with the riesling and its bracing acidity.

Locals started drifting in shortly after 5; by 6 the place was packed. Seattlites would recognize the décor, exposed brick similar to Belltown's Black Bottle gastropub, and appreciate the ambience, as befits Canadians, a lot quieter.

Porchetta%20on%20charcuterie%20plate.JPGHEDONISTA says: OK, I have to confess - I have a total "couple crush" on Linda and George. I love these guys as much as I love their culinary children, Paprika Bistro and Stage. Stage - short for "stage productions" - is just what you get in this heavenly 'hood, with the Belfry Theatre only a block away. They opened Stage on July 7, 2007 and ran both "babies" for 18 months before handing their eldest of the two off to Geoff Parker in January 2009.

Now, George comes from many generations of cured meat production: his parents ran Szasz Deli in Vancouver for over three decades, while his grandparents (on his father's side) operated a salami factory in Szeged, Hungary. The result of these many generations has now culminated within the exposed brick walls of Stage. Their "Charcuterie by George" - a playful spin on Cookies by George (available throughout North America) - rocks the palate, in both taste and texture. My fav by far was the porchetta de testa - and yes, that's headcheese made with the head of a pig, dear hedonists (please do expand your horizons) ... luscious and delicious ... way beyond perfect. And his smoked ham easily ranks among the top five best I've ever tasted. (Ever.) And, while on the topic of perfection, the smoked salmon and the kushi oysters - the latter served with a mignonette of lemon zest, fennel fronds, brown sugar and salt - tasted just like heaven should (and also melted in your mouth).

But let's not stop at Stage's savory fare; for Stage's sweet is also worthy of note. There's the usual suspects - crème brûlée and chocolate pât7eacute; with raspberry coulis and crème fraîche. But the goat cheesecake is worthy of note: served with lemon curd & pistachio biscotti - revealed a nice balance of the "baaah" bite of the creamy goat cheese, the tangy tartness of lemon curd and the pistachio-laden crunch of the biscotti. The perfect end to a perfect culinary evening.

Want perfection? Go to Stage ... and be sure to ham it up!

Stage Wine Bar 1307 Gladstone (at Fernwood), Victoria BC, 250-388-4222  Stage on Urbanspoon

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Much about Victoria has never changed, will never change. The good gray Coho, now 50 years old, still toots like a teenager as she enters the Inner Harbour, and the great Woolly Mammoth still stands guard in the Royal BC Museum. The BC Parliament buildings still twinkle at night, and Big Blue, the bascule bridge at the foot of Johnson, still rears up periodically to let tall-masted vessels pass.

But much is changing rapidly, and we've come to Vancouver Island to uncover some of those off-the-beaten-track spots--known perhaps to local foodies but not widely heralded--which Cornichon visited in the company of traveling partner Jacqueline Pruner of Heed the Hedonist.

Our culinary-literary joint venture found four candidates for this series, which begins in the neighborhood of Oak Bay, specifically Estevan Village, home to Paprika Bistro. Our report below.

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CORNICHON says: The name Paprika suggests something Hungarian, wouldn't you say? That's because Paprika Bistro was founded by a Hungarian, George Szasz ,and his wife Linda. George's parents ran Szasz Deli in Vancouver, (in South Granville, where West now stands), so he grew up with the whole cured-and-spiced meat thing. George and Linda, who'd been running a resort in the north of British Columbia and were looking to move to Vancouver Island, bought themselves French place in Oak Bay, Chez Daniel, renamed it Paprika, and ran it for seven years before they sold it.

Geoff Parker, the owner since January, used to be the food & bev manager at Chateau Victoria, an Inner Harbour landmark. Here at Paprika, he runs a quintessential neighborhood bistro, with local art on the wall and local food on the menu. The seared pork tenderloin, for example, is encrusted with Victoria Gin botanicals and dressed with a Victoria Gin vinaigrette. It's almost incestuous: Paprika's chef, Anna Hunt, is the brother of Peter Hunt, the master distiller for Victoria Gin. As our tasting progresses (housemade sausage, grilled calamari salad, hand-cut beef tartare, pasta with local mushrooms, Cowichan Bay duck breast), Parker pours perfectly matched wines from Canadian producers: Quail's Gate chenin blanc, Kettle Valley pinot gris, Cedar Creek merlot, Sumac Ridge cabernet sauvignon. Only the stunning, liver-textured duck requires more than British Columbia can muster, and earns a rich, ripe Côte du Ventoux. It's a gastronomic and vineyard tour well worth the cab ride.

Duck%20breast.JPGHEDONISTA says: Ah, Paprika Bistro. Just like those memorable moments in life when you fall deep and instantaneously in love, I’ll never forget the first time I laid eyes on that rouge-hued Capsicum annunm. So charming did this perfectly quaint-yet-artsy, off-the-beaten-path eatery look from the outside on that bright sun-filled Oak Bay afternoon, that I simply had to return with a dear friend of mine, who conventiently happens to live in the surrounding neighborhood (that’s spelled “neighbourhood” in Canadian), to try what I was certain was an exquisite find. I was not disappointed. (Note that this was in 2008, so pre-Parker – the Szaszs still ruled the roost.) I can still remember the near-orgasmic seafood dishes … and the duck! So crisp on the outside, yet melt-in-your-mouth on the inside…. We sat at what is still to this day my absolutely fav spot in the entire restaurant, which seats a modest 60 patrons: a tiny window bench tucked in this place’s quietest corner. We truly had the time of our lives.

Now, post-Parker, I’m so very pleased to announce that it’s still the same fab place it’s always been. With Anna Hunt at the helm (Sous Chef under the Szaszs and now Chef de Cuisine under Parker, not to mention culinary consultant for her brother’s gin distillery), the continuity of fabulous foodie festivities remains. This is artisan cuisine, without a doubt: the homemade pasta is absolutely to die for, Parker’s wine pairings perfect, and the Cowichan Bay duck breast immediately teleported my palate back to that first unforgettable night my culinary heart found this beautiful boutique bistro.

In my hedonistic opinion, Paprika Bistro is one of the most romantic dinner spots in all of Greater Victoria. It’s open Tuesdays through Saturday from 5:00 p.m. on. It’s only a few blocks’ walk to both Willows Beach and Lokier Garden, to boot (not to be confused with the Canadian pronunciation of “about”). They’re also a proud supporter of local farms, wineries and ocean wise fisheries, which is a big bonus in my books. For a mere 10-minute, $15 cab ride from Victoria’s Inner Harbour, this is simply a must-try place that I guarantee is well worth the trek to tantalizingly true love.

Paprika Bistro, 2425 Estevan Ave., Victoria, BC, 205-5927424  Paprika Bistro on Urbanspoon

Robert Service: Bard & Banker

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He's known as the Bard of the Yukon, born in England in 1874, raised in Scotland, an adventurer named Robert Service who traveled up and down the west coast of North America. His gift for spontaneous rhyme would bring him fame and fortune (as it did to England's Rudyard Kipling, Australia's Banjo Patterson and America's Ernest Thayer, to name a few). A true "people's poet," Service had apprenticed as a banker in Glascow, and would support himself as a teller for the Canadian Bank of Commerce in Whitehorse and in Victoria, often sleeping (shotgun at the ready) above the vault.

He saw more than his share of violence and misery (all of which he turned into verse) but he was also under "The Spell of the Yukon"

It's the great, big, broad land 'way up yonder,
It's the forests where silence has lease;
It's the beauty that thrills me with wonder,
It's the stillness that fills me with peace.
Today, the Victoria branch of the now-defunct CBC has morphed from one of those year-round Christmas stores into a sparkling, 320-seat gastropub named in Service's honor, the Bard & Banker. It's one of 13 pubs owned by Matt MacNeil's Victoria Pub Company, which also includes Island favorites Irish Times and Penny Farthing.

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As befits a former bank, there's plenty of marble and brass here; as befits a pub, 30 beers on tap, dozens of single malts behind the bar, live music nightly and free wi-fi.

What's less expected is B&B's commitment to local fare, first with a "Two-Mile Diet" of local breweries, then a "What's in Season?" list of the freshest ingredients (this week: chanterelles, cabbage, cranberries, pumpkins, squash). GM Mike Boyle enjoys pairing the dishes with local beers; we were impressed by the Herrmann's Dark Lager with spicy peppered albacore and Stanley Park ale with a plate of chanterelles and pasta. Exec Chef Richard Luttman recognizes that sophisticated travelers want to eat "iindigenous" food, although he does make an exception for lemons.

“With any good pub, there has to be a story,” says Moore. And Service's story was a good one indeed. He survived the Yukon and two World Wars, married and retired to a village in Brittany, where he died, in 1958, at the age of 87.

Bard & Banker, 1022 Government Street, Victoria, BC, 250-953-9993  Bard and Banker on Urbanspoon

Cocktails at Clive's

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It's a tight little island, the Victoria bar scene: everybody drinks at Rick's Clive's.

When Clive Piercy, who loved to go hunting in the prairies of Alberta with his German pointer, Shaker, built the 19-story, 177-room Chateau Victoria in 1975, he put a gourmet restaurant (Vista18) on top and a coffee shop (Victoria Jane's) on the ground floor. If we know anything, fashion changes with the seasons, furnishings wear out over the decades, and old dogs chase their last grouse. Shaker has been gone for almost 25 years but lives on in bronze outside the Chateau's front door. Piercy's still very much alive, and the one-time coffee shop, reworked as a lounge, now bears his own name.

It's a comfortable room (fireplace, traditional leather, contemporary glass); what's unexpected is the bar manager, Shawn Soole, a lively bloke from Brisbane, with both Aussie informality (spiky hair) and a serious focus.

Mixologists, of course, don't just "tend bar;" they combine the elements of a cocktail with the skill and understanding of ingredients you'd expect of a creative chef. Hence this unusual Negroni, with Amaro Ninino substituting for Campari. (By coincidence, this very morning, Eric Asimov's column this morning in the New York Times covers the range of Italian amari.)

Some folks find Campari too bitter, according to Shawn, though it falls into the same general category as Jäeger, dude. Add shots of Punt è Mes and Beefeater 24 and you've got yourself a Negroni on steroids, flavorwise. He also makes a sort of Negroni Light, with a Campari-flavored egg-white foam, which Cornichon found singularly unappetizing.

One of the bar toys at Clive's is an absinthe fountain, which Shawn put to good use with a Canadian absinthe, Taboo, distilled in the Okanagan. Flavors of star anise, hyssop and fennel here, rather than licorice. There's an extensive post in our archives about absinthe, part of our review last year of the Arctic Club Hotel's Polar Bar, which is worth rereading. It quotes cocktail authority Robert Hess, who is also reverently cited in Clive's menu as the savior of the Trident cocktail.

In his spare time, Shawn is associate editor of Chilled Magazine and runs a company called The Liquid Revolution, which sells a professional-quality, 12-inch muddler of his own design. Among the muddler's most enthusiastic supporters are Shawn's cross-town competitor, Solomon Siegel (who runs Solomon's, another serious cocktail bar, sorry we missed you this time around) and Kevin Brauch, aka The Thirsty Traveler, whose show is seen on Food Network in Canada and Fine Living Network in the US.

Sorry, too, that we were a couple of weeks too late to attend the Art of the Cocktail, a two-day fundraiser for the Victoria Film Festival, which drew dozens of star mixologists from BC, Washington and Oregon. Named best mixologist of the Pacific Northwest was Vancouver's luminary David Wolowidnyk, bar manager at South Granville's West. Solomon Siegel finished third. Among the judges, Seattle's Murray Stenson.

Oh, and the former F&B manager at the Chateau, Geoff Parker, went on to take over Paprika Bistro, one of "Victoria's Secrets" (joint reviews with Hedonista Jacqueline Pruner, coming up in a few days). We warned you: everything is connected. Six degrees of alcohol, no doubt.

Clive's Classic Lounge, 740 Burdett Ave (ground floor, Chateau Victoria), Victoria BC, 250-361-5684   Clive's Classic Lounge on Urbanspoon

Devour the Pig

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Two cute little places here in Victoria, BC, and we do mean little.

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Devour, all of six months old, has all of a dozen seats, but it has a big heart. As you walk in, you're engulfed in a steam cloud of cumin (the cashew and apricot curry), duck fat (the cassoulet), and chili (the braised lamb shank) and truffle (celeriac mashed potatoes). Wafts of honey, cedar, vanilla, cinnamon. Jena Stewart does it all, with help from her partner Alison Bigg. They're open for lunch and pre-theater (theatre, sorry) bites. (The Royal is just across the street.) This is seductive comfort food, prepared with care.

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A couple of blocks away is Pig, full name Pig BBQ Joint, a hole-in-the-wall takeout venture by Jeff Hetherington (who still pulls an occasional shift as a cook at Brasserie l'Ecole). Sandwiches are $5, barbecued pork with linguini $6. Ice tea or soda are the drinks, Johnny Cash (on vinyl) provides the music. Wanna pickle (on a stick) with that? An extra buck.The cook, Josh Carlson, wears a tee that says "Pleasure to Meat You." The pleasure is ours.

Devour, 762 Broughton St., Victoria BC, 250-590-3231    Devour on Urbanspoon
Pig BBQ Joint, 749 View St., Victoria BC, 250-381-4677  Pig BBQ Joint on Urbanspoon

Victoria Olde & New

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Staid and stately Olde Victoria, that corner of England a short hop from Seattle, is a-changing apace, and Cornichon is here this week to take a look around at what's hip and happening ...and what's new with the traditional as well.

That short hop, by the way, courtesy of Kenmore Air, thank you, thank you; travel arrangements courtesy Tourism Victoria, very grateful for your generosity; itinerary planning courtesy of Hedonista Jacqueline Pruner; mille grazie, and about whom you'll hear more shortly.

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Don't worry, we'll get back to the Empress soon enough. First, a stroll along Wharf and up Yates to a spot everyone's talking about called Foo. (No, not phooey.) Foo Asian Street Food to call it by its full name. No plates here; everything's served in to-go boxes. Open all of two months in a tiny space once occupied by a liquor store, Foo offers six starters and six mains plus two daily specials.

The owners call it street food, but it's really made-to-order takeout. High quality ingredients and skillful execution, though flavors (flavours, sorry, we're in Canada) lack an element of punch. Good, but could be more assertive. Braised beef short ribs ($10) were succulent despite the rather bland chow mein. Chef Patrick Lynch used to cook at Monsoon in Vancouver; GM Sterling Grice--who lived in Asia for several years--still holds down a job at Brasserie l'Ecole. They clearly have a thing for the informality of inexpensive noodles and quick stir-fries, and they're on the right track.

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And where would the right track be? Back down to the Inner Harbour we go, to the pier where Red Fish Blue Fish has been cooking up the island's best fish and chips for the past couple of years. It's cold, windy and wet, and owner Simon Sobolewski welcomes us with a steaming cup of Pacific Rim Chowder ($5), reason alone to come to Victoria. Yes, it's that good. Chef Kunal Ghose (pronounced Quenelle-Gauche) starts with a dairy-free, coconut-chipotle base, adds sweet corn, and tosses in chunks of white fish (poached in garlic oil) at the last second. "It's the simplest thing," he says. No less amazing are the tempura-battered wild salmon, the grilled albacore tacone (taco-cone, get it?), the crispy, hand-cut, twice-fried chips from Kennebec potatoes, and even a battered & fried dill pickle.

RFBF's kitchen is a "high cube" 8x20 seagoing shipping container topped with an industrial-size exhaust fan; a few stools on one side. Sobelewski's previous venture, a video rental shop called Celluloid Drugstore, couldn't have prepared him for RFBF's astonishing success (typical wait during the summer season: 30 to 45 minute), but he's staying true to his vision. He's a historian and environmentalist (the only restaurant on the island that's 100 percent "Ocean Wise;" everything--table scraps, cutlery, fryer oil--is recycled ). Good intentions, however, aren't enoug to keep folks coming back.That's why those crunchy textures and sparkling flavors are so gratifying.

Foo Asian Street Food, 769 Yates St., Victoria BC, 250-383-3111   Foo Food on Urbanspoon
Red Fish Blue Fish, 1006 Wharf St., Victoria BC, 250-298-877   Red Fish, Blue Fish on Urbanspoon

Phillips Screwdriver

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Gail%20Phillips.jpgGail Phillips, the Alaska republican who called for a boycott of a dozen Seattle restaurants because they had the audacity to serve salmon from Bristol Bay, must have a screw loose. The chefs' concern: the proposed Pebble Partnership open pit mine at the headwaters of the bay that could threaten the fishery, home to one third of the world's salmon. At issue today: Ms. Phillips's failure to disclose her connection with Alaska's mining industry.

The controversy, already covered extensively by "foolish Seattle food blogger" Cornichon (see the two previous posts), and a number of national media, including the New York Times, has now found its way into the food columns of Seattle Weekly, where Angela Garbes writes: "This [call for a boycott] prompted Holden, aka the Cornichon, to ask the rhetorical question now heard round the fish news-related corners of the internet: 'Seriously, Ms. Phillips, are you nuts?'"

Heard round the fish-related corners of the Internet? Wow!

But this is not about Cornichon, it's about the mine, boss, the bloody mine!

Zach Lyons, spokesman for a group of Seattle farmers markets, agrees. Just because no permits have been issued or applied for, he writes, "does not mean people concerned with the potential of this proposed mine should not already be taking action. Once permits start happening with mine projects, it is often too late."

In fact, according to Associated Press reporter Mary Pemberton (in a telephone conversation with Cornichon earlier this week), Pebble has budgeted $70 million for the permitting process, in addition to the $132 million already spend on site development, for the permitting process that begins in 2010.

Quoting now from Lyons's email to Ms Phillips:

you fail to mention that you are one of the Pebble MIne project's greatest proponents, as you are identified in the newspaper article in Florida. In fact, you are a Republican member of the Alaska state legislature from Homer, and a former Speaker of the House, and you have been a partner in the Lindphil Mining Company since 1983. On your legislative page, you list mining among your "special interests", and nowhere in your bio and resumé do you mention any interest or involvement in Alaska's fishing industry. Instead, you try to come across simply as a concerned Alaska resident, even listing a personal phone number instead of one your legislative office numbers. If your criticism of our campaign is that it is based on misinformation, perhaps you could start by providing us with an honest and full disclosure about yourself and your agenda.

... the bottom line here is that we are encouraging Seattle chefs to support the Alaskan economy by serving Bristol Bay salmon. I find it dubious at best that you would show such strong opposition to such an effort. You should know better than anyone that the Pebble Mine project decision lies with the people of Alaska, not the people of Seattle. Are you worried that the people of Alaska might recognize that it makes more economic sense, environment and salmon survival aside, to protect the Bristol Bay salmon fishery that supports thousands of jobs than to allow a mine that will enrich a few and endanger a proven natural resource? Are you worried that the truth might cost you your job in the legislature if the word got out to far and wide, or that if you identified yourself fully that it might expose your conflict of interest?

Cornichon appreciates the fact that Lyons stops short of questioning Rep. Phillips's sanity. Salmon, after all, is known as brain food.

Casting Pebbles at Bristol Bay Salmon

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"Seriously, Ms. Phillips, are you nuts?"

That was the question Cornichon asked in yesterday's post about the Bristol Bay salmon promotion in Seattle and former Alaska representative Gail Phillips's call for a boycott of the participating restaurants. The underlying issue: a proposed open pit mine on the headwaters of Bristol Bay that salmon-lovers fear would harm the fishery.

Up in Anchorage, Associated Press reporter Mary Pemberton filed a report that quoted this very blog, and, since it was kinda cute, didn't use profanity, and stayed on topic (salmon is at the core of most tourist-oriented Seattle restaurant menus), the story got picked up nationally (Washington Post, ABC News with subhead "Blogger strikes back," etc.)

This morning, Pemberton filed a longer story, with a response from Ms. Phillips, that made it into the New York Times. We quote from the update:

"Phillips recites an oft-heard complaint coming from the pro-Pebble contingent that questions how Pebble opponents can come out against a mine that has no final development plan and isn't permitted.

"Holden apparently has heard enough about Pebble to make up his mind.

'''A wealth of minerals lies beneath the tundra, and Pebble wants it,' he says on his blog. 'Trouble is, getting the riches would require a vast open-pit mine, the world's biggest, on the headwaters of Bristol Bay.'''

The AP report continues: Phillips said Monday that Holden has no clue what the mine is going to look like, nor does anybody else, until a final plan is developed.

''For a food blogger to already lay out the perimeters of the mine plan is foolish. It is not real because there is no plan yet,'' she said.

Meantime, Seth Caswell of Emmer & Rye and the Seattle Chefs Collaborative, responded directly to Ms. Phillips, which addresses the "unknown shape of the mine" issue. The gist of his message:

"Ms Phillips, do not think that because I am concerned for the responsible protection of the incredible oceanic resources of Bristol Bay that I do not see the value in building mines and extracting materials that can help better transform our lives in a myriad of ways. Hospital equipment, faster computers, and better communication technology not to mention the revenue to the state and improved infrastructure of Bristol Bay are just a few of the areas that can benefit from the addition of the natural resources that will be found in the proposed Pebble Mine. But just as you claim that I and fellow Seattle chefs are getting caught up in the wrong fight, I want to once again remind you that at this time, all we are asking is for our customers to please eat Alaskan salmon, especially those caught in Bristol Bay. The potential economic upsurge could have benefits that ultimately will sway the votes of the Alaskans who will decide in the coming years whether or not to permit the Pebble Mine. We are asking the restaurant diners of Seattle to cast their vote now, to vote with their forks. Please ask your friends and family to refrain from boycotting our restaurants. Who else is going to buy all of that great Alaskan fish?"

So here we have a dozen media-savvy Seattle chefs raising awareness of a (perceived) threat to Alaskan salmon, and a former state legislator in Alaska sending out emails urging a boycott of those restaurants, a wire service reporter in Anchorage who reads blogs...and a "foolish food blogger" in Seattle who refrains from using the F-word when trying to figure out what's going on: a dustup at two removes from whatever the Pebble Partnership might be plotting or planning.

Bring it on.

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Located on a shoreline of seemingly endless tundra, Alaska's Bristol Bay is home to the world's largest salmon fishery.

A baker's dozen Seattle eateries are featuring Bristol Bay sockeye this week, to call attention to the dangers the fish will face from a proposed open pit mine. Save Bristol Bay's salmon by eating salmon, they say! But a woman in Alaska thinks you should boycott those restaurants.

First, the fish side of the story, told to coincide with Pacific Marine Expo 2009 later this week, the largest commercial marine trade show on the West Coast. Bristol Bay, some 200 miles southwest of Anchorage and surrounded by thousands of square miles of Alaskan tundra, is "home" to a third of the world's salmon: that is, they pass through the bay enroute to their spawning grounds. It's a majestic landscape, inhabited only by a handful of native villages. Except for the salmon fishery, out on the treacherous waters, there's no industry.

Enter the developers in the form of Northern Dynasty, parent company of mining project called the Pebble Partnership. A wealth of minerals lies beneath the tundra, and Pebble wants it. Gold, copper, molybdenum silver, rhenium, palladium. The land was opened to mining in the waning days of the Bush administration, and the project had the enthusiastic support of Alaska's former governess, Sarah Palin. Trouble is, getting at the riches would require a vast open-pit mine, the world's biggest, on the headwaters of Bristol Bay. The pit would measure 15 miles across; the dam to hold back the mine's toxic tailings would be 700 feet high and 4.5 miles across, the world's most massive, bigger than the 3 Rivers dam in China, and built on a seismic fault.

Kevin Davis, the chef at Steelhead Diner and an avid fly fisherman, is alarmed. He's gone to Washington DC to lobby against Pebble Partnership's plans. (Sunday evening he was being interviewed by Q13 News.) Seth Caswell, owner of Emmer & Rye and president of the Seattle Chefs Cooperative, is worried about the threats the mine would post to Alaska's native culture. John Shively, on the other hand, ceo of the Pebble Partnership, says the chefs don't understand the project or appreciate what it could do for the people of the region. Going a step further, Gail Phillips up in Anchorage is outraged by the behavior of the 13 Seattle chefs who are sticking their noses into Alaska's business. Boycott them, she says!

Cornichon agrees. By all means boycott these restaurants. Show 'em who's boss. Seriously, Ms. Phillips, are you nuts? Every single visitor and every single local knows Seattle is famous for salmon. Like it or leave it, salmon is at the heart of Seattle's restaurant economy. Thanks to "activist chefs" like Caswell and Davis, we now get some of that wonderful Alaska fish down here in the Lower 48, and we serve it to visitors from around the world. You should try some.

For the record, here are the restaurants Ms. Phillips would have you boycott:Art of the Table, Chiso, Emmer & Rye, Flying Fish, Persimmon, Ponti Seafood Grill, Rover's, Steelhead Diner, Tilth, Tilikum Place Cafe, Pike Brewing Co., Palace Kitchen and Etta's Seafood.

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The Most Interesting Man in the World

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Enrique Henao & friend, miso-crusted cod, Wine Spectator's Gwendolyn Osborn

You've seen the spots, great tongue-in-cheek copy: Announcer, after a series of preposterous set-ups: "He is...the most interesting man in the world." A solidly built, bearded gent with a bit of a Spanish accent. "I don't always drink beer," he says, "but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis." Pause, closeup, punchline: "Stay thirsty, my friends."

YouTube has a pretty good compilation here, and there's a website called, which bounces you over to

But here's the thing. There's a real dude named Enrique Henao, a musician (beautiful classical guitar), who's a dead ringer for the actor in the commercials, and he really is the most interesting man in the world. Born in Colombia and trained as a musician by his father, Enrique donates the proceeds from all his performances to children's relief organizations in South America. You can book him for your next event through an agency called Entco. Or just go to Columbia Winery in Woodinville next Saturday.

We crossed paths with Enrique at Taste of Tulalip, an overwrought wine weekend at the Tulalip Resort Casino that kicked off last night with an seven-wine, eight-course extravaganza prepared by no fewer than nine chefs. Now, it's impossible to pull off a multi-course banquet by yourself, but the resort has a chef or two for each of its dining rooms (Casino, Cedars, Blackfish, Tulalip Bay, Eagles Buffet) plus an exec chef, a pastry chef, plus a food & beverage director and a sommelier. With each one contributing a fancy dish, complexity trumped execution; subtle flavors were lost. Not even the talented Dean Shinagawa escaped unscathed; despite the fussy plating, his miso-seared black cod was the evening's best dish but its soy ginger reduction overpowered the night's best wine, JM Cellars Longevity blend. (Might note here that Longevity's grapes came from Stillwater Creek and received a native yeast fermentation, same vineyard, same technique as Chris Sparkman uses for his Lumière chardonnay.)

Some 60 Washington wineries are involved in today's "lifestyle" seminars, and the whole event is given legitimacy through a sponsorship deal with the glossy Wine Spectator. magazine. Some appealing topics and tastings on the schedule, but nothing as interesting as Enrique.

The Lobster & the Volcano

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Lobsterpalooza 2009 they call it, down at Pier 70. There's a lobster burger ($18), a Maine lobster salad ($20), a lobster risotto ($32), a baked lobster casserole ($36), and so on, all presented by a platoon of servers in braided livery in Waterfront Seafood Grill's gorgeous (if under-populated) dining room. This high-end spot, with an unbeatable sunset view of Elliott Bay and the Olympics, was created a decade ago by restaurant impressario Paul Mackay because there was no swanky fish-house counterpart to his beloved El Gaucho: a classy joint with formal tableside service for high-rolling locals, big-night-out celebrants and expense-account tourists. In good times, it's a great concept; in today's economy, maybe not so much. In response to the downturn, Mackay was quick to close his Waterfront store in Tacoma, and is recasting his midtown property, formerly Troiani's, as a less fussy, less expensive seafood restaurant named Sharp's Fish Market. As for El Gaucho, they've added cabaret and burlesque nights to the menu.

Pier 70's GM, Chris Sparkman, is a mild-mannered southerner who's far too polite to wince at the sight of so many guests arriving at his elegant restaurant in blue jeans. A showman on the dining room floor, he's also a very successful winemaker whose 2008 Lumière Chardonnay was fermented with Stillwater Creek vineyard's native yeasts to exceptional results. (It's $25 or so at retail, $64 on Waterfront's very fine wine list.) Back at Pier 70, once the Lobsterpalooza dishes have been cleared, a cart appears tableside and Sparkman swoops in to set assorted liqueurs ablaze. This is the Emerald City Volcano ($25 for 2), a never-before-sundown parlor trick whose dubious culinary value is eclipsed in a flash of cinnamon sparkles.

Still, Waterfront deserves its designation by the Washington Wine Commission as 2007 Restaurant of the Year. They hold regular wine classes ("wine boot camp") and wine dinners (coming up on November 19th, Chateau Ste Michelle) to give regulars a reason to come back, even if they're wearing denim. The Lobsterpalooza promotion runs through the end of November.

Waterfront Seafood Grill, 2801 Alaskan Way (Pier 70), Seattle, 206-956-9171  :Waterfront Seafood Grill on Urbanspoon

Born Toulouse in Lower Queen Anne


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There's so much going on at Toulouse Petit, a New Orleans-themed brasserie that opened last night at Queen Anne & Mercer, you don't know quite where to start. A year in the building, you can see the effort on the walls, the floors, the table tops, in the platoons of staff and the extensive menus (food, wine, cocktails, happy hour, with breakfast and lunch still to come). There's something for every wallet here, starting with a fatcat's $42 steak (filet with foie gras, veal-cognac-shallot reduction, white truffle oil). For the frugal, the happy hour menu offers boudin blanc ($4), spicy fried alligator ($5), lamb's tongue en remoulade ($6); for the spendthrift, a blackened USDA prime rib eye ($18).

The dreamer behind this flight of fancy is next-door neighbor Brian Hutmacher of Peso's Kitchen. From the outside, Toulouse looks like a green stucco box full of Christmas ornaments. Inside, it's warmly lit and inviting, with filigreed ironwork and inlaid wood, considerably less clunky than the Purple (and Barrio) models of overwrought restaurant decor.

Pouring%20Bitter%20Love.JPGAre you counting? The floor is made up of 18,000 Italian mosaic tiles. Are you eyes open? The bar is inlaid hardwood, the lamps are blown-glass, the walls hand-plastered. Artisan sculptor Eddie Gulberg created original metalwork for the windows, doors, tabletops, and fixtures. Chef Eric Donnelly, last seen at Oceanaire, built the kitchen and laid the tiles himself. Six other craftsmen are credited on the menu. Oddly, despite having tasted over 1,500 wines to assemble a list of perhaps 200 bottles, GM Shing Chin (formerly of Wild Ginger and West Seattle’s Ovio Bistro) comes up with not one wine within 100 miles of Toulouse (nothing from Fronton, Madiran, Cahors or Gascogne). Okay, so you're all about Nawlins (NOLA's Abita Amber's a good start on the beer side), not France, but how hard would it be to give your wine list a regional focus as well, the way Le Pichet does? .

The menu is the most ambitious Cornichon has seen for some time, with salads, soups, fresh oysters and shellfish platters, foie gras, tartare, housemade charcuterie, artisan cheeses, 10 seafood standards and 5 more seafood specials, half a dozen poultry items, ten steaks, 6 accompaniments (béarnaise, bleu cheese, horseradish-veal demi-glace). The bar offers 7 absinthes, 6 pastis drinks, 5 sherries, and a dozen house cocktails. For the bitter or the lovelorn, there's a cocktail called Bitter Love (Plymouth gin, Campari, strawberry syrup, orange bitters, prosecco, $9); alas, it's too sweet.

If this is supposed to be Toulouse Petit, we can only imagine what Toulouse Grand might be. A stupendous Vieux Carré breakfast, perhaps? Or just beignets? "Previously accepted limitations no longer apply," says the menu. Stay tuned.

Toulouse Petit, 601 Queen Anne Ave. N., Seattle, 206-423-9069   Toulouse Petit on Urbanspoon

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Above: Brian Hutmacher (Flickr photo via QueenAnneView), Eric Donnelly, Edward Gulberg;
Center: Barman Joe Jeannot pours tops up Bitter Love with prosecco
Top: daytime interior (Flickr photo via QueenAnneView); Toulouse after 10 PM


Seven Israeli women—all immigrants to Israel from the Middle East, Africa and Europe— have been in Seattle for the past week, offering cooking and spice workshops at temples and synagogues as well as private homes.

Through traditional food, song and dance, they shared their inspiring stories of Aliyah (immigration to Israel), during which they overcame incredible odds—some surviving warzones or traveling for days on foot—in order to safely reach the safety of Israel. Originally from Morocco, Yemen, Iraq, Kurdistan, Ethiopia and Bukhara, they cooked traditional ethnic dishes like Iraqi couscous, Yemen lachuch, Moroccan eggplant and Ethiopian Dabu for their audiences.

The visit to Seattle was more than a cultural curiosity. It was also the culmination of a 14-week project to benefit the visitors, a program aimed at teaching them how to improve their skills in business, cooking and public speaking. "The goal of our project is to help them to develop a cooperative food business in Israel," said Tana Senn, marketing & communications director for the local sponsor, the Jewish Federation of Seattle. "Our hope is that the program will go on to inspire other women to start small businesses and be able to support themselves and their families."

The program was funded by the local Jewish Federation as a part of the TIPS Partnership, an association of Jewish communities in Tucson, Phoenix and Seattle and the city of Kiryat Malachi and the Hof Ashkelon region in Israel.

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Photos by Kevin Nider, Jewish Federation of Seattle

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This seems to be a back-to-the-future moment of confluence, when the forces of history, music and government converge into a meatloaf sandwich time machine. It is a triumph of the old gang, the long-haired grungers over the well-coiffed anchors and well-pressed suits. Concert promoter Dave Meinert (Cap Hill Block Party, One Reel, Blue Scholars, The Presidents) and his girlfriend Mandy Park (longtime waitress at the 5 Point Café) have taken over Belltown's longest-running dive bar. The announcement came from music-PR gal Kerri Harrop, who's also tied in with Neumos (and the whole Mike McConnell music-pizza-coffee organization; Caffe Vita will now supply 5 Point customers with bottomless cups of java). Meinert, whose bands perform regularly at Neumos and who also ran the old Mirabeau Room on Lower Queen Anne, was an early and enthusiastic supporter of both Dow Constantine and Mike McGinn.

All this ties to a new-found fondness for authentic dive bars and their raison d'être, the stiff drink. And what's more authentic than a joint that announces in neon that they cheat drunks and tourists? Don't even think about Disneyfication! "We’re re-upholstering some worn out booths," Park admits. "The whole joint has received a good scrubbing, but, other than that, the song remains the same." Same as it was almost 80 years ago, when Preston Smith opened the place, under the gaze of the Chief Sealth statue, in 1929, and sold it to his son, Dick, in 1975.

"Dick Smith was one of those characters you just don’t find anymore, along the lines of restaurateur Ivar Haglund or politician Charlie Chong," Park recalls. "He was outspoken, political, and had a wicked sense of humor."

Says Meinert: "Dick knew how to capture attention, and was a real rabble-rouser. Without him, I probably wouldn’t have met Mandy, so I owe him a lot." Park began working for Smith in late 1996, as a server at the 5 Point. It was there that she met Meinert, while on shift. The couple recently celebrated 11 years together; their first child is due in December.

Smith's tongue-in-cheek marketing slogans are part of the 5 Point's dive bar appeal. Bartenders are outfitted in t-shirts bearing the tagline "Alcoholics Serving Alcoholics Since 1929."

"The last thing we want to do is screw up the menu, or ruin the classic appeal of the 5 Point," Park says. The chicken fried steak will still weigh in at 11 ounces ("the biggest in Seattle"), the meatloaf sandwich is 9 bucks, and breakfast is available 24 hours a day.

On the other hand, there are now a handful of vegetarian offerings, along with an old-time favorite, Liver and Onions, which is now listed near the "Green Cat" Curry Tofu Scramble. A Senior Citizens discount will launch with the new menu, and cocktails will remain generous in their portion. "We call them family-sized," Park laughed.

The 5 Point will officially celebrate its 80th anniversary in December, with a party that's slated to include 10-cent beers and 30-cent Blue Plate Specials. And that meatloaf san (on white, with mashed potatoes & gravy and pickle slices) was just fine.

5 Point Café, 415 Cedar St., Seattle, 206-448-9993    Five Point Cafe on Urbanspoon

Law & Power on Capitol Hill

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In the culinary justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the cooks and bartenders who create dishes and drinks, and the food bloggers who critique the offenders. These are their stories.

Above: Charles Walpole at Anchovies & Olives. Below right, arancini at Tavern Law.

(Before we continue with tonight's episode, this observation. Despite occasional outbursts from players in both camps, we bloggers and restaurateurs are not natural opponents. Au contraire, we are --or should be--allies acting on behalf of a higher calling, a greater good: good taste. Be it fast food, be it Slow Food, it should be healthy, it should be affordable, it should taste good.)

Now: two glimpses of success on Capitol Hill.

Arancini%20at%20Tavern%20Law.JPGTavern Law makes you think of a Wild West saloon, with swinging doors and blazing six-guns. Wrong. It's a bashful speakeasy. You enter through a discreet door on 12th, that reveals a spacious, high-ceilinged café. As you look around, you see a well-stocked bar and a short menu, you're reminded of Jerry Ohrbach rifling through some suspect's closet. "Where does he keep his stroke material?" There it is: a huge black safe, and, next to it, an old-fashioned telephone. You pick up the handset; a voice answers: "How many in your party?" Then there's a click and the door to the safe swings open. Up you go, a twisting wooden staircase, and you're on a narrow upper level well-appointed with couches and small tables. This is exclusively cocktail country, where the barman asks what you've been drinking up to that point (a Negroni, a Toronto) and fashions a drink that continues the sequence (a Perfect, in this case: the sweet vermouth and bitters providing the link). Also had a dish of three arancini downstairs, those wonderful, cheese-filled rice balls. In Sicily, they're bigger (tennis-ball size), filled with prosciutto, hand-held and eaten for breakfast. But they make terrific bar food as well. Tavern Law's mother ship, Spur, down in Belltown, seems to be trying a bit too hard to be hip. Here the cutesy conceit of a private upstairs cocktail lounge might eventually wear thin, but for now it's fine.

Anchovies & Olives, in a similarly anonymous venue at the corner of 15th and Pine, is the latest Ethan Stowell outpost, with a trusty stalwart, Charles Walpole, at the stove. New here: Power Hour, from ten to midnight. Oysters for a buck, Peroni for two, fish & chips for eight. Couple of Virginicas to start, then the F&C, a welcome change from frozen sticks with fries. Instead, a real filet of cod, and homemade waffle chips. Fish is hot & tasty, chips crisp, but staff outnumbers customers three to one, a shame. Why isn't this place as busy as Wolf, Stowell's outpost in TOQA (Top of Queen Anne)?

Back on the street well before the witching hour. Thank you for your cooperation, gentlemen. Time to scoot home in the rain.

Tavern Law, 1406 12th Avenue, Seattle, 206-322-9734 Tavern Law on Urbanspoon
Anchovies & Olives, 1550 15th Avenue, Seattle, 206-838-8080 Anchovies & Olives on Urbanspoon

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So why, you ask, would Cornichon want to visit Manhattan's Little Italy? Certainly not for the food, which is standard "export Italian" at best, substandard tourist glop at worst. Nor for the architecture, which is Lower East Side tenement enhanced by 21st century graffiti. A block away from the teeming markets of Chinatown, Little Italy seems like an urban planner's afterthought rather than a quaint, if dingy, holdover from a simpler time.

Two lanes of parking, a single lane for moving vehicles along narrow Mulberry Street. No pushcart peddlars, obviously, only restaurants, cafés and souvenir shops Very few identifiable local residents from the four-story buildings lining the narrow street. Instead, you go for the show, for the families from Omaha, guidebooks in hand; for the over-the-top barkers outside every establishment. “Come back and look for me, da guy wid da long nose,” says one. "Best food on the street," they all say. "Homemade pasta." (Homemade by Chef Boyardee, maybe.). Almost nobody in Little taly makes a big deal over their pizza these days; pizza's been co&oul;pted by the quick-serve and home-delivery people. (And don't tell me you can "make your own pizza at home." Not without a 600-degree, wood-burning oven, you can't. What you're making is soggy toast.)

Back to the original question: if you're such a spoilsport, what was Cornichon doing in Little Italy, aside from feeling obnoxoiusly smug? Meeting with family, we'll have you know, to celebrate success in the halls of academe and the thickets of romance. So it mattered little in which joint we sat, mattered not a whit that the supposedly Italian waiter pronounced it "broo-shetta" instead of "bruce-ketta," mattered not that the caprese's mozzarella was made of plastic or that the carbonara was far too creamy. (The wretched tiramisu, on the other hand, was unforgiveable.) To reveal that the restaurant's initials were CB does no one any favors; it could have been any of a dozen. Caprese, Carbonara, Tiramisu: Three Strikes & You're Out!

Side note: Geek to Guido, reality series spoof, filmed at Mulberry Street's La Mela. YouTube here

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This page is an archive of entries from November 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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