November 27, 2004

Revisiting Cafe Yarmarka

Wrote earlier this year about Yarmarka, the cozy Russian cafe in the Pike Place Market. Seasonal update now: a steaming bowl of schee--traditional sour cabbage soup-- with hearty stock, shredded cabbage, potatoes, carrots, green onions ... and for dessert a comforting poppy-seed bun with a dollop of sour cream. Always a delight to watch Roza Nazarova and her helper Victoria turn out so many tasty hand-made things. Always an immensely satisfying stop.

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Posted by Ronald Holden at 8:11 AM

November 24, 2004

Happy Birthday, Kalea!

Celebrating last night at Hana ... Kalea Maya Holden is 12 years old today.

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Birthday dinners, by Holden family tradition, require eating your age in sushi. Which Kalea did--California rolls and shrimp. The chocolate cake, for its part, came from the new Broadway Market QFC. Decorated with images and symbols from Burning Man. Yes, she's a little burner, this girl.

Posted by Ronald Holden at 3:30 PM

November 23, 2004

Bellino's Bounce

Gray skies, gusty winds: Seattle's going through a rinse cycle. Time to brighten the day with something called a caffè nico at Bellino.

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Manager Josh TerLouw picked up the idea from Vivace on Capitol Hill: double shot of espresso, slug of vanilla syrup, touch of orange syrup, big dollop of steamed half-&-half, twist of orange peel. One fragrant whiff and two creamy sips later, you're on your way, envigorated for the afternoon. Can't get that in Kansas, now can we, Toto?

Bellino Coffee on Urbanspoon

Posted by Ronald Holden at 12:20 PM

November 22, 2004

To-Go Order

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"Hey Zeek, beam us up a couple of pepperonis, would ya? Extra cheese."

Posted by Ronald Holden at 10:02 AM

November 20, 2004

Cheese Guru Returns

That deep purple haze submerging Belltown like a Slough of Despond may finally be lifting. Through my spyglass, I see encouraging changes: look, over there, just across Denny at a new shop in the high-tech Fisher Plaza, it's James Cook, standing behind the counter at The Cheese Cellar.

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Once more dispensing expertise is the amiable gent whose abrupt departure from Belltown in the summer of 2002 plunged me [and many of my fellows] into a state of fromagic despair. And he's brought Blue Vinney back with him! Along with Wensleydale, Cashel, Lanark, and the best of Neal's Yard.

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Taking refuge on the ancestral farm in Scotland, James came to realize he couldn't go home again after all. We're the richer for his enlightenment, and fortunate as well that a couple of associates from his past life, Dennis Nelson and Theresa Simpson, were still in Seattle and ready to embark on new careers. Somehow, one doesn't think of cheese as producing sparks, but The Cheese Cellar, in the shadow of the Space Needle, sure does.

Posted by Ronald Holden at 9:50 AM

November 18, 2004

Pajama Party!

Stroke of midnight and it's legal to sell the 2004 vintage of Beaujolais Nouveau. And if you're Seattle Cellars, you open the doors for a come-as-you-are tasting.

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Paris, Erin and Cherie showed up in sleepwear; Holli wore a hat. Hey, it's Belltown. The wine? Overall, not as good as last year's. But the party was fun.

And let's not forget the official celebration, Friday night, a gala dinner sponsored by the French-American Chamber of Commerce of the Pacific Northwest.

Posted by Ronald Holden at 3:44 PM

November 10, 2004

Which Italian? Salumi or Beppo?

You want genuine Italian prosciutto, by all means head down to Salumi in Pioneer Square. Wrote about it back in February. Can't get there? Armandino Battali's amazing meats are now available online .

At the other end of the gastronomic spectrum, there's Italian based entirely on atmosphere, and it's alive and well at Bucca di Beppo. The "Chef's Table" made a perfect setting for a family birthday.

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Huge portions ... cheery staff ... infectious good humor ... it's what the company calls southern Italian immigrant cooking.

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The wine--a thin Chianti--is outrageously overpriced ... the sauces inexplicably bland ... but the Birthday Boy was delighted. So let's celebrate Beppo's sense of celebration ... and lose no sleep over the [regrettable] absence of flavor.

Posted by Ronald Holden at 6:16 PM