March 30, 2005

Sexy Syrah at Salty's

Over two dozen Washington wineries turned out at Salty's on Alki for this year's Sexy Syrah tasting produced by wine entrepreneur David LeClaire. Sexiest label: Wilridge Winery's 2001 Syrah from Elephant Mountain vineyard in the Yakima Valley. Tasted ripe and rich.

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Wilridge winemaker Paul Beveridge shared a table with John Bell, who started Willis Hall Winery after he retired from Boeing; he makes a tasty drop, too. Paul and John have something else in common: both make wine in their garage, just like the French garagistes!

Posted by Ronald Holden at 10:00 PM | TrackBack

Happy Sushi & Sake

Ordered a cute little bottle of sake at U Wa Kitchen last night: Nama, in a six-ounce bottle, from the largest domestic sake producer, Takara in Berkeley.

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Paired this fresh, full-bodied, draft-style sake with a couple of Happy Hour bites of sushi, $1 each. Great little snack.

Posted by Ronald Holden at 9:09 AM | TrackBack

March 27, 2005

Hot Soup, Hot Licks

"Open Mic" night at Nana's Soup House in Ravenna last night. Tasty soup duo: a creamy baked potato and a mild chicken fiesta. MC was Jed Myers, psychiatrist by day, poet and folk singer by night. Best act: gang of 8th graders, including Jed's son Jonas, most of them members of the award-winning Washington Middle School jazz band.

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The players, from left: Jonas Myers, Andrew Morale (who's actually in the Eckstein Middle School Jazz Band), Sam Koelle, Carl Majeau, Jed, Eli Rumpf (hidden behind Jed), Gabe Martin (orange jacket).

Posted by Ronald Holden at 9:33 AM | TrackBack

March 25, 2005


Wire service story in today's paper is a reminder that some people think it's really not safe to eat anything.

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Rutgers professor William Hallman of the Food Policy Institute did a study on the public's perception of genetically modified food. Important, because three-quarters of all processed food contains GM ingredients.

Fewer than half the shoppers surveyed didn't know that. But over half the shoppers did believe that supermarket chicken was genetically modified. As it happens, that would be illegal. Hungry for more?

Posted by Ronald Holden at 4:28 PM | TrackBack

March 19, 2005

Ooh-la-la at Canlis

Lunch a couple of days ago at Canlis. Straightforward menu: a salad, a small steak, "apple pie." The genius was in the execution: the salad was garnished with toast points spread with tapenade and white anchovies. The steak was an unbelievably flavorful filet from Misty Isle Farms on Vashion Island [Black Angus, aged 21 days]. And the dessert was a clever tarte tatin paired with vanilla ice cream.

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Credit goes to the French Government Tourist Office for hosting this delightful event, which showcased wines from Provence and, by its very nature, promoted French joie de vivre.

Posted by Ronald Holden at 11:27 AM | TrackBack

March 17, 2005

Irish martini

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You know the date. Go back a year, I was complaining about green beer. This year, I know what to do: Happy Hour at Whisky Bar. The martini may not be green, but the olives are. And, hey, it's three only bucks!

Posted by Ronald Holden at 10:38 AM | TrackBack

March 15, 2005

A new Nexxus

Taking over the space of the unlamented, truly dreary Second Avenue Pizza is Nexxus, a café with a dozen networked Sony Playstations in the infamous back room; in place of giant speakers for tuneless punk-rock bands, there's a bank of 27-inch plasma screens.

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Out front, to attract opening-day customers, Breanne Montoya and Gina Weishaar carried free coffee around Belltown's sidewalks. Hey, give these girls some logo t-shirts!

Posted by Ronald Holden at 10:16 AM | TrackBack

March 14, 2005

Getting In Touch

After a nine-month gestattion, the much-awaited In Touch Travel has come into the world. Developed by my former colleague Andrea Nims, it's a program designed for experienced travelers who want to meet "real people" on their vacations.

Cultural tourism isn't a new phenomenon, though it gets much less attention than it deserves from local tourist boards [funded by suppliers of commercial services]. Non-profit organizations like People-to-People and Servas International have been around for decades, but In Touch may be the first to offer an upscale version of "cultural immersion" to the general public.

Andrea is starting with a roster of about 30 hosts, most in France, many of them experts in gastronomy, wine, art or history. You can book a day of a host's "in depth" expertise, or spend a couple of days "up close," just hanging out with your host. Either way, you'll get to know a real person living a real life in another culture ... someone who doesn't carry your bags or have his hand out ... and that's priceless.

Posted by Ronald Holden at 8:10 AM | TrackBack

March 9, 2005

Local Michelin connection

Kind of far-fetched, but, hey. Last year, I congratulated Michel Trama on his third Michelin star. This year, it's Régis Marcon. The Seattle connection is culinary consultant and Seattle Times food writer Greg Atkinson, who spent a summer at Marcon's remote country inn, l'Auberge et Clos des Cîmes, and wrote about the experience in Pacific Magazine last year.

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Posted by Ronald Holden at 11:39 AM

Cheers to Shayn!

Shayn Bjornholm, the senior sommelier at Canlis, topped the list of candidates for the exclusive Master Sommelier competition in San Francisco last week. Shayn passed all three portions of the Masters Exam on his first attempt -- tasting, theory, service -- and was awarded the prestigious Krug Cup.


With last week's induction, there are now 73 Master Sommeliers in the United States. More on the competition and on the reaction at the restaurant.

March 16th UPDATE: Nice piece by Hsiao-Ching Chou in this morning's Post-Intelligencer.

Posted by Ronald Holden at 9:15 AM

March 6, 2005

"Cellar Selections"

We called it a wine-sharing party, everyone bringing something interesting from their cellar, because, after all, that's what wine is for: to share with friends in congenial surroundings. In this case, Carnegie's, an elegant mansion in Ballard.

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The party was sponsored by the Seattle branch of the International Wine & Food Society. Our thanks to Chef Jerry Brame, who set out a lavish buffet, and to Dean Stephens, whose 1990 Château l'Evangile from Pomerol was voted the favorite wine of the evening. More photos follow.

More photos from the "wine sharing" at Carnegie's.

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Are you interested in participating in events like this? Let me know, please. Send email to

Posted by Ronald Holden at 9:49 AM